“I was easy prey.” October is Month of Awareness for Domestic Violence!


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“I was easy prey.” Her first memory of being sexually abused is when she was just four-years old…
Ginger Kadlec… Impassioned child advocate. Enthusiastic dog and cat mommy. Proud aunt. Happy wife.


“I was easy prey…”  click on highlighted website article by Ginger Kadlec…  Quote from the article follows…

“He was close to my mother, he visited our family home,” Susan Crocombe recalls in an interview with Steve Harris of BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast in Dorset 103.8 fm. “If mum was having a bad day, she would be in bed… so he had complete access to me. I actually loved him. I would have done anything for him.”

“He” was a member of Susan’s extended family who sexually abused her for years. She recalls, “Things he did became quite serious 18 months leading up to my 13th birthday,” at which point her molester began feeding his addiction by sharing her with other adults, including taking photographs of and filming her.

“I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”~Susan Crocombe

In this BBC Radio Solent interview, Susan reflects on the sexual abuse she endured as a child and the impact the abuse had on her as a teenager and adult. She discusses issues like being groomed and says, “Who doesn’t like to feel special to get gifts, presents, be validated? For me, it was very subtle. I was very young, so I didn’t know what was happening was wrong… I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”


In my view, the above reference is absolutely the worst case scenario and tragedy connected with domestic violence and child abuse!  I lived in a highly toxic home while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The vivid memories of being scared and living with domestic violence still haunts me at times.  My home was affected by the hard combat trauma my father experienced during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War.  We did not have any kind of domestic violence awareness during the post WWII era…let alone a month like October designated to help children and families become more aware of its seriousness, long term impact on mental health, and ways to get help.  We siblings, as military kids, felt scared and alone most of the time.  We were afraid to go home when Dad was home for fear of the next beating that could come our way or the threatening emotional outbursts that often came out of nowhere as Dad struggled with his own demons.  Mother was affected severely as a wartime military spouse and from her own traumatic childhood during the “depression era.”  Our entire family was emotionally damaged and we thought it was just normal and mostly our fault as kids for not being good.  What happened in our home stayed at home.  From all appearances our family behaved as normal adults and kids outside of the home and in school.  We would not dare speak of being scared to go home…  Dad was a WWII US Navy hero by day and an angry and dangerous man by night.

Thousands of families were toxic like ours during this post WWII era, but we didn’t know it until later in life when the topic of combat related PTSD was finally revealed and understood more clearly.  But the stigma of mental health challenges and the intergenerational effects of post trauma symptoms referred to as secondary PTSD or complex PTSD kept countless children and families from seeking help.  The stigma of PTSD remains a big challenge to this day!

I lived with the emotional baggage of child abuse and domestic violence until later in life while doing research on our post WWII family’s toxic culture and the how war affects the mental health of soldiers and sailors long after the war ends.  Writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was finally the beginning of my own journey of healing at age 64, and I am not alone… If it had not been for the gift of awareness, I would still be living with emotional pain.  It is a joy to look forward to each day now with peace of mind.   The anger, depression, and anxiety tearing away at my heart and soul is now gone, but is a work in progress to keep the pain of past trauma at a safe distance.  I am very blessed and thankful for the work of Ginger Kadlec  and many others in the mental health community for building awareness through social media.  I am also grateful for the support of my family and friends who help keep me grounded with positive energy each and every day…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

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Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956…

The caregivers of our warriors who serve too! Who picks up the fight when our heroes come home?

Hidden Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip from ABC News! 1.1 million caregivers volunteer and are at risk of their own anxiety and depression…secondary PTS… From ABC News…

Elizabeth Dole, “Hidden Heroes”

Elizabeth Dole Foundation…  Quote from Elizabeth Dole…

5.5 Million Reasons to Support Military and Veteran Caregivers by Senator Elizabeth Dole

“As I reflect on the national conversation we have initiated about military and veteran caregiving, one number continues to ring out in my mind – 5.5 million. The RAND Corporation report my Foundation commissioned revealed that 5.5 million Americans are caring for ill or wounded service members and veterans. When I first heard the figure, it astounded me. To think that so many loved ones have been quietly caring for those who have cared for us…


When I was growing up as a post WWII and Korean War military child, the term “veteran caregiver” was not used nor would the significance or implications be understood.  Caregiving was something you heard about in nursing homes or hospitals, not at home.  Who would ever think that a WWII hero like my father Vernon, who was training boots at the US Naval Training Center in San Diego in 1948, needed a “caregiver.”  Not a chance!  But in reality my Dad, like thousands of combat veterans from that time, needed lots of help inside and outside of the home.  As a family we were the caregivers at home by default, so to speak.  My oldest brother, Jerry, as an example became very much part of the family caregiving team along with Mom.  He didn’t ask for it, he had no choice…  And we were all affected by the emotional turmoil of my father’s suffering following WWII and the Korean War.

We siblings knew something was out of sorts in our home, but didn’t really understand, so the toxic behavior and struggles as a family were thought to be normal and private…not a word to anyone outside of the home!  So we moved forward one day at a time as a family, fearing what each day would bring.  It was a blessing for us to get away from home for school and play.  We hated to return!  When we did return, hiding out in our room, in the basement, or outside close to home when the weather permitted, felt safer.  We wanted to stay clear of Dad because he was always angry…  The sad part is we took all the emotional baggage with us well into adult life, and needed “caregivers” as the next generation of trauma victims.  Reference the “Trauma-Informed Caregiver Practice Guide.”

I am now very encouraged that all the awareness about the needs of the children and families of veterans and those who served in combat is creating a new culture of sensitivity in America and around the globe.  Caregiving is no longer a word that belongs to a nurse or doctor in a facility outside of the home.  The stigma of mental health will someday be a thing of the past, probably not in my lifetime.  What I do see happening, and participate in my own work as an author and blogger, is heartwarming.  I have peace of mind now with clear understanding of my own past living in a toxic home following WWII.  I am also convinced that the momentum of the new “caregiving” culture for our heroes is taking hold.  The “suck up” mentality and “go home and forget about it” coaching from the military is over.

I am especially grateful that the conversation and the work of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation includes the children and families, the primary caregivers of warriors, who served America too…long after the wars of our time are over.  The war clearly comes home to the military families to begin another fight to bring peace of mind back into the hearts and souls of the loved ones who served on the battlefield or at sea fighting to protect our freedoms.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author


– See more at: http://elizabethdolefoundation.org/#sthash.ODd4gXJM.dpuf

April is the month of the military child… Remember the sacrifice of the children of warriors who served too!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Month of the military child…  click on this link…

Meet Skyler, a military child…click on video clip here…

Army wife resource of the week…click on video clip here…

Published on Mar 27, 2014

” A Backpack Journalist ™ helps youth find their “VOICE” Building Resiliency through Creative Expression! Creating the Citizen Journalist of the future! This is a fabulous resource for our military kids and teens!”

Month of the military child post from 2013… by Steve Sparks

Military Children often live and cope with PTSD.  April is the month of the military child…

Celebrate the Month of the Military Child at MilitaryKidsConnect.org
MilitaryKidsConnect.org invites all military parents to spend quality time with their children this month at MilitaryKidsConnect.org, the only Department of Defense web site dedicated to the psychological health of military kids.


Anonymous said…  “I just came across this site..  I’m only 16 but my mom has suffered from PTSD my entire life. I had to “be the  parent” at 7, and am constantly switching roles between the child and the adult.  There should be more sites like this that offer support, but I can”t seem to  find any.”


In this link, Military Kids with PTSD, I posted about my own observations and experience as a military child growing up with parents who suffered severely from the symptoms of PTSD.  As a military parent please take extra time to focus on your children.  Use not only this month of April…http://www.monthofthemilitarychild.com/, but take your awareness forward and help your kids understand how war affects families of combat veterans, especially children.  Use the resources to educate your kids with love and kindness.  Do not allow them to grow up feeling isolated and alone with the memories that are often painful and misunderstood.  As a parent or teacher you can make a huge difference in the lives of your kids on this critical issue.  We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to grow up to live a healthy, happy, and productive life…


Reflections of Post WWII Military Family Life…Steve Sparks 1956, age 10…

Mother always told Dad we were bad while he was away at sea.

We were safe and free when Dad sailed away.

Fear and beatings made us cry you see…

Mother seemed happier when Dad was away at sea.

With love, joy, and play,

Dreams of family all together forever.

The fear and beatings came again anyway…

By Steve Sparks 

Copyright  Protected 2013 by Steve Sparks.  All rights reserved… Children and Families in Life after Trauma… www.survivethriveptsd.com and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story


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