Twenty five years ago, I started out working in crisis intervention with kids in foster care and teen runaways. Sexual abuse amongst these kids and their families was rampant. Knowing what these kids endured and being sexualized at such an early age made me angry. Angry at the perpetrator, the families who looked the other way, and our ‘system’ for not doing enough to prevent it. Like many others in the field, I became disillusioned and left for a less stressful field. I began working in IT, which was kind of a hobby of mine…. I worked as a consultant and project manager in large corporations. I was trained to do risk and root cause analysis in the business world and apply what we learned to improve quality, increase customer satisfaction, and save costs. But, I missed that feeling of making a difference in the world. Helping companies sell more tractors or insurance just wasn’t cutting it for me.
Thirteen years later, I decided to go back and get my masters in counseling. Since then I’ve worked in the trauma field, including adult and juvenile sex offenders, sex crime victims, addiction, domestic violence, and death.
What I’ve learned is that sexual abuse does not discriminate. I was hearing stories about sexual abuse not just in working with abuse victims, but from co-workers in the business world, my fellow service members in the Navy Reserves, professors, healthcare workers, managers, neighbors and so on. I also realized that being the victim/survivor of a sex crime isn’t easy to talk about, but knowing that I had worked in the field helped people feel more comfortable discussing it. People would say that just telling their story to me (or whomever they decided to confide in) provided them with a sense of relief and less shame.
I hated that anyone has had to endure sexual violence and wanted to find out if this can truly be prevented. So through experience working with victims and offenders, research, workshops and discussion with experts in the field, I learned there are ways to counteract this problem. I applied the risk and root cause analysis methods I had learned as a project manager and that helped to really put things in perspective.
Statistics say that 1 in 4 females and 1 in 7 males will be the victim of a sex crime at some point in their lifetime. I don’t know if these numbers are accurate – having been involved in conducting research, I’m always skeptical of research methods and their results. But if 2.5% of the world contracted H1N1 influenza and 1 in a 100 contracted HIV and those are considered a pandemic, then it stands to reason that sexual abuse and assaults should be considered a pandemic. For a virus such as H1N1 or HIV, we are all responsible for stopping the virus from spreading – we all have a role, be it the government, our communities, healthcare, and each individual. The same logic should apply to the sex crime pandemic and is the concept we will be tackling in our podcast.
In each episode of our podcast we will discuss a sex crime, the impact to the victims, analyze the offender and offense(s) and discuss what that crime can teach us about prevention in the future.
My hope is that this podcast can serve as a voice for the victims and survivors. Especially those who haven’t yet been able to tell their story.