Cherelle Baldwin has been in prison for 21 months for killing her abuser, despite the fact that a Connecticut jury refused to convict her of the crime. [more inside]
"Re-homing" is the largely unregulated practice by which parents of adopted children in the U.S. hand over those children to new families, with little or no government oversight. While some states started cracking down last year, the issue has gained new attention with the story of Arkansas Representative Justin Harris and his wife. They adopted a pair of girls, 3 and 6, who proved more troublesome than they seemed. Harris and his wife gave the girls to a worker in the religious school he owned, who subsequently raped the 6-year-old. The girls' previous foster family has now raised questions about Harris' story. [Previously, a 2013 Reuters investigation: The Child Exchange - Inside America's underground market for adopted children] [more inside]
“You feel the pressure. You have to make those targets,” said a former worker whose name, due to a signed nondisclosure with Mentor, could not be used. “I went there because I care about services for kids. I eventually became a machine that cared about profits. I didn’t care about kids.” (SL Buzzfeed News Investigation. trigger warning: descriptions of sexual abuse and assault against children)
Adam Crapser was adopted from Korea to abusive parents who were arrested on multiple counts of child abuse and rape. Over thirty years later, one last sting of neglect from his parents came back to bite him: he has been served deportation papers because his adoptive parents failed to complete his naturalization process.
Today at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Zoe Quinn [previously] and other female game developers spoke out about online harassment and how to fight back. Quinn expressed her disappointment with the lack of action on the part of the game industry and also announced a new partnership between her Crash Override anti-harassment network and Randi Harper [previously] of GG Autoblocker fame, a new anti-harrassment non-profit organization called the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.
"In an essay in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes that the relationship of adults to their abusive parents 'gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature.' But Rochelle is not alone. I have been hearing from people in her position for years, adult children weighing whether to reconnect with parents who nearly ruined their lives. Sometimes it's a letter writer such as 'Comfortably Numb' who has cut off contact with a parent but is now being pressured by family members, and even a spouse, to reconcile and forgive. Sometimes a correspondent, like 'Her Son,' has hung on to a thread of a relationship, but is now fearful of being further yoked emotionally or financially to a declining parent." [SLSlate] (Trigger warning for descriptions of abuse.)
Extracts of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's Guantanamo diary are read by Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and others as part of the Guardian's Guantanamo Diary series. Previously on Metafilter. [more inside]
August Never Ends -- by Zoe Quinn: The machinations of online abuse aren't going away - we need to talk about it.
It’s a head splitting cognitive dissonance to be fielding requests for help from friends who have just gotten swatted at the same time as giving someone else numbers on the harassment and abuse perpetrated by GamerGate because someone he’s talking to thinks it’s over and never had a big impact on people in the first place. This entire week has been spent putting out fires started by scriptkiddies and adults who should know better but are too empty to care about their victims. I’ve been trying to take a day to just be a regular person, recenter myself, and have the energy to get back to work with the same enthusiasm I tend to have, but every attempt gets cut short by some fresh, new, horrible news about someone trying to get into my accounts, a new asinine conspiracy theory being used as an excuse to dox people I went to high school with, friends freaking out because anonymous message board people are talking about how to mail them bombs, or just another death threat. At least the death threats have become somewhat routine.
Why were people sitting on other people's faces outside the UK parliament recently? A variety of specific sexual acts were banned from UK-filmed online porn videos under the 2014 Audiovisual Media Services Regulation, which came into effect this month. Protesters say some acts that show women enjoying sex are now banned while similar restrictions do not apply to men. [more inside]
In the wake of accusations that Lena Dunham sexually abused her sister (who denies the allegations) The Daily Beast looks at Dunham as an icon of feminism and whether that role means she receives less criticism. [more inside]
[Trigger warning] 10 Things No One Ever Told You About Life After Sexual Abuse by Dr Nina Burrowes (Buzzfeed). Illustrations by Nina Burrowes, Katie Green, and Jade Sarson.
The closest a film has ever come to adapting King’s internal-horror aesthetic is a film King himself has publicly lambasted: Kubrick’s version of The Shining. It’s the most artful, scary, and beautifully directed of the King adaptations, and even excludes some of the novel’s more overt (and potentially silly) visual elements, such as the hedge animals that come to life and stalk the family in the yard. Yet, the film never tackles the serious human horrors that infect Jack Torrance throughout the novel, specifically his alcoholism, along with the themes of cyclical abuse and mounting financial pressure. King’s criticism of the film is that Torrance, as played by Jack Nicholson, is portrayed as unhinged right from the start, whereas the novel slowly unravels the man’s sanity, the haunted house he occupies pushing him deeper into madness and violence. [more inside]
"But having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive too. I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past."Monica Lewinsky gives her first major public speech to speak out against online abuse. Full transcript here.
Arlena Lindley’s boyfriend Alonzo Turner beat her for months and murdered her child — so why was she sent to prison for 45 years? "...looking back over the past decade, BuzzFeed News identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children. In every one of these cases, there was evidence the mother herself had been battered by the man." [article contains graphic descriptions of abuse]
In 1997, Smith retired from the police force. He needed a job to help cover his two daughters' college expenses, so he signed up as an investigator in the Broward County Public Defender's Office. He had little idea that he'd end up a key player in a bold experiment in criminal justice, one that aims to give tens of thousands of people who can't afford lawyers a fighting chance in a system stacked against them. It's an effort that suggests new ways for court-appointed attorneys to get at the truth, despite their insane caseloads. And a big part of it is getting former cops to police the police.
Staten Island’s Pill Problem: [The New Yorker] "New York City is the heroin capital of the country, and the epidemic has hit its most tranquil borough the hardest."
"These probationers aren’t just paying a court-ordered fine; they’re typically paying an ever-growing share of the court’s administrative expenses, as well as a separate fee to the for-profit company that supervises their probation and enforces a payment schedule—a consolidated weekly or monthly set of charges divided between the court and the company. The system is known as 'offender-funded' justice. But legal challenges to it are mounting, amid concerns about abuse, corruption, and the use of state penalties to collect private profits. In a wide range of cases, offender-funded justice may not result in justice at all." Get Out of Jail, Inc.
When the Bough Breaks. "Children often can’t tell detectives what happened to them. But their injuries always tell a story. The essence of a child abuse investigation is determining the plausibility of an adult’s story, given the child’s condition. Could the child have sustained the injuries by falling off a bed, tumbling down stairs, or any number of accidents that parents routinely describe? Or does the story fail to account for the injuries?" A profile of Sergeant Brenda Nichols, the head of the Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Squad, and one of her cases. (SFW, but the article contains graphic descriptions of child abuse that some readers may find disturbing.)
Studies show that abused or neglected children placed in foster care face lifelong challenges greater than children who remain with their families.
Sarah’s abuser gained access to every password she had. He monitored her bank accounts and used her phone to track her location and read her conversations. She endured four years of regular physical and emotional trauma enabled by meticulous digital surveillance and the existing support services, from shelters to police, were almost powerless to help her. “We wish we could just stop the clock because we need to catch up,” said Risa Mednick, director of the Cambridge domestic violence prevention organization Transition House. To fight back, Transition House and others turn to the same methods used by intelligence agencies in order to keep their clients safe.
Whether it's the constant fretting over Miley Cyrus' influence on school girls or the growing (and troubling) tradition of Purity Balls, it's clear that society has a fascination with young women's sexuality — especially when it comes to controlling it. But what are we actually teaching today's girls about sex? Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there seem to be certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won't die. That sex education in America has gaping holes in its curriculum hasn't helped much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools' sex ed program included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is "done to them." Knowledge is power, and we can promote a healthier relationship with sex by encouraging a more open dialogue, teaching girls to feel comfortable with their sexuality and, most importantly, emphasizing that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. [more inside]
"After Florida cut down on protections for children in troubled homes, deaths soared. The children died in ways cruel, outlandish, predictable and preventable." [more inside]
From January 1, 1900, to June 30, 2011, Florida School for Boys (aka Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys) was operated by the State of Florida as a reform school for boys ranging in the age from 8 to 21, in the panhandle town of Marianna. With a notorious reputation for inflicting severe abuses(pdf) on its minor inmates, including beatings, rape, torture and even murder, going back a century, Florida authorized archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of South Florida to conduct an investigation of the school's graveyard. Last month, after a several month long excavation, researchers and forensic anthropologists have announced the discovery of remains adding up to 55 people on school grounds, five more than previously known, and 24 more than listed in school records. [more inside]
Qatar has proposed a bold vision of its future in 2022, but at what cost? In September 2013, the Guardian reported that up to 4,000 migrant workers would die during the construction process for Qatar's staging of the football World Cup in 2022. The Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee, an advocacy group representing Nepalese and South Asian migrant workers, estimates that 400 Nepalese have died on Qatari construction sites since 2010. Nepalese make up around 20% of the migrant workforce. In the past two years 450 Indian workers have died on construction sites. [more inside]
Here is a 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning article about the death of Playboy Playmate and rising star Dorothy Stratten.
Controversy about Woody Allen is in the news again due to an open letter by Dylan Farrow, who explicitly details sexual abuse allegedly committed by Allen when Farrow was seven. The letter appeared shortly after Allen was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, prompting the old question, is it possible to separate the person from the art and if so, how?
"One night in August 2004, I awoke to a man and a woman in my room whom I had never seen before telling me that they were "escorts" and we were going to a place called "wilderness."...There is a legal process where parents can sign over custody of kids who need residential care, which makes sense, because if a kid has to be housed in a mental health facility, the staff needs to be able to make all of the day-to-day decisions for her care. But that same process works for "unruly" teens like me, which meant the company that ran my camp had total legal control over where I went and what I did." --Cracked.com takes on the Tough Love for Troubled Teen camps that, mostly unregulated, are "treating" more and more children every year. [more inside]
Words, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism: "There was a time in my life where I took pride in being a 'social justice warrior' on Reddit, ticking the boxes of others' mistakes, missteps, and misspoken words, cruelly scolding people, looking for those who were 'doing it wrong' as a means of validating my own sense of integrity as an activist, as if each person I roasted would be a talisman against the same thing happening to me ever again. It was only when I discovered that I had made someone cry for hours that I took a long step back and asked myself if I was really making the world a better place by doing this." [more inside]
Mothers in law have long been a focal point of Indian society. With the modernization of Indian culture, their roles are changing for better and for worse.
When Bill de Blasio takes the oath of office on Wednesday to become New York City's mayor, one of the first things on his agenda will be the fight to ban horse drawn carriages in Central Park. [more inside]
"I once believed that that flutter came from the flapping of butterflies’ wings, but I have since learned that it came from a grown man fanning the flames of a young girl’s vulnerability...they engulfed trust and then incinerated innocence. They left scar tissue on my memory and cinders of my late childhood...I could gather those remains just as I once gathered lies in a jar, and I have learned to spread the ashes along wherever I go, so that I won’t have to rummage through debris."
So He Drew This Instead. (TW: child abuse)
From the Dallas Morning News, an 8-part profile of Lauren Kavanaugh, who was kept in a closet for six years before being rescued at age 8 weighing 26 lbs, and of the remarkable people and recovery that has followed. [Warning: this story and the accompanying photos and videos are immensely hard to read, watch and listen to, and this piece is a trigger for every possible kind of abuse.]
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper published a special project recently: The Stolen Ones investigates the local child sex trafficking industry, and documents stories from survivors and their families. (SFW, but some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
The first postcard on today's Postsecret is disturbing. (TW: murder, abuse) The text reads "I told everyone that she dumped me, but I dumped her (body)", along with a picture taken from Google Maps. It was determined that the location was likely Wooded Island in Chicago, IL. A search was made, though nothing was found. However, as a commenter on Dianna E. Anderson's blog posting about this points out, the postmark reads 2008. Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret has said he didn't go to the police, and instead sees this as a free-speech issue. [more inside]
As his wife, how do I respond? That he survived? That he’s brave? That he’s a hero for letting me talk about it? That I will stand beside him with a personal mission and public vow that nobody will ever hurt him, physically or emotionally, again, the way they did during his 30 months as a choirboy from 1988 to 1990?
Spoon in underwear saving youths from forced marriage. "As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims of forced marriage, one campaigning group says the trick of putting a spoon in their underwear has saved some youngsters from a forced union in their South Asian ancestral homelands." [more inside]
Raised by two drug addicts with virtually unlimited wealth, Georgia and Patterson survived a gilded childhood that was also a horror story of Dickensian neglect and abuse. They were globe-trotting trust-fund babies who snorkeled in Fiji, owned a pet lion cub and considered it normal to bring loose diamonds to elementary school for show and tell. And yet they also spent their childhoods inhaling freebase fumes, locked in cellars and deadbolted into their bedrooms at night in the secluded Wyoming mountains and on their ancestral South Carolina plantation. While their father spent millions on drug binges and extravagances, the children lived like terrified prisoners, kept at bay by a revolving door of some four dozen nannies and caregivers, underfed, undereducated, scarcely noticed except as objects of wrath.
The Janoskians are a group of five YouTube comedians from Melbourne, Australia renowned for their cringeworthy pranks on unsuspecting members of the public. Formed in 2010, the group now attracts rock-star welcomes from hordes of screaming fans when it tours across the world and has signed deals with Sony and MTV. [more inside]
Phil Fish, the volatile and sometimes controversial developer of indie game Fez, has abruptly announced its cancellation: "this is as much as i can stomach. this is isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign. you win." Though this follows in the wake of a popular podcast's host calling him a "tosspot", a "wanker", and a "fucking asshole", Fish has been the subject of massive Internet antagonism ever since his appearance in Indie Game: The Movie; he's been hounded for saying that Japanese games suck, though he claimed the comment was taken out of context, for Tweeting that "PCs are for spreadsheets" prior to Fez's PC release, and for not patching a save-corrupting bug that he claims Microsoft was charging him "tens of thousands of dollars". Fish has often responded poorly to critics in public, but Jonathan Blow (The Witness, Braid) and C418 (Minecraft) each claim that Fish has been at the receiving end of far worse, and far more frequent, vitriol.
When Nada Al-Ahdal discovered that her parents had sold her she ran away. She is 11 years old, and this is her message. [more inside]
"In reality, it's surprisingly hard to stop someone who really wants to murder you, especially if he has easy access to a gun. Restraining orders don't create a magic force field around the victim. Shelters help, but they are underfunded and depend on the victim giving up substantial rights to hold a job (which gives the abuser the ability to find you), have a social life, or even speak to family members," writes Amanda Marcotte, before summarising a Domestic Violence High Risk Team model of monitoring and escalating controls on the abuser, not the abused. Plus, the approach appears to be making a difference. [more inside]
Many of America's biggest corporations rely on temp workers to make up an ever increasing portion of their work force. This has led to a boom in the temp agency industry and a sharp decline in temp workers' quality of life.
Mau Mau to Midnapore: Confronting the brutality of empire There are certainly some Britons, including academics, journalists and human rights lawyers, who are aware of the realities of colonialism. However, in the society as a whole and in the media in the UK there are still far too many who seem strangely reluctant, even after so many decades after the end of the British empire, to come to terms with the true nature of colonialism or learn from the perspective of former subjects who had rebelled against it.
When your abuser or estranged relative dies - funerals, obituaries, & condolences. This is a practical, thoughtful and informative website created by two Christian women who are knowledgeable about dealing with pathological narcissists and sociopaths within a family context, in particular the topic of "Silent Partners". [more inside]