Missing and Throw Away Children vs. Abuse Factors and Risks

 

                    Pulbished Article in MPN.com back in Feb 2012……..

Feb. 13, 2012 – original writing

Missing Children and Abuse
Written By: Patricia A. McKnight
Author: “My Justice”

Recently I was approached about writing an article on the relationship of abuse and our missing children. When I first began to look into the many different aspects involved with abuse and the “Missing Child”, I was astounded by the numbers of our youth who are affected and the many different reasons provided. First, let me explain that I found quite a few sites that provided information on this subject, but I’d like to outline a few of the most reported reasons before proceeding.

1) Missing Children can be the result of parental abduction
2) Missing Children can be taken by a stranger or some other predator, (maybe even one they trust).
3) Missing Children can be the result of fleeing the fear of abuse, sexual assault, or confrontation with their parents.
4) Missing Children can be the result of outside influences, such as: gangs, bullying, drugs, or temptation from peers to challenge their parent’s authority.
5) Some of the reports of missing children are related to what is referred to as “throwaways”. These reports are usually made by someone other than the child’s parents.

All of the above issues came into play when doing the research for this article. However, according to the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS; http://www.1800runaway.org/) report provided for year statistics of 2002; “The exact reasoning for why a child leaves home is hard to determine because many of them do not reach out for help.” This report is based on the children who call the hotline number to be provided with a safe place from our streets and those who prey on them. The young children who make up the largest portion of these cases reported fleeing because of abuse. It seems that an astounding 1.6 to 2.8 million youth, age 12-17, escape from the fear of those around them each year. The NRS found 77% of these children, both boys & girls, reported fear of physical or sexual abuse prior to leaving home.

This is phenomenal to me and these stats are a bit outdated. I find myself curious about the new number of those living in shelters or making the call to get help from our streets. What is even more astounding to me is that their report also shows at least 50% of our homeless youth are what they refer to as “throwaway” children. These are children who were either told by their parent to leave or told their parent they were leaving but no one seemed to care. I can only think of one way to actually bring you into the mind of these homeless children and to what their world must be like, that is by writing the below opinion for you to consider.

If you could sit for a moment while reading this article and imagine that you are a young child. Let’s say about fifteen years old for the sake of this experiment. Also, I would like you to think about your own demographics as a mid-teen. Was your home low income? Was there a great deal of tension or anger inside your home? How about your parents? Was one or both of them abusive or neglectful towards you? Did they get involved with your daily life? Did you have dinner as a family together in the evening? Was it a time of healthy discussion or was it quiet with little conversation about what you were dealing with at school or with existing peer pressures? How about drug use? Was it discussed openly? Did either of your parents provide you with the positive support and guidance that a teenager so often requires?

Hopefully you have the picture of your own childhood and your home environment in your thoughts. It is now that I want you to take the pressures of your childhood and multiply those issues by ten. This will allow for the 10 years of growth in our society since you were that age and these above statistics were provided. Consider the added pressures of our youth today with the gang influences; the continuous cyber bullying that plays into their daily life. Add the stress of parents to keep a decent income within the home and the often requirement of both parents to maintain a job outside of the home. How about the increase of single parent households or the many parents who are on medications relating to their mental health and possible emotional scars from their own abusive childhood?

We have now created a vision for our teens living in the new age of social development. You might often see a teen that appears to be having problems and brush it aside, but have you taken time to consider what might be troubling that child? At least 80% of the total number of homeless girls, who reached out for help in the study from 2002, reported being sexually or physically abused. This isn’t to say that young boys are not a factor in this situation, but the larger reports of sexual abuse came from girls. Many of us know that girls, especially between the ages of 9 to 18, are at a higher risk of being sexually abused; but that risk is only about 1 in 4, where boys are at a 1 in 5 risk of being sexually abused within this age range.

The impact of the silence surrounding abuse leaves a child feeling desperate, alone, broken by those they trust. Imagine a child being so terrified of those who are entrusted with their every day care. They are forced to keep secrets of being raped or molested for years. Perhaps they are even terrified with a serious threat of death from their abuser. This is a cruel start to their young life and we are forced, when they leave home to the streets, to think about the severe impact of the abuse they’ve suffered.

When a child is abused within what should be, the safety net of their home, it will leave them to doubt their own self-worth, which often leads to the use of alcohol and drugs to help bury that personal shame. It is way too often that the traumas of these crimes are brushed aside and rather than deal with the damage they are told, “It happened, now just get over it”. That is an impossible feat for a child. Many of the adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, on average 60 million, are living with what they often refer to as “A lifetime sentence”. Even if the child gets support and is helped to understand the sexual crime, they are still often left with the long term affect and will undoubtedly be troubled in their adult relationships; some may be so severely traumatized that it requires years of therapy and daily personal struggles to overcome. There is nothing to say that a person ever recovers from the trauma of sexual abuse. Most often they can come to terms with the situation, but will still be plagued with nightmares and flashbacks, which can be triggered by certain smells, music, a kiss, a touch, colors; everyday types of basic daily living can cause panic or anxiety for decades. It is estimated that about 32% of all abused children will attempt suicide before they consider running away to life on the streets.

The crimes of abuse against our children have become, and are now, a pandemic situation. We hear it on the news and read it in the papers every day. Most often, however, it doesn’t gain our attention until a child is found brutally murdered, either on the streets as a runaway or in their homes by someone who is supposed to love and guide them through these difficult years. More often than not these children will leave home to escape being abused, fleeing for safety elsewhere, but then are taken in by pimps and predators who at first will lead them to believe all is well but then push them into prostitution, sell them into sex slavery; some may be kept prisoner by a predator for their own personal satisfaction. This is the cruel reality of our children who are so broken that they are left with no choice but to run for their own protection.

We must as a society, take on the responsibility of protecting all of the children around us. They have such an extreme amount of pressure to keep up in school with technology and advanced learning. The new age of social media leads to an increase of being lured away from home or added bullying from their peers online. Our homes have become a view of how much can “I” own to show a certain status in society. In this challenge, or need, to earn more and gain more our children are left with little of our attention to show them a positive support system in a home that is loving and, most importantly, safe.

In the end there are more and more children running away, become missing or are even throwaways because of our blind acceptance of abuse. The growing number of these children cannot all be helped and supported by the volunteer programs or the state and nationally funded programs. This reason is simply because of our country’s financial breakdown as a whole. The allowance for state and nationally funded programs are being cut continuously. Sometimes this is because of misuse of funds, but mostly because of the constant budget cuts, of which we all are aware. The volunteer programs cannot be sustained if our neighbors are all out of work or having their own incomes cut in half. It is a crucial time to step up in our country. Whether we like it or not there is a dire need for vigilance against abuse and a simple nature of caring for another, especially when it comes to our children. This simple attitude of caring can create a great change in the number of our missing youth.

It is time to realize the constant pressure they are under and the many ways that they can become influenced to go in what seems to be the wrong direction, which without a support system, can leave them to run away and fend for themselves. This is like giving them to the wolves and saying to ourselves that some must be sacrificed. No child should ever have to feel that deep pain of being abandoned by the family who should provide them with unconditional love.

There should be no “throwaway” children in our society. Each and every child deserves the benefit of knowing someone good in their circle of life; someone who will protect them, support them, guide them, and most of all want them to grow in a healthy loving manner. They should have the possibility to become a very important person, perhaps creating a cure for the largest disease that plagues our society; not cancer, but instead the violence around them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a way to promote and create kindness and love towards each other? A simple way to change the pandemic of child abuse, runaways or throwaway children is by truly starting in our homes and actually caring about the children we bring into this cruel world.

***References:

1) NRS Statistics on Runaways from Peer-reviewed Journals and Federal Studies     http://www.1800runaway.org/)
2) Suicide Risk Among Abused Children/Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 4, 2008 http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/08/04/suicide-risk-among-abused-children/2685.html

Published by @Trecia_Ann

Recently, Facebook locked and removed my decade long creation of work and public profile, which focused my work as an advocate, speaker, mentor, and creator of more than a few programs used throughout Illinois, but also shared nationally and some have reached international platforms. So.... let's start fresh and see where it goes! Please see the writings on this blog dating back into 2011, created after the publication of 'My Justice'. There are two specifically, which have been tagged and shared by many....."Judging Eyes" and "Triggers; what they are and how to handle them" I am a survivor of over thirty years trapped inside the silence and brutality of Family Facilitated Violence, Torture, and Child Sex Trafficking. In Feb. 2011, I chose to publish the secrets and the horrors endured; the many levels of destruction and decay which the community around me witnessed, ignored, condemned and blamed regardless of the injuries and tortures endured. It all became the learned patterns of self-hatred and tolerance which was a huge factor in my adult life. Have you endured childhood harm, or endured terroristic types of abuses? Did you feel unworthy of life, breathing, love or respect? Did you feel as if no one ever really saw you, heard you, or seemed to care about the silent cruelties of your existence? It wasn't until I honestly began a strong focus on healing myself, which took years of researching credible data and published research surrounding the lasting effects of abuse, violence, sexual harm, and human trafficking that I began to understand who I was and why there were many traits and tragedies that influenced my adult choices, relationships, the chaos deep in my soul and the behaviors used to survive. It seemed to control everything inside me and it was filled with pain, and tragedy. The research became my rebuilding journey and my road to advocacy, creating legislative changes, sitting as an active member and providing testimony in the creation of area task force operations, victim/survivor services, trauma informed awareness for law enforcement, educators, social services, healthcare and community providers. I began that research of understanding myself in 2008, wrote the memoir "My Justice' in 2010, began working to change statutes in my home state in 2013, became a Certified DV Advocate and Panel Member of DV Offender Education Program in 2015, which then initiated a decade long career as a trusted, confidential advocate, and a highly skilled and knowledgeable speaker/educator on the topic of Assessment, Family/Survivor Rebuilding, Trauma Informed Care & Response, with the primary focus on family/relationship acts of terroristic abuses and/or human trafficking. Beginning in January 2010 there have been developed programs and connected resources for men, women, children, and families who endured these same types of tragedies. Unfortunately, our human society still has barriers to seek help or speak openly about these types of tragedies, especially if it happened in our homes and families. The laws to protect from such harms were enacted for children in 1963, as an amendment to the Social Security Act. Domestic Violence was not a topic until 1995, when then Senator Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which has since been adapted to provide shelters, counseling, protection orders, and rebuilding services for ALL persons regardless of gender or identity. Although slavery was brought to an end by the historical act of President Abraham Lincoln, we unfortunately have millions of human beings still being traded, sold, controlled and trapped in a hellish evil, which often begins by a parent or intimate partner. Legislation didn't arise regarding the term 'Human Trafficking' until the turn of the new millennium. Protection for victims of human trafficking was signed into law as the 'Trafficking In Persons Act of 2000', which with modern day social media it quickly became a new hot-topic point, which then sparked the creation of Trauma Informed Care, Rebuilding & Trauma Therapy, and thus adult survivors began speaking out about the dark terrifying reality of Child Sex Trafficking. Today many use the term, Modern Day Slavery, and we have multi-faceted task force operations and rescue resources working around the globe to end this new form of human slavery. We also have a few hundred thousand or more who are adult survivors of histories involving Parental Child Sex Trafficking. In one recent study from 2018, they found 85% of these victims were trafficked by parents in trade for drugs, family needs, or basic human survival. As I look back on the career that grew from my own personal need to understand the chaos in my head, the constant failed relationships and almost murderous acts committed against me; as I deal with increasing health problems that includes multiples of head and spinal cord traumas; the most important goal for me from day one of this extremely personal experience; the healing and rebuilding of my own children and grandchildren who were all continued generational victims of the trauma influenced behaviors and choices that resulted from the destruction enforced by my mother and stepfather many decades ago. The little girl, 'Trecia Ann', she survived pure evil as an entire community witnessed, shamed, blamed, and dismissed the visible decay and rot, stench and filth covered, battered and intoxicated body of a young girl who was publicly exploited and shared in the bars of that small town, in her home with boys she attended school with and adult men from the local coalmine. It was as if they all got a thrill from watching her respond to the ring of that little brass bell. They laughed, molested, raped, and purchased for a few bucks or a few beers the sexual use of that young girl right in full public view! Her mother held the power to stop it all, but rather enjoyed having a 'slave' to cook, clean, care for the family as well as entertain the sadistic alcoholic man she chose to marry. Today, I'm so honored and proud to have that little girl's spirit with me. It is through the use of my lived experience, along with a decade of research, and at least five certifications in prevention, response, and trauma; I've assisted a few hundred survivors through the multilevel process of rebuilding and reclaiming their voice, their safety, their freedom! I've trained law enforcement, healthcare, childrens service investigators, our school educators, and co-presented in trainings with some outstanding experts in the field. For the many I've assisted or empowered, they continue becoming thriving survivors, advocates, authors, speakers, and most important of all; they are healing their children and grandchildren! It is a truly beautiful experience and I am so amazed to have been a spark, a resource, or a friend in their life reclaiming freedom. The adult children of generations past have broken through the glass ceiling and finally there is a hint of change in the world. "A lifetime filled with daily torture, tragedy, and pain creates someone completely different than we should have been. We feel that person inside, but our lives are altered by the emotional and physical suffering. We cover it up and hide it deep inside through substance abuse, which falsely helps us believe we are doing fine. The extreme physical and emotional injuries leave our mental and physical selves terribly impacted. Thankfully there is more information and resources of help available today for all types of adverse or traumatic experiences. We have specialized therapeutic help and healthcare professionals developing new ways to identify and assist persons harmed or at risk of harm. We have so much more to do, so please help by having casual open conversations with your friends, family, coworkers, leaders, and especially our kids. Teach them early how to avoid both online and in person harms. Encourage adults and kids both to use the BDA Buddy Skills 2.0, which you will find through my list of assessments and prevention strategies. "My Justice' was written through my own beginning of acknowledging and releasing the personal destruction of the girl once known as 'Trecia Ann'. It is not an easy read, but it has opened many eyes about the reality of evil that occurs inside our homes, against those too small to protect themselves or understand what's happening. It was published to release the thick layers of trauma, sex trafficking, and disfiguring neglect. It is the voice of the enslaved child who existed only to answer the ring of 'his' bell, and the enforced burden to keep my own private terrorist alive. 'My Justice' is NOT SUGGESTED FOR ANYONE UNDER 16 years of age. It discusses the permanently wounding life and the cycle of destruction that held me in tolerating ridicule, control, and violence in my adult relationships. This truth was published to inspire others to take an in-depth look at their life and behaviors as a result of their past, in hopes they too will better understand their suffering today, the continued relationships with the parents and family who inflicted those harms, and finally breaking free from that pain so they can reclaim their voice and their true sense of freedom! We always have the opportunity to learn that we are worthy, capable, incredibly strong, compassionate, and filled with endless possibilities. It is a choice. It is a conscious decision to dig into our trauma, take ownership of our own failures, the harm our choices have caused, and the work we need to do to change it and succeed for ourselves and our families. It is such an honor to have 'My Justice' used at the collegiate level for psychology classes, upcoming therapists, and educators. Today my life is very blessed. I'm finally safe, feel truly loved, finally feeling the magic of life! Always choose to see your star and how it shines on others in your journey. My greatest power only began to show when I first made the choice to end the violent relationships and behaviors around my children; to give them something better, something SAFE!! In choosing to share my own story, I've also gone the serious extra step to educate myself through years of research, attending training opportunities, and collaborating with other advocate resources focused in human resilience and healing from abuse, sexual harm, and sex trafficking. Today there are experts digging deep to recreate help and healing. I've chosen to use my past as a way to inspire a greater good and; hopefully, somehow change the cycle of tragedy in our homes so that we empower our kids to live a more positive path. The best education we can give is healing our survivors of traumatic experiences so we understand what they felt then and what they wish they would have had available; those who could have and should have said something. We can change things for our life today, but best of all in healing our wounds, we give communities a supportive working strategy in assisting the people in our lives. One step at a time, one caring soul at a time, we can give them a path to changing our human society as a whole. This is a tell-all, which was written in the midst of my third nervous breakdown as I struggled to put all my distorted pieces back together, and help my children understand how the violence I tolerated against me invaded their well-being. My children have always been my world, but my behaviors, lack of healthy parenting and life skills, and an inability to remain stable have caused another generation of suffering for my grandchildren. This is a very difficult thing to watch and the continued tragedies that seem to keep affecting the choices in my family. Writing this book was only the beginning of trying to release all that has haunted me for so many years. I have finally removed his thick, cruel, coal-stained hand which trapped me in fear for decades. Those hands and his evil, her housemaid and caregiver; created a slave, and that slave submitted to horrific and brutal attacks but always felt it was her burden to bear. I lived with that hand holding me down, continually terrorizing and silencing, stealing my voice to protect their pure evil. Throughout decades the dysfunction caused by the chaos inside my head would affect every relationship, my children, and cast a shadow of darkness on everything good in my life. Living in the true spirit of freedom, I have now become a strong advocate against the life cycle of human destruction. If we want to control our life and achievements today, then we cannot live stuck in the tragedy of hardships and pain. Life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to see what you can do and what you can achieve, to find out what is important to you. We all become adults. We all have a burden to bear. Stand up and keep moving, keep living, keep dreaming. You have two choices in recreating and rebuilding yourself. Do you stay stuck in the dark shadows of your past? Do you dig deep and find that spirit that kept you alive so that you can become the proud, strong, capable, resilient, kind human being? Which do you choose and how will that choice affect your children and theirs? We can be supportive, and provide resources and suggest help so that families suffering from addiction or past trauma can find a recovery balance to rebuild their family into a more positive life pattern. We will recover, we will rebuild, we will conquer the pains of yesterday to live in the true sense of life, freedom, and safety today. Patricia 'Trish' McKnight Author: 'My Justice' Fndr/CEO: Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP Mentor/Advocate/Speaker/Survivor

4 thoughts on “Missing and Throw Away Children vs. Abuse Factors and Risks

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