“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”
–John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Los Angeles is going through a crisis of confidence in the capacity of the Los Angeles Unified School District to protect children from sexual abuse by trusted adults: their teachers. In the span of a weeks time, 4 adult teachers were arrested for alleged sexual abuse of students and one entire school—Miramonte Elementary—was emptied of its entire faculty and administrative staff and replaced with a whole new team.
That’s how low the trust level had fallen.
My agency, Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles–based 40-year-old sexual and domestic violence prevention center and 1in6, the organization for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, are collaborating on a national child abuse prevention initiative project funded by the Ms. Foundation for Women. POV and 1in6 have been partners for a few years now and when the Ms. Foundation initiative opportunity came up, we jumped at the chance to work together. I am a member of the Board of Director’s of 1in6 and Steve LePore the founder of 1in6 is on POV’s National Advisory Board.
This initiative’s ultimate goal is to revitalize a child abuse movement—locally, within communities, but also nationally. There are 11 collaborations funded from across the country. There was a period in the 1980s when there was a very energized movement along with funding to focus on the prevention of child sexual abuse. Little by little, priorities and support for prevention went out the window. The focus once again resorted to dealing with the aftermath and arresting offenders. Often those offenders were the ones who represented the “stranger danger.” Preventing this category of offender from having easy access to children doesn’t address the fact that the majority of abuse of children that is committed by known persons, including family members, coaches, clergy, teachers and so forth.
At the moment, serious questions are being asked in our wider Los Angeles community and across the country about why these children whose numbers have grown to about 30—including boys and girls—were not protected and if warning signs were ignored by the people in charge. Parents are outraged and scared and some have withdrawn their children from school. I saw more than one media spot where parents were told to protect their children by making sure they “don’t talk to strangers!” This in the wake of a school-wide scandal whereby the perpetrators are teachers—known entities to the students!
This represents how off the mark we can be in addressing the issue of child sexual abuse prevention. It is, of course, a complex issue that can’t be reduced to simple rules of “do’s and don’ts.” I hope that the Ms. Foundation Child Sexual Abuse initiative has success in organizing a groundswell of communities really caring about this issue beyond the sound bite and occasional media blitz. We need creative and thoughtful thinking about prevention. After Penn State, dare we be hopeful that this issue that holds so much stigma for its survivors will be taken seriously by institutions? Is it possible that policies, protocols and trainings will be put in place in the educational systems so that boys and girls will be supported by their communities to seek help and not suffer in silence out of fear of being blamed for what happened to them?
Change won’t happen unless communities mobilize around this issue. In the meantime, I am glad that there is a network of services that can help survivors of childhood sexual violence heal. The RAINN hotline and the 1in6.org website are critical resources that tell survivors, both male and female, “You are not alone, we are here.”
Patti Giggans is the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence: www.peaceoverviolence.org.
The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.
1in6′s mission also includes serving family members, friends, and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.
The views expressed above are not necessarily those of the Joyful Heart Foundation or 1in6.
“Gratitude unlocks thе fullness оf life. It turns whаt wе hаvе іntо enough, аnd more. It turns denial іntо acceptance, chaos tо order, confusion tо clarity. It саn turn а meal іntо а feast, а house іntо а home, а stranger іntо а friend. Gratitude mаkеѕ sense оf оur past, brings peace fоr today, аnd creates а vision fоr tomorrow.”
Negative emotions happen, but we’ve got way more control over our responses than we sometimes think. Here are a few tips to keep those negative emotions, like anger, at bay.
In a fleeting moment, negative emotions, like anger, can steer us off our chosen course and into a murky emotional world. Thankfully, yoga helps us work through our feelings intelligently so we can acknowledge them and let them go. Is something making you mad? Start here.
Relax. Yoga exercises the relaxation response system that is usually trumped by the reactive fight-or-flight system. By initiating the relaxation response daily, we can actually train our bodies to relax and to do less. Making time each day to de-stress the body and mind improves our ability to activate our relaxation mode in stressful situations, when we need it most.
Respond. Avoid angry outbursts by practicing responding to your triggers rather than reacting to them. Try this during yoga: be cognizant of the transition from pose to pose. Control your movements so that each moment of transition is a conscious choice. Practicing body awareness helps us tune in to our emotions and life experiences as well, so we can control the initial desire to react to a stressor and choose to respond instead.
Breathe. Working with breath control helps us draw our concentration and energy inward and away from the outside world, from which anger usually stems. Take a class focused on pranayama in order to understand the principles and nuances of various breathing techniques that will give you an instant inner escape. Start now with a few equal breaths.
Letting feelings turn into emotions ties your identity to the feeling, so “I feel angry” becomes “I am angry.” Avoid this mind trap by training yourself in the positive moments with this brief meditation: “I am not this. I am that I am.” Then you will be able to acknowledge feelings like happiness and anger without attaching yourself to any one emotion.
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