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10 Reasons I’m Not Afraid to Use Trans-Friendly Bathrooms

10 Reasons I’m Not Afraid to Use Trans-Friendly Bathrooms

During the last few months, public discussions and debates have centered around bathroom policies for transgender individuals. In March, the Governor of North Carolina signed HB 2, a bill requiring individuals to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex, not their gender identity, thus prompting intense debate over this controversial bill.  Then in April, Target reiterated their trans-friendly bathroom policy. The intensity of the discussion continued to escalate with more media, blog posts, discussions, rants, and a campaign to boycott Target in order to protect women and children. Then last Friday’s guidance from U.S. Departments of Justice and Education Release Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students prompted yet another flurry of conversations, debates, and news pieces.

I am personally and professionally interested in the issues being raised in this discussion. As a therapist, I’ve worked with dozens of abuse victims in their healing process. I’ve also worked with a handful of LGBT clients and families and have some idea of the challenges they face. As a social worker, I am an advocate for civil rights and social justice issues. As a parent, I am very concerned about my children’s safety, and I do my best to protect their well-being in every area of their lives.

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Ask A Therapist: I Feel Ashamed about Being Molested as a Child

I’ve started thinking of my past life and how naive I was. Then horrible memories have come back to me. When I was around 9 going to 10 I was molested by a teenager. It made me cry almost thinking how stupid I was by listening to the molester telling me what to do and threatening to tell my parents what he did. I thought I would get in trouble so I let him do what ever. It happened for almost 2 years and I kept it secret. I was even more frightened that he said he planned to bring his friends. Then when I was in middle school, we moved and I finally told. The officers didn’t do anything because there wasn’t enough evidence.. I felt stupid for not telling and to this day, knowing he’s still out there.. I wished I was strong. This really affected me making me more naive, confused, and depressed as the years went on. I have felt sexually attracted to older men wanting them to touch me. I was even willing to risk my life by walking around my neighborhood hoping I would get captured and raped. Then I met my ex boyfriend. He changed me in a way but wasn’t what I thought we would be. I believed in my ex boyfriend and allowed him to have sex with me whenever he asked and I fell in love. It didn’t end too well.. I changed after that situation and I hate my old self right now.. please give me words of advice..

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Ask A Therapist: I Hate Myself And I Don’t Know Why

I hate myself and I don’t know why. How do I learn to love myself? Even though I believe I’m a daughter of God, I feel like believing and knowing is different than feeling. I don’t FEEL like that. I have urges to cut myself and sometimes give in, and I make myself throw up off and on. I hate being like this. I was sexually abused by a family friend for about six years. Even though he stopped when I got older, I never said anything to anyone. I feel like this might contribute to my feelings of hatred toward myself. Sometimes, I even think that my life has no purpose and that the world would be better off without me. I hate myself for doing things like spending money on a nice haircut. Every time I treat myself nice, even if it’s something like a bubble bath or chewing a stick of gum, I feel guilty. I treat other people well. I give people more energy than I have and it’s not fair to them or me. I know that if I treat myself better, I’ll have more energy to not only give to myself, but to others too. However, every time I try to do this, I end up cutting or throwing up because the urge to do so is overwhelming. How do I learn to treat myself well? What is your advice? Is there something I can do without therapy? I don’t have a lot of money and am out of a job.

A: Thank you for writing in and trusting me with your story.  I want to suggest to you that you look into the mental health resources at your college and so you can start on a path to healing. Many schools offer free or reduced fee counseling for students. I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You have suffered years of sexual abuse. I’ve worked with many young adults who’ve been sexually abused and who’ve expressed similar feelings of self-loathing, cutting, eating issues, and emptiness.  Watch the video for more suggestions on how to start healing from your trauma.

Take good care of yourself,

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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The Birds And The Bees: Talking To Your Child about Sex

 

Teaching your child about sex and safe-touch should be an ongoing discussion that starts as early as they are verbal.

1. Start by teaching them about private parts.  Explain the difference between good touch and bad touch. I like to use Your Body Belongs To You! A Coloring & Activities Book .   Tell them that no one has the right to touch their private parts and they can say no and tell someone. RadKids Rules

2. It is normal for pre-school aged children to become interested and fascinated with private parts (theirs and others). Use correct medical language, not nicknames, when discussing private parts.   Answer questions on a level consistent with their developmental age.  (i.e. they don’t need to have anatomy lessons to understand where babies come from, that comes later).   Talk to them about your personal and family values.  If your child exhibits sexual behavior, it’s important to deal with it without making them feel shame or embarrassment. Here’s a resource with more detailed information and explains the difference between normal and concerning behavior. 

3.  With school age children, parents need to be more direct regarding sexual abuse and sex education.  Some of these resources are may be too direct or differ with your values so it’s important to read before sharing them with your child.  The books do not need to be read in entirety you can pick and choose depending on your child’s questions or level of understanding.

What Every Kid Should Know About Sexual Abuse: A Coloring & Activities Book 

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys 

The Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (Jody Bergsma Collection)

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It’s Best to Start Early, but It’s Never Too Late- A Step by Step Guide for Every Age
4.  Explain maturation before the school’s presentation.

Most public schools present information about maturation in fifth grade.  Children are often easily embarrassed at this age, especially boys.  Some of them may find it more helpful to be given a book or pamphlets to read.  However, if you choose this method make sure you have a follow-up discussion with them and are available for questions.  If you are open, non-judgemental and informative it will increase the chances of them coming to you with questions instead of going to their friends. Or maybe I should say coming to you after they have heard incorrect information from their friends.

Puberty for boys: The Boys Body Book: Everything You Need To Know for Group Up You (Boys World Books)

Puberty for girls: The Care and Keeping of You (American Girl) 

The Girl’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You (Girlsworld)

5. Don’t worry about giving your teen too much information about sex education. Most parents error on not providing enough information because they don’t want to “expose” them.  Unfortunately in my practice I see that tweens/teens have already been exposed to it.  Parents need to continue to teach their values in a non-judgemental way, focusing on the benefits of living those values.  Have frank discussions with them about choices and consequences.  Relate it to what their peers are doing, good and bad. I cannot stress the importance of having a strong/bonded relationship prior to having these discussions.

Sex Ed for Teens:

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships

The Sex EDcylopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to Healthy Sexuality, For the Modern, Male Teen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Children’s Books For The Hard Stuff: Anxiety, Divorce, ADHD, Depression…

Children’s Books For The Hard Stuff: Anxiety, Divorce, ADHD, Depression…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most common questions I get as a child therapist is, “What books do you recommend for (fill in the blank)? Here are some of my favorite books for specific issues. If you want to learn more about the books or order a book here is an Amazon list http://www.amazon.com/lm/R36QCME4OWNS7Y/ref=cm_pdp_lm_all_itms

Divorce/ Grief/ Trauma

When Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Illustrator)

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Illustrator)

Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert , Chuck DeKlyen, and Taylor Bills

A Terrible Thing Happened- A Story For Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma by Margaret M. Holmes

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Ask A Therapist: Anger Issues Due To Childhood Abuse

Q: I have acknowledged the fact that I have an anger problem, but I have not been able to find a way to deal with it. When I get angry I scream, curse, and get verbally abusive with the person that I am angry with. I have broken objects by throwing them across the room or by simply breaking them myself. I have injured myself by punching and kicking walls and random objects. Whenever I try to control my anger I feel light-headed, weak and shaky. After my anger passes I feel frustrated because I couldn’t control myself and break down in tears.

I have seen a therapist before for my anger issues and it only helped me for a couple of days before I was my old self again. While in therapy the therapist handed me a paper with a list of questions, one of the questions being; “have you ever been sexually abused?” I answered no, even though I experienced sexual abuse as a child. When I was 7 I started being abused by a close family member, it lasted until I turned 11 1/2 years old (when I started puberty.) I have never told anybody about it because I feel embarrassed and ashamed of the fact that the abuse lasted for so long. I know that the abuse was not my fault but I find myself constantly blaming myself for it because I never told anyone about it. I’m now 21 years old and I am afraid that I will hurt someone due to my anger. The relationships that I have been in before have not lasted long due to my anger and I’m tired of not being in control of my emotions.

I am seeking advice for what I should do to try and resolve my problem. I know that by talking about my abuse with someone I might be able to let the emotions that I have locked inside out, but I know that I will never be able to talk to someone about it due to the embarrassment that I feel. So I’m kind of at an edge here. Any type of advice would be helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Click the arrow below to listen to the therapist’s response…

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*

To find a therapist who can help resolve your abuse issues click Find Help.  Please visit www.malesurvivor.org for more resources to heal from male childhood sexual abuse.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

*This is my first Ask the Therapist AUDIO response. What do you think? Like it, hate it? Let me know your thoughts.

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Ask A Therapist: I Have No Sex Drive & Can’t Keep a Relationship

I was abused as a child, have no sex drive and the one true love has left me (he doesn’t know about my childhood) I want to know if there is any hope for us at all-we never had sex often (twice in a year) he won’t discuss sex as he gets embarrassed and never ever made the 1st move, told me he loves me but not the way a boyfriend should? We both work long hours and shift work, and I have a dog that gets jealous even if we kiss!! but I feel such a failure, and I know we were soul mates, can i get him back? He wont answer my calls, and I was constantly accusing him of having an affair.  I’m absolutely devastated as I feel like I’ve lost the one true love of my life.

A: Click arrow to listen to response from Julie Hanks, LCSW.

Play

Additional childhood abuse resources:
Find a therapist resource
PsychCentral’s Survivors of Abuse Community Forum

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Parents: Do You Know The Sexual Abuse Warning Signs?

Croc Farm_1With the onslaught of media coverage Penn State University has received following the horrendous and and heartbreaking allegations of child abuse I  find myself wondering two things:

  • Where were the other adults on these “outings” and why didn’t anyone step in sooner?
  • How did the parents/guardians/counselors miss the warning signs that something was wrong?

Unfortunately, many of the “red flags” we often associate with child abuse are usually vague and not widely discussed in public.  Many parents and adults are unsure of what they should be aware of when we talk about the red flags.  We can read and write in the media hundreds of stories about child abuse happening but not what to do about how to 1-stop it and 2-know what to look for.

I came across an excellent article on cnn.com a few days ago that I think all parents and adults in general should read.  Because as we know, it only takes one person to cause irreversible damage to a child and it just takes more one person to stop it, recognize it, and send a message that we will not tolerate it anymore.

Most children are abused by someone they know and trust, according to the American Psychological Association. An estimated 60% of perpetrators are known to the child but not family members: family friends, babysitters, child care providers and neighbors.

Read this CNN article for Warning Signs of sexual abuse

 

Creative Commons License photo credit: variationblogr

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