Archives for October 2013

Erin’s Law Helping Educate Our Children

Erin’s law is a new law which was signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in January 2013.  This law was developed by, and named after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor.  At the ages of 6-8 and then 11-13, Erin experienced abuse by both a neighbor and her cousin.  As a result, she set out to advocate in favor of children receiving age-appropriate education to help them in recognizing and talking about sexual abuse.   The law mandates schools to provide sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention to elementary and middle school children.  Before the law, high schools were the only schools mandated to provide this education.  The law allows for schools to bring in agencies to provide the education, or train there own teachers on how to educate the students, using a research based curriculum.

As an agency that provides counseling and treatment to children and families impacted by sexual abuse, this is a positive move in the direction of giving abuse victims a voice in the schools.

Currently 8 states have passed the law (Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Arkansas and Mississippi).  There are an additional 14 states which will be introducing Erin’s Law in 2013-2014.

If you are interested in learning more about Erin’s Law, Erin Merryn has developed a website which can be viewed at

By: Alicia Bell, ABC Sexual Abuse Therapist

Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy

At ABC, art therapy is a therapeutic method that is used by many therapists that allow our clients to express themselves visually. Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy is the use of creative arts, such as music, art, and movement as a form of therapy (Malchiodi, 2005). Activities such as the Feelings Mask, Feelings Piggy Bank, and Play-Doh roses are just a few examples of how art therapy is used in treatment with our clients. For more information about Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy, please click the link below.


Howl at the Market

Please come out to the last Downtown Bloomington Farmer’s Market this weekend and support ABC Counseling. We will be selling delicious goodies at our table to raise money for children that have been sexually abused.  Please see the information below:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

7:30 am – 12 pm

The final market of the outdoor season!  Bring your family (and pets, too!) in Halloween costume.  We will be giving away “Boo Bucks” to each child and/or pet.  A Boo Buck can buy items like honey straws, puppy or kitty treats, small pumpkins and gourds and so much more!

We hope to see you there!


Trivia Night

Thank you to all of our attendees for coming to our Trivia at Twilight event on Saturday night!  We all had a lot of fun and even raised some money for ABC. Congratulations to our winning team, “Pi R Screwed”, for a remarkable performance.  About 110 people were able to attend. The event was so successful that we will most likely do it again next year.

Trauma and Child Development

This article is a good article from the ChildTrauma Academy and discusses the impact on traumatic experiences on child development and how that then impacts the neurobiology development.  Check it out with the link below.

Trivia at Twilight

It’s not too late to test your knowledge! We still have seats and teams available for our Trivia at Twilight event Saturday, October 19th. It’s from 7-10 pm at the Knights of Columbus in Bloomington, and should be a lot of fun.  Teams of 8 will compete against each other for a very desirable prize.  Tickets are $15/person and include snacks and desserts.  A cash bar will be available.  You can form a team of 8 yourself or sign up as individuals that will be put in teams. You may register a team by calling ABC Counseling at (309) 451-9495, or email Amanda at We hope you can join us for this night of fun!

Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Talking about sex is often uncomfortable, but it can be especially so when you are talking to your children. Basic sex education is very important though and can help protect your children. We want our children to have the correct information and to know our values, and they will not get that from peers, teachers or media…only you as a parent. The conversation can take place at any time but it is most optimal as a preventative conversation rather than a reactive. Kids need to know things that are age-appropriate. Basically, preschoolers need to understand boundaries, correct names of private parts, privacy, safe adults, good and bad touches and good and bad secrets. Information about reproduction can be very basic. Utilizing books is an excellent way of discussing body parts and reproduction with young children. We highly recommend “Amazing You” by Dr. Gail Satlz.  For school-age children, expand the conversations above and include information on puberty for both sexes. Puberty conversations should start as early as 8 or 9, as many children’s bodies begin to change at that time. You can also add information about healthy relationships and be more specific on reproduction. Talking with school age kids while playing a game or doing another activity can make for a comfortable atmosphere and a better conversation. For middle schoolers, they should be fully aware of sexual behaviors, healthy media usage, protection and contraception, and healthy dating practices. Kids are discussing sex and seeing it in the media at this age, so more education means better choices on their part. For high school students, discussions should add dating violence and health sexual practices. For both middle school and high school students, car conversations are the best. They do not have to look at you and that often makes the conversation easier on everyone. Please realize that even if a kid went through health or sex education in school, they did not get everything. In fact, many do not listen well in that environment as they are embarrassed or uncomfortable in front of peers.  This is not a one-time conversation. It needs to happen over and over again.

No matter what though, emphasize safety and your values. Kids listen, even if they pretend they don’t, and if you are willing to have the hard conversation, they know they can come to you and trust you.

Other tips to help:

1. One way to help instill values or to correct what kids might think/say because of what other kids have told them is: “In our family…” You can distinguish that some families talk about or believe in things differently.

2. If kids ask questions, first find out what they already know and why they want to know that. Answer only what they asked. So, if a kid wants to know where babies come from, they may only want to know the actual place a baby comes out, not about sex itself. If they have further questions, let them know it’s okay to ask.

3. When you do discuss, remind kids that this is a private matter, and that it is not their job to teach other kids. See #1. Everyone does it differently, and hopefully that will prevent your child from being the “informant.”

4. If kids refuse the conversation, don’t give up. It is too important. Say, “I understand you are uncomfortable about this, but we need to discuss it. I need you to be educated so you can make good decisions. We will try again on Friday.” Don’t let it rest. Discomfort is not a reason to avoid the talk on anyone’s part.

There are many great books on the topic, so please check in with ABC staff for additional referrals or suggestions on how to handle the conversation.

By: Teri McKean