Entries in abuse (13)


Survey Shows Staggering Amount of Children Are Victims of Violence

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new survey found that a startling number of children and teenagers under the age of 18 have been the victims of physical violence in the last year.

According to a survey published in the journal Pediatrics, over 40 percent of U.S. children and adolescents were victims of violence, including more than 10 percent that suffered serious injuries.

The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence included data concerning assault with and without weapons, attempted or completed kidnapping, dating violence and bias attacks. Bullying, threats or Internet attacks were considered non-violent problems and were excluded.

The survey found that 13.7 percent of young people experienced repeated violent incidents at the hands of a caregiver.

Additionally, two percent of children under the age of 17 responded saying they have been sexually assaulted or abused in the last year. That number was much higher, almost 11 percent, among girls between the ages of 14 and 17.

The authors of the survey believe that exposure to violence impacts both the individual child as well as having important societal effects. The authors also believe that intense tracking of children's exposure to violence is an imperative first step.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


A Doctor's Take on Painkiller Abuse

A Doctor's Take on Painkiller AbuseDoctor's Notebook by NORLEENA GULLETT, M.D.

(NEW YORK) -- Some doctors knowingly prescribe powerful painkillers to patients who abuse them, according to a new editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And as upsetting as it is, I'm one of those doctors.

As a resident physician in radiation oncology, I prescribe narcotics daily. All my patients have cancer. And with cancer comes cancer treatments, some of the most painful procedures medicine has to offer.

One of my patients, a young woman, had lingering pain from surgery, chemo and radiation. Both the attending physician and I were very sympathetic, and continued to prescribe daily Percocet.

Then I got a call from Medicaid telling me the refill prescription I wrote was too soon -- that the patient didn't qualify for a refill yet as she had already received 90 tablets. My sympathy dissolved as, confused, I called the pharmacy to confirm the prescription.

Our clinic still uses handwritten prescription pads, and my patient had changed the number of tablets from 30 to 90 -- a simple alteration, and a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the state.

My patient had also changed a Percocet prescription from her chemotherapy doctor. She spent four days in jail and missed four radiation treatments.

Prescription forging happens. And while doctors are aware of the problem, we don't often consider it at the point of care -- the moment patients tell us they're in pain. A 2011 survey from Yale University found nearly a third of patients who abused narcotic painkillers reported obtaining them from a doctor.

Do I think my patient was abusing Percocet? Maybe, but the answer isn't quite that easy. Maybe she had more pain and was afraid to tell us. Maybe we had unconsciously communicated that her pain should have been well-controlled with the drugs we gave her. Or maybe she was selling the extra pills to help pay for her treatment.

So what was I to do when she returned for radiation treatment after her release from jail? She still had cancer, still had pain from her operation and was still undergoing daily treatment. Most important, she was still my patient.

My attending physician took over the patient's pain management and drafted a pain contract -- a document that detailed what medication would be prescribed, who would prescribe it, along with rules that the patient agreed to follow. We also kept close contact with the patient's other providers.

I keep hoping that our clinic will switch to electronic prescribing, which would make it harder for patients to alter prescriptions.

But while prescription drug abuse is a problem and needs to be recognized, the reasons doctors prescribe painkillers should not be forgotten.

Dr. Norleena Gullett is a resident physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Indiana University, The Simon Cancer Center

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Children Carry Invisible Scars from Psychological Abuse

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Physical abuse of children carries undeniable marks of pain, but in many cases the hidden scars associated with psychological abuse may be more detrimental in the long run, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics position statement published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Psychological abuse may be the most common form of child abuse and often the hardest to treat, according to the paper.

"This is an area easily overlooked because it's hard to articulate," said Ruth Anan, director of the early childhood program at the Center for Human Development at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Many child health experts have grappled with properly identifying and defining the threshold for psychological abuse.

"We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted," said Dr. Harriet MacMillan, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences and pediatrics at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Ontario, and an author of the paper.

Psychological abuse can range from depriving a child of social interactions to terrorizing. Single events of repetitive yelling were not defined as psychological abuse, according to MacMillan.  Rather, abuse included ongoing events of belittling a child or consistent neglect, in each case "with or without the intention to harm," according to the paper.

Parents are most often the perpetrators and in many cases they do not know that their actions are considered abuse, many experts said.

The abuse, especially incurred within the first three years of life, can affect a child's development and lead to attachment disorder, delayed development, erratic behavior and socialization problems, according to the paper.

"The dose of abuse is an important factor to determine how severe the child's reaction will be," said Anan.  "The frequency of the abuse and also the perpetrator and how influential they are in the child's life also affects the outcome."

More severe effects of the abuse may not be apparent in a child until much later.

"Children who are victims of emotional violence may appear totally normal when away from the family," said Dr. Astrid Heger, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Southern California Medical Center.

Previous studies suggest that nearly 9 percent of women and 4 percent of men in the U.K. and the U.S. have reported experiencing extreme psychological abuse during childhood.

Even when such psychological abuse is clearly defined in a clinical setting, many experts said it's difficult for children to receive the necessary intervention.

"The systems charged with the protection of children like to have physical evidence that abuse is occurring," said Heger.  "They tend to see emotional abuse as nebulous and blurry and usually will not intervene."

A parent or other adults in the child's life are often the best people to help clinicians identify whether there is a problem, said Heger.

Some signals of abuse are detectable. Children exposed to psychological abuse are often hypervigilant or paranoid. They may also emulate the abusive behavior they are exposed to, said Heger.

"They also will react to other peers in the same manner that they are being treated at home," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why Would Rihanna Let Chris Brown Back Into Her Life?

Chris Polk/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Rihanna debuted her sexually charged “Birthday Cake” remix Monday, and the man who bloodied and bruised her three years ago, Chris Brown, appears on the new version, rapping about how he wants to “f***” her and “give it to her in the worst way.” Listeners can also hear Rihanna’s vocals featured on the new version of Chris Brown’s “Turn Up the Music,” which was released Monday.

While some fans have expressed acceptance and even excitement about the collaboration, others are outraged, announcing their loss of respect for the pop princess for what seems like welcoming her former abuser back into her life.

Without having treated Rihanna or knowing the full details of the continuing saga of Rihanna and Chris Brown, experts weighed in on the rekindled music relationship. While some said the revived pair is inappropriate and dangerous, others suggest that Rihanna may have healed from the experience and now feels empowered to separate business and personal relationships.

“It is always a little worrisome to see an abused woman readmit her abuser into her life,” said Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. “This is, however, quite common and we often see women willing to forgive men for some of the awful things that they have done. As psychologists, we are always working to get people to change their behaviors and hope we can be successful.  We advocate the ability to forgive, but not necessarily forget.”

The cycle of domestic abuse can be a confusing one for all those involved or witnessing it, said Dr. Sudeepta Varma, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine and a member of the American Psychiatric Association. While common sense tells most people to permanently stay away from something so damaging, victims can fall back into their abuser’s web of charm, promises of change and grand gestures of apology.

“The highs the abusers provide their victims are like no other, and the memory and potency of the positive experiences draws the victim back in for more,” said Varma. “The victim is often someone who is psychologically vulnerable to this type of charm, deceit and grandiose behavior. Underneath the debonair exterior of the abuser lies a person with gross lack of empathy, disregard for rules and norms of society. [These are] many qualities we see in people with personality disorders.”

Rihanna seemed to allude to the situation with her former flame Tuesday while accepting best international female artist at the Brit Awards. “At times when I feel misunderstood, my fans always remind me that it’s O.K. to be myself,” she said during her speech.

Varma said society doesn’t expect women who are beautiful, talented, wealthy, and who have many options surrounding her to fall prey to such behavior, but, “domestic violence is an equalizer.”

It is more about psychological dependence, low-self esteem, and believing that this person, who is good to you sometimes, is really your best and only option out there, Varma continued.

“You are willing to overlook the bad, because the good feels so good,” said Varma. “It sends a confusing message to concerned parties and continued contact with a former abuser sends a message that you have accepted, tolerated and maybe even condoned this type of behavior.”

Nevertheless, Martin Binks, clinical director & CEO of Binks Behavioral Health, said women who are victims of abuse do not have to remain victims of their abuser forever.

“Why must we insist on disempowering victims by questioning their judgment without all the facts?” said Binks. “People may be forgetting that perhaps she has recovered and is a strong independent woman who is empowered enough to make this decision thoughtfully and without there being some pathological explanation. Only she and her therapist are qualified to have an opinion on this topic, in my opinion,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nearly Half of Students Say They’re Sexually Harassed at School

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly half of seventh to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment at school in 2010, according to a survey released Monday by the American Association of University Women. Most of them said the harassment had taken a toll on their productivity in school.

The report surveyed 1,965 students in May and June 2011, and found that more than 56 percent of girls reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment compared with 40 percent of boys. Sexual harassment included anything from unwelcome sexual comments and jokes to physical gestures.

According to the findings, the most common form of harassment boys experienced was being called “gay.”

The survey did not ask students to report how often they were harassed within the school year. But, according to Holly Kearl, co-author of the report, the finding that only 9 percent of students reported harassment to an adult suggests it is a larger problem than previously believed.

“When we talk about sexual harassment, many people want to think about it as an adult problem,” said Kearl. “But this is happening to 12-year-olds.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Kearl, who called for programs that include all school members, including parents and administrators. “There needs to be a climate of prevention from all sides.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scientists Developing Date Rape Drug Detector

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- A quick stir of your drink could soon reveal whether it's been spiked with date rape drugs, researchers say.

Israeli scientists say they've developed a sensor that looks like a straw or a stirrer that can detect two of the most commonly used date rape drugs with 100 percent accuracy.

"It samples a very small volume of the drink and mixes it with a testing solution," said Fernando Patolsky, chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University and co-creator of the device. "That causes a chemical reaction that makes the solution cloudy or colored, depending on the drug."

The reaction then turns on a tiny red light, alerting users in even the dingiest bars to ditch the drink.

Patolsky said the device should cost less than a drink and could be used multiple times until it reacts with a drug. It currently detects GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) and ketamine. But the team hopes to add Rohypnal -- "roofies" -- to the list within the year.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, with 73 percent of victims knowing their assailants.

But the use of GHB, ketamine and Rohypnol -- powerful sedatives that are odorless, colorless and tasteless -- is actually very low, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jaycee Dugard Sparks Powerful Reaction from Abuse Survivors

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Watching Jaycee Dugard describe overcoming the scars from her 18 year abduction gave Janice Norwood hope that her daughter, missing for 22 years, is still alive and that she will see her again.

"Seeing Jaycee Dugard and her mother, I just...that would be so awesome and I just got to believe it's going to happen someday," Norwood said.

Norwood, 62, was one of nearly 15 million people who tuned in to Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Dugard, the California woman abducted at 11 and held captive in a backyard compound for nearly two decades. Dugard and the two daughters she gave birth to in that backyard prison were rescued in 2009.

The 31-year-old Dugard gave a rare glimpse into life of an abducted person and the way a predator operates. For Norwood, whose daughter Kimberly disappeared in 1989 at age 12, watching Dugard gave her a window into how her daughter might be living if she's alive.

"I have wondered so many times like what she's been put through...I have thought of Kim being drugged up, of being tied up, locked up...I try not to think about that," Norwood said.

Norwood's daughter, Kim, disappeared walking home from a friend's house in their Hallsville, Texas, neighborhood. Norwood still looks down her driveway when she's watering the grass or plants hoping her daughter will appear. She said she gathered strength from watching Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn. Probyn described working tirelessly to find Dugard and said she always had a gut feeling her daughter was still alive.

Norwood was one of hundreds who flocked to Facebook to thank Dugard for her bravery. As soon as the interview aired, viewers tweeted and posted comments about the impact of Dugard's story on them.

One person commented, "the next time someone tells me they can't, I will say three words, 'Jaycee Lee Dugard.'"

A woman posted on Sawyer's Facebook page that Dugard is a "universal lift for the human spirit."

Dugard recounted the abuse and manipulation she suffered at the hands of her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She also emphasized how she's worked hard to overcome the horror she suffered.

Dugard gave the interview and released her memoir, A Stolen Life, because she doesn't want to keep any more secrets.

"Why not look at it? You know, stare it down until it can't scare you anymore," Dugard told Sawyer.

That confidence and bravery resonated with several abuse survivors.

A teenager commented, "I suffered molestation for eight years from my biological father before I told my mom. It's been four years since I've told and I still have not talked about it to my therapist. Hopefully, this will give me courage to overcome my fear of telling her. Thank you."

Another sexual abuse survivor wrote, "It's so easy to 'give in' to the pain and horror of it and let what happened become you. She [Jaycee Dugard] has shown me in so many ways, that now at 51, I have no excuse for not moving on and and helping whoever I can. Thank you, Jaycee, for being who you are."

Beth Hughes, 53, said that she was glued to the television when Dugard recounted her abuse. Memories of the molestation she suffered as a child came flooding back.

"Wow, here's a girl 18 years held captive and she's sharing her story and it just made me think...if more people, not just Jaycee talk about their journey and their recovery from the pain of it, I think a lot more people will be healthy mentally."

Dugard described shutting off a "switch" to survive in the oppressive environment of her captors. "You just do what you have to do to survive," she told Sawyer. Dugard said that she doesn't feel a rage building inside of her towards the Garrido couple. Instead, she refuses to let them have any more of her. Dugard's desire to build a future resonates with Hughes.

"You can't get the time back, you can only go forward...that clicked when I saw Jaycee," Hughes said. "I feel like I needed to help even one person whose struggling with things that happened to them in childhood and it's affecting them in adulthood," Hughes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Pain Doc Suspended; 34 Patients Dead

Comstock/Thinkstock(LAKE CITY, Fla.) -- A Florida pain doctor could be charged in the death of many of his patients.

Dr. Joseph Hernandez was suspended July 6 by the Florida Department of Health for overprescribing opiate painkillers, addictive drugs that can be lethal in high doses.

Of the 761 patients Hernandez saw at his Lake City clinic between January and April 2011, 34 are dead, according to a Florida Department of Health report.

"I mean, people are going to abuse drugs," Gilbert Schaffnit, Hernandez's defense attorney, told ABC News affiliate WCJB. "The question is, how is any doctor, Dr. Hernandez or any health care provider, going to be able to control against that?"

Schaffnit, who advised his client not to speak to the media, said Hernandez prescribed extra pills to spare his patients the cost of follow-up visits.

"The basic reason he prescribes the amount that he prescribes is because every time these people come back for refills, of course they're charged another doctor visit," Schaffnit told WCJB.

The Department of Health claims those extra pills led to fatal overdoses.

Hernandez is the fifth highest prescriber of oxycodone, the main ingredient in OxyContin, in Florida, a state notorious for "pill mills" that sell prescription drugs under the guise of clinics.

Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, according to the Gil Kerlikowske, White House director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. With 28,000 deaths in 2007, Kerlikowske said, it has surpassed the crack cocaine problem of the 1980s and the heroin epidemic of the 1990s combined.

In April 2011, the Obama administration released a national plan to cut the rate of prescription drug abuse by 15 percent within five years by establishing state drug-monitoring programs, take-back initiatives that safely dispose of prescription drugs and education programs for patients and health care providers.

Hernandez's clinic, which investigators considered a pill mill, is closed until further notice. No hearing date has been set.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Schoolyard Bullies More Likely to Abuse Spouses as Adults

Jupiterimages/LiquidLibrary(BOSTON) -- Schoolyard bullies are likely to grow up to be adults who abuse their wives and girlfriends, according to a new study.

The study, published this week in the journal Pediatrics, surveyed more than 1,400 men between the ages of 18 and 35 at an urban community center in Boston. It found that men who recalled being frequent bullies in school were four times more likely to physically abuse their partner than those who reported never bullying in school.

"Individuals who are likely to perpetrate abusive behaviors against others may do so across childhood into adulthood," concluded the report, which was led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study also found a link between "bullying others at school and perpetration of IPV (intimate partner violence]."

It was the latest study to indicate that many bullies do not outgrow their aggression. Past research has shown that bullies are at a higher risk of bullying their own kids, losing a job, and getting involved in the criminal justice system.

Adults with a history of bullying are 10 times more likely to lie than those with no bullying history, according to a study published in the September 2010 Psychiatric Quarterly. They also have a higher likelihood of stealing and cheating, the study found.

Mounting research suggests that for both men and women bullies tend to remain bullies. Women, however, are less likely to be the aggressor in an intimate partner relationship, according to developmental and behavioral psychologist Lori Warner in Royal Oak, Mich., who was not involved with the Harvard-led study.

"Girls who are engaging in actual bullying in school, it's typically a social, emotional type of bullying," said Warner. "Boys are more likely to be physically aggressive."

The new study indicates that identifying bullies when they are young and changing their behavior can have significant consequences, particularly for women who might otherwise be abused. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Administration Seeks Tougher Painkiller Regulations

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Public health and law enforcement officials in the Obama administration released a national anti-abuse plan for prescription drugs Tuesday. 

The plan would require physicians to participate in an educational training before they are permitted to prescribe painkillers such as OxyContin.

Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic levels, but with this plan, officials hope to reduce the rate of abuse for these drugs by 15 percent within five years.

"We are in the midst of a public health crisis driven by prescription drug abuses," Gil Kerlikowske, White House Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), said at a press conference Tuesday.

The plan -- called "The Administration's Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis" -- will also support state-based programs to monitor prescription drug use as well as programs for the safe disposal of prescription narcotics.

Administration officials add that legislation on the matter will also be introduced in Congress, requiring prescriber education training for doctors, but they remained tight-lipped on when or who might introduce the bill.

With mortality rates for prescription drug abuse exceeding overdose deaths from cocaine and heroin combined, Kerlikowske also said -- under the not-yet-introduced bill -- the DEA  would be able to crack down on doctors who run "pill mills," illegally giving narcotics aways for money.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio