Dody Johnson









                                        


         Reflection

The Movement

 

There was a time in our country's history when a black person could not drink from a public water fountain.  In the early 1960s, the civil rights movement confronted the segregation of public facilities, including schools, restaurants, stores, movie theaters, buses, and recreation facilities.

 

In the summer of 1963 hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington, D.C. for a demonstration and listened to Martin Luther King give his speech, "I Have a Dream."  Those demonstrations challenged the moral conscience of our nation and lead to the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed on July 2nd, that same year.  This landmark legislation committed the federal government to preventing discrimination in employment and in all public facilities. 

 

Can you imagine going to a restaurant to be greeted by a sign, No Blacks Allowed?  Or not being able to drink from a public water fountain?  Can you imagine that?  The civil rights movement ended those ignorant restrictions.  In 1964 the black population in our country was 13%.

 

Today, we have another movement making its way across our land.  We have groups forming from coast to coast working to stop the silence about child sexual abuse.

 

Today, we have 39 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  39 million is 13% of our population.  And we are saying, “The numbers are too large.”  Three million children are harmed in their homes every year (and that's only the reported cases).  1,800 children die every year from abuse and neglect; that’s too many.

 

This wave to end the silence is moving across our country saying, “We are focused on preventing child abuse.”  We have lots of help in place for victims after they’ve been abused, now let’s stop child abuse all together.

 

How do we do that?  By families talking to each other and to their young sons and daughters about what is not allowed in the home.  We need parents telling their children, “If it’s against the law outside our home, it’s against the law inside our home."  If we, the adults can not talk to our children about abuse and sexual touch, how will they talk to us if it happens to them?

 

I sent a letter to a local news anchorman once, asking him why was it that only ten percent of child molesters are reported on the news?  Ten percent of child molesters are strangers to the children they target.  Ninety percent of child molesters are adults who target their own children or children they know well.  

 

The answer came to me the minute I let go of the envelope as it fell through the mailbox slot.  I sent another letter to the anchorman the next day sharing my new thoughts with him.

 

It is not the media squelching the stories about violence in our homes, it’s us.  Today, everyone knows someone who was harmed as a child or was harmed themselves.  Brothers and sisters know what it’s like to be scared in their own home.  I know what it's like to be afraid to go home.  And we still keep quiet.

 

Or, is the Stop The Silence Movement more like the Civil War?  Is it similar to the north and the south fighting with each other?  Today, we have 39 million people who were harmed as children.  That means we have 261 million who were not.  How many from the 261 million don’t want to hear about torture, starvation and child molestation in our homes?  How many of the 39 million that were hurt, don’t want to be reminded of torture, starvation and child molestation that was in their home growing up?  This year three million children know that torture, starvation and child molestation is their normal day.  And, that's just in our country.

 

It is time to help our children by breaking the silence of violence in our homes.  We need to help our children who live next door to us, who we pass on the street everyday, and who live in our homes.  I want children who are afraid to go home to receive the same help and attention that Christian charities have given to poor families around the world, and what animal activists have accomplished in preventing cruelty to animals.

 

What happens if we break the silence about child abuse?  What is the domino effect?  If caregivers talk to their children about what is not allowed to happen to them, how many children will be spared from abuse?  Those children, who are not harmed, will not have to find ways to disappear from life.  They will not turn to drugs, alcohol or prostitution.  They will not have a list of medical conditions as a result of child abuse and molestation.  They will not need years of therapy trying to heal from their low self esteem and escape abusive relationships in their marriages and at work.

 

It won’t happen over night, but every year fewer children will be harmed and we as a nation will take a strong stand against hurting our little ones.

 

I know it’s painful to look at the violence in our homes.  We don’t want to think about the horrific things that happen behind closed doors.  But, 39 million is too large a number.  Child abuse cannot be ignored any longer.  The silence is broken.  We are not going to allow three million children to suffer each year any longer.  We’re going to stop children from dying in their homes.

 

In 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman and a pioneer for the civil rights movement, was arrested for refusing to stand up on the orders of the bus driver to give her seat to a white passenger.  I feel akin to Rosa Parks when she answered the interviewers question in 1995, “What are your thoughts when you look back on that time in your life?  Any regrets?”  Rosa Parks replied, “As I look back on those days, it’s just like a dream.  The only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest.”

 

From Fawn Volkert

 

Again a fabulous post! Papillon Libre, though in its very early stages is forming it's approach to this issue around those such as civil rights, and women's rights. We believe that this is the last known stigma influenced suppression.

I just posted today about how our silence supports the prevalence of abuse and teaches victims to carry the shame attached, while letting our perpetrators continue hiding in their distorted truth. I am growing so frustrated with a national unwillingness to stand up and be heard when it comes to this type of abuse. We need men and women to unite in a very public way to put a stop to this! And for that reason I am personally thankful for your post and your efforts to combat this and other forms of violence in our homes.


 

There is no city or township that has escaped this silent epidemic.

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