Monday, 19 November 2007

"New" Askios website launched to mark the "World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse"

Dear survivors, activists, healers and friends,

It's nearly seven years since I began my website on child abuse survivors, and now that I'm able to shift the site from "" to "" (which I hope will be an easier URL for you to remember) I decided to remodel, update and complete the site. I hope you like the new look and content, and find it useful and healing. Those of you who know my fondness for affirmations and inspirational writing will enjoy the little messages at the end of each page, and at the end of the site.

Please note there are special introductory pages that I hope will cater to your specific needs -

For Activists (e.g. NGOs, social workers, and professionals from government, legal, media or other related fields)

For Healers (e.g. doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, therapists)

For Friends (friends of survivors, and supportive family members including spouses, parents, or siblings)

and of course, For Survivors.

The Contents page has details of what's on each page. That might be a good place to start your journey through this website, especially if you're looking for a specific topic.

Stay strong,


[ Click here to visit the Askios website.]

Monday, 12 November 2007

A step to healing: Empathetic listening

By Michael J. Bland, Psy.D., D. Min.
Friday, October 12, 2007

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

-Matthew 11: 28-30

There are many commonly held beliefs about child sexual abuse. One is that abusers are always men. In fact, reports of female perpetrators are on the rise, involving both male and female victims. At least 5 percent of abusers are known to be women.

Another myth is that the abuser is usually a stranger. In reality, more than 70 percent of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family.

A third myth is that the abuser is always hated by the victim. Often the victim loves and protects the perpetrator. Some children are made to feel "special" and given special attention. Because of this, some survivors deal with the abuse by minimizing it, even into adulthood.

Identifying abused children

No child is psychologically prepared to deal with ongoing or intensive sexual encounters. Even very young children, two or three years old, may sense that the sexual activity is "wrong," but they are unable to stop it. Children are frequently threatened that if they tell anyone, they will be punished or get in trouble or that their family will breakup.

Children subjected to sexual encounters, with or without threats, will develop problems. Those older than five years of age become caught between loyalty to or dependence on the perpetrator, and shame at doing something "wrong." Over time, the child develops low self-esteem, feelings of being worthless or "dirty," and an abnormal view of sexuality.

How does one recognize such children? There are many signs such as:

· Withdrawal and mistrust of adults.
· Relating to others in sexualized or seductive ways.
· Sleep problems, nightmares, or fears of going to bed.
· Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors
· Refusal to go to school, or to the doctor, or home (or where the abuser is)
· Secretive and/or unusually aggressive behavior
· Sexual components to drawings and games
· Sexual knowledge or behavior that is abnormally advanced

Identifying adults who may have been abused as children

The effects of early sexual abuse last well into adulthood - affecting relationships, work, family, and life in general. Individual symptomatology tends to fall into four areas:

Damaged goods: Low self-esteem, depression, self-destructiveness, guilt, shame, self-blame, constant search for approval and nurturance.

Betrayal: Impaired ability to trust, blurred boundaries and role confusion, rage and grief, difficulty forming relationships.

Helplessness: Anxiety, fear, tendency towards re-victimization, panic attacks.

Isolation: Sense of being different, stigmatized, poor peer relations.

Adult survivors may demonstrate some of the following symptoms:

· Fear of the dark, fear of sleeping alone, nightmares, or night terrors
· Poor body image or poor self-image in general
· Wearing excessive clothing
· Addictions, compulsive behaviors, obsessions
· Phobias, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and/or a startle response
· Difficulties with anger and rage
· Issues with trust, intimacy, and relationships
· Issues with boundaries, control, and abandonment
· Pattern of re-victimization - not able to say "no"
· Denial and flashbacks
· Sexual issues and extremes
· Signs of post traumatic stress disorder

Certain issues appear repeatedly. For example, victims typically blame themselves for the abuse. Guilt and shame are expressed, along with intense feelings of rage. If the abuse was committed by an individual of the same sex, questions regarding sexual orientation tend to arise in the victim.

One of the more difficult issues that can surface is the recollection, by some individuals, of experiencing a certain amount of physical pleasure during a molestation or abuse. This adds enormously to the sense of being at fault and feeling "dirty." The sense of isolation, of being "different from the whole world," can paralyze the victim's self-image and extend into relationships. It is only in revealing the secrets and dealing with the pain that survivors of sexual abuse can and do move on with their lives.

Knowing the signs of abuse and being able to identify the possible affects of sexual abuse may enable you to reach out and talk with someone who might be manifesting such symptoms. Offering support and listening empathetically may be a step in a victim's healing process.

Listening empathetically means that, even if only for a moment, the listener connects with, understands, and acknowledges the feelings the other person is experiencing. Empathetic listening requires listening for the meaning and the feelings that are attached to the speaker's words. To get to this point, one must "tune in" to the speaker and discard all opinions about how the speaker should or should not feel or react.

---Bland, M.J., (2001). The Psychological and Spiritual Effects of Child Sexual Abuse When the Perpetrator Is a Catholic Priest. Doctoral dissertation, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2001.

---Blume, E. Sue, (1989). Secret Survivors: Uncovering incest and its aftereffects. John Wiley & Sons, NJ.

---Heiman, M., (1988). Untangling incestuous bonds: The treatment of sibling incest. In M. Kahn & K. Lewis (Eds.), Siblings in Therapy, Norton & Co., N.Y.

---Hartman, M., Finn, S.E., & Leon, G.R., (1987). Sexual abuse experiences in a clinical population: Comparisons of familial and non-familial abuse. Psychotherapy, 24, 154-159.
Michael J. Bland, a consultant to the Virtus® Programs, is a clinical professional counselor in Oak Lawn, IL and works part-time for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office of Assistance Ministry as the clinical and pastoral coordinator. This article is the copyrighted property of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. (Copyright © 1999-2007 by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc., all rights reserved), and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about VIRTUS@Online or other VIRTUS® services, visit or call (888) 847-8870. This is the 72nd in a series of feature stories, commentary and analysis, compiled and edited by an advisory group to the Media Relations Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, through which the articles are distributed. For particular help, contact the Office of Assistance Ministry, (800) 355-2545 or (213) 637-7650.

Child Porn Unchecked Online

Read the article in the link below:

How long will the government maintain that there is no need to define Child Abuse separately in the Indian Penal Code?