Tag Archives: child abuse

Penn State: Why did no one do anything?

In the wake of the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal, a wave of moral outrage and second guessing has washed across the United States. Somebody should have done SOMETHING! Why didn’t they?!

When the heads began to roll, however, and a beloved coach was revealed to be one of the “somebodies” who should have done something, many ran to his defense and sought to proclaim his valor. Their lack of knowledge about the details and circumstances not withstanding, they sought to protect their beloved hero at all cost. HE was the victim in their eyes.

That wave has now crashed upon the beach, and the prevailing concern has shifted. Now we are all wondering, how did this venerable institution fail to protect young people from abuse?

I do not profess any specific knowledge of the details myself, but I have seen the pattern many times before. The Penn State debacle demonstrates a very predictable pattern of human behavior.

In the Penn State case, as well as that of the Catholic Church failing to protect victims from predatory priests, denial and ignorance of the truth led to victims being left in danger. Instead of protecting victims, efforts were made to protect the institutions from the repercussions of an abuse scandal.

Why is it that we build institutions that should protect as well as serve us, yet when they fail in their protective capacities, we seek to protect the institution, not the actual victims?

One word. FEAR.

When we see a neighbor ruthlessly punishing a child, what is our first thought? Do we rush to the child’s aid? Do we call the police?

If we see a relative whipping a puppy mercilessly for pooping on the carpet, do we report him to animal control?

Some may answer yes to these questions. Most would not. Because our thought processes would probably be more like this: “If I report this, will he retaliate against me? Will the rest of the neighborhood get mad at me? Will my family be upset about my report?”

Just like the beloved coach and his superiors, we are likely to try to handle abuse situations ourselves rather than face the repercussions of reporting. We fear the fallout from getting involved more than we fear the dangers present if we do nothing.

Part of the reason this human behavior pattern exists is because sexual abuse is still a topic that we want to avoid. It is so uncomfortable to think about the topic, we resist gaining more awareness about it. Yet it is a very insidious problem in our society. And its victims cannot view life without thinking about the trauma that pervades their lives.

It is not just wealthy coaches and educational administrators who avoid the issue. It is all of us.

Let’s change that.  Now.

Learn about child sexual abuse. There are numerous resources available on the internet. One good resource is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.


Profiles of Hope: The Empty Collar

cat-collar-wood-doorThis is the first in the Okey’s Profiles of Hope series, which highlights anonymous stories of courage and hope related to the issues of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. This story was sent to me via a follower on Facebook.

I have always known that people that abuse and neglect animals are often abused or neglected themselves, and people who are heartless are raising these children, and the children are becoming heartless.

Sadly, I get to see this up close and personally every day where I go to care of a colony of cats in a very bad neighborhood in Worcester, MA. The adults throw rocks at us. The children throw rocks at the cats. The children have killed kittens. The adults do not care. The adults think nothing of getting rid of a pet when they feel like it. They do not watch over and protect their children either.

Just yesterday as I was taking yet another dead cat from the shed and removing its collar to place on the shed door as a reminder, a woman was screaming and swearing at her child from one of the apartment buildings nearby. There is such anger and hatred surrounding these children. They take it out on the cats and they will grow older and start taking it out on people.

It starts in the home. If there is no kindness, love and positive role models in the home, there is no hope for the children or the animals. There is no hope for the future.


From BZTAT: But there is hope. This writer is intervening with the cats, and making a difference. And Okey’s Promise Keepers are helping to get the word out that we need to look at the WHOLE problem – children, animals, AND emotionally wounded parents.

It does start with the children. How can we make a difference to help them see that an animal is a life worth respecting, and an empty collar is something we never want to see?

The empty collar reminds us all that there is a lot of work to be done to change hearts and minds, but it is a goal worth seeking.


Would you like to submit an Okey’s Profiles of Hope story? Contact BZTAT to learn how.


Interesting facts about pet abuse and domestic violence connections

I am not a researcher or statistician. I am an artist and a trauma counselor with some real life experience. And I am a decent web surfer. I have seen enough evidence to convince me how important it is to address animal abuse and domestic violence simultaneously. But to gather information to convince others is a bigger challenge.

Luckily, a number of groups have been working on the issue for quite awhile, and they have amassed an impressive cache of information.

The American Humane Association is one group that has been working on this for many years. I found a treasure trove of information on their site. I hope you will go there and learn more. Here is a sample of information I found on one of their fact sheets:

Did You Know?

  • More American households have pets than have children. We spend more money on pet food than on baby food. There are more dogs in the U.S. than people in most countries in Europe – and more cats than dogs. [13]
  • A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father. [14]
  • Pets live most frequently in homes with children: 64.1% of homes with children under age 6, and 74.8% of homes with children over age 6, have pets. The woman is the primary caregiver in 72.8% of pet-owning households. [11
  • Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house. [15]

I didn’t know some of that myself. It is somewhat sad and surprising to me that more children have pets than live-at-home fathers. I am glad to know that pets are available to fill emotional needs, but it is also unfortunate that society tends to disregard the importance of the role the pets play when we intervene with those in dangerous situations.

My hope is that Okey’s Promise can help shine more light on the great work that has been going on for some time to reveal this important issue.

As an artist and a counselor, I feel that I have some unique insights and talents that can bring some new attention to the concerns. But I am truly just a small part of Okey’s Promise. Okey’s Promise is a movement and a cause, and it’s biggest asset will be the people who join in and spread the word. YOU are the most important part of Okey’s Promise.

Please share the video, share the message, support with a pledge, or share the message any way that you can. Be one of Okey’s Promise Keepers. Let’s keep Okey’s Promise alive by doing better for society’s children, domestic violence victims, AND creatures.


Wanna pledge your support to Okey’s Promise? Every little bit helps! Make your pledge here, and/or grab the widget to put on your website. Thanks for your support!

Violence hurts. Any kind and to any degree. To people and to animals.

I was interviewed on TPPCtv’s “Pets Teach Us So Much” blog talk radio show last Friday (follow the link to listen to the show). Robbie Everitt, one of the hosts asked me about serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer who are known to have started their killing sprees by harming animals.

I told her, yes, Dahmer was known to have tortured animals, and other mass murderers were known to have harmed animals. But it is not only the most extreme serial killers about whom we should be concerned. It is those people who are committing domestic violence regularly in their homes of whom we should be most concerned, as their actions are not as rare.

With information spilling out every day about the recent mass murder in Tucson, AZ and the alleged mass murderer, our fascination with the most extreme of human violence has again reached a fevered pitch. When someone does something so horrible and so dramatic as the Tuscon shooting, we cannot help but be intrigued.

There is still very little known about Jared Loughner, the alleged Tuscon killer. In regards to his relationship with animals, he reportedly enjoyed having his own pet dog, yet was relieved of his dog walking duties at a local animal shelter where he volunteered. According to news reports, he refused to stop walking dogs in an area that was contaminated with the parvovirus, a highly contagious and deadly disease for dogs.

I don’t know if that behavior puts Loughner in the category of what we would call an animal abuser. Certainly he was a troubled young man on many fronts.

But as attention grabbing as the headlines maybe of one person killing six and injuring 14 people, Loughner’s is not the only story of a troubled soul causing harm to others that has played out this week. As tragic as 9 year old Christina Green’s senseless death was, many other children have experienced violence over the past week–in their homes and in their communities. Their stories are going untold.

Yes, Jeffrey Dahmer and Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the DC Snipers, were known to have harmed animals in the lead up to their more serious crimes of serial murder. But these are the extremes that luckily, do not happen very frequently. Sadly, there are folks who are seemingly everyday people, possibly your neighbor or colleague, who DO perpetrate violence daily to animals, to children, to spouses and to romantic partners.

Their behaviors should be every bit as alarming as Loughner, Dahmer and Boyd.

When a person harms an animal, there is a strong likelihood that he or she will also harm defenseless human beings. In rare cases, that person may become a serial killer or mass murderer. In less rare cases, that person may become someone who causes severe emotional and physical pain to his/her family and loved ones. Both are serious, and both deserve our attention.

Will you help me get that message out there? Will you help me tell the stories that are going untold?

Certainly, we want to prevent troubled individuals from becoming mass murderers. But preventing animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence are primary concerns as well.


Please let me know if you know of a story that you would like to share of a child or other person who has been touched by violence, and whose story involves a connection between animal abuse and human interpersonal violence. I will be happy to share the story, and omit any identifying information at your request.