Abuse and Disability

I am not worried about speech for Moxie. I'm not worried about when and how she will walk. Not worried her mastery of eating utensils, or really, much of anything. Except abuse. I am terrified of abuse.
 
 
It can keep me awake at night. I breathe deeply and let it go and try as best as I ever can to not hold my fear in.
 
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I'm not going to google up a bunch of statistics for you (a simple search like this easily suffices), but people with disabilities are far more likely than people without disabilities to be sexually, physically or psychologically abused. I know this from personal experience, I know this from common sense.
 
 
People with disabilities are counted among the most vulnerable.
 
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I read once – I believe it was in Choosing Naia – in which the author visits a local Down syndrome association and there were two workshops going on at the same time: one was about dating and the other was about rape prevention. Both were packed with participants. He recounted how the dating workshop was a hit because the facilitator treated the participants as they actually were: full grown adults that wanted a love life. The rape prevention one was a complete, utter, dismal failure. He said that the facilitator started out by asking how many had experienced rape – and nearly every hand in the room shot up. Stories about being raped abounded. And the facilitator responded by treating the participators far from the adults they were, telling them to say "bad man!", to "look for an adult" to help them when someone tries to rape them.
 
 
I remember reading that and crying and then becoming furious. I mean, rigid with rage. Almost a whole room is raped and you are telling them to look for an adult to help them? A room, raped, and "bad man!"? Not least in that the adult that should, could help – the adult that was likely hired to help, is usually the one doing the raping.
 
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What is it with treating adults with Down syndrome as if they are children? What is it with not equipping those same adults with the tools our society gives everyone, except, it seems, those that need it most?
 
 
From our end, we need the maps (**see below) to tell you where registered offenders live. We need information ever-present on the latest technological gidgety-gadgets – to know when our photos are imbedded with our location (see links below). We need to know how to turn it off, how to manipulate what's there.
 
 
And we need to know what to watch for in what's closest to home. Not the creepy dude  lingering by the fence at the playground (call the cops on him); I"m talking about the charming, highly popular elementary school teacher with a PhD. The "pied piper" of children. The guy that you would never, ever in a million years EVER think is a pedophile and yet… over time especially, something niggles about him, something not quite right. Something about the way he likes to hug, or a lingering touch, whispers in the ear. Something about the way he and others like him befriend the little ones – the ones from troubled homes. The "ugly" ones, the ones who are teased on the playground. And yes, the ones who have disabilities.
 
 
Watch out for him, my friends. Watch out for him. Guard and protect your little ones as they grow.  Tune into your instinct with every fiber you have. Trust people, but not completely. Keep your raving, paranoid helicopter self at bay but be wary. Listen. Carefully observe. Be on the lookout, most especially with those closest to your child. Their teachers. Their therapists. Their soccer coaches. Their counselors. Their aids. Even family members – grandfathers and uncles have a statistically higher rate of committed abuse, but no one should be free from your watchful eye.
 
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When I feel the panic growing in me over the fear that Moxie may be abused in the course of her life, I focus on what I can do. Like make sure she knows how to protect and physically defend herself. Knows to say or scream, "no". And more, equip her with oceans of self-esteem and self-confidence, keep her home solid, safe, whole. Do all that I can to ensure that despite having a disability, she is not counted of the most vulnerable.
 
 
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I don't mean to scare you. But then again, maybe I do: with what we know about abuse and disability, we need to be Mama (and Daddy) Bears over this. We won't get a second chance to keep our kid whole.
 
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More information:
 
—and more profiles of pedophiles from other sources:
 
 
About
Wikipedia
 
Embedded Photo Information:
I Can Stalk You – how to disable iPhone GeoTagging
TechniPages – disable Droid GeoTagging
DSLR Camera Geotagging
CNET: How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your LocationDisabling Right-Click Saves and HTML Code

 

**MAPS**

Megan's Law "A federal law passed in 1996 that authorizes local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living, working or visiting their communities.
Megan's Law was inspired by the case of seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who moved across the street from the family. The Kanka family fought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. The New Jersey legislature passed Megan's Law in 1994." (- from about)
 
 
 
 

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

9 Comments

  • I had a good cry about this the other day when I glanced at the NDSS health guidelines for 1-12 year olds before forwarding to a friend.

    Right in there, starting at age one, was a suggestion to start teaching your child about personal boundaries. I know every kid needs to learn this, but I knew why it was specifically listed in the guidelines and it was like a punch to the gut.

    I, too, will demand that my child learn something beyond “bad man.” (I mean, seriously? SERIOUSLY???) That paternalistic, pat-on-the-head treatment drives me up the wall when it comes to Down syndrome and it’s so ineffective. I will demand more than that.

  • So scary, so awful. We sang a lullaby in my choir from a Rudyard Kipling poem that held the line ‘The storm shall not wake thee, no shark overtake thee” and it made me cry when I let myself think about it, because there are just so damn many sharks, and predators are some of the scariest ones out there. Locally we just had a thrift store employee (who happened to have Downs) suffer a sexual assault attempt- luckily she knew enough to make some noise, but the guy got away. I really hope they catch the bastard.

  • Man, now I am crying. I actually did look up sex offenders in our neighborhood a few days ago. And this is something that I’ve thought about too. Thank you for posting this. It just kills me to think about. I hope this is a wake up call to a LOT of people!

  • Omgoodness, this is my worst fear when it comes to Emily having Down Syndrome…thank you for this post! I am going to make it my mission to make sure if Emily understand anything it’s how she should be treated by other people and how to recognize danger!

    Kelli @ http://livinglifewithes.blogspot.com

  • When Sammi was born, my first thought was, “how will I protect her?” The statistics are AWFUL. When I heard them recently, I was like, no way, that couldn’t be true…

    Thank you for this post – SO important for people to remember.

  • I’m glad you wrote this, and I will come back and read it eventually. Apparently, I’m not ready yet, though, since I could barely read the first few sentences without tearing up.

  • I heard there are community educational programs that teach the skills of recognizing grooming – anyone know of any to share? Including teaching children and parents to be watchful for red flags of grooming behavior…the whispering in the ear, creating a false intimacy, pulling a child aside to give them a candy or gift, making a child feel beautiful and special and grown up, hanging out with the children in the other room away from the adults, sitting next to the children, cuddling up to them, a lingering touch, or sitting them on their lap… offering a ride, visiting in the home,, teasing, tickling, going to their dance and gymnastics recitals, offering to tutor, or offering transportation…when you put them all together and see many of these regularly over time, with an uncomfortable intensity, that is grooming.

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