Where psychology meets African-American culture & trends.

Power Struggles: Evaluating Lethal Force of the Law

I used to work at a residential treatment center for youth with mental and behavioral problems.  Before you could begin working, whether you were a therapist, management, or child care worker, you had to go through a 2 week training on how to deal with behavioral issues.  This population were all teens, and their issues would cause them to act out in self-destructive and/or violent ways.  We were expected to be able to de-escalate these situations, be that through conversations, behavioral management techniques, or the least desirable physical restraint.  One of the main “mantras” that was drilled in us was to avoid “power struggles.”  power struggle2

Power struggles would often occur when a child was being oppositional or they felt that their rights were not being adhered to.  The child would challenge the authority of the staff member, and if you were not careful you would be baited into a situation whereby you are trying to prove your upper hand.  The staff who were not careful to disengage these power struggles, were often the staff with the most abuse allegations.  Why is that?  Because once you’re in a power struggle, it doesn’t end until the point has been proven on who has the power.

As I look at the current state of our country with regards to race relations, all I can hear is the mantra “avoid power struggles.”  Trayvon Martin died for not answering to a neighborhood watchman.  Eric Garner choked to death by police for selling single cigarettes.  Michael Brown shot several times for walking in the street.  Now amidst the debates, there are arguments addressing the behaviors of the victims and whether they contributed to their own death – much like the staff at the residential treatment facility would make their defense based on the oppositional behavior of the youth.  And just as they asked us in our internal investigations I ask “did you engage a power struggle?”

This country has a long history of enforcing perceived authority and power.  It is apparent to me that these officers felt their power was being defied, hence the need to get more aggressive, as if they are symbolically beating their chest.  So now our country is in a racial turmoil and Ferguson, Missouri is on fire because a couple of teens continued to walk in the street and an officer refused to have his authority denied.  All across the country people walk in the street and personally living in the suburbs, I’m always driving around power walkers and those moms with the super 3-wheeled strollers for their babies.  Are they too in that much violation of the law that they require strict and aggressive enforcement of the law?

In order to address the issue of power struggles, we first have to address the perception of power.  The enforcement of power is determined by the way a person views their subjects.  Take for instance T.J. Lane.  This adolescent male committed a school shooting that resulted in the death of 3 fellow students.  Lane was chased out of the school by a teacher and later found and arrested by the police.  Based on the lethality assessments that I conduct in my work, Lane was definitely a high risk lethal threat, however the police found a way to subdue and arrest him without harming him.  The perception of Lane is that he is a troubled youth who needs help.

In the case of Michael Brown, officer Darren Wilson while reporting to the grand jury, shared his opinions on “that community” being “hostile”, “just not a very well liked community” and “feared Brown could beat him to death” (while he was in his cruiser).  Now based on the lethality assessment, there is low to no risk considering there was no act of violence preceding this confrontation.  After the fact, the shoplifting story surfaced but initially Brown was confronted for walking in the street.  So what makes the involvement of the policing system different in this instance than that of the Lane situation is the perception of the offender.

So, one must address the origin of a perception.  How you perceive a person will dictate how you will treat a person.  As painful as this may be for the powers of America to see, the people of Ferguson were not seen as people who needed protection and help but are considered hostile and not very well liked.  This perception was there at the moment officer Warren confronted Brown, it dictated his tone, his reaction, his influence of power.  When Brown defied him and continued to walk in the street, the perception was that this person of “that community” is “hostile” and “not very well liked” and he felt the need to impose his power.  I ask Officer Warren and the countless other officer who use excessive force, “did you engage in a power struggle?”  Power struggle


OWN’s “Dark Girls” – My Commentary

Last night, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) premiered a documentary by Bill Duke called “Dark Girls.” dark girls The film successfully explored the discussion of complexion and its affects on the self-esteem of African American girls.  The “color complex” has long been an issue in the African American community, and I touched on this topic in January 2012 in my entry, “Color Struck: The Impact of Complexion Perception in Family Dynamics.”  At that time, I shared about how issues of complexion plays a large part in assessing family dynamics and areas of family conflict amongst African Americans.

What intrigued me about the “Dark Girls” documentary was that it took the discussion on a more global scale.  The story starts out discussing African American girls’ assessment of intelligence and beauty based on a color chart.  It revealed the negative thinking patterns that influence the self-esteem in these girls at such a young age.  It is often thought that the color complex is something that is perpetuated solely within the African American community.  Certainly, the film portrayed African Americans’ quiet beliefs of lighter skinned women as being beautiful and wanting to marry persons that can give them lighter babies.  It also discussed how the color complex has its roots in slavery – the lighter skinned slaves having relationship to the slave owners, and therefore getting special privileges; causing a sort of jealousy amongst African Americans.

Yet, the discussion becomes even broader.  The director shows how complexion is viewed in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.  It was revealed that all over the world, people have a concept that whiter skin makes a person more acceptable.  Whiter skin not only represents intelligence and beauty, but also a higher station.  Hence, the color complex is not just an African American issue, perpetuated by the African American community.

Globally, the desire to have whiter skin is ever more popular.  “Dark Girls” goes on to discuss the popularity of skin lightening creams in Africa and Asia, despite their severe health risks.  Because this is a global problem, there ought to be a more global solution.  The problem not only arises out of the African Slave Trade, but also in the European colonization of the world.  This is not to say that all people of European descent of today should be held in contempt for the self-esteem of non-Caucasian people.  However, we must look at the expansive psychological effects of race and power.  We can not deny history in order to refrain from indirectly “laying a guilt trip.”

So what is the solution?  Needless to say, global race relations is a humungous ocean-liner that will take a long time to turn around.  It starts in every community – taking steps to include the images of non-Caucasians in the portrayal of intelligence, beauty, and power.  Media plays a large part in what is revered and what is mocked.  OWN made a landmark decision to premier this documentary, because most networks are now finding race relations, as it pertains to African American, to be redundant.  Yet in its airing, “Dark Girls” is sparking conversations in communities all over the world.  Now these conversations can spark a movement within the smaller communities.  This movement should include mentoring/educational programs for the younger children, to teach them to love themselves; for the older children and adults, to reteach them who they are.  In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you get, give; when you learn, teach.”

Virtue Inc For Women – A New “Social Program”

Hello all!  I know it has been a long time since I last posted and it is long-overdue.  It was not my intentions to neglect my blog but I have been engaging in some new business ventures.  Afrotherapy, which set out to be a biweekly blog, became inactive due to my personal time restraints.  However, I am planning to revive it but on a monthly basis.

My time and attention was redirected as I started out on a new business venture.  I already had my private practice where I am a mental health therapist.  The practice is doing well and the client case load is steady.  As I became more established, I began to draw primarily  women (especially African-American)  from a range of economic backgrounds, but the majority were from low-to-moderate incomes.  Hearing common themes from the clients, ignited a passion that I had dwelling in me for about two decades.

While in college in the 1990’s, I began to envision a social program for women.  It started with a piece of the vision, and a few years later another piece would come into view, and so on.  Over the last couple of years, the vision became more concrete, and in June of 2012, I had the first official board meeting for Virtue Inc For WomenThe mission statement is Virtue Inc For Women is a non-profit, faith based organization providing community programming for women, adolescent and adult, of low to moderate income for the purpose of improving self-esteem and self-efficacy.

The reason I felt such a push to materialize this vision is the therapeutic need for social programs, especially when working with clients of lower incomes.  I facetiously use the term “Social Program” because we are in the throws of an election and that seems to be the buzz word, as with any presidential election.  However, I look at it as “Supportive Programming” because from my professional viewpoint I see the need.  It becomes difficult, as a therapist, to encourage behaviors when the client’s entire support system is plagued with dysfunction. There is a breakdown in the social supports and a lot of people are waging an uphill battle with their emotions, because they are trying to do it alone.  Therefore Virtue Inc for Women has set out to provide programming for women, adolescent and adult, that will create another environment that they can find support to help them practice and implement the skills that are taught in therapy.

Please check out the website, Virtue Inc For Women, to find out more about the programming that we are implementing and if you feel so compelled please support us.  We are very grassroots with absolutely no budget and operate with only volunteers.  So any support is welcomed!

Promoting Mental Health Awareness Month in the African-American Community

May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month across the United States.  Many organizations like NAMI and SAMHSA have been supporting initiatives via grants and promotional materials to help agencies and organizations across the country provide education and resources to the American community at large on mental health.  I thought a lot about what to write about to promote this, while still addressing issues concerning the African American Community.  I believe that the best approach is to assist in the dissemination of information and increase awareness of mental health in the African American community and how services are regarded.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I decided to post the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) African American Community Mental Health Fact Sheet:

• African Americans in the United States are less likely to receive accurate diagnoses than their Caucasian counterparts.  Schizophrenia, for instance has been shown to be over diagnosed in the African American population
• Culture biases against mental health professionals and health care professionals in general prevent many African Americans from accessing care due to prior experiences with historical misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment and a lack of cultural understanding; only 2 percent of psychiatrists, 2 percent of psychologists and 4 percent of social workers in the United States are African American.
• African Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support rather than turning to health care professionals, even though this may at times be necessary. The health care providers they seek may not be aware of this important aspect of person life.
• Mental illness is frequently stigmatized and misunderstood in the African American community. African Americans are much more likely to seek help though their primary care doctors as opposed to accessing specialty care.
• African Americans are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage in terms of accessing both medical and mental health care: in 2006, one-third of working adult African Americans were uninsured in the preceding year.
• Experiences of mental illness vary across cultures, and there is a need for improved cultural awareness and competence in the health care and mental health workforce.
• Across a recent 15-year span, suicide rates increased 233 percent among African Americans aged 10-14 compared to 120 percent among Caucasian Americans in the same age group across the same span of time.
• Somatization—the manifestation of physical illnesses related to mental health—occurs at a rate of 15 percent among African Americans and only 9 percent among Caucasian Americans.
• Some studies suggest that African Americans metabolize some medications more slowly than Caucasian Americans, yet they often receive higher doses of psychiatric medications, which may result in increased side effects and decreased medication compliance.
• Social circumstances often serve as an indicator for the likelihood of developing a mental illness. African Americans are disproportionately more likely to experience social circumstances that increase their chances of developing a mental illness.
• African Americans comprise 40 percent of the homeless population and only 12 percent of the U.S. population. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental illness.
• Nearly half of all prisoners in the United States are African American. Prison inmates are at a higher risk of developing a mental illness.
• Children in foster care and the child welfare system are more likely to develop mental illnesses. African American children comprise 45 percent of the public foster care population.
• Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental illness; over 25 percent of African American children exposed to violence meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder.
• With the implementation of various programs and innovations, African Americans’ patronization rates for mental health services may be improved.
• Programs in African American communities sponsored by respected institutions, such as churches and local community groups can increase awareness of mental health issues and resources and decrease the related stigma.
• Programs that improve enrollment rates in safety net health care providers can result in increased mental health care due to improved mental health coverage in the African American community.
• Encouragement in the community to join mental health related professions can increase the number of African American mental health care providers and increase social sensitivity among the provider community.
• Overall sensitivity to African American cultural differences, such as differences in medication metabolization rates, unique views of mental illness and propensity towards experiencing certain mental illnesses, can improve African Americans’ treatment experiences and increase utilization of mental health care services.

African American Community Mental Health FACT SHEET
NAMI • The National Alliance on Mental Illness • • 1 (800) 950-NAMI
3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100 • Arlington, VA 22203

(click the red links to be directed to the original PDF by NAMI or the NAMI website)

Sexual Abuse’s Contribution to Obesity in African American Women Explained by Janet Taylor MD

Body image is a major cultural value in the American culture – and one of the most prevalent issues that dominates discussions on body image is weight.  America has been trying to address obesity in this culture from multiple facets; through changing school lunch programs, changing the layout of the food pyramid, at-work incentive based wellness programs, advocating for community gardens in low income communities, etc.  There has also been studies done on cultural factors that contribute to the nation’s obesity rates.

Many theories have developed over the rates of obesity in the African American community.  Some people have cited that due to the majority low-income status of the African-American community, that there is lack of knowledge regarding nutrition and excessive consumption of junk food and fast food.  However, a recent conference held by the National Medical Association discussed this very issue at their 2011 Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly.  At this discussion, other theories were discussed and Dr. Janet Taylor shared her views of how she finds a correlation between obesity and sexual abuse in African American women.

BET (Black Entertainment Television) did a brief story on this symposium on their website.  To read more, follow this link,

Why Do Black Women Have the Highest Rates of Obesity in the U.S.?

Panel Discussion: “Fatherless Children & The Effect On Society As A Whole”

On Saturday, April 14th, 2012, I had the pleasure of speaking as a part of a panel of my peers on the topic of “Fatherless Children & The Effect On Society As A Whole.”  We were guest speakers on the internet radio talk show, Think About It, Talk about It, hosted by Dr. Aaron Ramsey.  Dr. Ramsey is a licensed psychologist who works at American Fellowship Mental Health Center and is the creator of the above radio show that broadcasts about various topics to generate more thinking and discussions.

The panel included myself, Dr. Richard Friis, Andrian Abbey, and Helen Green.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Green was not able to make a connection due to distance because she was calling from England.  Her input was truly missed because she would have given a different perspective based on how the court systems handle custody battles in her country.  As a panel we discussed factors that contribute to fathers not being in the home, and we placed specific emphasis on how the legal system hinders paternal involvement more than encourages it.  Additionally, we discussed how the absence of fathers are impacting the new generations values and behaviors.  I ask that my readers listen to the discussion and please give your input.  I believe that all opinions are valid because that is how we brainstorm solutions to societal problems.  So please, join in the discussion!

(If you have trouble with the link below, click on the red show title above for a different link.)

Listen to internet radio with The Think About It TALK About It Show on Blog Talk Radio

Today’s Youth – Dying a “Psychic Death” Says Dr. Cornel West

On March 30, 2012, I had the privilege of attending the 1st annual Ohio Multicultural Summit, presented by the National Diversity Council The event was held at Cleveland State University and the keynote speaker was Dr. Cornel West, who spoke on the topic of “Race Matters: The Illusion of Race, the Power of Racism.”

Dr. West is a dynamic speaker and prolific author.  He is well known for his appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, and other national news programs.  His background consists of completing a masters degree and a PhD from Princeton University.  Dr. West has been a professor at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, University of Paris, and Union Theological Seminary.  Additionally, he has authored several books, and his most popular book was titled “Race Matters, Democracy Matters.”

Dr. West is a grand intellectual, and when he speaks he intertwines issues of race, politics, religion, culture, sociology, and psychology.  As he spoke at the Ohio Multicultural Summit, he spoke about today’s youth and specifically African American youth.  Dr. West shared his views on how today’s youth are living in a culture that “is a superficial spectacle” and are experiencing “moral constipation, where they have an idea of what is right, but can’t get it to flow.”  Yet the statement that impacted me the most was when he stated that the youth are “dying a psychic death caused by self-hatred.”

This term, psychic death, intrigued me.  I have to admit, when he made that statement, I began to explore the depth of that statement within my mind, and had to force my attention back onto the speaker.  I did a little research on the term and found that it is most commonly used by European psycho/social theorists to explain the precursor to suicide.  However, I don’t believe the term can be limited to acts of suicide.

When applying this concept to America’s youth, and more specifically African American youth, psychic death is occurring all around us.  Self-hatred is an epidemic because the youth don’t have a true understanding of themselves.  They die mentally because they are trying to mimic the false realities promoted by music and television.  As Dr. West discussed, the culture is a superficial spectacle, focused on clothing, money, drugs, and fame.

Dr. West went on to discuss how the breakdown of the Black Community have left the youth without proper role models and guidance.  He compared the culture that he grew up in, with supportive parents, relatives, neighbors, churches, teachers, and role models with the lack in today’s society.  These support systems have changed, not allowing for the same individual attention that was once given to the youth in past generations.  Dr. West charged all those listening with taking responsibility for the youth and helping them navigate life into adulthood.

I was fascinated with hearing Dr. Cornel West speak.  He didn’t just criticize the youth and point out their hopelessness.  However, he pointed to the source of their “psychic death” and compelled us all to participate in reviving them.

The Murder of Trayvon Martin and The Collective Consciousness Of Black America

It is very hard for me to write about the Trayvon Martin murder because it brings up a lot of emotions in me.  I feel anger and grief because it is 2012 and this murder echos senseless murders during the Jim Crow era.  For those that do not know the story, Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old African American male that came to visit his father at his home in a Sanford, Florida gated community.  One rainy evening, Trayvon walked to the neighborhood convenience store to get some candy and on the walk back home was fatally shot by the neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.  It is reported that Zimmerman, contacted the police citing suspicious behavior by Trayvon, and against police advice, confronted Trayvon and killed him.

But that is not what angers me… it grieves me but I am not angry.  As a therapist, I see Zimmerman’s behavior as pathological – it is not a normal human response.  Based on what I have read and viewed on various media forms, Zimmerman’s behavior was that of a vigilante, someone who believed that they are equal to or above authority.  What does anger me is the Sanford Police Department’s response.  They reportedly have investigated the murder and came to the conclusion that Zimmerman’s statement of self-defense holds water.  They went on the news citing Zimmerman’s clean record and college education as defenses for his behavior.

According to the Sanford Police Department, their investigation supported self-defense but 911 calls were later released following the murder that described someone screaming for help and then being shot.  There is also evidence that Trayvon only had a bag of skittles and a can of ice tea on his person, while George had a gun – but they still stand by their decision.  This supports the public opinion that the investigation was biased, in favor of Zimmerman.  This suggested bias of the law enforcement authorities reinforces the collective consciousness of Black America that the government can not be trusted because it is biased against people of color.

Collective Consciousness is a term coined by theorist, Emile Durkheim, who is considered one of the fathers of the field of sociology.  Collective consciousness differs from psychological theorist, Carl Jung’s term collective unconsciousness, that is referent to the innate human understanding that is in all human people – such as fear.  Durkheim emphasizes how societal experiences creates a collective understanding by a specific group of people.  This understanding, therefore, impacts the group’s values, beliefs, and behaviors.

In the African American community, there is a collective consciousness with regards to the views of authority.  This view, a distrust for governmental authority, goes back generations all the way to slavery.  African American history is plagued with stories of being killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This consciousness has been reflected over the years through various mediums, such as ethnocentric organizations and even music.  Hip hop music, though attacked for their messages, has reflected this distrust over the last few decades.

Mainstream America likes to promote the belief that institutionalized racism (racism projected by the governmental authority systems) is an issue of the past and the collective consciousness of the African American community is just paranoid ideology based in the past.  Then we have a case like Trayvon Martin.  A case that would not have had the national attention if it were not for technology and the age of social media.  Without the national uproar, this case would have been closed and swept under the rug.  However, this “viral” story has now caused mainstream America to stop turning a blind eye to the experiences of the African American community.  It remains to be seen of how the state investigation will handle this case, but hopefully the murder of Travon Martin will be addressed.  It is 2012 – it is time to create a new consciousness within the African American community, and that can only happen through the reinforcement of a new experience.

The Darkness of Teen Violence – It’s Not Racial or Economical

I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and we have been hit with a lot of teen/ young adult violence in the last few weeks. In February, an 18 year old teen mom was fatally shot on a Wednesday afternoon in the streets of East Cleveland.  Also, a young 19 year old woman and her 1 year old child were found murdered by the father of her child in a vacant garage on the east-side of Cleveland.  A 16 year old boy was shot at a party when strangers who heard about the party on Facebook, crashed the party, starting a fight, and a gun was pulled.  This is to name a few…

But the one that hit country-wide news was the Chardon High School shooting on Monday, February 27, 2012.  This story is of a teenage boy that walked into a school and open fired 5 shots in a lunch room, killing 3 students and wounding 2 others.  What differentiates this story from the previous noted stories is that the Chardon shooting took place in a nice suburban area, not expected to suffer from this type of violence.  It was even stated by residents of the area that this type of thing does not happen in their backyard.

I must say, I was shocked also.  I think most people in this area viewed school shootings as something that happens in other parts of the country, not here.  Then I began to examine that thought process.  Why wouldn’t it happen here?  There were several other shootings in the Cleveland area, but the one in Chardon is peculiar – or is it?

The problem with addressing violence is that we want to categorize it into different categories – suburban school shootings, bullying, and inner city gang violence.  So when an incident occurs, we classify it, thereby determining the amount of attention it gets and recourse of action.  Following the Chardon school shootings, various schools over the Cleveland area had lock-down procedures performed because of rumors of guns despite their already existing presence of illegal weapons.  But in those schools,  had an incident occurred it would have been classified as gang violence prior to February 27th.  Reality is, violence is violence.

Teen violence is not racial or economical, which makes these classifications invalid and ineffective to treating the problem.  Yes these issues may fuel the anger but the drive to kill comes from a much deeper place.  Teen violence often stems from powerlessness and hopelessness.  When working with teens, I often address and validate their powerlessness in a situation.  They have the abstract thinking to reason but don’t have the power to change their situation.  Hence, a child may be correct in assessing unfair treatment in their home but can’t change their parents’ style of authority.  This can result in anger, and the more situations that occur where they are rendered powerless, the more fueled the anger becomes.  If they cannot see their powerlessness as situational and temporary, this could then lead to hopelessness.  They don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, which breed isolation and depression.

I have seen when clients are depressed and hostile, their aggression is either internalized or externalized.  Internalized aggression is often expressed through self-injury or suicidal behavior.  Externalized aggression is expressed through acts of violence.  Teens who act out violently believe that their aggression is how they regain power.  The way to address teen violence is to give them a sense of power and to restore their hope for a better tomorrow.  This can be done by various reinforcements within the home, schools, and community.  Helping them develop a positive sense of self-identity through social activities, goal planning, mentoring, affirmations, family activities, community involvement, etc. will help today’s teens feel like they belong to something greater than themselves.

A great resource for activities to address teen violence is called “Helping Teens Stop Violence, A Practical Guide for Counselors, Educators, and Parents”.  This book goes into further detail about the factors contributing to teen violence.  But I believe we must first stop categorizing violence into racial and economic groups.  Violence is violence, and it’s darkness reaches all people.

Book Review: Darkest Child: A Novel by Delores Phillips

Darkest Child: A Novel by Delores Phillips

(click on red title to be linked to Amazon to find the book.)

I wanted to take this opportunity to review a book that I have found very fascinating.  This book, Darkest Child, A Novel by Delores Phillips  caught my attention by the title.  But the content of the book goes much deeper into the historical African-American experience than one would expect.

The “Darkest Child” is about an African-American family growing up in the southern United States during the 1950’s.  The content of the book captures the racial climate of the times, by discussing issues of segregation, poverty, and addressing the uprising of the Civil Rights Movement.  But what it also captures is how African-American families (and impoverished families, in general) adjust to mental health issues in the family.

My professional side always likes to break down the social dynamics and symptoms in the entertainment that I partake, whether it is movies, television, or books.  Immediately, as I got enthralled into the story, I began to break down the family dynamic of this book.  The mother in this family, Rozelle Quinn, apparently suffers from some sort of mental health issues.  Due to her emotional and mental health issues, she inflicted abuse onto her children and engaged in neurotic behaviors.  As a result, the children in the story all take on different roles to compensate for the instability of their mother.

Now I will say this, the abuse is horrific and at times, the story takes on the characteristic of a thriller movie.  I don’t believe that the extremes of the abuse is representative of the average African-American household dealing with mental illness, but that is what makes it a fiction novel.  But it does shed light into the dysfunctional family unit and how family systems adjust to maintain the functioning of the family.  The main character, Tangy Mae, who narrates the story takes on the role of the parental sibling and protector of her younger siblings.  The other older siblings took on other care-taking roles  to mask the mental illness of their mother.  Also, Rozelle’s mother, who is not revealed until later in the story, labelled her as evil – which sheds light on the spiritual/religious conflict when it comes to accepting and understanding mental illness.

Lastly, I want to point out how racial issues tend to have families keep mental illnesses internal.  The Quinn family knew and understood the instability of their mother but did not reach  for outside help until the problem could no longer be contained amongst themselves.  This exemplifies the distrust of impoverished families for institutionalized help.  Often, the families are aware of the problem or problems, but do not trust outside help to assist the family unit without destroying their family unit.

Overall, the book is an excellent read and it kept me on the edge of my seat.  Elements of the story reflected so many of the abused clients that I have worked with and it helped me to see the experiences through the eyes of child.

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