E84: Strangers are Not the Danger
Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:05):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different.
Beth Demme (00:08):
Our mission is to talk about things you might relate to, but that you don't hear being discussed in other places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:13):
Our hope is that you're encouraged to have honest conversations with people in your own life. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:17):
And I'm Beth. On today's show we're going to have an honest conversation titled: "Strangers Are Not the Danger."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:23):
Then we'll share a slice of life and the show will close with questions for reflection, where we will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:30):
Beth Demme (00:30):
Stranger danger. I learned that growing up, stranger danger strangers are the danger. And it rhymes so it must be true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:38):
That's true. As Americans, I do feel like we really love a catchy phrase.
Beth Demme (00:41):
Stranger danger is catchy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:44):
It's pretty catchy. And I sure remember it as a kid, I grew up, I would say in the nineties, that was my pinnacle of growing up timeframe.
Beth Demme (00:52):
And I grew up in the eighties. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:54):
And was, so was it a thing then?
Beth Demme (00:55):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:56):
Okay. So it's not even like a nineties thing. It's been, I wonder how far back it goes?
Beth Demme (01:01):
My guess would be, it was probably seventies, eighties, and nineties, or maybe just eighties and nineties, but
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:07):
So they don't do it in the aughts?
Beth Demme (01:09):
I don't think so.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:10):
So there's no more strangers. We're all friends.
Beth Demme (01:14):
Well, what did you picture when you learned about stranger danger? What does a stranger look like?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:20):
Well, they're a man. They're a big man for me. A big scary man. They're just mean, and they're going to take you and steal you away from your parents and you don't want that to happen. So you have to stay away from scary, big men.
Beth Demme (01:37):
I have an image in my mind of who is this stranger in stranger danger. And it's a white guy. Who's older. He has stringy gray hair. He's bald on top. And he drives of course ... a white van. Right? And he's gonna come up and say, "Hey, kid do you want some candy?" Those are the strangers that I was warned about.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:01):
And you say no.
Beth Demme (02:05):
"No! You're a stranger!"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:05):
It's always offering you candy, too. It's always about the candy. Actually my mom went even a step further. I wasn't allowed to trick or treat because they give you candy and they are strangers. My mom didn't understand the concept of allowing us kids to knock on the door of strangers' houses and ask them for candy. It's the thing we're told not to do. Why are we allowing that to happen one day a year? It's like every other day of the year, don't take candy for strangers, but this one day it's fine. It's fine.
Beth Demme (02:42):
Well, it's like a community event. Trick or treat is a community event. So it would be like, "I can't go to the fair." Well, maybe you shouldn't go to the fair. "I can't go to this festival or this arts and crafts festival because there are strangers there." No, I mean, of course there are strangers there. It doesn't mean they're out to get you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:57):
You. Well, I don't know. I did not. I will tell you I didn't go trick or treating until I was 17 years old. And we went me and my 10 ladies, I think it was four of us from the group that went around the neighborhood and I was dressed up like a target because I had this big ball thing that I wore. It was super fun and at every house we'd have to tell them this is our first time trick or treating.
Beth Demme (03:30):
Was it true for all of you or just, you?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:32):
No, it was just me, my friends had trick or treated for years.
Beth Demme (03:38):
After you got to do it, did you feel like you had been missing out on something?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:41):
Not at all, not at all. Because we would go to the church that we used to work at, actually, they would have a fall festival where they would have games that you'd play and get candy. And they weren't strangers 'cause they were much hurt. So I would get candy. And then every year my mom would go to the store the day after to get candy on sale. So we always had plenty of candy. Yeah. I was not deprived of candy. That is not the concept. Once I finally went trick or treating, I was like, "huh, this is a lot of work."
Beth Demme (04:12):
It is so much work.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:14):
When the day after I could just get candy for sale so I kind of see my mom's point.
Beth Demme (04:19):
I always had fun taking the kids trick or treating we'd get a couple of families together and we'd go out and do it. And then it was always just between my two kids, a little bit of a competition. We'd get home at the end of the night and they'd weigh their candy to see who had collected the most. It was kind of fun. We had a good time, but we did always look through the candy and if anything had been opened or it looked suspicious--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:42):
I do think though, now having experienced it as an adult, seeing children experience it, I do think it actually is a good way to introduce kids, to talking to strangers without it being like strangers are bad. We can't talk to them. I think it is a good way to kind of introduce kids to how to approach a stranger and especially you know, on Halloween there is people will turn on their lights and you'll know, okay, well this is someone we can approach because they are wanting us to approach, you know? So it, it actually is kind of teaching you kind of signs of how to approach someone and in you know, knock on the door if they don't answer. Okay, well then we're going to move on kind of thing. So actually the more I think about it, it's actually I think it's a, it's a good way to kind of approach strangers and interacting with people because in my opinion, strangers, aren't the danger. I think that's a, we've titled this episode. and I guess the reason I you know, we kind of want to talk about this is because at least with us growing up, I feel like we were really taught strangers are bad strangers and
Beth Demme (05:52):
Where the danger is. The danger is out there from someone who is strange to you, unknown to you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:58):
And this danger is very defined as a child. The danger is that these people are going to take you away from your family. They're going to take you.
Beth Demme (06:08):
And you're going to end up on a milk carton.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:10):
Yes. And you'll be on a milk carton. And as a kid, I didn't know exactly the inner workings of what would happen when I was taken, obviously, as you get older, you understand just the horrors that they are true, that they are trying to avoid, trying to avoid. And I remember that I remember, and my mom would tell me, I will pick you up from school unless I tell you, otherwise don't get anyone's car that that you don't know. And even if you know them, they will, they'll have to have a note or something for me my mom was very big on strangers.
Beth Demme (06:42):
Right? Well, we had a couple of friends who we had a system with when the kids were little. And so we had a safe word. If Ms. Amy comes up to you at school and says, Hey, your mom told me, I don't even remember what the safe word was now--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:57):
Beth Demme (06:58):
Whale. Right. If Ms. Amy comes up to you and says whale, then you know that I have told her, she, I have asked her to pick you up because I can't get there to get you. And Vice versa we would do the same because we didn't just want them to randomly go home with people if, for no other reason. I mean, obviously number one is safety, but also. It's really inconvenient to get to school for your kid. You there. Yeah. What a waste of time to wait through the pickup line and then not be there. Yeah.
Beth Demme (07:21):
There was this big emphasis on kidnapping and not, not all of the other ways that people can hurt children. Right? You know, not, not so much of an emphasis on inappropriate talking or inappropriate touching or the way that predators will sometimes groom children. And now that, that happens online, which is also terrifying, but I don't know that that idea of stranger, danger conveys all of that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:46):
I don't think it conveys any of that. Really. All I know is how I was raised in the nineties. So I don't know if it's changed where parents are able to talk about it more broadly. Well, I know, I mean, there's stats that say kids are harmed by 80% of kids are harmed by somebody. They know it's a family member.
Beth Demme (08:04):
I think it may even be higher.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:05):
Yeah. It's a you know, a friend, somebody, somebody that the kids know, because it's easier to harm a kid that knows you, right? If you're a sicko and doing bad things to the kids. Yeah. It's easier to get it, to know the family and the kid, because then they'll do what you want because they know you and you can be just a horrible person and do these things, do these things. So I'm, I'm interested you have young, or you had young kids in the aughts.
Beth Demme (08:34):
I did! They've gone and grown up.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:37):
Are they afraid of strangers anymore? Or are they, did you have the stranger danger to talk with them?
Beth Demme (08:43):
Instead of having a stranger danger talk, it was more about trust your gut and talk to us. I remember when they were little, when they were preschoolers and I was active in mothers of preschoolers (MOPS). I remember that someone came in and talked to our group and we watched this video of a family in the park. They did it with a couple of different families so you could see that it didn't matter the gender of the child, but with the parents' permission and while they're watching so everyone is safe. A man who is unknown to the child comes over and says something like, "Oh, have you seen my dog? I've lost my dog. Can you, will you just help me look for my dog?" The adult kind of acts like they're a little bit feeble and like, they really need help. Children are taught to be helpful, right? And this person is not a "stranger," he's just somebody looking for his dog. He's nice. He's got a dog. How can you be a bad person if you have a dog. Invariably, in these videos the child would go and help the stranger look and then they get farther and farther and farther away from the parent. The point in the video was that it was a wake up call for those parents to realize, "Oh, my child wants to be helpful and I've taught them about strangers." The take home for me was: they don't know really what I mean when I say stranger. That's not good information for them. So that's where we came up with more of, trust your gut and talk to us.
Beth Demme (10:09):
And there have been times, I would say more with more with my daughter, than with my son, but where she'll say to me, "I just get an uneasy feeling around so-and-so." You know what, trust your gut. You don't have to spend any time with so-and-so and it doesn't matter if it is somebody in our friend group or somebody in our church or somebody in our family, she gets to trust her gut. And we trust her gut. I do think that it has shifted some, I think that we're getting a little bit better. It's a little bit of a tight rope because you never want to take a child's innocence by giving them so much information about what could potentially happen to them that you have then done damage, but just saying stranger danger isn't really good enough. It doesn't really convey everything we need to convey.
Beth Demme (10:55):
The other thing that I learned around that same time with the kids was— I was always hyper-focused on their behavior, especially my precious son, because he was very strong-willed and often misbehaved. And so he would spend the night at somebody's house and he would come home and I would say things like, "Oh, did you behave? Were you a good boy?" That's not the right question because that suggests that whatever happened at that house was okay, and maybe it wasn't okay. Right? So the question is, "did you have a good time? Was that fun for you? Tell me what you did." And then at some point sleepovers just became more trouble than they're worth, but that's a whole 'nother episode. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:34):
I think, I think changing the phrasing, definitely like you said, I think that is really helpful. And allowing kids asking the right questions to get a response from a kid if you were to say did you see any suspicious people around you? Did you know, did anyone ask you to get in their van?
Beth Demme (11:55):
Right. What are the odds that that's going to happen? I mean, I think pretty low, it's pretty low. I think the last time I looked at the statistics because we knew we were going to be talking about this it was less than 1% of children in the US who are abducted every year are abducted in that sort of situation. A fraction of 1%. So 99.9% are not abducted that way. So asking kids those questions, like "was there a person unknown to you in a white van?"--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:25):
And then trust their gut. And was there anything that made you feel uncomfortable or is there anything you know, out of the ordinary that seemed odd to you? Those kind of things I think would, would bring about those those questions more than trying to be right on the nose with the stereotype that's not even a thing.
Beth Demme (12:44):
Right. And "Who was there? Who did you guys have dinner with?" And then oh, there was some random adult there, "oh really, tell me more." You know, you go to get more information at that point or reach out to the other parent and say, "Oh my child said so-and-so was at dinner. Who's that? I don't think I've met them." You just have to give yourself permission to ask those questions. And I mean, my daughter's almost 17. She wanted to go to a party last weekend. I texted the mom. It was like, I need the mom's phone number and I need to be able to text her and get some information about what is really planned. And it turned out to be a very lovely, very age-appropriate, calm party. And she had a great time.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:31):
So what's a not calm party like?
Beth Demme (13:34):
Sometimes by the time kids get to the end of high school, parents have kind of stopped parenting, you know? And so it's like, "Oh no, we're going to leave. And there's just a refrigerator full of beer and whatever happens happens." It wasn't that kind of party. Mom and dad were around, there were eight kids, nobody was out of control or crazy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:52):
So what were they doing? What'd they do?
Beth Demme (13:54):
They played cornhole and sat around the backyard talking. It's the perfect party.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:01):
Were these all girls?
Beth Demme (14:02):
No. It was five guys and three girls and Hannah had a great time. I did contact the mom before the party to say, "okay, what's on the agenda?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:11):
That's not even a question. My mom always did that, there was no question. Although towards the end of high school, it was, I always went with the same friends. So there wasn't really a question about that. But most of the time, actually my friends would all come to my house like that. My house was the hangout house, so yeah, really didn't have to do any of that work. But all my friends' parents were like that. All of them were the parents that were calling. And one of my friend's mom was more protective at times than my mom. And we went to Disney together, four of us and we were 17. We were almost 18 next year we're going to be in college. And our parents you know, were concerned about us driving down there by ourselves. So one set of parents drove down with us. Then they drove home and then another set of parents drove down to drive back with us. That's how our parents were.
Beth Demme (15:06):
Did you stay in a hotel in Orlando?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:10):
We were alone down there though. We were 17 or we might've been 18. No. 'Cause it would have been Senior Year. I would have been 18. Yes. Actually one of, one of my friends turned 18 on the trip! Now that I think about, we were 18 years old.
Beth Demme (15:25):
I can't tell if you think that those parents were being way over-protective?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:30):
I thought they were.
Beth Demme (15:30):
It sounds spot on to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:32):
I think they didn't exactly know.
Beth Demme (15:34):
I think it was nice of them to let you stay alone. I would have been like, "okay, well I'll just stay next door."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:38):
No, I thought it was a little overkill because we were 18 and we were going to be in college next year. But because my mom drove us down. So my mom was all for the parents driving and back. 'Cause if we had car trouble or something. I thought this is a little extreme. I was like, whatever, but we knew we had to do it in order to go on the trip. So I was fine with it. Although I did think it was a little much. Let me tell you how wild we got on that trip.
Beth Demme (16:07):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:08):
No, not at all.
Beth Demme (16:10):
Did you get ice cream twice a day?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:13):
We got ice cream. There was a McDonald's at Downtown Disney that had flavor tip. I don't know if you've ever had flavor tip, but there's very few places that have it now. It's just the tips of the ice cream are flavored. It's very good. And we got that the first night with my mom and then I don't think we had ice cream again after we got it the first night. I don't think so.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:35):
I do remember we went to Universal one of the days and we noticed how many drunk people there were at Universal, especially compared to Disney. Because there was no one drunk at Disney. I remember we kept seeing this guy and every time we saw him he had a new Bud Light in his hand. There's more to the story, actually. Now that I'm talking about it, we will probably get into that more in a future episode, because we're going to have a guest on who was out on that trip. And during that trip, something major happened that I'm not going to talk about here. I'm going to let us talk about it in the episode. A big shift happenedh in that trip that has nothing to do with parents or being wild. But something did happen in that trip. So I'll leave you there. But I think the reason my parents trusted me to go to Disney is because they had taught me so much about stranger danger that they knew I was not going to get into anyone's van.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:45):
To this day to this day have you ever gotten in a van with a stranger who offered you candy?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:50):
Oh no. Probably in someone's van. I can't think of us. I can't think of, but I probably did.
Beth Demme (17:58):
A stranger, not a minivan. Okay. Minivans don't count. One of those panel vans, like the Mystery Machine, but not as cool.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:08):
Yeah, no, I've never been in one of those.
Beth Demme (18:10):
So maybe the stranger danger lessons of our youth have worked because we've never gotten into a van with a stranger.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:16):
You could say that that concept works, but I have definitely been harmed as a child by people that I know. And it has changed, has formed who I am in some negative ways and it is what it is. I have never gotten into a stranger's van, but I have been harmed by people that I know and didn't even realize it was how harmful it was because I hadn't been educated on what that looks like.
Beth Demme (18:55):
90 something percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by people they know. 90 something percent. So being so focused on the idea of strangers and the danger is external, I think is not a reflection of reality. I think it's a reflection of adult anxiety about things that are not in their control.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:19):
And I think the stereotype of stranger is horrifying, someone's going to kidnap my kid and do all these things and be horrible--
Beth Demme (19:27):
Which would be horrible--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:29):
And it has happened. It does happen. It sounds pretty rare though. I do know though there is human trafficking, which is another conversation where people are literally just taken, which is terrifying, but that's not specifically what we're talking about. And I think so I think the concepts of the stranger danger that has kind of been perpetuated is horrible, but I think something that's more horrible that people aren't even willing to face is people harming your kid. I think that's even too hard to comprehend and to think, because I know I was harmed as a kid and I have told family members and I've told friends and they refuse to believe me. They refuse to understand. They refuse to, I mean, they still spend time with those people that harmed me and that so I think that is even too hard to comprehend and to even fathom that somebody that you know would do this to a kid. So I think there's a lot of people that just refuse to believe to believe this. And so it's easier just to tell kids, "this is stranger, this is bad," but this is too hard for me to comprehend so I'm going to even go there.
Beth Demme (20:49):
I wonder how much of that stranger danger education kind of conditioned our parents—the parents of my generation, the parents of your generation—to look for that external threat rather than being aware of the potential internal threats in the family, in the friend group, in the social group, in the church--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:11):
I don't know what the stats are if it's gotten worse or if the harm to kids has always been within the family, within the friend group. A huge percentage has always been people that in some capacity, which is odd to me that it has been for so long that this has been an issue in, it still doesn't seem to be the focus. I don't know what's being said in individual families, but a lot of how kids interpret the world is through TV and through advertisements and things like that. And I'm not seeing those. I'm not seeing trusting your gut. And you know, if something doesn't feel right with anyone you're with tell, tell a trusted adult, I'm not seeing that kind of understanding that is necessary for, for kids to really be able to communicate when something feels wrong.
Beth Demme (22:14):
I bet you're right that this has always been true. You know, that it's really not an external danger. Although the external danger exists, that's not the primary danger, because I think predators are going to take the easy path. And so it's the kids that they have access to. So it's not going to be a child who is a stranger to them. It's going to be the child who trusts them or whose family trusts them. So that's a really good point that you're making that, that has always been true. And yet our focus has still been external.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:46):
There was a situation in Tallahassee where a youth director somewhere locally harmed a lot of kids.
Beth Demme (22:53):
I should know more about that. I kind of remember hearing about it, but I don't remember any of the details.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:00):
All, all that to say is a youth group, right? A youth group where you would think is a safe place to send your kid. It should be. And this guy is, and I don't know the full details, but I'm assuming this guy was grooming these kids was becoming their friend was helping them connect with God, was helping them with their troubles in their life and then harmed them in some horrible way. I think he's in jail. I think that's something very you can fill in the blank with how he armed these kids something bad. I don't think that's unique. I would think that's probably a tale as old as Beauty and the Beast probably.
Beth Demme (23:43):
I was just looking it up. Former youth pastor,
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:48):
What did he do? Was it sexual? With all genders or--
Beth Demme (23:53):
Sentenced to 25 years after pleading no contest, which is not the same as pleading guilty. No contest means "I don't want to answer. I'm not going to argue with you. You say I'm guilty. I'm not gonna argue. I'm not gonna admit I did it." He was sentenced to 25 years in prison on 11 counts, stemming from various sex offenses against at least 10 children between the ages of 11 and 15. The abuse occurred between 2007 and 2015. He was also sentenced to 15 years in prison on second degree felony charges and five years on third degree felony charges. Gross. This is what he said at his sentencing, "I publicly apologize. I want to apologize to God, apologize to family and friends for the way I've hurt them for the things I've done. Sincerely apologize to the families I've hurt. That was never my intent. I was stupid. My relationships were always sincere. I don't want to drag them through a public trial. I apologize to my church and the court of Tallahassee for dealing with this. I know God will do his will. I seek God's mercy" I think it was all boys because the prosecutor says, "the most disturbing part is the defendant's role to the young boys and their families, their youth pastor, their role model, someone their parents trusted" and said "he used that to manipulate them sexually."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:12):
So he's in jail now. Don't they usually not do well in jail? I've heard that before.
Beth Demme (25:21):
Yeah. I don't know. Well, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't do well in jail because a lot of the people in jail are victims of sexual abuse. And so I think that they are able to channel their hatred and anger towards their abusers on the people who are--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:37):
And I think that's unforgivable and with many people is crimes against kids. Yeah.
Beth Demme (25:45):
I mean, he was probably abused as a child. I'm not saying that makes it okay.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:49):
I know. Yeah. Probably horribly. Yeah. Abused by some man in his life. Yeah.
Beth Demme (25:55):
I did have an inmate ask me last weekend if I believed in generational curses and I was like, actually I do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:03):
What does that mean?
Beth Demme (26:04):
Well, in the Bible it says you'll be cursed to the fifth generation if you do certain things. But the way that I see that play out is unresolved hurt gets passed on to the next generation and it piles on and it gets passed on and passed on. So I definitely see generational harm going from generation to generation. I was like, "Why? What do you think?" And he was like, "I think it's real."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:29):
I don't think it's a curse that you can't break though. Like I think it's curse makes it seem like a a wicked witch, put it upon you and you can't get out of it. But you have to break it. You have to make the choice and you have to have the courage to find a way to break it. I mean, so if you want to continue with the magical thing, you can't okay. Right. But you, and you can, you can break that curse, but you have to put the work in and you have to recognize it and not just let it consume you. Yeah. Cause I mean, jail's full of people that yes, have been so hurt and harmed and just continue that cycle
Beth Demme (27:13):
They've been hurt and harmed by people who were hurt and harmed. It is generational.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:19):
Yeah. It is.
Beth Demme (27:20):
You know, I think one of the reasons that parents get really focused on an external threat or why in the eighties and nineties, at least they were so focused on external threats is that there's a real sense of shame that happens with the baggage in our own families. And so I think that makes it harder to see. But also it gets really complicated when we want to teach our kids you're part of a loving family and you should love all the people in your family because they love you. And then when somebody violates that trust, I think there is a lot of shame around it, but I feel like you have been brave to break that sort of cycle of shame by writing your book because you weren't harmed by a stranger.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:06):
I definitely feel there's a big percentage of people that harm people have been harmed themselves. And there is a cycle of harm that happens where you know, this happened to me and something horrible happened to them as a child and they weren't willing or able to face it. And then they just continue that on children when they're older and just kind of that cycle happens. And I know for me, I know these things are happening, but I just feel like they're not discussed and they're not put out in the open and they're kept in the dark. And so I felt like it was really important for me to share that because it didn't feel like it was getting shared in the amount that it needed to. So, yeah. So I did kind of talk about what happened to me as a child. I've done a lot of work. I think that's a big thing is it's really hard to find this stuff out and to realize that you can't just say, "okay, well moving on," right? There's a lot of work that needs to be done to be able to process and move forward in a healthy way.
Beth Demme (29:16):
And shame is one of those things that we, I think we try to tuck it away into a secret place because it's hard to think about it's hard to deal with, but it, but it just kind of grows there in the darkness. And then once you put light on it, it really kind of lessens, or sometimes it even completely evaporates because we share things that we're ashamed of and realize
Beth Demme (29:42):
I'm not the only one that's gone through that. Yeah. I think that you're finding that with your book. I think people have reached out and said that was really brave and really helpful to me that you shared that story is why we do this podcast, right? Because we want people to be having these conversations. Exactly.
Beth Demme (30:00):
Well, we do have a lot of fun making this podcast that we hope that we are encouraging you and helping you and inspiring you to have some honest conversations in your own life. We've heard from some of you that you wonder what is the best way to support us. So we've decided to expand the podcast experience using buy me a coffee.com. You can go there and buy us a cup of coffee, or actually Steph will use the money to buy tea. And it's okay. It's okay. I want to say thank you to everybody who has done that. Who's gone there and supported us in that way. We really appreciate it. You can become a monthly supporter and that'll give you access to PDFs of each week's questions for reflections. We also put pictures on there and outtakes polls, all kinds of good stuff.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:39):
The kinds of things that we would normally put on social media if we had a social media, but we decided to not do that for the podcast. And so when we post on buy me a coffee, you'll get a little email with the post. So you can go right to it and not have to kind of look through all of the, the noise of social media. and I do want to mention that I went back to Starbucks for the first time drive through the other day, and I got me a venti iced tea. So thank you so much. I enjoyed it and I will be back
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:13):
Well, as Beth mentioned you can definitely join us on buy me a coffee. also if you want to hear about more of what's going on and support us in other ways, we both have websites and we both have weekly newsletters where we will send you some updates on on the latest podcast. And Beth has devotions available on her website. And so Beth's website is:
Beth Demme (31:43):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:45):
And probably at the top, you can sign up for the newsletter?
Beth Demme (31:47):
That's right. You sure can.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:48):
Yes. And my website is SMKauthor.com. And there's a button there, I think it will just pop up when you're on the website to sign up.
Beth Demme (32:06):
And they can also buy your book there, which we talked about a little bit in today's episode, they can order a copy of Discovering My Scars there and you'll get it shipped out to them right away.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:14):
Yep. We'll do that. So, Beth, do you have any weird news for me today?
Beth Demme (32:17):
I do. Do you remember a few weeks ago? I'm sure you remember that you had an infestation of large birds in the backyard.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:24):
That was months ago and I don't need to be reminded. That was terrifying.
Beth Demme (32:29):
And the dogs didn't want to go out, especially Tosh didn't want to go back there.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:32):
There were birds of prey circling my neighborhood, specifically my backyard.
Beth Demme (32:38):
So this woman in Southern California is having a similar problem. She has had 15 to 20 Condors, which are, I think the largest bird in North America. They have a nine foot wingspan. She's had 15 to 20 of them decide to roost on the railing of her back deck and on her roof. And they've torn up, she has one of those hot tub/spa things in the backyard. They've completely torn up. She has it on her deck, I mean, and they've completely torn up the cover to it. And she said that they've knocked over flower pots and destroyed them. She's an animal lover and she actually sort of lives in the middle of nature so that she can observe nature. But she's like this a little bit too close, a little bit too close. It's just incredible because there aren't that many of these birds. I remember—we talked today about that I grew up in the eighties, and I remember learning in school that there were really only a few Condors left and that they were going to have to be bred in captivity to try to kind of reinvigorate this population. Apparently it has been a somewhat successful effort. She had, if there are 400 Condors in the world and she had 20 of them at her house and in the pictures, which we'll post in the show notes each of the contours is tagged well because there are so few of them that they're tracking them. so they each have a tag on them and she called wildlife officials and was like, "I'm not going to hurt these birds. I'm not that kind of person, but I want them to stop tearing up my house. And by the way, the excrement is a huge mess." She said that it forms into concrete basically, and she can't get her deck clean. She just had her deck re-done. They told her to go outside and make loud noises. And if that didn't work to gently spray them with a hose so that's what she was trying to do. She was spraying them with a hose to get them off her roof. So I hope she's having some luck. I hope she's no longer dealing with a condor infestation. But when I saw that, it made me think of you.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:34):
Well, and yet mine was probably a couple of days and it was off and on. It wasn't the whole time, there was a ton of bird poop in my backyard though, a ton. And so it just, in my situation, it was annoying. I can't even imagine what it must be for them to, be that big and be, cause they were, they never came down on to my area. They were just in the trees above. But there was bird feathers and there was poop everywhere. And then it scared Tosh. And she wouldn't go out to the bathroom, which you can imagine as super enjoyable when you have a dog that I don't want goin' inside.
Beth Demme (35:11):
Yeah. It creates some other problems. Yes, no. That's where Tosh needs to be going. Yes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:19):
At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Bethel read and leave a little pause between you can also find a PDF of them on our, buy me a coffee page. Number one.
Beth Demme (35:31):
Did you learn about stranger danger growing up? How did you picture the stranger who would endanger you? Number two, do you trust your gut? Why or why not? Number three. Do you remember a time as a child when you felt uncomfortable? Was it with a stranger? Did you talk to a grownup about it? And number four as an adult, what do you do when you feel uncomfortable?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:57):
This has been the Discovering Our Scar podcast. Thank you for joining us.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.