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Actor Reveals Sex Abuse in Childhood; Sex Abuse Victims: Breaking the Silence
Aired December 1, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
We are confronting child sexual abuse with a man who`s been through it first hand. Tom Arnold is here.
And we are asking if hate can be erased. We`ll meet former Neo Nazis who transformed themselves into the family next door.
Then we`re going to tackle video games, are they addictive?
Let`s get started.
Child sex abuse, the topic that will not go away, but it`s so unsettling and it`s unthinkable. And many of us prefer just to look away, sweep it under the rug rather than confront it and its long lasting impact.
I`ve always said it`s the gift that keeps on giving. What I mean is, once it happens, it effects someone their entire life and sometimes future generations because of a single person`s act of abuse.
Tonight I`m tackling this headline-making taboo. Watch this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A graduate assistant saw, he says, he claims, Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy. His attorneys say Sandusky sexually abused the victim more than 100 times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think it would beyond - be beyond the realm of possibility that there are other victims that exist here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also began to coerce this child in attempt to satisfy his own perverse sexual impulses.
JERRY SANDUSKY, FORMER PENN STATE ASSISTANT COACH (voice-over): I shouldn`t have showered with those kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a pedophile?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Syracuse University has now fired long time assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
PINSKY: After three men come forward, saying he abused them as boys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would put his hand down my shorts whenever I was sitting there watching TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kept touching me. I said, "Bernie, please stop this."
PINSKY: I don`t know, that last guy, Tom and I were talking about him, I don`t know if I trust his allegations. And, again, this brings stuff out of the woodwork, which is the scary thing, as well.
Now, the Penn State and Syracuse child abuse headlines have revealed a number of alleged victims and there could be many more suffering in silence, they often are.
Tom Arnold, he`s an actor, comedian, and a child sex abuse survivor. Tom, let`s tell your story. When did it start for you?
TOM ARNOLD, COMEDIAN AND SEX ABUSE SURVIVOR: Well, I mean, I think, you know, it started - this is important. People may have heard parts of this, but it`s important that people that are able to talk like I can with you talk about it. Because I think about those kids in Pennsylvania that Sandusky is at the mall today and he`s like running around, and that was always my big fear growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa, was would that guy be at the mall.
Even as an adult when I, you know, would go back there, I think, "Oh, my god, I wonder if he is at the mall." And then he`ll see and then he`ll make - he will say - you know what I did to that guy when he`s a kid. And so -
PINSKY: And so it`s the overwhelming shame.
ARNOLD: Yes. And I think once Sandusky is locked up, there`ll be - you`ll probably hear from more people.
But my story is pretty simple. When I was four, my mother who left the family soon after this, but hired the guy across the street to baby-sit me so she could go party or whatever, while my dad was -
PINSKY: Just out of curiosity, do you think she had some sexual abuse issues, too? Because that`s what they - women sometimes go through that, are attracted to people like that.
ARNOLD: She was - she married my dad when she was 16. My dad was 19. She said she was pregnant, but she wasn`t, but eventually got there. She had a lot of issues. She had a lot of issues.
PINSKY: She might have been. She might have been.
ARNOLD: She might have been. And, you know, there - and I`ve got a lot of issues, too. And she was an alcoholic also.
So, anyway, so this guy across the street, everybody knows him in the neighborhood, and he started pretty quick playing a game with me. And lot of times they use this, let`s play a game. And you`re four, you don`t know what sex is. You don`t know what and you trust a baby-sitter or a coach or a teacher.
PINSKY: Playing a game.
ARNOLD: Yes. And the game was we go into this - this room, and he`d shut the door and it started with fondling. Which I just remember thinking, this is so weird. Why is this guy who`s got a hairy body and so different than me, why does he want to touch me and be touched by me? Well, this is weird.
But at the end - and it escalated from there. But at the end of each game, he gave me a giant candy bar, I mean, a big - like a game show candy bar. And then my dad didn`t want me to eat candy because of the sugar, so I never said anything about anything. Plus I didn`t know.
I know as I got older, it happened between the time I was 4 and 7 and it got more and more violent and more aggressive, and it became, you know, he did other things to me, you know.
PINSKY: Of course.
ARNOLD: And - but it was about I didn`t want - I didn`t know what I had to tell my dad. My dad never came to me and said - I love my dad. He`s my hero. But he never said, "Hey, if something weird goes on and you feel uncomfortable, you could talk to me."
PINSKY: So you would advise parents to just - to say that.
ARNOLD: Oh, my God, yes. You could say anything to me and I wouldn`t judge you. Just tell me what`s going on.
PINSKY: And so when did you realize that this was abuse?
ARNOLD: Honestly, probably when I was an adult.
PINSKY: It`s usually what happens.
ARNOLD: Yes, yes. It went on until I was 7 and, like I say, it got worse. And there was a couple times where my dad almost discovered it. My mom left the family when - soon after this. So my dad was raising me by himself.
I remember one night he was - he made me wash my hair. I didn`t want to wash my hair. We were in the tub. And he noticed I was bleeding from my behind. And he said, "Tom, you`ve got to tell me. What`s this?" And I said, "Oh, that`s poison ivy. I sat in poison ivy, and I got it," and this is about when I was 7, and he was, you know, and I lied.
And then I knew something was wrong with this guy was doing, plus he was hurting me, you know? So finally when I was 7, my dad kept a gun in the house. And the day before this guy had come out, I was resisting him now. And he said, you know, my dad pulled up right in front of his house, and he got out his gun and everybody in Iowa had guns back then, and he pointed it at my dad, said, "You know, I could kill your dad any time here," just a little warning for me. And my mom was already gone, so I didn`t want to lose my dad.
PINSKY: That`s how - that`s how they manipulate you.
PINSKY: So you were silenced by that fear, by the terror.
PINSKY: It`s a terrorizing experience.
ARNOLD: It was harrowing (ph).
PINSKY: And then you eventually, though, you got some treatment. You got sober.
ARNOLD: Yes. But before that, I have to tell you. I went in the next day, my dad had a gun. It was locked up in one part of the house. The cartridge - the cartridge was locked up in another part. He was very safe about it. My brother and I went through the whole house. I got his gun. I figured out the safe combination and got the cartridge. Went out in the middle of the street with all the other kids from town who I found out later had been abused by him, too -
ARNOLD: -- and shout, said, "Come out of the house. Come out of the house, so I`ve got - if you ever touch me or my buddies, I`ve got to kill you."
ARNOLD: And then my dad gets a call at the office. "Tom has got a gun in the middle of the street."
ARNOLD: And he comes screeching home and I didn`t even tell him then. I just said I got in a fight with this guy. And, you know, he was like, "What are you doing? You could kill people, you don`t know how to use a gun. What do you.?" You know, but it did end then.
PINSKY: It ended. And then you actually went back and confronted this guy.
ARNOLD: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Because I think people have a fantasy that if you go back and confront your abuser, magically everything will be better again. You know, it doesn`t ever - well, it rarely works.
ARNOLD: Well, it`s like - yesterday when I was talking on the phone with your producer, she said you`ve got to slow down. I said I can feel my heart beating and I was sweating.
PINSKY: Well, you are reliving from the experience.
ARNOLD: Yes. It`s - even though I`ve talked about it before and I am - it`s a long time ago, it`s - it`s still there, you know? And I dealt with it as appropriately as possible.
PINSKY: But somehow you - I know it wasn`t great for you but it`s satisfying to those listening to you, you went back and went after this guy -
PINSKY: -- and you put signs up about him. I mean, it`s a great story.
ARNOLD: Yes. When I went there -
PINSKY: We got about a minute and a half.
ARNOLD: OK. Let me - OK, here`s the deal. So after I went to rehab in 1989. And during - when you`re in rehab, you go through a lot of issues and they ask you if you have ever been abused.
PINSKY: Which is very common. A lot of the alcoholic and addicts abused (INAUDIBLE).
ARNOLD: Yes. And I said, "Well, yes. I guess I was." And it was more clear because I wasn`t drunk.
ARNOLD: And so I talked about it and then I talked to my therapist about it and I said, "I`d like to confront this guy." So we - I got a private eye. I found him back there. I worked with a therapist for six months. I didn`t just want to go back and beat him up and get arrested.
Found him, went to the place where he worked. He was a big church leader. He owns a big company back there.
PINSKY: He was adopting kids.
ARNOLD: He was about to adopt this fourth boy. And confronted him at his place of work, and it was very - I said then - I said, "Have I done enough?" I went over across the street to the State Capitol and begged the Governor of Iowa to stop this adoption. He said, "I can`t, it`s illegal. Get out of here."
And anyway, the adoption ended up falling through, and thank God. And then had my farm hands for six weeks put up posters (INAUDIBLE) of this guy`s face, his name, his address, his crimes, six blocks around his house every week for about six weeks. So all the other kids in his new neighborhood would be warned, because they don`t quit, as we know. So I just wanted the word to be out.
PINSKY: Well - please listen. So we got a few seconds left. The message to those out there that may be suffering alone, feeling ashamed that they caused this -
PINSKY: -- because kids think it`s their responsibility.
ARNOLD: Of course, of course.
PINSKY: -- is to please speak up. I mean, Tom, go ahead. You tell them.
ARNOLD: And then - I just want to say something. When I went back to his home in Iowa and was gathering information before I confronted this guy, a lot of my - the kids I grew up with, some of them were ashamed because they thought it was a gay thing that these guys were raped by this guy who was an adult, and we were just kids.
And it was really - first of all, the guy is not even gay. It has nothing to do with being straight or gay -
ARNOLD: -- and, you know, there`s a lot of shame in that.
PINSKY: There`s shame, but sometimes the shame is because they kind of start identifying with the victimizer and they sort of enjoyed it.
ARNOLD: Of course.
PINSKY: Remember Mackenzie Phillips talks about how she fell in love with her father, who was sexually abusing her. That`s identification - it`s like a Stockholm Syndrome. It`s identification with the abuser. And now, they`re really conflicted. What am I? Who am I? How is my involvement with this person?
PINSKY: Do I love them? Am I gay?
ARNOLD: Because he did give me candy. It`s nice.
PINSKY: We have to take a quick break, though.
So next, the question is, how would you react if a loved one confided in you that they were being sexually abused? And Tom has an important message to us all after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL BLACKSTONE, ABUSED BY HER TENNIS COACH: I always say these people hide in plain sight. And there he was and there I was. And so over time, one day he just started laying the ground work, you`re so special, you`re so special. And you`re at that age where we all think we`re different. And he used the word "different," too. You`re so different from everybody.
Yes, he`s so right. I do feel different. And wow, he really gets me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back.
That was Jill Blackstone. She was sexually abused by a tennis coach beginning at the age of 13. She broke her silence right here, because she wanted other people who are suffering in silence to know that it`s not about them, that they can get better and that the shame that controls them needs to be shed.
Actor Tom Arnold is here. He was abused by a sex predator beginning at the age of four. His abuser was an adult male baby-sitter.
Joining me now, Dr. John Sealy, a psychiatrist, who specializes in sexual trauma. Dr. Sealy, we talked during the break that so many of the - of victims feel not just ashamed but broken. Something is wrong with them.
DR. JOHN SEALY, PSYCHIATRIST, SPECIALIZING IN SEXUAL TRAUMA: Yes, they really struggle with a sense of having any worth, because when you cross a person`s boundaries, you`re basically telling them, especially if the person is seen as somebody an authority or a parent or a priest or a neighbor for that matter, when that person crosses your boundary without your permission, basically tells you you`re worthless, you have no value.
PINSKY: Let`s face it, just an adult - just an adult is somebody who`s in a position of authority, we expect a little more than when we`re kids. Big people take care of little people, guys. That`s something I have to put out there to some of my - some of my patients. The little people end up taking care of the big people a lot of time.
But my producer, Tom, used the word with you that I know set - set you on edge, and Dr. Sealy and I were saying the same thing. They talked about being - feeling damaged.
ARNOLD: Right. Well, here`s the thing, you know, I`m wounded, right? I have been wounded.
PINSKY: Wounded -
ARNOLD: And I still some mornings wake up and don`t like, you know, what`s in the mirror there and have to work my way through it, but I got a way to work my way through it.
But I want kids to know that are watching us and that adults with kids that it`s not - they don`t own us forever. Like this guy that did this to me, he`s - he doesn`t own me today. I`m living my life and you can have a great life. And you could do good things for other people, and, you know, it`s - we`re not damaged. We`re hurt. They got us. We`re wounded a little bit.
But we can - there are things to do that we can make things better. One thing is talking about it honestly, and keep talking about it.
PINSKY: And Dr. Sealy, let`s talk about what people need to do. How do people get better? How to they shed that shame? How do we get through to them and get them to reach out and get help?
SEALY: Tom is setting a beautiful model here and reaching out, discussing it with people. We want kids to be able to talk about this.
PINSKY: And adults, again, people who can hear this.
SEALY: I`m just focusing on children because this is when it happened with you, but absolutely. That`s the issue that really is important.
Because secrecy promotes shame, keeps it alive.
SEALY: When you start talking about it, you start dissolving it. Shame is the major issue that has to be addressed, and it hangs around for long - for long periods of time. It doesn`t matter. Frankly, the calendar doesn`t really measure shame.
PINSKY: It`s just - it`s eternal.
SEALY: So it goes on and on and on. Just like, you know, you remember 9/11, it`s 10 years ago. You remember it like yesterday afternoon. The same thing happens with this kind of trauma, it flashes back. It`s right like it just happened.
And the shame that is part of it is the sense I`m worthless, I don`t - this person doesn`t value me because of the crossing boundaries. You think about it, even adults who are on line brush against each other in line in the cafeteria, you say, "Oh, excuse me." Because we`ve crossed a boundary, just even touched a person.
So you can imagine what that does, that upsets people if they don`t say something. But you can imagine with somebody actually molests a person in a sort of a sexual way, by the way, it`s not sexual to the child. The child doesn`t even know what sex is.
PINSKY: They have no idea, right? It`s just some sort of violent act.
SEALY: So even it`s strange to call it sexual molestation because it`s no sex for the child.
PINSKY: In France they call it sexual violence. They don`t even call it sexual molestation, they call it sexual violence.
But let`s go back to the shame - the silence and the shame. Because I want to talk about the treatment, too, before we get out of here. But the silence and shame really bothers me, because the way I see these universities behaving, it`s like the dysfunctional families that keep this stuff internally sheltered and on-going without confronting it. Aren`t - they`re behaving like dysfunctional families, aren`t they?
ARNOLD: Yes. And, you know, I think what`s happened most recently with Jim Boeheim, who`s the head coach of Syracuse who defended vehemently his assistant coach, his best friend for 50 years, and I think it`s such a good example.
First of all, I don`t think Jim Boeheim should be fired. I think he`s a good guy, and I think he - but I think you could use this example in saying, I believed in my best friend. I thought I knew everything about this guy, so much that I went to his - and then look, look what he did.
PINSKY: He end up seeing (ph) that guy.
ARNOLD: So that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we don`t know and we have to listen, at least listen.
Now, not all of these guys are telling the truth that are accusing, but you can sort your way through this. And at least listen to them and figure out the ones that are, because most of them are.
PINSKY: Dr. Sealy, let`s talk about treatment. How do we - how do we treat this thing? If a kid comes forward or an adult comes forward, what do they need to do?
SEALY: Well, first thing you have to establish is trust.
PINSKY: With another - with a professional.
SEALY: With a professional, somebody who has to earn that trust.
PINSKY: What about - in this day and age, in this horrible economy and lack of resources, is a paid professional the only alternative? Are there any 12 step groups or anything else they can turn to?
SEALY: Well, there are no 12-step programs, because anyone can attend a 12-step meeting. So trust is a very, very sensitive issue. And it`s something I encourage people who are starting to deal with their abuse to let somebody earn their trust. Don`t give somebody 100 percent and keep subtracting as they betray you. Do it the other way, 10 percent. If they can - if they earn it, move to 20 percent. Ideally, a therapist or it could be a teacher or a counselor.
ARNOLD: Or somebody else who`s been abused.
SEALY: That`s - there you go. I like that.
ARNOLD: It helps me with the drugs and alcohol or the times that I`ve chatted with other people. You know, to be in a room and hear other men talking about being raped by a man, you know, it`s - big men, you know, you know, it takes all the - it takes some of the shame away.
PINSKY: Now, you actually put perpetrators and victims together sometimes?
SEALY: Well, in terms of inpatient treatment, we do have - these are nonviolent perpetrators, by the way, and we have them under very highly supervised settings. ARNOLD: What does that mean nonviolent perpetrator?
SEALY: Meaning somebody - that`s a great question. That means that somebody didn`t use force. They used seduction. They may have looked at child pornography. They were being arrested for looking at child porn.
PINSKY: Your guy was a violent offender?
SEALY: So your case, it was truly what we call forcible, it`s the legal term.
PINSKY: But in my understanding when you and I talked years ago and you said often time it gets to the point where the victimizers, the offenders and the victims start finding common ground.
SEALY: Well, they`re terrified of each other. To sit down with the sexual offenders, if you will, are terrified they`re going to be screamed at, and often they are, but they also gain empathy because they learn that this person has struggled with this, it happened maybe 10, 20, 30 years ago, and it`s still very important, critical part of their whole life.
They can`t establish intimacy. They don`t trust. So they`re able to see that what they did wasn`t something that - well, that happened so long ago, what`s the big deal? Oh, yes, it`s very potent.
And the people who have been offended, the victims, if you will, get to confront their abusers or at least someone that`s similar and also learn from themselves their own addictions. As often many of them turn to addictions themselves such as overeating or prescription drugs or alcohol, whatever.
SEALY: Yes. Or sex addiction.
PINSKY: So, Tom, I`m going to give you - I got about 30 seconds. Any - any last messages out there to parents or kids or survivors?
ARNOLD: Well, I just I want - I just want people to know and I`m sure they can write in to you, and we`ll all read everything you write in to Dr. Drew and respond to everything, that, you know, somebody is listening, and you know, there is somebody you can trust out there, and that we have to get rid of the shame.
PINSKY: In effect, Tom, I`m going to have you join me in the next "On Call" segment. We will take some calls.
PINSKY: So we can start that process right away. Dr. Sealy, thank you so much. Hope to have you back soon.
Reminder that Tom has a great stand-up act, I think it`s one my favorites. No, he does. And he will be appearing at the Arlington Graft House in Arlington, Virginia on Friday and Saturday, December 9th and 10th.
And as I said, next, Tom and I will be answering your questions.
PINSKY: Actor and child sex abuse survivor Tom Arnold is back with me now for the "On Call" segment.
And viewers, of course, are flooding the site with questions for us. Let`s go to the Facebook first. With Gina writes, "Tom, when did you realize that what you had experienced was sexual abuse?"
ARNOLD: I guess I realized it was sexual abuse, it sort of came to me slowly. Once I learned what sex was, I remember when I was 13, I kept asking my dad and my stepmother when do I get to learn about this. So I was 12 or 13.
My stepmother gave me this book. And it was - and I opened it up and I went, oh, no, I`ve already done this. And it was really kind of sad, I know it`s funny, but it`s also like, "Oh, my God, I have already done that." Because I thought sex was something crazy that you had to go to Target and buy something for and it was going to be - and I didn`t know it was just your body, and then I read that and I was like - and that`s when I knew that something horrible had happened.
PINSKY: Oh, my goodness.
All right, here`s another - let`s take a call, first. It`s Carlton in Colorado. Go ahead, Carlton.
CARLTON, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (via telephone): Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Carlton.
CARLTON: This question is for you or Tom Arnold. I`m an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I`m trying to find help and I need support. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do or where I can go?
PINSKY: Tom, I`m going to have you answer this. But I`ll say one thing to him that it`s interesting the secondary manifestations like addictions, whether it`s sexual addiction or chemical addiction, there`s help for that.
ARNOLD: Right, right.
PINSKY: It`s interesting. And so if you have an addiction as a consequence of sexual abuse, they are very used to hearing about trauma in 12-step meetings. So get yourself to 12-step meetings. Sit down, raise your hand, and ask for help, and people will be very forthcoming about this particular kind of an issue.
But if it`s really just the consequences of trauma, I think we heard Dr. Sealy say you`ve got to go out there and get help. We`re going to put - we`re going to put some resources up on our website.
ARNOLD: Yes. And I think Carlton, you know, the nice thing - I mean, you manning up and calling in here and admitting that and saying those words, I mean, that`s a - that`s big thing.
You know, I know that me being on the show, there will be people that say oh, that`s nice, but they`ll probably a lot of people that will make fun of me, and that`s just the way it goes. And I really appreciate you calling. And please go to the website. There is help. And just hopefully you`ll meet somebody like me that you have in common, and you - you can always have someone to talk to.
PINSKY: Here`s Tammy now. She writes, "Tom, how did you feel when you went to the police to report the abuse and they told you they couldn`t do anything about it because of the statute of limitations?" That`s a part of your story we didn`t tell, but that`s in fact what happened.
ARNOLD: I was very mad. I went to the Ottumwa Police Department, where I`m from Ottumwa, Iowa. Very mad, because I`m Tom Arnold. I`m from - down from Ottumwa, Iowa. I just - and they said there was a seven-year deal, statute of limitations back then. And even later when I went to the governor, and he said - I said just stop the adoption, he was like, "Oh, my God, that`s a federal offense. Get out of here. You were never here, you can`t talk."
PINSKY: Oh, my God.
ARNOLD: But then again, a couple of days later that the adoption mysteriously fell through.
PINSKY: Thank goodness.
ARNOLD: So grateful to that governor.
PINSKY: Let`s take another quick call. Mary in Nebraska. Mary, go ahead.
MARY, ALLIANCE, NEBRASKA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Mary.
MARY: I just wanted to say the people have no idea how sexual abuse as a child affects you for the rest of your life.
PINSKY: That`s right.
MARY: Took many years of counseling to understand that I did nothing wrong.
MARY: I`m now 54 years old and still have issues with what happened.
PINSKY: Yes. I mean, I think that`s the message we have been saying over and again here is just this is an event and it`s revivified life long, but there is treatment and there is hope and it`s about speaking up and shedding the shame. Yes?
ARNOLD: And my thing is I just don`t want to -
PINSKY: You got 10 seconds.
ARNOLD: -- be in my top 10 issues today, I want it maybe it`s in my top 100 every day, but sometimes when I don`t take care of myself, it creeps up a little bit and I get a little funky.
PINSKY: Injured not damaged.
PINSKY: Thank you, Tom.
ARNOLD: Thank you.
PINSKY: Can a skin head Neo Nazi, racist, covered in tattoos and spewing hate really change?
Next, we`re going to meet a husband and wife who say they erased their hate. Well, let`s see what they have to say.
ARNOLD: All right.
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, can you be addicted to video games? How much is too much and should we be worrying about this at all?
But first, wiping out hate. Is it a simple as getting rid of a few questionable tattoos or is it, in fact, more than a skin deep conversation?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Can a skinhead neo-Nazi racist covered in tattoos and spewing hate, ever really erase the thoughts and become what most of us consider decent members of society, parents, neighbors? Our next guests were active members of White Nationalist Movement. Their battle was to ensure an America controlled by what they considered a superior race, the White race.
Welcome neo Nazi skinhead, Bryon Widner, and his wife, Julie Widner, who say they have erased the hate. Now, Bryon, tell me what you mean by that. Your body, first of all, was once covered with tattoos. Why was it important to get rid of the tattoos?
BRYON WIDNER, FORMER SKINHEAD: I changed my heart years ago. To get rid of the tattoos was just a part of actually changing the outside also to represent how I did change on the inside.
PINSKY: And my understanding is there was an interesting story in terms of who you had to go to help clean up your outside.
BRYON WIDNER: Yes. Yes. I ended up talking to a couple of acquaintances of mine, and they pointed me to the southern poverty law center. And I gave them a call. And their head of security and one of his colleagues, Joe Ruly (ph), actually came up and met with Julie, myself, and the kids.
And, at the time, I was actually considering dermal acid to burn the tattoos off my face. Joe was pretty appalled by that for obvious reasons and told me to wait one year, and he`d see what he could do. He actually was able to find a private donor to pay for the professional removal.
PINSKY: Julie, have you changed your heart as well?
JULIE WIDNER, FORMER WHITE SUPREMACIST: Absolutely. When Bryon and I first met -- when we first met, we were both tired of it pretty much. We had a different change of view. And then, when we got together, our hearts completely changed.
PINSKY: now, what would you say to people who would take the position that the hatred that you were espousing is sort of unforgivable? What would you say to somebody, that you were part of a group that was so violent, so unacceptable to so many people that we should never forgive someone like that?
BRYON WIDNER: Well, if they choose not to forgive us, that`s their prerogative, and you know, I wouldn`t blame them one bit, to be completely honest.
PINSKY: And how would they --
JULIE WIDNER: We`re trying to make amends for it.
PINSKY: And how would they know you are trustworthy now? Tell me about those amends. What are you doing?
BRYON WIDNER: Well, too much danger to my children, my wife and myself, we`ve gone public with the whole neo-Nazi thing, how we are reformed, which has put a target on us. We moved three times within the past what, two years, three years?
JULIE WIDNER: Three years.
BRYON WIDNER: We`ve moved three times, different states. We`re in an undisclosed location now. We`ve had to change our names, you know, and all our neighbors and people I work with, they have no idea, and those that do have an idea, they respect us for coming out and --
JULIE WIDNER: Support us.
BRYON WIDNER: -- give us plenty of support.
PINSKY: And so, what you guys are suggesting is that there`s such profound violence at the core of this movement that people actually want to destroy you for moving away from it. Doesn`t that say something about humans that are engaged in violent activities of any type, whether it`s a gang or some sort of, I don`t know, you know, their international groups are terribly violence. Isn`t it all come from the same place which is hatred?
BRYON WIDNER: You know, I can`t speak for everybody. I mean, I wouldn`t, obviously, be able to speak for al Qaeda or terrorist organizations. I mean, the home grown terrorist, yes, it stems from hatred. It definitely stems from hatred, but the thing is, it stems from hatred from yourself.
I mean, these guys, they don`t hate minorities. They hate themselves, first and foremost. And then, they just project that outward toward everybody else.
PINSKY: And would you say that your children played an important role in getting over this?
BRYON WIDNER: I would say they played a major factor in getting over this. You know, when our last son was born, I just really, I don`t know. It clicked in me, you know, just imagining him going down the similar paths that I`ve went down. I would never want that for him at all, in any way, shape or form, or any of my children.
And so -- I mean, the hardest thing is we had to do as parents is actually tell our kids, mommy and daddy were wrong.
PINSKY: Let`s talk about hatred and where it comes from. Were you guys physically abused as children? Were you beaten by neighborhood kids? Was there violence in your life that just begat more violence?
BRYON WIDNER: I was beat up a lot in my -- yes, as a kid, in my early teenage years. I grew up in a predominantly Mexican part of town in Albuquerque. And I was beat up a lot. And, there was an older family member who was a skinhead. Try to impress him, I became a skinhead, too, and started just lashing back out.
PINSKY: Julie, how about you?
BRYON WIDNER: I was surrounded by violence.
JULIE WIDNER: My story is a little different. I was raised in a Detroit area, and in the 1970s, it was really segregated between Detroit and the East Detroit, and I lived in the East Detroit. And so, I was brought up in a household where minorities were looked at -- I mean, to me it was normal to be racist.
I had no idea until I got out of the movement that there another way, that there was a normal life where you can actually appreciate people and cultures and people for who they are. I was just raised that way. I just had no idea, by my father, not my mother, my father. And, since then, he`s changed.
Of course, he`s Christian now, and he pretty much, you know, -- I mean, he accepts everybody now. And, you know, it was that time, you know, that time and that era.
PINSKY: What do we do with people out there that are filled with hate that aren`t so extreme as what you guys went into? You know, you`ve sort of -- you`ve come out of that. What`s your message for people out there and those who have even some hate in their heart?
BRYON WIDNER: I guess, my message is, if you have hate in your heart, you really need to look for something to love, honestly. I mean, the only way to defeat hate is through love, and that sounds cheesy, but it`s true.
You know, the first step would obviously is to find something about yourself that you love. And then to find, you know, reach out to your family or your close friends, you know, just get yourself out of the situation where you feel hateful.
PINSKY: Julie, you?
JULIE WIDNER: I say for my message be, especially parents, for those disgruntled children who come home and maybe they have boots on or braces or put up a swastika flag, just know the signs of hate and pay more attention. Just, you know, stop and talk to the child. Take time out of your busy schedule and just listen.
I mean, you can`t always prevent anything. So, I know. We had five children, and we do our best, you know, but just recognize the signs and try to discourage it or pull them away or put down some limitations.
PINSKY: And again, we`re doing a lot of talk in last weeks because of the Sandusky case, and what not talking about abuse. So, I just want to get clear. Were you guys physically abused in the home? Was discipline administered through aggression?
BRYON WIDNER: You know, I got spanked and stuff as a kid, but --
PINSKY: No kids are physically abused ever look it as abuse. Were you hit with an object?
BRYON WIDNER: Yes, belts, fly swatter, stuff like that.
PINSKY: That is physical abuse. Guys, that is --
PINSKY: We just heard out Julie grew up in a horrible environment that she thought was normal. So, I just want to make a point for some of the parents out there. Physical abuse of kids creates hatred very often. Very often. It generates these horribly negative aggressive feelings, and that`s where it really starts. And then, the ambient culture comes in and does the rest.
Thank you guys. Best of luck. Stay well.
JULIE WIDNER: Thanks for having us.
BRYON WIDNER: Thank you.
PINSKY: Coming up, can playing video games lead to mental health problems? That`s what I`m talking with a recovering video game addict. We`ll hear his story. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Welcome back. The holiday season is upon us, and a lot of kids are going to be getting video games for Christmas and maybe have little time to play them. There are reports that excessive play of some of these games might lead to some serious mental health issues. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is gaming addictive in the same way that drugs are addictive, that alcohols are addictive?
HILARIE CASH, PHD., THERAPIST: Yes. People develop a dependency on it and go into withdrawal when they are away from it. There`s a study that shows that when you look at the dopamine levels in the brains of gamers, it is very similar to the dopamine levels for people who are taking speed. If dopamine is elevated high enough, people can`t walk away from it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, earlier this week, I explained how Kim Kardashian`s actions constituted domestic violence. Yesterday, I tried to dispel some myths about, well, at least address this whole issue of arsenic and apple juice. And tonight, it`s video gaming. How do you know if your child is a pathological gamer. How much is too much?
A lot of that kind of talk tossed around. I`m sure it`s going to be more during the holidays. Joining me to discuss this, Judge Lynn Toler, host of TV`s "Divorce Court," Rob West, cognitive psychologist at University of Iowa, and former video game addict and author of "My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction," Ryan Van Cleave.
Ryan, when did you realize, maybe I should ask, how bad did it get?
RYAN VAN CLEAVE, FORMER VIDEO GAME ADDICT: It got about as bad as it can get with an addiction. It`s pretty much cost me everything that I valued in life. In retrospect, I`m sort of shocked that it got to that point. My friends, they all vanished. My family stopped hanging out with me. They stopped talking to me because I wasn`t responsive.
My health went. I lost a job. Basically, everything, that I really should have accounted important was leaving, and I realized that I needed to do something drastic to get charge my life again. And it was a really tough decision, and as one that I have to make every single day even now.
PINSKY: Was it a particular game that got you?
VAN CLEAVE: I played a lot all through my life, but it was in the last couple of years in the early 2000s, about 2003 to 2007, I played a massively multi player online role playing game called World Warcraft, and that`s one that a lot of people get hooked with, because there`s a lot of reasons before, but one of these that it has no end point.
If you play like madden football or something, you get four quarters, the game is over. With these rolling playing games online, they don`t have an end point. You can keep playing as long as you want to put the time into it.
PINSKY: Now, here are some of the problems associated with video game addiction. Thirty hours per week, using the drug of video game addiction, depression, anxiety, poor grades. So, rob, how does somebody know if they`re getting into problems if they have something that would qualify as a video game addiction?
ROB WEST, PH.D., COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA: Video game addiction isn`t an accepted diagnosis. So, I think you could say video game dependence or pathological gaming.
PINSKY: All right. Listen, I got to say, I`m glad you said that, because I was going to take you on on that very issue, because it is different. It`s not in the DSM-IV. It`s plain to be in the DSM-V as far as I know.
WEST: That might change. That might change.
PINSKY: It might change. I know. I`ve seen those conversations in the literature, but I`ll tell you -- but here`s the main thing I want to address, which is, I have come across cases, although, Ryan`s case sounds awfully dramatic and awfully sort of similar to addiction, I must say.
But in the cases I dealt with, the video addiction compulsion and dependency has resulted from underlying affective issues, Axis-I disorders, other psychiatric problems. Is that the more common situation?
WEST: Yes. I don`t know. I mean, we certainly -- there`s a hint of evidence out there that the causal direction can go from playing games to elevated levels of depressive symptoms to poor grades, so the causal direction is certainly going from game time, compulsive game playing to actually mental health outlook (ph).
PINSKY: Let me try to clarify that for some viewers. We`re saying is that we`re trying to tease out what`s caused what. Whether the gaming is causing the mood problems, the mood problems causing the game -- it`s hard to tease these things out. Now, Judge Toler, you`re actually seeing marriages break up around this? Is that right?
JUDGE LYNN TOLER, HOST, "DIVORCE COURT": Absolutely. And we are on the front edge of this.
And what you`re seeing is, even before you get to the extreme levels that you guys are talking about, guys and women who get into gaming and do so three to four hours a day after work instead of being present for their family, the fact that they aren`t present, that they are attenuated, that they are doing most of their living in a world that does not include their wives and their children, are bringing their wives to court, you know, begging not only to be heard but just to have their very presence acknowledged.
PINSKY: Judge Toler, I am so glad you brought that particular point up, because that, Rob, I`m going to talk to you about this. That is the issue that I see is that these distractions, this arousing experience in life become the means of regulating emotions rather than intimacy and interpersonal experiences.
WEST: Well, you do find, and there`s significant evidence along these lines that playing video games can lead to increase levels of aggression from children all the way up through adolescents and young adulthood. Those effects are seen both for men and women and seem to be about the same magnitude. So, there`s not a gender difference that`s been heavily documented.
We`ve shown some effects looking at desensitization or a construct that`s been called desensitization so that people who play lots of, particularly, action or violent games might be less sensitive to seeing portrayals of real world violence, either in picture forms, still pictures, or also in digital movies, you know, scenes of beatings, scenes of assaults.
WEST: That you get less physiological arousal --
PINSKY: OK. So, desensitized from all these games. Ryan, I go back to you. You`ve been there, you`ve been through this. What`s your message to someone who may be getting out of control with this? A, how do they know they`re getting out of control, and B, what do you do to get better? What did you do to get better?
VAN CLEAVE: Well, one of the real problems is the people who are getting out of control are on that path, they tend not to notice it. It`s the chains of addiction. They feel really light until they`re too hard and too heavy to be broken. And that`s kind of what it is. You almost have to bottom out before you realize it`s really an issue.
My wife told me all the time it`s out of control, and I just heard noise. It was just noise to me. And so, the problem is is that the gamers themselves tend not to recognize the signs. It`s the people around them. My book came out a year ago, and I`ve had, since then, over 1,000 people have e-mailed me asking me, I need help, I don`t know what to do.
This isn`t the sort of thing where there`s alcoholics anonymous or gamblers anonymous or things like this. People don`t know about what do you do with this kind of addiction, so they ask me, because they figure I can understand, and it`s almost always the people in the lives, and the gamers are saying how can I help my kid, how can I help my spouse, how can I help these people.
And it`s a pretty frustrating thing, because if they are truly addicted, there`s not a lot other people can do other than offer them opportunities to try to get professional help in your lives, and sometimes, get an intervention.
PINSKY: How did you get better?
VAN CLEAVE: I did it the worst way possible. I would never recommend this for anybody. I did it cold turkey with absolutely no support system in place. And I`m just so bull headed that I was able to work my way through it that way, but even so, once I deleted all the games, threw machine (ph), got rid of everything, I just went cold turkey.
But I mean, I couldn`t sleep, I couldn`t eat. I was so used to having the mouse in my hand and eating, you know, the energy drinks and the hot pockets. My brain kept playing the games. Everything. My stomach was upset. Couple of weeks --
PINSKY: There really is a full blown withdrawal syndrome from it, but what was your bottom. We got to go in about 20 seconds. What was the absolute bottom?
VAN CLEAVE: The bottom was when my daughter who was probably five at the time was drawing pictures of everybody in the family and the picture of me was behind a computer screen, and I realized that`s what she about me and that`s all she knew about me. And I thought that my family deserved a more caring, loving, and active father who`s present in their lives. So, that really helped push me on that path of realization.
PINSKY: Thank you, Ryan, a very dramatic story. Thank you to Judge Toler and thank you to Rob West. Check out our must-see, must-share stories on HLNtv.com and take a look at what made tonight`s HLN top ten.
When we come back, my friend, Mike Catherwood, joins me for a look at Kim Kardashian`s right hook at her then -- I guess, husband or fiance then, and what you need to do with these reality shows. If you guys are going to watch them, so they`re going to keep producing them, so better learn how to watch them. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Welcome back. Joining me now, my friend and "Love Line" co- host, Mike Catherwood. Now, I said the other day that I had you, guys, look at some footage from the Kardashian reality television show. Mike, I had the viewers look at this. And I pointed out that what they were looking at was domestic violence.
Let`s watch it. This is from the season premier of "Kourtney and Kim Take New York." It`s on E! Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM KARDASHIAN, REALITY STAR: Stop, Aw. You just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) ruined my pedicure. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED) seriously, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) my whole toe just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) broke in half. Oh, my God. Look at that. My whole nail is flipped up.
KRIS HUMPHRIES, NBA STAR: It`s not even bleeding.
KARDASHIAN: I don`t give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It hurts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: All right, Mike.
MIKE CATHERWOOD, CO-HOST, "LOVELINE": Yes.
PINSKY: Should we have this stuff on TV?
PINSKY: Yes, we should.
CATHERWOOD: There`s many a reason why we should not watch that.
PINSKY: Yes, we should --
CATHERWOOD: First off, no one should ruin a pedicure. How dare he. Secondly, she puts new meaning to put your back into it. If she would have connected, Mr. Humphries would have been like --
PINSKY: OK. So, there`s no doubt in your mind that was not goofing around.
PINSKY: OK. Now, listen, guys, again, any violation of physical boundaries in aggression, slapping, punching, pushing, grabbing, shoving, that`s early stages of domestic violence. If I were going to be giving a lecture on domestic violence, and go, let`s see where domestic violence really gets going, I would show this footage, and it`s not just Kim.
Kris pushes, shoves. She complains about it all the time. You`re too rough. you`re too physical. That`s not funny. He`s goofing around. He means nothing by it. It`s not funny. It`s not OK.
CATHERWOOD: I`m a horrible boyfriend, the worst. I`m inconsiderate, and I have no sense of intimacy, but I just -- I don`t understand how you can even engage in that activity as a joke. Like the desire for someone to put your hands --
PINSKY: Well, I mean, you`re also a martial arts guy.
PINSKY: I mean, what if your girlfriend was into martial arts? You could be goofing around and saying, now, we`re going to --
CATHERWOOD: My ego couldn`t handle that. She would probably kick my ass.
PINSKY: Let`s take a look at another reality show, "The Bad Girls Club," and also MTV`s "The Jersey Shore," but let`s see -- let` talk about this. Look at it real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s do it! Let`s do it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t do nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I (EXPLETIVE DELETED) not you. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: OK. And I know, Mike. In the last part of this, we`re watching the consequences of steroid abuse, which is rage, and mania, and violence, which is what happens. If I were watching this with my kids, I`d go, what do you think of that. Really. See those big guys? That`s not normal to be like that. That`s from taking steroids, and when they take (ph) steroids, they get violent and aggressive.
PINSKY: You took steroids?
CATHERWOOD: Terrible back --
PINSKY: You took steroids?
CATHERWOOD: I did.
PINSKY: And did you get aggressive? When you come of it, you get depressed (ph)?
CATHERWOOD: It completely alters your mood.
PINSKY: The point being here, there`s an opportunity, I`m not saying don`t watch things. I`m saying you guys are watching them, so people are going to produce and present them to you. Consume them in an intelligent way.
Look realistically at what you`re watching and make sure you don`t let your kids watch alone without you interpreting what they`re seeing. Those are assaults. That`s assault we`re looking at here. Those people would go to jail in another circumstance, would they not?
CATHERWOOD: When it comes to the "Bad Girls Club" in particular, though, first off, you can`t say they didn`t warn you, right there in the title. These are not good girls. These are muchachas (ph) mamas. Secondly, I think a lot of times, violence gets minimized when it`s girl on girl.
CATHERWOOD: I don`t think people interpret it as being as dangerous.
PINSKY: It`s a serious thing, it`s still an assault, and it needs to be discussed in realistic terms. Don`t let your kids watch this stuff alone.
Thanks for watching us here. We`ll see you next time.