The Enough Abuse Campaign –
Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse
The Safe Center and The Enough Abuse Campaign are fighting child sexual abuse. Together they have begun an exciting initiative which is making a significant difference in the lives of the children on Long Island. The Enough Abuse Campaign helps adults understand how to protect children from sexual abuse. Its mission is to stop adults from sexually abusing children today and to prevent children from developing sexually abusive behaviors in the future.
The Safe Center, a nonprofit organization located on Long Island, has set a goal to train every adult in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in the Enough Abuse curriculum over the next few years. Tracy Stopler, the Enough Abuse Campaign Coordinator and author of the award-winning The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse, says, “We teach adults how to recognize the warning signs of a child who may be experiencing abuse and the possible red flags of an abuser. Additionally, we teach adults how to reduce the opportunities for sex offenders to harm children, how to create safer communities and what to do if a child discloses to you.”
Child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes—a silent epidemic. The vast majority (86%) is never reported to child protection services, police, schools, family, or even a friend. For this reason, accurate data is difficult to gather. What we do know comes from retrospective studies, or studies that gathered information from adults who report on abuse they experienced as children. From these studies, we can estimate that as many as one in four women and one in six men have been sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
We also know that although “Stranger Danger” exists, sexual abuse is usually committed by someone the child and family knows and trusts. Most people who sexually abuse children do not look or act differently from “the norm.” They are part of our communities, circle of friends, and yes, even our families. Collecting data on those who sexually abuse children can also be challenging because what we know is based on studies from those who have been caught and convicted. From these studies we know that most abusers are male, heterosexual, married, have some college education, hold steady jobs and belong to some religious organization.
However, women and youth also abuse. There are a significant number of cases in which a child sexually abuses another child. Research shows that when these minors are identified and receive the help and support they need, they do not continue to offend. The majority of children who are sexually abused will not grow up to sexually abuse others.
It is also important to know that children rarely make up accusations of sexual abuse. Do children lie? Absolutely; they lie that it isn’t happening. It is far more common for children to minimize or deny the extent of abuse they have experienced. Children will often test the waters by disclosing lesser offenses to see if the adult will respond with belief and support or react with disbelief and anger. There are many reasons why a child will recant their story once they have disclosed. Experts say that recanting is common and should be considered part of the disclosure process rather than an indication that the abuse did not occur.
The Safe Center and The Enough Abuse Campaign are working hard to spread the word about this important program. There are six different workshops to choose from and all of them are free. Fifty volunteers are ready to train at PTA’s, places of worship, community groups, even businesses. Bethpage Federal Credit Union is the first corporation on Long Island to agree to get its employees trained. For more information contact EnoughAbuse@tscli.org.
The Safe Center is known to restore hope to all victims of abuse: child abuse, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, sex trafficking and elder abuse. For help, please call their confidential 24/7 hotline at 516-542-0404.
Tracy Stopler, M.S.,R.D., recently released her debut novel, The Ropes That Bind. She says she wrote the novel “to help people understand that childhood trauma is not something we just get over because we grow up. There are both short and long-term impacts of child sexual abuse.” Tracy is also a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from New York University and an adjunct professor at Adelphi University. Her book is available on Amazon and her book trailer can be viewed at: TheRopesThatBind.com.