Together We Can Prevent the Sexual Abuse of Children
Conversations in Prevention
April 4, 2018
Dear Prevention Community,

April is a month for awareness building and reflection on sexual assault and child abuse. We come together on social media or face-to-face, in personal and shared voices, and across communities to empower and inform everyone on how to create a safer world. Not only do we build awareness through sharing stories that demonstrate the need for protective actions, we also share stories of successes. When we work together, offering support and sharing resources, we’re able to implement changes to make the shift to a culture of prevention.

This year, the theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is “Embrace Your Voice”. Every time we hear about a hero speaking up, reaching out and taking actions, we are witnessing a voice being embraced and shared. We can’t do prevention alone but sometimes we do take steps on our own that help others -- because we can and we know that it’s important. Heroes are everywhere.

There are many ways to be a hero and many examples of how individuals can make a difference. There’s the person who wrote our Helpline: “Hello, I’m wondering if you can help me. While searching for adult pornography, I saw a link to a website that promotes sexual relationships with young children. How can I report this?” Or the person who shared that while in an online support group, he came across a girl who shared that she was having a relationship with her swimming coach. He realized that she was being sexually abused and wanted to know the next steps he should take. Then there were the siblings who discovered their dead brother had a stash of child pornography. They didn’t want his parents to know but they wanted to know if by sharing what they found, they could help identify victims. These people didn’t have to take any actions…no one would have known if they had just ignored what they saw and what they knew. But they didn’t ignore what they saw; they reached out for help and guidance.

This month, our webinar series, “ Dear Stop It Now! Helpline,” features another courageous voice – that of the adult who is asking for help because of his or her own sexual thoughts and feelings towards children. While we often want to block this voice out, the adults who ask for help and who share their commitment to being a safe adult, are indeed brave. Many of these adults who reach out don’t really know yet what their lives will bring – they don’t know that help is available and that they can make choices about what they want to do. Hearing from these adults helps us better understand what we need to help all adults make safe decisions and create lives that are free from harm. We hope you’ll join us on April 26 for “ Dear Stop It Now Helpline, I’m attracted to children”

All of the professionals and volunteers who work in the sexual violence prevention field are heroes. Micah – who is both a Now! Helpline consultant and training associate – is one of our heroes. Our Helpline Consultants do not have an easy task. Talking about sexual abuse is difficult, but when it comes specifically to talking with an adult who is attracted to minors, a special combination of compassion with straight talk that emphasizes the importance of keeping children safe is needed. In our regular Spotlight feature, Micah shares with us her thoughts and experiences about providing help and support to adults seeking help for their own behavior. 

Also in this issue, we hope you’ll read the update to Wayne’s Story of Hope, his personal story as a sex offender in recovery, as well as a new advice column entry highlighting a survivor reaching out to protect children. And finally, check out some of the resources shared to help learn more about honoring the role of awareness in prevention. 

As always, we are grateful for the many heroes in our prevention community.

Jenny Coleman
Director
Quote of the Month
“I'm super grateful and thankful for your help and also for the competent (and no judging) person I emailed with. Thanks! I now feel confident I can get help, and now also know what I should do to try and get that help. Thanks!” – young adult worried about her thoughts towards children
Spotlight: An interview with Now! Helpline Consultant
Micah has been a Helpline consultant for the Stop It Now! confidential helpline for almost four years. We asked her to share some of her thoughts and observations about providing support and guidance to adults who are attracted to minors, and perhaps at-risk of abusing children. 

Why is reaching out to this particular population so important?
This is what primary prevention is all about. Every time a child is abused there are at least two involved parties. So what happened in those days, weeks, months or even years before that person sexually abused a child? Often there’s a period of self-reflection – a moment or many moments where an adult who is attracted to minors noticed that his or her emotions, behaviors or fantasies were starting to feel out of control. And in those instances it’s important to open the curtain so-to-speak and shine the light in. Don’t let that person stay in the dark because we see what happens in cases like that all the time – they’re all over the news. We want to help a person who is in this position pave an alternate route that doesn’t end with the sexual abuse of a child. Making sure that people who are worried about their own thoughts have a place to reach out to is a crucial part of prevention.  
What do you commonly hear from people who call in with these concerns?
We hear a lot of fear, shame and confusion. A lot of times people who are worried about their thoughts towards children know that these thoughts are problematic, they’re aware of the taboo and they don’t know where to turn for help. They feel like they’re the only ones in this situation, and it feels like there’s no way out. This can be a very scary and isolating place to be. We often hear from people who tell us that this is the first time they’ve ever talked about this part of who they are out loud.

We want to hear from you!
We’re collecting stories about heroic actions in everyday life. Our words and actions matter, and when we raise our concerns, we demonstrate courage in our commitment to keep children safe. Speaking up is a brave act – share with us a time you or someone you know spoke up when there was a concern about a child’s safety. Email your story to info@stopitnow.org with "hero" as the subject line, and be entered to win a free prevention kit!
Conversations We're Having
Upcoming Webinar
You’re invited to join us for the 5th webinar in the “Dear Stop It Now! Helpline” series, "I'm attracted to children" on April 26, 3pm-4pm ET featuring guest experts Jill Levenson and Wayne Bowers. For more info about this series, click here.
Ask Now! heroes reaching out
Read our newest advice column from a survivor of sexual abuse, taking steps to protect children from abuse from her abuser: How do I warn this family about my abuser?
Stories of Hope – from an adult involved in offender treatment
“I'm the kind of sexual abuser you don't ever hear much about: one who is recovering and is living an abuse-free, victim-free life outside any official supervision or court jurisdiction. It's been 34 years since I molested anyone, and I work at it every single day of my life.” (Click here to read this story of hope.)

Wayne Bowers first wrote his story of hope in 2001 and has recently updated it. Wayne has served on the Stop It Now! board, participated in our groundbreaking dialog project and helped to create a national support organization called CURE-SORT for people who have sexual behavior problems or have sexually abused a child and want to turn their lives around, where he now serves as executive director. Wayne is a sex offender in recovery who has completed treatment, continues to be accountable for children’s safety and helps others find a path to safety. 
Conversations to Share
The economic impact of sexual abuse
A new study provides an estimate of the financial impact child sexual abuse has in the U.S. Researchers measured the economic costs of child sexual abuse by calculating health care costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, violence/crime costs, special education costs and suicide death costs.

The total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse is estimated to be $9.3 billion, based on child sexual abuse data from 2015. For nonfatal cases of child sexual abuse, the estimated lifetime cost is $282,734 per female victim. There was insufficient information on productivity losses for male victims, which contributed to a lower estimated lifetime cost of $74,691. 
Resources to share for April’s Month of Awareness and Prevention
We’re always looking to build on our shared tool kit of information. Here are some resources that help us all create safe environments for children, thereby reducing risks of sexual abuse:

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has tip sheets to strengthen families, a prevention resource guide for professionals and communities and many other helpful information.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers resources to help caregivers (parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, and all others who care for children and teens) prepare to help youth impacted by trauma.
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