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The Whole Picture

During the month of July we shared information about the crimes of child sex abuse, commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. We hope you have gained some new or additional insight into this complex topic. If you have missed something, here are the posts : July 1st to 7th, July 8th to 14th, July 15th to 23rd, and July 24th to 30th.

Each post had an accompanying visual with a part of a picture. Just like these crimes – we often don’t see what is right before our eyes. We catch glimpses or have a ‘gut feeling’ that something may not be right but we don’t quite know what to do. Or maybe we DO know but are afraid to take action. One of the best things you can do is to acknowledge that children and youth are being sexually abused at alarming rates and that ignoring it will not make it go away.

Once you acknowledge that it is happening then you need to learn how to respond to disclosure or suspicion of abuse and to support survivors.

These are largely preventable crimes – it is up to all of us to see the whole picture, to get trained on prevention and to speak out. Silence only serves the perpetrators.

Stay tuned for additional training resources in the coming weeks.

To book Stewards of Children Child Sex Abuse Prevention Training contact info@voicefound.ca.

We also deliver and develop customized training and are available for speaking engagements specific to Sex Trafficking, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Sex Abuse.

Contact us at info@voicefound.ca for more information.

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Summer Social Media Education Series – July 24th to July 30th

Continuing our summer series – here are the posts from July 24th to the 30th.

July 24th – Supporting Victims of Child Sex Abuse
Over the past month we’ve defined child sex abuse, CSEC and sex trafficking – looked at vulnerabilities, and how to identify possible victims. Today we begin discussions on supporting victims of child sex abuse.

In order to support a child who has been sexually abused, it helps to understand how they may feeling. Keep in mind that most times children are abused by someone known and trusted – this includes family members.
Children who have been sexually abused may be feeling the following:
Guilt
~ Children often blame themselves for the abuse.
~ Children often feel guilty for telling someone about the  abuse.
Shame
~Children are often ashamed about the abuse itself, particularly sexual abuse.
Confusion
~Children are often confused about their feelings for the  perpetrator.
Fear
~ Children are often fearful of the repercussions of telling.  They may be scared of the perpetrator, scared that the abuse may recur, or that the family will break up.
The child will need reassurance and support.          (Adapted from SECASA)

 

July 25th – Supporting Victims of Child Sex Abuse

Yesterday we discussed how a child may be feeling when they have been abused – fear, shame, confusion and fear. Today’s post features some ways to support a child.

If your child has been abused, you can play a key role in their healing. It’s one of the most difficult things to hear and your natural reaction will be anger. It’s important that you not show that to the child as they will be confused and fearful. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your child:
-NEVER blame the victim – they did nothing wrong
-Let the child know you are there and will listen. Focus on THEIR feelings
-Don’t dwell on the sexual aspects of the assault
-Your child may displace their anger onto you – try not to take it personally
-Reassure the child it is not their fault
-Don’t make promises as to any outcomes in court.

 

July 26th – Supporting Victims of Sexual Abuse 

Yesterday we posted things to keep in mind when speaking to a child who has been sexually abused. Most of those will apply to all ages. Today we are offering supportive phrases that would be helpful for anyone who has been sexually abused:
~‘I believe you’ These three words are powerful and important. It takes incredible courage to disclose abuse and sadly many are not believed.
~‘You are not alone’. Let the victim know that you are there to support them and that they do not need to face this alone. Help connect them to agencies that can help support them as well.
~‘It’s not your fault’. Victims will often blame themselves for what happened. Remind them over and over again that they did nothing wrong – they are not to blame.
~‘I’m sorry this happened to you’. What has happened is traumatic and will impact their life. Letting a victim know you are sorry expresses much needed empathy.
What are some other things you can say to support a victim?
July 27th – Supporting Victims of Sexual Abuse

Whether a child who has been sexually abused, a young person who has been trafficked or an adult survivor of abuse – you can play a major role in their recovery. Here are some important things to remember as you continue to support them:

~ Healing is not linear. This is a fluid process with some good days and some bad. It is not a ‘setback’ if a victim experiences flashbacks or stops talking for a while.
~ Have resources on hand. Create a list of local resources that you can share with a victim. AND include some for yourself. It’s not easy to support someone who has been significantly traumatized.  Self-care is important for both of you
~ Check in from time to time. Healing takes time – and for some the pain will not ever completely go away. Your note or call to say hello and see how they are doing will go far in letting them know  you care and you believe them.
~ Be patient. A survivor may struggle for a lifetime. Asking them when they are going to ‘get over it’ is not useful and can cause more harm. Remind them they are okay and you are there to help.
~ Set boundaries. It is absolutely essential that you be clear on your own boundaries for supporting another. You can not provide 24/7 support and expect to remain healthy. Provide the survivor with other resources, state what you are not able to do (ie answer 3 am phone calls unless an emergency) and restate when boundaries are crossed. You will be modelling behaviour that will help      them in the long term as they learn to set their own boundaries – both physical and emotional.

July 28th – Survivor Messages of Hope and Healing
Over the past few days we’ve been talking about how to support victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.  The next three days we will  focus on messages of hope and healing.
Dear survivors – be gentle with yourself. You are deserving of love and kindness. Imagine yourself as a newborn child. How would you talk to that baby? How would you treat it? Nurture yourself and love yourself as you would that innocent child. When you find that you are being harsh with yourself bring that child back into your mind. Be gentle, kind and full of love towards yourself.
July 29th – Survivor Messages of Hope and Healing
As survivors of child sex abuse we can often forget to let down our guard and allow ourselves to have fun. For so long we have been protecting ourselves, been hyper vigilant and guarded.
Allow yourself to have some fun. It’s hard when a perpetrator has taken much of your childhood from you but now it’s time for you to reclaim that! Go ahead – allow yourself to be like a child. Have fun. Laugh. Be silly. And just ‘be’ for a while.
July 30th – Self Care
Self-Care is a term we hear all the time but do you know what it means and how to do it?
When we talk about self-care we are talking about taking steps to feel healthy and comfortable. For people who have experienced trauma from child sex abuse and/or sexual exploitation it is not unusual for them to neglect self-care.
Take some time and think back to when you felt healthy, strong and grounded. What did you enjoy doing? What helped you to sleep or rest? How about exercise? Did you enjoy going for walks or running? It’s important to take care of your physical and emotional health.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, they may help you to identify some ways you can take care of yourself:
Physical:
~How were you sleeping? Did you have a sleep ritual or nap pattern that made you feel more rested?
~What types of food were you eating? What meals made you feel healthy and strong?
~What types of exercise did you enjoy? Were there any particular activities that made you feel more energized?
~Did you perform certain routines? Were there activities you did to start the day off right or wind down at the end of the day?
Emotional:
~What fun or leisure activities did you enjoy? Were there events or outings that you looked forward to?
~Did you write down your thoughts in a journal or personal notebook?
~Were meditation or relaxation activities a part of your regular schedule?
~What inspirational words were you reading? Did you have a particular author or favorite website to go to for inspiration?
~Who did you spend time with? Was there someone, or a group of people, that you felt safe and supported around?
~Where did you spend your time? Was there a special place, maybe outdoors or at a friend’s house, where you felt comfortable and grounded?
Thanks to RAAIN for these great questions!

 

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Summer Social Media Educational Series – July 15th – July 23rd

Continuing our series – here are the social media posts from July 15th to 22nd.

 

July 15th – Victims of Sexual Exploitation

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks defining child sex abuse, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking in an effort to provide basic information on these horrific crimes.
Today we are going to begin discussing victim profiles. It is important to know that everyone can be at risk. It does not matter the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or socio – economic class.
That said there are some things that make a person more vulnerable and over the coming days we will discuss those.

July 16th – Victims of Child Sex Abuse
Yesterday we noted that victims child sex abuse, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking really can be anyone but that there are some things that can make someone more vulnerable. 
Let’s take a look at some things that could make a child at higher risk of being sexually abused.- Children living with just one biological parent
– When a child is exposed to frequent conflict between parents – Children whose parents emotionally/physically abusive
– A child whose parents are not ‘present’ – they don’t spend time with the child
– Children who have stepfathers
– A child whose parents/guardians do not teach them about their bodies or have age appropriate conversations about sex
The BEST protection is of course to develop and maintain a good relationship with your child, spend time with them and take child sex abuse prevention training.
July 17th – Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Today we continue our discussion on victims with a focus on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Children and youth who have a history of child sex abuse are at increased risk of being commercially exploited. There are other risk factors and these include:
-Homeless youth
-Youth in care
-LGBTQ+
-Neglect and maltreatment
-Family disfunction
-Societal sexualization of children
-lack of knowledge
That is one of the many reasons why we would like to see more focus on child sex abuse prevention. Imagine the impact we could have if we educated all adults so they could be proactive – and help educate their own children!
July 18th – Victims of Sex Trafficking

There are so many things that can make a person vulnerable to being trafficked. When you think about it EVERYONE has a vulnerability and traffickers prey on these.
Along with the risk factors we have discussed over the past couple of days, we add the following:
– Gender Inequality. While we do know that males are sex trafficked, females are more at risk.
– Low self – esteem. Those seeking externalvalidation, particularly young girls.
– A need for attention/love. Often victims fall prey to the attention a trafficker lavishes on them at the beginning.
– Gang involvement – entering a gang as a girlfriend of a gang member, and then being sold within or outside the gang for sexual acts. Youth who are born into gang-involved families are expected to contribute to the family business in any way the gang deems fit.
– Addictions-Some traffickers purposely supply drugs to vulnerable people to break down their resistance and coerce them into forced labour or sex.
– Racism and the Legacy of Colonialism – these contribute to the marginalization of people, particularly indigenous populations. They face systemic barriers such as limited access to education, employment, housing, and credit and this discrimination places them at a higher risk of being trafficked.

July 19th -Identifying Victims of Child Sex Abuse – Physical Indicators
We will spend the next few days discussing how to identify possible victims of child sex abuse and sex trafficking.
Today’s post begins our posts on child sex abuse victims.
Signs that a child is being sexually abused are often behavioural rather than physical.In fact physical signs are rare. Over the next couple of days we will discuss signs for both children and adolescents.
If there are physical signs – these will include the following:
– In young children – wetting and soiling accidents that are unrelated to toilet training
– In all ages – discoloration, pain, bleeding, discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
– Sexually transmitted diseases
July 20th – Identifying Victims of Child Sex Abuse – Behavioural Indicators
Continuing on our posts on how to identify potential victims of child sex abuse with today’s focus on behavioral signs in children and adolescents. As we mentioned yesterday, you are more likely to witness behavioral than physical signs. Please keep in mind that some of these signs can be seen in times of stress such as divorce, death in family or other traumatic events in a child’s life. If a number of these signs are present then it is possible that a child is being sexually abused – begin asking questions and seek help.
-Talks about a new older friend
-Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
–Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
-Seems distracted or distant at odd times
-Has a sudden change in eating habits
-Refuses to eat
-Loses or drastically increases appetite
– Has trouble swallowing.
-Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
-Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
-Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
-Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
-Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
-Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
-Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
(adapted from Stop it Now)
July 21 – Identifying Victims of Child Sex Abuse –  Young Children

Yesterday we posted about some of the behavioural signs that might indicate a child is being sexually abused. Today we are focusing on additional signs that would apply to young children.

-New words for body parts – if you have taught them proper names, they may start using new names
-An older child regressing back to bed-wetting or thumb sucking
-A child who has been toilet trained who is havingmore frequent accidents
-Asking other children to play sexual games or to behave in a sexual manner
-Resists removing clothes at appropriate times (bath, bed, diapering, toileting)
– mimicking adult-like sexual behaviours with stuffed animals or toys
-Approaching adults in a sexualized manner

Once again we remind you that any one of these could also be caused by other stresses in the family (such as a new baby). If a number of these signs (and others discussed yesterday) are present then it is possible that a child is being sexually abused – begin asking questions and seek help.

 
July 22nd – Identifying Victims of Child Sex Abuse – Adolescents or Older Children
Continuing our discussion on possible signs of child sex abuse with today’s post focused on older children or adolescents. Along with some of the behavioural signs we mentioned in our post of July 20th, there are additional ones to look for in older children. These include:
-Self-injury (cutting, burning)
-Inadequate personal hygiene
-Drug and alcohol abuse
-Sexual promiscuity
-Running away from home
-Depression, anxiety
-Suicide attempts
-Fear of intimacy or closeness
-Compulsive eating or dieting
In addition – we think it’s important to note that for all children – sometimes what has been labeled as ADHD in a child is actually post traumatic stress disorder.
July 23rd – Identifying Children and Youth who are Commercially Sexually Exploited

This is such a complex issue but we do hope the information we are providing is helping you to understand a bit more on the topic of sexual abuse. Today we discuss identification of victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Our posts from July 15th to the 22nd include information on victim profiles and identification.
Children who are being bought and sold for sex will exhibit a number of the same behaviours as those who are sexually abused. There are however, some additional things to look for and these include the following;
-Frequent absences from school
-Hotel keys/key cards in their possession
-Luxury goods that they do not have the means for (ie designer handbags, shoes, clothing)
-Inconsistencies when describing and recounting events
-Prepaid cell phone
-Constant checking of phone and unusual amount of anxiety when they are separated from it or can’t answer immediately
-Bruises, burns, cuts – signs of physical abuse
-Constant presence of a controlling ‘boyfriend’
Don’t assume that use of drugs is by choice – sometimes traffickers will get victims hooked as a means of control.

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Summer Social Media Educational Series July 8th – July 14th

Voice Found’s ultimate goal is to see an end to child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. In order to achieve this goal we know that education is a key factor and so over the summer we will be using our social media to dispel myths and provide information on these crimes. While you may be knowledgeable about this issue it is our hope you will share this information with others who may not.
This post contains our postings from July 8th to the 16th. Missed the earlier ones? You can find them here.

July 8th – Pedophiles vs Situational Offenders

Many continue to think that all who sexually abuse children are pedophiles and we think it is important to correct this inaccuracy. Why? Because it tends to make it difficult to understand how someone who is not a pedophile but who is well liked and respected in the community can also abuse a child.

Today we are focusing our post on pedophiles. Pedophiles are adults who have a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. They may have a preference to a specific sex or be attracted to both males and females. Pedophiles do not become sexual offenders until they act on their urges by abusing children or viewing child pornography. Some pedophiles never sexually abuse children at all.

Where pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children, hebephiles are attracted to children who are in the midst of puberty ( age 11 to 15) and Ephebophilia is an attraction to late puberty (ages 15-19)

July 9th – Situational Offenders

It’s important to learn that not all who sexually abuse children are pedophiles. Many who abuse children are what are known as ‘situational’ offenders. When we learn about who perpetrates these crimes against children it helps us to better protect them. Perpetrators really can be anyone – family members, teachers, coaches, clergy, neighbours – male and female.
There are 4 types of situational offenders:
‘Repressed’ – This person abuses as a response to stress. They could be struggling with illness, job loss, divorce or life issue causing feelings of stress or depression
‘Morally Indiscriminate’ -This type of perpetrator targets those who are weaker and vulnerable and they may sexually abuse other adults as well. This is not as much about sex as it is about control and desecration of another human.
‘Sexually Indiscriminate’ – They seek a variety of sexual experiences and may have an addiction to sex and be involved in other illegal sexual behaviours. (ie bestiality)
‘Inadequate’ – This type of offender suffers from low self esteem, may struggle to form relationships with peers and is often considered a social outcast due to physical differences or barriers in communication.
Children are an easy target – easier to coerce, manipulate, control and silence.

July 10th – Youth can be Offenders

It is not just adults who sexually abuse children. Youth abuse children and other youth as well. As most cases of sexual abuse go unreported, it is difficult to get accurate data, however, estimates are that between 15% and 33% of all sex offences in Canada are committed by persons under 21 years of age.

July 11 – Child Sex Abuse by Family Members
So very often child sex abuse goes unreported. When family members are involved often the reaction to abuse is to ‘sweep it under the rug’. Reasons for this are complex but can include fear of being unsupported (‘this person is an upstanding member of the community and everyone will turn against me”), being financially dependent on the abuser,self-doubt (‘what if I am wrong?”).
Family members DO abuse children and no matter our discomfort we must always to the right thing and report abuse. Children who are supported and get help will heal faster. To protect the offender is to sentence a child to a lifetime of shame and self-blame and often serious consequences. They deserve better!30-40% of sexual assault victims are abused by a family member.
Non-parental relatives – 35%
Friends and Peers – 15%
Stepfathers – 13%
Biological Fathers – 9%
Other Acquaintances – 9%
Boyfriend/Girlfriend of Biological Parent – 5%
Biological Mother – 5%
*Canadian Incidence Study (CIS) of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect
 July 12th – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
It’s hard to believe that anyone could sexually abuse a child and yet it happens far too frequently. Estimates are that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be abused before their 18th birthday.
Children are also commercially sexually exploited – in other words they are trafficked. Over the next couple of days we will discuss types of CSEC. Today we start with a definition.
In 1996, The World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children defined CSEC as:
‘sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object.’
July 13th – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Today we are expanding our discussion on commercial sexual exploitation of children. It is important to note that there does not need to be an exchange of money in order for CSEC to occur. A child (defined as under the age of 18) who is exploited in exchange for protection, a place to sleep, food, access to higher grades or a promotion at work is being commercially sexually exploited. These ‘in-kind’ transactions are sadly very common and it is important to know that this is CSEC and these transactions do NOT entail consent.
 
July 14th – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Today we continue our discussion on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. CSEC consists of a number of offences. One of those is the commonly misused term – ‘Child Prostitution’. Children are not ‘sex workers’ nor are they ‘prostitutes’. They are being prostituted – forced by other people and by circumstances into commercial sex. Demand by adults for children as sexual objects is what creates ‘child prostitution’.
Other forms of CSEC include pornography, child sex tourism, child marriages and forced marriages.
Always remember that no matter the terminology used, children can not consent to these activities and endure significant physical and psychological harm.
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Summer Social Media Educational Series – July 1st to 7th

Voice Found’s ultimate goal is to see an end to child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. In order to achieve this goal we know that education is a key factor and so over the summer we will be using our social media to dispel myths and provide information on these crimes. While you may be knowledgeable about this issue it is our hope you will share this information with others who may not.

July 1st – Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is a crime that involves the exploitation of an individual for profit. The crime occurs when traffickers use human beings to provide labour or services, often sexual, by gaining full control of their movements and selling them as commodities. Although we may often think this is the type of crime to happen in foreign places, human trafficking is happening in Canada in both urban and rural settings.

 

 

July 2nd – Domestic Trafficking

All processes in domestic trafficking occur in one country without crossing international boarders. It does not matter if the person being exploited is a citizen, refugee, immigrant or international student. 93% of Canada’s trafficking victims come from Canada*…..they are not moved across an international boarder.

*RCMP human trafficking national coordination centre. Statistics, human trafficking in Canada, March 2014.

 

July 3rd – International Trafficking

International trafficking involves crossing at least one international border during the process of exploitation. The person is first exploited in the ‘source’ country and then transported to the ‘destination’ country. Whether they are crossing the border legally or illegally, it is the crossing of the international border that defines their case as international trafficking.

 

 

 

July 4th – Child Sex Abuse

Child sex abuse is essentially the act of sexual power one person inflicts onto a minor, or the act of sexual power/control between two minors. There are many forms of child sex abuse and it does not necessarily mean the act of sexual intercourse or even physical contact. Sex abuse can occur in the language someone uses, the way someone touches, the pictures someone sends or what they are exposing to a child. It can occur in person or online and it can be between an adult and a child or between a child and another child.

July 5th – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

We hope today’s post will help you to understand the term ‘commercial sexual exploitation of children’ (CSEC).
CSEC occurs when individuals buy, trade or sell sexual acts with a child. This includes both contact and non-contact activities. CSEC also includes the recruitment, transporting, harbouring, obtaining or provisioning of a child for the purposes of a sexual act.
It is sex trafficking of children.

 

July 6th – Non-Contact Child Sex Abuse

Child sex abuse is both contact and non-contact. Today’s post is focused on non-contact abuse which is often a precursor to contact abuse.

Non-contact abuse includes the following:
-Being forced or invited to watch sex acts
-Exposure to sexually explicit material such as videos, photos, magazines. It can be both in person or via internet. 
-Listening to sex talk, comments of a sexual nature, obscene phone calls
-Sexually intrusive questions or comments whether in person, over phone or internet
-Deliberately exposing genitals to a child
-Inappropriately watching a child go to the bathroom or undress
-Taking photos of a child in sexual poses

Non-Contact abuse is child sex abuse. It is harmful to children and it is against the law

July 7th – Who Abuses Children?

Often we have an image of what an offender looks like and frequently that is a shifty looking man who probably drives a white van and hangs out at playgrounds. In addition – we often assign the term ‘pedophile’ to them.

While some abusers are pedophiles,male, look shifty and maybe even drive around in white vans – the reality is quite different.
More often than not children are abused by people known and trusted. They are teachers, coaches, neighbours, parents, step-parents, babysitters, clergy – anyone. And it is not just males who abuse children but females as well.

In our next few series of posts we will explore situational offenders vs pedophiles. These are important distinctions that will help you to protect children.