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  • © Holly Craw and Home-School-Community, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Craw and Home-School-Community with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Parents: Use a Contract of Love to keep your children safe from victimization

ImageBased on the estimate that 300,000 American minors are being commercially sexually exploited, and that each child services at least 10 customers each day, three million incidences of paid child rape are happening every 24 hours. This staggering amount of child abuse is rarely reported, and consequently, far less than one percent of all perpetrators are ever convicted. The victims are caught in a complicated web of deception, coercion, physical abuse and empty promises of love from the pimps and are usually terrified to divulge the abuse and the abusers’ identities.

Often the child sex trafficking targets are from dysfunctional and abusive families and already have low self-esteem, making them easy quarry for the predators. Sometimes, family members themselves are the sellers of the juveniles, creating greater barriers to disclosure. Many times, when a young person finds the courage to tell an adult about the sexual abuse, she is not believed or no action is taken. This compounds the depth of the desecration, bringing greater shame upon the violated one.

Kathleen Tell recounts believing the lies and excuses of her daughter’s molester and not taking a strong enough stand on behalf of her child. From that devastating experience, she and her daughter compiled a Contract of Love for parents to use as a preventive or early warning measure of potential abuse.

Read more

Raping with impunity: If you tell, I will kill you (Video)

Many rapes go unreported due to the victim's shame and fear.  Credit:  Holly Craw

Many rapes go unreported due to the victim’s shame and fear. Credit: Holly Craw

Mary Lou was raped in Phoenix on Friday night, one of possibly hundreds of unreported rapes in the metropolis that night. These won’t make the news, but perhaps their effects will be at least as devastating as the high-profile cases.

The victim is a young woman who met the assailant in a treatment group. Under the pretense of being a friend who wanted to watch a movie with her, he took her to his apartment and sexually assaulted her. To aggravate the crime, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

This scenario happens all too frequently across the country. The victim is already devastated by an act of degradation and personal violence, and then is silenced by fear of reprisal. The first response for the victim, out of shame and feeling dirty, is to bathe and try to get clean from the vile act and memories of humiliation. Then she feels hopeless and guilty for washing away all the evidence, so there seems to be no point in reporting or doing a rape kit.

In Mary Lou’s case, the rape triggered flashbacks of previous sexual assaults and violations and brought on suicidal ideations. After pretending everything was okay for nearly 48 hours, she finally called a friend and the crisis response team. Before she could be admitted to a psychiatric hospital, however, she had to go to the emergency room for a rape kit and police report. Six hours later, hospital staff told her that they didn’t do the rape test there, so she was discouraged from taking further action.

See video.

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Child sex abuse may lead to PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, sex trafficking

Rage and continual cursing in a child can be indicators of extreme abuse Credits:   Stock Xchange/GeoX

The vile, excoriating epithets fly from Brandi’s* mouth like daggers–well-aimed with intent to maim and mutilate. At times, she seems to delight in her expertise in causing verbal destruction. However, a careful observer can see beneath the surface to a scared little girl who desperately wants to be loved properly and consistently. Each scathing expletive that she hurls is akin to a jagged, shard-like iceberg tip that is a decoy for the mountain of submerged pain lying underneath the surface. The sheer volume of curses that emanate from her mouth gives credence to the immensity of the abuse she has experienced, both at the hands of those in the family circle and the strangers who bought and sold her for sex.

Barely 16, Brandi has probably had more sexual encounters than a happily married couple of two to three decades. Her history of abuse and sexual violation began when she was just a little girl and continued for numerous years. She has been a runaway from the violence at home countless times, only to be caught up in forced prostitution when she was on the streets. Within the custody of child protective agencies, she has been placed in group homes and foster care, but has run or been removed from all of them.

Read more:

Child sex abuse may lead to PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, sex trafficking 

 

Child Abuse Prevention Month: Major fail in US culture being safe for children

 

How often do we see signs of abuse but take no action?  Child abuse is a crime.

A child in an abusive home is at high risk for getting caught in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking according to current research. The damage done to the psyche from physical, emotional or sexual abuse leaves a child extremely vulnerable to anyone who will show some attention and bestow some sense of worth upon him or her. These children are the ones sought out by exploiters because they have a fundamental belief that they don’t deserve anything better than more abuse.

 

Child sex trafficking then becomes the most egregious and devastating form of child violence. Sadly, because the scenario involves the selling of sex, these minors often go unnoticed by the system and are not classified as abused. Instead, they are sometimes criminalized themselves. Additionally, perpetrators are rarely caught, charged and convicted.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. In an excerpt of the Presidential Proclamation for the month, President Barack Obama asserts that the biggest part of prevention of child abuse is having healthy families.

 

“Over half a million American children suffer neglect or abuse every year. A strong and well-informed family unit is the surest defense against child abuse, and parents and caregivers who have support from relatives, friends, neighbors, and their communities are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children. Trusted friends and active community members can help ensure families get the support they need by offering their time and resources, taking an active role in children’s lives, and fostering a safe environment for young people to learn and grow. By coming together in service to our communities, we do more to meet our obligation to do right by the next generation.”

 

The President’s number of abused children is low by commonly cited reports, the most recent from ChildHelp indicating that 6 million US children suffer abuse and neglect every year. Representing about one in 12 children, this figure shows a huge fail in American families and culture for achieving the goal of being safe and healthy places for minors.

 

Since abused children are far more likely to become abusers or victims of further abuse and/or trafficking, it makes sense to aim prevention efforts at the families. But, what does it take to turn around a whole generation of families that are abusive and dysfunctional before these values become inculcated into their children? President Obama hit on some key points. Healthy members of the community need to invest in their extended families, their neighborhoods, schools and religious or civic groups as role models, mentors, support and especially as those who value children.

 

If we don’t honor our most vulnerable in these ways, they will become easy prey for the profiteers who choose to sexually exploit the emotionally damaged ones.

 

If you suspect a child is being abused, please call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1 800-4-A-child (1 800 422-4453).

Child Abuse Prevention Month: Major fail in US culture being safe for children – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Thoughts on child abuse from sex trafficking victims who have been there

 

View the full slideshow »

See full video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVKLX1bgEkE&feature=related

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to recognize the harsh reality that millions of children in America are abused each year. It is also an opportunity to talk about ways to prevent abuse. Teen girls who have been rescued from child sex trafficking, and are now residing at StreetLightUSA were asked about their observations on child abuse.

There are many types of abuse: emotional, physical, sexual and verbal.”

“Abuse is inhumane treatment. It is misusing a person or thing for a purpose it was not meant for.

“Abuse is hurting someone on purpose or putting down someone’s self-esteem.”

“Physical abuse is hurting someone [to bring about] obedience.”

Thoughts on child abuse from sex trafficking victims who have been there – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Criminal charges will be amped up if secret service escorts are underage

Six secret service agents have been dismissed or voluntarily stepped down due to a prostitution scandal.

Secret service agents and military personnel, numbering at least 11 of each, are already in legal hot water over the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. Investigators from that country have given notice over the past two days that they are verifying the ages of the females to see if any of the escorts are under 18.

 

Using children for prostitution is illegal in both the US and Colombia. Criminal charges will be filed against any men who hired minors, possibly in both countries.

 

Six of the secret service agents have already resigned, retired or been dismissed, due to their involvement in the sexual escapade in which the US men were observed drinking heavily and partying on the beach with the women and inviting them back to their rooms. A party room to hold 30 had been reserved earlier in the evening.

 

No word has come out yet to identify any sanctions, besides separation from their jobs, which may be levied against the agents. If criminal charges are only set up related to involvement of minors, the implications from this incident are enormous:

 

  • If government officials are going to cavort with prostitutes, make sure that you pay them what was promised so no one raises a fuss (so you don’t get caught)
  • Extra-marital sexual activity is expected (and the norm, perhaps?) for US contingents who are away from home, especially if the supervisors encourage the whole unit to indulge. (Just don’t get caught.)
  • Make sure that the escorts are not juveniles.
  • Be sure to charge all the refreshments and entertainment to the public tab, since the hotel stay does involve work-related activities (even if these events are after-hours).
  • Just for good measure, post sexually-charged comments and pictures on your social media
  • In most other lines of work, blog comment consensus seems to be that what people do on their free time doesn’t matter, and it matters in this case only because sensitive information and the security of the president may have been at stake.

After all, losing a job with the government still brings the accrued pension, and it is likely that the men will be able to get other jobs. That doesn’t seem to address the common perception that engaging with prostitutes is just business as usual for government workers, nor provide any serious consequences for actions that could have had disastrous results. Perhaps a woman causing a ruckus about a broken agreement is what was needed to bring to light the behavior of those charged with the protection of the President of the United States.

Criminal charges will be amped up if secret service escorts are underage – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Mother’s Day brunch can help rescue somebody’s daughter from sex trafficking – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

Mothers are known as the face of love for their offspring. When children have gone missing or have taken a bad turn in life, many moms will continue to grieve and agonize until everything is set right once again. For the hundreds of thousands of children who have been caught up in sex trafficking, the setting right process may only come about if the girl or boy is pulled out of the situation through intervention of law enforcement and placement in a healing environment.

Troy Hailpern of Elevate Coffee Company in Phoenix wants to be part of the healing process. A special Mother’s Day Brunch has been set up as a fundraiser for StreetLightUSA, one of the few comprehensive residential treatment centers in the country for girls who have been rescued from sexual exploitation. Families can honor their moms and provide hope for some of the girls who need a safe haven of love and support. Each child enslaved in commercial sexual abuse is somebody’s daughter or son.

View slideshow: The many faces of crepes to delight your palate.

Elevate Coffee Company Mother’s Day Brunch

When: Sunday, May 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: Elevate Coffee Company
2530 W Happy Valley Rd, Suite 1273
At the Shops at Norterra, next to the Harkins Theatre

Phoenix, AZ 85085
(602) 341-5480

What to do: Purchase a hand-crafted sweet or savory crepe
Mom gets a free drink
$1.00 from each crepe purchased goes to StreetLightUSA to provide services for the girls.
Salads and desserts are also available.

Crepes can be purchased anytime Friday, May 11 through Sunday, May 13 and $1.00 for each one will still be donated to StreetLightUSA.

Celebrate Mom and give the gift of safety and care for some of the wounded daughters who are sex trafficking victims.

via Mother’s Day brunch can help rescue somebody’s daughter from sex trafficking – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Sex trafficking awareness: Mom’s brunch, comedy show raise funds for survivors – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

It is Mother’s Day weekend. StreetLightUSA, a residential treatment in Phoenix, is being honored this weekend by area supporters who are putting on fundraising events. Both activities are great places to take the mothers in your life that would love a sweet dining experience or a great comedy show.

Elevate Coffee Company is celebrating moms with non-stop crepes for the weekend.

With each crepe purchase, mothers will receive a free drink, and $1.00 will be donated to StreetLightUSA. Offer is good Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13.

Location: 2530 W Happy Valley Rd, Suite 1273

Phoenix, AZ 85085

At the Shops at Norterra, next to the Harkins Theatre

(602) 341-5480

Special free bonus: Saturday night May 12th, the Musical Theater of Anthem will be giving a free performance. They will feature selections from their musical “Annie” and other pop music. For highlights of Anthem Musical Theater in action, click here.

  • Free to Laugh Comedy Show is playing at Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix. The two shows feature comedians Carlos Oscar, Dana Daniels, and Leland Klassen. The clean, family friendly humor will have you laughing until your sides ache. A portion of each ticket will go to StreetLightUSA to provide services for the residents.

Location: Bethany Bible Church
6060 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Ticket cost: $20.00 each, purchased at the door.
Show times: 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

StreetLightUSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the care and healing of girls 11-17 who have been held in hostage-like situations and have been forced to prostitute their bodies. Often, they service 10 or more customers each night, and are subjected to every kind of brutal treatment imaginable. There are very few places these children can go for safety, medical care, education, training in life skills, and resources for turning their lives around. StreetLightUSA offers all of this in their residential facility, the only such comprehensive service in Arizona, and one of a handful of similar centers across the country.

Make a date with your favorite mom to attend one of these events, and be a blessing to the girls who may need a caring place to heal from the trauma of sex trafficking.

via Sex trafficking awareness: Mom’s brunch, comedy show raise funds for survivors – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Alexis La Benz: A Girl Scout fights sex trafficking on a national scale – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

Alexis La Benz of Chandler, Arizona has campaigned against the forced prostitution of children for the past four years, beginning at age 14. Her fight has mainly been orchestrated through informational and inspirational presentations within the ranks of Girl Scouts, teen groups and churches, both at the local and national level. She is now a high school senior who will be starting college in the fall, but the passion for making a difference for the sex trafficked children has not diminished.

She is part of a group called GS GEMS, Girl Scout Girls Empowering and Mentoring with Support, which will continue to raise awareness within the community about the issue. Alexis will transition at some point from a Scout to a troop leader, where her passion and influence can continue to grow.

View slideshow: Being a voice for the voiceless: A teen speaks out for sex trafficked teens.

Through this experience that married Girl Scouting and the championship of a cause, many doors have opened up for Alexis La Benz.

  • She has become good friends with some survivors and collaborated with other Girl
    Scout groups.
  • A pilot program with GSUSA teamed the GEMS members with Girl Guides in Honduras around the issue of sex trafficking. This broadened the perspective of both sets of scouts to see how the problem manifests and is handled in each country. The US girls began making and selling black and white awareness bracelets as their point of entrée for discussion, and the Hondurans prepared and served meals for the same purpose.
  • Alexis was named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction, the highest award in Girl Scouting by GSUSA
  • She was asked to address 15,000 Girl Scouts and tell about her Gold Award project at the 2011 National GSUSA Conference where she got to meet the GSUSA president, Anna Maria Chavez.
  • She has received several scholarships and will be participating in Arizona State
    University’s Barrett Honors College in the fall of 2012.
  • As part of the 100th year celebration of Girl Scouting, Alexis took part in a ceremony at the Arizona State Capitol in which Governor Jan Brewer and eight other state legislators were given honorary Girl Scout status.
  • Alexis and her fellow GS GEMS, created a training video that other troops around the country can use to develop their own GS GEMS programs.
  • In 2010, she received the GS World Leadership Award
  • She was a Girl Advisor on the Arizona Girl Scouts Board of Directors for 2010-2012
  • Alexis still continues to do speaking engagements and incorporates her website, www.teensontrafficking.org, into her presentations.

What does all this involvement in the sordid world of sex trafficking mean for Alexis?

“It has had a huge impact on my life. It helps the greater good and helps me know about myself, the kind of leader I am. Even though there are really awful things in the world, you don’t have to sit idly by. You can put your foot down and say, ‘This has to be stopped!’ Even though it is a big bad world, we can help each other.”

Alexis will be majoring in Business Communication with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship (non-profit management). Her eventual goal is to be the CEO of GSUSA. In the meantime, she will continue to be a warrior in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children and will recruit others to stand with her in the battle

Read more about Alexis LaBenz’s story.

via Alexis La Benz: A Girl Scout fights sex trafficking on a national scale – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

Barbara Amaya has been living with a painful, devastating secret for over 40 years. She was a victim of child sex trafficking decades before there was even a term for such a thing. Only in the last few weeks, at age 55, has she been able to start telling her story. For the first time, she has a voice for her brokenness, and people are listening.

“I feel like I was raised by animals, but they would have treated me better.”

Barbara Amaya

View slideshow: Barbara Amaya today.

Family sexual abuse was not uncommon in the ’60s and ’70s, but it was not really an open matter. When Barbara tried to tell her mother of her ordeals, she was met with denial that anything had happened. Without validation or help or protection from the abusers, the cycle of rapes and molestations continued. At 12, Barbara ran away to nearby Washington, D.C. She was caught, put in detention or reform school and would eventually run again. No one ever acknowledged the abuse or asked her what was going on inside. When she was returned to her home and put in school, she knew her world was so different that she would never be able to fit back in.

Using every kind of drug she could access, the young teen was struggling to numb herself from the horrors of her world. Once, while alone in D.C., a woman befriended her and took the girl home with her. Desperately looking for love and acceptance, Barbara was a perfect target for the next stage. She was forced to prostitute herself on the street corners.

At 13, the woman sold her to a male pimp from New York. He was the “stereotypical pimp with the platform shoes and fancy car”, and he played the role of “boyfriend”. Soon, he, too, forced Barbara to sell herself. She stayed with him for about six years and complied, even though she knew she was risking her life every night on the streets of New York. Raped, beaten, shot and stabbed on numerous occasions, she ran away several times, but her captor would always find her and beat her mercilessly into submission.

When picked up by the police for prostitution, Barbara always lied that her age was 19 or 21, as instructed by the pimp, and the officers never questioned that information. They never offered her any help or alternatives. When she got out of jail, she returned to the pimp as her only option.

Barbara’s drug of choice was heroin, and she was so badly addicted that even the pimp realized she was no longer useful to him. She kept aside some of her trick money so she could buy more drugs and then got beaten up for her lies and deceit. She started staying away from the house until he finally cut her loose and left her on the street.

For two years, she lived as the walking dead, homeless, addicted and desolate. A counselor from a methadone program was able to reunite this young woman with her family, and in 1979, Barbara took a train to Philadelphia to see them. She has never looked back on that life nor been back to New York.

Barbara’s website: barbaraamaya.com

Read the rest of Barbara’s story:

via Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.