Monday, September 16, 2013

Hearing the Voices

For generations past, the voices of the abused have been silenced behind closed doors. They were the muffled screams or sobs of victims or, after the fact, hushed whispers between devastated siblings or friends. Often, the voices were locked away as memories, never allowed the relief of release. Child sexual abuse was seldom revealed or acknowledged, whether from shame, fear of not being believed or in efforts to protect the perpetrators.

But those voices have lingered in memories and in the damage done to the lives of the victims. They haven’t gone away. They’ve been waiting in the shadows of time, needing to be heard, needing to be validated, needing to find strength with others, saying, “No more.”

While the silence is being shattered all around the world with an avalanche of disclosures started by the rock slide of revelations of clergy abuses in 2002, Australia has taken a huge step forward by funding a $277.9 million dollar “Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” Starting this week, it will examine the conduct of all major institutions that have the responsibility of looking after children. Scouts Australia, the Salvation Army, the YMCA and the Catholic Church are among the first to be targeted. According to ABC News, few are likely to be spared scrutiny.

The establishment of the royal commission came a year after it was discovered that a paedophile had been given trusted roles involving children. Steven Larkins had been one of the nation’s most senior leaders in the area of child protection. Those who knew and worked with him were dumbfounded to learn of how he rose to trusted roles.

The commission’s chief, Janette Dines, says, “We believe the public will be shocked to begin to learn just how difficult life has been for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in an institution....We’ve had an overwhelming response - 5,000 have called the royal commission and at least 2,000 of those have expressed interest in coming forward and talking to the royal commissioner.” The work of the commission is expected to be a “nation-changing event.”

The ways institutions usually handled allegations of sexual misconduct are undergoing radical changes around the world. Awareness of abuse—and how allegations are handled—has fundamentally changed since the Catholic Church’s crisis erupted.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, claims* that many institutions are now run by people with modern attitudes about the effects of abuse who are not afraid to confront painful issues that were once hushed up. “Having more women in leadership makes a difference, as they may be more sensitive in handling these episodes, supporting the victims and encouraging other people to come forward.”

Marci Hamilton, a professor of Law and one of the United States’ foremost critics of how religious groups handle abuse, was recently quoted* as saying, “Change is happening, but also the pace of change is quickening. State legislators are more educated. The public is more knowledgeable.”

While most institutions are now aware of the importance of having protective standards, policies and procedures in place to ensure the protection of the children in their care, accessing the most effective procedures to implement is critical.

The key lies in preventing incidents of abuse before they need to be “handled.” That’s where the WKI ® “Plan to Protect™” comes in. Its policies have become the recognized standard for abuse prevention and detection. Individuals and organizations not yet taking advantage of the assistance available to protect kids, can access the “Plan to Protect™” at

*The Rockland County News, New York, Sept. 14, 2013 article by Gary Stern and Mareesa Nicosia

©Diane Roblin-Lee, Sept. 15, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013


It’s not fun standing before a group of strangers telling about how I lived with a child molester for 38 years, knowing absolutely nothing about his dark thoughts, re-entrance into pornography or secret life of victimizing two young girls. Every time I speak, I have to unscrew the jar that holds memories that shattered my family. They come tumbling out and I have to grab them and force them to stand, exposed, before the crowd in all their shame. I point to them and say, “Look at what happened to my family – don’t let it happen to yours.” And then I tell them what I have learned about how to keep kids safe.

As I stand alone behind the podium, my words reach out to each unknown person and I wonder what parts of their hearts I am touching. Are they victims, hiding the secrets of their past in the shadows of their minds? Are they moms, wondering if the nice men who have been so helpful with their kids, are actually grooming them for perverse plans? Are they wives, wondering about the dynamics of their families?

Finally, my talk is over and I invite anyone who has questions or would like to talk, to come and speak with me. Many of the stories I hear have never before broken the silence of their secrecy. Emboldened by what they have just heard, people stammer out situation after situation of brutality, betrayal, confusion, perversity and pain –  things they have kept secret all their lives.

It can be an excruciating process for victims to find their voices and gather the boldness to reveal what happened to them in their past, but when it comes, the liberation of being validated by people who believe them is boundless – and the possibility of preventing their perpetrators from harming others is heightened.

Through bringing light into dark memories and exposing what predators have done for centuries, the way society views child sex abuse is changing. The shame is shifting from the victims to the place it belongs - to the predators. It’s a huge relief to many victims to shed the burden of secret shame they may have carried for years and to know they’re not alone. Gradually, the fear of being judged negatively is slipping away in the realization that it’s okay to talk about the things that have haunted them.

This month, a litany of new charges, for alleged offences between 1965 and 1984, were laid against Gordon Stuckless, dubbed the “Monster of Maple Leaf Gardens.” While some may wonder why it has taken the alleged victims so long to come forward, it is no mystery to Theo Fleury, who was molested by former junior hockey coach, Graham James. It took 27 years for Theo to finally talk about it. His teammate, Sheldon Kennedy, went public about his abuse under Graham James 15 years earlier. Together, they encourage others to come forward as they did and feel the empowerment they have found.

But it’s not just about a swell of victims finding their voices; it’s about making those voices resonate throughout society and the legal system to send a message to predators that they can no longer count on silence and shame to hide them, and that we need to find ways to protect kids. Child sexual abuse has become epidemic.

The WKI® “Plan to Protect™” needs to be established and implemented in every organization where children are involved  – schools, churches, clubs, sports facilities, child care centers, etc. As the protocols become familiar to volunteers and workers who use them in their interactions with children, they will become acknowledged, expected protocols in society in general, giving a greater measure of safety to our little ones.

Candid revelations of offences, an atmosphere of safety in revealing secrets, having the sound policies of “Plan to Protect™” in place and giving predators an expectation of severe punishment are all critical factors in turning the tide on child sexual abuse.

It’s a lot of work, but we can do it – together.

© Diane Roblin-Lee

Friday, June 28, 2013

Canada - for Kids! Canada Day Reflections

Q. What’s it like in Canada for a kid who is being abused?

A. - Not much different than for a kid who is being abused in Thailand or Cambodia, or any other part of the world where predators corner them in isolation and indulge their twisted perversions.

Abuse is abuse. The cry of desperation from a little boy or girl is the same, whether coming from the heart of a child walking the dirt streets of Uganda, dressed in tattered rags; or from the heart of a Canadian child, weeping on a frothy, pink bedspread, with her GapKid clothes strewn where her uncle threw them a few minutes before.

A couple of nights ago, I listened to John Perks of “Be A Hero” tell about the estimated 10 million kids around the world who have been forced into the sex industry (

But this is Canada - our home and native land, where true patriot hearts beat in the hearts of our sons - the true north, strong and free.

Recently, some ministry friends of mine, who minister on the streets, were telling me about the reality of sex-slavery in Canada. But who sees the sad-eyed girls being herded into hotels for a three or four night stay? Who notices them being hustled off by their dead-eyed traffickers to the next town, before they can be tracked. Oh Canada...

Abuse. Sex-slavery. Traffickers. Predators. Tears. Despair. The maple leaf. It gets overwhelming. Are we doing anything about it?

Well, increasingly, there is a framework for action. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child came into effect in 1990. In 2000, an additional protocol, prohibiting the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was adopted. In March, 2001, Bill C-15 was adopted in Canada to respond more effectively to new technologies that threaten the security of our children.

Last week, (June 17th) the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that Canada is joining the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online. The purpose of the Global Alliance is to fight Internet predators and hunt down purveyors of child abuse images online. Identifying and helping victims, putting offenders behind bars, reducing the availability of online child pornography and increasing awareness are its goals. “Child sexual exploitation is a horrific crime. Canada continues to lead, support and implement numerous initiatives, domestically and abroad, to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children, but no country can fight this crime alone,” said Minister Nicholson.

We at Winning Kids Inc. are doing all we can to raise awareness and put Plan to Protect protocols in place in schools, organizations, churches and facilities. If we can save one child from abuse, we know we have saved a whole family from a lifetime of pain and struggle.

Frameworks for action are good – but sometimes people have to act spontaneously, either with others or alone; either within a framework or out of their own inclinations. The point is, that action is an individual thing, just as abuse is an individual thing. We can’t wait for “someone else to fix it” or for laws and protocols to magically protect children. We have to act. Each of us. All of us. At a moment’s notice. If we see a child in danger, we must respond, not turn away or go into denial.

If we see a child in danger, we must respond, not turn away or go into denial.

Q. What’s it like in Canada for a child who has never known abuse?

A. Glorious.

© Diane Roblin-Lee, June 28/2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

The End of Silence

Simon and Garfunkel sang, “Hello darkness my old friend... within the sounds of silence”


Silence has been, since the dawn of time, a luxury for predators. It has been their friend. Within the protective walls of silence, they allowed their basest desires unbridled freedom. They touched children in private places that were designed to be discovered by brides and bridegrooms. They stirred areas in the brains of children that were never meant to be stimulated until they were grown. They pretended to befriend vulnerable children in locker rooms, summer camps, homes, schools, churches and wherever trusting parents took their little ones.

But hardly anyone ever told. My mother was 94 years old before she told me she had been raped as a four-year-old child. Not even my father knew in all their 60 years of marriage.

Until recent years, victims didn’t tell about abuse for a variety of reasons. Most felt so defiled that they felt they bore – or at least shared – the shame of the experience. Some were instructed that, if they told, their families would be harmed, or love would be withdrawn from them, or... on and on with a myriad of locks slammed shut by predators.

And so victims suffered in silence with flashbacks of unspeakable things being done to them, nightmares and blockages from living normal, healthy lives, always feeling ‘different’ from others.

But the song continues:

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you...”

A number of years ago, we heard a small voice saying, “I was abused when I was a child...” It was a tentative voice, breaking the silence like drill making the first hole in veneer. It was joined by another voice, “It happened to me, too...” and another voice... The voices became louder and the bearers became stronger. Their knees stopped shaking and their chins quivered less, as society enfolded them with assurances that they bore no shame.

What a revelation! What relief! Suddenly, they discovered that the shame, which had so unjustly burdened them, belonged to the predators – not to them! The threats of harm had been, in most cases, smoke and mirrors, whose only reality lay in their ability to immobilize victims in fear.

Thanks to the gathering swell of voices, it’s manly to expose the abuse suffered as a child. It’s empowering for women to step out of the silence that held them captive.

Today’s newspaper shared the story of the Toronto Blue Jay’s R.A. Dickey, one of today’s top athletes in baseball. He’s written a memoir entitled, “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.” It exposes the sexual abuse and sometimes overwhelming struggles of his journey.

Because of the voices that have gone before his, preparing the way for acceptance and understanding, Dickey was able to write an authentic story of his faith and path to victory over victimization.

The last verse of the song reads, “‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls’
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

Truth will always come out. This tide of revelation is not going to stop. It has gathered momentum with a surge of hope for freedom from shame. The breakers of truth are smashing against the protective walls of silence and shattering old expectations of safety for predators.

If you are a predator, it is time for your knees to shake and your chin to quiver – because silence has ended.

© Diane Roblin-Lee Apr. 15, 2013
For books on protecting children by Diane Roblin-Lee, please go to:

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Power of Confession

“There was no normal, happy greeting – just a sudden torrent of words from my husband. “I did it! I did it all – and more!” Years of bottled secrets suddenly uncorked with the pressure of fermented evil. Incomprehensible sentences erupted from Matt’s mouth in shocking ejections.
“As the toxic words hit my brain, pushing to penetrate, I stared blankly at Matt. “You did what?” I didn’t understand what he meant.
“‘I did it all – everything Linda said – and more. More than anybody knows.’ For the first time for as long as I could remember, Matt was looking directly into my eyes. Here we were in my office, with the toxic words of Matt’s confession filling the air like a mushroom cloud. The world had stopped spinning on its axis.
“When the eruption of his confession gradually settled into the ashes of our lives, I, feeling like a hollow caricature of my former self, stayed seated in the chair in which I had written, organized our lives and conducted the business of our family.
“I had thought I had been dealing with reality all these years. Silly me. I stared at Matt, now so earnest in his confession, so open in his desire to connect, so visible with the evaporation of his walls. Now that I could see him, I didn’t recognize him. He was a stranger. No one I had ever met before.
“A tiny crack began to grow in the space between us. It widened and widened and gradually yawned into an uncrossable gulf. We were no longer connected. I was on my side of the abyss with my arms around the precious children he had harmed.
“As Matt’s words continued, spilling the dark contents of his mind into the canyon, they filled the horizontal plane, numbing me.”

The foregoing is an excerpt, describing my husband’s confession, from my book,  The Husband I Never Knew.
A confession from a child molester is a powerful factor, determining the ability of all those whose lives are touched by his crimes, to move ahead with their lives. Even if the court finds someone guilty who pleads innocence, the nagging questions remain. If the person is lying about his innocence, it is a further sickening betrayal and lack of respect for his loved ones, who deserve the right to live their lives in reality. If he is, indeed, innocent, his loved ones are left to suffer the condemnation of a misled public.
I’ve been corresponding with Jerry Sandusky’s wife. Despite the fact that Jerry was convicted on 45 counts of child molestation, she continues to believe in his innocence. Strangely enough, I understand her refusal to believe her husband is guilty.
When my husband was charged on a Monday, for a whole week, he denied the charges, declaring his innocence to all who would listen. Most of us believed him. This was a man we had trusted. I had been married to him for 38 years!  I was sure that, if we could just have a polygraph done, his accusers would be shown to be lying.
Until Friday. On the Friday, he confessed.
Then I knew.
My point is that child molesters are the most manipulative of criminals. Their entire modus operendi is built on gaining the trust of people so that their victims become vulnerable; then they are able to move in and take advantage of the situation for their own perverted pleasures.
Building trust, for child molesters, is an art form.
That’s why, unless they give the gift of confession, those whose lives are within their sphere of activity, are held captive, locked in a prison of unmerited trust.
Is Jerry Sandusky guilty? The courts say yes. His wife says no. Until he confesses – until he speaks the words of guilt – his victims will not have closure and those who love him will be trapped in the lonely limbo of trust.

© Diane Roblin-Lee - Mar. 30/13

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting a Grip

The internet has been termed today’s “wild west” where anything goes. In the days of Wild Bill and the James brothers, the bad boys rode into town in a cloud of dust with guns blazing. Everyone knew who they were and was aware of their intentions and activity. Today’s bad boys (and girls) can sit at home in the comfort and anonymity of their bedrooms and do far more damage than any gun-toting savage of yesterday. Brandishing keyboards and cameras instead of guns, they swagger through cyberspace like a law unto themselves, savaging the innocence of children through child pornography, stalking and preying on naive young people.

But not so fast, Kemo Sabe. Just as the wild west was tamed and is now a pleasant place where families can travel in peace, changes are being made online. Heroes of today are making meaningful strides in protecting our young people.

Last month, it was announced that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström would launch a global alliance targeting online child sexual abuse. With so many cross-border police operations that have brought down international pedophile networks, a network of agencies dealing with trafficking and abuse issues is gaining strength and functionality. With experience cracking criminal networks like Dreamboard, a members-only online bulletin board to promote pedophilia and encourage sexual abuse of very young children, the good guys are becoming more and more sophisticated in their understanding of how these groups work and how to dismantle them.

In December, officials from 27 EU member nations and officials from 22 countries outside the EU, including the United States, participated in a ministerial conference to address the issues. At the core of their discussions is a commitment to caring for victims, enhancing efforts to prosecute offenders, increasing children’s awareness of online risks and reducing the availability of child abuse material online.

The protection of children is moving ahead and making headway.

While it’s difficult to stomach the reasoning behind all the previously confidential documents created by the Boy Scouts, the fact that they are in existence and have been made public gives the good guys deeper insight into the minds and workings of predators. Increased public awareness of how child predators operate and increased boldness of victims in speaking out may be helping to reduce child sex abuse. While the news was full of stories about institutions like Penn State, the Boy Scouts and the BBC last year, the stories had a positive side in that they all concerned people being caught or exposed or groups and organizations changing policies towards offenders.

Things are changing. We’re starting to get a grip. Predators should be very worried because the days of the wild west internet are changing. This does not mean we can let down our guard. Quite the contrary. It means our efforts are making more of a difference. It’s time to take heart and work harder to protect our kids.

© Diane Roblin-Lee   Jan. 30/13

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Problem With Kids...

The problem with kids is that – well – they’re kids.

Kids don’t have very many years under their belts. They haven’t lived on this planet long enough to spot a manipulator or know how to navigate a tricky situation. Those who live in homes where they can trust the adults around them, tend to think all adults can be trusted and have their best interests at heart. They trust that the person on the other end of their internet chat conversation is who they portray themselves to be.

We tell kids: “Mind your manners. Speak respectfully to Mr. Brown. Do what you’re told. Don’t ask questions.”

And so life can be very confusing for a child. That’s why they need us. Children are so vulnerable and depend on us to keep them safe. That’s what adults are supposed to do.

I was one of those naive kids – one of the ones who lived in such a safe home that it never occurred to me that someone might want to harm me sexually. I trusted people. And that was good – then – but maybe that’s why, years later, when one of my children was being molested by a family member, it never occurred to me such a thing could be happening and that that could be the root of the problems my precious child was experiencing.

These days, we have to put any naivitee aside and sharpen our antennae to know what’s happening with the children around us. Rather than counting on kids to recognize possible danger, we have to be aware of the fact that they’re “just kids” and not all of them have the life experiences to make them adequately guarded in their activities and conversations. When they don’t know what might happen as a result of telling about abuse, their tendency is to remain silent in fear of consequences. We need to be able to recognize the withdrawn silence of a child and encourage freedom of conversation. Part of our job description as adults is to keep a watchful eye over the young ones around us.

Last week, an international operation investigating child pornography and sexual abuse culminated in the arrest of 245 suspects. “Operation Sunflower” identified 123 victims of child exploitation. Forty-four of the victims were living with their alleged abusers and were removed from their homes.

When I think of 44 kids being victimized in their own homes, it makes my blood run cold. How many people were there in the circles surrounding those children who missed the signs of what was happening? Teachers, doctors, siblings, parents, neighbours, aunts, uncles, community workers.... When I think of what those little ones endured in their own homes, I weep. They needed safe homes where they could just be naive little kids.

Several of the children rescued through Operation Sunflower were very young. Five were under the age of three. One of the reasons this trend is increasing is that predators think they’re less likely to be able to “tell.” Nine of the children were between the ages of four and six.

The work of Plan to Protect is critical. By helping to train the adults who surround a child to make sure the world is a safe place for little ones, we are changing lives – individuals, families and communities.

Nothing is more basic that the right of a kid to “be a kid.”

© Diane Roblin-Lee, Jan. 15/13