RISK FACTORS IN LAESTADIAN COMMUNITIES
- EXTERNAL rather than internal locus of control (leading to rationalizations, e.g., "weak flesh," "God's will," "do not question," "trust the elders")
- CULTURE of male privilege and dominance
- ETHOS of female submission to authority
- UNSUPERVISED children in large, extended families and frequent social mixing
- NORMALIZATION of abuse as "equal to any other sin"
- UNTRAINED clergy
- SUSPICION towards outsiders, including law enforcement, legal system, and psychotherapy
- POLICY of "forgive and forget"
- VALUING of perpetrator's career and reputation over victims' safety and justice
- UNTREATED mental illness
FOR PARENTS, HOW TO REDUCE RISK
- TEACH boundaries. Never make your child hug someone, not even you.
- ENCOURAGE CHILDREN to question adults.
- ESTABLISH gender equity in the home.
- TEACH personal safety education.
- RESPECT a child's preference not to be around some children or adults.
- BE INVOLVED in your child’s life. Watch their interactions with others.
- BE ALERT to situations and behavior that seem strange; don't diminish your gut feelings.
- SUPERVISE your child. Know where he or she is and with whom.
- COMMUNICATE with your child and open up opportunities for them to share with you. Pay close attention to changes in behavior — it can be a sign of distress.
- USE THE CORRECT TERMS for body parts. Explain to your child that nobody should touch their private parts.
- MODEL both the setting of and defending of appropriate boundaries ("no means no" whether someone is being tickled, chased, or teased).
- BE ALERT for anyone who repeatedly ignores or disrespects boundaries.
- BE EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE for your child. Ask often if there is anything you can do to make their lives better. Do not shame or otherwise punish them for asking uncomfortable questions, or sharing uncomfortable facts.
- PROVIDE professional counseling if your child is troubled and unable to talk to you.
- REPORT all suspected child abuse to legal authorities, not to the preachers. Your job is not to find proof; that's the job of those who are trained and required to do so.
- REMEMBER that it is your ethical responsibility is prevent and report abuse. Even if you are not legally required to report (as a mandated reporter such as a teacher, health professional, or preacher) you have a moral duty to do so.
- NEVER blame the victim.
- NEVER discourage a victim from reporting.
- NEVER ask the victim to forgive or interact with the perpetrator in any way.
WARNING SIGNS of a POTENTIAL ABUSER
From the National Sex Abuse Public Website:
The following behaviors could be cause for concern:
- Making others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional, or physical boundaries or limits.
- Refusing to let a child set any of his or her own limits; using teasing or belittling language to keep a child from setting a limit.
- Insisting on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with, or holding a child even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention.
- Turning to a child for emotional or physical comfort by sharing personal or private information or activities that are normally shared with adults.
- Frequently pointing out sexual images or telling inappropriate or suggestive jokes with children present.
- Exposing a child to adult sexual interactions without apparent concern.
- Having secret interactions with teens or children (e.g., games; sharing drugs, alcohol, or sexual material) or spending excessive time e-mailing, text-messaging, or calling children or youth.
- Being overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (e.g., talks repeatedly about the child's developing body or interferes with normal teen dating).
- Insisting on or managing to spend unusual amounts of uninterrupted time alone with a child.
- Seeming “too good to be true” (e.g., frequently babysits different children for free, takes children on special outings alone, buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason).
- Frequently walking in on children/teens in the bathroom.
- Allowing children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors.
National Child Abuse Reporting Hotline
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers
- "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft
- Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can--and Should--be Saved by Lundy Bancroft
- The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics by Lundy Bancroft
- "Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence- From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror" by Judith Herman
- Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter
- Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melodie Beattie
- The Language of Letting Go by Melodie Beattie
- The Emotionally Abused Woman : Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel
COSA: Codependents Of Sex Addicts A twelve-step recovery program for men and women whose lives have been affected by another person's compulsive sexual behavior.
Sex Addicts Anonymous A twelve-step program for recovery from sex addiction.
- RAINN: Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Dancing in the Darkness Resources and personal stories for rape and sexual abuse survivors