The purpose of my book is to give you all the information you need about sexual abuse so all of you may become educated as a way of preventing it. Through your knowledge you will be able to become a Sexual Abuse Prevention Advocate! I am so happy to share 3 parts of my book to give you an idea of what my book is about. You will enjoy reading them as well as educating yourself about sexual abuse.
Sneak Previews From The Book
John F. Salveson
I have never written a book Foreword before, but I’m pretty sure I know why I was asked to write this one.
I am a survivor of clergy sex abuse and a former patient of Susan Bierker. I have been working to expose child sex abuse, its perpetrators and enablers, since 1980. I have been very public about my abuse, my recovery, and my frustration with trying to hold people and institutions accountable for their decades-long sexual abuse of children.
I led the Philadelphia Chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) for a while and served on the SNAP National Board. In 2005 I founded the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse to push changes in the legal and criminal justice systems to protect children from sex abuse. I do what I can to support anything and anyone who shines a light on this horrific problem, and Susan Bierker has certainly done that. So I will share a bit of my story, and tell you why I think this book is so important.
The first time I was sexually abused by Father Huneke I was 13 years old, traveling with him out of town. He came into my bed at night and began to perform oral sex on me. I froze and had no idea what to do. I was terrified.
The next morning, over breakfast, he told me what “we” shared was God’s plan for us and was holy and an expression of his love. That morning, and for the next seven years as the abuse continued, I felt somehow responsible for what was happening. I hated it, it made me sick, I had no idea how to stop it – but I felt complicit. It literally never occurred to me in those seven years to tell anyone what was happening – a parent or friend, the police – no one. I felt trapped, completely alone and hopeless.
I made it through those years with lots of alcohol and by creating what I’ve come to think of as my second self – the person I presented to the world.
I did well in school, was an editor for the newspaper, played sports and graduated near the top of my class. Any parent would have been proud to have me date their daughter. But the real person inside was constantly anxious, trying to avoid the priest who controlled me. I began to drink as much as I could and became depressed and suicidal. In retrospect I think I was behaving pretty much as any person would in my situation.
I have often wondered, as an adult, why no one in my life suspected I was being sexually abused. I believe the answer to that question is a bit complex, but I am certain that a big part of it is that people had no idea how to identify suspected abuse and what to do about it.
I don’t know what I would have done if someone asked me directly if I was being abused. But I am sure it would have necessarily changed the trajectory of my abuse – no matter how I responded. It would have given me a chance to disclose what was happening, or maybe just to consider the possibility that someone could help me.
Child sex abuse is hard to speak about, hard to think about and just plain horrifying. None of us want to believe that parents, priests, family friends, siblings – whomever – are capable of destroying children’s lives in this way. But speak about it we must. Every chance we get. Because if there is one thing I have learned over these 35 plus years as an advocate and agent of change it is this: Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
So I encourage you – or maybe implore you – to read this book and learn about sexual abuse and how to stop it. I have always believed that there is probably no way to prevent an initial instance of abuse. But it is possible to prevent the second instance of abuse. If you know what to look for and open your mind to the possibility that something unspeakable may be happening to a child you know, you have a shot at stopping the second incidence of abuse. It takes courage to act, but it also takes knowledge. This book will give you the knowledge. The courage you will have to find yourself.
THE WEINSTEIN CASCADE EFFECT
Ever since the New York Times initially published a staggering amount of on-record accusations against the embattled super producer, Harvey Weinstein, dozens of women have come forward nearly every day to share their stories of similar treatment by powerful men in nearly every industry. Something appears to have changed. More and more women feel emboldened by the courage of Weinstein’s accusers to tell stories they once may have thought would fall on deaf ears. After all, Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood for decades, an intimidating yardstick for what men could conceivable get away with, until the day it suddenly wasn’t. It’s about time.
At the time of this writing, one or more accusations of sexual abuse comes out in the news nearly every day. Some of the reports are of recent incidents, while others go back many years. The #MeToo movement asserts it is never too late to speak up. Since that time the #Me Too Movement has gained strength and members.
It was then followed by “Times Up,” started by well-know women in Hollywood who formed a group for women who had be sexually harassed and assaulted. The “Times Up” movement has expanded in support and membership.
Several events have happened since then to further the movement. In the December 18, 2017 issue, Time magazine awarded the “Persons of the Year” to “The Silence Breakers.” On the front cover five women were pictured who are known as “The Silence Breakers” because they have come forward to talk about being victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Their bravery has encouraged countless other women to come forward. In January of 2018, the 75th Golden Globe Awards were dominated by powerful speeches by women who are well-known in the entertainment field, including Oprah Winfrey, about the prevalence sexual abuse in their fields. “For too long,” Winfrey said, “women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.”
Many of those present wore black clothing in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse. During the Grammy Awards that same month (also with a large television audience), dozens of artists and musicians sported white roses in support of the Me Too and Times Up movements. On March 8, 2018, at the Academy Awards, well-known actors and actresses gave speeches calling for clear and specific calls for change in the entertainment industries for everyone. All of these events have raised the consciousness of millions of men and women and have expanded the encouragement to women to use their power. More information on these above historic events are given in the second chapter of this book.
CHILD AND ADULT SEX TRAFFICKING
Under U.S. Federal law, sex trafficking is the coercion or forcing of a child or adult to participate in commercial sex against their will. Victims are sold to provide sexual services. This crime continues to grow at an alarming rate both in America and throughout the world. It is estimated that at least 20 million adults and children are enslaved and bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude. A definition of a child and trafficking organization is one who uses children and adults for prostitution, child pornography, child sex tourism and other forms of sex to have basic needs of shelter, food, and education met. They are isolated, intimated, and subject to physical and sexual assault by their traffickers. Most live under constant mental and physical threat. Many suffer severe emotional trauma, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and disassociation. They are at great risk of contracting sexually transmissible infections, included HIV/AIDS. Many become pregnant and are forced to undergo abortions.
Children used for commercial purposes are either kidnapped from any place or coerced or forced into joining trafficking organizations. Children are often run-aways or homeless youth who are found wandering the streets or hanging out at bus stations, truck stops or other public places. They are most often from homes where they have suffered from sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse. Members of the organizations aggressively recruit children, promising them food, shelter, drugs and money. They also promise gifts, a sense of belonging, and a place where they will be “loved”—at the same time grooming them for a life of prostitution.
Once they become a part of the organization, they are forced into prostitution and shoplifting. They are beaten and punished and are bombarded with violent threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to get them to participate in commercial sex. One of my friends in Pennsylvania was attending a workshop for Parents Without Partners many years ago and was staying at a hotel with her children. After people missed her, the police were called and they found her body in the trunk of her car. The children (ages 7 and 8) were never found…I wonder if they were kidnapped into one of these organizations.
Have you noticed that a child at a bus stop is often accompanied by their parent while they wait nowadays? That was unheard of when I was a child. More awareness and protectiveness like that is undoubtedly saving many of our children from abduction. It can happen to anyone at any time, and I have my own harrowing experience as proof. Years ago, my child’s dad was walking with him in Manhattan. My small son was a few feet in front of his dad when a van pulled alongside and two men jumped out and ran toward my son. His father reached him and scooped him up just in time to save him. Even to this day, I become so frightened to think of how close one of my own children came to being abducted and possibly enslaved by a sex trafficking organization.
Adult women make up the largest group of sex trafficking victims, followed by female children, although there is a small percentage of adult females who are into the sex industry as well. Women who are victims of sexual trafficking are often those who are living in poverty and are not able to provide for themselves basic needs of shelter and food. Many have mental health issues and are unable to function on their own. They may not be able to hold down a job and do not have a good education. They most likely have a background of abuse, mostly domestic and childhood abuse. Some have a drug habit that makes them dependent on traffickers. So, while some people are kidnapped and enslaved, many more “voluntarily” participate out of desperation and fear.
Trafficking has a harrowing effect on the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of those ensnared in its web. Beyond the physical abuse, they suffer extreme emotional stress, including grief, distrust, and suicidal thoughts. Drugs and alcohol are often sought (and sometimes provided by the abusers) to numb the pain, and food and sleep are irregular and lacking. A person abducted into sexual enslavement loses their life. Too few are lucky enough to ever get it back.
Some sex trafficking is highly visible, such as street prostitution. But many groups are operating out of unmarked brothels in unsuspecting (sometimes suburban) neighborhoods. They may also operate out of a variety of public and private locations, such as massage parlors, spas, and strip clubs.
Fortunately, some of those involved as victims of sexual trafficking walk into freedom or escape and require dedicated assistance and love to restart their lives. Here in Sarasota, Florida, and throughout the United States, there are branches of the Selah Freedom non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking.. This caring organization offers outreach as well as residential programs from which their grateful clients graduate to go on to independent and much happier lives. Their safe residential houses are located in Chicago and Wisconsin. Selah Freedom has the cooperation of local police, attorneys, and judges who help identify and support these victims as well as the legislators who work to establish better tools to fight human trafficking. Selah also offers a program for teens 12-17 within the school systems to educate the teens about sex trafficking so they do not get involved in it. Recently, a ticket agent at the airport got suspicious about two teenage girls who had first class one-way tickets to New York. They were going there because a man they met online wanted them to come there to audition for modeling jobs. Fortunately, the ticket agent blocked the girls getting on the plane. She then called the girls’ parents who came and took them home. If the girls had gone to the hotel to meet the man they may have been kidnapped into sex trafficking. Education about sex trafficking is so very important!
President Trump signed new anti-sex-trafficking legislation into law in April, 2018. The new law, which passed congress with near unanimous bipartisan support, gives prosecutors stronger tools to go after sites such as Backpage.com. This site facilitated prostitution and revealed details about victims including minors as young as 14. Several of its top officials have been indicted. The new law will also let state law enforcement officials to pursue sites that knowingly host sex trafficking content, and will allow victims to sue such sites for damages.