Healing the Wounds of Childhood Trauma
You Can Help!!
“They are MY kids, AND I will do as I please with them AND regardless – they WILL grow up and finally be out of my hair!” (The mom).
Our heart goes out to the children who are victims of child abuse. They suffer unimaginable circumstances. Every child has their own story with different reactions, adapting according to skills that most learned on their own. Children who have endured abuse do not physically or mentally develop as children who were lucky enough to have nurturing caregivers who would teach them how to cope with daily life. But, somehow those who manage to prevail do grow up – not as ‘The mom’ would have described, but finally able to seek out the help they prayed for as a child. It is important to remember, as we read the statistics of child abuse, that each number is a child – a life lost at the hands of an abuser, or a future prevalor who will need understanding and competent mental health care. Research shows us that children cope with trauma by ‘dissociating’.
“A child who experiences extreme trauma or abuse has few coping mechanisms at his/her disposal. Understanding and integrating the experience may overwhelm the child’s coping mechanisms. In the absence of effective coping skills, the child’s most best option for psychologically surviving is to dissociate or shut off the experience from his/her consciousness.” (Henderson, 2006; Perry et al., 1995).
Unfortunately, folks who use dissociation as a main defense in adulthood often have difficulty functioning as well as trying to deal with a past filled with horror. And, rightly so. Society’s problem with rising statistics of child abuse will never be solved until they realize that the adult survivors ARE the children waiting to be helped by someone knowledgeable and qualified. Though, encouraging survivors to tell their horror stories to the world might be a bit helpful, educating the mental health community and the victims of abuse is actually the answer.
Ivory Garden was founded 8 years ago as a online forum for folks with dissociative disorders. Thousands of folks who have dissociative disorders have found understanding and validation there through peer interaction. Ivory Garden has provided education, therapy resources, webinars, educational resources, group workshops, and chat rooms – as well as promoting safety, individual growth, and psychological healing. Ivory Garden members have been there for each other as a support when they needed to be understood and believed. Every single day is a challenge for adult survivors of abuse. A very lucky few will find a therapist who knows ANYTHING about trauma and dissociation. Even fewer will have the option of going to a hospital facility that specializes in trauma and dissociation.
This quote will give you an idea of the problem that we as a society face today:
In one study, “nearly one-third of psychiatrists believed that a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is more appropriate than DID. While most psychologists demonstrated belief that DID is a valid diagnosis, 38% believed that DID either likely or definitely could be created through the therapist’s influence, and 15% indicated that DID could likely or definitely develop as a result of exposure to various forms of media” (Cormier & Thelen, 1998). source:2011, Vol. 3 No. 05 | pg. 1/2
Ivory Garden has taken the stance that this is unacceptable. The children are horribly abused and damaged, the expense (which will be shared later) of caring for the adult survivors is staggering, and the public is not stepping in to provide resources that would bring appropriate education and resources for those who have been hurt enough. Ivory Garden is hosting the second Trauma and Dissociation conference where experts in the area of trauma and dissociation will be presenting groundbreaking scientific research, decades of experiences in treating trauma survivors, as well as expertise as directors of trauma hospitals.
Amazingly, Ivory Garden receives very little support at all. For the past eight years, only a handful of folks have put in thousands of hours of work to make a tiny noise in the world. Less folks have done all of the work to organize the conference that will be held in October, 2015 in Seattle. Experts in the area of Trauma and Dissociation have stepped forward volunteering their time to educate survivors of abuse, clinicians, and supporters during the fundraising event – the 2015 Trauma and Dissociation Conference. This is an honor that none should pass up.
Ivory Garden is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization. All of our funding comes from public donations. Any donations are appreciated to provide the resources to put on this conference as well as to provide transportation and scholarships for more to come to the conference who are living on disability because of the effects of child abuse. Our future goal is to provide more workshops for clinicians, and help to promote the opening of more trauma units. Lake Chelan Hospital had an excellent trauma center that provided expert care for many folks struggling with the effects of child abuse. It closed several years ago leaving thousands of trauma survivors at the mercy of psychiatric units with severely undereducated and misinformed staff. Trauma survivors regularly report that they are misdiagnosed and mistreated in these units.
This site is designed to give those who care a place to support our efforts in any way that they can. Ivory Garden is asking for your help to support us in creating public awareness that will effect so many people who do not deserve to be within the statistics listed below:
|Source of cost||Total lifetime costs (in 2010 dollars)
|Discounted at 3%||Discounted at 7%|
|Short-term health care costs||$18,903,192,000||$15,669,477,000|
|Long-term health care costs||$6,096,870,000||$2,193,831,000|
|Child welfare costs||$4,474,512,000||$4,474,512,000|
|Criminal justice costs||$3,906,513,000||$2,234,940,000|
|Special education costs||$4,631,421,000||$3,730,497,000|
|Total costs (including both fatal and nonfatal cases)||$123,811,794,000||$57,304,706,580|
With appropriate mental health care, these statistics would drop. This population ‘wants’ to be successful and functional in society. They are strong and courageous people who want to help other folks and children – they yearn to learn and to work. Daily life is a struggle, isolation is common, self-injury, depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, bi-polar disorder, dissociative disorders, and disabilities caused during abuse are all commonly experienced by trauma survivors. Yet, they survive everyday still praying for the help they never got as children. Society just needs to help provide what they so deserve. Despite all the money that goes into mental health care, the care is inadequate and actually detrimental.
“Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada’s and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-1519353
Now, we need to take a look at children who may never receive services or care – missing and exploited children – not listed in the charts above:
As of April 2015, the CyberTipline has received more than 4.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation since it was launched in 1998. Suspected child sexual exploitation can be reported to the CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com or 1-800-843-5678.
- As of April 2015, NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 139 million child pornography images since it was created in 2002.
- 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2014 were likely sex trafficking victims.
- 68 percent of these likely sex trafficking victims were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
“The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence. Titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE.” source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/17/child-homelessless-us_n_6169994.html.
According to Crimes Against Children research Centre (CCRC), the numbers of juvenile prostitutes within the United States range from 1,400 to 2.4 million, although most fall between 300,000 and 600,000. 16 children as young as 13 were rescued from the sex trade in a law enforcement operation that targeted suspected pimps who brought the victims to New Jersey for Super Bowl weekend, in February 2014. “Prostituted children remain the orphans of America’s justice system. They are either ignored or, when they do come in contact with law enforcement, harassed, arrested, and incarcerated while the adults who exploit them – the pimp and their customers – largely escape punishment,” said Julian Sher, author of the book Somebody’s Daughter: The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them.
Ivory Garden members are not surprised by these facts – or what it is like to ‘be’ one of these children. They are survivors of many types of child abuse including sex trafficking. They also know that looking for help and/or validation within a system unaware of their ploy is dangerous. There are thousands of nonprofit organizations working to make a difference for these children. Regardless of abused children’s circumstances, our focus is on educating the public and especially the mental health community. We have found that children will generally try to reach out for help during their teen years. They go where they think they will be protected and safe. It is our experience that once they are turned away or invalidated, it is rare they ever reach out again. We also know the dream of every victimized child to meet just one person who ‘cares’ enough to just believe them. Our mission is to bring about the awareness and education to those who might otherwise turn away victimized children and/or adult survivors of abuse.
I would like to share a video that I created in honor of my sister who left this world when she tried to ‘tell’ and became a victim of the mental health system who turned her away. This was in 1973 – please watch and remember that for every statistic is another child looking for someone to care:
Lastly, though these statistics may seem overwhelming, it is true that all (except those profiting form exploitation of children) are making such a difference just by ‘caring’, ‘believing, and validating every person who has suffered – creating a safe place for each.
I made this video to thank all who have validated and believed me – cared about me during the past 10 years. I have been thrown out of hospitals when I needed care. I was homeless for 2 years and reached out when I was 14 – never to reach out again until I was 52 yo. Thank you to those who have been so kind.
© Patricia Goodwin, MA 2015