Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Journey that is Reporting

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

-John Steinbeck


It isn’t easy for a victim of child sexual abuse to come forward. 

It also isn’t easy for the family of the child to encourage them to come forward.


Sometimes the reason is because of stigma. 

Sometimes the reason is because of denial.

Sometimes the reason is because of lack of strength.

It takes courage for both the victim and their family to come forward about the abuse. Part of that is because of community backlash, but part of that is because the perpetrator will also do as much as possible to make the journey extremely difficult and costly to the victim and their family.

Abusers will carefully select the type of victim who is least likely to get them into trouble. That can mean someone who is too shy to come forward, that can also mean someone who is in a situation where they are unable to come forward.

Over the years a number of stories have come my way which illustrate how difficult it can be for the victim and their family when they come forward with the abuse.

In one case, the victim and their family were in the United States illegally. The abuser knew that and used it to his advantage. When the child finally came forward about the abuse, the abuser immediately called the relevant federal authorities to “alert” them about a family who was in the country illegally who should be deported. 

Suddenly, this family wasn’t just facing the legal battle of trying to assist their child who was just sexually abused, but they simultaneously needed to deal with the federal courts trying to deport the entire family.

In another case, the abuser, despite not losing pay (suspended with pay, pending investigation) decided to sue the victim’s family for slander and defamation. 

Being that the victim was a member of a low-income family. They themselves didn’t have the money to even hire a lawyer to help them fight this ridiculous claim.

So the next time someone asks “If this person worked with kids for so long, why is this the first time that we are hearing of such a thing?” or “Why is it after one person comes forward, suddenly others come forward totally out of the blue?” or “If the accuser was telling the truth, why did they drop the case?” the answer is quite simple. The journey that awaits one after reporting child sex abuse is long, emotionally exhausting and financially draining. Many would rather just keep quiet. There are also those who do step forward only to reverse course due to the exhausting nature of the saga.

Sadly, some of the most meticulous abusers know this and will select the children and families who won’t have the courage and strength required to finish this legal quest until the end. 

What can we do?

At the very least, we need to help the victims and their families. We need to give them the support that they need. We must stop enabling the accused to continue their abuse of the victim (and by extension, their family), albeit this time via the legal system.

Also, we need to realize that just because someone didn’t follow through with their claim of abuse, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. 

It can also mean that they didn’t feel safe enough to continue, and that falls directly upon us as a society.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com


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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Flip-Flopping

“Occasions when you can change your mind should be cherished, because they mean you're smarter than you were before.“

-Malcolm Gladwell



A number of years ago, there was a trend to label someone with the negative term “flip-flopper” if they changed their opinion of something after a period of time.

Due to this negative connotation, many people felt forced to stick with their original stance, lest they be branded a flip-flopper.

Despite the fact that calling someone out for flip-flopping is no longer trending, for many the damage is already done. They believe that they cannot, or should not change from their original stance.

These same individuals also have very unfavorable views of people who flip-flop.

In my opinion, not only is this wrong, but it is also quite sad.

Sometimes the issue might be that you didn’t have a specific piece of information at the time of your original decision. Other times you had all the facts, but things changed after choosing the chosen option.

Things change, people change and situations change. What was a wise choice last year might not be the smart option now.

Regardless of the process, it is not only ok to periodically reevaluate whether your initial choice is still the best option, it is ideal to do so.

Here is an example:

For the 1997 Super Bowl, Tostitos bought a 30 second commercial slot at a cost of just under $1.3 million dollars. A lot of time, money and effort went into creating what they believed was going to be the perfect advertisement for their product. Tostitos ultimately decided on a commercial that concluded with an actor bungee jumping with a Tostitos chip in his mouth, dipping the chip into Tostitos salsa at the bottom of his jump.

The commercial was all made and all the executives were excited about how this commercial would help sales soar to levels that they’ve never yet seen.

In the opinion of many, the commercial that they made was the best commercial for both the company and the products being advertised.

Then, three days before the Super Bowl, a bungee jumper who was due to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show died during a practice jump gone wrong.

Tostitos decided it was necessary to reevaluate whether this commercial was still best for the company and the products being advertised 

Even though Tostitos had nothing to do with this tragedy, days before the ad was due to run, they decided to shelve the commercial that they had created specifically for this special occasion.

Tostitos ended up using a very basic and forgettable commercial in its place. Making all the time and money on the research and development of the original commercial a total waste. 

There are many lessons from this story that we can learn both for ourselves, as well as to pass onto our children. 

First, it is okay to change your mind. 

Second, just as one should evaluate the situation before making a decision, one should also gauge as to whether they should stick with their decision or whether a change is the best course of action. 

Third, sometimes you will need to give up on something you’ve invested in, due to zero fault of your own.

Finally, one should never feel handcuffed to a decision due to their investment of time, money or emotions. A person can always walk away from a choice they’ve made.


Side Note: There is a professional term for one who ignores change and insists on sticking with their original plan, despite it no longer being viable. That term is called Continuation Bias, and there are airline pilots who have killed themselves and others due to it. (e.g. refusing to divert to a different airport when bad weather makes landing at the scheduled airport impossible).

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

For Example

 “One good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.”

-Dudley Field Malone

 


 

There are two types of people who speak. There are those who speak because they have a need to speak and there are others who speak in an effort to get their message to be heard. The former are called speakers, the latter are referred to as communicators.

Communicators will attempt to gauge how their message might be perceived and will take steps to ensure that it will not be taken the wrong way.

One way that this can be accomplished is by carefully choosing which examples and analogies one utilizes when delivering their message.

For example, I might have a wonderful example about how President Trump or President Biden have had their words twisted by the media. However, there are people who would use that to segue into a political argument, totally obliterating any hope of delivering the intended message.

Even in situations where the listener doesn’t shift the discussion into a political debate, the mere mention of a political figure with whom the listener disagrees with is enough to get the listener to figuratively mute the one doing the talking. Meaning words are being said, but nothing is being heard.

That’s why I find sports so helpful in my writing and speaking.

Sports can provide examples that most people can both relate to and are willing to hear in its entirety.

While there are many political examples that I can use to illustrate the need to be clear with words and how people can manipulate via cryptic messages, I will use a recent sports story to illustrate this point.

This point wouldn’t be as effective if I used Jared Kushner or Linda Sarsour as the example.

It was reported yesterday that a 24 year old ice hockey goalie lost his life.

The headline says: “Columbus Blue Jackets goalie dies after fireworks accident 

To many this implies that the goalie died due his own improper use of fireworks. It also implies that the fireworks directly lead to his death.

However, per the reports the night after the incident, this person died because he fell and hit his head. Granted he was running due to an issue with fireworks, but was that what you thought when you read the words “died after fireworks accident”? 


There are three main lessons we should take from this.

 

  1. While being succinct is extremely important, it should not come at the expense of the clarity of our message. We need to make sure that the message that we are trying to convey is the message that is being heard.
  1. We should have our radar up when people are giving information to us. Are they trying to deceive us by omitting facts and highlighting non-relevant points? Are they attempting to imply a connection between correlation and causation when none exists?

Don’t be afraid to ask a valid question when you believe someone is doing verbal gymnastics in an attempt to mislead.

I was once speaking to a bochur (single boy) with a suggestion about a girl he should date. When I told him that the girl's parents are married, he immediately asked “to each other or to other people?”

Kudos for him to ask a basic question. The description “her parents are married” is the type of phrase that can be an intentionally misleading statement.

There is too much manipulation and verbal gymnastics out there.

Make sure that the message you are giving over is clear, without the need to decode and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when you’re given a message that requires deciphering.

  1. While controversial topics make for great conversation, steer clear of them when trying to use them as a segue into your point. Often the listeners won’t segue with you.

 

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

 

To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

 

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

DARVO: The Toxic 3 Point Turn

 “I think a lot of what we learn about others isn’t what they tell us. It’s what we observe. People can tell us anything they want.”

― Iain Reid

 


When you watch a professional sporting event, you are watching the culmination of hours of practice and study. Teams employ scouts to observe their opponents in an attempt to gain insight as to their tendencies and behaviors.

 

Knowing how your opponent thinks, acts and executes will give you a tremendous advantage over them.

 

Using soccer as an example, if the goalie knows that a specific player will always try to kick a penalty to the low left corner, it will give the goalie a tremendous advantage when he is tasked with trying to save a penalty kick awarded to this individual.

 

When you learn about people, you can better anticipate their decisions and their actions.

 

Let’s say that Walter has an issue with time. He is habitually late. A co-worker who is unaware of Walter’s issues with punctuality will have a very different reaction to Walter being late than someone who is well aware of Walter’s lack of promptness.

 

Toxic individuals also have specific behaviors and patterns that they tend to resort to.

 

One of their common manipulation strategies is a 3 step process known as DARVO. This is an acronym which stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse the Victim with the Offender.

 

First they will deny the behavior or the wrongdoing within their behavior.

Then they will attack the one who is pointing out the wrongful behavior.

Finally, they will reverse the roles, claiming that they are in fact the victim whilst the one who is confronting their wrongdoings is actually the offender.

 

Here is an illustration of DARVO in action:

Famous male singer gets accused of sexual misconduct of a female:

1- Deny either the event or the severity of the event: “I didn’t do anything” or “I don’t understand why she is making a big deal out of nothing”

2- Attack: “She isn’t emotionally stable” or “She is doing this for money”

3- Reverse the Victim with the Offender: “I don’t know why she is trying to harm me like this. I have a wife and kids and this evil and vindictive woman enters my life and is trying to destroy my family”.

 

Sadly this works all too often.

 

Then there are the times when it gets used in a way that can silence both the accuser and those victims who have yet to come forward.

 

Example: Man of race X gets accused of racism against race Y

1- Deny: “I’m not a racist. I have plenty of friends of that race”

2- Attack: “Those people who are calling me a racist are haters who are trying to cause a rift where one doesn’t exist”

3- Reverse the Victim with the Offender: “I’m receiving so much online hate because I’m a member of race X and we live in a society which tries to harm people of my race”

 

Did you see what just happened in this latest example?

 

If I try to criticize the one accused of the racial comments, it will mean that I am a hater who is trying to cause a rift where one doesn’t exist and that I’m also part of a society who tries to harm members of race X.

 

It aims to silence people, and it sadly works on many.

 

Who are the ones who are most protected from a DARVO attack?

 

Research says that those are the ones who know about DARVO.

 

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about DARVO and other behavior patterns of toxic people, the less likely you are to be one of their victims.

 

Why? You may ask.

 

Just like advance knowledge of a hurricane enables you to properly prepare for the oncoming storm. So too the awareness of an imminent DARVO attack can empower you to properly protect yourself from the slings and arrows emanating from this toxic manipulator.

 

 

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

 

To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com

 

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Misguided Defense

“Don't allow being taught the wrong way for so long make you think it's right.”

― Carlos Wallace 



Recently, a very famous athlete in the United States has been accused by over a dozen women, specifically massage therapists, of sexual harassment. 

It isn’t my place to discuss these claims. Whether athletes behave differently because they think they can get away with anything. Whether they are bigger targets because they are famous, have money and a reputation that they’d like to protect. Either way, this isn’t my field of expertise. Therefore I will neither be discussing this specific case, nor the sexual abuse of women by men in general.

I am mentioning this case because the accused and those who seek to defend him have recently attempted to use two specific claims in an attempt to show his innocence. These are identical to those that I’ve often heard from those defending a child molester.

As such, I will be addressing these two defenses when applied to child molesters.

Here are the claims:

  1. “But look how righteous this person is. Look at all the charitable work he does, etc. Obviously someone like this could never harm a child.”

  2. “Granted X number of children are accusing him of wrongdoing, but we have three times as many children who insist that he never did anything wrong to them”

The first claim is based upon the incorrect perception that evil people are completely evil and that good people are completely good. The fact that a person is charitable with their money has no bearing as to whether or not they are a child molester (or wife beater, rapist, hacker or anything else for that matter). On some occasions the abuser will even use kindness as a means towards grooming the community that they, the abuser, is incapable of doing such horrific acts. 

In short, you never really know what is going on with a person. The fact that they “check the good boxes” in one area doesn’t mean they check ALL the “good boxes”.

As misguided as the first claim is, it is the second claim that really gets my blood boiling.

First of all, it assumes that the other children are being truthful when claiming they weren’t abused. Despite the fact that their friends had the courage to come forward, they might not be ready for that yet.

But even if all the other children are truthful while claiming that they weren’t abused sexually, why is their not being abused a proof that the ones claiming abuse must be lying?


There is this misnomer that a child sexual abuser will abuse every single child that they have access to. In the majority of cases, this is a complete falsehood. Some choose the kids who are least likely to get them into trouble. Some have a specific type of child that they prefer. Others mindfully won’t abuse a handful of children just so that they’ll have access to this very claim!


When discussing this very topic with people, I’ll ask them bluntly: “ If you are stuck in an elevator with a member of the other gender, and you don’t kiss them, does that prove you aren’t a heterosexual?”


Obviously it proves nothing.

Just like the kids who claim that the abusers didn’t abuse them proves nothing regarding the claims of abuse made by the other children.

The sooner we as a society can rid ourselves of these myths about child sex abuse and those who perpetrate these unspeakable acts, the better we can protect our children.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com


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Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Dose Makes the Poison

 “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.”


― Paracelsus


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I love a good quote. 


This is evident from the fact that I always start my articles with a quote.


But why do I love quotes so much?


One of the reasons is because a good quote is able to take a detailed principle and encapsulate it into a few select words. 


For example, I could write about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how people with minimal skills think that their skills can solve all, whilst those with more skills can more easily recognize when they lack the ability to solve the issue. Or I can make that all very succinct by quoting “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.


I recently heard a quote for the very first time, and this quote made my jaw drop.


“The dose makes the poison”.


This quote is golden. If people could only properly incorporate it into their mindset, things would be much better. 


Very few things are “bad”, the issue is when they are used too much. 


There is no problem taking time for yourself, the problem lies in the dosage.


Should you be trusting or skeptical? The dose will make the poison.


Life is about finding a balance. 


The work/family balance.


The juggling between when to take risks and when to be cautious.


When I heard this quote from a doctor, he was using it in the context of food. That even excess of a single “healthy” food can be poisonous if consumed in extreme excess. 


So too with our behaviors.


So too with our choices.


So too with our thought processes. 


We too often focus on “right vs. wrong”. 


Things aren’t so black and white. 


It isn’t wrong to think about oneself, to do something for oneself.


Like with everything else, it is all in the dosage.



Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.


To speak with Yisroel about presenting at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at yisroel@ympicker.com


Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn Here

Follow Yisroel on Facebook Here