Why Victims Don’t Tell: Sandusky case sheds light on complexities of sexual abuse by Nicole Matthews-Creech & Robin L. O’Grady

I am reposting this article for several reasons.  However, my main focus is on the timeline.  The first allegations against Sandusky were in 1998 and yet, the first charges were not brought until 2011.  During that time Sandusky acquired more victims, and his original victim suffered even more.  The reason the delay in charges occurred is that it requires an alarming body of evidence or reports before the state will bring charges against an abuser.  That is why anyone who has evidence or suspicions about child abuse needs to make their own report.  Do not wait for someone else to report.  It is up to each one of us to protect these children.  In the meantime, those children suffer because we think it is someone else’s job to report, or we choose to accept the excuses of the adults involved.  Furthermore, sometimes, the signs are unclear as the child is forced to “be nice” to the predator, and even punished for speaking out.  Sometimes, the only outcry they make is through PTSD after falling asleep, or unexplained aversions to certain foods or textures, or activities.  Look at the overall picture of this child’s life and things that are not adding up.  It is an unfortunate reality that some adults either want to keep the child silent or want to avoid their responsibility in helping a child.  The Sandusky case is proof that it takes a village to save a child.  Make that call.  In Texas 1-800-252-5400 or https://www.txabusehotline.org.  You can remain anonymous, but have on hand the child’s name, home address, or the name of the school.  If you only know who the abuser is then call with the suspected abusers, or protectors name, and address, or place of employment and a description of the child and any dates you may have. Make a list in advanced so you can present a clear picture of your concerns.  Thank you,



Why Victims Don’t Tell: Sandusky case sheds light on complexities of sexual abuse 

The conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky captured the nation’s attention and cast a spotlight on an endless question: Why don’t victims tell?

Tell a parent? Tell a teacher? Tell a friend? Tell someone?

We know the question well at LACASA. It comes up repeatedly in our line of work, which is to support and advocate for survivors—children, teens and adults who have endured heinous violations, most often at the hands of someone they trust.

The reasons many survivors remain silent are not black and white. They are complex.


Survivors often don’t tell because they think they did something wrong or didn’t do something right. Quite simply, they blame themselves.

They assume there is something they could have done to stop the abuser. They regret what they did or what they did not do. They wonder if the perpetrator would have stopped had they screamed louder or fought harder. They ask themselves if they could have avoided the situation, the location, the person.

Even survivors whose lives were threatened—or the lives of their loved ones—succumb to self blame.


Survivors of sexual crimes are burdened with a deep sense of shame. The thought of revealing what they have endured—in explicit detail—can be overwhelming. It means they must relive the experience. It means they must remember things they do not want to remember and tell things they do not want to tell.

Many survivors are hesitant to give voice to the violation, the pain, the degradation, and the feeling of shear helplessness.

Fragile and traumatized, some survivors just are not ready—physically, emotionally and psychologically—to come forward.


In the mind of the survivor, there is much to fear. If the perpetrator has threatened them, they will fear for their lives. If the abuser has threatened their family, they will fear for the lives of their loved ones.

They may fear the unknowable. What will happen when I tell? Will I be believed? Will I be supported? Will the abuser be arrested or remain free? Will friends ridicule me? Will the people who I care about shun me?

Telling a secret of this magnitude would set an intangible series of events into motion. The survivor, who is fragile and traumatized, may not be equipped to deal with the extreme anxiety that accompanies the act of coming forward and facing the unknown.


Some survivors do not tell to protect their loved ones. We know this to be especially true with children. They understand that speaking the truth will inflict pain on their parents, and they may choose to protect their families from the emotional upheaval.

For these survivors, the shame, blame and fear of what happened is their burden to carry…and theirs alone.


The public stature of a perpetrator plays prominently in a survivor coming forward. If the abuser is a respected member of the community or an admired friend of the family, the chances of a survivor speaking out are significantly reduced.

In the case of Jerry Sandusky, out of the 10 young men who came forward, only one revealed the crime to a parent at the time the abuse occurred. The mother did everything right. She believed her son. She went to the university. She went to the police. She reported, and persevered. But the authorities dismissed her claims as baseless.


A crime of this magnitude forever changes a child’s life view. The belief that the world is a safe place is shattered.

Children grappling with the aftermath of sexual abuse are in coping mode. The shock of their experience stuns them into silence. The process of healing and recovery takes tremendous energy. They do not possess the strength to undergo further trauma. It takes everything they have just to carry on.

How do we protect our children?

As parents, we do not want to instill our children with dread and apprehension about people, life and potential perpetrators. We can, however, use positive tools to help keep our children aware and empowered without overwhelming them.

Teach boundaries

It is essential to teach children about physical boundaries from an early age. Kids must be given knowledge about their bodies, made aware of “off limits”areas, and educated about appropriate touching.

Children should be taught how to say “no”…and mean it…when anyone crosses a physical boundary. It is important for them to understand that if someone touches them in an inappropriate area—or if they are asked to touch someone else in a private area— it is absolutely necessary to tell the parent.

Pay attention

One of the tragedies in the Sandusky case involved the testimony of a victim’s mother who recounted that her son repeatedly pleaded with her not to spend weekends at the Sandusky home. The mother insisted that her son go anyway. We must pay attention to what children are saying…or not saying.

Believe them

The single most damaging thing a parent can do in this situation is to dismiss, disregard or outright negate the child’s attempt to reveal the abuse. Survivors tell us that the failure of a parent to believe them is a wound that never truly heals.

Some parents hesitate to involve authorities because the child’s story seems fuzzy, disjointed or conflicting.

Research over the past several years shows that trauma impairs our neurobiology. In an act of self-preservation, the brain limits recall. Memories of the event may return in fragments or random waves. Some events may be blocked temporarily or permanently by a phenomenon known as traumatic amnesia.

LACASA’s counseling staff pursues advanced training in neurobiology trauma and its impact on survivors. As trauma professionals gain more understanding into physical and psychological coping mechanisms, we learn that the recounting of traumatic events rarely follows a linear and logical pattern.

Watch for red flags:

• A child appears uneasy, agitated or unusually quiet in the presence of a family member, family friend or acquaintance

• A child does not want to spend time in someone’s company

• A child physically shrinks away—or strongly resists—when this person tries to hug them, pick them up or hold them

• A child’s behavior changes—they were outgoing, now they appear shy; they had a good appetite, now they don’t eat; they were easy going, now they are agitated; they were energetic, now they are lethargic

• A significant difference in personal hygiene, sleeping habits, school performance, or emotional responses to situations is cause for concern and immediate exploration

When a child’s behavior suddenly changes, there is a reason. The root cause could be any number of things, but it is our job as adults to find out why and respond accordingly.

Abusers are dangerous con artists

Over the last three decades, our culture has invested a good deal of time teaching children about “stranger danger.” The sad fact is, more than 80% of child sexual abuse crimes are committed by someone the child knows.

Child sexual predators are cunning. They watch. They learn. They identify victims whom they view as vulnerable and controllable.

Interviews with hundreds of child sexual abusers reveal the same findings. Predators seek out children who are accessible and appear to have minimal parental engagement or supervision.

Sandusky founded his charity, “The Second Mile,” in 1977. It began as a group foster home for troubled boys. The charity’s mission later grew to help troubled boys who were from absent or dysfunctional families.

The coach created an ideal environment to commit sexual crimes against children. Nearly all of the victims testifying in the Sandusky trial were affiliated with Second Mile.

“Neighborhood” abusers build trust with the child and often with the family members or parental guardians. Perpetrators entice children and families with perks, special outings, or advantages that the family unit cannot—or does not—provide. Once trust is established, the abusers begin to test the sexual boundaries of the child.

In the Sandusky case, the coach had a lot to offer. As a Penn State insider, he came with a cache of prestige and connections. He repeatedly took boys on weekend outings to sports camps, out-of-town football games and college bowl events. Parents and guardians were eager for their children to be affiliated with Penn’s elite inner circle.

Sandusky preyed on everyone’s vulnerabilities.

What the Sandusky case taught us

We learned much from the Sandusky case, but unfortunately most of it is not new information. Experience has shown that it can take years for men of prominence to be exposed. The timeline of the Sandusky case established during the trial speaks volumes.

• The first allegations against Sandusky surface in1998, when a victim’s mother contacts university police about the coach’s inappropriate behavior with her son

• In 2000, a shaken Penn State janitor tells coworkers and his supervisor that he witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy in the shower

• In 2002, a graduate student reports seeing Sandusky raping a child in the university’s football facility shower; the student initially tells his coach, then Coach Joe Paterno, and later reports the incident to Penn State’s athletic director as well as the vice president of campus police

• In 2008, another boy’s mother comes forward with allegations

• The county’s district attorney chooses to end the police investigation into Sandusky shortly after the mother’s complaint is filed

• In 2009, a teen boy lodges a sexual assault complaint against Sandusky, prompting the Pennsylvania attorney general to begin an investigation

• In 2011, Sandusky is charged with 48 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys over a 15-year period

• Penn State President, Graham Spanier, and Coach Joe Paterno are fired four days later

• On June 22, 2012, Sandusky is convicted on 45 counts of criminal sexual abuse

It is our duty to protect children

Sadly, it often requires an alarming body of evidence and a series of victims to bring an abuser to justice. The molestation of children by priests—sometimes over decades—is a classic example. The Sandusky case is yet another.

One accusation should be enough to initiate a prompt, exhaustive and conclusive investigation.

We may never know the extent of how many boys Sandusky victimized. What we do know is that a man of his position was allowed to commit horrific abuse against children, while his peers, his colleagues, the campus police, and local law enforcement officials appeared to have turned a blind eye.

Current and former Penn State officials are now under investigation for perjury and failure to report abuse allegations. A grand jury is reviewing more sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Our laws and our social fabric must change. Witnesses should not be afraid to speak up. They should, instead, be afraid not to.

Only when we create a no-tolerance policy for child abuse…only when we believe one victim, one parent and one witness…will we begin to lighten the shroud of blame, shame and fear that surrounds child molestation and rape.

It is our inherent duty to protect children, not perpetrators.


LACASA: A nonprofit organization in Livingston County that provides support, counseling, legal advocacy, and critical resources for survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition, LACASA provides services and programs for family members and friends who have been impacted by these crimes. All services for survivors are provided at no charge.

LACASA 24/7 Crisis Line 866.522.2725

STEWARDS OF CHILDREN: LACASA’S Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council offers a Stewards of Children program several times a year. This workshop teaches professionals, parents and child caregivers how to responsibly identify, respond to and report suspected child sexual abuse.

CARE PROGRAM—LACASA’s Child Abuse Response Effort (CARE) investigates cases of child sexual abuse. Members of Livingston County’s child welfare agencies, law enforcement officials and the prosecutor’s office work together to conduct forensic interviews of suspected child abuse victims. The process is designed to safeguard the child from further trauma during the investigative process. All interviews are conducted in a non-threatening environment by specially-trained forensic examiners.


STAFF INSIGHT: By Nicole Matthews-Creech, LACASA community education director, and Robin L. O’Grady, LACASA communications director.  This article originally published in The Livingston Post, and is reprinted here with permission.

Source:  http://www.lacasacenter.org/why-victims-dont-tell-sandusky-case-sheds-light-on-complexities-of-sexual-abuse/

Another throw away child

Another throw away child

Waiting in line, I look out at the street 

A group of dingy, dirty ravaged 40-year-old men exits a bus and shamble on by 

So difficult to see 

The ravages of substances and mental illness

Took a toll upon body and mind

People passing by, pull away in disgust

We all judge them, harshly

Could someone had made a difference?

In just one of those lives? 

One man caught my eye 

For a brief moment, he let down his guard

I saw a version of his younger self

I saw him as he used to be 

When he worked a decent job

Was still good looking 

Friends overlooked the constant drinking, and light substance abuse

He was such a great guy    He was so good looking 

There were whispers about him allowing people to abuse his child 

However, his friends kept quiet

Evidence went unreported

Suspicions went untold

Turned away from the child

Out of friendship for the adult

Out of fear of the adult

Refused to believe he could do, and allow such things 

He had a decent job  He had a nice home

(Did we forget, Sandusky was successful too?)

Opportunities to help him went unanswered 

Opportunities to save the child went unanswered  

Years go by    Substance abuse, and dark secrets increased 

Suspicions became stronger yet, no one got involved 

“I don’t want to lose my friend” 

“I don’t want to lose my job” 

Silent acquiescence begets a child’s ruined prospects 

And, the child? 

Who knows, last his friends heard the kid was a bad one

Doing drugs and pedaling his body on the street

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they whisper 

Failing to acknowledge

Their role in this tragedy

Tsk, Tsk they all say and again,

turn away from the child


now the dad

Unwilling to acknowledge him

Unwilling to admit they were friends to this now ravaged once attractive person

He has become inconvenient

They move on with their lives 

The now grown child

NO One chose to believe

NO One chose to help 

Just one more statistic

Gone the bright eyes 

Gone the brilliant smile

Gone the infectious laughter

Outcries ignored

Suspicions unreported

Misplaced loyalty to a friend won out 

Fear of losing a job won out

Outcries ignored

Leads not investigated 

The system looked the other way

The father had a good job

He lived in a nice house

He was so good looking

Everything was so “pretty” what does a little sex abuse hurt? 

Was the systems reply

They took no action

They covered up for the parent

Another child betrayed

Another soul lost 

Another throw away child. 

Blue Spinning Pinwheels

      Brightly colored pinwheels are a symbol of childhood and the innocence that should be inherent to that time in our lives.  The wind-propelled movement of an expanse of beautiful blue pinwheels catches the eye quicker than any headline.  They spin in the air flashing brilliant shots of vivid color that capture our attention, momentarily mesmerizing us.  In Fort Worth take a drive down South University and see the 5,689 blue pinwheels on the TCU campus.  As you smile at their whimsical beauty know that each pinwheel represents one child who was a confirmed victim of physical or sexual abuse in Tarrant county last year.  That is quite a large number of children.  Now, expand your thoughts and think of how many more children did not cry out or whose cries went unheard.  It happens; too frequently. 

      I have read and heard comments that the pinwheels do not make a difference.  In and of themselves the pinwheels do not change laws or policies.  However, the awareness they bring to this epidemic does cause change.  Over the past two years, I have personally witnessed people stop to view the pinwheels and stay to hear the story behind them.  Each new person who chooses to stand in the truth about physical, emotional, and sexual abuses against our children is one more voice standing up for a child.  As the voices grow louder and our numbers grow larger so does awareness.  Together we can focus on preventing child abuse and make our legislators pass bills to enact tougher laws for child abusers and for those who protect the abusers (or fail to protect the child). 

Every year I place at least one blue pinwheel in my yard.  This year I planted six atop bales of hay; a simple display.  Yet, as I work in my yard people stop to mention the pinwheels and I have my chance to share the truth about child abuse.  As I shop local stores, friends and acquaintances stop to mention the pinwheels in my yard.  Again, I have an opportunity to spread the message and mention local agencies for more information on how to make a difference. 

     In answer to the nay-sayers, Yes, the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign does make a difference.

For more Information On How to Make a Difference of For Counseling







Dallas Advocacy Center


Center for Public Policy Prioritities (Texas)



Nation wide


RePosting: Pinwheels for Prevention article by Susan Schrock (Star Telegram Article)

TCU pinwheel display represents 5,689 confirmed child abuse cases

BY SUSAN SCHROCK  Apr. 07, 2014  sschrock@star-telegram.com


 Alliance for Children’s Kids Crew Volunteer Stacey Main

FORT WORTH — One night nearly a year ago, Marcus Figueroa called 911, covered in blood and desperate for help after he was repeatedly stabbed.  Marcus, then 12, survived. His mother, Roxann Sanchez, and his 8-year-old brother, Anthony Figueroa, didn’t.  Marcus identified his mother’s estranged boyfriend as the assailant, and the man was arrested within hours.

Each year, local media report heart-wrenching stories involving Tarrant County children who are hurt, neglected, even killed by those who are supposed to love them. But police and child advocates say they handle many other abuse cases that don’t make the headlines but are no less painful for the children and families involved.

As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, volunteers set up pinwheels at TCU on Monday to represent the 5,689 children in Tarrant County who were confirmed victims of physical or sexual abuse last year.  “At first glance, these pinwheels catch your eye. They are beautiful as they spin in the wind,” said David Wheelwright, board president of the nonprofit Alliance for Children. “Yet as we realize each of these pinwheels represent a child who needed protection from someone in their lives who was supposed to love and care for them, the picture is not quite as striking. These are just the kids we know about.”

Alliance for Children works with Child Protective Services, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, Cook Children’s Medical Center and area police agencies to coordinate investigations and provide families with healing services and support as their cases go through the legal system. One of the nonprofit’s many services includes counseling, Executive Director Julie Evans said.

In 21 years, Alliance for Children has served more than 40,000 children at its centers in Fort Worth, Arlington and Hurst.  Statistics indicate that only 1 in 10 children will report abuse, Wheelwright said. That’s why the Alliance for Children continues offering classes and volunteer opportunities to help train educators, families, caregivers and community leaders to recognize and report suspected signs of abuse.

Warning signs in abused children may include unexplained injuries, changes in eating or sleeping habits, fear of going home, and inappropriate sexual behavior or use of explicit sexual language.  Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley joined area police leaders Monday to praise the nonprofit agency for its efforts to raise awareness and prevent child abuse.  “Our continued prayer will be one day we will be able to come here and there won’t be any pinwheels and we will be talking about the success we have had in Tarrant County,” Whitley said.

In the case of Marcus Figueroa and slayings of his mother and brother on May 1, Tarrant County prosecutors have charged Cedric Allen Ricks with capital murder and injury to a child. He remains in the Tarrant County Jail where he has been since his arrest on May 3 with bail totaling $8.5 million, according to jail records. Ricks’ trial is set to begin May 5. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Child abuse in Tarrant County

Confirmed cases of child abuse in Tarrant County increased slightly from 2012 to 2013

but overall have fallen in five years, advocates say.

2009: 6,030

2010: 6,222

2011: 5,888

2012: 5,598

2013: 5,689

To learn more about child abuse prevention educational opportunities, go online to allianceforchildren.org or call 817-335-7172.

Source: Alliance for Children

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/04/07/5718653/tcu-pinwheel-display-represents.html#storylink=cpy

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

What is a CASA:  In some states Court Appointed Child Advocates are referred to as CASA, and in others as GAL  (Guardian Ad Litem).  CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes.  Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.  For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.  Independent research has demonstrated that children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to reenter care.  Last year, more than 77,000 CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers helped 234,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes.

Why CASA: Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care.  As a CASA volunteer, you are empowered by the courts to help make this dream a reality.  You will be the one consistent adult in these children’s lives, vigilantly fighting for and protecting their fundamental right to be treated with the dignity and respect every child deserves.  You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come.  And in doing so, you will enrich your life as well.

You can be a CASA:  You do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.  You must pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average).

Source:  National CASA  http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301295/k.BE9A/Home.htm

Please get involved because it takes a village to save a child. 

Search through the contacts below to find the CASA/GAL location nearest you. 


Alabama          http://www.alabamacasa.org/index.cfm

Alaska             http://www.alaskacasa.org/

Arizona            http://www.azcourts.gov/casa/Home.aspx

Arkansas         http://www.arkansascasa.org/index.html

California        http://californiacasa.org/

Colorado         http://www.coloradocasa.org/

Connecticut     http://www.childreninplacement.org/

Delaware         http://courts.delaware.gov/family/casa/index.stm

Florida             http://www.guardianadlitem6.org/home.php

Georgia           https://www.gacasa.org

Hawaii              https://www.facebook.com/casahawaii?ref=stream  (They are working on their website)

Idaho               http://www.isc.idaho.gov/guardian/helpful-links  (This page has all the Idaho CASA links)

Illinois              http://www.illinoiscasa.org/

Indiana            http://www.childadvocatesnetwork.org/

Iowa                https://childadvocacy.iowa.gov/staticpages/index.php?page=Locations (This page has a link to every office in Iowa.)

Kansas             http://www.kansascasa.org/

Kentucky        http://www.lexingtoncasa.com/    https://www.facebook.com/CASAriverregion  http://bccasa.org/   (Unfortunately there                              are issues with their state site.)

Louisiana         http://www.louisianacasa.org/

Maine              http://casaofmaine.org/

Maryland         http://marylandcasa.org/

Massachusettshttp://www.chd.org/index.php/casa-of-hampden-county.html                      http://www.bostoncasa.org/site/c.flKSIaOWIkJ8H/b.8753283/k.BE29/Home.htm

Michigan         http://www.michigancasa.org/

Minnesota       http://www.casamn.org/

Mississippi       http://www.casams.org/

Missouri          http://www.mocasa.net/

Montana          http://www.casagal.org/

Nebraska         http://www.nebraskacasa.org/

Nevada            http://www.nevadacasa.org/

New Hampshire  http://www.casanh.org/

New Jersey      http://www.casaofnj.org/

New Mexico   http://nmcasa.org/

New York       http://www.casanys.org/

North Carolina  http://www.nccourts.org/Citizens/GAL/

North Dakota   No state organization

Ohio                http://www.ohiocasa.org/

Oklahoma        http://www.oklahomacasa.org/

Oregon            http://www.oregoncasanetwork.org/

Pennsylvania   http://www.pacasa.org/

Rhode Island    http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/FamilyCourt/Pages/Court%20Appointed%20Special%20Advocate.aspx

South Carolina  http://www.rccasa.org/

South Dakota  http://www.sdcasa.org/

Tennessee        http://www.tncasa.org/

Texas               http://texascasa.org/

Utah                http://utahcasa.org/

Vermont          https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/GTC/Family/GAL.aspx

Virginia           https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/juvenile/casa/

Washington     http://dev.wacasa.org/

West Virginia  http://www.wvcasa.org/

Wisconsin        http://www.wisconsincasa.org/

Wyoming        There is no state organization

Washnington D.C.      http://casadc.org/

Exploitation should not be legalized

     In the following article, you will find Nicholas Kristof’s comment, a statement from Sex Trafficking Survivors United (STSU) against Amnesty International’s proposal on legalizing commercial sex, Amnesty International’s Overview of this Policy, and a link a pdf explanation of  the Nordic Model.   April is Child Abuse Prevention Month-Wear Blue to show your support.   JDP

RePosting:  Comment by “I have huge admiration for Amnesty International, but it is considering a lame proposal to legalize commercial sex.  This has been tried in various places, from Amsterdam to Sydney, Germany to parts of Nevada, and in practice it ends up a gift to pimps and increases exploitation.  No approach works all that well, frankly, but the Nordic model seems most effective: Arrest those buying sex (i.e. the johns) and offer social services to those selling sex (usually but not always women). That reduces demand and trafficking and has worked particularly well in Sweden. Here’s a statement by survivors of sex trafficking on the issue.”

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/kristof

Nicholas Kristof is a journalist-New York Times columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Sheryl WuDunn, is the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, a business executive, and lecturer.  Kristoff and WuDunn are co-authors of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and co-founders of The Half the Sky Movement.   

Source: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

Statement Against Amnesty International’s Suggestion that Buying Sex is a Human Right

(Addressing  the document at  http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/202126121.)

Sex Trafficking Survivors United (STSU) is a survivor-led and survivor-founded international organization.  Our 177 members include sex trafficked women and men who have escaped their traffickers, often with no assistance, and who have banded together to raise awareness and assist  those hurt by commercial sexual exploitation, which is often called prostitution.  As survivors we know that commercial sexual exploitation includes force, fraud and coercion like sex trafficking.  It is simply not credible to suggest prostitution can exist independently of sex trafficking, racism and brutal abuse.  We know that men’s demand to buy sex hurts people in prostitution.  Indigenous peoples and people of color are disproportionately exploited in prostitution as a result of racism and colonialism.

We have been disturbed and disappointed to see Amnesty International suggest full decriminalization of pimps and brothel keepers.  The general public understands (and as survivors we know) that commercial sexual exploitation is controlled by organized crime.  Amnesty’s proposal will only strengthen organized crime’s hold on the exploited and increase its power in vulnerable communities worldwide.

It was shocking for us to see Amnesty’s suggestion that it is a “human right” for well off, powerful (mostly white) men to purchase the bodies of the younger, poorer and more vulnerable.  We found it especially cruel that Amnesty says prostitution is a choice.  As all survivors know, people end up in prostitution because they have no other choices, and are the victims of coercion, fraud, abuse and violence.  The untruth that “prostitution is a choice” only serves to stigmatize and further trap most of the sexually exploited.  This empowers their traffickers and abusers, while serving as a justification to arrest and marginalize the exploited rather than recognizing the truth that they are the victims of multiple crimes.  It also cuts them off from much-needed social supports.

STSU’s members include executive directors of survivor-led organizations providing direct services to minor and adult victims, medical doctors and other health professionals, social workers and family therapists, crime victim advocates and college professors.  Not only have we experienced and escaped the complex world of sex trafficking and healed, many of us have earned college degrees, founded small businesses, established nonprofit victim services organizations, and earned other professional credentials.

As survivors we are directly affected by Amnesty International’s prostitution proposal.  We intend to hold Amnesty International accountable.  We insist that Amnesty proceed with complete transparency on this issue, involve the worldwide survivor community as stakeholders, and operate with the high ethical standards and due diligence demanded of important human rights issues.  It is imperative that those who sexually exploit others not be allowed to speak for the exploited.  Unfortunately this is a common phenomenon.

Source: http://www.sextraffickingsurvivorsunited.org/statement-against-amnesty-internationals-suggestion-that-buying-sex-is-a-human-right/

Amnesty Prostitution Policy document. 

Published by NordicModelAdvocates-Leaked Amnesty International doc on their intention to adopt the policy that “sex work” should be decriminalised.

The first two paragraphs say it all: 

 Decriminalization of Sex Work: Policy Background Document

  1. Policy Overview

Amnesty International is opposed to the criminalization or punishment of activities related to the buying or selling of consensual sex between adults.  Amnesty International believes that seeking, buying, selling and soliciting paid sex are acts  protected from state interference as long as there is no coercion, threats or violence associated with those acts. Legitimate restrictions may be imposed on the practice of sex work if they comply with international human rights law (i.e., they are for a legitimate purpose, appropriate to meet that purpose, proportionate and non-discriminatory).  

Amnesty International believes states have a positive obligation to reform their laws and develop and implement systems and policies that eliminate discrimination against those engaging in sex work. Additionally, states must actively seek to empower the most marginalized in society, including through supporting the rights to freedom of association of those engaging in sex work, establishing frameworks that ensure access to appropriate, quality health services and safe working conditions, and through combating discrimination or abuse based on sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression. Amnesty International understands the imperfect context in which individuals choose to become sex workers (or miners or foreign domestic workers).  We know that some individuals engaged in sex work do not have the necessary resources or information to leave commercial sex work when they want to.  At the same time, we believe human rights principles requires policy-makers to value the voices of those who are directly affected by inequality and discrimination.  

We believe that policies which purport to support and improve the situation of the resource-poor must focus on empowering the disenfranchised and directly addressing structural disadvantages such as poverty, not on devaluing their decisions and choices or criminalizing the contexts in which they live their lives.  We believe that a policy based on human right principles that values the input and experiences of sex workers is the most likely to ensure that no one enters or stays in sex work involuntary.

Amnesty International considers children involved in commercial sex acts to be victims of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law. States must take all appropriate measures to  prevent violence and exploitation of children. The best interests of the child should, in all cases, be a primary consideration and the state should preserve the right of the child to be heard and to have his or her views given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. See Amnesty International’s policy on decriminalization of sex work for a more detailed explanation of the organization’s policy position.

Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/202126121/Amnesty-Prostitution-Policy-document

The Nordic Model Can be found at:  http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Nordic_Model_EN.pdf


50 States Plus celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month 2014

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Here is a list of news items and events from the 50 United States of America and Washington D.C.  Putting Political differences aside and putting our children first! 

Presidential Proclamation


























































New Hampshire


New Jersey


New Mexico


New York  First in a five-part series


North Carolina


North Dakota










Rhode Island


South Carolina


South Dakota














Washington D.C.


West Virginia







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