Friday, October 26, 1984

The Story of Peter Parker (Spiderman) - Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse


The Story of Peter Parker  - Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse
(AKA: Spider-Man) 

Back in 1984, Peter Park (AKA: Spider-Man) became one of the first male survivors of sexual abuse to come forward to share his story of being molested as a child.  

Table of Contents

  1. Super hero Spider-Man takes on sexual abuse  (10/26/1984)

  1. Spider-man Unfolds Web Of Child Abuse (02/10/1985)
  2. Sexual abuse and Spider-Man (03/08/1985)

  1. Spider-man Takes On Another Real Villain: Emotional Child Abuse  (09/18/1988)


Super hero Spider-Man takes on sexual abuse
Associated Press - October 26, 1984

New York, NY –– AP –– Even Spider-Man isn't immune from the terrors of sexual abuse, and the super hero's creator hope his experience as a child will help other kids deal with similar problems.

In a new comic book, Spider-Man remembers when an older friend showed young "Peter Parker "girlie" books and siad, "Let's see if we can touch each other like the people in the magazine."

Parker, the web-slinging superhero's alter-ego  refused, but "was too frightened to leave."

Spider-Man remembers the incident and says, "I've never admitted it to myself before, but for years I've been haunted –– ashamed of that part of my past.  It wasn't until tonight . . .
that I finally truly realized that what happened back then wasn't my fault."

At first, there was reluctance to "Do something this bold with our premier super hero," said Pamela Rutt, a spokeswoman for Marvel Comics, which joined the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse to produce the comic.  

"We thought this particular cause was most appropriate for us because it so immediately affects our audience," Rutt said.  "Kids can be armed with information that can help them prevent sexual abuse and deal with sexual abuse."

Distribution of the comics, written for 5 - to 12-year olds, will begin Monday, through the committee's 50 chapters.  One million copies will be sold at cost to schools, churches and other organizations and individuals.

The comic book was created by Marvel's writers and cartoonists, using information provided by nine child sexual abuse experts.

The last page of the book contains an epilogue providing information on how to report sexual abuse and where to get more information about treatment


Spider-man Unfolds Web Of Child Abuse

By Peter Gorner

Chicago Tribune - February 10, 1985

There are few youngsters in America who don`t know that orphaned Peter Parker, as a bookish and timid teenager, was bitten by a radioactive spider and somehow absorbed the insect`s proportionate powers to become the Amazing Spider-Man.
Now, though, Spidey (or ``the world`s best-selling swinger,`` as his creators at Marvel Comics fondly call him) has a startling confession to make: He was sexually abused as a child.
Next Sunday, in a special four-page supplement to The Tribune`s comics pages, the fearless superhero reveals a secret he has repressed since boyhood.
The revelation occurs when the webslinger rescues Tony, a terrified neighbor boy, from a lecherous baby sitter. Spider-Man tells Tony that he is not alone, recalling how frightened and powerless he had felt when shown a sexy magazine by Skip, an older boy who had befriended him.
"Bet you've never seen pictures like those in a stuffy textbook!" Skip had said. `"Come on, Einstein! Let`s conduct a little experiment of our own!
Let`s see if we can touch each other like the people in that magazine!"
"Please, Skip, don`t! I`ve got to go now!"  pleads the youngster. But he had been too scared to run away.
What happened next is left intentionally vague, but Peter Parker later was able to summon the courage to tell his aunt and uncle, adults whom he trusted.
And that, Spidey instructs his young readers, is what they should do, too.
"I`ve never admitted it to myself before," he says, "but for years I`ve been haunted--ashamed of that part of my past! It wasn`t until tonight . . . that I finally truly realized that what happened back then wasn`t my fault! It really wasn`t my fault!"
Even superheroes, as children, are not immune to sexual abuse, but they can be helped and turn out fine. That is the message of the comics supplement, ``Spider-Man and Power Pack,`` produced by the Marvel Comics Group in cooperation with the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse
(NCPCA), a Chicago-based clearinghouse of materials and information.
``The comics format is being viewed by professionals as an unusually effective means by which to discuss these matters with children,`` says NCPCA executive director Anne Cohn.
``Many parents want to deal with this issue but aren`t suror in their children and to believe them if they do come forward.``
The Marvel supplement, says Cohn, marks the first time this medium has been used to educate a mass audience of children about sexual abuse. The Spider-Man episode is followed by ``Runaway,`` a classic tale of incest in which a girl flees from home because her mother refuses to accept her word that she was molested by her father. Friends believe her, however, and concerned adults reach out to see that the family gets help.
The comic supplement represents a growing volume of material reflecting the new awareness and determination to prevent the sexual abuse of the young. Films, plays, games and literature are being created by government agencies, rape crisis centers, hospitals, publishers, educators--even Hollywood, which last fall released a Paramount Home Video entitled, ``Strong Kids, Safe Kids,`` starring Henry ``the Fonz`` Winkler as host of an antiabuse talk show. Researchers predict at least a half-million youngsters will be sexually abused this year, but as few as 10 percent will tell their parents. Lack of knowledge, misplaced guilt and shame often play roles in victimization. Because victims are not likely to seek help--and the emotional scars are believed to affect some 34 million Americans who were molested as children--it is vital to reach the young before abuse occurs.
Marvel Comics spokesmen say there was little corporate hesitation about doing something so bold with their star character. Explains publisher Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man: ``Comic books have entertained young readers throughout the world for decades, but thisainment. The comic book also has the power to inform and enlighten.
``We at Marvel consider it a privilege to utilize our skills in an effort to help remedy one of the most pervasive i`re grateful for the opportunity to do so, for, like Spider-Man himself, each of us must never forget--with great power comes great responsibility.``
The comic represents a year of volun nine child welfare experts and a team of Marvel artists and writers. Every word and picture has been selected for sensitivity and communication. Also contributing to the project were Spartan lor Press; International Paper Co.; Manistique Papers Inc.; and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
``We are pleased to be able to help in this effort to alert the natioh problem,`` says John E. Corbally, president of the MacArthur Foundation, which has donated $200,000 to the national publishing effort.

Publicity about the comic has sparked an extrants and professionals, Cohn says. ``It has been an avalanche, much more so than we had ever envisioned.`` In publishing the comic, The Tribune is being joined by eight other newspapers --the Bosquirer, Des Moines Register, Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle and Cleveland Plain Dealer--in an effort to disseminate this information as widely number of reports of sexual abuse in America was one of the most surprising and disturbing news stories of 1984,`` notes Tribune editor James D. Squires.
``While many questions remainations of the problem, there is no doubt as to the need for greater public awareness and education. We think the comic book story featuring the Amazing Spider-Man and Power Pack is an excellent

Millions of copies also will be distributed to schools, PTAs, churches, youth groups and other organizations and individuaichigan Ave., Chicago 60604, attention: Spider-Man.)
In the comic, Cohn tells youngsters: ``The purpose of this supplement is to teach you how to protect yourself from sexual abuse anto you. It shows you that even people you know and trust can touch you in ways or in places that feel uncomfortable or yukky or just not right. Or, they can make you touch them in private placou that if this happens, it`s not your fault--you can say no--and there is help out there.``
Readers are advised how to report child sexual abuse and are given a comprehensive listing oftropolitan area where treatment is available.
The main points the experts hope to get across, according to Cohn:
-- Your body belongs to you, and you have a right to decide how .
-- If somebody tries to touch you in ways that don`t feel good or seem right, say no.
-- If the first person you tell doesn`t believe you, keep telling until you find someone wh, if this happens, it`s not your fault.
Cohn and other experts view this simple comics supplement as unusually valuable.
``As a society, we must figure out ways to diminish theidren as sexual objects,`` Cohn says. ``Until then, we must teach children how to protect themselves.
``Many people want to do something to help. We believe this supplement is an exc start the conversation. So if you wish to help, just give this comic to a little child. It`s a great way to begin.``

Sexual abuse and Spider-Man
Chicago Tribune - March 8, 1985

Spider-Man - Adult Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse
Chicago –– Spider-Man's disclosure that he was sexually abused child drew so many "Dear Spider-Man" letters and so much praise that sequels are planned in the fight against child abuse.

Anne Cohn, executive director of the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, said Thursday that the response to the superhero's disclosure had been "overwhelming positive." 

In a comic book released last October and in a supplement in eight newspapers Feb. 17 (1985), Spider-Man tells how a person he had trusted abused him as a chld and urges a young boy with a similar secret to tell his parents.

The comic format is such "an extremely effective tool" in the strugge against chld abuse, Ms. Cohn said, that sequels are planned.

"Children will read this comic.  They appear to learn from it," she said.

Letters –– some written to Spider-Man himself –– have come from children and adults, including a professor who said he was abused for 17 years by his father who threatened to kill him if he told anyone.

"When I was a kid, I read a lot of comics," the professor told the committee.  "How I wish one of those comics I had read had a story like this one. . . .I might have had the bravery to tell others, to tell until someone did believe me."

Since the supplement appeared, Ms. Cohn said, the committee, its local chapters and other agencies have thousands of calls and letters from people –– many offering help, a few seeking it, many praising the supplement.

She noted that the October comic book urged readers needing help to write Spider-Man.  

"We get a lot of letters saying: 'Dear Spider-Man, ou had a secret.  I have a secret.  I, too, was sexually abuse .  . . Can you help me?" she said.


Spider-man Takes On Another Real Villain: Emotional Child Abuse

By Linnet Myers.

Chicago Tribune - September 18, 1988

When Spider-Man revealed in a 1985 comic strip that he had been sexually abused as a youngster, the response was ``phenomenal,`` according to the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse.
``We actually got hundreds of letters here addressed to Spider-Man saying, `You know what happened to you? It`s happening to me,``` said Anne Cohn, executive director of the committee.

Now the committee and Marvel Comics have produced another comic strip in which Spider-Man takes on the issue of emotional child abuse.
The four-page color supplement is included in today`s Tribune and has already appeared in several other newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, the Des Moines Register and the Columbus Dispatch, said Christine Benuzzi, the committee`s director of resource development.
The committee has turned its focus to emotional abuse because ``it`s probably the most hidden and yet most insidious type of abuse,`` Cohn said.
``A child may be told, `You`re disgusting. I wish you were never born.` If they`re told day after day that they`re worthless-that they`re never going to amount to anything-then sure enough, they don`t.
``Children believe what their parents tell them.``
The new Spider-Man comic is part of the committee`s nationwide campaign against emotional abuse. Television spots showing parents angrily insulting their children are also featured.
Cohn said the committee has already seen responses to the ads and to the comic strip in areas where it has appeared. She said one woman-the mother of two boys-wrote that ``I first saw myself and my actions reflected on the TV in a short but painful commercial. I felt very ashamed of myself.``
The 1985 Spider-Man comic, which dealt with sexual abuse, was produced after Pamela Rutt, Marvel Comics` publicity director, called the committee.
She spoke with Cohn, and the two came up with the idea, Rutt said. Since then, more than 16 million copies of the sexual-abuse comic supplement have been distributed through 150 papers nationwide, Rutt said. Two million more were distributed through the committee.
Spider-Man himself made appearances at schools, day-care centers and shopping malls in areas where the supplement was distributed, she said. When Spider-Man spoke of his frightening childhood experience, it was
``astonishing`` to see how children reacted, Rutt said.
When children came up and told Spider-Man that they also had the problem, ``Spider-Man would say, `I`m glad you came forward and told me that,`
`` Rutt said. He would then refer the child to an expert for help, she said.
Spider-Man, (whose secret identity Rutt refused to reveal), is making similar stops for the new supplement, although there are no plans for a Chicago visit.
If copies in Sunday`s Tribune are included, about 4 million copies of the new supplement have been distributed, Rutt said. In the comic strip in today`s Tribune, Spider-Man discusses the problems of a boy and his sister, who are tormented by their cruel alcoholic father.
Extra copies may be obtained by writing Prevent Emotional Abuse, Box 2866, Chicago, Ill., 60690.  Benuzzi said guidelines for teachers and youth-group leaders will also be available.


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