Facts and Opinions

What Consent Is…and What it Isn’t

Consent. That word has become pretty controversial over the past few years. With the #MeToo movement, so many people are mustering up the courage to come forward with their stories of sexual assault, rape, and abuse. Consent is the permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Not too hard to comprehend right? Well, for some, it’s relatively confusing.

That could have to do with rape culture says Lena Finkel in her article for Medium.com called Why is Consent So Difficult to Understand? The no means no mantra should be instilled into people’s brains, I mean it’s simply self explanatory. If you ask someone if you can eat their fries for lunch, and they say no, well there you have it…you can’t eat their fries. If your hairdresser asks if they can chop all your hair off and give you a tapered fade and you say no, guess what? They better not be chopping your hair off and giving you a tapered fade. If you are lounging on the couch with your boo Netflix and chilling (oh, how I hate that term), and he is starting to go a little bit further than you want, when you say no or stop…he better go back to paying attention to Thanos evaporating most of the Avengers on TV (spoiler I guess, but you should have seen it already. If you haven’t…what’s wrong with you?). Of course, there are people who think that no means “let me try a little bit harder to persuade you until you give in” and stop means “I’m going to do it anyways because you’ll eventually like it later on.” No is a powerful word…and there are many times where uttering that word still doesn’t give the other party the bright idea that what they’re doing is wrong and not wanted. Well how about when no isn’t said, but the act still isn’t wanted? This is where consent begins to get a little fuzzy to some.

 

To add on to the definition of consent, consent must be clear, concise, and enthusiastic. There is nothing wrong with just getting down to the nitty gritty and asking, “do you want to have sex?” I know, I know, that is probably the least sexy way to get in the mood, but better safe than sorry. If the other person does not give you a solid green light, abort the mission my friend. I mean a succinct, “yes I want to have sex with you.” If the person is hesitant, saying things a long the lines of “I guess” or “maybe” sorry bud but that’s a no. For your safety, that should be a no. If the person consents, and things are going well, and then all of a sudden the other person wants to stop, what do you do? You stop! There is this weird belief that a person can’t cease consent if they already started getting physical. I’m here to say that’s not the case at all. You can always revoke consent at any given time.

 

What about if the other person is intoxicated? Or incapacitated? In 2014, music artist Cee-Lo Green tweeted that it wasn’t rape…if the woman was unconscious. He also added, and I quote, “people who have really been raped remember.” You’d be surprised, but there are actually a few people who believe this. It’s like when someone comes into your house and takes from you when you’re not home. “Oh it’s not stealing if you’re not in your house.” If I hit you in your sleep and you don’t wake up, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t hit you, I still did. You just didn’t feel it. On January 18, 2015, Brock Allen Turner, was spotted raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. This woman experienced a significant amount of physical trauma, as well as emotional. People should be able to go out and enjoy themselves at a party, but at the moment, it’s just not something that we can do. Society tends to blame the person who blacks out or gets inebriated is shamed. Yes, a person should know their limits in terms of drinking, but we are human, people sometimes can get a little out of hand and drink more than they need to. That doesn’t mean that someone should just take advantage of them because it’s now easier for them to be manipulated. If I take a glance at your wallet while you’re at a parking meter and see a large wad of cash in there, does that give me the right to bash you over the head and take it? I mean, you opened your wallet a little too wide, obviously you wanted to get robbed. Does that make sense to you? In my personal opinion, if a person is drunk, they are not able to consent. Point. Blank. Period. You have no business trying to sleeping with a person who can barely stand or make rational decisions for themselves. A lot of people use this as a loophole. Oh she said yes so it was okay. Oh he didn’t fight back, it was fine. This person also is a light weight and gulped half a bottle of Hennessy and washed it down with Capriccio and one-third of a 4 Loko. I don’t really see the fun in having sex with a person who is on the verge of passing out or choking on their own vomit.

 

Predators like to prey on people who are more vulnerable because they have more power over the situation. A drunk person won’t really fight back as much as a sober person. What if they’re both drunk? Who takes the ownership? Even I am stumped on this. Typically, it is determined based off of the person who is the most conscious in the situation. If the person knows that they are drunk, and the other person is drunk as well, and the initiate the act, they are the ones at fault. The court would really have to go through the case with a fine tooth comb if it was ever sent to trial. This argues the fact that drunk sex can never be consensual. I don’t really know about that, but I do believe that it depends on the amount of alcohol that is being ingested. There’s a difference between tipsy and drunk. Going back to the statement I made before, who would want to have sex with a sloppy drunk person?

 

To sum up, I’ll go through a run down of what I’m talking about:

  • never assume the person wants to have sex. I don’t care if they are bumping and grinding on you in the club and singing The Weeknd’s Or Nah verbatim after deep throating a popsicle…ASK! Sorry for the graphic image.
  • pay attention to body language. If you are initiating sexual contact and the other person is not engaging enthusiastically or like they actually want to do it…stop! Remember, consent is clear and concise, and should be verbal to be safe.
  • if the other person is drunk, leave them alone. Just leave them alone. If the person is on some type of narcotics…LEAVE HER ALONE! They are not able to consent. If you’re not a shitty human being, maybe help them in some way.
  • it’s still rape if the person is unconscious. Cee-Lo Green is an idiot.
  • lastly, no means no.

 

Unfortunately, there are those people who know that no means no and that rape and sexual assault is not okay, but they don’t care. These people are mentally disturbed; disregarding a person’s well being for their own pleasure and sick compulsions. Those are the people that need the most help, but it might be too late for them. There are some pretty cruel people out there. Please be careful. Remember, you are not at fault. You are not in the wrong.

 

Here is a video that I think really helps demonstrate what consent really is:

 

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Journaling

Today’s Affirmations: Pain and Resolution

I re-watched an episode of Uncensored on the television station TV One. This particular episode was on a woman by the name of Tami Roman. For those of you that don’t know who she is, she is most known for being a cast member on the VH1 hit Basketball Wives, as well as being on the original season of The Real World. I didn’t really know much about her, but I really did learn a lot about her life. My Mother used to watch this series, and she would say that Tami could be a force to be reckoned with, and now that I have seen her episode of Uncensored, I can kind of see why.

This woman was sexually abused not once…but twice in her life. The first time was when she was eight years old by her Mother’s boyfriend. I wrote an essay on child sexual abuse. If you didn’t read it, please take the time to do so. The psychological turmoil a child can go through when it comes to being violated at an early age…the list goes on and on. Then while getting gas with a friend, she had her jewelry stolen off her body and was forced to drive to an abandoned warehouse where her and her friend were sexually abused for four days until the person finally let them go. The anger she must have felt; the anger and frustration. I am sure that incident caused her to put her walls up and go into attack mode when she senses that someone is attacking her. I kind of do the same thing. I recently had a person tell me that I was too aggressive, and that if I think someone is trying to pick a fight with me, I shut down or go off…there isn’t really much of a gray area. With that being said, I wanted to focus on pain, anger and of course resolution. Sometimes we can’t control the things that happen to us. The pain and trauma that is inflicted upon us against our will is not our fault. It has no bearing on who you are and has everything to do with them. The mantra is of course for healing any guilt or shame that comes with the wrongdoing that has been forced upon you, as well as soothing the anger and frustration that comes with remembering.

I am not at fault

I am not my trauma

I AM NOT MY TRAUMA

I am not my pain

I may be frustrated now, but I won’t be for the rest of my life

What they did has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them

It’s okay to be angry

It’s okay to not be okay

It’s okay to reach out for help

I will be healed

I will be whole

When I begin to think about the past, I will focus even more on the present and the future

I am my own hero

I am strong…but it’s okay not to be sometimes

This too shall pass

Things will get better

I will continue to have faith…and if I have none at the moment, it will come to me

I will exercise my emotions in a healthy and positive way

I will regulate my emotions when they seem to be too much

Positivity is just beyond the horizon

I will surround myself with people who care about my well being

I will surround myself with people who want me to do better

I will be around people who treat me the way that I should be treated

I will treat people better

I will evolve positively in all aspect of my life

All me hopes and dreams will come into fruition.

I will be alright

 

 

 

 

 

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Facts and Opinions

A 12 Year Old Black Boy Is Still A Child

In the black community, a twelve year old is seen as grown. Tamir Rice was that very age when he was gunned down by the police in 2014 for playing with a toy gun. A 12-year-old black girl in New York was told to remove her clothing by the police because they thought that she had drugs on her person. Black children grow up much faster than they’re supposed to, and we can attribute that to how society depicts us. We’re aggressive, loud, and unruly individuals. Black boys are just being bred to be gang members and drug dealers, while young girls are fast; growing up to just be unwed Mothers. I don’t know how many times I was told not to be “fast” growing up by my parents, grandparents, and other adults in my life. Since when does wearing shorts constitute that I suddenly had an affinity for grown men? I understand now that they were saying this to warn me and keep me safe.

This notion has stuck with us ever since we were brought over as slaves in the 1700s; black men and women just being okay with whatever happens to their bodies, as if they were some type of doll; a possession. What angers me is the fact that our people are feeding into these lies, and are inflicting pain because of them. On this blog, I talk quite a bit about sexual assault. As a black woman who has been through my share, I know that it has a long lasting affect on a person. The amount of pain, anger, confusion, and frustration that one goes through is almost unbearable. I have literally thrown up over the stories that I have heard of black women who have been inappropriately touched by older men. Some women were as old as six being touched on by men ten times their senior. As we uplift the black queens that have endured this misconduct, we have to remember that this is the case for black men who have been through rape and sexual assault as well.

We must uplift them too, and listen to their stories. Almost every male that I have spoken to has told me some sort of story about them being sexual with a woman much older than he while they were under the age of 17 or 18. It doesn’t matter how old the person looks, if they are under the age of 18, they are not of legal age to consent to anything sexual. Hell, they aren’t really of legal age to consent to anything. Recently, a 21-year-old woman was confronted by her friends because she was having sexual relations with a 12-year-old. Not only did she do that, but she documented it on her phone, and gave the boy an STD (and you best believe that she knew she had it). One of the friends had let this woman into her home and shared it with her. She had the audacity to betray her trust and rape her friend’s little cousin. I wanted to kind of highlight the reasons why she engaged in this behavior with the young man. She claims that this boy was coming on to her and touching on her, and that’s how the incident started. I want to say that this is complete and utter bullshit…pardon my language. Even if the little boy did all of that, you didn’t have to have sex with him! Push him away and use it as a teaching moment, and if he’s being aggressive, tell someone about it. Tell him that what he was doing was not okay. Don’t indulge. Do you have no self control? I agree with the woman in the video telling her off. That was no excuse, she’s just trying to play victim. In an Instagram live that the boy’s cousin was giving, she said that the rapist mentioned that he started to look good to her after awhile. This woman also said that the rapist also claimed that it was more exciting to do something that was illegal. She thought that it was thrilling. She bragged that she was having sex with him…get this…four to five times a day! A day! For two weeks. This woman recorded their sexual encounters. She even sent them to a friend. You see, pedophiles are not just creepy white men in their late fifties with salt and pepper beards and cargo shorts, they can be young, attractive black women.

There were men in the comments section of the video saluting this young man, saying what had happened to him was not that bad. They think that a young boy having sex with an older woman is some type of prize that they should take pride in; like a badge of courage. A close family member of mine was nine years old when he lost his virginity to an 18-year-old. His brother, who was 12 years older than him allowed it to happen. He actually set it up. This person is one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met, and even he couldn’t see that what had happened to him was rape. This little boy was raped; there isn’t any other way that you can spin it. In our culture, we are brainwashed to think that black boys aren’t as affected by sexual assault as we are because wanting to have sex is in their nature. This whole scenario (without the disease) is seen as a fantasy. In a YouTube video, Lil Wayne was detailing how he lost his virginity at the age of 11 to a grown woman. The people in the room were laughing as he retold the story, but there was nothing funny about anything that he said. DeRay Davis in a VladTV interview said that he was raped as a little boy by two grown women in their thirties. He tried to make a joke about it, but again…there’s nothing funny. And you can’t forget R.Kelly. Robert Kelly…where do I begin? He stated that he had been sexually abused by a family member from the time he was seven or eight to 14 or 15. I know one of those abusers was his older sister, and someone probably abused her, and so on and so forth.

Going back to the essay that I wrote on child sexual abuse, the psychological effects that this young man may have will be brutal. This child could grow to resent women. He could shut down from physical contact all together. He could go the opposite route and engage in reckless sexual activity, putting himself and others in danger. He could exhibit severe emotional issues later on in life. He could show symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Sex may be distorted because of this situation. There is so much that this little boy could be going through. As a future psychiatrist (I am speaking it into existence) it is my mission to help people; guiding them out of guilt and shame from something that they didn’t even do. Like the little boy in the video, most of these boys are touched by a family friend. Most of them are assaulted between the ages of nine and 13.

Just because the person has a penis, it doesn’t mean that person is always the aggressor. Being raped is not a way of entering manhood; that happens naturally. If a 13 year old girl was raped by a 23-year-old, does that now make her a woman? No, it doesn’t does it? Why is it any different for a man? Tommy J. Curry of Texas A&M knows all too well about this subject. In his book, The Man-Not: Race, Class and Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, he goes into the lack of victim hood that black boys experience in terms of sexual assault. “The hyper-masculinity of the Black male brute resonates in the minds of observers and theorists as a denial of his sexual victimization and rape by women.” You can rape a man. Men aren’t just these sex crazed animals, they have boundaries as well. Like I stated earlier, even in our community, black boys are not seen as children. They are seen as brutes, savages…even monsters, just because of their race and the way they look.

The woman who raped this 12-year-old boy will not have it easy in life. Not only is she a rapist, but she’s a sex offender. The crimes that she committed can result in a few legal charges; statutory rape, child pornography, and attempted murder for the STD (I think). This woman is a predator and she needs psychological help. Talk to your sons. Talk to your brothers. Let them know that older women preying on them is not okay. Hear their stories and don’t ignore your friends when they tell you about their traumatic sexual encounters. Let them know that you support them and are sorry that those women did those things to them at such a tender age. Black men, don’t suppress your pain and bury it, it will only fester and explode in your face in the long run. Protect yourselves; your bodies, your minds, your spirits. Please get the help that you need. It’s alright to get help. It’s okay to reach out for guidance. You deserve to heal just like everybody else.

Video posted below:

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Facts and Opinions

Sexual Abuse in Children

Sexual Abuse in Children: Before, During, and After

In 1978, the Children’s Division of American Humane Association reported that an estimate of around 100,000 children were sexually abused each year. That was forty-one years ago, and as of now, the number has skyrocketed. Government officials state that this number has risen up to 700 million children worldwide. One out of ten children have gone through some type of sexual abuse. As much as that number is alarming, it unfortunately is the reality for many children in the United States. These acts of violation can heavily affect a child’s brain; biologically and psychologically. This stunts their development, as well as hinders future mental thought processes as one gets older.

    Sexual assault may seem relatively easy to detect, but to this day, it still isn’t understood completely. When anyone intentionally hurts of harms a person psychologically, sexually, physically, or with acts of neglect, this is known as abuse. Child sexual abuse is the exact same thing, just with a minor (typically seventeen and under) involved. A child under no circumstances can consent to doing anything sexual with anyone of consenting age. When an adult engages in any inappropriate acts with a minor, they are knowingly exposing the child to irreversible damage; obstructing one’s vulnerability. One thing to note is that child sexual abuse isn’t just always physical contact, although that is the case in many situations. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, says some of these acts are, and certainly not limited to:

  • Exhibitionism, a mental condition in which a person is compelled to display one’s genitals in public.

  • Fondling (stroke or caress erotically)

  • Masturbation in the presence of a child

  • Forcing a child to masterbate in front of them

  • Obscene phone calls, text messages, online chat rooms, or any digital interaction

  • Producing, owning, or sharing child pornography

  • Sexual harassment

    The people who commonly inflict these acts of violation are people that these minor may know and see on a regular basis, which makes it a lot easier to manipulate the person; teachers, coaches, instructors, caretaker, an older sibling, parent, step-parent, parent of a friend, and even their friends. As many as ninety three percent of children know the perpetrator. This drives a wedge into a person’s trust, creating those issues and letting them manifest into their behaviors later on in life.

    There are a few tell-tell signs of sexual assault in children; both physical and biological like stated earlier. The signs may be easier to discern depending on the age of the child. For instance, the average age for menstruation in young women is around twelve, so if a twelve year old is bleeding from ill-suited activity, sexual abuse might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Now, if a person is examining a four year old with vaginal bleeding, that may raise a few red flags. Bleeding is a common sign, but so is sudden bruising or swelling in the genital region. Torn articles of clothing, difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or peeling, burning, and or agitation in or around the vagina, penis, or buttocks.

    The brain is one of the most complex and fragile organs inside the human body. It is made up of over billions of different nerves; communicating in the trillions by connecting in sequences called synapses. This typically occurs around three years of age. In the early stages of brain development, neural connections and skills form first, followed by more complex thought processes, circuits, and abilities (Harvard). A child’s mind is impressionable; like a sponge, absorbing every experience that they come across. In Piaget’s Theory of Development, he states that human beings build up mental structures to adapt to the world around them. Children constantly construct their own “cognitive worlds.” At the beginning of the sensorimotor stage, mental changes begin to occur. Infants construct their understanding of the world by their own senses. After the sensorimotor stage comes the preoperational stage, a stage that begins from the age of two and ends at the age of seven. During this age range, Vygotsky says that children begin to develop their own way of thinking, and this is shaped primarily through social interaction. Children’s minds are shaped my cultural context. Imagine a child who has been molested, how do you think they are going to internalize that? What does this do to their cognitive developments and functions?

    The stages of brain development are quite extensive. When a young child experiences trauma, the effects are much more profound and much more internally damaging. No new neurons are made after birth, but once the brain is developed, the neurons that are already there begin to rewire. Old connections disconnect and become no more, while new experiences attach to one another. This is an example of the brain’s plasticity, the brain’s ability to be shaped and molded. Trauma that occurs during childhood can change the development of the brain as well as the structure of it. The amygdala (an almond shaped set of neurons located deep in the temporal lobe that has control over processing emotions), hippocampus (a small curved formation in the brain that is involved in the shaping of new memories), and prefrontal cortex (the cerebral cortex covering the front part of the frontal lobe, said to plan complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior) are areas of the brain implicated in the stress response. Traumatic stress can be associated with increased amounts of cortisol and norepinephrine responses to subsequent stressors (Bremner). Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body. These processes include metabolism and the immune system response. When cortisol levels are at such high amounts for prolonged periods of time, things such as weight gain, high blood pressure, disrupted sleep, negative moods, and a reduction in energy can occur. In a 2011 study conducted by Concordia University, many children who have behavioral issues have been shown to have an abnormally higher levels of cortisol than more well-behaving children.

    This goes into behavioral signs of abuse. According to RAINN, some children after being molested refuse to bathe or execute proper hygiene. They may not take much initiative in their clothes or their hair, refusing to brush it or comb it, and not washing the things that they wear or not putting much thought into how their clothes look. Parents and teachers should notice lowering or failing grades, as well as kids just not showing up to school to begin with. It’s pretty telling when a straight A student is suddenly getting D’s and F’s on their report cards. They may also run away from places that may be deemed as “safe” like school or home. They also say that children may also:

  • Develop some sort of phobia

  • Become overly protective over siblings and friends

  • Have more knowledge about sex or sexual activities than the average child

  • Nightmares

  • Bed wetting

  • Returns to regressive behaviors like thumb sucking for comfort

  • Feels threatened by any physical contact

  • Self harm

  • Exhibits signs of depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)

    Within the psychological field, many professionals are still puzzled as to why people feel the need to take advantage of minors. The debate between sex and power is heavily argued. What is the nature of the problem? Child sexual abuse is classified as a sexual problem, while some textbooks on human sexuality consider it a sexual variation. When treating a child predator, professionals orient their treatments toward sexual aberration; loosening sexual tension and temporarily quenching their sexual desires and thirst. Some sexual offenders are given antilibidinal drugs to try and suppress their sexual libido. There are two types of medications that physicians prescribe; those that decrease testosterone (e.g. progestogens, antiandrogens, and gonadotropin releasing hormones) and those that reduce sexual drives (antipsychotics and serotonergic antidepressants). Six studies examined if three of the drugs listed previously were successful in lowering testosterone. The study showed that there was no re-offence within the two year follow-up. Secondary outcomes have shown that these perverted fantasies were brought down in people being treated, however, the offences did not cease. The testosterone levels correlated with the amount of sexual activity (Khan, Ferriter, Huband, Powney, Dennis, Duggan).

    Of course, the most important thing is the betterment of the child that has been affected. The child is innocent in this situation, and therapy is to help stifle trauma from progressing. Allison N. Sinanan, a social work professor at Stockton University, says that psychotherapy aids as the first model of a healthy relationship. The goal for this treatment is to jumpstart healing, nurture themselves through positive relationships, and so on and so forth. The goal for the psychologist or the person who is evaluating the child is to develop a sturdy relationship with that child. Psychotherapy helps rework trauma into a healthier sense of self. PTSD is a huge reality for children who have gone through abuse, and counseling is supposed to teach them how to “identify, reframe, and evaluate the dysfunctional cognitions related to the specific trauma and its sequelae that contribute to the intense negative emotions and behavioral reactions.” One of the methods that’s used in therapy is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). In a 2011 study, this way of therapy was effective in improving participant symptomatology, with the eight session condition including the trauma narrative being the most effective when it comes to abuse specific distress and child abuse related fear and general anxiety. EDMR, or eye desensitization and reprocessing is another treatment method. It allows clients to process an emotional experience that the survivor does not feel comfortable talking about as of yet. Directive questioning is used to desensitize the client through brief imagined exposure to the memory that proves traumatic. This method was originally created for adults who suffer from PTSD, but the use of this type of therapy is now an option for children and adolescents. Using an eight phase approach, the therapist will have the survivor recollect distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input like side to side eye movement. Another popular option is group therapy. This is considered the treatment of choice when working with sexually abused adolescents (Lindon). This is an environment in which children can interact with one another; giving them a sense that they aren’t alone; promoting a sense of support. Group therapy provides benefits beyond what individual therapy is able to achieve by providing increased empowerment and psychological well being (Yalom and Lezczc). People have said that it is easier to express their feelings knowing that what they’ve gone through others in the room have gone through at well. Group therapy has shown to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety by significant amounts (Westbury and Tutty). Many ways of healing come with counseling and work socially, but medication can also be given to a child sexual abuse survivor, however, it is not discussed as much as the different modes of therapy listed above. There has always been a debate in terms of medicating children and whether it is necessary; stating that it masks the problem instead of solving it. There is only minimal evidence that shows implementing sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, caused any clinical improvement for children with comorbid depression. However, there was a significant improvement in people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

   

In a case study done by Christiana Balan, a faculty member of Psychology and Educational Sciences within Spiru Haret University, she examines Daria, an eleven year old girl born in Rupea, a town in Transylvania, Romania who was sexually abused by her Uncle. During her psychological evaluation, Balan discovered that Daria was exposed to numerous traumatic situations, as well as being neglected by her Mother. In the past, the young girl has also been hospitalized and institutionalized. Due to the circumstances that Daria was in and the actions that were inflicted towards her, she was moved to a safer environment and was forced to undergo an intensive program of psychological counseling. Balan then broke down the process of assessment of this little girl. In the beginning of her treatment, Daria exhibited some of the signs that were mentioned before such as depressive moods and heightened emotions, but towards the end of the assessment, Balan was able to see a change. Over time, Daria was able to establish a healthy relationship with her assessor built on trust and unconditional acceptance. Unfortunately, the young girl exhibited mixed emotional disorder with anxiety-depressive and maladaptive components. She showed emotional lability, low resistance to frustration, excessive crying, and being quite malleable. Psychologically, she was not reaching the maturity levels that most eleven year olds are at. Daria is apart of the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. During this time, Daria and her peers would be able to accurately imagine the consequences of something occurring without it really needing to. Children within the concrete operational stage, they think of “what if” scenarios.

In the case of Daria and people who have been through what she’s been through, in recovery, short term and long term goals are established. For short term goals, mental health professionals want to be able to get the full story of the abuse that took place in the client’s life; the frequency, duration, and the nature of the abuse that took place. Next would be expressing and identifying feelings that stem from the abuse; breaking away from keeping certain information secretive. After that would possibly be telling someone that they trust about the things that have happened. The main thing initially is being honest; with themselves, with their family members, and being honest with their therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Getting rid of shame and guilt would be another goal, as well as reminding them that what took place was nowhere near their fault. Trying to reduce emotional intensity and stabilize unbalanced moods and mindsets. The child needs to learn to build their self-esteem, improve positive social skills, and work on boundaries. Long term goals include stopping sexual victimization in children; controlling emotions and behaviors that come with sexual abuse. Working on acceptance and forgiveness can be hard, but once it is done, the client has unlocked a huge key in healing. Over time, the child should want to overcome the traumatic event, eliminating denial of what has happened. Being able to see themselves in a positive light would be a step towards the right direction.

    The long term effects on child sexual abuse survivors depends on the person, as well as the amount of treatment they do or do not get. Some people may exhibit higher levels of depression, guilt, self-blame, shame, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, denial, repression, as well as future relationship problems and sexual problems. Depression is the most common trait that an adult may have after being abused as a child. The survivors may have a habit of thinking negatively about themselves an internalizing their abuse (Hartman). They tend to display more destructive actions years after the abuse, sometimes even blaming themselves for what has happened (Browne and Finklehor). Physical image issues and body dysmorphia can relate to feeling dirty and not whole; picking up disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia (Ratican). Survivors may even resort to physical harm like cutting or body mutilation. Interpersonal relationships can be a difficult task, as the abuse may make the survivor afraid of getting to know new people. This can grow into trust issues, skewed boundaries, passive behaviors, and getting involved in abusive relationships. Abuse survivors may deflect from physical touch all together; fearing intimacy and any sense of commitment. If they are able to go further with sexual experiences, they may not be able to reach orgasm. Sexual abuse survivors were more likely to have erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or vaginal pain during sex. This can lead to an array of arousal disorders.

    When an adult who has suffered through sexual abuse is trying to resolve the issues that have come with it, there are a series of different therapy methods that a mental health professional may introduce. Wendy Maltz in 2001 says that the best way to resolve internal conflict is to locate where the sexual and intimacy issues stem from. Client empowerment; making the person feel safe and worthy of validation. They must gain skills to be immersed into a normal way of life. Sometimes the client may hinder from disclosing information about the attack, whether it be from embarrassment or pride. The mental health professional may help the person engage in beginning healthy relationships with others; platonically and romantically. According to Feinauer in a 1996 study, people who were able to better adjust to relationships has a drop in depression. If the survivor is already in a long term relationship, the professional now takes on the role of teacher; educating their partner on the long term effects of child sexual abuse so that they can actively be apart of the healing process. Counselors can help couples integrate positive and effective communication, trust, respect, and equality in their partnership (Maltz). Sometimes however, the complete opposite occurs. Some people may show extreme sexual pleasures like compulsive sexual behavior, inappropriate seduction, sexualizing every relationship that they make, promiscuity, and sadistic and masochistic fantasies. The survivors must learn to develop a positive sexual self concept, lowering negative sexual tendencies.

    Every ninety-two seconds someone is sexually assaulted. Every nine minutes the person is a child. From 2009 to the year 2013, Child Protective Services states that around 64,000 kids a year are molested in the United States; a majority of them being between the ages of twelve and seventeen. 18.34% of children are underneath the age of twelve. These children are thrust into a life that they did not ask for; a life that they did not deserve. Out of one thousand attackers, only five of them are reprimanded…only five. With psychology and science, people are making more efforts to aid people into recovery, while preventing attacks from repeating. More and more people are speaking out; letting their voices be heard and advocating for survivors to speak as well.

Bibliography

Maltz, W. (2002). Treating the sexual intimacy concerns of sexual abuse survivors. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17(4), 321-327.

Feinauer, L., Callahan, E. & Hilton, H. G. (1996). Positive intimate relationships decrease depression in sexually abused women. American Journal of Family Therapy, 24(2), 99-106.

Ratican, K. (1992). Sexual abuse survivors: Identifying symptoms and special treatment considerations. Journal of Counseling & Development, 71(1), 33-38.

Browne, A., & Finkelhor, D. (1986), Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 66-77.

Hartman, M., Finn, S., & Leon, G. (1987). Sexual-abuse experiences in a clinical population: Comparisons of familial and nonfamilial abuse. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 24(2), 154-159.

Hall, M., & Hall, J. (2011). The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse: Counseling implications. Retrieved from http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas11/Article_19.pdf

“Cognitive Development: Piaget’s Concrete Operations.” MentalHealth.net. https://www.mentalhelp.net/cognitive-development/piagets-concrete-operations/

Staron, V. Perel, JM. Mannarino, AP. Cohen, JA. (2007)  “A pilot randomized controlled trial of combined trauma-focused CBT and sertraline for childhood PTSD symptoms.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17581445

Westbury E, Tutty LM (1999) The efficacy of group treatment for survivors of childhood abuse.Child Abuse Negl 23: 31-44.

Yalom and Leszcz (2005) The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy.(5thedn) Basic Books.

Lindon J, Nourse CA (1994) A multi-dimensional model of groupwork for adolescent girls who have been sexually abused.Child Abuse Negl 18: 341-348.

Steer, RA. Runyon, MK. Cohen, JA. Mannarino, AP. Deblinger, E. (2011) “ Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children: impact of the trauma narrative and treatment length.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20830695

Khan O, Ferriter M, Huband N, Powney MJ, Dennis JA, Duggan, C. “Drug treatments for sexual offenders or those at risk of offending.” https://www.cochrane.org/CD007989/BEHAV_drug-treatments-for-sexual-offenders-or-those-at-risk-of-offending

S, Sgroi. “Handbook of Clinical Intervention in Child Sexual Abuse.” Simon and Schuster. (https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XfBX3y5O8WcC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=child+sexual+abuse+therapy&ots=8k_5MrnnMo&sig=0bRARM9MBjUqydhTW6rt4numD2w#v=onepage&q=child%20sexual%20abuse%20therapy&f=false

(2011) C, Balan.“Child Abuse: Case Study.”  Spiru Haret University. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/75db/2726f183504dee81f296685bb3a73122d62b.pdf

“Behavioral Problems Linked to Cortisol Levels” (2011) Concordia University.  http://www.concordia.ca/cunews/main/releases/2011/02/09/behavioral-problems-linked-to-cortisol-levels.html

K, Singer. “Myths and Facts about Male Sexual Abuse and Assault.” 1 in 6.org. https://1in6.org/get-information/myths/

(2019) “Cortisol” YouandYourHormones.org. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/cortisol/

J, Douglas Bremner. (2006) “Traumatic Stress: Effects on the Brain.” NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181836/

(2016) “Timeline: brain development from birth.” Queensland Government. https://www.earlyyearscount.earlychildhood.qld.gov.au/age-spaces/timeline-brain-development-birth/

“Brain Architecture.” Harvard University. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/

(2019) “A look at child abuse on a global level.” The Protection of Minors in the Church. https://www.pbc2019.org/protection-of-minors/child-abuse-on-the-global-level

E. Olafson. (2011) “Child Sexual Abuse: Demography, Impact, and Interventions.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19361521.2011.545811   

A, Wilbert Burgess. “Sexual Assault of Children and Adolescence.” Lexington Books. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=h2uIOTSvoRUC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=sexual+assault+in+children&ots=1z7RXDYn6f&sig=d-ThZM6tiS9WpCIkABH_8ryeqkc#v=onepage&q=sexual%20assault%20in%20children&f=false

“Child Sexual Abuse-Guidelines for Medico-Legal Care For Victims of Sexual Violence.” MedLeg. https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/resources/publications/en/guidelines_chap7.pdf

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Journaling

Today’s Affirmations: In A Healing Place

I am in a healthy space

I am where I am supposed to be

I do not fear the future

I do not live by my past

I will keep going

I know I will be successful

I will achieve pure happiness

I will make my younger self proud

It’s never too late to change

I will change for the better

I am excited for what’s to come

I will heal in every way, shape, or form

Everything I need to heal is within me

I will grow positively

I will grow in self-love

You are not your faults or traumatic experiences

I am strong

I am amazing

I can be anything I want to be

I love myself

I love myself

I love myself

xoxo

 

 

 

 

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Facts and Opinions

What, to the American Slave, is your Fourth of July?

There are countless pictures of me taken on the Fourth of July. They’re probably somewhere in the attic buried under old blankets and clothes that I can’t fit anymore. I’m standing in front of my house, holding a few American flags, the gap in my tooth looking bigger than I remembered it to be. Since I am naturally an “extra” person, I gave Uncle Sam a run for his money. I was covered in red, white, and blue. I was the human form of the American flag. At that age, I didn’t realize that the “holiday” that I was celebrating was not a representative of me or my people. Some call today, July 4th, Independence Day. I’ll give a brief history, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows it by now. If you’re American, it was shoved into our brains as soon as we started school.

July 2nd, 1776, the Congress voted in favor for independence from the British. Two days later, July 4th for those who can’t count, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Since then, people have been celebrating by firing up the grill and lighting up their fireworks. I cringe when I think about my star spangled ass running around the family barbecue. Now, it makes me cringe when I see people…my people…wearing red, white, and blue, wishing others a Happy Fourth. I just want to grab a hold of their shoulders and say, “THIS HOLIDAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!!! YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT!?!?!?”

On July 5th, statesmen, writer, orator, social reformist, and of course, abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, delivered one of his most known speeches to date, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?” It goes as follows:

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?…

I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Let me give a rough summation of what he’s saying; how the hell does this have anything to do with me and my people? This independence is for you white sons of guns and not me. I’m sure Mr. Douglass’s explanation would be a lot more complex, but hopefully now you get the picture if you didn’t take the time to read all of Frederick Douglass’s speech. Let’s think about the current problems that are taking place today. The government is literally losing children in their custody; separating them from their families and having them lay on tin foil to keep warm. I mean you see it all over your Twitter feed, it’s not like it isn’t happening. They are literally in cages. Black people are still being shot down like it’s deer season. People are still being denied basic human rights. Black people and people of color are still looked at as second class citizens. Black people were not freed until 1865, and even after that, we are still being degraded due to our looks, but it seems like every little white girl from California is trying to tan as much as possible to get that bronze look, and plumping their lips up with filler.

I’ve kind of strayed from the topic at had a little bit, but all I’m saying is that my fellow black people! This day is not for us. We aren’t celebrating our freedom, we are reveling in our enslavement. The day has passed, but if you want to celebrate “freedom,” celebrate Juneteeth (June 19th). June 19th, 1965 was the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, as well as the emancipation of slavery through the confederate states of America. That day is also my birthday, so I especially hold that day near and dear to my heart. There are so many people who share the same skin tone as me who saw this past June 19th as just a regular day.

How can we celebrate the Fourth of July when the freedom does not cross over to us? Like Frederick Douglass said, we have nothing to do with your independence. So when you’re igniting sparklers and waving American flags around, stop for a minute and gaze into that red, white and blue…does this really represent me?

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Journaling

Damaged Goods

I am damaged goods. It’s hard to admit that, but I am. I’m the dented soup can at Jewel-Osco. I’m the slightly torn sweater at the top of the shelf. I have been through so much, at this point, it’s starting to feel like novocaine; numb, a grand loss of feeling. I have opened up about my pain, and I have had a mix of reactions. This vulnerability has jeopardized friendships. It hurts when a person looks at you a different way. The conversations are no longer there. They are nervous around you; they think you’re a ticking time bomb. This admission has pushed “what could have been” relationships in my head. After being told everything under the sun about his life, I decided to share a little of mine (after asking if it was alright of course)…only to be told that I was “too much.” Whew! I can only imagine if I told him the rest of my story. He might have filed a restraining order against me. Jokes aside, that crippled me on the inside. I started to think that I didn’t deserve friends. I started to think that I didn’t deserve love. I started to think that I would never be able to reach a sense of normalcy. Will I ever heal? Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually…will things ever be at peace?

I am damaged goods, but so are you. Now wait…wait, don’t get upset. I know that isn’t something that someone wants to be called, but it’s true. Everyone is or has been damaged in one way or another. If a person tells another person that they are damaged, they need to find the nearest mirror and say the exact same thing. Everyone has been through something, no matter how big or small it may seem, we have all been through something. Whether it’s as small as failing a test, or being molested as a toddler, neither one of us is perfect. As an extremely Type A individual, this is the hardest thing to take in. I am not perfect. I am not this all mighty being. Now, I am nowhere near average. I am extraordinary, I am powerful…I have so much strength, I haven’t even unlocked all of it yet. However, I am still human. I mess up, and so do others. I messed things up for myself, and people have messed things up for me. I’ve tripped over rocks in the road and fallen into craters, but I didn’t stay on the ground, I got up and kept walking.

After throwing my own pity party, cake, party hats and everything, I decided to search “damaged goods” on YouTube. A little online self-soothing can do the soul good sometimes. I came across this video by Pastor Michael Todd. He has a whole series on being so called damaged. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says (I don’t consider being gay damaged), but some of the points he makes resonate. In the first video of the series, he used this very clever visual to let his audience get the picture. On the stage was a nicely wrapped present. It had a nice shiny red bow on it; if you saw this present underneath your Christmas tree, your eyes would probably be attracted to it first. As he continued to talk about life taking over, he began to defile this box. He cut the wrapping paper off of it. He scratched the cardboard underneath it. He poked holes in the box, poured chocolate syrup on the box…he just messed this box up. Looking on the outside, no one would want to choose that box now. It’s less than perfect. It’s dirty, it’s tattered, it doesn’t look like how it used to. But inside the box? Inside…nothing had been touched. Inside of the box was this expensive pair of tennis shoes; not a blemish on them. Tye Tribbet did something similar. The video actually went viral a little while ago. He had offered one of his church goers twenty dollars. He bent the bill. “Do you still want it?” The woman that he was offering it to did. He then started throwing the twenty dollars around, stomping on it every way that it goes. When asked if the woman still wanted it, she did. No matter if it has been stepped on or ripped…it’s still twenty dollars! It still has value. You still have value. The outside is so over hyped. A lot of people try to make the exterior look pretty and flawless because they’re afraid to put in the real work to fix the inside. I know I can say for myself I was like that. Going back to the shoe box scenario, on the outside I may have been through something, but on the inside, nothing is touched. The pain, the agony, the suffering…it cannot penetrate the soul. It can’t pierce my heart. It is not the definition of me.

That guy that told me that I was too much, I wish him well, but he was wrong. Being “too much” is just enough for me and the ones that are meant to be in my life. He wasn’t meant to be, and it hurt…it hurt. I cried, questioned my worth, almost thought of begging him to reconsider and try…TRY to love me. How pathetic is that? I’ll answer that for you…VERY! At that time, I thought that this person was going to be it for me. I thought we were going to grow as one and so on and so forth. When it comes to healing, sometimes you have to get down and dirty with yourself. I am hurt in my love life after putting my trust in people who had no business handling it and having it fail. I have a bad relationship with my body. Ever since I was a child, I have never felt my body was my own. Yes, I might think I look nice in that body con dress I bought from Pretty Little Things, but that’s just the surface level. How do I feel about it on the inside? I’ve been told that I was too chubby as a child, later going on to have people use my body and violate it. I feel a detachment with my body. I feel a detachment when it comes to my own emotions. I feel a detachment when it comes to myself. It’s like there are two of me, but one, they two halves will be a whole. You might not want to do it, and you may be a little stubborn, but once you pinpoint the area in where you are “damaged,” the healing will only come that much quicker.

Finding pleasure in pain is no way to live, it’s not. I’ve been holding on to so much anger; what people used to say to me, what people have done to me, what they said I wouldn’t do…that change is rooted in me. It’s time to push that stubborn spirit aside, and say enough is enough. I’m comfortable living in fear; struggling while trying to live my best life. Let’s dissect that sentence; struggling while trying to live my best life. Struggle? Best life? The two do not belong in the same sentence. When your best life comes, there will be no struggle. Now the journey there, well that might be a different story. We are constantly changing, so our “best lives” will always be changing. Whatever hit or miss that comes into your life may nick you, and it may leave a little scar, but it does not touch the soul. The soul is untouchable.

The soul is untouchable.

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