Scottish Survivor Groups Encourage All Survivors of Abuse in Care to Take Part in a Milestone Consultation

Survivor groups in Scotland have called on all survivors of abuse in care to take part in an important consultation, allowing individuals to share their views on a possible financial redress scheme for the first time.

The consultation has been developed and delivered through a collaboration between a range of partners including survivor representatives (Interaction Action Plan Review Group) and CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland).

With just four weeks left to the deadline of Friday 17 November to complete the consultation, survivor groups have spoken out about the need for all survivors of abuse in care to take part.

David Whelan, spokesperson from Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers group (FBGA), commented: “This redress and compensation consultation gives everyone who has experienced abuse in the care system in Scotland an opportunity to share their views. The consultation offers real choices to the individual and survivor groups as to what it is they would like in any proposed redress-consultation scheme. It allows all survivors a chance to have their voices and opinions heard.  We would encourage as many survivors as possible to take part over the next month.

“Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers group fully support this consultation which was put together in a partnership with other victims-survivors, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, CELCIS, The Scottish Government and others.”

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “Anyone who has been subjected to abuse has a human right to access justice and to an effective and fair remedy. Everyone has the right to live and be treated with dignity.  The Scottish Human Rights Commission welcomes the consultation by the InterAction Review Group and CELCIS on financial redress for historic abuse.  It is a crucial part of developing Scotland’s Action Plan on Historic Abuse and we encourage anyone who is themselves a survivor of childhood abuse to take part.”

Joanne McMeeking, Head of Improving Care Experiences at CELCIS, said: “We are in the final month of the consultation process, which is a milestone in terms of seeking justice for survivors of abuse in care in Scotland. Completing this consultation questionnaire gives survivors a way to have their views about potential financial redress seen and heard.”

Taking part

The consultation is open to all victims/survivors of historical abuse in care as defined by the Terms of Reference of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and is available online.

APA Offers Resources for Coping with Mass Shootings, Understanding Gun Violence

Constant news reports about the shooting in Las Vegas can cause stress and anxiety for people, leaving them with questions about the causes of and solutions to gun violence. Resources on the American Psychological Association’s website can help people with both issues.

One APA resource offers tips for managing feelings of distress in the aftermath of a shooting. “You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions,” it says. “Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience – the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity – in the days and weeks ahead.”

Talking to children about the shooting isn’t easy but parents or teachers shouldn’t completely shield them from violence or tragedies. APA offers a series of tips to parents and other caregivers on how to guide the conversation in a proactive and supportive way. “The conversation may not seem easy, but taking a proactive stance, discussing difficult events in age-appropriate language can help a child feel safer and more secure,” according to the resource available in the APA Help Center.

Parents should also watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety.

For those who feel too overwhelmed to use the tips provided, APA suggests consulting a psychologist or other mental health professional.

“Turning to someone for guidance may help you strengthen your resilience and persevere through difficult times,” it says.

There is no single personality profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act, according to a report issued by the APA in December 2013 entitled Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy. There is, however, psychological research that has helped develop evidence-based programs that can prevent violence through primary and secondary interventions.

Written by a task force composed of psychologists and other researchers, the report synthesized the available science on the complex underpinnings of gun violence, from gender and culture to gun policies and prevention strategies.

“The skills and knowledge of psychologists are needed to develop and evaluate programs and settings in schools, workplaces, prisons, neighborhoods, clinics, and other relevant contexts that aim to change gendered expectations for males that emphasize self-sufficiency, toughness and violence, including gun violence,” according to the report.

Gun violence is estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year in medical, legal and other expenses, not to mention the psychological toll. That is why the government needs to approach it as a public health problem, according to APA acting Executive Director for Public Interest Clinton Anderson, PhD, writing in a blog post entitled No Silver Bullet: Why We Need Research on Gun Violence Prevention.

“Some have argued that we need to focus on policies that prosecute criminals and prevent those individuals who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from obtaining a firearm,” wrote Anderson. “While these policies have merit, they are clearly not fully effective, and do not address the roots of violence in our society.”

No one policy will prevent gun violence, writes Anderson. “It will take a multi-faceted approach. Funding research that explores these horrific, impulsive acts can help us all inform and adapt our policy approach.”

In another blog post, clinical psychologist Joel Dvoskin, PhD, warned against unfairly stigmatizing the mentally ill by immediately jumping to the conclusion that most shooters have a mental illness.

“Too often, even the most well-intentioned among us believe that most mass shootings are carried out by those with untreated mental illness,” he wrote. “What the perpetrators seem to have in common is the experience of extreme situational crisis.”

Additional resources:

Talking to Kids When They Need Help

7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando

Helping Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

How Much News Coverage is OK for Children?

Gun Violence Prevention

APA Initiatives to Prevent Gun Violence

The VMAs Spotlights Suicide Prevention Anthem 1-800-273-8255

MTV – VMAs

National Suicide Prevention Month begins on September 1st, and MTV officially kicked off suicide awareness with a performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Logic along with Khalid and Alessia Cara at the VMAs. The song’s title just happens to be the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and the performance also included a group of suicide attempt survivors who came on stage wearing shirts with the number to the suicide helpline.

The song begins from the perspective of someone who wants to die and feels there is no one there to care about what happens to them. The opening hook for the song states, “I don’t want to be alive, I just want to die today, I just want to die.” Some may take an issue with the beginning of the song, but it can not be understated the importance of identifying those feelings in order to seek help.

A recent study which included 32 children’s hospital across the United States revealed an alarming increase in self-harm and suicidality in children and teens ranges from ages 5 to 17 over the past decade. Also, the School of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Birmingham released a recent study stating, “Children and young people under-25 who become victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.”

The second hook starts with “I want you to be alive, You don’t gotta die today, You don’t gotta die.” The song moves from a place of darkness to a place of support. When someone expresses suicidal thoughts, it is critical to not dismiss their feelings or minimize the weight of the issues preventing them from wanting to live. The Center for Disease control list death by suicide as the number 1 cause of death in the 15-19 age group. According to the National Data on Campus Suicides, “1 in 12 college students have written down a suicide plan as a result of stresses related to school, work, relationships, social life, and still developing as a young adult.”

John Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in an interview talked about the impact the song is already having. During his CNN interview, Draper stated, “The impact has been pretty extraordinary. On the day the song was released, we had the second-highest call volume in the history of our service. Overall, calls to the hotline are up roughly 33% from this time last year.”

“I finally want to be alive, I don’t want to die today, I don’t want to die” are the lyrics and the tone in which the songs end. Then, it leads into an incredibly woke statement by Logic, and here is a sample:

“I am here to fight for your equality because I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally and that is why we must fight!” – Logic VMAs

The trend for suicide deaths is on an upward climb. A 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control state there were twice as many suicides than homicides in the United States. It’s time we end the stigma and myths surrounding suicide attempt survivors “doing it for the attention.” Suicidal thoughts may be an ongoing struggle instead of a one-off event to prevent. In this case, we need to arm loved ones and at-risk individuals with information as well as tools and resource to manage their mental health status.

Suicide Warning Signs

Another useful resource is the Crisis Text Line in which users can send a text to a trained counselor and typically receive a response within 5 minutes. Texters can begin by texting “START to 741741” to get connected.

Mental Health providers and practitioners are always looking for ways to connect and reach those most at risk for suicidal and self-harming behaviors, and pop culture often has a direct connection to those who are the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, a recent study identified a link between 13 Reasons Why and suicidal thoughts in which it found “queries about suicide and how to commit suicide spiked in the show’s wake.”

Unlike Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”, this song is already showing the opposite effect by increasing queries and online searches about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline versus queries on how to commit suicide. If you have not seen this powerful VMA performance, I urge you to check it out.

How to Help Human Trafficking Survivors

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Human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, has become an area of interest both in the general public and also within social work. As a result, attention, money, and resources are being allocated for this cause. The array of services needed for human trafficking survivors is complex, but one area that is not receiving enough support is in employment and training for survivors.

As Evelyn Chumbow, a survivor of domestic servitude and anti-trafficking activist stated, “There are times when I feel like screaming on behalf of all human trafficking survivors, we need jobs, not pity!”. I have served in the roles of both case manager and therapist for trafficking survivors. Across both roles, I have heard trafficking survivors express their exasperation and fear of not finding employment outside of the sex industry. What are the barriers?

Many sex trafficking survivors entered the sex industry at a young age, which likely resulted in a disruption in education. Because of this many did not have the opportunity to complete their high school degree.

Furthermore, many have criminal records that reflect prostitution charges. Expungement can be extremely complex to navigate. Many have no prior work history or spotty work history. All of these factors can make employment difficult to secure.

Survivors may also not feel comfortable with, or have success with, explaining their circumstances to a prospective employer. Finally, transgender trafficking survivors may face increased discrimination in employment due to barriers already described, but also as a result of their gender identity.

Employment can be a gateway for trafficking survivors to build independence. Traditional employment programs may not be a good match unless the staff is trained are well-trained on the particular employment issues that trafficking survivors may face and are able to find employment, sex trafficking survivors end up homeless or returning to the sex industry out of desperation to support themselves.

For those interested in helping sex trafficking survivors, consider how to help them in building job skills and obtaining employment. Some programs that serve trafficking survivors incorporate a jobs skills and employment component. One program that does a great job in this area is Thistle Farms, which was featured in the documentary A Path Appears.

While trafficking survivors may not have a traditional work history, they do have skills. They were able to survive their situation and have internal strengths. Despite the unimaginable circumstances they may have experienced, they have hope and want to support themselves and contribute. Many I have worked with have expressed a desire to make meaning of their experience and help others who have been trafficked.

At a recent conference held by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, many survivors voiced their need for skills training and employment. As one trafficking survivor stated, “Once we escape, there is a whole new hell…You can rescue us all you want, but what we need is an opportunity. We want jobs, we want education, we want choices”.

Why It’s Not So Easy to “Just Get the Hell Out”

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One of the many difficult questions survivors of toxic relationships ask themselves is “why is it so hard to leave someone who treats me so badly?”  As rational people, we recognize that a relationship is extremely problematic and believe that the rational course of action would be just to stop the drama.

And yet, this is usually harder than it sounds.

While there are practical and logistical barriers to people exiting, the emotional resistance to leaving is usually present even when there aren’t kids or property or business deals or divorce laws slowing us down.

What accounts for this?  Why is it so common?

Social science has some insights that help to explain what’s going on here.  Knowing them may help you understand your own behavior (and the toxic person’s), help you exit or recover, and help you comfort yourself with the knowledge that if you’ve been caught in a toxic relationship, the dynamics that hooked you are dynamics that have tripped up many other human beings. They are also dynamics that you can change or avoid, once you’re in the know.

Here are seven principles from social science that will help you understand why it’s challenging to “just get the hell out.”

1. Intermittent reinforcement

They come, they go. They love you, they disappear. They love-bomb you, they tell you nobody else would want you.  These mixed messages may come quickly or may emerge slowly, but they hook us by making us wonder how we can stay on the happy side of the person’s attention and affection.

If the messages were all negative, we could easily walk away.  When we’ve had some taste of what it feels like to be “loved,” and then the behaviors we interpret as love disappear, it’s the fact of intermittent reinforcement that keeps us hanging in, trying to get the good stuff back.

2. The principle of least interest
At first, you are the center of their attention. Over time they are “just not that into you.”  The principle of least interest argues that the person who has the least interest in preserving a relationship has the most power in it.

Think of how this works with car salespeople: if you can walk away from the deal, you have more negotiating power. Toxic partners and family members manipulate the principle of least interest. As they back off, ignore, you, ghost you, or otherwise fade or disappear emotionally or otherwise for periods of time, they also accrue power — if you allow it by remaining intensely interested in “saving” the relationship.

3. How secrets create intimacy between secret keepers

Sociologist Georg Simmel argued that “every relationship between two individuals or two groups will be characterized by the ratio of secrecy that is involved in it.”  In healthy relationships, people are transparent with each other in generous degrees.

In toxic relationships, toxic people withhold information to manipulate you and have power over you and your choices. When they have affairs, they create intimacy with someone else who is then in on a secret (the relationship) that is invisible to you.

You may not leave because of the information that has been withheld from you, or because your partner’s other relationships are used to provoke you into competing for their attention, or if you aren’t savvy about how triangulation (the classic “love triangle” between three people) can be triggered by secret keeping.

4. Cognitive Dissonance

The experience of holding two competing beliefs simultaneously, cognitive dissonance is common among people in toxic relationships. “I love them” and “They treat me badly” are two beliefs that create the kind of tension associated with cognitive dissonance. “They are my sister so I should help them” and “they never repay the money I loan them” are two similarly competing beliefs.

Cognitive dissonance keeps us in emotional turmoil and slows us down in figuring out the best course of action to take for our health and happiness.

5. The Sunk Costs Fallacy

“Sunk costs” are the investments we have already made in an enterprise — or a relationship. The “fallacy” refers to our human tendency to over-estimate what we will lose by ending the endeavor and to under-estimate what we will lose by continuing.

In toxic relationships, this works to your disadvantage because it creates a tendency to expect, despite the evidence to the contrary, that if you just invest a bit more, the other person will become kind, appreciative, or reciprocal.  We underestimate the advantage of the “risk” involved with walking away. You can see how this belief sets you up to give until it hurts even more.

6. “Opportunity Cost” denial

Every day we spend in a toxic relationship is a day we don’t spend enjoying our single life or sharing happiness with a loving, supportive partner.  While our focus is on the drama, pain, or trouble created by a toxic relationship, we are missing out on opportunities for joy, connection, freedom, and happiness because the opportunities are less in our line of sight. Just like the moon behind the clouds, though, they are there all the time. When we see true alternatives to suffering, we can make choices to minimize opportunity costs.

7. Decision fatigue

Toxic relationships involve extraordinary decision making, often including re-evaluating every day whether you will stay in the relationship or exit. Neuroscience tells us that decision-making demands remarkable amounts of mental energy, leaving people exhausted.

As a result of decision fatigue, the quality of our decisions declines; we become less able to clearly see our options, assess potential outcomes, and accurately evaluate what we might gain or lose as a result of different decisions. Because of our tendency to under-estimate the costs of staying and over-estimate the costs of “losing” a toxic relationship, we may be inclined to continue to choose to stay when deciding from a place of decision fatigue.

Understanding what happens in toxic relationships through the insights of social science can help us see exploitative relationships more clearly. Even more importantly, these concepts can help us see more clearly the ways our own minds work, how we are vulnerable to making decisions that keep us in difficult situations, and how we can redirect our energies into more liberating, more loving relationships.

What Racists and Child Rape Apologists Have in Common

AngelaDavis1

I remember interviewing two women back to back for a federal research project. Both women were black. They were mother and daughter. They told me, a stranger, about their story of someone raping them.  Yet, they never told one another. On that day, they both asked me not to share any details with the other.

These interviews took place in a major city that was heavily protested in 2015. Covered by all the three letter major news networks, breaking news, trending on social media, #BlackLivesMatter. But a decade prior, we were interviewing women who were slowly dying in that city. They were in a state of existing as a direct result of rape/sexual abuse.  There would be no protests for them.

No breaking news.

No hashtags.

No one would ever be outraged about the fact that someone or several folks raped them over and over again. And now, it was killing them a little bit each day.

I know your fear

I understand your fear.  Black men are often accused of raping white women as stated by the shooter who killed 9 parishioners in a Charleston South Carolina church.  The fact is rape is like other crimes. It is intra-racial.  White men are more likely to rape white women. And on and on. See keep in mind, people are more likely to be raped by people that they know. That masked stranger in the bush stuff is rare by comparison.

But y’all can’t let our fear of racism keep us from addressing this monster in our community. Beat them back on this like we beat back that other racist crap.

FYI…I hear y’all talking. “We have other things to worry about in the community.”  

Estimated 3.1 million Black rape victims and 5.9 million Black survivors of other forms of sexual violence. These don’t even include people who will take the secret to the grave.  Y’all, these numbers are too high for folks to be playing and procrastinating?

Seems like all you have to do is make one simple statement:

The problem of black men who prey upon black girls/boys must be discussed and addressed. Just that statement forces hell to come undone. I don’t think that the child rape apologists realize just how much they have in common with the racists that they despise. Yet, they use the same techniques.

Distraction

Racists:

“But what about black on black crime?”

“What about black on white crime?”

Child Rape Apologists:

“But what about girls who “date” older men?”

“What about white men who aren’t held accountable?”

Neither group would be concerned about these issues outside of using them for the purposes of distraction.  They aren’t concerned about the accuracy of the information.  They aren’t concerned about the victims.  Their sole reason for bringing up these points is to distract people attempting to solve a problem from coming up with a solution.

Victim blaming

Racists:

“The kid ran from the police.”

 “The man stood still.” “The woman looked him in the eyes too long.”

“The child had a toy gun.”

Child Rape Apologists:

 “She looked 18.”

“These girls know what they are getting into.”

 “Hey, that is the legal age in some states. She is old enough to know better.”

“Looking like that, at 15, what did she expect?”

Biased Victim characterization

Both of them tend to misname the victims.

Racists:  Those people are thugs, juveniles, (racial slurs) Everything and anything but children.

Child Rape Apologists:  Those girls are fast, hoes, sneaky, liars, grown, (slurs).  Everything and anything but children.

Accountability

Racists: In cases of police brutality which is the main focus of #BlackLivesMatter, perpetrators are rarely held accountable, their victims are numerous.  Their victims aren’t accurately counted. The system is engineered against victims.

Likewise, it is extremely hard to get a conviction in a child rape case.

Child rape apologists:  Perpetrators are rarely held accountable, their victims are numerous.   Their victims aren’t accurately counted because most do not come forward. The system is engineered against victims.

Sexual Violence Victims

As we fight against police brutality we at least have the benefit of technology on our side.

But, see we can’t arm little girls and boys with cameras everywhere they go.  Our only hope is to make the adults smarter.  (I literally sighed after writing that sentence)

Fellow people, all I keep thinking as I bounce around and read your postings on various social media platforms with your victim blaming, distractions, and bold characterizations; is how bold you all are.

You say what you say with such conviction and you don’t even know anything.

What you don’t know

I’m not talking facts, figures, and stats.

I mean, I often want to tell these folks, “You don’t even know whether or not your mother is a Survivor.”

Do you know that?

What about your Sister?  Your best friend?

How about your father? Brother?

Your children?  Nieces? Nephews? Cousins?

Promiscuity, low self esteem, depression, substance use can all be side effects of sexual abuse, you know. You knew that they were hurting, but you just couldn’t figure it out. You just couldn’t reach them. View below a survivor telling her truth:

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