How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD

by Amy Torchia, Children’s Program Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

It feels like Advocates have been talking about this for years.  We know that a good number of the kids with whom we work – children and teens who have experienced domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault – are diagnosed with ADHD.  We have had infinite conversations with caretakers about situations where their children have been prescribed stimulants for ADHD to help increase neurotransmitter levels (connected to pleasure, movement, and attention) with no apparent positive impact on their behavior or emotional well-being.

Children who have experienced trauma often behave in ways that resemble those associated with ADHD.  They may have difficulty controlling their behavior and may quickly shift from one mood to the next. They might periodically ‘relive’ a terrifying memory and lose focus or become hyper-vigilant anticipating a threat to their safety.

For this group of children, could it be that it isn’t ADHD that is driving their seemingly inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behavior?  Could it instead be Continue reading

#YesAllWomen: More Than a Twitter Trend

By Vivian Huang, Peer Educator with Women Helping Battered Women, age 16, South Burlington High School

Yes, all women have been degraded, discounted, and denied.
Yes, all women have been judged by our appearance, not our merit.
Yes, all women are outraged by the misogynistic ravings of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, whose May shooting rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., killed six people and wounded thirteen others.

As the story unfolded, Rodger’s mindset appeared through chilling public videos and a lengthy manifesto. The shooter’s justification was that of pure hatred toward women who Continue reading

Introducing the Adults who Experienced Domestic Violence in Childhood (AEDVC) Leadership Forum

By: Amy Torchia, Children’s Advocacy Coordinator at the
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Even after having worked as a Children’s Advocate for 27 years, I continue to wish for more ways to hear from children and youth about what it is like to live in a home where there is domestic violence. I am excited to Continue reading

Slutty Selfies or Prudish Pics: Perspectives on Sexting Reveal We’re Not Getting Anywhere

By: Kerry Holden,Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist at Umbrella in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

The recent academic article reviewed by Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic (On Teen Sexting: Same Sexism, Different Technology) highlights the continued conundrum of our adolescent girls: to be a slut, or to be a prude? Clearly, this dichotomous model, plaguing women and girls for centuries, offers our girls two limited options as to how they orient themselves into their developing sexual worlds. However, a bigger and deeply frightening issue looms broadly above, Continue reading

Going to college: things I wish I didn’t have to say to my daughter

By: Amy Torchia,Children’s Advocacy Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

“It is estimated that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there — 1 in 5.”

–President Obama, remarks at White House, Jan. 22, 2014

“We know the numbers: one in five of every one of those young women who is dropped off for that first day of school, before they finish school, will be assaulted, will be assaulted in her college years.”

–Vice President Biden, remarks on the release of a White House report on sexual assault, April 29, 2014

This stat comes from The Campus Sexual Assault Study and is enough to send a mother of a 16-year-old daughter, someone like me, off the deep end.

We’re thinking about college now.  I am envisioning my daughter Continue reading

Who wears short shorts? AKA losing my cool while shopping with my teen daughter

By: Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

A couple of weeks ago I chaperoned a middle school dance where one of the jobs we were asked to fill was to judge whether or not the girls’ outfits met the dress code before letting them in.  The dress code was stated as no “spaghetti” straps and nothing strapless, hems had to be below where the finger-tips fall on the thigh.  Clearly, these are all codes targeted at what the girls were wearing. None of the volunteer parents wanted to sign up for this role; it made us all intrinsically uncomfortable to be looking at young girls’ bodies and clothing and judging them this way.

Last week I was presenting at a community forum around prevention where I was talking about teaching boys not to objectify girls Continue reading


 By: Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

The world is changing; there is no doubt about it. The first photos were sent via a phone in 1997; by 2006 over half of the cell phones sold in the world had picture capabilities. By the time the first iphone was released in 2007, we were primed for easy photo sharing. Today’s youth expect everything to be photographed and shared. It is their way of exploring the world and connecting to each other. An entire marketplace of “apps” has grown to support picture sharing: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Wink, Flickr, Rando, the list grows every day.

Along with this ease of access has come a growing concern over sexting Continue reading

Anger in a Relationship

Stephen McArthur, Advocate & Community Outreach Coordinator at Circle in Barre, Vermont

No matter how well a couple gets along, or how much they are “in love” or “best friends,” there are still times when there are disagreements, arguments, even hurt feelings because seeing totally eye to eye is not possible. These conflicts can happen for a number of reasons: different values or opinions, arguing on principle, someone is in a “bad mood” and irritable, tired or not feeling well, or simply as a result of different beliefs about relationship issues.

In an equal and respectful relationship, Continue reading


By: Carmen Fisher-Olvera, age 15, Intern at H.O.P.E. Works in Burlington, Vermont

Definition: A hand tool.

Slang: according to Urban Dictionary, a term to describe a woman as “slutty”, “dirty”, or “ghetto”. When a woman thinks she’s a man’s eye candy and in fact she is not.

I am currently a sophomore attending high school at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU). At CVU we have 15 minutes during the day where we go to our advisory. An advisory is a group of about 12 kids. 4 kids from each grade with 1 teacher, all assigned randomly. We talk about, well frankly anything and everything that comes to mind. Last week we discussed the term “Ratchet.” Some of the people in my advisory kept insisting that it wasn’t that bad to use this term. “If someone called you ratchet it shouldn’t Continue reading

Vermont’s Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners


By: Amy Torchia,Children’s Advocacy Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Sexual abuse of children is a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States.

  • Nearly 63,000 children were victims of sexual abuse in 2012.[i]
  • Before their 18th birthday, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse. [ii]
  • In Vermont, 323 children were substantiated as victims of sexual abuse by the Department for Children and Families in 2012.  97% of the sexual abuse was committed by people that the children knew.[iii]

Children who experience sexual abuse often have unique and immediate medical needs.   Vermont’s S.A.N.E. (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program has worked to expand access to specially-trained forensic nurses who can perform pediatric sexual assault exams for children under the age of 15 who present at hospitals across the state.  There are now Continue reading