Women’s History Month Spotlight: Judy Byington – Author of “Twenty-Two Faces”

Judy Byington

Name and Occupation: Judy Byington, MSW, LCSW, retired; CEO, Trauma Research Center, former Supervisor, Alberta Mental Health, Director, Provo Family Counseling Center and Author, “Twenty-Two Faces: Inside the Extraordinary Life of Jenny Hill and Her Twenty-Two Multiple Personalities” What do … Continue reading

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How to Tell If You Are in An Abusive Relationship

abusive relationship

Domestic abuse encompasses many forms of abusive relationships. This could pertain to spousal or partner abuse, as well as child abuse. If you are in a relationship with a person, it’s important to protect yourself and your rights. You have … Continue reading

Darkness to Light: Tips for Selecting Caregivers for Your Children

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As parents and caregivers, we must often rely on individuals outside the immediate family to take care of our children.  To ensure safety we must ask appropriate questions of potential caregivers.  Some of these questions may be a bit scary … Continue reading

What We Can Learn From Penn State

It’s unfortunate that it takes national headlines to get people talking about a problem that is all too prevalent in our society.  However, we can take advantage of this opportunity to shine the light on the issue of child sexual abuse and recognize that we all have a responsibility to protect children.
  • This issue is not about big universities, celebrity, or one headline.  It’s not about reputations, or legacies, or any one institution.  This issue is about children
  • We have have to step into the reality that there are people in our midst that would rob children of their innocence and they are people we know and trust.  They will go out of their way to appear above reproach and they will infiltrate our families and organizations where they can have easy access to children. 
  • It takes tremendous courage for children and adults that have been abused to come forward and our reactions can create a safe and supportive environment for others to share their story.  We must support and honor the courage of victims and survivors and work together to put an end to the sexual abuse of innocent children. 
  • Child safety is the job of an adult.  Teaching children how to keep themselves safe from abuse is important, but adults bear the burden of stepping up and speaking out when something doesn’t look or feel right with respect to the well being of a child.  Reporting sexual abuse is simply the right thing to do regardless of one’s legal responsibility as a mandated reporter.  If you see something or suspect abuse, call the police.                       
  • The ramifications of not acting responsibly are clear.  More abuse occurs, more children are harmed, fewer children get the help they so deserve.  To be silent bystanders is to be complicit in its occurrence and wake. To intervene is to ensure that a child is treated and supported, that they are healed and better protected from the potential lifelong hardships of the trauma they’ve experienced.                       
  • Child sexual abuse is preventable.  We can learn the facts, we can acknowledge the reality, we can talk to other adults, we can ensure youth serving organizations have comprehensive child protection policy, and we can talk to our children.  Awareness and education is the answer.
  • The fight against child abuse cannot be the job of one individual or agency; it has to be a collaborative effort.  It will take all of us to change culture–to one where engaged adults offer no access to children and no place for a perpetrator to commit their heinous acts. 
  • We can be stuck in the shock and horror at stories in the headlines or we can stay focused on the things we can all do today that better protect children.  

Ways to Get Involved

  • Learn the 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children.                       
  • Find out more about Stewards of Children, a training for adults on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.                       
  • Take Stewards of Children online now.                        
  • Join the Movement to end child sexual abuse.

Top Story – Sex and Relationships with Mikaya Heart: Give Thanks!

Since it’s Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to suggest that we all give thanks to our bodies. That’s actually something I recommend on a daily basis. Most of us take our bodies for granted, frequently forcing them to do all kinds of things that they really don’t want to do, running around all day long instead of taking time to sit and relax. We need to develop a good relationship with our bodies; we need to learn to listen to them. We are partners for life with the body we were born into, so make the best of it. Our bodies want to please us but like everything else, they need love and attention. One of the best ways to give them that is to make love. There is nothing like a good orgasm to make the body happy.

Sex always involves the body, and good sex requires that you are absolutely present in your body. We are energetic beings as well as physical beings, and some of us are not in the habit of having both in the same place. While the physical body is on one side of the room, your energetic body may be on the other side. (Really, that happens.) One of the wonderful things about sex is that when you start feeling sexual desire, you become absolutely present and integrated, and nothing else matters. You are all in one place with one focus. It’s good to have that experience of being absolutely right there, being fully in your body. We need to learn to do that more in our lives. We often think that sex is the only way to get that feeling of “right there-ness” but in reality, it can occur whenever we are totally concentrated. All great artists know that feeling—it’s about allowing the energy of creation to move through us, only it doesn’t have to be about making babies.

Another timely topic is childhood sexual abuse. I bring that up now because it’s classic for people who have had unpleasant sexual encounters to leave their bodies as soon as they start having sex. I know, I was one of them. Because of that, I have a deeper understanding of sexual abuse than many people, so let me correct a couple of misunderstandings: sexual abuse is not more common than it used to be, it’s just that until recently everyone covered it up. The shame and secrecy were more powerful than the desire to tell the truth. Although people still cover it up a lot, it’s beginning to leak out around the edges. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. Sexual abuse can’t keep occurring if the victims don’t keep quiet about it. But it does require courage to talk about it, because it’s such an intense assault on the psyche that it creates a deep sense of shame.

The other misunderstanding is that it happens as much or more to boys as it does to girls. It’s just that we hear about it more from boys, they are more likely to talk about it. Because of the way that sex has been used to threaten women since the beginning of time, women grow up with a deep subconscious awareness that sex can be used against them and that many men see them as prey. Until the last hundred years, our culture hasn’t considered that a problem at all, and women who complained got no support from the status quo. It takes a lot of generations to change those old cultural ways of thinking, and most girls still won’t talk about it.

The good news is that it’s possible to heal—once again, I know, I did it. An understanding and loving partner is huge plus, because you have speak about it openly, and you have to give a voice to those feelings. We can’t have good sex without our feelings coming up, anyway—at least it might be possible for men, but not very many women can cut themselves off from their feelings and still have great sex. Sadly, some women are never able to be very present for sex, often because of past sexual trauma. We need to educate all our children so that they understand they have the right to dictate what happens to their bodies, making sure they know that if any kind of abuse ever occurs we will be there standing behind them one hundred percent. And that goes for sexual abuse that happens when we are adults as well.

Let’s all start talking about sex in a real and open way. If we talked about sex as much as I think we should, this would be a different world, and sexual abuse would barely exist, because it couldn’t be hidden and we wouldn’t tolerate it. And, by the way, we would have at least twenty different words for different types of orgasm.

Book Review: 3 NBs of Julian Drew

I finished this book today called “3 NBs of Julian Drew” by James M. Deem.  Wow! I can best describe how it affected me in two words: BLOWN AWAY.

Julian is a 17 year old teenager who has to deal with a lot.  His family moves around a lot.  He has a stepmother and three step-siblings.  And he’s abused.  Severely.

He endures being locked in his room, being accused of stealing, and soggy cereal in the morning.  He has to do all the cleaning, and is given cold food to eat for meals.  He’s given a can to do his “bizness” in because his parents won’t unlock his door at night.  He’s locked out of the house for hours while the family goes out for dinner.

The NBs, or notebooks, are his way of writing to his mother, whom he lost when he was young.  His father remarried three months later, to this monster of a human being he has as a stepmother.

Julian copes the only way he can, by writing in code.  It’s easier for him this way, as his brain won’t let him write any other way.  He writes in letter/number combos (which drove me absolutely NUTS at first), and he writes completely to his mother.  How much he misses her, how much he loves her and wishes he could be near her.  And eventually he makes that step and goes to be near her.  I’m not going to give away the ending but, I’m telling you, you have to read this.

It’s reminiscent of “A Child Called It” by Dave Pelzer and that moved me beyond anything.  I read that whole series because I couldn’t believe anyone could be treated that brutally.  Then I read this.  While Dave Pelzer’s story actually happened and this one is fiction, both are amazing views into the human psyche and spirit.  All in all, it’s one hell of a read.

5 bookmarks out of 5.