Friday, November 17, 1995

The Top Ten Skills of Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

The Top Ten Skills of Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

© (1995) Aubrieta V. Hope

10.  The ability to figure things out quickly.  As children, we were given few clues of approaching danger.  We had to learn how to recognize the warning signs, assess a situation accurately, and react quickly.

9.  Persuasiveness.  It takes more than physical agility to dodge abuse.  We had to use our wits as well--sometimes that meant thinking fast and coming up with a clever excuse or argument.  years of communicating with illogical or angry adults can really build your vocabulary!

8.  Flexibility.  To survive trauma and abuse, we had to be able to adapt to all kinds of difficult situations.  Our childhoods didn't come with a clear-cut job description.  Abusive adults act in unpredictable ways--we had to "roll with the punches". 

7.  Compassion.  Not all victimized children grow up to be compassionate adults--some become abusers themselves.  But those who break the cycle have a great capacity for empathy.  We can relate to people who are in in need, because we've been there.

6. The ability to learn without being taught.  Childhood trauma and abuse can interfere with a little person's ability to concentrate in school.  And, abusive adults often sabotage the learning process by terrorizing, shaming or neglecting a child.  Despite all these obstacles, somehow we managed to learn anyway.

5.  Acute observation skills.  As kids, many of us had to "have eyes in the back of our head".  We learned how to watch without seeming to observe.  No wonder so many of us identified with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys!

4.  Creativity.  When a child's environment is harsh, the rule of the jungle prevails: "only the fittest survive." Conditions like that require imagination.

3.  Perceptiveness.  Kids who live in a dangerous environment have to rely on "gut instinct". No one bothered to explain trouble to us.  To protect ourselves, we developed the ability to read body language and listen to what's not being said.

2.  Endurance.  When life is frightening and painful, childhood is a long time.  It can take 18 years to get out--most convicted felons have shorter sentences!  Abused children develop an amazing capacity to withstand and outlast the unbearable.

1.  Resourcefulness.  (Enough said).

Saturday, July 1, 1995

Guidelines For Disciplining Children Who Have Been Abused

(This article was originally published in 1995 and reprinted by The Times of Israel on July 3 2015)
Disciplining children who have been abused can be a real challenge! And while there is no single method which has been proven to work for all children, the following tips represent what mental health professionals who work with and/or study child behavior have learned.

Using the discipline techniques outlined in this pamphlet, in combination with what you already know about your child(ren); will help you to develop the best and most effective way to set appropriate limits. Remember children learn best when you practice consistency in your discipline techniques. 

Tip #1  Physical: means punishments that are inappropriate, ineffective, and harmful to children!

This includes spanking, hitting, pinching, whipping, slapping . . . Spanking children teaches them that violence is an acceptable way to deal with problems. There is a fine line between spanking and abuse. In addition, it simply does not work. Children, especially children who have been physical and/or sexually abused, often have learned how to dissociate themselves from pain. Basically, being hit or hurt in some way is nothing new to abused children. Spanking is also tremendously humiliating for your child. No child should be made to feel that way — it leads to shame and low self esteem, which in turn lead to further behavior problems. Spanking kids can lead to a vicious cycle. Hitting children is a way to take out your anger on a child (this should never be the guiding emotion behind any punishment). In short, spanking benefits the spanker more than the spanked. When you feel like hitting a child, go into another room, hit a pillow instead. Once you’ve cooled down, then you’ll be ready to go back and deal with the child.

Tip #2  Positive reinforcement works wonders. It is much easier to increase a positive behavior than it is to decrease a negative one. In simple terms, that means if you lavish praise on your children when they do well, they will continue to do the right thing. It is much easier to get a child to “keep up the good work”, than to get a child to stop doing something which gives him/her lots of negative attention. But if you give lots of
Remember children thrive on attention, (either positive or negative attention).

Tip #3  Use the time out method. If you isolate a child for a certain amount of time when he or she gets a little unruly, it gives him/her a chance to cool down. If a child is misbehaving, give a warning that he/she will need to go to a “time out”, if the behavior does not stop. The most important part of the warning is following through with the warning. If the behavior does not stop, send the child to a chair or a corner for a few minutes (depending on the child’s age . . . 1 minute for each year). Use a kitchen time to make sure the time out is exactly as long as you say it will be. One important lesson learned by giving a warning prior to “time out”, is that the child learns there are choices in ones life.

If you spank a child, you teach him/her violence. If you yell at a child, you teach him/her shame. If you use choices and fair, NONVIOLENT consequences, you teach the child that he/she has power to effect his/her own life, and that he/she can make a choice to behave or not to behave (and suffer the consequences of a “time out”).

Too Much Pressure?
  1. Take some deep breaths. Remember, you are the adult
  2. Remember that good parenting must be learned and, at times, is very demanding. It’s okay to ask for help to improve your parenting skills.
  3. Close your eyes and think about what you want to say. Don’t just say the first thing that comes to your mind.
  4. Put your child in a ‘time-out’ chair (one minute fore each year of age).
  5. Think about why you are angry. Does the situation call for such a reaction?
  6. Phone a friend.
  7. Splash water on your face.
  8. Turn on some music
  9. If someone can watch your child, take a short walk
Communication Tips
  1. Gently touch your child before you speak
  2. Say their name.
  3. Speak in a quiet voice.
  4. Look at your child in the eye so you can tell if he/she understands.
  5. Bend or sit down-get on your child’s level.
  6. Give children the same courtesy and respect you give your adult friends.
  7. Encourage talking by asking about your child’s day or asking his opinion about important things.
  8. Children are never too young or too old to be told “I love you”.
Find opportunity to praise your child, it is the best way to encourage good behavior. Be observant and you will find many.
Ways to praise your child:
  1. Way to go.
  2. I’m proud of the way you did that.
  3. Thank you
  4. I knew you could do it.
  5. Good job.
  6. Excellent.
  7. I trust you.
  8. You mean the world to me.
  9. Beautiful work.
  10. I love you.
  11. Well done.
  12. Good for you.
  13. You’re terrific.
  14. Great discovery.
  15. Fantastic work.
  16. Job well done.
Children need discipline
  1. Discipline is not punishment. It is a way to teach a child appropriate behavior.
  2. Set reasonable, clear and consistent rules and limits. Do not change from day to day.
  3. Ignore negative behavior. Children ‘act up’ to get attention.
  4. Let children help with your daily activities and give them responsibilities that fit their capabilities.
  5. Show children how to correct what they’ve done wrong, by apologizing, cleaning up, etc.
  6. Determine appropriate discipline for misbehavior.
  7. Change the environment. Remove the child from the situation.
  8. Talk to your child about self control and how t make better choice
  9. Avoid yelling. Speak in a clear, serious tone of voice.
  10. Rejection, Withdrawal of affection, or preferential treatment of one child over another can be as damaging as physical abuse.
 If you say “NO” too much, it loses impact.
  1. Try words other than “non” like “stop”, “oh”, or “wait”.
  2. Call your children by name when warning them.
  3. Explain the situation to them.
  4. Anticipate conflicts and address it before it happens.
  5. Suggest alternatives to unacceptable behavior. Explain you love them, but there is problems with their behavior.
  6. Listen to your children. You may change your mind.

Saturday, April 1, 1995

Anne Marie and Eric Erikkson Heroes to many - Incest Survivors Resource Network

Founders of the first group for adult survivors of child sexual abuse

Anne Marie and Eric Erikkson

WANTED By the Law Magazine - APR 1995
By Griffin Reed

When most people think of incest, the situation that comes to mind most readily is a stepfather molesting a stepdaughter. Statistically, this is the most reported. However, there are other patterns of abuse -- such as a son seduced by his mother. Erik Eriksson's childhood was one of these cases. After a lifetime of pain, he courageously helped found an organization to assist others dealing with similar problems.

It took Erik 59 years to come out from under the shadow of what his outwardly well-functioning but emotionally disturbed mother did to him between the time he was 11 and 18. As an adult, he now recognizes that she used sex to keep him under her control. Once young Erik decided that what his mother was doing to him was wrong, he quickly married and left home, attempting to keep his marriage a secret. Erik believes that, because of his mother's own traumatic background, her failings were not intentional.

Tragically, Erik's first wife died of cancer. His mother tried to re-enter his life again at that time, but by then he was strong enough to resist her. Before long, he re-married and embarked on successful careers as a military pilot and then as a technical writer. His second marriage was happy enough, and he fathered two sons in the bargain. Again, tragedy struck -- Erik's second wife also died of cancer. He turned to drink to stave off the shame, grief, and guilt, becoming an alcoholic. After four years, he sobered up with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and met his present wife, Anne Marie, a pioneer in the incest survivor movement, at the first meeting of an organization she had started as a vehicle to enable incest survivors to provide education to the public and to interact with professional groups, as well as provide peer groups for themselves.

Erik says his road to healing has been a long and painful process. But in his marriage with Anne-Marie, a retired probation officer, he has found peace at last. Together they turned their pain into triumph by founding Incest Survivors Resource Network International (ISRNI) in 1983; an expansion of the organization began by Anne-Marie. For both of them, this volunteer service has been their Quaker peace ministry.