Monday, July 20, 2015

What The Cosby Revelations Teach Us About Facade and Abuse

I will not post a photo of him - you know who he is and what he looks like. Instead, I post a photo of me: 2 years old, 5 years before my own sexual abuse at the hands of a man everyone thought was the greatest guy. SHE deserves the spotlight...not he. Cosby hasn't been accused of child sexual abuse, but the lessons from what he has been accused of, juxtaposed with his image, are vital to those seeking to prevent CSA.
I was once a Cosby fan; my husband and I were loyal viewers of The Cosby Show, laughing til we couldn't breathe, musing at his seeming parental and marital wisdom, admiring of his educational achievements and his philanthropy. Needless to say, those days are over.
It's hard to miss the revelations of late: Cosby, in his own words, explaining his behaviors and thought processes regarding his extra-marital sexual conquests. After years of public denials, the assertions of his accusers seem validated. Sobering, to say the least, to any who held out hope that the Cosby they had adored was true to the projected image.
For me, as a child sex abuse prevention educator, the revelations are not a surprise - particularly regarding the dissonance between image and reality - and are a teachable moment, one I have repeated many times throughout my career: the person you are so sure you know, the man/woman who would NEVER do such a thing, is beyond reproach, trusted, perhaps revered, even loved, can, in fact, be an abuser. When it comes to child sexual abuse, 90% of children abused are abused by someone the family knows and trusts. Statistics repeatedly bear this out. "Stranger danger" can happen, but it is the statistical minority. Adults and caregivers, policy-makers in the lives of children need to understand and accept this in order to create sufficient protections.
Additionally, when children disclose abuse, 95.5% of them are telling the truth. When a child discloses to you, he/she is taking a huge risk: most never tell. Fears of not being believed (especially in the face of naming someone everyone, including the child, believed was wonderful), fears of repercussions, being isolated, a major life upheaval, all come into play. When a child discloses to you, they are trusting you. Honor that trust. Be calm, listen thoughtfully, don't ask leading questions and, most important of all, BELIEVE him or her and say so. Even if your insides are screaming; even if your mind is saying "this can't be true;" even if you're thinking your life will fall apart (if the accused is a spouse, partner, parent, grandparent or other relative). BELIEVE. Then...REPORT. You can fall apart afterward - to a trusted friend, partner, therapist - but in the moment of disclosure you need to be there 100% for this child. Your support and calm will never be lost on him/her.
It is not your job to investigate. It is your job to take what this child has said and report it to child protective services (or call 911 if the child is in imminent danger - perhaps the abuser is coming to pick them up from your school or program). It is then in the hands of professionals trained to move forward.
Do your part: turn intention into action and help a child who is reaching out. Believe their words, not the facade you cannot bear to part with. It is a dissonance, for sure, but as more community adults become versed in how child sex abuse happens and what it takes to resolve it, support for that devastating awareness will burgeon. Heed the may make all the difference in the life of a child you know.
For more information on child sexual abuse statistics and prevention, visit Darkness To Light.

"Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling" is available for purchase at Amazon, Trafford Publishing and directly from me at

Friday, May 29, 2015

Prevent Abuse and React Responsibly

Child sexual abuse lurks in so many places. Please...put policies in place in your lives that protect children and believe, believe, believe them when, if, they disclose abuse or tell you they do not like a particular person. Give your children the voice they deserve.
You can learn more about turning your good intentions for children into action: take Darkness To Light's Stewards of Children abuse prevention training for adults, live or online.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Moment With Charles Grodin

Reflecting during this Child Abuse Prevention Month, several themes from my own life have come to mind. Today I share with you a "light" memory - "light" in the sense that while an otherwise "heavy" lifelong theme, intimidation, is the basis for the event I write about, the concomitant behavior, and the response to it, have a humorous edge, one that makes me smile even today. And a very familiar talent graces the anecdote :)
I hope you enjoy...

Driving recently, listening to WCBS talk radio out of New York, I heard the spot of regular contributor, actor/author Charles Grodin. Typically less than a minute long, Grodin’s comments cover a wide range of topics, all thoughtful musings delivered in his unique way. I can’t say I’ve always agreed with the positions he’s proffered, but I’ve always taken the time to turn up the volume and listen. Just hearing his voice evokes a smile – no matter the topic – and calls up a moment in my memory, from almost 20 years ago, a moment a dear friend of mine once proclaimed was "your moment with Charles Grodin!"

Back then I was working at Klein's of Westport, a now-defunct store that, for years, had been a fixture on Main Street in the upscale Connecticut town. Klein's sold many things - office supplies, and stationery among them. It was also home to (prior to the burgeoning of Barnes and Noble and Amazon) a vital, well-respected book department. I’d had enough of my accounting career and so pursued, then accepted, an offer from the store’s book department manager for a job.

I loved it at Klein’s. Smack dab in the middle of Westport, with a grand window view of the bustling street, the environment was just the change I'd needed from my accounting life. There was the occasional off day, but overall working at the store was a welcome experience - a relief. I felt my emotional load lighten dramatically.

Part of the fun of working at the store was the parade of celebrity clientele. Donna Summer, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Connick, Jr., Linda Blair, Patty Hearst, Jose Feliciano (he'd jokingly asked for a copy of Playboy - in Braille) among them. Early one evening, Keith Richards came strolling in. Apparently, he'd parked behind the store and was cutting through, making his way to Main Street. Everything came to a standstill when we realized the rock icon was in our midst. He looked exactly like photos I'd seen over the years, every hard-living line etched on his evocative face. That was a cool moment.

Then there was Mr. Grodin. I’d seen him in the store once or twice and I’d taken note. He was much taller than I ever would have guessed (Wikipedia says he’s 6 feet tall). He’d thoughtfully meander through the books, often intensely examining an item or two. Once, he’d inquired of a co-worker about a particular title; when he left, she’d asked me to check its availability as she was leaving for the day. I did. When I discovered the book was no longer in print, I called the number she’d given me to let him know.

“Mr. Grodin?”
“Who’s this?”
“Hi, Mr. Grodin. This is Susan at Klein’s book department. I’m getting back to you about [can’t remember the title of the book]. I wanted to let you know it’s out of print. I'm sorry, but we cannot get it.”
“Okay. Well, thanks.”
“We just wanted to get back to you as soon as we could.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Thank you. Bye.”

So, even before "my moment" happened, Mr. G. and I had conversed. I'd managed my nerves. I'd handled it well: business-like, respectful. At times in my life, intimidation had gotten the better of me. Not this time. I’d gotten the job done.

So when he sauntered in one day and brought several books to the register for purchase, I should have been ready for him. Really. And I wasn't even the one doing the ringing, which would have required conversation - my co-worker was. My job was solely to gift wrap the books. No conversation necessary, just wrap.

There were a lot of books. When my co-worker was done ringing, I was still wrapping. Co-worker moved on to next customer. I kept wrapping. And the entire time I was wrapping, I wouldn't look up at him. I was shy. So self-conscious. Intimidation had smacked me over the head! I knew he was still standing right there in front of me, but I just could not bring myself to look up. At all. Even between books. Mr. G. said nary a word. I kept wrapping. Looking down and wrapping.

When I finally finished and I knew I had no choice but to look up at him, I did. And there he was, Charles Grodin, looking me straight in the eyes, with a Cheshire cat grin spread wide across his face. He knew I had to look eventually...and this was that moment! Seeing his grin and the glint in his eye, I just could not keep from letting out a laugh. And a “thank you.”

In Memory and In Honor

Thinking of all those affected by events one year ago today in Boston. Stay . We remember and support you.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Little Bit of Wisdom...

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Psychology Magazine defines "resilience" this way: "Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever." Yep...with an intact heart and a much clearer lens.
Grateful for all good things...time to make it a great day. Hope yours is great, as well.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Have NOT Authorized Any PDF Downloads Of "Kisses From Dolce"

It has just come to my attention that a website, calling itself Qwedbooks, is offering, for a fee, pdf downloads of my book and others. I cannot speak for any other author, but I have NOT authorized anyone other than Amazon to sell my book. The Qwedbooks website, which has a root address at, requests credit card information from anyone seeking to access my book - do not give them any of your personal or financial info. My attorneys are taking care of this on my end; I feel it necessary to warn you all about this scam.
Thank you.