For Children's Advocacy Centers, many of our most heart-wrenching cases involve families in which sibling abuse has occurred. Parents are distraught about the victimization of one child, while terribly worried about the legal consequences to another child.
Perhaps the most enduring and pervasive American myth concerning child sexual abuse is that nice guys don't molest children; and it's a pernicious myth because it denies the reality of a victim's suffering.
Jim Bob claims that, "This wasn't rape or anything like that. This was touching over the clothes." This perception that touching is somehow less traumatic than penetration is not only false, it is incredibly damaging to victims, and helps perpetuate a culture of victim-blaming.
I was an awkward, skirted-suit-wearing 7-year-old my first day of swim team practice in 1984. My participation on a USA Swimming team improved my confidence, provided me with life-long friends, and helped me develop physical fitness that I still maintain today as a 37-year-old mother of four. It was also in this context that I met my coach and rapist, Christopher Huott.
It may be too late, with statute of limitations, for these victims to have a criminal process and unfortunately I don't understand what civil options they may have available to them today. But let's give these young women an opportunity to have a true, un-coached voice.
Kathy's counselor helped her realize that the trauma of her childhood sexual abuse had resurfaced because she was now bringing her own child into the world. With therapy, Kathy was able to come to terms with the abuse and finally begin to heal.
Three months later, her amazement has turned into action, which is not surprising from a 34-year-old woman who was strong enough to survive years of sexual violence, which began as early as the age of seven.
Ever since Jerry Sandusky became a household name and rocked the national sports landscape, it also shined the spotlight on a chilling topic that all too often gets shoved to the side because it's too uncomfortable and unpleasant to talk about.
When we indicate to our kids that certain things are unspeakable, or that we can't manage strong feelings, or that we would, "never get over it" if X happened, we send a scary message.
Taking a story someone has lived and translating it into a story you write -- as if you were them -- is not for the faint of heart, especially when that story is about child abuse, prostitution, and sex trafficking.
I first met Rebecca when she was 14 and arrested for prostitution. Although most youth offenders charged with non-violent crimes remain at home while on probation, that wasn't an option for Rebecca.
We owe our children an environment in which they can flourish, and where law enforcement, the justice system, and society as offers them a fresh start, not a jail cell.
Bottom line. We can do better. For starters, members of the media and lawmakers should no longer use the term "child prostitute."
We must take action to combat sex trafficking all around the world. But we must first start in our own backyard.
Girls are sold for sex in this country with the same disregard for human dignity as those other nations, and they are often tortured in the same ways when they try to escape.
An unexpected gift of running is that when you challenge yourself, and you dig deeper than you ever thought possible, you not only become immensely proud of yourself but also those who love you bear witness to the inner strength you have unearthed.