It’s like your emotional brain has a cold

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I know locally in Southern Illinois there is an effort to inform society about Mental Illness and what we can do to help. 

The day to day forms of mental illness you see in family and friends can be anything from the equivalent of I have a cold to I’m having a heart attack. Mild mental illness is quite common in our high-stress life, especially if you’re spending all your time on the internet or social sites worrying about how popular your post or comment might be. This is usually even more stressful or depressing for teens or young adults who have gone through some difficult experiences; they need to feel that acceptance – they fit in – they do belong somewhere.

If anyone asks how we are doing or if they do say something to us; we probably deny anything is wrong and keep on smiling. Only a few open up and say; I’m feeling down. I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling……

The key words, ‘I’m feeling’; consider if you had a headache, you wouldn’t tell the world but you would probably take an aspirin or drink a soothing tea. If it was there the next day you’d try to figure out why it’s still there; take another aspirin or another soothing tea. Many of us would do this for a week or so, then we would seek some type of medical check to see what’s going on and why we can’t get rid of the damn headache.

Your son or daughter who seems depressed all the time, may not be contemplating suicide, but it doesn’t mean that school, relationships, or work are not getting heavy for them. Perhaps in a teen, you begin to see an increase in acne or lower grades, poor eating habits. Maybe they isolate themselves to the privacy of their room and only rarely interact with anyone. Perhaps in an adult friend, they seem quieter or less open than normal. Maybe you don’t see them outside or leaving the house. Maybe your coworker seems like they cannot concentrate or they are having to focus so hard on work they don’t even enjoy a joke or a smile at the water cooler.

I am this person…… at least one day a week if not more I have to rise above the depression and get out of my own head for awhile.

When the weather is nice, at least warmer, this is usually easier to do. However, if you cannot get away from the thoughts or the stress, there is a high risk of things becoming more difficult rather than easier. If you do not have family around to help, if you are a single parent, if you are just in a challenging situation day after day, or even a few days a week; this should be when you start reaching out for a connection with someone, somewhere. Create an anonymous name and go online to share what’s going on with another close acquaintance. Careful what you share online, however, let’s not give out any personal information; keep yourself and your location safe unless you are sure of whom you are communicating with. Be smarter and more cautious online, because if you don’t actually know the person, then how do you know what they will or will not do with the details you give them.

The problems become more difficult when we carry so much inside and rarely let things out that really bother us.  Kind of like pushing yourself from the common cold to a major illness or heart attack. The common AMI we see in almost everyone at some point just needs a bit of your positive inspiration to lift up the shade for a bit so the light can get in. Use the renewal of warmer weather and all the blossoms of new life, that time when you do Spring Cleaning; clear the clutter and dust out the cobwebs of our emotions once in awhile as well.

When you do see a person with rage problems or violent outbursts, ranting threats and other such things; this is a person who needs some help and if they don’t or won’t get it on their own, then your only option may be to force through some type of legal process if possible or make them an offer they can’t refuse; such as, ‘I’ll take the kids for the weekend while you decompress.’

Mental Illness doesn’t have to be a lifetime prohibitor, it can indeed many times be figured out and treated, to at least prevent some type of harm to yourself or others, especially if you are around children. If you believe someone you know is becoming more withdrawn or more angry; please remember; this is someone you care about. Help them be brave enough to help themselves, even if that means going along for the checkup. Just like if they were worried about a cancer diagnosis, they might be just as worried about a visit with a psychiatrist to evaluate their emotional stability.

In May and all year long, can you make a commitment to just watch out for those people you care about? You don’t need to watch everyone online or in your neighborhood. We are populated enough that most have someone around, but when dealing with a mental illness they may have burned bridges to family and ties that could and would help them today. If you’re a close neighbor or a concerned co-worker you just might be the only light in the tunnel for them. At least be a person who shows empathy, not sympathy or judgement.

See the world with eyes wide open; no blinders to avoid the bad stuff! The bad stuff is real life for someone and they need us to keep the circle of help running through our schools, our health centers, and definitely in our neighborhoods and our families.

**Mental Health can be any form of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Multiple Personality Disorder or more. Most of us understand there is Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and then Any Mental Illness (AMI). We usually see the SMI cases through the news headlines, and AMI in our friends and family, co-workers & neighbors.

Truth is – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml

  • In 2016, there were an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI. This number represented 18.3% of all U.S. adults.

Any Mental Illness accounts for these millions of Americans but less than half actually sought out help and/or treatment. Personally, I’m guessing it’s gotta be the stigma attached to being diagnosed. However, maybe it’s because most of us feel depressed and have anxiety about things all the time. We have anger problems, lose control inside our home or at family gatherings but everyone says ‘Calm down’ then moves on to the next family drama.

Only you can be the one to make a choice to address the topic and be watchful of those around you. Together we can create a safer, healthier, happier and more equal society for everyone!!

Thanks for reading

#MHAM #NAMI #NIMH

Be kind 🙂 trish

@ButterflyDreamsAlliance

www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

 

 

 

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In ‘the life’ – survive vs. suicide

As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, I’d say there was a much larger presence of those focused on this issue and those others which can be the beginning steps to trafficking. I’d like to remind everyone that for those who have or are trying to survive the influence human trafficking has left on their sense of personal value and the survival behaviors learned while you are trapped.

Human beings, like other animals, adapt to their surroundings. Our inner most sense is that of survival itself. So let me ask this; ‘When you are so engulfed by constant explosive and almost deadly violence wouldn’t you become quite submissive to survive? How long do you think you could hang on? How bad would it be when you started praying for them to kill you and end your misery? You survive the best you possibly can, but if there is no sign of help or hope, you pray they kill you so you are free!!

This is the life you learn to endure and the behaviors of the human being will naturally adapt to keep you alive. Let me assure you; those who do survive rarely just walk the door of trafficking and live life like what is needed to adapt in ‘normal’ everyday neighborhoods. Without residential recovery services like those provided by Eden’s Glory & Grounds of Grace, among others; going from ‘The Life’ to a self sustaining life is usually filled with a path of addiction, mental illness, extreme emotional distress, lack on interpersonal skills, and a continued submissive behavior (despite how hard we try to cover that up). There is rarely any money available from the trafficker to pay for services needed to help their victims, so this burden lies on the shoulders of those who want to help. These are usually provided by nonprofit services who need funding from you and I; they are struggling for funding to help create more functional and self supporting individuals. The end result of their services will change the lives of these persons and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

When you are trapped in this way of life, you learn to live in a ‘Survive vs Suicide’ mode of thinking. The pain becomes so bad physically and emotionally that you pray they kill you just to put you out of your misery. You hope for a way out and if you run into the arms of another person, you are extremely lucky if that is a kind person who truly wants to keep you safe and learn how to live on your own. More common than not you end of up going straight to the arms of another abuser, usually a domestic relationship that starts off being really kind and your survival habits make you more tolerable of acts of control or degrading remarks. These are dismissed and before you know it, one day they take a swing. The first strike is always the most difficult one, so the second will be much easier and more aggressive. This will take over your relationship and become your existence at least two or three times a week. Your holidays will be taken over by the threat or possibility of violence. You will rarely defend yourself and even less likely to leave because of those few good moments you share. You tell yourself, ‘He does love me. He is good to me most of the time. He just gets angry. If I don’t do this, or I stop doing that, he will stop hitting me. Just so long as he doesn’t leave me alone, doesn’t kick me out, doesn’t cheat on me, doesn’t hurt my kids. This is the way of life for those who have been so violently and violated in the life of trafficking.

How is a person who has grown up in this type of threatening environment and distorted behaviors supposed to choose the right relationships or live a stable everyday life? How are they supposed to learn to associate in common social and professional environments? If we do not ensure funding for shelters and rebuilding services for young and old, victims of family violence, sexual harm, and trafficking, then we cannot just expect them to be self sufficient and become a member of the family, become a parent or a teacher, become a police officer or a social services caseworker without some turmoil and dysfunctional behavior.

Now believe me it is possible for those who have gone through this tragic way of life, especially as children or teens, and then become a parent without any support or family around to help them. We learn to isolate ourselves out of the heavy shame and disgust we carry for our past. We can’t just open our mouths and say; ‘I was forced to have sex with a lot of men from a very young age’. Do you have any idea the level of courage it takes to say these words? If it had happened to you, could you just sit down to dinner and say this to a mother in-law, or an uncle? Could you go see your priest one time and tell him these words? Could you go to a stranger, a doctor, or an employer trying to explain why you’re ill all the time or having so much trouble?

This is why it’s important for survivors of these types of traumatic events seek help. It’s why it’s important to find your voice and help others find their own light. It’s why we need the services of Violence Prevention Center, Hoyleton Youth & Family, DHS, SAVE, Call for Help, PAVE, The Women’s Center, RAINN, ChildHelp, NAASCA, and other leading local and national organizations. All of them continue to put their hearts into the mission of saving lives and rebuilding lives, healing generations every single day. I’m very proud today to say that now we also have Butterfly Dreams Alliance, an incredible team who have joined me in creating a prevention and rebuilding nonprofit service for families & professional education in Southern Illinois.

Today my life has come full circle. I am no longer trapped and praying for death. I am no longer contemplating survive vs suicide. I am 55 years old, I am in the best relationship of my life. I have three beautiful grown amazing children. I have three amazing grandchildren. I have made hundreds of inspiring and supportive friends across the country. We have fought to update and change policies & statutes together. We are creating more known knowledge about the human mind and the human heart in every survivor we encourage along the way.

Today my life is truly free and I am so thankful that I did not miss the dance it has given me. Please help those services in your area and across the country!!!

The everyday beginning steps of Human Trafficking

Thank you #BrittanyJones; Channel 12 News, #KFVS  http://www.kfvs12.com/clip/14043071/march-to-end-human-trafficking-held-in-carbondale

#Torch – Shining a Light on Human Trafficking – SIU Carbondale

Think about that statement for a moment. We are here to ask our friends, neighbors, colleagues, resources, professionals, first responders, care givers, – absorb the power of this horrific statement. This isn’t just an offense busted by FBI  stings and plaguing other countries. This is what you and I see everyday, in communities where the same people do the same things day after day. The beginning steps are the common societal actions and behaviors we have been teaching are acceptable throughout human history. We may not know what the exact list from the experts tells us to look for, but more often than not those first beginning levels of what is and can become human trafficking, enslavement, forced servitude of another human being; regardless of what we want to admit or what we see in the welfare of another person, we need to care enough to intervene early and bring attention to the distress you see in your community. Only rarely do we have the occasion in small communities to be suddenly sold or exploited.

In modern day slavery we don’t just need our justice system ready to take on these offenders and put them away, we need to change our everyday way of thinking about what happens around us. The actions that happen to people we know, people we care about. Not just to our teens and children, but old and young, male and female. If we want any of our social care and justice systems to work, then we have a duty as everyday citizens to take accountability – report offenses that you DO recognize and make certain to do it early. If we do not have educators, medical professionals, law enforcement, neighbors, friends, even family ; those who are the ones most likely to see the signs of distress, then we can not expect to change the possible terrorizing acts which they might be trying to survive in everyday.

You – you are the person who will first see or recognize something that causes alarm.  You have a duty to intervene, to question that person’s welfare, and if you’re unsure take it to an advocate or make some Google searches to understand what signs you are seeing what what it is that might be turning your gut inside out every time you’re around it or see a possible lost soul on the streets, in our businesses, working on our farms, attending our schools, or even when they are coming in for basic mandatory physicals. It’s our time to watch out for the common daily signs of distress.

Understand that I absolutely know what it is like to go through days, weeks, years; waiting, hoping, praying someone would care enough to do something. Someone would believe that I mattered enough as a human being to at least question the multitude of acts and harms they did see almost daily for years. Believe me, I am just one of the millions of adult survivors of these types of daily horrors. When you are inside this type of environment and being dismissed or overlooked by everyone around you, it’s really difficult to believe that you have a voice to ask for help. Young kids, don’t have a clue how to put into words what’s happening until around 16 or so. All they can do is keep trying to get through each day. More often than not – THEIR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON THEIR SILENCE!!

The common everyday things that happened to me were kind of accepted in Freeburg, just like it is in the rural communities I still see today.  It was just the way we raised our kids and took our rage out on our family. In most communities today, there is always one family the town talks about and judges. My family was that family!!!

There were years that instead of looking at how much they despised my stepfather and what they actually witnessed him doing on a regular basis. Instead of questioning what they witnessed my mother allowing to happen to her little girl, in the condition of her daily needs and care; instead people decided that I should be judged, I should be shamed. Both the adults and the schoolmates condemned and whispered about who I was and the things they heard. They kept their daughters away from our home and refused to let their sons date or hang out with me. In a small community just like what we see in our rural areas everyday; I was that child and teen girl who carried the reputation with boys and adult men by the time I was 13 years old.

It happened at the bar where my mother worked for years. It happened in the private parties with boys I went to school with and who saw me almost everyday. He would arrange it all at our home with a case of beer, giving me solid instructions on how to entice them, then tell him all the gory details when he returned home with my mother. This very known and discussed activity then became private parties late at night in our home, with sometimes 10 or more adult men from the local coalmine. My younger sister trying to sleep in the other room. My mother going in to watch TV in her bedroom; telling me to have a good time as she walked away when his call came in with instructions of what to wear, what to get prepared, even putting the porn movie in the VCR. This happened not because my mother was terrorized or forced to let it happen, but rather because she didn’t want to try and survive with three children on her own, and eventually because she didn’t mind using me as her family caretaker and housekeeper.

It wasn’t just chores we give our kids today. It was every single day and every moment of my day. It wasn’t just the occasional dusting or vacuuming. It was give her a toothbrush to scrub the corners and keep her here busy until I’m ready to send her to bed. Don’t give her a toothbrush or give a damn if she cares for herself at all.

The men got me drunk, the porn was on the television, they passed me around from lap to lap. They got me high, guiding me for this one do this or that one to do that. Around 3 or 4 am, I might be told to go out to the camper on the back of my stepfather’s pickup parked right in front of our house.

Keep in mind we lived in the center of this small town for six consecutive years when his violent reign of terror and the complete neglect of any human kindness was at it’s absolute worst. This type of exploitation, enslavement, sharing, trafficking happened between 11 to 17 before I escaped. He was at that time planning to put me in a trailer, on a private lot, with a new lock and his own private key so we could have ‘our’ parties anytime. I ran the first chance I got; ran into the arms of a man 7 yrs older who beat me, strangled me, almost drowned me, and left me hogtied in a bedroom for 10 hours, dead-bolted in a second floor apartment while he went to work and out for drinks. I’ve had more weapons held to my head than I can count, the first around age nine. Like many from violent homes I rant into the waiting arms of another violent abuser. All with the aide of what I was manipulated with as a child; years of weed and alcohol to cover up the pain. No matter the suffering I must act like I had always been taught; silent, submissive, even protective of my tormentor.

All of the interactions happened for the price of a case beer or perhaps just a couple of glasses at the bar. This was my value, this was the identity that every single person who witnessed the very worst of these offenses unknowingly or knowingly, helped create in just one young girl. Each had their part and in those so easily dismissed and accepted acts they trained a child to become a human being who lived ‘in servitude of others’ until I was about 45 years old.

The young servitude was taught as I grew up to be the only person in our home expected to answer the ring of that little brass bell for years. Constantly, every single day. No wonder my homework was barely done. No wonder I couldn’t concentrate or felt so different, so socially inept around everyone else. No wonder I could barely exist in your world. The only thing I could think about was how to survive the next damn thing that was going to happen.

During these years I was attacked almost daily.  It was so brutally dominating and fearful, that it wasn’t even safe to bathe or take any time to care for myself. For five years I barely took a washcloth to my face, let alone my body.. I was a kid who attended the same school system, walked around in the same small community, who associated with the same people everyday.  I was covered in filth, my front teeth rotted out and broken, my skin covered in sores; ugly infected rashes that have left me scarred and broken with many troubling health conditions today. They saw years of physical violence; bruises across my back and legs from the leather belt he had sliced up to beat me with. Once I got that beating for putting on a pair of my brother’s button up flannel pajamas because I thought they might protect me from him somehow; like a suit of magic armor he wouldn’t be able to touch me. Believe me, I didn’t dare put them on ever again.

So now I ask you; what types of distressful behaviors do you see happening or going on with one of the people or kids you interact with everyday. What do you see on the surface? What do you think might be happening beneath the surface to control that person in such a dominant and cruel fashion? Now let me ask – Why in the hell is it still happening today, everyday.? Not just here in Southern Illinois, but in every little rural and perceived safe community across the country. For thousands – this is everyday life happening in your backyards. There are enslaved, young and old, both male & female; these are the common early steps that become the larger tragedy of human trafficking. There are at risk kids in every apartment building, rich private home, or rundown trailer park. They are trying to endure until they can somehow find a way  to somehow escape and live like everybody else.

Let me remind you; You might be the only one who sees something, or is courageous enough to report something that might first bring attention to any form of those early controlling, neglectful, threatening, servitude acts that happen. We can’t expect our Social Service workers to just walk in and suddenly take action or investigate something, until we make absolutely certain we are reporting it. Take names and numbers, then follow up to make sure they’re doing their job and holding them accountable. Keep reporting and if they still want listen, discuss it with others who witness these acts or who might be able to help them.  Our leading research & health organizations have data on trauma which has been collected for the past ten years. The ones who are responsible for assisting and investigating are just as accountable for their actions and decisions, as you and I are accountable for what we tolerate and teach through our silence.

I beg you, I beg everyone across the country; it’s time to pick ourselves up by the boot-heels and create the society we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in. A society of equality, with true possibility that they can actually succeed in their dreams. To be courageous enough to dream and feel self worthiness. Teach them to believe they actually matter; their life actually matters to the most close knit circle around each and every one of us.

I really want to thank all of you for listening to me here, and the Women’s Center for permitting me to speak at this amazing event. Hopefully you’ll think about everything you’ve felt or heard here today; the empowering energy we have felt together. We really must begin somewhere and this change will take on whatever momentum for community and family wellness that we decide to put into it. We can honestly take accountability and decide whether we will or will not permit harmful and despicable acts among us as a society of incredible human beings. No one deserves this hell for a life. No one should be so easily, casually, or grudgingly dismissed within our communities and closest circles.

When you ask yourself what can I do about Modern Day Slavery, Exploitation, Servitude, Human Slavery, Human Trafficking; please remember to just do something. Look beneath the surface of what you do see. Be the one a shining light on the acts that destroy and cycle through what we see in the common everyday dysfunctions and behaviors that lead our children into danger, our streets filled with crime, a society using deadly drugs and addictions to cover up the pain, mental & physical health problems that might just be our remaining injuries and wounds from the traumas we endured; at least for the ones who actually survive. The ones who aren’t living so isolated and tormented they are driven to complete the acts of suicide, simply because they are suffering but no one is hearing their trapped voices and their rolling silent tears. If we want to be the beginning of a new way, an equal and humane way in our society, then when are we really going to start being the voice of hope and change? Are we going to decide to continue this massive cycle of life altering learned behaviors and distress of others?

Thank you, to everyone who has believed in my voice. You are now my energy and my hope, you are colleagues or resources I depend on to do the very best I can; will those reading this also join us? Today I’m finally starting to believe in my worthiness as a human being. Today I believe in my worthiness of life, without expectation of dominance and servitude.

Be well, Live Free & Really Dream Big because you are the minds and the hearts that will make any possibility of change a reality for the magic that lies within each and every human being on this amazing place called Earth. Always believe anything is possible with you in the active equation of life!!!

 

Trish McKnight

Survivor/Author/Advocate

Butterfly Dreams Alliance NFP

Breese, IL

 

https://butterflydreamsalliance.org/

https://www.facebook.com/butterflydreamsalliance/

 

cropped-bnd11.jpg  It’s been a three year battle here in Illinois, but finally Gov Rauner now has two bills SB189 Sex Crime Against Children Statute of Limitations & SB1842 Involuntary Servitude of a Child & Trafficking in Persons Statute of Limitations updates. Thankfully Rep Jay Hoffman never gave up and stayed determine. Thankfully AG Madigan created update “Hastert Law” Criminal Sexual Abuse & Criminal Sexual Assault of a child. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of these updates. I know it will help many survivors who choose to seek justice.

Going public in your local area to seek justice takes great courage, especially when these offenses are grievous and terroristic. The crucial part is that we are finally recognizing the longterm effect and providing time for the adult person to process what’s happened, put their many shattered pieces back together and then make the best decision for them. Not all have felt relief when facing their childhood offender in the courtroom, it doesn’t change what they did or the way it changed your path, but it should always be the choice of the once victim to decide.

I am a strong, outspoken, determined survivor, National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Midwest Regional Ambassador; Speaker, Trainer, Mentor, Resource, Researcher and Author. It’s so important we continue to get this news out there. If we cannot make hearing about these crimes, either through news or TV programming; will the victims ever feel like they can come forward and be supported rather than condemned and judged. If we are going to change this learned human behavior against others, against children; we have to be willing to address the issue head on, with the support network ready to heal wounded parents so we can raise healthier children with a more positive family influence.

Right now it is an estimated $150 Billion per year Taxpayer Burden in the lifetime recovery of victims; Education, Employment, Addictions, Medical & Mental Health, Early Disability, Independent Living Challenges. These are the services needed to clean up the mess of a destroyed human being. If we intervene early and provide the appropriate services per the individual and family needs, then we provide a healthier path and a more positive possible individual success; thus drastically lowering the longterm financial burden of recovery. The longer a person lives in a harmful environment the more likely they are to act out against others, use drugs, early pregnancy, state assistance, low level employment. I believe in the quote: “It is more difficult to rebuild a broken adult than it is to raise a healthy child’

Here’s hoping that more education in the Trauma Informed Response & Care; we can empower others to influence victims to stop their own personal cycle from their past trauma and then encourage the communities to provide needed services. As a Human Initiative we can finally make a difference in the historically taught harmful and destructive actions against others, but alone we can only hope to empower a few.

Thank you Representative Jay Hoffman & AG Lisa Madigan for staying determined. Thank you to all the House & Senate leaders who voted to finally update our Statute of Limitations for these offenses. It will not do anything for my case, but I’m certain it will assist many others just by giving them a chance to cope through all that’s happened. Finally we are announcing to those who have abused or trafficked a child; you can be brought to justice at any time; states across the country are updating their statutes and how they prosecute these heinous crimes against children.

Rep Jay Hoffman Press Release SB1842 – Involuntary Servitude of a Child & Trafficking in Persons…….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 21, 2017 State Rep. Jay Hoffman
618-416-7407

Hoffman Passes Legislation to Crack Down on Human Trafficking of Minors

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Under legislation passed by state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, individuals suspected human traffickers will no longer be able to evade prosecution in cases involving minors due to a technicality in the law.

“Many victims of human trafficking do not have the support structures intact to be able to seek prosecution within a year of turning 18, putting them at an extreme disadvantage,” Hoffman said. “To think that the criminals who commit these horrible acts can get off due to a technicality in the law is unconscionable.”

Hoffman’s measure, Senate Bill 1842, increases the amount of time that a prosecutor has to bring charges against the perpetrator of these heinous crimes. Under current law, prosecutors only have one year after they turn 18 to file charges, Hoffman’s legislation increases that to 25 years.

“The children who are victims of these crimes will deal with a lifetime of trauma and suffering,” said Patricia McKnight, child trafficking survivor and Midwest Regional Director with the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. “We need to be doing everything we can to make sure victims see the perpetrators of these heinous crimes brought to justice and this proposal will help make that happen.”

Senate Bill 1842 passed the House and the Senate is currently waiting to be signed into law by the governor.

###

Patricia A McKnight
NAASCA.org

Illinois is going the extra step for Human Trafficking Victims Under 18

Readers it is finally here, something which myself and many supportive colleagues have been focusing on for three years; updating Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Trafficking. The one person who is really doing the hard work in making this a reality is

Illinois State House Representative Jay Hoffman (D) Swansea. Jay_Hoffman_Headshot(1)_Web

The first fact I need every reader and leader to understand is that there is one particular misperception about the real crime of child sex trafficking in America; more often than not it is a parent or guardian who is exploiting or trafficking the child. This is a horrible fact I’m asking you to consider, but in Small Town America we usually don’t see Pimps, Working Girls on Street Corners, or the ‘Johns’ circling the block in their vehicles. We don’t have the inner city crime areas where others drive by picking and choosing from those standing almost naked in the freezing cold at three in the morning. We don’t have gangs of kids pushing drugs from the projects. We rarely have common acts of vandalism in the thousands of ‘safe’ communities across the country.

It is because we believe in the ‘safety’ of these communities that we don’t think about what happens inside the house or apartment or trailer next door. We figure our neighbors are all very ‘GOOD’ people because we see them at the grocery store, we see them at picnics, we see them at church, and our kids go to school with their kids, play school sports together, or hang out at the public pool together. However, let me be perfectly clear when I share a few more facts with you.

Children’s Bureau, National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems 2011- 1 in 9 confirmed cases of child sexual abuse.

Centers for Disease 2013 estimates 1 in 4 children living with maltreatment or abuse in America

National Human Trafficking Resource Center confirms 70% of Prostitutes reported Child Sexual Harm

NO PERSON DREAMS OF BEING A PROSTITUTE WHEN THEY GROW UP – this is something that is done out of survival; either being forced by control and threats or physical harm by someone or the aftermath destruction of leaving an abusive home and a life influenced by drugs, degradation, and sex.

I was born in small town rural America, raised in these ‘safe’ communities, and grew up to become a wife and mother living within a ‘safe’ suburb so my children could be safe. Most in the town of Freeburg knew my mother and stepfather well; they each had their own reputations. My stepfather the violent and depraved alcoholic and my mother playing the poor victim and woman who had to tolerate him as a husband.

This was not the truth, or at least about my mother anyway. My mother pretty much handed me over to Malcolm like a piece of property she signed over in a prenuptial agreement. By the time I was ten he could dominate me, stalk me, molest me, and then started using me and sharing me with other men that he knew or worked with at the local coal mine. Sometimes he took me to the area bar and pawned me off for a couple glasses of beer, other times he took me to private locations with more than one or two men involved. Mother allowed him to take me along on their dates and then use me as bait to lure some guy in who would by our table drinks and dance with her as she allowed her husband to rub himself against me on a public dance floor. She permitted him to enter me into some bathing beauty ‘Miss Peabody’ pageant at thirteen and then started allowing him to invite five or more men over for late-night parties with alcohol, weed, and porn; entertained by her young daughter as she lay in her room watching TV or reading a book.

My mother was not threatened to allow any of this, in fact Malcolm would have and did do anything my mother requested. Yes, he was a very mean drunk, but not once did I ever hear him so much as raise his voice at her, much less threaten her or dominate her. If the things she permitted to happen to me would have been something he did to her, and if she was treated with such constant control and physical violence; if any of the cruelties against her middle daughter would have been committed against her I know she would have moved on to the next man who was willing to take care of her.

This is how most cases of Rural Area Child Sex Trafficking in America really happens and the escalation of cruelty that encircles the life of these young victims. As children they don’t quite understand what or why these horrible terrifying things are happening and it will probably take decades before they can finally process all the darkness and distortions caused by the parent or parents responsible for their care; for giving them life, but destroying their spirit. These young persons, who can be of any age, are used, shared, sold and bartered for shelter, drugs, and possibly even money. It happened in my case and I know a couple hundred adult survivors and rescued teens who have endured these small town secret crimes without help or hope, just trying to make it through so they can get big enough to escape.

These are the types of offenses we must stand strong against as communities. We must rally our law enforcement, our healthcare providers, our educators, and our neighbors to be a voice for a child or a family in distress. The internal suffering of these silenced and ignored young victims is a haunting with repercussions that affect many aspects of their forming and adult life patterns and behaviors, which then becomes a burden to citizens by the estimated $145 Billion per year economic deficit to provide recovery and rebuilding services, along with many other challenges.

    • Employment Difficulties
    • Mental, Dental, and Medical Healthcare
    • Early Disability from PTSD, Depression, Permanent Injury
    • Immediate & Longterm Life Skills & Recovery Support
    • Criminal Justice & Legal Services
    • Homelessness & Shelter Services
    • Addictions & Self Harming Behaviors

Way too often and much too common, as discussed with a few hundred advocates & survivors; the guilt and shame of these brutal acts is like a brainwashing, ‘training’, ‘conditioning’ that our adult relationships are challenged and our families suffer as they see the emotional turmoil roll through like an evil snake of destruction. We stand for the rights of so many different causes today; Rights for LGBTQ, Muslims, Christians, Animals, and Trees – it’s time to stand up for the Rights & Safety of our American Children.

VOTING – YES for HB3629 – Illinois becomes one of the many states updating Criminal & Civil Statutes for the crime of Human Trafficking, Trafficking in Persons, Involuntary Servitude of a Child, Involuntary Sexual Servitude of a Minor. By voting YES – HB3629 we give these young victims time to grow so they understand what happened, time to heal from the layers of trauma, time to actually accept what their parent or caretaker has done or allowed others to do against them.

Child Voices; we all can speak for someone

Trecia Ann  “This is me…..the five year old who first met Malcolm, was first attacked by Malcolm, and never heard Mona say I love you again. From this point forward nothing would be safe for a very long time. This girl has made one hell of a journey. I’m surprised and grateful for the blessings of life, love, friendship and family who have been there and are with me now, unashamed and proud of this incredible little girl. She is truly happy today”–Patricia A. Mcknight

In complete openness, it took forty years before I could think about the courage and strength of this little girl. The battle lines always changed, but without a doubt home was the most dangerous place in the world. The crimes against her were many and involved years of horrific violence and being used, traded, sold by the two people who were supposed to protect her. They didn’t ignore or neglect her younger sister or her older brother, so why did they both decide that this little girl didn’t matter to anyone?

Way too often we hear someone say; ‘Why doesn’t anyone do something about those people?’ Usually they are talking about the family living in poverty who doesn’t meet the local standards of the community, but this is simply our negative judgment of others. We don’t know what goes on in their home or inside the $2Million dollar home a few blocks away. Sure the chances are greater that someone is getting hurt inside this poverty stricken home, but perhaps it is just a financial inability to provide for the family? Be very cautious because it is that financial hardship that can lead to years of nightmarish disgust for a child.

Granted it could be attributed to a lot of different negative influences, but the reality is our children are being used, bought, traded, shared as if they are some type of commodity. Perhaps it is addiction and violence only between the parents? Perhaps their economic suffering has lead them to do something they never believed they would do, and probably wouldn’t do in their sober stable mind, but in distress and looking for another fix could mean they commit the most heinous of all acts; they offer their child for the price of another fix, for a few extra drinking dollars, or maybe a single parent looking for shelter allows a predator to take ownership of their child so the parent does not have to worry about providing a home on their own? It happens in all sorts of ways and for all different types of reasons, and still it seems we cannot get our governments to unite around the world to combat and change the idea of value for our innocent children.

I’ve seen child trafficking happen in many ways and I’ve heard account after account of these most violating acts from one incredible survivor after another. It seems the one thing all of the survivors and maybe even the victims today have in common – there is always someone in the tight family circle who knows what really happens. There are those who hear of the child whose parents or guardian will trade them for a few bucks or just because they want to give you something special. We hear of those in the community who then say; ‘I knew something was going on in there”. Despite these people who live beside these types of offenders and those who know because the child has been offered to them; yet somehow no one ever reports their suspicions, even when they watch it go on for years and witness her battles of being beaten and dragged along the street. Maybe the law enforcement in the local town know the talk through the community about why other parents will not let their children around this home. The parents who tell their daughters to stay away and their sons not to date her. ‘She is that rotting stench covered girl that I hear is doing it with anyone!!” Even though she is only thirteen or fifteen years old, still no one ever reports the rumors of the late night parties, her going in and out of the camper with men, pornography blaring on the television, and drunken teenagers stumbling around the yard.

It doesn’t matter and it’s not my business; these are the two greatest reasons that children suffer so badly.

Right now in Illinois our legislators are avoiding a very important bill which would update Illinois Statute of Limitations for these types of crimes. House Representative Jay Hoffman drafted the bill under a proposal I’ve been working on for three years. I’ve seen it get to a House Bill Number before and I’ve seen it get lost in the residue of Illinois Budget Crisis, but sadly it is never discussed again. What is so difficult when our society and our legislative leaders should all be very much for these updates. Illinois is one of the few remaining states who have not addressed or updated their ONE YEAR AFTER VICTIM’S 18TH BIRTHDAY current statute, which has allowed predators and traffickers to walk away without fear of ever being held accountable for their violations and slavery of a child. Enough with this already. ‘Trecia Ann’ and millions like her are talking, writing, interviewing, but nothing ever changes. What will it take before it is considered a priority by our leaders?

I’m asking anyone who knows or loves a child who MAY be in danger to give your voice to them now. I am asking anyone who loves an adult survivor of these types of degrading traumas to speak up for them now. I am asking survivors to share their childhood photo which is their voice of that once silenced child; the child who endured and tried to maneuver through the constantly changing rules which always surround the life and behavior of an abused or trafficked child.

Together every one of us has a valued voice and should use it now in this greatest time of human concern for our society. When we can provide a path to safety and justice for our children, then we can say we have done something to help prevent the cycle of human conditioning of violence and the destruction which haunts the millions of silenced children around the world!!!

Please comment below and add your child photo for the voice you are speaking for today!!!

**Always believe anything is possible with you in the active equation of life** ~~ trecia ann

PLEASE PASS “TRECIA ANN” AROUND THE WORLD!!! MAKE OUR GOVERNMENTS LISTEN TO YOUR LITTLE VOICE. Thank you!!!

Patricia A McKnight

www.yourvoiceradio.one

Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery

Author: ‘My Justice’

Accepting conjecture rather than evidence is ruining the lives of innocent men

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Yes, I am a very strong and proud voice to change the cycle of destruction which most often effects our kids, especially when it comes to Sex Crimes Against Children. However, I must also say that there are more cases of teen girls who use the accusations of sexual offenses to destroy innocent lives. In all the advocacy & education about the prevention and punishment of these offenses, we have become a society that now accepts this accusation without question. We say to ourselves; “She would NEVER lie about such a thing”. Guess what, the teenage child has not changed. If they get in trouble for something they will blame someone else or they will directly lie, even to authority figures, especially if they have some type of anger or resentment towards someone who has broken their perceptions of the teen’s expectations. It is what teens do and many of them do it very well.

In our determination to end crimes against children, we automatically accept their statements without proof of guilt. This has developed because we all push the message that not all acts of harm leave physical evidence, particularly molestation. Unless you have skin cell DNA evidence, any rash can quickly be mistaken as proof. What if the forensic exam and the interview show ‘NO FINDINGS’ of a crime? Should charges still be pressed and the offender still taken into custody? It becomes “He said/She said” and since the accuser is a young girl we just commonly assume the worst.

I push education and awareness of the silent signs of trauma all the time; it’s who I am and the passion in my gut. Now I am seeing how teens are using this manipulation as a way to destroy innocent lives. Imagine if you knew people would believe you and condemn your ‘abuser’ without proof of guilt. Imagine that most of society would so easily accept your statement. Imagine the power a teen would feel when they know if they pushed the prosecutor would most likely offer the best possible plea deal, anything to prevent you having to take the stand and actually testify, leaving you to be cross examined by a skilled defense attorney.

I am learning that more men are having their entire lives ripped apart, having to spend thousands of dollars in hopes to clear their name, having some stranger evaluate all of your behaviors to see if you are a predator, then if there is even five minutes of unsupervised time between you and your accuser; it will take a miracle to keep you out of prison. You loose your job, your family, your friends, and worst of all you have to register for a minimum of fifteen years so that people know you have committed some type of deviate behavior. What a powerful destruction the vengeful teen might feel through their victim’s complete brokenness. The teen suddenly receives all the attention they were not getting before. Their parents begin giving all the support and even if they rarely showed any attention prior to your accusations; now you have the entire school, friends and family who will encircle you with kindness and patience that they never cared to provide before you made your statement. In truth what we are doing is now making innocent good men into lifetime victims. They will never be the same good hearted person who might have been the only person to show any concern for you at all. Maybe their attention was being given to someone else and that’s what angered you into falsely accusing in the first place.

Whatever reason of these false allegations; YOU ARE NOW AN ABUSER!! This is something you will have to carry in your heart for the rest of your life. It is now your guilt that will be judged because of your lies and your false statements against an innocent spirit. Maybe the one you accused is the one you went to for everything, but who will you go to when things go wrong again? Maybe you got some kind of thrill to see how people changed their behavior towards you? Maybe you think you will never be called out on these false statements, but inside you will always know the truth. Sadly, you are not the only one destroyed by your lies. You have destroyed a person’s life with a few powerful lies. Maybe you sent them to prison or perhaps caused a life lasting hell to destroy the good decent life they worked so hard to build. It is now your crime and your own ugly destruction. Now you are no longer innocent. There is no power or sense of achievement in this because you have used such a crucial topic to destroy a good life simply because you got angry about some perceived notion of commitment or love. This is a crime that destroys the lives of millions of children every single day, but now you have used our system and society’s fears as a weapon to kill an innocent soul. Can you lie to yourself forever? Can you lie to your family everyday? Can you look to God, (if you believe in God); can you look at your afterlife and your final judgment without doubt of your acceptance? It’s a fearful thought but teens do this without remorse and without fear of punishment in almost 2% of all investigated accusations.

As a statement from one survivor of vicious traumas and sexual attacks for more than thirty years of my life, it absolutely sickens me to see how both vengeful parents and vengeful teens are using the pity of our society and the laws of our justice system to act out their emotional let downs. It makes me furious to see how easily we allow this to happen. Family and friends stand back and say nothing about their suspicions in the false statements, which makes us part of the abuser’s weapon. If we know that someone is innocent of the accusations against them, we have a duty to say something to those who have the power to hold the accuser accountable and question the details of the statements made. If we do not have at least a pattern of behavior, some type of previous attempt, or evidence of harm; how can our society simply allow these types of cases to continue?

Warn your sons, husbands, fathers, brothers; warn the educators, doctors, police officers, and family around the child. This can easily happen to the man you love, the man you know doesn’t hold a deviate or harmful act in their heart. However, if they make a gesture out of concern or kindness it just might ruin their lives forever.

For instance;

What if a teen send a sex pic of themselves to your son’s phone? Do you know if they keep it or if they share it with others, they become guilty of distributing child porn, but yet NOTHING happens to the young girl who sent the photo in the first place.

What if your 20 year old son is at a party and a young girl posing to be of legal age lures them into the bedroom, or in the car, or in some other similar situation; your son is now guilty of sex crimes against a child.

What if a 30 yr old male, someone who has been close to your family since he was barely legal himself; what if this young man is someone your entire family has turned to in times of crisis (financial, personal, emotional or when your troubled teen girl is acting out). When this adult male does what you expect of them, responding in kindness over and over again, then suddenly after such another incident and thirty minutes of unsupervised time your troubled teen makes a statement to a friend; the wheels of destruction begin. We have developed such a fear of the possibility that ALL MEN ARE PIGS, that this statement begins a vicious cycle of your worst fears and society’s assumption of guilt that it is now their lives that are destroyed without question, without proof, without any forensic findings, and in most cases without even a trial.  Example: I just witnessed a case like this and for six months the prosecutor pushed four felony charges threatening a minimum of ten years in prison; or the day your jury selection is set to start you are suddenly offered a Misdemeanor Indecent Assault with no prison time if you accept their deal.

Yes, it happened and the aftermath destruction of this wonderful young man rips through my soul. How in the world is this our justice system? Well, it’s about the prosecutor’s reputation and how many men we can frighten into taking this type of deal as their best option. It’s ugly and it happens. I am a part of this because of how I constantly push for updated legislation to protect our kids, punishment to the harshest extent of the law, and ending the ‘victim blaming’ status quo of our society. Yes, any of us that are advocates in this mission we have scared society into ALWAYS believing the victim, even without evidence of a crime.

Isn’t this another process that we absolutely have a duty to educate our society about? Should we keep pushing the always believe, or should we be demanding that any type of manipulation of our justice system without evidence of a crime is indeed a crime in itself and the accuser, who then makes some extreme victim impact statement, which can be read and rewritten out of any child sexual abuse hand guide. How do we prosecute the real offenders of these crimes when our justice system is being so easily manipulated by troubled teens who hold grudges in disappointments or anger for some imagined notion?

This damages the reputation of every TRUE VICTIM, every SURVIVOR of these heinous acts. It damages innocent lives and rips people to the point of suicidal attempts, or maybe suicidal success. We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot convict or even charge these offenses without some type evidence of a crime, not just the conjecture and repeated lies of some troubled or angered teen? Teens will lie, they always have and they always will, especially when it’s about attention or getting out of trouble. It is young children, up to about 12yrs old, who do not show a tendency to lie about these types of actions. I don’t know how we can fix this or if we can at all, but I know that I’ve had many mothers and wives contact me about wrongful accusations that have completely destroyed their loved one’s life, yet sadly there is no remorse or punishment for these practiced FALSE VICTIMS.

Help the men you know protect themselves, insist they NEVER be alone with a teen, even if it’s someone they have helped out through most of their lives. It’s sad our society is either not doing anything about these crimes at all or they have become so afraid to speak against these types of teen accusers who can’t make a clear statement, don’t have to make a clear statement, can actually lie and be caught in some part of a lie in their statement; yet our prosecutors push for another notch on their belt; another man registered as a sex offender and condemned throughout the rest of society. We need to investigate more thoroughly and require evidence of a crime, not repeated changes in statements and even direct lies throughout four or five separate interviews. If it’s not consistent and the evidence doesn’t support a crime; quit using threats of prison against someone you know is most likely an innocent pawn in some troubled teen’s manipulation.

Standing up for true justice is the only way we can stop destroying innocent lives!!! Real victims should be furious about the use of something they may never get to be so easily tolerated as a weapon against decent young men.

Written by: Patricia McKnight

Advocate/Activist/Author/Survivor