Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Ashamed Man

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                           

I am a grown man who has carried around with him the burden of not jumping to the defense of a girl in my class when I was in high school. She was being ridiculed, bullied and I suspect worse tormenting.

I was too embarrassed to say anything because the guys bullying her were friends of mine. I was afraid they would think I was a wimp if I spoke up for her because I was already shy.

The girl being humiliated and hurt was in some of my classes. She was always very kind and beautiful inside and out. I still remember the pain in her eyes because I didn’t stick up for her. She probably thought of me as her friend because I did sit and talk with her in one of my classes.

I can’t shake that feeling that I should have, would have and so on. I’m still sorry that I wasn’t man enough to step up to the plate. It’s been about a dozen years since then. I just don’t know how to get rid of these thoughts.

Now I have a daughter and I would never want her to be harmed like that and not have someone help her out.
What can I do?
Ashamed Man

Dear Ashamed Man,

Thank you for maturing into a “stand-up” man. You have helped to start healing many hearts today, just by telling girls everywhere that you are truly sorry.

Your apology will also give many girls and women hope—hope that boys who do not stand up for them now, might stand up for them when they are grown and good men. You give optimism to girls that guys may mature enough to take responsibility for their actions or inactions. 

Boys need to be taught to be gentlemen just as much as girls need to be taught to be ladies. This creates a civil society, something our world is sorely missing today.

Your remorse will start the process of forgiving yourself. How wonderful to be on the path of finding personal peace! You are also on the path of being a good example for your daughter.
You can start your daughter on our Triangle of Triumph™, which is preventing or restoring her from Victim to Survivor to Leader.

All of our girls need to learn how to be less vulnerable to bullying. Teach her that if she becomes a victim, she does not have to remain one. Start a dialogue with her and help her learn to define herself and then become an assertive, but not aggressive, leader.

Teach her that if she becomes a victim, it is not her fault. Most victims of bullying feel unwarranted shame. 

Let her know you are there to protect her and that is your job as her parent. Tell her she is a daughter of God and has great worth. Tell her to never fear telling an adult she is being bullied or someone she knows is bullied. If that adult doesn’t do anything to help her, tell her to keep telling adults until someone does something and not to give up. Tell her to reject “just ignore them and it will stop” messages that don’t work.

Put her in classes that develop her sense of well being. Have her identify and define her talents; such as compassion, or a sport or something artistic.

One last effort you could make, if you know the name of the girl that has been haunting you, find her and tell her you are sorry. She may or may not be receptive but that isn’t the point. It could help heal her and you.

Congratulations for being conscientious! Now, forgive yourself and help anti-bully endeavors in any way you can.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My friend's a cutter--what do I do?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Hi! I am very concerned about one of my best friends and was wondering if you could help me out?

She is suicidal and does not think highly of herself at all. Almost every day she comes to school, and I notice she had recently been cutting herself. I have tried and tried to build up her confidence by telling her how beautiful, smart, and caring she is! But she replies by telling me that she is hideous and everyone hates her!

One day she decided that she would try to stop. So, we did this thing where everyone who cared for her and wanted her to stop, would write their name on her wrist and if she did it again, she would be hurting all of us. She quit for about two days, which made me very happy and proud! The next day, I found out that she had been cutting her thighs so we could not tell. I was very disappointed and I decided to just give up. But it just does not feel right letting her continue! I have talked to her before, but she just talks bad about herself the whole time!

My friends and I have been trying to help her for the last two months. We can't decide if we should just ignore her and stop giving her the attention or keep helping her! But what else can we do to help? Please help us.


Friend's a Cutter

Dear Friend's a Cutter,

You are a true friend and you need to remember that so you do not become depressed and codependent. Your idea to have other friends write their name on her wrist was very creative, smart, loving and thoughtful. You have done your best.

We are sure that your friend loves and appreciates you, however, the fact that she did cut herself again, but not where you could easily see it, shows that her issue isn't about you and others that care. Her issue could be caused by self-hatred, usually from deep and severe trauma

Cutting is rarely for attention seeking purposes. It's the only way some girls feel they can release their internal pain externally. It's often an impulse that's hard to stop once started.

Your friend needs professional treatment. Please tell a trusted adult who may help her. Here are some facts:

•One out of 12 teens deliberately hurt themselves with cutting, predominantly, and burning

•In the United States, one in every 200 teens from 13-19 are self harming

•70% are girls and girls as young as nine years old have started cutting

•It takes a complex treatment plan that may take years to work

Your friend wants and needs your love and acceptance. Please continue to smile at her and include her in your activities.


•Help get her adult help-no matter what

•Take it seriously

•Be supportive

•Help stop others from bullying her by not talking/ gossiping about her at all \


•Be angry

•In denial

•Think it's a passing phase

•Accuse her of attention seeking

Please take care of yourself, though, by not talking about her suicidal thoughts and cutting any-more. That's the most helpful attention you can give her.

You may start letting her know that you still care by saying, in a gentle way, that she needs to have more help than you and other friends can provide.

You've placed a huge burden on your shoulders that can't stay there. It's a burden meant for adults and professionals to handle. Don't feel guilty that you need to give that burden away for your own emotional health. Please tell a trusted adult at your school, home, and church today.

Thank you for writing. We invite others who have experienced this situation to share your stories with us.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

My sister's a bully

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                           

I'm 13 and my big sister is 17. We used to get along but our dad is in jail for raping me. He was caught with me in our basement by my babysitter and I had to go to court, but I don't remember a lot.

It used to happen to me a lot when I was about 4 years old until I was 9 when he was caught. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't think anyone would believe me. I wanted to tell my sister at least, but I was too scared.

My mom said it was hard for her to believe too, but she has taken me to therapy for the last couple of years. My sister won't go.

My mom doesn't know that my sister says mean things to me behind her back like, "you're such a little liar" and "you ruined our lives just to get attention" and more. She must also tell things like this to other kids and everyone's mad at me.

I don't want to tell my mom because she'll just make it worse and then no one will like me. And I don't want to hurt her feelings because my mom's super depressed anyway.

Signed, I Can't Stand This!

Dear I Can't Stand This,

You are a very brave girl to face such a tragedy in your life. The hardest part of betrayal, such as what happened to you, is not having others believe you and accepting that some people just won't believe this type of behavior happened in their very own family.

It's great that your mom believes you and is trying her best to make sure you reduce the devastation of sexual abuse, especially when it is your father. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-esteem issues, dissociative disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and many other consequences come from these sick acts.

Almost one third of all child sexual abuse offenders are relatives of the child, usually the brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins. Only about ten percent are strangers and the rest are acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters or neighbors.

It may be that your sister doesn't understand the damage she is doing by not believing you. She may not be able to accept the truth of what happened to you. It may be that your sister is a victim of your father's incest also. People only remember whatever they are able to bear. Statistics tell us, however, that incest usually happens to all sisters. She is the only one that knows her truth. Her reality is something she will have to come to terms with and it's not your job to make her or anyone else believe you. Plus, it's not your job to try to make her remember something that may or may not have happened to her.

Your job is to know that God knows the truth, your mom knows the truth, your therapist knows the truth and most importantly ... YOU know the truth! Your chances of having a great life are so much better because you are accepting the truth and getting help. Kudos need to go to your mom. Make sure you let her know that you appreciate her help. Maybe that will cheer her up somewhat.

It is possible to choose and decide to become happy and emotionally healthy as an adult. It seems you are on your way by not accepting victimhood and choosing to get the help you can with your therapist. You will be glad you have a mom who decided you need guidance from a professional.

You are defining yourself now and no one else gets to do that. Not your sister or anyone else in your town. Never forget this!

Make your life magical! Find your talents, get a great advanced education and help others who have suffered as you have. Make a fabulous difference in the lives of others. This is your recipe for joy in this life.


Rhonda and Dr. Cheri