What Would You Do?

Categories: Misc, Other, Our Perspective

Champion for Kids

Excerpt from the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center April newsletter


You are at work and receive a call from your child’s after-school sitter informing you that your child came home from playing in the neighborhood, and disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted. What would you do?

Your two children want to go to summer camp. You do research before sending them to determine that they will be safe, and allow them to go. Upon returning home, your older child is withdrawn and sad. A few days after returning home, your younger child informs you that while they were at camp somebody tried to force his older brother to touch his “private parts” in front of other children. What would you do?

The most important factors in the healing for an abused child are to be believed and protected. Being believed is crucial to how a child heals from the trauma of abuse.


This is a great thought, and it makes us wonder — what would you do? Knowing how to respond to disclosures and suspicions of sexual abuse is as important as knowing how to prevent it. Anger and disbelief are very real and understandable responses to child sexual abuse. It is natural for adults to feel anger about the abuse and disbelief at the situation. Unfortunately, children don’t always know how to process this flow of emotion, and can interpret it as directed at them. If they think you are upset, they may even change their story or deny anything happened. For their sake, take a deep breath and react in a calm and supportive manner, even though calm may be the last thing you are feeling.

The important thing to do is act. Act on suspicions. Act on disclosures. Do not dismiss them, as uncomfortable as they may make you. It doesn’t matter if it’s your friend, your colleague, your sibling, or your religious leader — your first obligation is to the well being of the child. To quote Helen Keller, “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.” You may not be able to help every child, but you can make a difference to this one. So, the question is…

What would you do?

8 responses to “What Would You Do?

  1. I would be angry at first of course but the most important thing would be my child so I would approach them and try to talk about it, take them to a doctor for their mental health, and go to the authorities to make sure the person could not harm any other children. First and foremost is to protect children!

  2. During bathtime when my, now adult, son was 2 years of age – he expressed to me that his “cousin”, Tommy, had attempted to perform fellatio on him and he didn’t think it was right.

    This is that moment you cannot prepare yourself for. This is that moment where your reaction can forever change how a child feels about him or herself.

    I paused and took a deep slow breath and refused to react. I calmly told him that he was right and that no one should be “kissing” him there. I then stopped the conversation and proceeded with the bath. A two year old does not need to be grilled or lectured. They don’t require you to find out all of the little details or inform them what your plan of action is.

    That same day I called the local child protective services unit and filed a report. I provided the investigator with as much information as I could.

    Tommy was my own brothers step son. He was a loving child who really believed he was being loving and kind by performing fellatio on his brother and other children he came into contact with. He was being molested by his biological father and the biological mother knew it was happening but refused to acknowledge or address the situation. She also failed to inform my brother or warn me that this was going on before agreeing to babysit my son.

    My son is now in his 30’s and he’s a father himself. He never remembered that conversation and had no feelings of shame or embarrasment.

    Shame is a horrible thing that pigeon holes many of us in to thinking we are at blame or we are now so unloveable, due to the actions or manipulations of others, that there is no redemption. What we do in reaction to the admissions of victims can have a life-long impact on them. Proceed with caution.

  3. I’d be angry in the beginning obviously but the most crucial factor could be my child and so i would approach them and then try to discuss it, bring them to some physician for his or her mental health, and visit the government bodies to make certain the individual couldn’t harm every other children. Or I’ll just call a medford attorney and get rid of those rapists once and for all.

  4. Hi Its Clare
    Its not a Easy subject to talk about I know as I was sexually abused for 13 years and I didnt tell my parents for a long time but when they found out they were Horrified and just wanted to cuddle and pretect me so getting a call like that is shocking but the only way is to report it. And if you do send your Kids any where always read up about it first making sure they are going to be with people that you know and are safe and making sure they have been given a child safety act by Police first I know it doesnt sound nice but every person that works with kids always has this done by police. Make sure that if they have been sexually asaulted they get checked as well by a Doctor.
    as well.

    From Clare

  5. Yes, I was a victim and a survivor of Sexual abuse. I have a voice. My sexual abuser who was an adult at the time has no voice. He had not grown as a person and we even brought him to court, only to have him let go based on lack of probable cause, because, on that faitfull night of December 31, 1977 he came to visit and had a pizza truck. He sexually molested me in a neighbor’s house in a housing projects where we used to live. The reason we did not have the probable cause were 1. The police told my mother to give me a shower and put me to bed and give me a rest instead of telling her to take me to the hospital that night and have done on me a rape test kit. 2. The man did look like my father and had a beard on the night of the sexual offense, but, in court, his beard was missing. Therefore, I was not able to identify him in court. Upon the judge letting him go, first of all, the judge did not admonish him to stay away from me and my family. Thus for one year and a half, he was driving a taxi cab posing as a reverend, visiting people in my neighborhood posing as a reverend, and he just kept coming around to bother us, until my mother had had enough and called the police chief in the town it happened in. She told the police chief that if anything happened to me that she would hold them liable. Meanwhile, they were thinking that this was all a movie, but, in the end, pulled him to the police station to have him sign a restraining order, and he signed it as Reverend. Yhea, I know why things went arry in my case. 1. The detectives assigned to the case wanted to go home it was New Year’s Eve 1978, when it happened. 2. it was only after the probable cause hearing that we were told that I could have assistance where I was legally blind, and 3. The courts did not really want to bother with this kind of stuff back in the 1970’s. As you know sex abuse was not talked about in the 1970’s. All during my case, my older brother was also given a hard time, after being told to stay on the corner where we had a convenience store and a drug store located towards the beginning of the housing projects. He was told to be on the lookout for the Pizza truck, upon telling the detectives when he came into our house that he saw the truck on the corner of where we lived. Well, what do you know, in the interim of my case going to court and the man being arrested, my brother was busted for loitering and that made it to court. My parents told the judge that he was placed there for a reason that had to do with another case that was to be heard, that being my case. Well, the judge did not listen to that and gave him six months of probation despite the fact that he was directed by law enforcement to remain on the corner where the drug store was located so that the police could arrest him in my state instead of having to possibly go through the trouble of having him extradited from his home state.

    Prior to that incident, about a couple of years earlier when I was 10-years-old, while attending a boarding school in my home state I was sexually assaulted by students who lived in the same cottage as me. The first incident involved me and a 15-year-older, who was using as a ruse “Rescue Club,” to pick me up off of a rug that I was laying on and carried me upstairs to a room that I slept in and shared with three other students. The first student started playing rescue on me and then he went around and touched my privates and had me turn over on the bed and the next thing I noticed that he did was opened my buttocks real wide until it hurt and I was screaming. No staff member even bothered to come and check out what was going on. The incident happened in broad daylight and the bedroom door was left wide open during the incident. The next time it happened was during the same academic year, 1974-1975, only this time, involving a student who was a couple of years older than me. The incident surrounded the student bragging about having his testicles operated on the next day. The bragging happened all afternoon and into the evening while we were all upstairs and in our beds. Thank goodness one of the students who had cerebral Palsy was not in the room at the time, when this incident happened. The house staff used to have to carry him up to his room up the very same spiral staircase where the first student carried me up to do his thing. Getting back to the second incident. He continued bragging about the testicles being operated on in the hallways of the sleeping quarters of the cottage, which we’ll call Rainbow Cottage. He thus aroused curiosity as to what he was having operated on and first came into my bedroom where I was sleeping. I asked him where he was having the operation. He took his hand and had me feel his testicle and than he felt mine. Yet, again, the house staff were not paying attention and now as an adult, I have a funny feeling that he was going around bedrooms and touching more. Prior to that, the first student who did it to me, was suspended for a week. How I knew was that I overheard the houseparents and students talking about his suspension being up and how they had to go and pick him up at an airport. I inquired as to what the suspension was all about. I was told, “None of my business.” Thinking back to that I now believe that even the first student had his hands in more than just me. As to my recollection, at the time, it was claimed that the school was experimenting with a new program. Looking back over it, now, I really wondered what if anything they told my mother about this experimentation and what was involved. This now sounds earingly similar to another type of bad experimentation that was taking place at another school in the next town over to where my school was. This type of experimentation involved Eugenics and was conducted by having boys participate in a “Science Club.” What was involved in this experimentation was the use of hot cereal and milk and it was laced with radioactive ingredients. This experimentation took place in the early 20’th century.

    Following this, at this same school there were conditions of physical and sexual abuse going on at this same school in the town next to mine. In the early 70’s a court order was issued that the school had to improve conditions. 36 students were living in one room per dorm. This was a school for the so called, “Feeble Minded.” Some of the sexual abuse I read about at that school was that they would have the children, (boys) sit around in a circle and as their name was called, they would go to the middle of the circle and would have to pull down their trousers and their genital areas would be whipped by staff.

    What prompted this research was I was at a reunion of people from my school and someone had announced that they were in three pages of a book that they were in regarding institutionalization. Upon hearing about this book, it struck a chord and some more curiosity had came to surface as to whether or not the book mentioned the particular program that was being experimented with. When I learned that the answer was yes, I knew right than and there that I was living in a cottage that had behavioral problems gollure. Thus it prompted me to do some research on my part only to find out that the ruses involved in my sexual abuse incidents were earingly similar. The other school that was doing the bad medical science used, “Science Club.” and the boys that sexually assaulted me at my school used as their ruse, “Rescue Club.” They also claimed that they were taking part in rescue missions lead by one of the dorm staff.

    The last of the sexual assaults occurred during the academic year of 1977-1978. It occurred on a Sunday night, the last night of April of 1978, four months after the adult had raped me. I was sharing a room with two other people that year, including the one student who took part in the last incident of sex abuse. That night, I was laying next to one of my roommates, because, I was still dealing with what had happened to me prior to the last one with the third and last student. The third student used the ruse, “Rescue Club.” and took me off of the bed where I was laying next to my other roommate, of whom prior to and even after had good times listening to and recording music. Getting back to the story, the third and final sexual abuser took me into another room and placed me on a bed with a green bedspread on it. First he was checking my pulse and giving me mouth to mouth resuscitation, of which I did not need. I was breathing fine and could walk. He was making ambulance noises throughout the whole event. After he got done with the pulse and the other parts of the body, he than touched my private genital areas and had me turn over onto my stomach, the same way in which the first abuser did. During his incident, he said, “We got to do this, This is Rescuing you.” He did the same thing that the first student did, which was opened my buttocks real wide until it hurt. Only this time, a house staff member yelled from down the back staircase. I descended that staircase and she met me in a locker room in the back of the cottage. But, once again, during the whole time, lights were left on in the bedroom where it happened and the doors were once again wide opened. As in all incidents at the school, it either happened in broad daylight and bedroom doors left wide opened or lights left on and doors left wide opened. The only incident of sexual abuse that happened in the dark was the one with the adult, called Reverend on Saturday, December 31, 1977. I most recently as a couple of years ago, told my older, middle brother, the one who got in trouble with the cops around my case that the adult had a smell of alcohol on his breath that night.

    My mother did not know that I was sexually abused by students in school until I had graduated and in bits and pieces. in September of 2008, a 44’th birthday party was being held for me. One of my nephews about to get married in 2014 brought to my party a new puppy dog he had just acquired. it was when I saw my niece carry the new puppy up the stairs into my house for the final time before it went home with my nephew, that I started thinking all kinds of things like a dog that we had where we lived in a housing projects where we lived and did not allow for dogs was being carried upstairs by my baby sister to be locked up in a room to be abused.

    Than the rest of the sexual abuse incidents that took place at the boarding school came all the way to surface. My family thought it was a “Kid’s” game, only to find out through counseling that I was actually sexually abused more than once. The pattern followed two students, followed by an adult where we used to live followed by another student. The current president of the boarding school where it happened paid me a visit in November of 2008, only for me to end up in a psychiatric facility for 17 days, November 19-26, 2008. The diagnosis given was psychosis and severe depression. It was than further determined that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    I did tell my former high School English Teacher about what had happened and asked him to represent me before the school’s alumni association to try and get the last of the offenders out and not in good standing. He did say, that doing so would be embarrassing and that he would only do it if I went mental. Today, I still talk to him about the case and soon will be giving him some new developments as to what I had discovered might had happened for these students to gain easy access to me.

    This lead to me spearheading an effort to write a bill that would mandate expulsion for students who are 12 years of age or older up until they graduate high school when they commit onto another student, rape, indecent assault, sexual assault or other forms of sexual abuse. This bill also gives provisions for latent disclosures to be forwarded over to the appropriate authorities and requires the current administrator of the school to forward the matter over to the school’s alumni associations’ board of directors. The bill has provisions that both expulsion proceedings and or alumni association proceedings be held in a sequestered manner. The reasoning for the alumni association board of director’s clause in the bill is the fact that the alleged offender has been presumed in good standing as he/she had gotten their diploma or left in good standing, only because at the time of the offense no one really knew that a sexual offense had actually occurred. The bill provides for no statute of limitations for first disclosure and states right out what constitutes first disclosure. The statute of limitations comes into play once it has been disclosed to the head or current school administrator at the time that first disclosure has been made to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a family member that the alleged victim confides in and then the head administrator of the school where the sexual abuse took place between the perpetrator and the victim, who had both attended the same school at the time of the offense. The alumni association clause in the bill allows 2/3 of the board members upon the finding of guilt to expel the offender, as if it was known at the time.

    To read more about the bill filed in Massachusetts go to http://www.mass.gov/legislature and click on the link that says bills and type in H3241, filed by request of me by Freshman Representative Diana DiZoglio, state representative from Methuen, Massachusetts. I ask you to than look up the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and demand that they hold a hearing on H3241 also known as The Juvenile Violence Act.

    I urge your support behind this bill as this will be another way we can keep our children safe from CSA and for those that perpetrate it at such an early age as 12 be expelled, moved into another educational facility, not allowed to attend another boarding school in Massachusetts unless court ordered by a judge to a juvenile detention center, jail or a psychiatric facility. Hush, Hush, is not the solution. Getting it into the open and the perpetrators disciplined and in the case of adolescents, into treatment and paying staff members who are house staff in boarding schools descent wages and that they must have a certain maturity level for the job. This includes that a dorm staff must be 21 years or older, has completed a bachelor’s degree and is enrolled in a graduate program of study leading to a field of education. This provision also includes that these dorm staff be paid commencer-ate with experience and not just minimum wages, as there is a lot of responsibilities entailed with being a house staff in any boarding school, including grade boarding schools on the elementary, middle, or secondary level. Once again, I urge your support behind H3241. Let’s make a statewide policy on sexual abuse between students happen. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 508 265-5099 or you can call the state house in Boston, Massachusetts at 617-722-2000, push selection 2 for the House of Representatives and than push 0 and ask for Representative Diana DiZoglio of Methuen. Once done that, ask your state senator and representative to demand that the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security take up the matter in August followed by a favorable report.

  6. The effects of sexual abuse extend far beyond childhood. Sexual abuse robs children of their childhood and creates a loss of trust, feelings of guilt and self-abusive behavior. It can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity confusion, loss of selfesteem and other serious emotional problems. It can also lead to difficulty with intimate relationships later in life. The sexual victimization of children is ethically and morally wrong.

  7. It is important to recognise that while people from different backgrounds have different expectations about what is acceptable behaviour in children, sexual abuse happens across all races and cultures. Remember that each child develops at his or her own pace and not every child will show the behaviours described below. If you have any worries or questions about a child you know, talk to someone about it. Your health visitor, GP or child’s teacher may be able to help, or you could ring the Stop it Now! Helpline on 0808 1000 900.

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