Mail Tribune October 20, 2011
Sex abuse survivor writes book about his life’s journey
Author, sex abuse advocate was silent for 40 years about his own abuse by a minister
By Sanne Specht
For one Ashland resident, the journey from victim to advocate began when he found the courage to speak about the unspeakable after decades of silence.
After being sexually abused by a charismatic youth minister when he was a naive teenager, Randy Ellison said his life became shrouded in secrets and shame. For four decades, Ellison remained silent about the devastation wrought by the trusted leader in his community — a 40-year-old married man with children of his own.
Ellison said he never told a soul what the preacher did to him. Not even when the fallout nearly destroyed his life as he battled drug and alcohol addiction and thoughts of suicide.
“I was raised not to be out front,” he said. “But the need is so great to speak about abuse.”
Today, Ellison, 60, uses his voice to fight against the scourge of child abuse — as an advocate and as an author.
By Sanne Specht
The challenge is finding the courage to speak about the unspeakable. But raising one’s voice against the scourge of child abuse is key to healing and to prevention, according to those in a position to know.
When Ashland resident Randy Ellison attended the 2009 Abuse Awareness rally in Medford’s Vogel Plaza, his plan was to speak out about how he’d suffered at the hands of a trusted preacher. But as he watched the crowd grow and listened to the survivors’ stories being read aloud by local community leaders, Ellison’s fears about going public got the better of him that day. (more…)
Your Honor I Object
Just when it seemed we were starting to “get it” on child sexual abuse along comes a court trial that reminds us just how far we have to go. Last week in Jackson County, Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack allowed a 10 year old child to be revictimized.
First, the girl was repeatedly characterized as precocious and attention-starved. I have two granddaughters and I would describe both of them as precocious and they definitely seek adult attention. “Watch this papa.” “Will you play with me papa?” It takes a pretty sick mind to view this normal child behavior as an opening for sexual advance, much less use it as a defense in a court of law.
This next part is so unbelievable as to defy reason. (more…)
OAASIS, Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service, announced today that it has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women as part of a groundbreaking effort to end child sexual abuse across the United States. Read more here.
Randy was the Keynote speaker for the 3rd annual KIDS Center Healing Hearts Luncheon on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. More than 500 community members gathered to speak out against child sex abuse — and hold the biggest fund-raiser of the year for an organization that tackles the problem every day. Click here to read more from KTVZ.com.
By Randy Ellison
The intent of House Bill 3057 is to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on felony sex crimes committed by an adult against a minor. Thirteen other states have no statute of limitations on this heinous crime. They treat it the same as murder, and if you are a survivor of such a crime, you understand why.
Studies have shown that most victims of sexual abuse don’t tell anyone what happened to them for years, if ever. Often, it’s only after years of therapy that they feel able to report what happened. One study states that the average age for reporting child sexual abuse is 42. (more…)
After keeping his secret for more than 40 years, Randy Ellison now is ‘willing to be the face of male sexual abuse victims’.
By Sanne Specht
Ashland contractor Randy Ellison never told a soul what the preacher did to him. Not when the sexual abuse started. Not when it ended. Not even when the fallout nearly destroyed his life.
“My secret became shrouded in guilt and shame,” Ellison said. “I questioned life and had regular thoughts of suicide until I was 30.”
Guest Columnist for the Attorney General’s Sexual Abuse Task Force
By Randy Ellison
It all started when a mother walked into the office of Rep. Andy Olson. She was frustrated and angry over her daughters’ inability to seek justice for her sexual abuse as a child because the statute of limitations ran out before she even told anyone it had happened. Rep. Olson was so moved that he gathered the forces and wrote HB 2827. Not satisfied to quit there, the mother drove to Ashland and walked from one end of Oregon to the other. She wore a bright yellow t-shirt lettered in black that said “Stop Sexual Abuse of Children”. Truckers honked. People stopped to talk to her. Newspapers and TV news interviewed her along the way. It took her a month and she did it all wearing a wig and using the alias Joan. She wanted her daughter to be able to remain anonymous and was afraid of reprisal by the perpetrator. (more…)
Justice Denied October 12, 2010
After reading the two articles in Sunday’s paper “I lived in fear every day” and “Promise me you will be one of the good guys” I feel compelled to speak out.
District Attorney Mark Huddleston says each domestic violence case has it’s own unique strengths and weaknesses as far as prosecution goes, jurors often don’t understand the dynamics involved.
Here is what I understand from the articles:
In February Jessica Bridges was strangled unconscious protecting her four-year-old son from boyfriend Robert Poole. Poole “cuffed” the boy in the head because he was having difficulty learning to ride a two-wheel bike. He put her in a chokehold and then closed off her nose and mouth to the point of unconsciousness.
Ps. She was pregnant with Poole’s child and her four-year-old was watching.
Then after a restraining order was issued, Poole stalked Bridges for weeks. After working his way back into her life, he drove her to the courthouse and told her to go in and remove the restraining order while he held her son hostage under the threat of violence.
He beat her again at a later stage of pregnancy and caused premature labor. Then he refused to take her to the hospital until she agreed to not report the beating.
In July Bridges received the blunt end of Poole’s rage once again when she intervened as he was choking her now five-year-old son. She dropped the new baby as he grabbed and choked her unconscious once again. Yes, the little boy was watching his mommy being violently assaulted.
When the police arrived and arrested Poole he threatened the officers and challenged them to take off the cuffs and he would, “take them all out”.
This is where I have difficulty understanding Mr. Huddleston. Attempted murder and kidnapping charges were reduced to coercion, because they are hard to prove? If it weren’t so sick I would say something like, “you’re kidding, right?” Then to add insult to injury, county prosecutor, Eric Dames dropped 11 of 14 charges, which included witness tampering, in a plea agreement. At sentencing Mr. Dames describes Robert Poole as “a man with a lot of good qualities …with a lot of anger in his heart”.
Now I believe that forgiveness and understanding are noble attributes, but I don’t think that is what people are looking for from the district attorney’s office.
Mr. Dames went on to say he was pleased with the sentence of 15 months. One year and three months in jail for beating and strangling a pregnant woman at least twice in front of a 4 year old; attacking the woman as she is holding her infant baby; holding a four year old hostage in connection with witness tampering; hitting a child in the head because he is having trouble learning to ride a bike; hanging a 5 year old by a twisted shirt collar.
I think what people want from the district attorney’s office is justice. If the facts presented in the Mail Tribune articles are accurate then this case represents JUSTICE DENIED, not only for women and children, but for all of us.
As citizens of Jackson County, if we want safe communities free of threats and violence directed at us, our children and neighbors, we need to take responsibility.
We must demand our elected officials and the people they hire to have the courage and tenacity to enforce our code of justice.
April 4, 2009
To The Editor, Daily Tidings
I live in the railroad district. Last Thursday night we were sleeping with our window open. I awoke about 3 am to voices outside. It’s pretty common to hear folks walking home after the bars close. I heard a couple having a conversation. A few minutes later I heard the woman say “stop” kind of playfully, but repeatedly. Pretty soon her voice took on an intense urgency. STOP! I started to get up to make sure everything was okay. Then the voices stopped completely. About 10 minutes later I heard a female voice sobbing. I got up, got dressed grabbed a flashlight and went outside to find her. I walked up the street and over to the cemetery where I thought the voices had come from. Not a sound anywhere or any sign of anyone out and about. I came back home and went back to bed. A few minutes later I heard running footsteps down the sidewalk. A male voice screamed for her to come back a couple of times and then slammed a door shut.
As I laid there thinking about what had happened, I was pretty sure what I had overheard was what we have come to call date rape, in a house on my block. No knowledge of who was involved or even where. I had nothing to report, only my concern for an unknown victim of an act of violence. And now I don’t know what to do with that concern.
Living in Ashland we see very little evidence of violent crime. We mostly see and hear about sustainability, supporting local farmers and green living. Once in a while someone complains about panhandling or the young people in the plaza area. When we do read about sexual violence we allow a few minutes of pity and then move on as fast as possible, not wanting to linger too long on such unpleasantness. But Thursday night was a stark reminder to me that acts of sexual violence happen every day behind closed doors in every neighborhood in every community, even Ashland. Most of the victims are women and children, boys and girls, who live in fear, with nightmares of terror.
I hate feeling powerless to do anything to stop this epidemic. Our laws are inadequate and most victims never report it. Frequently by the time they do, the statute of limitations has expired on the crime. Even for those that do report the crime, few find an adequate venue that promotes healing. What can we do as a community to aid these victims and work towards peace and safety for all? I just don’t know what to do with what I am feeling right now. Please tell me this is as important as buying local produce.