It was painful to read this article as it parallels my own life so closely. Its a short read bit worth the time.
The news took me by surprise. This wasn’t just my house, this was my home. I lived there my whole life, & it was being taken away from me. My whole life was being taken away, and I had no idea what to do to stop it from happening. What was I going to do about school? I was in my Senior year and already missed two weeks of school. What about my friends? The ones I grew up with since I was four years old. What about my life? The one I’ve grown used too, the one that I couldn’t imagine living differently.
Share a lesson you wish you had learned earlier in life.
Every failed relationship you have ever had is your fault.
I’m not saying that you were the reason your ex cheated, absolutely refused to work, or was abusive… but you chose that person to be your partner – potentially unaware of the ‘type’ of person he or she was, and remained in that relationship up to a certain point… that point was when you learned your lesson.
… think about your last relationship, and why it ended…. There was something there that you just would not accept… and because of that, your relationship came to an end. Something else happened, though… you became smarter.
So, it’s been 621 days, or, 1 year 8 months and 12 days since my children and my world came to a crashing halt.
I keep wondering why I havent healed yet. Why am I still so profoundly damaged and why can I not integrate back into the world with even a minute amount of success. What is wrong with me. I was diagnosed with PTSD which made me ask myself, does this mean I will never heal. And if I can recover, WHEN?
After beating myself up for failing to get on with life, I figure it might be time to assess the gravity, the magnitude, the reality of what was actually lost.
Before I go on, Please understand, I would have it no other way. The relief I feel knowing that my daughter had the guts to stand up and protect herself by telling her secret is remarkable. I am grateful for her bravery. I’m also relieved that her suffering has come to an end. However, I’m writing this blog post to get a better understanding of why I am having such a hard time healing from what was lost.
During some of my darkest, most painful days I recall describing what I was experiencing like this…
My husband was murdered, my daughter was raped, my home was set on fire, my job was terminated, my bank account was robbed.
And all of this occurred in one day, in the blink of an eye. I went to bed one night and life was normal. I woke up to find everything I knew and loved had changed. Life from this moment forward would never be the same.
It’s funny because the above description is not exact, but for me, it’s the closest way I can describe how I feel and for the most part it’s the equivalent of the reality.
The Breakdown of what was lost
My husband was murdered
Everyone knows someone who has lost a spouse way to early. About ten years ago my husbands best friend died in a car accident. Of course we were devastated. After all, our friends had recently married, which we celebrated as a new and exciting beginning of two friends sharing a wonderful life together. In his death, he was buried and honored with a funeral where all of his loved ones were able to pay their respects to the deceased. There was closure. Sure, it was painful to say goodbye to a friend. There was peace in knowing we could visit his grave, place flowers on such a good friends final resting space should we desire.
The bottom line is, I have spent every day since midsummer of the year 2000 with my husband. I truly loved this man with every part of me. I was still in love with him, which is quite remarkable. heck, I’ve been in relationships where the flame is snuffed out, and pretty quickly to. But this wasnt the case with us. I still looked at him with passion, still thought he was the most gorgeous man I’d ever laid eyes on.
No, in reality my husband was not actually murdered. trust me, there is a weird part of me (the part that has never actually experienced what that might be like) that feels like this would be a less painful scenario. Had he been murdered I would have been able to bury the man I loved so deeply. I could still look at him with love. Me and my children could visit his grave and place flowers. A gravestone for me has recently become something tangible that you can go to when the person you held so dear is no longer there. My husband, my children’s father is no longer there. There’s nothing. THERES NOTHING. Just an empty space in my home and in my heart. I feel his absence in the depth of my guts. There’s nothing left but the good memories that swirl around the new and bad memories. I still can’t think of him, talk about him, look at his things, go to sleep next to the spot he occupied, and yes, survive every holiday without feeling the tremendous sense of loss of this person in my life. I miss the man I thought he was. I miss my best friend. I feel like it was my husband who murdered the man I loved.
My daughter was raped
This is such a painful thought that I still have a hard time thinking about it, much less writing candidly about the feeling and emotions that are buried in my mind and heart. And for that reason I’ll simply say… this is self explanatory…and move on to the next item.
My home was set on fire
I see news stories all the time about families displaced by fire. Families that are homeless in the matter of moments. Nothing left of the comforts of home but a heap of smouldering ash. This is tragic and reported as such on the news, usually with a cry for help and where good citizens can send donations to help out the newly homeless.
For my family, our home is on fire, burning just under the surface. It feels like the Alzheimer’s disease for the exiled. without an income, saving my home, my children’s home is useless. we’re just watching it smoke, waiting for the day that it’s all gone. The saddest part is, there aren’t any nor will there ever be any distress calls from the local news media for my family. We will lose our home. My children will lose the last bit of normalcy they have left. Childhood friends, classmates, routines that provide comfort will all be gone. I cannot explain what its like to walk into your house and know that the very sights, smells, and personal space that brings peace and shelters you from the cold hard world, just outside your door will be gone. I don’t know the date but I know its coming. My husband was ordered to pay the mortgage but he never has and my lawyer didnt push the issue. Because I was and still am absolutely broke, I’m unable to pay my lawyer. The last payment that was made on our family home was april 2010. I’m still in my home but its in foreclosure. I’m not sure how much longer before we are completely homeless.
My job was terminated
My husband and I started our own business in 2006. I took pride in working both with him outside of the home and as the accountant in the home. I wont lie, ive never loved doing receipts. I kinda despised getting all the paperwork prepared for taxes. But I did it, for years I did it. I did love the physical work though. It wasnt to difficult and I really loved going to work with my husband everyday. We were a team. We were business partners. We were best friends who got to hang out every day. I look back on these times fondly and unfortunately so. If I hated the daily grind than maybe that’d be one less good memory to grieve the loss of. Now my everyday is a struggle just to get to the end. Our business was and is a fairly profitable business. We did well for ourselves, making enough to live on and have a bit left over for the fun things in life. We enjoyed entertaining friends at our house, hosting the occasional get-together. He took the business. He was the only one we listed on the LLC. We never paid ourselves paychecks so I couldn’t file for unemployment. It’s as if I havent had a job since 2006. I miss enjoying my day-to-day life. I miss working and I miss the motivation I once enjoyed as a small business owner.
My bank account was robbed
Within the first week after the discovery and while I was still in shock at my mothers house, my husband cleared out our bank account. I had not a dollar to my name and three kids to support. This has not changed and I don’t expect that it will. He took every dime that we together made and saved and left me with nothing. I went to sleep one night with a certain degree of financial security and woke up to find I couldn’t even buy toilet paper. “I couldn’t even buy toilet paper” it’s what everyone who is running low on cash says…I had to steal toilet paper from a gas station bathroom. It’s not an exaggeration, it was our reality and it was humiliating. As something ive kept a secret from everyone I know including my children, its something I still cringe privately over.
So, what’s next
When I look at the list above it reads like the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, seriously. How much stress can one person suffer before they break? I’ll paste a link I found to a site where you can do a quick assessment. I don’t need to do the assessment to know that I’ve had a multitude of stressful life changing events happen in a short amount of time but after reading over it ive decided I need to get myself back into therapy. Heres the list:
Choose Life Events In the last 2 years, did any of the following happen in your life?
Minor violations of the law
Major change in number of family get-togethers
Change in eating habits
Major change in sleeping habits (a lot more or a lot less than usual)
Taking on a loan (car,etc.,)
Major change in social activities (clubs,movies,visiting,etc.)
Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation
Major change in church or temple activity (i.e.. a lot more or less than usual)
Major changes in working hours or conditions
Changes in residence
Changing to a new school
Trouble with boss
Revision of personal habits (dress manners, associations, quitting smoking)
At the beginning of American Beauty, just as Lester Burnham is beginning is spectacular breakdown, the movie’s tagline can be seen behind him, pinned to the wall of his cubicle. A little white sticker reads, “Look closer.”
I can’t say this enough times, Raptitude is an amazing website full of well thought out and elegantly written posts that, if you give yourself the time to read, has the potential to a enhance your quality of time spent on this watery rock called Earth.
I will be sharing a link to his posts often but i encourage anyone who reads this to bookmark Raptitude and subscribe to the rss feed.
photo by: David Cain and the Raptitude website
The internet allows us to share a brain, sort of. You have an idea, or an understanding, and now it can be anyone’s, with no need to get a publisher to agree that it’s worth sharing. If that idea changes the way someone lives, that change can change the way someone else lives, and that’s all culture is. Twenty years ago this medium wasn’t a part of our lives, and now we’re influencing each other at an astonishing rate. This is evolution.
Molesters versus the sex lab: Controversial testing technique a key to stopping child abusers
BY GENE SAPAKOFF
Monday, June 6, 2011
It is another disturbing and productive day inside William Burke’s modest Summerville office. A photo of a scantily clad little boy pops up on a laptop, followed by a picture of a bound and gagged young woman.
The Visual Sexual Preference test images keep coming, one as innocent as a girl in a one-piece swimsuit —department store catalog stuff —and the next something way more sordid.
Burke explains that his clients, many of them prisoners, must watch carefully before the exam is over.
“The first time, you just see the slides,” Burke says, nodding at the screen. “The second time, you have to rank them on a scale of 1-7 by how sexually interested you are in them or how disgusted you are. So I guess you get the idea on how that works. Later, we can go down the hall.”
Down the hall is the Sexual Arousal Lab. ‘We’re testing someone right now,’ Burke says.
Inside a 12-by-12-foot room, a shackled and handcuffed man let out of an Upstate jail for the day is viewing a series of 27 photos —with a state-of-the-art plethysmograph firmly attached.
An armed guard stands watch as the device —essentially a penile polygraph —measures arousal.
There is audio too. For instance, the voice of a man who has spotted a boy in a camp shower room.
Burke, 53, has been using the plethysmograph (or PPG) and other innovative ways of preventing child abuse since 1996. Not everyone endorses the technology in use at more than 100 testing facilities in the U.S.; results are challenged in court, and a Lowcountry judge once dubbed him a ‘witch doctor.’
Photo by Wade Spees This prisoner is undergoing a sex-offender test in William Burke Summerville office.
But this facility and Burke’s other offices in Columbia and Lexington are South Carolina’s primary stops for the risk assessment, treatment and supervision of sex offenders. Law enforcement officials, South Carolina’s volunteer Guardian Ad Litem staff and the Department of Social Services have Burke on speed dial.
A few of his current 300 clients come voluntarily for treatment. He gets referrals each week from men —or their workplace HR offices —seeking help with Internet pornography addiction. But roughly 80 percent of Burke’s work, he says, involves men who have sexually abused children.
Goal: Stop them.
“Our assessments are very thorough and they meet the standard of care, which dictates the kind of instruments you should be using,” Burke says.
Sometimes there are interruptions.
The phone rings.
‘Excuse me, I have to take this call,’ Burke says with a sudden frown.
“Of course, our first interest is always the safety of the children, and what you’re telling me is bad enough,’ Burke tells the caller. ‘But if video has been put on the Internet, uh, that’s taking it to a whole different level.”
The Czechoslovakian army, of all institutions. It christened the PPG during the 1950s ‘Cold War.’
‘They wanted to test guys trying to avoid military service by claiming to be gay,’ says Burke, a Rock Hill native who received psychology and clinical counseling degrees at The Citadel and a PhD in counseling at South Carolina.
The PPG has been in use in the U.S. since the 1980s. Burke’s Canadian-made Limestone Preftest model features straps that measure phallic size increases by blood flow as patients are exposed to photos and/or recordings. The data shows up on computer graphs in an adjacent room.
The Visual Sexual Preference test and Abel Screen also are included as part of a basic Burke assessment, which lasts from eight to 14 hours spread over one or two days. The Abel Screen is an evaluation concept with more than 1,000 questions and 340 slides aimed at categorizing and correlating sexual arousal.
The PPG test is Burke’s pride and joy.
“The most exciting thing for us is the stimulus material and how that has evolved,” he says.
Burke played a role in that development, by accident.
“Up until two or three years ago, what a person would listen to in the laboratory was a male monotone voice telling a story about sexual behavior,” Burke says, “and the response rates were not that great. By that I mean we positively identified, say, a person aroused by a rape scenario only about 58 percent of the time. Now it’s over 90 percent.”
Charleston-based FBI agent Cynthia McCants mentioned to Burke that often when computers were seized from pedophiles, the evidence discovered was not visual but audio versions of victimized children.
“That got me thinking,” Burke says.
He approached a talent agency in search of kids. Parents were informed and signed waivers. The child actors were given scripts.
“We would have them say things that had nothing to do with sexual behavior,” Burke says. “Like a scenario with a lady walking her dog, and you want to pet the dog but you are a little nervous and you ask, ‘Can I touch it?’ We clip that sound out and drop it into a story of a guy in the camp shower with a 10-year-old.”
The child voices have been echoing in Burke’s office, and other PPG facilities around the country, since 2006.
“I have difficulty saying this because it sounds so outrageous,” Burke says in a hushed tone. “But on average we had 200 percent or greater levels of (phallic) response in the laboratory to the voices of the children. That is cutting edge and that’s really cool to be a part of.
“Now, the false positive identification rate is next to zero. It’s just not going to happen. There are just too many safeguards for that.”
Burke stresses that his role is not to decide guilt or innocence, but to make risk recommendations. He does pre-trial assessment, offers second opinions and sometimes first opinions.
“If a man accused of molesting his stepdaughter is brought in and tests positive for arousal to young girls,” Burke says, “I will suggest he not be allowed back home.”
It goes beyond ‘gotcha.’
Burke also monitors and treats patients. Some are on probation. Some are awaiting trial.
There are no “typical” cases in this line of work.
“A lot of folks come in and say they didn’t do it,” Burke says. “Well, OK, we’ll start there. We have our interviewing and a variety of tests.
“Say someone has been accused of molesting a couple of boys and he denies it. I get a history from him and then we put him in the Sexual Arousal Laboratory and, lo and behold, he’s aroused by little boys, and after the test I say, ‘Hey, you’re aroused by little boys.’
“Sometimes that’s enough for them to say ‘I did it. And maybe I need some help.’ If that’s enough, we polygraph them to find out more information.
“It’s not guilt or innocence. But if I’m responsible for whether or not somebody is going to be released into the community, or if a judge is going to take my recommendation and report, I have to know what I’m dealing with.
‘I’m not going to be able to sleep at night if I think I’ve played a part in somebody dangerous getting out.”
‘A witch doctor’
Burke and fellow PPG lab managers —including Burke-trained R. Gregg Dwyer at MUSC —have fans, and critics.
“He does a phenomenal job,” said Micky Talley, agent in charge of the Dorchester County Probate, Parole and Pardon Services. “I don’t think we could supervise the sex offender population or do our job without Dr. Burke. It certainly helps reduce recidivism,” which is repeating previous bad behavior.
PPG testing is a condition of Dorchester County sex offenders on probation and parole. Talley and Burke meet regularly to go over test results and compliance.
Charleston County Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash likes the PPG concept too.
“It helps (defendants) be able to go into court and admit it,” she said. “They’re going to get out of prison eventually, and sometimes it helps to be able to have treatment after they have served their sentence.”
Among his court roles, Burke offers expert testimony and participates in parole revocation hearings and sentencing phases.
His recommendations have been challenged.
“I’ve had a judge look me in the eye in a courtroom full of people and say, ‘I don’t think you’re any better than a witch doctor and I don’t believe any of this,’?”Burke says.
Some defense attorneys consider PPG testing “Orwellian.” Expensive too —$2,200 per test, at least (initially billed to those tested). British Columbia last July established a moratorium on PPG testing of youths. Fresh and objective studies on the disputed device and recidivism are hard to come by.
But South Carolina’s Sexually Violent Predator act of 1998 has made the PPG more palatable here and in states with similar laws.
“Research says it’s the single greatest test of recidivism for child molestation, over any other factor,” Burke says, citing studies done by Canadian clinical psychologist, researcher and author R. Karl Hanson and different partners. ‘If you had one thing you could choose about who is going to re-offend, it’s going to be the PPG result.
“But, again, we don’t want to do these tests to say whether somebody did something or didn’t do something. Because it’s certainly possible that someone might have some arousal to kids and he didn’t do it.
“It’s certainly possible he did do it and it didn’t show up. I don’t think that’s a valid reason to use the test. It’s a risk assessment.”
Burke also gives each patient conventional polygraphs twice a year.
“Just by threatening a polygraph, offenders start admitting to having victims and a greater number of victims,” Burke
“Just by threatening a polygraph, offenders start admitting to having victims and a greater number of victims,” Burke says.
Not everyone is cooperative. Some Burke patients have thrown PPG devices against the wall and attempted to flee —hence the armed guards for those incarcerated. And the off-duty police officer on hand for group therapy meetings.
Once, a patient tried to corner a female therapist. Burke has been the victim of a bomb threat.
“Another guy was beating on the door of my house at 2 a.m.,” he says. “Sometimes when we say, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t think you should have access to your children,’ people get really mad.”
You want no part of this chair, or anything attached.
The PPG fits around the penis.
A respirator monitors breathing patterns.
When you feel like squirming —and you will —a motion detector in the seat picks up every wiggle.
This afternoon, the shackled male is well into the PPG series of 27 “trial challenges.”
The first part of the test includes nude images of adult women and adult men in hopes that there is some response. No other nude photos are used.
“One way of looking at it is that if there is no arousal to nude adults but there is arousal to a kid in a bathing suit, that’s significant information,” Burke whispers as he observes the process from an adjacent room.
In each trial challenge, a photo appears for seven seconds.
Then a 90-second scenario.
Then six other photos related to the scenario.
Two of the challenges include ‘neutral’ stimuli, a skyscraper and furniture.
The entire test is videotaped.
“Just another way of measuring across the board,” Burke says.
But here comes trouble, the rape of a young girl at a desolate beach. She pleads. She weeps.
Then a scene in which a man beats his daughter for her apparent failure to pick up around the house.
The patient is restless.
The graph lines on the computer start moving.
“Unfortunately, he is getting aroused,” Burke says of the one-man captive audience.
This patient already has been through the Visual Sexual Preference exam, part of which includes an audio/photo scenario featuring an adult male preparing to molest a fourth-grade girl: “Why don’t you come sit with me on the couch.” “OK.” “Let’s snuggle up close so we can both see the book.”
Elements to prevent faking are built in. It’s hard to close your eyes or tune out photos when part of the drill is pressing a button whenever a picture changes or the audio gets violent.
“When you combine the tests together, the probability that you’re going to pick up whether or not someone has deviant arousal goes up to 96 or 97 percent. Which is valuable information,” Burke says. “If you just do one test independently, you’re in the low 70s.”
Ultimately, Burke says, the PPG lab is all about breaking down denial.
“Most guys deny, deny and deny. Most guys would rather say ‘I murdered my grandmother’ than admit that they have sexual fantasies about children,” he says.
“Often the only time we can get to that is through this process. That helps break down their denial, which helps us increase our ability to help them. Because sexual fantasy is the basis for 99.9 percent of all deviant sexual behavior.”
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:
•Has difficulty walking or sitting
•Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
•Reports nightmares or bedwetting
•Experiences a sudden change in appetite
•Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
•Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
•Reports sexual abuse by a parent or other adult caregiver
Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:
•Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
•Is secretive and isolated
•Is jealous or controlling with family members
Childwelfare.gov, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Omg, if only I had known of this websites existence a year ago, six months ago, yesterday. My God. I don’t feel completely alone in my tortured feelings and emotions. One of the first threads I came across had a response that was written on the page as though it was my own personal dialogue downloaded directly from my brain and displayed in in black and white, my language, a font that my browser can understand. This is the post I read from someones brain that has heard my thought.
I find that CSA is the “gift that keeps on giving”. It ruins you emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially. We are approaching the 1 year mark since my daughter’s disclosure. It is “easier” than last year. It is “easier” than 6 months ago. I still feel the sadness, rage, disillusionment and every other feeling I’ve had, but it is not every day. There are good days, lots of them and often many in a row. Then there are the bad days. While I don’t believe it will ever go away, I do see that it gets better. Hang in there, you are in my thoughts.
“What you did is not okay! And I am going to be depressed to prove it!”Nobody wants to be depressed! Or do they? If you have suffered depression, you might be aware of the irrational part of you that objects to letting go of depressed feelings. In depression people are more inclined to feel the unfairness of life.
We got concert tickets as soon as we found out Tom Petty was coming to the coliseum. As the date for the concert grew closer so did my contractions. August 15, 2003, the night of the concert, I knew for certain that my size and irregular contractions wouldn’t allow for me to go to a concert I desperately wanted to go to. Danny took my place next to my husband and reported his enjoyment afterward. They had a blast.
My 3rd child was born less than a week later. Kieran Emily Sumpter came into the world on a very stormy August evening. The lightening was so intense that it knocked the power out, on the labor and delivery floor for as far as I could tell, just briefly until the backup generators kicked on. The only thing that was left unrestored in my delivery room was the machine that monitors heart rate and contractions. It wasn’t long before I was in more pain than I’ve ever been in in my life. My epidural drip had run dry. Next to me was a gentleman who was working tirelessly to restore the HR/contraction monitoring machine that would have validated my pain had it been functional. He never did get it back up and running before my daughter made her grand appearance. Much like the anesthesiologist who never made it back around to my room in time to refill my empy epidural drip. My 3rd child, 2nd daughter and 1st natural child birth all occured the same day, August 21st, 2003. Though I had given birth to two children previous to her, I had never experienced such pain in my life. It was foreign to me, and scary. I kept saying… I’ve already had two children and I didn’t feel like this. Somethings wrong. I’m ripping in half. Please help. I was wrong in that nothing was wrong at all, it was what women had felt while giving birth for all of humanity up till recent and the marvels of modern medicine had unveiled this wonderful little thing called anesthesia.
The song Refugee by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers is a song me and my husband held close to our heart. It was a song we cranked up loud and sang the hell out of when it came on the radio. It was a favorite we played on our home stereo via cd. We sang it word for word, loud as possible and probably even more hideous than loud.
Its a song that I haven’t been able to listen to without crying, and I mean the ugly kind of crying to. The kind of crying that you should hide your face from any onlookers due to the painful contortions ugly crying cause your once pretty little face to be mangled into.
The words have recently sounded different to me. The lyrics mean something new. Not good new. Just new. It occurred to me that for the past year, my children and myself have been living very much the life of refugees and would like to be granted a much needed asylum. There’s no place like home, and for us, for now, homeless is where we are, and where we’ll be until we can find our way back. Back home.
Writers: TOM PETTY, MIKE CAMPBELL By Tom Petty and Mike Campbell
We got somethin’, we both know it,
We don’t talk too much about it.
Yeah it ain’t no real big secret,
But somehow, we get around it.
It don’t really matter to me baby,
You believe what you want to believe,
You don’t have to live like a refugee.
Somebody must have kicked you around some. Who knows why you wanna lay there and revel in your abandon.
It don’t make no difference to me, baby, Everybody’s had to fight to be free,
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee.
Baby, we ain’t the first.
I’m sure a lot of other lovers been burned.
Right now this seems real to you,
But it’s one of those things you gotta feel to be true.
Somebody must have kicked you around some. Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped,
Tied up, taken away, and held for ransom.
It don’t really matter to me, baby,
Everybody’s had to fight to be free,
bonesandpetals asked: first and foremost, this blog is absolutely beautiful.
what i’ve been through is minor in comparrison to most peoples story, but reguardless its still chil abuse. my dads an abusive alcoholic and is hooked on various drugs, for my entire childhood he negelected my brother and i, until about two years ago. he now swaps between hitting my brother and threatening me, to telling us he loves us entirely and our mother couldnt care less because we’re unimportant to her.
i think the people that are telling you to stop talking about child abuse are narrow-minded, and pathetic. people should know about whats going on around them, and i have so much respect for making this blog. keep at it, no matter what anyone says<3
Thank you for being brave & sharing your story. Have you done anything about the abuse?