A recap of the November 2018 Mom to Mom show
By Monique Mansour
According to a 2003 report by the National Institute of Justice, three out of four sexual assault victims of adolescent age were victimized by someone they knew well.
On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, an episode of the Mom-to- Mom show, hosted by Lisa Denha and produced by the Eastern Catholic Re-Evangelization Center, aired. The central focus of the show was on sexual assault and trauma, with a special emphasis on equipping parents with the knowledge, tools, and resources to help them navigate this topic.
The show featured Janice Kizy, Stephanie Nofar, and Zena Hasano, all Chaldean therapists with expertise in the subject matter. The Mom-to-Mom show concept is unique in the way it airs, as viewers who watch it live are able to submit their questions for the panelists and hear them answered on air. Several viewers submitted their questions and the three panelists answered them thoughtfully and intelligently with care, concern, and compassion. The show makes every effort to make it so that viewers feel as if the host and the panelists are in the viewers’ living room, talking to them in their home environment.
The show came together in wake of the alleged events which took place at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Troy this past fall. St. Joseph’s acted quickly and swiftly, but the situation left many with lingering questions, including what signs to look for in a child when it comes to sexual abuse.
Kizy, a social worker with more than 15 years of experience, mentioned that some critical signs to look out for can be a noticeable decrease in self-care efforts, such as not wanting to shower. She also mentioned that physical symptoms can manifest in the wake of sexual abuse, such as fatigue and stomach issues. Kizy has a private practice called Mind and Spirit Counseling in Sterling Heights and in Southfield.
Nofar, a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Sterling Heights called Hope in Counseling added in temper tantrums as another sign to watch out for, as mood swings can be common in victims of sexual assault. Zena Hasano, a licensed psychologist with the Fairsky Foundation, a nonprofit located in Ferndale, mentioned that a change from the norm or anything which deviates from the typical is also a sign to be mindful of.
All of the therapists stressed the importance of open communication between a child and a parent. Creating an environment where a child can talk to a parent about anything and everything is key to creating a solid foundation. It is also key to knowing whether the signs mentioned above are just characteristic of life as a growing child or adolescent, or instead of something much deeper which requires expert help and assistance from law enforcement authorities and medical professionals.
In the Chaldean community, in particular, there can be a culture of shame where certain topics haven’t been traditionally openly discussed, such as sex, but the therapists emphasized that there is no such thing as too much open communication. The therapists also cautioned against a parent comparing his/her life to the life of the child at a particular age, or making the child feel ashamed or insignificant for bringing them a problem they are currently facing.
If sexual assault did happen to a child, Kizy said it’s pivotal to not blame the child in any shape, form, or fashion. Nofar emphasized that reporting sexual assault benefits the whole community and protects other children from a predator. She urged parents to not think about reporting an assaulter as bringing shame to a family, because in reality it’s about protecting and empowering a community. Hasano mentioned that as a Chaldean community, we are not immune to this societal problem of sexual abuse and assault, and to remember that it can happen to any person of any group.
Sexual abuse has long-term, lifelong impacts which enters every sphere of a victim’s life. The therapists were in unanimous agreement that professional treatment is absolutely necessary for victims and that counseling for parents and families of sexual assault victims can also be beneficial and helpful to the healing process. Professional assistance can allow the child to see themselves as a survivor after such a traumatic event.
The therapists then zeroed in on another important aspect of child rearing, and that’s who parents trust to watch over kids – from catechism classes to sleepovers to soccer practice. They emphasized the significance of having a conversation with your child’s caregivers and getting to know them, their outlook on life, as well as their morals and values. Try to know, as best you can, who you are leaving your child in the hands of.
A viewer asked when a parent should contact the authorities. Nofar answered by saying that once all the facts have been gathered, the authorities should be contacted, and she emphasized that the way sexual abuse cases are handled on television are not the way it often plays out in real life. What’s fairly common practice is that law enforcement officials and lawyers handle child sexual assault cases with expert care, attention, and sensitivity.
Another viewer asked how God can be incorporated in a situation like this. The therapists chimed in by saying they’ve had priests contacting them for advice and counsel, and that spiritual healing can be of great help in addition to professional assistance with concepts like anxiety, forgiveness, and depression. In essence, it’s pivotal for a victim to know that they have a lot of support, and the more support they have, the better.
The show ended with much of the conversation still left much to be explored. Denha reminded viewers that all of the panelists are available to be contacted through the Chaldean Moms of Metro Detroit Facebook page, as well as through the panelists’ practice websites, emails, and phone numbers