The work of silentlambs
We find it interesting that there are a few who raise the question, "what does silentlambs actually do and what have they accomplished?" For anyone who may wonder what silentlambs does you are encouraged to read the USA Today article that was in Monday's newspaper. This article says it all as far as the work of silentlambs, simply stated, we raise child abuse awareness, offer education and support.
How many people has silentlambs assisted in this mission? In conservative estimates it would appear to be just a little over one billion. How do we arrive at this figure? Well to start six million Jehovah's Witnesses heard comments in last Sundays Watchtower study in an effort to discredit news stories on child abuse that have ran around the world. Each and every Jehovah's Witness now knows about silentlambs due to this free publicity in addition to all the time and effort spent by Watchtower in the form of letters and talks to do damage control on the abuse issue. We have forced certain changes in WT policy:
1. Child molesters can no longer work door to door alone. This was a policy enacted in May of 2002 when silentlambs made an issue of this to media.
2. A letter was sent to congregation around the world shortly before documentaries aired that for the first time in writing informed members they had a right to go to police and elders should not prevent them from doing so. Without silentlambs this letter never would have been written.
3. Watchtower was forced to clearly state they would take one witness to separate events when it comes to the abuse issue. Never stated before, thank silentlambs.
4. Watchtower for the first time in history identified a "policy" on child abuse that had never been defined or described to anyone in the organization. It is now up on their website in which the media and soon the courts will pick to pieces for negligence. Again thank silentlambs.
5. Elders throughout the organization have made personal decision as to what they will do if ever abuse arises in their respective congregation. Many have stated to me they will defy any instruction that requires them to do less that what is morally and ethically right. Thank silentlambs.
6. Members of the congregation have been forced to defend as they go door to door the "abuse policy" of the organization. Many find no stomach for it once they understand how the policy works. Thank silentlambs
7. Hundreds of brothers and sisters have written Watchtower asking for proper changes to their child abuse policy. Thank silentlambs
8. The public in general and been educated about Jehovah's Witnesses and child abuse as well as the media. When a reporter calls, the learning curve has been cut from hours to minutes due to the information at hand. Thank silentlambs
9. The highly prized "image" of the organization has been tarnished by the eel like "Bagdad Bob" approach of JR Brown and other Watchtower spokesman. They have been caught practicing theocratic warfare (lying) red handed by the media and this has been shown to the public around the world. Thank Watchtower arrogance and the directives of the not so humble governing body.
10. Next will soon follow court cases by the hundreds around the world for negligence in putting children in harms way. There goes the money, is protecting child molesters really worth it? Thank silentlambs/Watchtower arrogance
11. Countless people visit the website everyday and are educated about a problem that for many forever changes their perspective on how child abuse should be handled. Thank silentlambs
12. Several public events have been presented to raise awareness on the child abuse issue, including the largest march on Watchtower in the history of the organization. Thank silentlambs
13. There have been ads in newspapers, posters in public places, business cards passed out, protest at conventions, including one person who crashed an entire District Convention by simply wearing a "no child molesters" silentlambs t-shirt inside. Others just wear a simple pin on their lapel proudly proclaiming their support for abuse survivors. Thank silentlambs
Documentaries have been shown on over forty countries around the world in which child abuse survivors told their stories and let millions know they were not alone and it was better to speak out. In each country in which programs aired, numerous people who were non-witnesses expressed appreciation for the message of the importance of reporting the crime of child abuse. How many molesters were reported as a result? At least hundreds and perhaps thousands were turned in and are now recognized for their crimes. How many children were protected? If a typical molester harms 75+ children in his lifetime then you could safely say tens of thousands of children have avoided the painful scars of child molestation due to the work of silentlambs. Over 6,000 Jehovah's Witness abuse survivors have contacted silentlambs, several have stated for the first time in their lives they were given hope, others have been prevented from committing suicide, gotten counseling, began an education. Perhaps the best way to sum it up is to say their lives have been turned from destructive behaviors to a positive course toward healing.
Silentlambs is an effort, a mission, a testament to truth, a collective effort from many places and many persons who give from their heart with unselfish motive. If you were raped how would you like to go on television and talk about it? How about going to court with Watchtower lawyers whose singular goal is to rip you to shreds? What if it doing so meant a child you may never meet could be protected from what happened to you? The heart and courage of those that have is beyond compare, we thank these silent lambs. In a mission of courage you do not always have the best looking, the strongest, or the most intelligent. But what you do have is a fire, a burn from within that compels you to charge forward toward impossible odds with the belief that truth will prevail and you can protect others from the pain you suffer. Thank silentlambs for helping these people to have this opportunity to fight for what is right.
So the next time you hear someone say, "What has silentlambs accomplished?" Perhaps a fitting response would be to respond, "What have you done personally to help abuse survivors? How many victims have you stood in court with? How many silentlambs events have you supported? How many abuse survivors have you helped to tell their story and move toward healing? How many child have you prevented from being abused?"
The answers to those questions will show if that person has any right to question the work and mission of silentlambs. The article below is a testament to that work and we invite everyone to be part of it. You can make a difference.
Calls to sex abuse hotlines rise sharply; experts cite falling "barriers"
By Janet Kornblum, USA TODAY
Calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline are up 24% for the first three months this year compared with the same period last year, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports.
The hotline, which directs callers to more than 1,000 local centers around the country, is reporting the numbers today.
It attributes the increase to news coverage of the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church as well as other profile incidents, including reported sexual assaults in the U.S Air Force Academy.
The church scandal "brought a lot of attention to rape and sexual assaults," says Jamie Zuieback, spokeswoman for the network.
Counselors expected calls to level off, but they have continued to climb "perhaps because of other news, including the kidnapping of Salt Lake City teen Elizabeth Smart: the child sex scandal surrounding film director Roman Polanski: and allegations of rape at the Air Force Academy." TV shows focusing on sexual abuse also prompt people to call, she says.
"All of this media attention helps contribute to the public's understanding of rape as a serious and violent crime," Zuieback says.
"One of the biggest barriers to reporting is people feeling ashamed, people feeling that nothing will be done. Attitudes are starting to change." The media coverage, she says, "makes it easier for somebody to pick up the phone, make the call and get help."
Counselors across the country also are seeing higher numbers.
"The caseload has definitely increased," says Nancee Brown of the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria, IL. "I'm hoping it's because more people are wanting to report it and not keeping the secret."
Not all cases being reported are new: some maybe childhood incidents the victim has kept secret for years.
Angie Johnson Smith of the Southern Arizona Center against Sexual Assault in Tucson say calls have been up 15% to 20 % over the past year and a half.
"It used to be that people would just whisper about rape because it was shameful. Now it's treated as a straightforward story. There's less stigma attached generally."
Jeri Elster of Los Angeles became a victim's rights advocate after she was raped in 1992. The system today is far from perfect, she says, but it's a lot better that 10 years ago, when people often expected rape victims to keep quiet.
"A lot of people will not get brave until they figure that they're not alone and somebody's going to listen to them," she says.
Though more people may be coming forward to report sexual crimes, the Department of Justice estimates that sexual assault and rape of victims 12 and older actually decreased by 56% from 1993 through 2001. That number is consistent with other types of violent crime, which has decreased about 50 percent during the same period, the department says.
Researchers also estimate that new cases of child sexual abuse are down 40% from 1992 because of better prevention, reporting and prosecution.
At least 20% of women and 5% to 10% of men experienced some form of sexual abuse as children.
Peak age of vulnerability is 7 to 13.
Men commit 90% of sexual abuse.
Family members account for 33% to 50% of abuse against girls and 10% to 20% against boys.
Source: David Finkelhor, sociologist at University of New Hampshire