Child Abuse


Warning: This song may be triggering, as it discusses domestic violence from a child’s perspective, and the video contains images of abuse.

“Oh Mother” is a powerful firsthand account of abuse and survival–that has really touched my heart. This is a song for battered women and protective moms from a child who has survived, and grown into an amazing woman. That child is the talented Christina Aguilera, now a mother herself.

The lyrics are haunting….
“She was so sick of believing the lies and trying to hide
Covering the cuts and bruises (cuts and bruises)
So tired of defending her life, she could have died
Fighting for the lives of her children..”

“Oh Mother” is a powerful piano ballad sung by Christina Aguilera (featured on her 5th album, “Back to Basics”, 2006). “Oh Mother” describes Christina’s childhood, growing up in a home where domestic violence was present.

Christina says, “Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world… I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from.” (Thompson, DailyMail)

Christina say that of her violent father made her family’s life “hell” and that he physically and emotionally abused her. The father denies all allegations of abuse.

Christina’s mother fled the home with Christina and her sister, taking them to live with her grandma. Christina’s parents divorced when she was 7 years old.

Christina has expressed that there is too much secrecy about domestic violence; “Oh Mother” has certainly raised awareness about abuse and the effects of violence on children. Christina dedicated this song to her mother. The video ends with a sign lit up that reads,”I Love you, Mom”.

Source: “Christina Aguilera talks about childhood hell at the hands of her violent father” by Paul Thompson, MailOnline. Spet. 23, 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1215346/Christina-Aguilera-talks-childhood-hell-hands-violent-father.html

Wikipedia: “Oh Mother”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Mother

As many as 10 million children per year witness or are caught in the middle of domestic violence. Domestic violence, and the resulting trauma, has a profound effect on a child’s physical, emotional, behavioral and social health. Children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence commonly suffer from: anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, nightmares, flashbacks and feelings of guilt/remorse.

A relationship with a stable, caring adult is one of the most important factors in a child’s recovery from abuse or trauma, and can help to break the cycle of violence.

Some tips on how you can best support an abused child, and be a positive role model :

*** If you are working as a mentor, “Big Brother/Sister”, peer support, spiritual support, advocate or family/friend to this child, be consistent in scheduling regular visits. Don’t over commit your time then miss a visit. Don’t schedule a large number of visits then decrease the visits unexpectedly. Consistency is crucial to a child’s sense of safety—so schedule visits on a regular basis that is realistic to what you can offer, and what your time/energy allows for. Then put those visits on a calendar so the child knows what to expect, and can plan for your visit.

*** Working with an abused child can be triggering, exhausting or very emotional for the support person—so make sure you are caring for your own physical and emotional needs. This may involve a “check-in” with your supervisor. Or taking classes or attending support groups with the organization you are working for. Or it may involve self-care such as taking a walk/exercise, listening to music, reading, enjoying a hobby etc. If you feel the need to talk about your day, keep the privacy of those you are working with—do not reveal their real name or sensitive personal information about their case or family situation. If there is an urgent issue, go to a supervisor for help, if there is no supervisor you may consider calling a domestic violence shelter for advice or calling 911 in an emergency or if you feel the child’s life is in danger.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline for victims is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or http://www.thehotline.org. Information about local is also available through the hotline.
NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Crisis Counselors Available 24/7 or http://www.childhelp.org/

*** Use community resources as needed, this may include children’s support groups for victims of abuse, parenting classes, religious/spiritual support, food shelves, housing support, case management etc.
A good place to find resources is United Way 211: http://www.211.org/

*** Creating a welcoming, child-friendly environment will reduce anxiety and help foster trust. This may include offering toys, books or games (that are non-violent). Opening a window to allow sunlight in the room. Including pets in the visit. Greeting the child in a way that is comfortable to them—soft voice, smile, avoiding direct eye contact, calling them by a preferred nickname etc (you will learn these over time, as your relationship grows). Or being sensitive to cultural needs. Be consistent in your routine. Allow the child choices. And be open to trying new things, in a creative way.

*** Listen with an open, neutral ear. Refrain from judgment, shame or blame. Be open to hearing the child’s unique way of expressing themselves– their voice may not come out in a direct conversation but may be revealed in a game, in playing with toys, relating to a song or art/drawing a picture etc.

*** Domestic violence and trauma can affect a child’s mood, behavior and ability to socialize. If needed, develop a “safety plan” with the child, their parent(s) and therapist to address behavioral problems if they arise. Work with parent(s) and care providers to become aware of the child’s emotional or behavioral issues, their triggers so you can better meet the child’s needs.

*** “Kids Helping Kids: A Guide for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence” by Mental Health Programs, BC Children’s Hospital is a valuable resource and support for kids, parent(s) and caregivers.
“Kids Helping Kids” offers testimonies about domestic violence told by children in stories and pictures, which validates to children that they are not alone, and the feelings they have are okay.
“Kids Helping Kids” offers tips on how to support abused children, and gives general advise on commonly available community resources. It also offers child-friendly tips on how to talk to children about their feelings and the changes happening in their family.
I highly recommend “Kids Helping Kids” – it’s written in child-friendly manner to educate children about abuse and help prepare them to cope with the trauma, and the changes occurring in their family (which may include out of home placement or court involvement).

Any more tips? Please share your thoughts, resources or links in the comments box!

For More Information and Tips:

“Helping Children Exposed to Domestic Violence”. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “Facts for Families Pages”, #109, April 2013: http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Helping_Children_Exposed_to_Domestic_Violence_109.aspx

“Honor Our Voices: A for Practice When Responding to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence.” Presented by MINCAVA, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and Avon Foundation for Women: http://www.honorourvoices.org/docs/GuideforPractice.pdf

“How Can I Help a Child Exposed to Domestic Violence?”. National Online Resources Center on Violence Against Women, Casey Keene, 1/2/2013: http://www.vawnet.org/news/2013/01/child_exposed/

“Kids Helping Kids: A Guide for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence” by Mental Health Programs, BC Children’s Hospital:
http://bcsth.ca/sites/default/files/Kids%20Helping%20Kids.pdf

Talking to a “Protective Mother” Who Lost Custody of Children
Due to an Unjust Court Ruling: 10 Comments to Avoid & Why

PART TWO COMMENTS #5-1

These tips are for family, friends, community supports, professionals and others who are in a position to help or support a “Protective Mother”. It is devastating for a Mother to lose custody of her children—especially in a family court proceeding where she may feel victimized, violated and abused (and there no recourse for justice). Those closest to the Mother often struggle with what to say or how to help. Sometimes comments made to help actually hurt the Mother. Other times, those making comments struggle with their own emotions and/or grief and their actions and behavior causes hurt or harm because they are also struggling or don’t know what to say. Some just don’t believe that a court of law would make a mistake, and believe the Mother must have done something wrong to lose custody. These 10 Comments are commonly reported among Protective Mothers to be hurtful, and traumatic. I am sharing these comments to raise awareness, and offer tips on how to better offer emotional support to Protective Mothers.

grief

5. Don’t tell a Mother how you want to hurt or get revenge on the ex. And don’t vent or dump anger, hatred or plotting revenge onto the Mother. This happens when a Mother tells her story and there is a strong reaction that involves harming the ex or fantasies of getting back at him.
The Reality: Holding in hurt, anger, hopelessness and other feelings intensifies those feels, and will ultimately cause more hurt and pain in your life—or that of someone else if you lash out. Words and actions to hurt or get revenge on an ex will negatively impact the custody case of the Protective Mother, and may cause her to be punished by the Court—even if she did not commit any crime or wrongdoing.
I heard a lot of anger towards my ex after I lost custody of my children; it made me afraid of talking about my situation because I felt I had to take care of and protect my friends and family members from the bad news. As a result I felt alone. Or hearing intense anger about the abuser intensified my own feelings or triggered memories of abuse.
If you are a friend or family member of a Protective Mother, and witnessed her being abused or losing custody, it is normal to feel empathy—to feel hurt, anger or frustration but don’t dump or project those feelings onto the Mother of the ex. Recognize that in your role as a support, at times, you will need support or rest—the loss of the child and trauma of family court will affect you as well.
Another tip: Take time for hobbies, recreation, social activities and other activities that are important to you, don’t withdraw or isolate. It is important to have an outlet, and to keep a connection to the things that bare a positive for you. When you can use your energy in activities or ways that make you feel good about yourself, or offer a way to vent frustrations in a safe, healthy way—that will help you work through the pain and hurt, and lead to healing. It may also be something you can enjoy together with the Protective Mom, and be another way of offering support.

4. Don’t completely Ignore the Situation and Act Like Everything is Fine.
The Reality: Acting like everything is fine, and ignoring the most traumatic loss a Mother can experience—her children—IS NOT HELPFUL! This will make a Mother feel alone, isolated and that she has no one to turn to for comfort or support. It is better to be honest and up front about your own feelings and limitations, so the Mother knows what to expect.
Then again, if the family or friends are acting like the loss of your children is no big deal, and seem unable to empathize with you, this may indicate an unhealthy relationship. You may have to reconsider this relationship and what your role in it.

3. Should’s… Don’t tell a Mother what they “should” have done differently in Court or in their marriage/divorce. Or criticize the mom’s lifestyle, appearance, employment, religion, etc. to excuse/blame/justify what happened.
The Reality: See #6. Similarly, don’t give a Mom “shoulds” if her appearance, demeanor, habits etc change after losing her children. Be understanding the loss of a child is incredibly painful and traumatic
—it feels like a death even though your children are alive, especially when you cannot have contact with those children. So be sensitive and understanding to the needs of the Mother, and allow her time to grieve and process. If you see the Mother is struggling, gently ask to help or offer support but also respect her answer, don’t force yourself onto her. I remember that after I lost my kids, my church sent me a postcard that said “We prayed for you” and the prayer team signed their names to it—that meant so much to me. Simple gestures go a long way, and one of the most profound gestures is loving acceptance. Give the Mother your love and acceptance—not your “should’s”,

2. Comments that you must have done something to make the Court take your kids/Good moms don’t lose custody of their children. Comments that Insist a Mother must “prove” her case. Examples: I don’t believe you//Judges would never award custody an abuser/Courts are always fair etc …

The Reality: Fit, loving Mothers who are primary caregivers lose custody at alarming rates—this is happen across the US, and all over the world. Your initial reaction may be disbelief, and for good reason, but don’t project that disbelief onto the Mother—take some time to process your own feelings before approaching the Mother or take time to educate yourself on the issues. The Mother will be hurting, and will need your support. The questions you have are probably are ones running through the Mother’s mind over and over. And are questions family court reformers are struggling with now. Even if you don’t have the answers for what happened in court or in her custody situation, focus on what you do have control of and ways you can offer support or help—make a cup of hot chocolate, suggest a support group or day at the spa, lead a prayer, bring her a meal, offer to help with housework.. etc When the Mother is ready, she may open up and talk more about her situation, for her to do that she must have trust in you, and feel safe. That process begins with offering support, and being present with her in her pain—not questioning, just being available.

1. Don’t say or do things that jeopardize the current custody case, custody situation or the Mother’s relationship to her child(ren).
This may include: Social media posts that threaten, criticize or harass the ex. Contacting the ex or making deals in order to see the children (or for other reasons). Publicly criticizing the Mother or showing a lack or support. Not respecting the Mother’s wishes or requests regarding her children or need for privacy. Breaking court orders. Talking negatively about either parent in front of the children. Putting the child in the middle of the custody dispute. Attending court hearings and showing emotional displays or outbursts in court, threatening either party, being disruptive or dressing provocatively in court. Publicly criticizing, harassing or naming the judge, attorneys, or other involved parties. Publicly naming the children, and revealing sensitive information about abuse allegations or information that should be private (legal name, address, date of birth, where they live, etc). Getting revenge on either party.

The Reality: DO NOT take the law into your own hands! Even though the Court situation can seem hopeless or that there is no justice, do not make it worse with aggressive, hostile or crazy behavior and actions that may cause the Court to further punish the Mother or restrict her parenting time—this is NOT helpful.

Consider seeking support and finding a safe outlet instead. Support may come from friends, family, community. Church, Professional help (lawyers, support group, counseling, religious support, classes, grief group etc).

Lisa Copen Quote

It is so important that adults take steps to keep their children safe, and teach their children safety tips, on Halloween–these skills can also be used in everyday situations.

Halloween Safety Tips:

** Start trick-or-treating while it is still light out. Do not take short cuts by cutting through backyards, alleys, wooded areas, etc.

** Use your local Sex Offender Registry/Offender Watch or other notification program to see what houses to avoid on Halloween. Or alternately, to avoid sending your child as a babysitter, to a party or other event to a home that may be of concern.

** Chose a costume that is light colored and flame retardant. Avoid masks that obstruct visibility (chose make-up instead). Also check shoes so they are comfortable, slip resistant and allow for easy walking.
** Pay attention to what you child is wearing as a costume. Take time to talk with your child about the costume, to shop with them and encourage a fun–but appropriate– costume.
Some Halloween costumes are just disgusting–I saw a child dressed like a pregnant bride with a pillow stuffed under her belly and a veil on her head, it was really bad because the child looked to be all of 12 years old. Another costume I saw online was “pedophile priest” with a boy dressed in a long black robe and white collar, and a child-like doll strapped around his leg with velcro. I have also seen young girls dressed as prostitutes and “rock stars” wearing revealing and low cut clothing.
I’m NOT saying anyone deserves to be mistreated but allowing your child to dress provocatively, and to disrespect themselves with a provocative Halloween costume (or other clothing) sets the child up for failure. When a parent takes the time to instill values in a child, to teach discernment, that child is learning important lessons about safety, self-esteem and has a positive influence (Mom, Dad, etc) to model their behavior after.

** If your child is attending a Halloween party in a private home or unfamiliar place, make an effort to get to know the parents/organization hosting the event. Introduce yourself to the parents of other children attending the event, or do an online search to get information about the organization. Or chaperone the event yourself.

** Maintain firm rules about curfew, drinking, safety and other relevant issues–be consistent with the discipline and be sure to praise your child when they follow the rules.

** Children should only trick or treat in groups, with a trusted adult(s) present.

** Give your children glo sticks, flash lights or reflectors so they are more visible, and so you are more able to keep an eye on them.

** You may consider having the child to carry a cell phone to contact you, or dial 911 in case of an emergency.

** Only trick or trick in houses that are well lit, and in neighborhoods you are familiar with.

**Avoid house with poor exterior lighting, dark areas like shrubs or trees or ditches.

** Avoid houses with poor walkways–crumbling concrete, obstructions, garbage in the yard, dimly lit paths, etc.

** Never enter a home of a stranger when trick or treating. Ask an adult before entering any home.

** Cross the street ONLY at crosswalks or under lighted areas. Do not run between cars.

** Eat only store bought candy, that is wrapped, and has been inspected by a trusted adult.

** Parents when you inspect candy, look for any signs the candy has been tampered with (rips, tears, holes, markings etc). Also make sure the candy is age appropriarte and that your child can eat it–some types of candy may pose a choking hazard for young children.

** Instruct children that they should not go into a stranger’s home to accept a treat, nor should they submit to any “tricks” or go off with any stranger for any reason.

** Teach children to scream for help if someone tries to grab them or if they feel unsafe.

RESOURCES:

Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website (Includes National Sex Offender Quick Search): http://www.nsopw.gov/

Halloween Safety Guide (Halloween Safety Tips for Adults, Kids, Pets, Drivers – a Great Source of Info about safety) : http://www.halloween-safety.com/

Megan’s Law Internet Site (Facts about sex offenders, How to protect yourself/family, Victim resources, Sex Offender public web site and more): http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family (Tips for Parents on how to protect and educate children against sexual abuse): http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/protect.aspx?lang=ENGLISH

National Safety Council Halloween Safety: http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/Halloween_Safety.pdf

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) (Information, Hotline, State Resources and More): http://www.rainn.org/

Safe Kids Worldwide Halloween Safety Tips: http://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips

It makes me so angry when people report concerns of abuse or neglect of a child, or there are others who see signs of abuse and the authorities fail to respond!

Queen New York October 2013: FINALLY after “dozens” of police reports and multiple complaints from neighbors, four children have finally been rescued from a disgusting home overrun with animals (who were also being abused). The home is described as being filthy, and the children have witnessed violent arguments between their parents.

Crammed inside an apartment on Richmond Hill occupied by Jasean Holmes and his wife (unnamed) were four children between the ages of 7-11, five adult pitbull terriers, ten puppies, two boa constrictors and a lizard. It is frightening to think of the danger these animals posed to the children! Animal excrement and trash are reported to fill the apartment.

The neighbors repeatedly complained about the fighting, abuse of the children and abuse of the animals.. it is unclear why the authorities did not intervene sooner. The neighbors witnessed multiple incidents of fighting and/or domestic assault. The neighbors witnessed multiple incidents of abuse towards animals. The neighbors reported that the dogs were beaten if they did not do tricks when asked. There is a report when that when the boa constrictors escaped, Holmes would send a child to climb a tree to retrieve it. Other reports state that if the children “misbehaved”, snakes were put on their body.

Police were called to the apartment on numerous occasions, occupied by Jasean Holmes (29) and his wife (unnamed). There were various reports Holmes was physically abusing his wife, and also beating the family pets. Police did not act because the wife would not press charges. Even so–police are mandated reporters and should have taken action to report concerns with the children, and to remove them from the home when violence was present–not to mention the real danger of having two boa constrictors in the home! Didn’t the police run a background check–this guy very likely has a record ?!?! Didn’t they at least file a report with CPS?!?! What took so long for police or social services to protect these children???

Police finally arrested Holmes after EMS responded to an emergency call involving a dog bite. EMS then witnessed Holmes beating his wife and kicking a dog. Holmes was charged with “acting in a manner injurious to a child”, aggravated cruelty to animals, torturing or injuring animals and assault against his wife. It is unclear at this time if the wife is facing any charges.

The children were taken to a local hospital for evaluation and then placed with protective services. The animals taken in by the Animal Care and Control Dept. Some of the dogs are reported to be aggressive (another safety concern for the children) and may need to be put down.

We will keep these precious children in our thoughts and prayers.

Sources:

“Four Children Rescued from ‘squalid’ family home along with 15 dogs, two snakes, and a lizard” by Helen Collis. Mail Online, 10-14-2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2458721/Four-children-rescued-squalid-family-home-15-dogs-2-snakes-lizard.html

“Kids, pets taken from Queens ‘hell home'” by Reuven Femton & Daniel Prendergast, New York Post,10-13-2013, http://nypost.com/2013/10/13/cops-arrest-man-housing-4-kids-15-dogs-in-filth/

The intent of this article is to raise awareness of child safety, so that parents and community can work together to make Halloween safe and enjoyable for everyone.

How do we, as parents, family and community members, keep our kids safe from pedophile and other predators on Halloween?

Laws restricting sex offenders from gaining access to children on Halloween, and passing out candy at their homes have been implemented across the United States. However, these laws are controversial–many attempts to prohibit sex offenders from handing out candy have been overturned as “unconstitutional” or are actively involved in intense court battles. Still many states are restricting convicted sex offenders from gaining access to children on Halloween and have tried various methods to do so: arresting fugitive offenders, doing compliance or home checks on paroled offenders, making mandatory meetings on Halloween, requiring offenders to post a sign outside thier home that says “no candy” and restricting offenders from displaying outside lights/decorations and passing out candy are some of the measures implemented.

Convicted sex offenders released back into society pose a real risk–Halloween is an especially vulnerable time for children to fall prey. Children can be victimized by pedophiles on Halloween very easily–it is a holiday where it is acceptable to wear costumes, and remain anonymous in public. It is a holiday celebrated in the night. It is a holiday where children are out in the srteets or attending public celebrations later than usual, some children are not chaperoned by adults at these events. Many celebrations are noisy, and full of distraction. It’s acceptable to scare someone on Halloween, and invited at times. And children are coming to the doors of strangers asking for candy–they are easily trusting those who reward them with candy. Not only could a sex offender attack but could also begin the process of “grooming” the child, preparing them for later victimization by becoming friendly to the child and gaining their trust (often through manipulation, tricks and other deception).

It is absolutely vital that adults take steps to keep their children safe, and teach their children safety tips, on Halloween–these skills can also be utilized in everyday situations.

On a broader scale, as a community, we need laws to keep children safe, and to reduce the risk that pedophiles will prey on our children during Halloween, and others times of the year/other situations. Individuals, parents, community groups working together with law enforcement can make a positive change in keeping children safe, while maintaining our sense of community.

Court Cases Involving Halloween Restrictions Include:

2008, Missouri: the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to that a law prohibiting sex offenders from having no contact with children on Halloween, that they must turn the lights off at their residence and post a sign stating “no candy or treats at this residence” is unconstitutional. The Court found parts of the law “too vague” and stated the law can only apply to offenders convicted after 2008–meaning this law would not apply to older convictions (which is concerning because certain offenses, like kidnapping and murder, or repeat offenses, should not be exempted even if the conviction is old if they still present a real danger to society, and to our children).

2010, Orange, California: The city of Orange passed ordinances making it illegal for sex offenders to decorate their home for Halloween, to leave on outdoor lights on Halloween or to pass out candy. Registered offenders must also post a note stating they will not pass out candy. The law is targeted to offenders who have committed crimes against minors, and is a companion law to a 2008 ordinance that restricts how many sex offenders can live in a hotel, and prohibits offenders from loitering in places where children gather. The penalty for violating the law is up to $1,000 or a year in jail.
The city of Orange is now being sued due to these ordinances, the lawsuit is led by a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws, who states that signs posted outside the homes of offender create a risk the offenders will be harmed or targeted for attack.

2012, Simi Valley California: Five sex offenders and their families are suing the city of Simi Valley for limiting their right to “free speech” by placing limitations on the way convicted sex offenders participate in public trick-or-treating. Simi Valley’s city ordinances require that convicted sex offenders cannot display Halloween decorations on the outside of their home, they have to turn off all exterior lighting. Released offenders on the Megan’s Law website (guilty of serious crimes) must post a sign that says “no candy or treats at this residence”. Supporters claim this ordinance is overly strict and claim that no offender has committed any sexual offense on Halloween night –then again maybe that is because of these ordinances??

Supporters of the convicted offenders have offered the following arguments in support of overturning these laws: these laws infringe on “free speech”, that the families (and children) of convicted offenders are unfairly punished, and that these laws invite attacks on offenders. Still others say that convicted offenders are not likely to molest a trick-or-treater–but who wants to take that risk?

Other Programs Targeting Sex Offenders on Halloween Include:

2010, Maryland: The Maryland Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) monitors certain sex offenders more closely around Halloween (including doing home visits), and reminds them to stay away from children’s Halloween activities. Offenders are also sent a reminder letter, and an orange pumpkin to post outside their home that says “no candy”. Offenders also have to turn off all exterior lights on Halloween, and remain in their home from 6 pm until the morning. 43% of sexual assaults occur between 6 pm and midnight. Anyone who is non-compliant could face penalties.

2011, Birmingham, Alabama: The Russell County Sheriff’s Department offered a program for sex offenders to come to the county courthouse in Phenix City for a mandatory meeting on Halloween night. The meeting was mandatory for paroled offenders, meaning they could be arrested if they did not show up. The meeting is voluntary for the county’s other 115 registered offenders, who pay $20 a quarter to register as an offender, and $20 or one quarter be waived if they attend the meeting. The meeting starts at 6 pm and is expected to last 3 hours, if the meeting runs short, a movie may be showed instead.
All offenders in Alabama were required to attend similar programs, which offered educational classes, training on employment and “community support topics”. The date/time of the meeting was chosen to coincide with trick-or-treating, a reduce the number of offenders who may come into contact with children.

2012, Clark and Washoe Counties, Nevada: Law enforcement agencies partnered over 3 days to implement “Operation Trick No Treat” to arrest fugitive sex offenders and do compliance checks on others. This is not a one time operation, these officers work year round in a strategic plan to protect our communities by joining forces with various agencies.

Law enforcement is working hard, parents and community organizations must also work together to keep children safe.

Halloween Safety Tips:

Use your local Sex Offender Registry/Offender Watch or other notification program to see what houses to avoid on Halloween. Or alternately, to avoid sending your child as a babysitter, to a party or other event.

Pay attention to what you child is wearing as a costume. Take time to talk with your child about the costume, to shop with them and encourage a fun–but appropriate– costume. Some Halloween costumes are just disgusting–I saw an online posting about a 16 year old girl who wanted to dress like a 70’s porn star, there are pedophile costumes (I saw one man dressed as a priest with a doll clinging to his leg), low cut and revealing costumes and worse..
I’m NOT saying anyone deserves to be mistreated but allowing your child to dress provocatively, and to disrespect themselves with a nasty Halloween costume (or other clothing) sets the child up for failure. Allowing your child to dress any kind of way, to run the streets or being overly permission can lead to trouble on many levels for that child–may impair their quality of life.
When a parent takes the time to instill values in a child, to teach discernment, that child is learning important lessons about safety, self-esteem and has an important role model (Mom, Dad, etc) to look up to.
If your child is attending a Halloween party in a private home or unfamiliar place, make an effort to get to know the parents/organization hosting the event. Introduce yourself to the parents of other children attending the event, and listen to their feedback. Or chaperone the event yourself.

Maintain firm rules about curfew, drinking, safety and other relevant issues–be consistent with the discipline and be sure to praise your child when they follow the rules.

Children should only trick or treat in groups, with a trusted adult(s) present.

Give your children glo sticks, flash lights or reflectors so you can see them better, and be able to keep an eye on them. You may also consider having the child to carry a cell phone to contact you, or dial 911 in case of an emergency.

Only trick or trick in houses that are well lit, and in neighborhoods you are familiar with.

Avoid house with poor exterior lighting, dark areas like shrubs or trees or ditches.

Avoid houses with poor walkways–crumbling concrete, obstructions, garbage in the yard, dimly lit paths, etc.

If you have a bad feeling, follow your instinct.

Never enter a home of a stranger when trick or treating. Ask an adult before entering any home.

Teach children to scream for help if someone tries to grab them or if they feel unsafe.

Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website (Includes National Sex Offender Quick Search): http://www.nsopw.gov/

Megan’s Law Internet Site (Facts about sex offenders, How to protect yourself/family, Victim resources, Sex Offender public web site and more): http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family (Tips for Parents on how to protect and educate children against sexual abuse): http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/protect.aspx?lang=ENGLISH

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) (Information, Hotline, State Resources and More): http://www.rainn.org/

Resources:

“Alabama to Round Up Sex Offenders on Halloween” by AP. 10/27/2011: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-20126599/alabama-to-round-up-sex-offenders-on-halloween/

“California Sex Offenders Fighting Halloween Ban” by Alyssa Newcomb, 10/3/2012. ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/california-sex-offenders-fighting-halloween-ban/story?id=17386757

“City of Orange Sued Over Sex Offender Halloween Restrictions” by Stephanie Case, 9/19/2013. KTLA 5: http://ktla.com/2013/09/19/city-of-orange-sued-over-sex-offender-halloween-restrictions/#axzz2fuC5xglF

“Citywide: Sex Offenders Banned from Halloween Activities” by Eugene W. Fields, 2/23/2010. The Orange County Register: http://orange.freedomblogging.com/2010/02/23/citywide-sex-offenders-banned-from-halloween-activities/12305/

Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website (Includes National Sex Offender Quick Search): http://www.nsopw.gov/

“Halloween Rules Only Apply to Offenders Convicted After 2008″ by Erin Hevern, 10/27/2010. Southeast Missourian: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1675894.html

Megan’s Law Internet Site (Facts about sex offenders, How to protect yourself/family, Victim resources, Sex Offender public web site and more): http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/

“Operation Trick-or-Treat VI – Keeping Kids Safe from Sex Offenders” a release by the US Marshal Service, 10/30/2012. http://www.usmarshals.gov/news/chron/2012/103012.htm

“Sex Offenders and Halloween– They Don’t Mix” by Peter Hermann, 10/29/2010. The Baltimore Sun: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/blog/2010/10/sex_offenders_and_halloween_th.html

“Sex Offenders Attend Meeting Halloween Night” by Tom Smith, 11/29/2011. TimesDaily.com: http://www.timesdaily.com/archives/article_dea5ef15-1d53-5209-aef3-ed9c7a7e20c3.html

Another story of family court injustice.. abusive drug addicted father gains sole custody of infant twin children, who are forcibly separated from their mother, and forced to endure 10 years of horrific abuse and neglect.

Twin siblings Georgia and Walker “Patterson” Inman III, heirs to a multi-million dollar estate, survived a horrific life of abuse at the hands of their father, Walker Inman Jr. Georgia stated she didn’t think she would survive the abuse. The family court ruling did not serve the best interest of the Inman children and in fact, endangered their lives and subjected them to 10 years of abuse.

Walker is accused of squandering their fortune and inflicting brutal mental and physical abuse on the children. His fifth wife, Daralee Inman, was also accused of abuse–and found to have committed physical abuse on the children by the South Carolina Department of Social Services (in 2011). Friends and associates connected to Walker are also accused of abuse and stealing from the estate. The children were also subjected to severe parental alienation, and led to believe their mother abandoned them–and made to fear Daisha Inamn. After the death of Walker, Daisha, was finally able to regain custody of her children. Freed from years of abuse, the children have been reunited with their mother and are working to rebuild their lives as a family, together.

Marriage Ending in Custody Nightmare

In 1996, Walker married his 4th wife, model Daisha Lorraine Williams, the twins were born a year later. The marriage was troubled, and didn’t last long. Daisha claims that Walker took off the children in 1999, while they were on vacation, leaving Daisha behind, then went into hiding. Daisha did not her children for several months then was served with a notice to appear in family court–Walker was seeking a divorce and sole custody of the twins. In 2000, the Court awarded sole custody of the twins to Walker, both were just 2 years old. Daisha alleges that Walker bribed court officials to get a favorable custody ruling. In the heated custody battle Walker claims that Daisha was a mentally unstable topless dancer unfit for custody. Walker was found, with evidence, to be a heroin addict who went through women like kleenex, marrying and divorcing a total of 5 women. With a record like that, you have to wonder how anyone would take seriously Walker’s judgment of women??

According to the Post & Courier, “A court-appointed guardian in Platte County, Wyo., concluded that the children would be better off with Inman despite his history of “multiple marriages for short durations; his drug, alcohol and cigarette use; limited parenting experience and prior parenting mistakes; and his unusual, perhaps dysfunctional, upbringing,” court records show.

Note all of these risk factors mentioned by the Guardian (multiple marriages, substance abuse, lack of parenting experience, parenting mistakes, history of family dysfunction) would and should justify no custody, and supervised visitation, until Walker could prove that he is drug free and could provide a safe, and stable environment for the children. There are laws a court has to follow to protect children from abuse, and parents who may endanger them. When a parent is found to be that dysfunctional, and poses a safety risk to the children, the Court usually recommends a course of action for the parent, and there is usually some monitoring by an involved professionals. In those cases, parents are referred to supervised visitation in a safety center. The court can revisit custody at a later time by issuing a temporary order, or may order sole custody to the other parent. This court ruling does not make sense–unless you assume that the court is corrupt, and not acting on the best interest of the children.

Daisha continued to battle for custody and visitation time with her children, in 2009, her case reached the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Allegations of Abuse Walker Inman Jr.

Walker Inman Jr. was an eccentric figure–he was gourmet chef, a world traveller and collector of weapons (knives, guns, grenades–many are highly collectible and valuable). Walker was also an expert in explosives. In happier memories, Walker enjoyed showing his son how to blow things up (cars, trailers, fireworks etc.), this became a hobby for them. Walker was also said to have brought grenades and guns to school, to show the other children in “show and tell”. The family also enjoyed exotic pets (a lion, an alligator, a camel), and going on luxury vacations. But the good times were few and far between.

Supporters of Walker and Daralee Inman claim abuse never happened, and that the children were well cared for.

Walker was known to be heavy into drugs–heroin, methadone and strong narcotic pain pills were favorites.

After Walker won sole custody, there were several calls to the police and social services on behalf of the battered twins but the system failed to take any real action to protect the children from their abusive father and stepmother–who were never brought up on charges.

The Department of Social Service (DSS) in South Carolina had 3 separate complaints about Walker’s abusive treatment towards his children, and they also failed to take any actions to keep these children safe. In the summer of 2008, the manager of the Greenfield Plantation, Mike Todd called DSS because he felt the children were not being properly supervised, and were playing in an area home to a 12 foot alligator.Todd said he saw nothing to indicate that DSS investigated the case. The children claim they saw their father paying off officials to close the case, to not investigate.

Later that summer, police were called when a woman reported that she saw Walker screaming at his daughter and hitting her in the head. Walker admitted to hitting his daughter to the police. The police were called but there was no investigation, no intervene, nothing to assure the safety of the children.

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The State of Wyoming also failed to investigate or file charges on behalf of the children. Their home life was so terrible that the children considered suicide as a way to escape.

The children grew up in luxurious plantation estates, but spent time locked in a dark basement covered in feces and filth. Alternately, the children were locked into their rooms with a deadbolt. With no access to a bathroom, the children were forced to relieve themselves in the corner, and the room reeked of excrement. At times the children were starved. Nannies in charge of their care came and went–an estimated 57 nannies were hired to care for the children, some could not stand the conditions in the home and left as little as a day later. Other nannies were accused of abusing the children, including one who is alleged to have forced the children to play a game of Russian Roulette with a loaded weapon.

The daughter also recalled being dunked in a bath of boiling hot water by her father, and feeling her “skin melting away”.

In another incident, Walker set off a teargas grenade in his house to teach his frightened children a “safety lesson”. “I never asked to be born into any of this,” Georgia said during an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, “Sometimes I wish I was never born.”

These children should have been protected by the Court, Police, or Social Services and placed into a safe home environment. In separate statements, both Daisha and the twins claim that Walker paid these people to look the other way to the abuse that was happening to the children. Indeed, you have to wonder why so many failed to intervene, and rescue these children.

Allegations of Abuse: Daralee Inman

Walker married a 5th wife, Daralee in 2001. Daralee has been convicted of felony drug charges in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. In June 2007, Daralee was pulled over by a state trooper in Wyoming for driving erratically, both children were in the car with her. Daralee told the trooper she had smoked marijuana; the trooper found pot, crystal meth and hash in the car. Daralee pled guilty to drug possession and was ordered into drug treatment.It is unclear why child protective services did not intervene and investigate.

Daralee is also accused of abusing the twins. In April 2011, the South Carolina Department of Social Services found that Daralee had physically abused her step-children.

After Walker died in 2010, Daralee petitioned the court to become guardians of the twins. Her petition was denied and in August 2010, Daisha finally won custody of her children.

Daralee has refused to publicly comment on these allegations but has said she thinks Daisha is coercing the children to make up stories about the abuse. She did file a slander lawsuit against Daisha due to her allegations that Daralee abused her children, that suit was withdrawn.

The twins are looking into the possibility of criminally prosecuting Daralee for the abuse they endured at her hand. Complaints were filed with the police but as of yet, there has not been enough evidence to move forward with charges. However, DSS is investigating the claims.

Just a Thought: When a parent is alleged to be negligent in the care of the children, to be abusive or to provide an unsafe home environment,the court would and should intervene to protect the children. Daisha was already involved in the court process–once she alleges there is abuse in the home, a drug addicted parent or any other risk of physical or mental harm to the children, the court has an obligation to remove the children from the home, changing custody if necessary. Child protective services should also have been involved. So what happened? I believe an investigation on the Inman case is necessary to examine the records and allegations to determine if how the court (and child protective services) responded was appropriate, and legal. Even though the children are now with their mother–if this court acted improperly, if officials were bribed, if there was injustice present that means other children and families are at risk. This should not be allowed to continue.

The Death of Walker Inman Jr.

Walker was found dead of a methadone overdose on Feb. 24, 2010, in a Colorado hotel (no one knows why he was in Colorado). Daralee fought to obtain guardianship of the the twins and lost. In August 2010, Daisha finally won custody.

Daisha went to rescue her children, sending ambulances to the home, because they were so resistant to her yet desperately in need of help. The children were deeply affected by parental alienation, and had to be hospitalized for 3 months in the Wyoming Behavioral Institute to re-stabilize them from years of abuse and neglect, and work on healing their relationship with their mother. The children were told by Walker that their mother abandoned them for the street life–that was was a druggie and a prostitute. Upon reunification, the children were extremely hostile towards Daisha–at times aggressive or swearing at her. Daisha worked to regain their trust through therapy and slow, gradual visits. Daisha says that when her daughter saw that she keeps pictures of the children in her purse, from the time they were babies, it helped break the walls keeping them apart–her daughter say her mother’s love and became less resistant. A social worker stays with the family 10 days a month to continue the therapy. The family has participated in counseling to cope with the abuse the children have experienced, and to help transition into home life with their mother.

The Struggle to Rebuild

Certainly, Daisha has struggled in the past. If she worked as a stripper in the past, that should not be used against her because Walker married her anyways, and chose to make a family with her. The Guardian’s report from her court cases states (South Strand News) concerns that Daisha was paranoid and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress. Put that in context–most women involved in an abusive relationship, whose husband has run off with the children and she has not been able to see them, will present with emotional distress. These types of symptoms do not mean a mother should lose custody, and in fact signal that the home environment should be further investigated for evidence of abuse or other risk factors that could harm the children.

There are more recent allegations, that Daisha has left the children at home alone for days while she went on trips with a “friend”. Daisha is said to have married a convicted sex offender named Randy Williams in 2003, and although they divorced, they allegedly remain romantically involved. Williams was convicted of sexually abusing his step daughters from a previous marriage. Williams is also prohibited from having any contact with his son, who he was found to have sexually abused.

According to DNAinfo New York: “JPMorgan also claims a court recently entered a restraining order barring Williams from communicating with the Duke heirs — Walker Patterson Inman III and Georgia Inman — because of the threat he poses to them. The filing doesn’t specify where and when the restraining order was filed, or if it has been lifted…”

In another incident, Daisha was been charged with public drunkeness in May 2012, she claims her water was poisoned. The judge deferred sentencing for 6 months and likely will not convict Daisha if she stays out of trouble. Daisha is seeking therapy for the family, and stated she has a social service working living at her home for 10 days a month. This is a positive indicator that she is seeking help, and seeking to improve her situation. Clearly, someone needs to investigate the truthfulness of these claims (especially if there is a sex offender in the home), and if there is a safety risk to the children– but that does not take away from the suffering this family endured. The family court ruling did not serve the best interest of the Inman children and in fact, endangered their lives and subjected them to 10 years of abuse.

Certainly, Daisha has endured a struggle–surviving an abusive marriage that robbed her of her children, the grief of being separated from your children, and spending years fighting for custody in a system that seemed unresponsive, and enabled the abuse of her children to continue. I sincerely hope she gets support, and can heal from past so she can move forward to a positive, healthy relationship with her children–a happy future for herself.

The twins report that they now share a good relationship with their mother, and feel a close, loving bond with her. They are adjusting to a new private school and optimistic about the future.

Parenting Abused Children wishes the best for the twins, we are sorry to hear of your ordeal–and hope and pray you are safe, loved and able to have a fresh start at life. You have our love and support. xoxo
Hope
_______________________

NOTE: My emphasis on this article is family court failures, I did not want to take attention away from the abuse or suffering of these children by talking about their inheritance, but as it is an important part of the story, that information is included below.

The Inheritance:

Daisha claims Walker fought so hard for custody because he needed an heir to his estate. As wealthy as the children are, they hardly realized it–and were severely deprived due to the abuse, neglect and forcible separation from their mother they found little joy in the rare comforts they were offered. A legal battled has ensued over this inheritance, and use of the trust fund, and is currently ongoing.

Twin siblings Georgia and Walker “Patterson” Inman III are surviving heirs to an inheritance connected to the tobacco fortune of American Tobacco Co., whose proceeding heir was Doris Duke. Their grandfather Walker P. Inman aka “Skippy” came from a family of successful Atlanta cotton merchants.

James B. Duke aka “Buck” was the founder and president of American Tobacco Co., makers of Lucky Strikes cigarettes. Buck married the paternal great-grandmother of the twins, Nanaline Holt Inman Duke, but they did not have children together. Buck’s only heir, was daughter Doris Duke, who inherited part of the fortune at age 13, when her father died. Though Doris Duke was next in line to receive the inheritance of her father, Buck, he did not trust women to run the business. Doris did receive a sizeable inheritance but the bulk of the estate was passed onto professional managers.

Buck’s second wife was Nanaline Holt Inman Duke, she came into the marriage with a son named Walker P. Inman. Buck never accepted Walker P. Inman as a legitimate heir but did pass on some money to Nanaline Duke, who then passed her inheritance onto her son. Walker bought a plantation in South Carolina, complete with a 10,000 square foot house. His heir was Walker Inman Jr. aka “Skippy”. In her will, Doris Duke set aside $7 million for a trustee to invest, with 5% of the balance going to Walker every year. After Walker died, the trust ended and is co-mingled in some charitable trusts Doris Duke established before her death.

Reports vary on the worth of the inheritance or trust fund that will passed to the Inman twins, its estimated worth is in the millions. Some reports say that the twins could inherit $14.5 million, each, when they turn 21. Others say the inheritance is worth $60 million. Still, others says the fortune is as high as a billion dollars. The bulk of the trust fund money is tied up in two properties, some valuables (jewelry, guns, antiques), sacks of hold and bars of silver. One of the properties is being used to host weddings as a way to generate funds for its upkeep.

Money Mayhem:

After the death of Walker, am intense legal battle ensued over the remaining estate, and the handling of the twin’s trust fund; this battle is ongoing.

Everyone involved in this case from the trust managers, to Daralee, to Daisha, to the attorneys and others has a vested interest–and has accused someone else of mishandling the estate.

Daisha has been accused of wasting away the trust, and spending money on excessive luxuries. Daisha vehemently denies these allegations, and claims she is keeping receipts to prove how every penny has been spent. Daisha is currently involved in a legal battle with JP Morgan Chase over the administration of the twins’ trust fund.

Randy Williams, convicted child molester and alleged romantic interest of Daisha, has also been accused of trying to get money from the trust fund. JP Morgan said it was so concerned about account activity, and how close Williams was getting to the twins that it placed funds in a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account, which offers court oversight. JP Morgan also filed a motion with the court in 2013 asking that the court bar Williams from benefiting from the trust, and ban him from being able to access or manage funds.

There are allegations that people close to Walker are raiding the trust and stealing the inheritance of the twins. Daralee is accused of selling off valuable items belonging to the estate, and pocketing the proceeds.

There is also a battle over how the twins are being represented in court, with allegations that they are not receiving proper legal representation.

As of yet, these disputes have not been settled.

For More Info:

“Billionaire Twins Abused Like Slaves by Dad”, by Susan Donaldson James, Good Morning America. August 5, 2013. : http://abcnews.go.com/Health/billionaire-twins-abused-slaves-doris-duke-heir-father/story?id=19853671&singlePage=true

“Dr. Phil.com – Shows – The Darkness of Riches: From Victims to Victors”. Aired Jan 30 & Jan 31, 2014: http://drphil.com/shows/show/2160/

“Duke heirs claim stepmom sold off family heirlooms”, by Julia Marsh, New York Post. Sept. 27, 2013. : http://nypost.com/2013/09/27/duke-heirs-claim-stepmom-sold-off-family-heirlooms/

“Locked in feces-smeared basement, eating scraps and given scalding baths: Twins set to inherit billion-dollar Doris Duke fortune tell of their horrific childhood abuse”, by Daily Mail Reporter. August 2, 2013. : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2383194/Doris-Duke-descendants-Treated-worse-dogs-Twins-set-inherit-fortune-tell-child-abuse.html

“Mother of Doris Duke’s twin heirs, 15, used ‘SWAT team’ and bodyguards to stop bank from serving her with legal papers demanding to know how she is spending their $30million trust fund” by Daily Mail Reporter. July 9, 2013: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2359120/Doris-Duke-heirs-Mother-Daisha-Inman-used-SWAT-team-prevent-served-legal-papers.html

“Mother of twins, 16, set to inherit billion dollar Doris Duke estate insists she needs their money to pay for their mental health care after ‘they suffered years of abuse at the hands of drug-addicted father'” by Daily Mail Reporter. Jan, 31, 2014: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2549832/Mother-twins-16-set-inherit-billion-dollar-Doris-Duke-fortune-insists-needs-money-pay-mental-health-care-suffered-years-abuse-hands-drug-addict-father.html

“Sex Offender May Be Trying to Get Doris Duke Heirs’ Cash, Court Doc Says” by James Fanelli, DNAinfo New York. April 9, 2013: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130409/new-york-city/child-molester-may-be-trying-get-doris-duke-heirs-cash-court-doc-says#ixzz2QrFbFzoq

“The story of 15 year old twins, a big trust fund from Mrs. Duke, and a squabble between her grandson’s 4th and 5th wives” by Duke Check. March 7, 2013: http://dukecheck.com/?p=11645

“Trouble in paradise: Death of heir to Duke fortune ignites flames of already heated family discord” by Glen Smith, The Post & Courier. August 19, 2012:
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20120819/PC16/120819047

“Video: Duke heirs talk about years of abuse, Charlotte Observer.http://dukecheck.com/?p=11645 : http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/01/29/4648978/video-duke-heirs-talk-about-years.html#.UulJiPZRaYc

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