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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sun Sep 16, 2012 @ 08:01AM
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It wasn't the news we'd hoped for. Brian, 15, had already been through so much. In the past two years he'd nearly died over a dozen times. He was in the hospital more than at home. I stared at his lifeless body, hooked up to so many tubes, wires, monitors, and I.V.'s.


Tears streamed down my cheeks.

Here it was a week after his 5th open-heart surgery and he still couldn't breathe on his own. Normally he'd bounce right back. Not this time. When they tried to take the ventilator out, he flopped like a fish.

I told the nurse right away. "That's not normal. He doesn't usually breathe like that. Something's wrong." But she insisted he'd be fine. Later, they took an x-ray.

"His diaphragm was paralyzed during the surgery and now it's pressing up against the right lung," the heart surgeon said. "Usually the diaphragm will come back and begin working on its own. We'll give it a few days."

But later that day, Brian's heart rate dropped down to 23 and they nearly lost him. Apparently the special mapping they tried to do during the 16 hour surgery hadn't worked and his rhythm problems were even worse.

"We'll need to perform emergency surgery," the surgeon explained. "It's risky, but he needs a pacemaker and he needs it now. Once they get that placed, he'll have the other surgery on the diaphragm."

Three major surgeries in one week. Wow! He was already in such a weak, critical state. All any of us could do was pray. And we prayed hard.
 
 Brian was born with only two chambers in his heart. At that time doctors had told us he'd only live to be a year old. Although he'd been critically ill for the first two years of life, he had surpassed all the odds. And by the time he turned three, he was raring to go. He rode his bike, rollerbladed, and swam like a fish.

Then, at 13, all of that suddenly changed. He started getting winded just walking up a few stairs, and had to stop frequently while we were out on family bike rides. His heart, we learned, was only functioning at 40%. They claimed he needed another surgery. I figured, he'd have it, get better, go home, and he'd be as good as new again.

Sadly, after that surgery at 13, his condition only grew worse. No one in the family had a clue. No one that is, except for our formerly abused, rescue dog, Snickers. He would not leave Brian's side for a second. He slept in his bed at night, stayed with him during the day on the couch, and even followed him to the kitchen. 

"You know the rules," I scolded. "Now go lay down!" But Snickers was persistent. He hovered right by the doorway to the kitchen on all fours. His eyes fixed on Brian. I was starting to lose my patience with that dog!
 
Just as Brian tried to eat his macaroni and cheese, his head flopped onto the table. With bright red cheeks, sweat dripping from his forehead, and hardly able to speak he gasped, "I can't breathe!"

While I ran to the phone to call 9-1-1, Snickers ran to his side and stayed there until the paramedics arrived. I was surprised to find the macaroni and cheese still on the plate at the edge of the table when I grabbed my purse to follow them out.

That's when I realized Snickers wasn't interested in the food at all, he was concerned about Brian. He knew long before I did that something was wrong and he was trying to tell me.

Brian continued having close calls and bouts with tachycardia (heart rate above 200) and even bradycardia (heart rate under 50). Again, during that two year time span, Snickers rarely left Brian's side.

Strange, Snickers had ran under my van a few months before Brian got sick. I had said we would only keep him for the night. Back then I tried everything to get rid of that dog. I called the pound, they were full. I tried to lose him on a walk, he found his way back. I placed an ad in the paper, and by the time his real owner called to claim him, I was totally and hopelessly in love with him, as well as my entire family. Thankfully she allowed us to keep him.

But never in a million years would I have imagined what a huge healing role this new member of our family would play in Brian's healing.

Back in the waiting room at Detroit Children's Hospital, the surgeon finally came out. "Everything went well," he said. "The pacemaker's in, the diaphragm fixed, and Brian's in recovery. You'll be able to see him soon."

I breathed a sigh of relief.

We couldn't have gotten better news. We hadn’t been home in nearly a month, and I knew we needed to pay bills. So, after seeing that Brian was stable, we went home to take care of business. I decided while we were there to make a family video for him. I went all over to see his cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and taped everyone I could think of. I even did a small clip with Snickers.

When we returned to the hospital, things didn't look good.

They had weaned Brian from the ventilator, but now he was hacking and coughing uncontrollably, from the fluid on his lungs. He began vomiting too. The doctors ran more tests. With those tests came more bad news.

"I'm sorry," the doctor said, "but your son has Pancreatitis." He explained that it was an inflammation and infection of the pancreas and could be quite serious, especially with Brian's underlying heart condition, and all the surgeries he'd just been through. They went on to say that he might not pull through. Every day was touch and go.

We soon learned the only way to cure pancreatitis is to not eat and wait it out. Brian hadn't eaten for nearly three weeks. When I told him he couldn't eat, he cried and begged me to take him home. "I just want to see Snickers, please," he said in between coughs. "Can't I go home, please?!"

"I know, honey," I said, giving him a huge hug. "I want to take you home to see Snickers too, but you need to get well first."

At that moment I felt totally helpless.

Later that day I remembered the video I'd made. I thought it might cheer him up to see everyone. So I plugged it in and pressed play. He didn't seem too enthused by it at first, until it got to the part about Snickers. When he saw Snickers sitting on his bed, wagging his tail, tears rolled down his cheeks.

Within twenty-four hours of watching that video, Brian's condition greatly improved and he was moved out of ICU. One week later he was even discharged from the hospital. Our three kids threw him a huge homecoming party. All our close relatives were there. When he opened the door they all yelled, "Surprise!"

But the best surprise Brian got was Snickers bolting to the door, so excited to see him, he licked his entire face.

I'm not going to tell you that life has been perfect for Brian or us since then. Actually there have been some really rough times. Brian was on the heart transplant list for five years, but thanks to Snickers, he became fairly healthy and lived at home most of that time. At the age of 22, Brian was healthier than he'd been in years! He was working out at the YMCA a few times a week, walking Snickers around the neighborhood every day, and he'd even lost 42 pounds!

Sadly, Brian suddenly passed away one morning due to a blood clot in his leg. But even then Snickers was right by his side comforting him. He even attended the visitation and funeral, giving love and affection to all who were there.

I know now with all my heart that Snickers was born to bring healing and comfort to others. I'm so glad he chose to run under my van that day!
 

Snickers has been a Certified Pet Therapy Dog through Therapy Dogs International for seven years now. He's won numerous awards for his therapy visits, raised over $20,000 for needy and abused people and pets, but his greatest gift to others is that fact that he continues to heal hearts everywhere his paws go.
 



 

 
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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sun Sep 16, 2012 @ 07:59AM
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I was driving home on slushy, nasty roads from my daughter's basketball game. When all of a sudden, a little brown pooch darted under my van. I slammed on the brakes, and slid to a stop. My heart sank.
Frantic, Melissa and I jumped out and looked under the van.

"Oh God, please let the little guy be okay!"

The small wet bundle of straggly fur sprang out from under the van and hopped right into Melissa's arms. I smiled to see he was okay. Melissa took that as a signal to pop the old familiar question.

"Can we keep him, Mom? Please!"

That's when I caught a glimpse of her brand new white basketball shirt. It was covered in black muddy paw prints! All I could think is, "That shirt is never gonna come clean!"

Besides, I didn't want a dog.

Let me explain. I'm not some heartless, cold, ruthless animal hater. No, I totally love animals. BUT I had four hyperactive kids with special needs, a husband, and a brand new house. I had enough cleaning to do, and I wanted the house to stay exactly like it was, brand new.

My number one rule was no pets. The kids knew better than to ask. I'd always say the same thing.

"No!"

But I also knew this dog was shivering, cold, and wet, and if he stayed there much longer on that busy street, he would be road kill. "We can't keep him, but we can't leave him here either."

Melissa smiled big as she carried him up into the van. "Can we keep him for the night, then?"

"Maybe for one night," I agreed, "if you give him a bath."

"Yes!" She grinned from ear to ear. "Isn't he cute, Mom?"

I nodded. Undeniably, he was cute. But with the heat turned up full blast in the van, the smell of wet dog was overpowering all my senses.

Once we were home, the excitement began. All four kids crowded into the bathroom, splashing around, shouting with glee, giggles echoing about. I had this warm mushy feeling like I had made the right decision to let the dog stay. "What could one one night hurt?"

Then I caught a glimpse of it! Those same muddy paw prints I had seen on Melissa's shirt had now worked their way through the entire house, onto each of my brand new floora, and even onto my new couch! I couldn't contain myself any longer.

"DOWN!" I commanded firmly, as I gave the pooch a shove.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, he did the unthinkable! He lowered his bottom to my brand new carpeting, while lifting his tail, and began scooting his rear across the floor. The kids laughed. I wanted to scream!

"Oh no you don't!"

I picked him up, set him outside, and slammed the door. The kids began whining and crying, begging me to let him back in, but I had made up my mind. A few minutes later a knock came at our door.

"Here's your dog," our neighbor said, "he wandered over into our yard."

I smiled sweetly and took the pup. What else could I do? I didn't want to look like an animal hater. So, I decided to stick with the original plan, but that backfired too.

"I'm sorry," the lady at the Humane Society said, "but we're full." She told me I could place an ad in the newspaper and if nobody claimed him after five days I could keep him.

I don't want him!

I placed the ad, praying that someone would call and soon. The phone couldn't have been quieter. And the annoying little pooch followed me everywhere. Like a magnet he was stuck to my heels. When I sat at the computer, he laid under my desk. While trying to fix dinner, I tripped over him. Later, when I went to bed, he sat at the edge staring up at me with these sad, puppy dog eyes. He even followed me to the bathroom!

He was cute, but I wasn't budging!

Finally, after three days, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I leashed him up, took him to a good neighborhood about two miles from our house, and let him loose. I lost him quick and sped home. Walking into the yard, I announced to my husband proudly that I had gotten rid of the dog and hopefully he'd find a new home.

My husband, John, shook his head in disgust and said, "You might want to turn around."

I couldn't believe my eyes! Here was that dog, huffing and puffing walking up the driveway. He was determined to find his back back to me, a person who did everything in their power to lose him. My heart broke.

From that moment on, I fell hopelessly in love with him, picked him into my arms, and told the kids we were keeping him. They named him "Buddy."

Two days later, we came home from church to a message on our machine.

"I think you have my dog."

My heart sank worse than it did that first day when I thought I had hit Buddy with my van. Before saying a word to the kids, I called the lady back. She told me the dog's name was "Snickers" and he had ran away nearly a week ago. Sure enough, his ears perked right up when I called his name, and he came running to me. My heart hurt even more.

After I hung up, I broke the news to the kids. We all huddled together in a blanket of tears surrounding him. So strange how a dog I couldn't wait to get rid of a couple of days ago, had formed such a bond with me and our family that we couldn't bear to let go.

When the lady came to pick him up, he didn't run toward her, instead he hung his head and cowered in my kids arms in the middle of our living room floor. She explained how she had two other dogs, three kids, and one on the way.

"You can just have him," she said, as she handed me his shot record. "He bit me anyways." She showed us a huge scar going up her arm. This made me think there must have been some sort of abuse in the home, probably the reason why Snickers had run away in the first place.

I was shocked by the whole thing. We thanked her from the bottom of our hearts, overjoyed we got to keep him. After she left, I began to put the pieces together. Snickers had never even growled at me, my husband, or our four hyperactive kids the whole time he had been with us. And looking back, when I dumped him off on that walk, he was actually closer to his original home than he was ours, and yet he insisted on going the distance to find his way to us.

Snickers bonded with me instantly. Now I know why. We were meant to be together. Sort of like soul mates. We were both abused runaways. He came into my life to heal me, my family, and has went on to heal many others.


We've now had Snickers for twelve amazing years. During that time Snickers has become an Award-Winning Certified Pet Therapy Dog through Therapy Dogs International (after only ten days of training), he has worked to train other dogs and handlers how to become certified, he has served as the Mascot and "Bully Buster" of our Abuse Bites program to stop abuse and bullying, he won Mayor of the Shiawassee Humane Society for raising the most funds/votes ($5,000) for needy and abused pets, he helped raise over $20,000 for needy and abused people and pets locally, and he has put on an amazing trick presentation for kids all over Michigan at events in schools, libraries, and hospitals.

I thought I was rescuing Snickers that day on the side of the road, but really he was rescuing me. I may have had a brand new house when I met him, but he is truly what has made our house a home.
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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sun Sep 16, 2012 @ 07:55AM
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We had an amazing time in Jackson, Missouri this week at the the Rock International Ministries Church! Thank you Pastor Derrick Beasley for inviting us to come. I had my "I Love Being Me" shirt on that I found at Penney's right before the trip--it was an amazing message on top of everything else!
 
 
 
 
We started the program off with a Youtube video of Jeremiah singing, since he was still in the hospital and couldn't be with us. 
 
Jeremiah is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression related to bullying. Bullying is tragic, and can have tragic results. That's why we are passionate about going wherever the door opens to educate and bring about the safety and prevention that is needed to change hearts and save lives.
 
 
 
 
 
 
As you can see above, a nice group of kids and adults came out to the Anti-Bullying Rally. There was a conflicting event going on in the community for back to school, so sadly many kids missed out because they had to attend this other event or they would not have gotten the school supplies they needed. Still we had a great time!
 
 
 
We had so much fun interacting, playing games, and doing demonstrations. Below we are playing our peer pressure and self abuse games. Pastor Derrick is assisting in the first game. My hubby, John, was assisting in the second one.
 
 
 
 
 
But we also got serious--down to business--and watched a big CHANGE take place! This beautiful little girl that was labeled the bullying in one of our demonstrations, kept the tag on and labeled herself the "bully".
 
But at the end of the program she crumpled up the bully label and threw it away! 
 
 
 
I said, "What, you don't want to be a bully no more?" She said, "No!"
 
 
Nearly everyone came forward when we had our CHANGE CHALLENGE, only about 4-5 kids stayed in their seats. All the others wanted to make a change in their own lives and hearts so they could go out and be the change for others and stop abuse, bullying and violence!
 
 
 
Another great thing that happened, this was our SIGNING of the Memory Quilt. I'm so thrilled and honored that the FIRST HEART was signed by Pastor Derrick Beasley, a young man that grew up in our neighborhood, who has always been like a son to me, and now is a Youth Pastor at Rock International Ministries and is a fine preacher and teacher! He has such a love and passion for kids and is raising three children that aren't even his own, right now! I couldn't be more proud!
 
 
 
We were blessed so much with not only really nice hotel accommodations, but also took up a love offering, and even took us out for a delicious lunch. We met Pastor White and his lovely first lady. We were able to share our heart and our mission, and they are hoping to bring us back to do a community wide event with some schools! YAY!
 
 
 
 
 


 
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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sun Aug 19, 2012 @ 02:25PM
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Fixing A Broken Child--Starts With You!

 

 
Children come in all shapes, sizes, colors, gifts, talents, and personalities. They come to us in little packages of perfection, so tiny, so precious, so fragile, we wrap a huge blanket of protection around them their first few years.
 
At least that’s what we hope a good mother and father will do.
 
Broken kids, with broken bones and broken lives, are hard to fix. We can’t just take a shaken baby to the hospital and expect it to be alright. Once the baby is broken, the damage has already been done. Many times the destruction is irreversible.
 
Kids can be broken in a number of ways, physically, sexually, and psychologically. But when a child is murdered—it’s a break that no one can fix!
 
The Department of Children and Families Officials say that while the number of child abuse cases have remained stable, the number of extreme cases is on the rise.
 
 
One teenage mom facing jail time, admitted she burnt her baby’s genitals with a straightening iron. The baby also had several broken bones. Read StoryA 20 year old mother who killed her infant son, took the corpse shopping with her the next day. Read Story  A Grandmother and Stepmother are being tried in the death of a 9-year-old Alabama girl for forcing her to run for hours, without fluids. Police say the girl was ordered to run for 3 hours as punishment for lying to her grandmother. Read Story  Another mother who was being tried in the death of her 2 year old son, was given a suspended sentence, and smirked on her way out of the courtroom. Read Story
 
The tragic stories seem to spread all over the U.S.A. like wild fire. Many cases even involve the mother’s boyfriend. In one recent case, Gavin Sola, 22, of West Melbourne, is facing first-degree murder charges for the death of his girlfriend’s infant son. Read More This is just one of many horrific cases that are making headlines each day. A Pennsylvania mother went out of town, leaving her 27 year old boyfriend to take care of her three children. The youngest child, an 18 month old left in his care, suffered a broken leg and later died. Read Story  A 30 year old Raleigh man abused his girlfriend’s 19 month old daughter. The toddler suffered lacerated liver and bruised kidneys. She also had blood in her stomach, cuts on her lip, and bruises on her head. He also tried to set the place on fire.Read Story
 
These are tragic stories for sure. However, there are a variety of ways to discipline children without abuse. Parents can give their kids a time out, put them in their bedroom, take their favorite toy away, or even offer rewards such as a special snack or to watch a favorite movie for good behavior.
 
Sadly, this particular doctor thought that waterboarding was a good way of showing discipline to his 9 year old daughter. Waterboarding is where you hold a child’s head under a sink of running water, allowing it to go up their nose and in their mouth. Thankfully, the good doctor, and his wife (who watched this take place four different times over a two year period) are being charged with reckless endangerment and conspiracy. Both of their children have been removed from their home and placed in protective custody. Read Story
Other parents from a Russian Muslim Cult are being charged after taking their children into captivity for more than ten years. Living underground in unheated cells, many of these children age 1-17 have never seen light of day. Read Story
 
These articles show us that parents and adults are the one’s who need fixing. These precious children have been betrayed and broken by everyone and anyone they trusted. It seems anyone can have and own a baby—but to purchase a house, car, or to take out any kind of loan, a mound of paperwork and a background check is required first. Then, and only then, if you meet the required qualifications, can you be trusted to pay back such a huge debt. 
 
 
Tragically, these children are paying their parents debts with their very lives!
What if, as adults, we made sure our lives were in order and could pay the debt of being responsible parents before ever bringing a child into the world? What if we, as responsible parents, checked the backgrounds of those we entrusted to our children’s care and made them go through a mound of paperwork before leaving our children with them? Imagine how many kids would still be here today, unbroken, healthy, and thriving, planning their futures!
 
LET’S BREAK THE CYCLE OF CHILD ABUSE – GET THE FIX YOU NEED TODAY…
 
Abuse Bites works to give kids, teens, and parents the fix they need by offering awareness on abuse, bully, and violence safety, prevention and healing methods for all victims, bystanders, and abusers/bullies as well as family members. Our goal is to CHANGE HEARTS & SAVE LIVES! More Information on Abuse Bites Here. 
 
Written by: Lisa Freeman, Lifelong Abuse Survivor & Advocate for Child Abuse, CEO of Abuse Bites, Healing Projects Specialist for Bully Police USA, Award-Winning Author & Speaker from Michigan, Certified Pet Therapist & Dog TrainerMore About Lisa Freeman
 
More Stories/Links On Child Abuse:

DreamcatchersForAbusedChildren
 
Tulsa woman arrested for child abuse after toddler hospitalized with skull fracture

 

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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sat Aug 18, 2012 @ 04:26PM
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Battered Men Speak Out!

 

We often hear about women being victims of domestic abuse and assault, but rarely about battered men.
 
 
Just like women, men can be victims or targets of verbal, physical, and even sexual abuse. Statistics say that 40% of domestic violence victims are male and 2 in 5 domestic abuse victims are male. Men assaulted by their partners are often ignored by police, watch their attacker go free, and have less places of refuge to go. More Info
 
While there is a lot of help out there for women and children, the intervention for men in these situations is scarce, if at all.
 
Living Well and Just Tell are two great organizations that realize the desperate need to help both boys and men who have suffered through sexual assaults in their lives.
 
Others like the West Lindsey Domestic Abuse Service have for the first time hired a male board member, and now will offer domestic support for men too. Although this is a change for the better, more change needs to come. Right now in most places, women and children who are abused are the only ones who can get help with shelter and food, while men are still left alone and out in the cold to fend for themselves.
 
Due to this crisis, many men suffer in silence, afraid to speak up. Either due to stereotypes put on them, or just because no one listens or wants to help. Being abused can be humiliating and embarrassing for anyone, but especially for men.Read Story
 
Ian Burly, 46, who is nearly 6 feet tall and a mountain of a man, compared to his partner Michelle Williamson just 5 feet. But the abuse Burly suffered by Williamson, is incomprehensible. Over the course of a year, Williamson scalded him with a steam iron, poured boiling water over his genitals, thrust lit cigarettes up his nose and stubbed them into his chest, and she smashed a gin bottle in his mouth — on top of numerous every day punches and beatings she threw at him. Instead of reporting it, Burly felt ashamed and embarrassed, so he hid it from everyone. Read Story
 
Royce Ali, 45, is a victim of domestic violence too. But thankfully he reported the abuse. And his partner of four years, Andrea Madden, 29, was found guilty of “wounding with intent”, for stabbing him repeatedly, and is now serving a seven year sentence. He says he was addressing an issue with her about taking too many diet pills. A heated argument erupted. She grabbed a 10 inch blade, and began cutting his arm and chest. “No one should put up with domestic violence, man or woman,” Mr. Ali says. Read Story

I can’t agree with him more.
 
Another incident involved Noreen Jessamine Weetra, 35, a mother of seven, who, she claims, was choked by her husband. She stated that in self-defense, she grabbed a knife, stabbed, and killed him. However, according to an earlier report, she’s no innocent woman either, having a past conviction of domestic violence herself which was suspended after only serving five years.  Obviously both she and her husband needed help. Read Story
 
Kids are even getting caught in the crossfire in domestic abuse. One daughter says her father always called police about his ex-wife, "She constantly harassed us, with threatening phone calls. She threatened to burn our house down, kill us, left messages on machines threatening my daddy, and trespassed on the property at his job." Read Story
 
Something needs to be done and soon. Our legal system is lacking. If we aren’t able to bring the help, healing, and aid that these victims need, we’ll see even more abuse or worse!
 
Abuse Bites is a non-profit organization that works to raise awareness, educate, and bring safety, prevention, and healing methods to victims, bystanders, and abusers. Our goal is to offer FREE HEALING WORKSHOPSPlease support our cause today.
 
Written by: Lisa Freeman, Founder & CEO of Abuse Bites, Lifelong Abuse Survivor & Advocate, Award-Winning Author & Speaker, Certified Pet Therapist & Dog Trainer
 
More Info /Help On Men’s Domestic Violence

 

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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sat Aug 18, 2012 @ 09:34AM
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Changing Hearts & Saving Lives--

In Loving Memory of my precious son, Brian

Admittedly, having four children of varying disabilities wasn’t easy. Raising them turned out to be an even greater task. However, I wouldn’t have changed a single day of it for any other child in the world!
 
Robert, my eldest seemed perfect from the day he was born. He ate well and slept even better. Twelve hours straight through the night at three weeks old. Who knew parenting could be this easy! His motor skills seemed fine; he grabbed things, rolled over, and even began crawling at around 8 months old. Developmentally, though he showed signs of struggle. Since he was still only crawling at a year and a half old, I became concerned, wondering if he’d ever walk. But by the age of two, and just the time our second child, Melissa was born, he was walking fine.
 
Melissa was a handful from the get-go! Obviously nothing was wrong with her development. She was into literally everything and expected me to catch her when she dove off the couch or jumped from the top of the stairs. Tragically I didn’t always get there in time. And it didn’t matter how many child safe gates I put in place, she could get past any barricade.
Soon after Melissa turned a year old, 
we had another beautiful baby boy, Brian

Brian was way different than the other two. He cried a lot, acted starving, but would fall asleep as soon as he began suckling at my breast. There were other weird symptoms that left me unsettled too. He coughed, sneezed, and breathed funny. I must have called the hospital every day, only to be assured that everything he was doing was normal. Still my motherly intuition would not be convinced.
 
Finally at three weeks old, I took him to see a pediatrician. I’m so glad I did! We were only in the room mere minutes when she detected his life threatening condition. “You need to take him up to ER right away for blood tests and x-rays,” Dr. VanVloten said. “He has a hole in his heart. It can be a small one, with an underlying infection making it sound bigger. Or it could be a very large hole. I won’t know until these tests are done.”
 
So many disturbing thoughts raced through my mind as we hurried to the hospital. I’d only heard of one other baby having a hole in their heart and that child was given a baboons heart and didn’t live long. Oh, God please no!
 
Thankfully Brian didn’t have infection along with the huge hole in his heart. His condition was life threatening enough on its own. He was transferred to Ingham Medical Center in Lansing where they diagnosed him with Tricuspid Atresia and Transposition of the Great Artery, which meant he only had two chambers in his heart, with a single functioning ventricle, and that the good blood and bad blood were mixing together and flooding his lungs.
 
In his first two months of life, he had two surgeries, one open heart to put a banding in pulmonary artery to restrict blood flow in the lungs, and the second to enlarge the aorta so that moderate blood flow could reach his lower extremities. Even then, doctors weren’t sure if Brian would live to see his first birthday.
 
Life was just a little crazy! On top of Brian’s special dietary needs and medical needs to keep him stable and thriving, we learned Robert had A.D.D. and Melissa had dyslexia and severe emotional impairments.
 
Three special needs children all under the age of three. Honestly, it was a little stressing to say the least. But we got to watch from the sidelines as each of our children climbed through each obstacle and hurdle in their path to accomplish what teachers, nurses and doctors said they never would.
 
Melissa couldn’t read, but she fooled us, because she memorized all of her favorite books. So I didn’t know about her true dyslexic issues until she was much older. And Robert was held back twice in first grade because he couldn’t write all the letters of the alphabet. One teacher even embarrassed him and called him dumb in front of the whole class. Back then there wasn’t much done about bullying, so we dealt with it the best we could.
 
As time went on I had baby number four! 

Jeremiah came into the world sweeter than pie. But after falling out of a cart at Walmart and hitting his forehead on a curb stop, he had a severe head injury, and battled extreme psychological conditions. At the age of three, he was brutally attacking our older children. By the age of five he was getting kicked out of school for hurting others. He was diagnosed with everything from A.D.H.D. and O.C.D to O.D.D. and Bi-Polar. A psychiatrist evaluated him weekly and wrote prescriptions to treat everything from bed wetting to mood swings and sleep disorders.
 
Jeremiah was only getting worse, and he even chased our kids through the house with a knife. We continued fasting, praying and doing everything humanly possible to make him better. Finally when he was eight years old, he was healed, after a couple came and spoke at our church and laid hands on him for healing. Within days he was off all the medications and did amazingly well. The principle even called to say what a difference he’d seen in him.
 
While we were taking Jeremiah for therapy, we learned that Brian had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a rare form of autism, something that was hardly heard of twenty-four years ago when he was born. This made Brian even more different. I loved that difference though. He was much more aware of things I took for granted. His sense of touch, smell, and sound were amplified.
 
I can remember taking Brian into Meijer’s with me when he was about three or four (before we knew he had Asperger’s Syndrome) and he spread his arms like an airplane and began touching all the clothes hanging up. Then he suddenly stopped when he got to a very large pregnant woman and began outlining her belly with his hands. Thankfully she smiled. Still a little embarrassed, I apologized and tried to explain to Brian that he needed to be more careful what he touched.
 
No matter how many warnings I gave him, Brian was his own person. His sensory skills were over functioning. So he touched everything, even our new flat top range when the burner was red hot. Thankfully he wasn’t burned badly. He also loved to smell things, especially foods, and began cooking thanks to his father’s culinary skills. He would make finger and hand motions along with swishing sounds like airplanes whizzing through the air. His ears were very sensitive and disliked loud noises. His eyes were drawn to every dictionary, Bible, and Discovery Channel ever made. I was baffled by all the knowledge he often shared.
 
Yet, because my children were gifted with what I call amazing special abilities, they were often sought out by others and made targets for bullying or to be left out and not included. I somewhat understood the school bullying, but when it even happened at church after church, I was disheartened.
 
Sadly, my kids (nor I) had many friends growing up. Still we had each other. I didn’t focus on what they couldn’t do, but always told them they could do anything they set their minds to. The only limits we have are the limits we put on ourselves.
 
Even though there were some major challenges, all four of my children graduated from high school—even Brian—with honors! 
 
Brian amazed me the most. When he was bullied severely in school I was so upset and wanted to let them have it. But Brian had a change of heart, and instead of taking revenge on his bullies, he loved and forgave them. He wanted the bullying to stop, and to help victims, bystanders, and even bullies to change. He knew they could change with the right help, and realized very young, that bullying is simply a behavior, not who a person is.
Brian was on the heart transplant list for five years, yet he wanted to travel with our Abuse Bites Program and go all over the USA to take this healing message of hope to others. He often said, “Mom, you can’t go without me. Besides, the doctors aren’t going to give me a heart anyway, God is, and I want to help others.”
 
 
Just as we were getting ready to go on this mission, Brian passed away. Soon after we found a change jar he’d been saving. It was then that we knew we were to collect change, so we could go all over like Brian wanted, to change hearts and save lives.
 
Having a child, like Brian, literally changed my heart and saved my life. I am so much different and better because of him (and all of my children). Looking through his eyes, I’m able to be totally loving, accepting and understanding of every single person out there, even the seemingly unlovable ones, those we often refer to as “bullies”.
 
Written by:
Lisa Freeman, Founder & CEO of Abuse Bites (a non-profit organization to stop abuse, bullying and violence), Lifelong Abuse Survivor & Advocate, Healing Projects Specialist for Bully Police USA, Award-Winning Author & Speaker, Certified Pet Therapist & Dog Trainer

 

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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Sat Aug 18, 2012 @ 08:10AM
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Hands Off! to Sexual Abuse

 

As a child, teen, and even adult, I cannot count the times I was sexually violated. Touched, felt up, felt down, forced up, forced down and made to touch others. Gross! It turns my stomach to think about it. My abusers, like most sexual abuse victims, were those I (or my family) put our complete trust in; neighbors, friends, and even relatives. (RAIN statistics say that 70% of sexual abuse is by someone the victim knew)!
 

By the age of two I was completely bald. I had pulled all my long blonde hair out, strand by strand. Even worse, I hit my head on our hardwood floors for hours. I rocked so hard in our family rocking chair that I broke it. However, nights were the worst. Every night I had severe nightmares (now I realize they were night terrors), that had me gasping for air and so afraid I couldn’t go back to sleep.
 
 
 
 
 
So why didn’t I just report the abuse and get it over with?
 
 
Like most victims of sexual abuse, I was threatened by my abusers not to tell, and I was afraid if I did tell, no one would believe me, or I’d be the one in trouble. Besides, I was ashamed. I felt dirty, disgusting and nasty. There was no soap or hot water in the world that could clean all that filth up. I was totally embarrassed by what had been done to me. I hated myself and I knew others must too. I knew I must deserve the abuse, though. So I learned not to fight, to stay still until it was over, all the while pretending I was in a safe, good place.
 

My safe, good place never came until the age of 26. Reality hit me like a hammer over the head when my husband of seven years turned his dreaded porn addiction onto our three small children and sexually assaulted them. That’s when I chose to stop the cycle of abuse and make a better life for me and my children. Yes, it was hard, being a single mother of three, battling horrible panic attacks, and trying to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I refused to be a victim—I made up my mind to be a survivor. It took a lot of time, but I have healed, and am still healing, and have a passion to help others become survivors too!
 
Sadly, stories of sexual abuse today are only getting worse.
 
Infants, children and teens are physically, verbally, and sexually abused by their own parents or friends of the family every day. The most horrific part is, these people are the ones we’ve taught our children to trust. Sex offenders are lurking around in every aspect of society.
 
Just read the stories that are making headlines today(News Stories just in: Among Worst Sex Child Abuse CaseMan Accused of Sexually Abusing Infant/Toddler5 Year Old Girl AbusedTeen Sexually Assaulted)
 
Coaches are sexually abusing their athletes. (News Stories on coaches: Swimming CoachFootball Coach from Penn StateJudo CoachDaycare workers are sexually abusing children entrusted to their care. (Read StoryTwo different babysitters are even being charged in unrelated deaths of two children. (Read Story).
 
Pastors, priests, and those in religious authority are sexually abusing those under their provision. (News Stories on pastors:LDS PastorYouth PastorPriestBoy Scout Leaders are sexually abusing those in their troops. (Boy Scout Perversion Files)Teachers are sexually assaulting students. (News Stories on teachers: Worker for Troubled Youth TeacherTeacher Terminated)
 
Movie Stars are taking advantage of their co-star children on set. (One Dad on set--Hey Dad! Star Robert Hughes Truck Drivers are now taking minors across state lines so they can sexually abuse them. (Read StoryPolice officers are even taking advantage of their position and using sexual abuse tactics on innocent victims. (EX-Dare OfficerFormer Sheriff’s Deputy & Prosecutor)
 
Scary world out there isn’t it?
 
 
Even scarier, many of these perpetrators told their child victims they loved them,including the coach of Gold Medalist Olympic Winner, Kayla Harrison. Some of these young victims even agreed to the terms of the sexual conduct, confused at the time, and thinking it was okay. However, sex with a child or a teen under the age of 18 is never consensual, it's more like statutory rape. (Read Story)
 
Some mothers, like Laney Wyble, are trying to protect their young children from sexual abuse by their own fathers, and not much is being done. (Read Story)
 

We need to do more before it’s too late.
 
One soccer club is doing something to ensure the safety of athletes and children in the future. They have put into place a Code of Conduct for Coaches. Some of the rules state that mentors/coaches should not be in dressing rooms, cars, etc. with an individual player, no inappropriate touch, get parental permission before taking photos of players, use open door policy and have another adult present when counseling players, no social networking with players, no gifts or cards to individual players, and report all abuse to proper authorities. (Read Story)
 
Those are all great tips for sure. Still, sexual abuse is everywhere. It’s even rearing its ugly head online too. With everything from pedophiles and pornography now sexual harassment is showing up virtual video games too. New systems have the capability to chat, so people are being bashed, especially those who are LBGT, but even worse when they learn the player is a woman, she suddenly becomes a sexual target. (Article: How to Fix the Problem of Sexual Harrassment Online)

 
Most of my life I lived in shame and blame for the horrific abuse I suffered. Today I'm free! That is why I founded AbuseBites.com. It’s a hands-on non-profit organization designed to break those feelings of guilt and shame and stop abuse, bullying and violence in all realms. We work with others to raise awareness, educate, provide safety and prevention methods, and offer complete healing to victims, bystanders, and even those who abuse. We write blogs, books, host motivational healing workshops, do pet therapy, and play interactive games with children and teens while teaching an invaluable message “hands off” about standing up for yourself and others.
 
 
Written by: Lisa Freeman, Sex Abuse Survivor & Advocate, Founder & CEO of AbuseBites.com, Healing Projects Specialist for Bully Police USA, Bully Advocate for Dreamcatchers for Abused Children
 
Other Help, Hotlines, and Links to Stop Sexual Abuse:
 
For help dealing with sexual violence, call the Safe Connections Crisis Helpline at 314-531-2003.
For children, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 800-392-3738.
If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault, call the Crime Victim Advocacy Center at 314-652-3623.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'America's Most Wanted' spotlights man wanted in strangling, sexual assault of a Beaverton woman

 

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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Wed Aug 15, 2012 @ 11:07AM
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Surviving Domestic Violence--I Survived, You Can Too!

Domestic violence is running rampant all over the world. Right here in the USA alone, tragic stories bloody the headlines every day.  Many people ask why a woman would stay with a man who beats her? People often believe the myth that a woman who is beaten must like it or she’d leave. Read More
 
I was one of those women. Fear was the biggest reason I didn’t leave. That, along with the fact that he promised he would get help and change. He cried with real tears in his eyes. I believed him. But the alcohol he drank, made him even meaner. Anytime he drank, I’d end up black and blue. And so the cycle of domestic violence continued, until he almost killed me, and I barely escaped with my life. Read My Story
 
Sadly, things haven’t changed much. The FBI released a report saying that every 9 seconds a woman is physically abused by her husband. The report also states that women today stay with their abusers because of feelings of guilt, insecurity, fear for their children’s safety, as well as emotional and financial dependence. Read Article
 
The cycle of abuse will continue until you make the decision to stop it. Leaving, in most cases, is the only way out. After Singing Star, Rhianna, was attacked by Chris Brown in 2009, Oprah dedicated a one hour program to domestic violence. During the show, Rhianna’s message was, “If you go back with a man who hits you, it’s because you don’t think you’re worthy of being with a man who won’t. I’ve said it before, ‘Love doesn’t hurt, and if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.’” Read Article
 
This is so true of the abuse cycle. But how can women trust a judicial system that has failed countless women? Joe Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, which did some great things; helped prosecute abusers, gave aid to women for housing, and enabled a hot line for them to call in emergencies. However, Biden knows they must offer more and laws must get firmer when dealing with perpetrators. Or women like Sarah Rosio, a 24 year old Wisconsin woman, who was fatally stabbed because she couldn’t get a protection order, will continue to lose their lives. Read Article
 
Another case I read about, involves a young woman who was strangled to death in 2010. And the Wisconsin man who killed her, unbelievably was only placed on probation. In 2011 after this same man committed another violent act, they finally put him in prison. Read Article
 
What about the World Championship Boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jr., who stalked and threatened his ex-girlfriend and kids? He only got a six months sentence, but was released after just two months so he could continue his fighting career! Some people get a slap on their hand, because of their position or status, basically telling them it’s okay to do it again.Read Article
 
Then we hear about former Queen of the Stone Age bassist, Nick Oliveri. Although he had seven felony counts against him, including drugs and domestic violence, he made a deal with prosecutors, dropping six felonies and a 15-year prison sentence to basically community service. Read Article 
 
A Wareham Official is being charged with domestic assault after punching a woman several times in the face and dragging her by the hair. Cops are even involved in domestic violence cases. No one is exempt. It happens in homes all around the country, at a rising rate every day.
 
Then we see things like supposed “mercy” killings. An Ohio man shot and killed his wife, who he claims was suffering in the hospital critical care unit. Read Article
 
Sadly, history keeps repeating over and over again.
 
A furious state attorney recently was angered that a prosecuting attorney let Melvin Perkins, a domestic assault perpetrator, slip through the system without being charged. Now two years later, this same man who had abused several women, is back in court, this time for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death. Read Article
 
Children are even involved many times, and caught right in the middle of a terrible domestic war. One woman, holding her infant, was beaten and pushed down a flight of stairs. (Read Article) When kids are involved, they often repeat the violence they grew up in. One teen is spending 12 years in prison for a horrific act of domestic violence against a young woman.Read Article
 
Kids in violent homes usually abuse or make a vow to stop the abuse. A 14 year old Michigan boy is being called a hero, after wrestling a gun out of his drunken father’s hands, to protect his mother from being shot. Statistics tell us that most young boys and teens who murder, kill the man that has been abusing their mother.  No child or teen should have to be faced with such a tragedy. Read Article
 
Yet, as indicated previously, most kids, like their parents, are afraid to seek help. Although many victims of domestic violence will never contact a police officer or other victim help agency, the number one place they will turn is to their health care provider. Due to increased stress and tension in the home, many women are battling physical conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Read Article
 
Even though this article featured the loopholes in the system, there is still a great deal of help available for those who need it. Our Abuse Bites program offers educational workshops to help victims of abuse cross over to becoming survivors. I was a victim once myself, but now I’m a survivor. I’m remarried, (just celebrated my 19th Anniversary) I’m happy, healthy and have three beautiful, amazing grown kids, and three awesome dogs that we use for pet therapy. More Info
 
I’ve also listed several resources and related articles below to help women and children get the information they need to get safe and start a new life—abuse free!
 
National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-7233
 

 

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Elisabeth A. Freeman - Tue Aug 14, 2012 @ 07:10PM
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How to Stop The Cyber Bully: On Twitter, Facebook & Cellphones

Isolation, fear, and depression can drive kids, teens, and even adults to a serious low, which can cause them to commit suicide. As I’m sure most of us are aware being a victim or target of cyberbullying can also cause that tragic downward spiral. From fake Facebook pages and bad words to hate pages and death threats, cyberbullying continues to be a 24-7 battlefield for targets and victims.

Although a recent article would like to tell us differently, and basically states that cyberbullying isn’t as bad as traditional or school bullying, a recent survey on Twitter proves both are equally as dangerous. About 15,000 bully-related tweets are posted every day. This means that 100,000 nasty messages taint the digital world each week.  Read More

One users twitter account was recently shut down by police for such abuse.

These days with the use of cell phones, not only are nasty messages appearing more frequently, but also damaging photos. Kids and teens don’t always think of the consequences before sending a photo of themselves to others. Even though they may only intend for one person to see their photo, with digital imaging today and one click of a send button, the whole universe can view something that may have been intended to be very personal and private. The posting of nude or sexy images is referred to as sexting. This is cyberbullying at its worst! Article On Cell Phone Sexting

A recent survey interviewed both victims and bullies of cyberbullying and found some alarming facts from each.  Read Article

Not surprising that another report from Ontario, Canada found that girls are more likely to be bullied than boys. The survey found that 29% of girls reported being victims of cyberbullying, compared with just 15% of boys. They also discovered that 31% of girls were more likely to report being victims at school, than 26% boys. Read Article

Older men often prey on young girls and innocent victims. Recently, a 49 year-old man, who worked for the 2012 Olympics was arrestedafter investigators found he had 200 Twitter accounts all linked to pedophiles. Online predators and internet pornography is huge today.Read More

With new cyber bullying laws being passed, schools are finally beginning to see that they need to do more. One school in Tucson, Arizona is educating students on appropriate online behavior. The new effort is required under the federal “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act”—school districts must update their policies to include instructions for students. Schools must also have anti-bullying training and workshops. Read Article

Abuse Bites offers educational healing workshops on every form of abuse and bullying, that bring about the CHANGEthat is so desperately need in schools, workplaces, and entire communities. Read More

Edgewave, a company out of California, believes it has the solution to help schools monitor student’s online activity. The program Iprism Social Media Securityallows schools to seamlessly monitor and control user interactions with social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter. It also gives educators visibility into student interactions with these sites. Read Article

Parents can get on board too and protect their kids with other new innovative programs. uKnowKids has just released their back to school cyberbullying infographic which includes the rising statistics of cyberbullying from the 2011-2012 school year.  Their surveys found that 97% of middle schoolers have been bullied online, but only 10% reported it to a parent.

If you have a child(ren) who is(are) being bullied/cyberbullied or you’re concerned that they could be a target or a bully, here are some inside tips from uKnowKids:

  • Set a Good Example:Kids learn from you and will mirror what you do.
  • Talk Before It Happens:Have a chat with them about cyberbullying and what to do.
  • When You See It, Address It:Whatever bullying there is, intervene and address it
  • Talk About Your Rules:Let them know what happens if they cyberbully/ or bully others.
  • Use a Parental Intelligence System:So you can view all their online activity.

 

Written by:Lisa Freeman, Lifelong Abuse Survivor & Advocate, Founder & CEO of AbuseBites.com, Healing Projects Specialist with Bully Police USA

Other Informative Articles:

Software Detects & Deters Cyberbullying

Why You Should Care: Internet Bullying (E16)    *Video* need help with speakers

School bullies take to the web in Loris

AT&T, Verizon and WebSafety Inc. Offer Cyber Protection

Cyber Security: Bullies On The Web

 

 

 

Comments: 0
Elisabeth A. Freeman - Tue Aug 14, 2012 @ 05:03PM
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Bullying has taken center stage as one of the most serious issues facing today’s society. What was once considered to be a problem with kids and teens is now continuing into adulthood, and what was once thought of as harmless is a growing and tragic epidemic.

Although it’s a no brainer that every work site should be a safe place and have anti-bullying policies, that are enforced, here in America, we don’t always have that pleasure.
 
According to Gary Namie, founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, it is estimated that 1 million people in the U.S.A. miss work every day due to bullying. His recent surveys also conclude that 82% of bullied workers quit their jobs due to stress and fear. And that 15% of all adult suicides are related to work bullying.  Mr. Namie claims at least half of all workers are bullied, but few report it, thus bullying in the workplace is what he calls “a silent epidemic.” Read More
 
Sadly, bullying controls the work environment, more than the employer, and it’s costing everyone greatly.
 
With so many Americans missing work, due to work related illnesses such as stress, high blood pressure, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, companies are paying higher insurance premiums. They are also seeing high turnover rates, so therefore they are losing productivity by having to bring in new workers and train them. Read More
 
Even worse companies are being sued.
 
When a jury takes time to examine a workplace culture and then reaches a $25 million verdict against the employer, it’s clear that it was doing something wrong. That is exactly what happened after a three-week trial over race harassment and bullying at an upstate New York steel plant. Read more
 
A few years ago, my son, Robert was bullied at work so badly that he became both suicidal and homicidal. Thankfully, his step-father and I found out, intervened, and got him the help he needed. Today Robert is healed and leads a productive life. He works for the Shiawassee County Community Mental Health in Owosso, Michigan, helping others who have mental disabilities. He also is part of our educational, training program, AbuseBites.com to educate employers and employees in the workplace. Read More
 
If companies do not get the proper training, help, and healing for workers and employers alike, I fear that we’ll be reading more tragic stories like that of a recent woman from Arkansas, Latange Long.
 
Latange Long was shot repeatedly and killed at her place of employment by co-worker, Lillie Foots-Wilson.
 
Why did this happen? Apparently, Long had been bullying Foots-Wilson for quite some time and no one from the factory where the women worked had intervened. The two argued the morning Long was shot. Foots-Wilson claimed she wasn’t feeling well and went home, but returned a short time later with revenge on her mind and a revolver in hand. She shot Long repeatedly. Read More
 
You may ask, how could something like this happen? I believe the answer lies within a very poor and weak system that continues to fail us. The biggest problem I see is that employers don’t have a set anti-bullying policy in place, or if they have one, they don’t follow and enforce procedure and policies. Then we read tragic stories like Long’s. If things don't change, I fear we'll keep seeing this needless tragedy all over America. 
 
Bullies bully for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s out of jealousy and to gain some sort of power and control over the target or victim. Maybe you’re a target or know someone who is. Click Here, we’d like to help you.
 
One of the most powerful tools to cope in the workplace is by taking legal action. However here are some tips suggested in an article I read recently…
 
Acknowledge Your Emotionsif you can admit to yourself and others you are being bullied you are well on your way to handling the situation.
 
Log the Bullying—keep an ongoing log of each incident of bullying that occurs.
 
Create Evidence—if you can record or tape the bullying you will have proof.
 
Stay Active—keep athletically fit, so the stress from bullying doesn’t wear you down.
 
Team Up—get others involved, on your side, and giving you the support you need.
 
 
 
Written by: Lisa Freeman, Lifelong Abuse Survivor & Advocate from Owosso, Michigan who is also CEO of Abuse Bites and Healing Projects Specialist with the Bully Police USA
 
Other Work Bullying Help & Links:
 
Adam Smith, the Vante CFO Who Got Fired For Bullying Chick-Fil-A Worker ...

 

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