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Snake in the Grass

On our hike yesterday to a lovely little waterfall, i wandered off the trail momentarily and saw something black. It looked like a hose, the kind that connects my faucet to the pipes under the sink. Suddenly, it moved! It slithered along in front of me, under the leaves and into the brush covering the woodland floor.

I was so surprised! I haven't seen a snake in years and not in this neck of the woods. After my initial shock I was very grateful that I hadn't stepped on it and quickly headed back to the trail. Later I googled the location and, based on my recall of what it looked like, discovered it was a northern black racer (coluber constrictor constrictor); a snake that is "defensive" and inflicts a "painful, nonvenomous bite" when handled. I'm doubly glad now that I didn't step on it!

So often we think we know what we see, and we don't. A hose becomes a snake, a friend becomes an enemy. What - and whom - do we trust?

This is a real question for those women who have suffered abuse as young girls. Many more girls than boy are victims of sexual abuse (20% vs 8%). And the overwhelming majority of sexual abuse is committed - not by strangers - but by people known to the girl's family; i.e., relatives or close friends who would have access to the child.

Therefore, we need to check out our assumptions. If a child seems out-of-sorts ("off the trail" of typical behavior), then don't ignore your observations. The child may have been bitten by a snake in the grass.

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