Voices Heard Defining Moments Fall 2022

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...I FOUND IT ...GOD’S REDEMPTION ...CLARITY WITHIN THE SNOW ...THEY STOLE MY “NO” ...I CAN’T LOVE LIKE A WILD ANIMAL ...A LOTUS FOR YOU ...COMING OUT ...THE ENERGY OF ANXIETY
Heard DEFINING MOMENTS
Voices
ARTWORK BY MYKI JONES

VOICES HEARD

Summer/Fall 2022

EDITORIAL TEAM

CLAIRE O’LEARY Founder, Editor-in-Chief Creative Director

SHERYL BLAHNIK Copy Editor

CONTRIBUTORS

DENISE BOSSARTE

RONA PEART BRODRICK DARLENE J. CLARK

CHRIS CLINE, MA RACHEL GRANT DONNA JENSEN MYKI JONES

CLAIRE O’LEARY DR. LORI PITTS KARO SKA PASTOR MARK SOWERSBY

PHOTOGRAPHY

SAITO

TOMO
®2022 THE EMPOWERED VOICE, VOICES HEARD ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

THE STORIES

FROM THE EDITOR ...DEFINING MOMENTS 7

From the stories of survivors’ recovery and healing to...

I FOUND IT! 8

For years I would just sit in pain so as not to cause discomfort...

GOD’S REDEMPTION — MY JOURNEY OF GOD’S HEALING FROM SEXUAL ABUSE 10 God spoke to me in that moment...

DEEP SLEEP 14 I could feel impatience laced with frustration winding its way up...

CLARITY WITHIN THE SNOW, HUMIDITY, AND HEAT 16

IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN CRISIS... 19

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger...

SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE NOW 19 Are you looking for a safe space to share...

THEY STOLE MY “NO” 20 Even into my early adulthood, years after the physical abuse ended...

HERE’S TO NOT BEING NICE 22 I stopped caring about pretty much everything. I was depressed, overwhelmed...

NOT MY FAULT 24 I couldn’t say why. I couldn’t tell her I was afraid my...

KEEPING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AWAY 26 For so many years, I was doubtful of my talents. As a child...

INSIDE 7 14 16 20 8 22 10 19 24 26

I CAN’T LOVE LIKE A WILD ANIMAL 29 once i was a lion prowling savannahs, seeking prey...

BUILDING RESILIENCE

A LOTUS FOR YOU 31 In its essence, resiliency is the ability to...

COMING OUT — MY DEFINING MOMENT 32 I see the relief on their faces when they understand that...

WORKING WITH THE ENERGY OF ANXIETY 34 I feel trapped emotionally and energetically, and reduced in...

WE SURVIVED ...WE THRIVE 37 We Survived ...We Thrive is...

RESOURCES

BOOKS FOR ADULT SURVIVORS 38

Books by survivors and professionals that lelp...

BOOKS FOR KIDS & TEENS 40 Books by kids and professionals tor kids, teens and parents...

SHARE YOUR STORY 41 Are you looking for a safe space to share...

ONLINE SUPPORT 42 Online Support Groups for all...

COACHING RESOURCES 42 For survivors...

CREATIVITY UNLEASHED 43 Creativity unleashed program encourages survivors to unearth...

37 34 31 29 32 38 40 43 42 41
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FROM THE EDITOR ...DEFINING MOMENTS

As the theme of the Summer/Fall issue of Voices Heard unfolds, it becomes apparent that we all have many defining moments in our lives. These are but a few from survivors I’ve met along the way.

From the stories of survivors’ recovery and healing to ideas for resilience, I see similarities and differences in each of our stories. Lori Pitts , I Found It! pg. 8; finds her voice a bit at a time and slowly learns how to use it effectively. Chris Cline, God’s Redemption – My Journey of God’s Healing from Sexual Abuse pg. 10; finds her power through God’s healing while Donna Jensen, Deep Sleep pg. 14; discovers moments of healing still years later through illness. Myki Jones , Clarity Within the Snow, Humidity, and Heat, pg. 16; finds clarity and unpacks her trauma after moving to the country. They Stole My “No,” pg. 20 by Pastor Mark Sowersby once again defines losing his voice and being incapable of saying No for many years. Rachel Grant celebrates finding her voice in Here’s to Not Being Nice, pg. 22. I, Claire O’Leary, recover another picee of myself in Not my Fault, pg. 24 while Darlene J. Clark shares her doubts about being worthy in Keeping Negative Thoughts Away, pg.26. Karo Ska shares her lesson in self-love through her poem, i can’t love like a wild animal, pg.29.

Lessons in resilience are shared in the Building Resilience section. Rona Peart Brodrick shares her take on resiliency in A Lotus For You, pg. 31. Rachel Grant shows her true self in Coming Out — My Defining Moment, pg. 32. Denise Bossarte helps us through anxiety in Working with the Energy of Anxiety, pg. 34.

As always, the resource section keeps growing with a selection of books for adult survivors with live links to access them pg. 38, parents, family, teens, and kids, pg. 40. We also feature online groups and resources and are now offering space for coaches to share their wisdom.

Share your wisdom or your stories with me at Claire@ClaireOLeary.com.

Remember you can also purchase a printed copy of the Spring 2022 Voices Heard: highlighting the Survivor Nest Project and view past issues at empoweredvoicetravelingexhibit.com/ voices-heard/

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Healing survivors yes, but also each person who took part in the project in some way. Each story different and yet the result the same feeling whole again.
Photo

I FOUND IT!

Hey, ya’ll! Guess what? I found it!!! I found my voice and I simply couldn’t be more excited about

Sexual assault has the ability to cause a survivor to lose their voice. I first became aware of this after hearing Maya Angelou’s story as she talked about being mute for six years after feeling that she was the cause of the man that sexually violated her being killed. I would not say that I was mute, but I did, however, lose my voice.

The second person to sexually violate me was my godfather. A very powerful title and position especially in the African American family. That title and position are meant to

be one of authority, love, and guidance. After all, “father” is in the title. Therefore, I held mine in high esteem and saw him as an authority figure in my life. So when he told me that if I told anyone about, “our special time”, he would then do something to hurt my little sister, I believed him.

I didn’t realize it then but at that moment, my voice was taken.

He took away my ability to speak up when I was hurt. He caused me to believe that in speaking up for myself, I could cause pain for someone else. Therefore solidifying my silence for many years.

For years I would just sit in pain so as not to

For years I would just sit in pain so as not to cause discomfort to others while teaching myself that it was okay to not honor myself.
it!!
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Dr. Lori Pitts with her old band Glacier Blue (2015) Dr. Lori Pitts

cause discomfort to others while teaching myself that it was okay to not honor myself. Him saying these words to me made me think I needed to be responsible for someone else’s pain. Boy did that take a long time to unlearn. This is why I am not at all surprised that I would enter the field I did. But that’s a story for another day.

Something that I always thought to be an oxymoron was that while my voice had been taken, yet the divine had blessed me with a beautiful singing voice.

Yes, that’s me in the picture with my old band Glacier Blue (2015). I actually come from a long line of vocalists. In fact, my mother would often speak pridefully about being the only African American child in an all-white music school in her hometown back in the 60s. A gift she no doubt passed on to my siblings and me.

I often found it strange that for many, music is an outlet, however, I had great difficulty using the god-given gift to be used for the creative expression it is known for. I would get on stage and literally lose my voice. This would often manifest by me forgetting the words to a song or only being able to sing the song but failing miserably in delivering a good performance. Performers know this difference.

I wish I could tell you that finding my voice happened during a single incident or revelation. The truth is, I have regained it over time. In fact, even the purpose behind starting my blog was to exercise my self-expression muscle. The funny thing is, when we ask the universe for something, it is a universal

law for it to respond by giving us what will serve the highest good of the collective.

This law also requires that what we are requesting be given in divine timing. This timing is predicated on what we are able to manage at that time. This means that sometimes what we are requesting may not be given all at once yet in small divine increments. Well, I asked to recapture my voice. The universe hearing this request began to provide me with scenarios for me to first see where losing it had shown up in my life, and then how to appropriately use it.

Initially, I was overzealous about speaking up for myself and became harsh and opinionated.

I had to learn how to balance this newfound skill so I didn’t ruin relationships. This meant finding the middle between passivity and at times, being curt. I find that with each passing day, I become more aligned with who I was supposed to be in this area prior to the assaults. I am beginning to really like this sassy, confident version of myself. I am saying, “Ouch!!” when it hurts and not feeling guilty about it. Moreover, I am learning how to hold space for others that say, “it hurts” without feeling that their pain is my fault or that I need to be responsible to help them heal. I now have all the evidence I need to trust that others have the same ability I do to do their own work. I’ve found it ya’ll.

I found my voice and this shit feels reeeeaaaaaalllllll good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Lori Pitts is mother to 3 amazing children, or as she calls them, her “soul extensions”. She is grateful to her children and considers them her greatest teachers. A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, she and her wife Regina live in California with their blended family. Together they enjoy watching movies and preparing healthy meals.

A 3x’s survivor of sexual assault trauma, Dr. Lori takes a holistic approach to healing from sexual assault. She says “Sexual assault happened for me, not to me.” Desiring to teach others what she has learned along her journey, she founded Still Whole Wellness where she developed “The Get Clear Method ”, a program designed to help clients identify how their lives were impacted by trauma while setting realistic goals that promote healing. Using holistic methods like trauma coaching, Reiki healing, guided meditation, oracle readings, as well as hosting classes, webinars, and healing circles, clients of Still Whole Wellness have amazing success.

Dr. Lori has an M.S. degree in Professional Clinical Counseling, Life Coaching Certification, a Doctorate in Metaphysics, and holds a Grand Reiki Master certification.

Before building her private practice, Dr. Lori was in the mental health field for over fifteen years working on trauma healing, substance use disorder, and enjoyed working with family units. She believes we should make efforts to heal every day. You can reach Lori at stillwholewellness@gmail.com.

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GOD’S REDEMPTION – MY JOURNEY OF GOD’S HEALING FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

REDEMPTION. The act of correcting a past wrong. The action of being saved from evil. To be set free from what distresses or harms. To be released from blame, debt, wrong doings.

God set me free and released me –redeemed the wrongdoing and evil done to me by my dad, mom, grandfather, and other men from the sexual abuse. He redeemed the two times I became pregnant by my grandfather and my mom taking me for an abortion each time. He redeemed me from the silent participation of my mom by allowing the abuse – silently and passively going along with it. But as horrible and unsettling as this sounds, the glory is in how God redeemed me.

During the sermon on Easter morning, 2018, our pastor talked about resurrecting our purpose – of God healing us and giving us our purpose. He quoted scripture of Jesus telling Peter he had been forgiven and to now go and feed the sheep. Peter’s purpose was to feed the sheep.

A lady from the congregation shared her testimony of how God had healed her. As I listened to her, I kept thinking about how eloquently she spoke without any nervousness or shaking in her voice. God spoke to me in that moment and said, “Your purpose is to speak.” God showed me a picture of me speaking at a podium. He brought me to the place in my talk of sharing about my mom. I immediately started crying.

Right there in the pew, at church, shaking and crying, I cried to God that in my heart I’m broken, and the betrayal is too much. God said, “Come to me and give it to me.” He showed me a picture of myself standing at the foot of the cross looking up. No one was there but me and Jesus hanging on the cross. He was there, dying in front of me, telling me to give Him the betrayal. Jesus said, “I’m doing this for you.” I answered, “You are doing this for everyone.” Jesus said, “I am doing this for you. Give me the betrayal.” I took in the personalization of Him doing this for me. Jesus was looking at me from the cross and I was looking at Him. I lifted my arms to Him and gave Him the betrayal and He took it. He said, “Give me the deception too.” I wasn’t consciously aware of feeling deception, but I

God spoke to me in that moment and said, “Your purpose is to speak.”
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Drawing by Mark Sonmer at NiteLite Graphics

trusted Jesus, that I had deception buried in my heart from my mom. I gave it to Him. And there I stood, with no one around but me and Jesus, on a dirt hill in front of the cross. His beatings were for me. His crown of thorns was for me. His carrying the cross was for me. His hands nailed to the cross were for me. His feet nailed to the cross were for me. His death was for me. His time in hell paying the price for my sin was for me. His resurrection was for me. His ascension to heaven was for me. He did this all for me to set me free and make me whole and heal me.

Months after this time of giving Jesus the betrayal and deception, I was at church and a pastor was sharing words of encouragement. He said, “there is someone here today who has been healed greatly. But you are standing in front of all the broken chains of your healing. As wonderful and great it is that God has healed you, it is time to walk away from the broken chains. You don’t have to look at it anymore.” I immediately knew he was talking to me. I would sit and think about all God has done for me. I would be in awe of each piece that had been redeemed. In that moment, God said, “look to the left.” “What God?” “L ook to the left,” I turned my head to the left in my mind and God said, “there, look at the tomb. I want you to focus on the empty tomb instead of the broken chains.” This was amazing healing. I was free to leave behind the wounds that were graciously healed by my Heavenly Father. I no longer had to stare and focus on the evilness that was healed.

Instead, I now had sweet joy, sweet honey, sweet hugs, and comfort from Jesus. The tomb is empty but so full of life because it represents rebirth and resurrection of Jesus and our souls.

Without the cross, I wouldn’t have

been healed. Without the empty tomb I wouldn’t have been set free to walk away from staying entrenched in the particulars of the abuse. Jesus died for the sins of my mom, dad, grandfather, and the other men who all raped and defiled me. The tomb says, “it is done.” Hallelujah! Praise God!

One of the biggest parts that I had to work through was coming to the acceptance that my mom knew the abuse was happening. I fought this internally for years.

I couldn’t think it or say it. I stayed in denial for a long time. The knowledge that my mom participated silently was more devastating to my soul than working through the layers of the abuse itself. I genuinely thought that she and I had a close relationship and that we supported each other. But to then have to face that she knew and didn’t protect me was unfathomable. Isn’t that what moms are supposed to do? Protect their children? Even though (as an adult) I fully believe she was trapped and abused herself by my dad and the ruling authority my grandfather had over them, the child in me didn’t care.

My little child just wanted to be rescued and taken away from the insidious abuse and demonic environment.

A major part of healing is forgiveness. It’s hard. Sometimes it feels like an impossibility. We often cringe at that word. We often get defensive at that word because we feel justified to stay angry at the one who offended us . But to be healed and become whole and complete, forgiveness is an important step. However, I believe there are many layers to forgiveness. In geology, a stratum or strata is a series of layers of rock in the ground.

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The knowledge that my mom participated silently was more devastating to my soul than working through the layers of the abuse itself.

I believe that for forgiveness, there is a stratum we must touch, process, and grieve before the layers clear out of us.

But it will only happen in the appropriate time and manner when each person is ready.

Depending on the offense, forgiveness isn’t one fell swoop of saying, “I forgive” and it’s done. We must allow ourselves permission to take our time with each layer. Forgiveness can’t be rushed. Remembering that forgiveness is for the victim can help with understanding the importance of it. It’s for you, as the victim, to be set free. Know that forgiveness doesn’t mean an immediate renewal of the relationship with the offender. We need to set boundaries with toxic, abusive people so that we aren’t hurt again.

I think it was harder to forgive my mom than my dad and grandfather because I wrote them off as demonic. I didn’t need to understand anything more than that. There wasn’t a reason to dig for understanding “oh, how could they do this? ” They did it because they were filled with the enemy. But I for sure didn’t see my mom in that light, nor do I believe she was. She was a victim like me. But her participation had to be forgiven

Buried down deep in me was truth that I had covered up, dissociated from, ignored, and refused to see.

During a time of prayer and counseling, God gave me a picture of the truth. He showed me that I did in fact hate my mom. He showed me that I was aware that she knew, and I was aware of her not helping me, not protecting me, not rescuing me, and keeping me safe.

God showed me a vision/image/picture of her sitting on the couch, crossed leg, drinking her nightly glass of wine, and smoking her cigarettes. She always had a glazed look on her face, of her dissociating. In this scene, I was standing in front of her, about 12 years old. I said, “what is going to soothe me? Your cigarettes and alcohol are soothing you but what is going to soothe me?” I said to her, “I hate you.” She said back, “I know.” She asked me to forgive her. I couldn’t at that time. Jesus came into the room and scooped me up and said to my mom, “She is mine.” There was silence then between the three of us, silent words being said through eyes locked together. Jesus rescued me. Jesus protected me and healed me.

I had to face that I hated her. It was okay that I also loved her, but I was loving her without the truth. I was loving her blind to the fact that my little girl hated her.

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BAPTISM
Remembering that forgiveness is for the victim can help with understanding the importance of it. It’s for you, as the victim, to be set free.

The deep well of hate was the deepest part of the anger that I had stored inside of me. In my mind, I stood up to her finally and slapped her across the face. I was allowing myself to be angry at her. Justified anger, righteous anger.

This level of betrayal can only be healed by God. It can only be redeemed by Jesus dying on the cross and the tomb being empty because He rose from the dead.

The contrast from how I felt before the healing to after the healing are drastic.

My prayer for you is that God redeems your story, your trauma, so that you can be restored to wholeness as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After counseling, Chris Cline experienced the victory of breakthroughs from the traumas of her past through the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ. She was able to move away from being a victim to a survivor. From that experience, she knew it was time to help others have similar breakthroughs.

Chris has been in the counseling field since 2006. Since opening her private practice in 2010, she has been working with children, adolescents, families, couples and individuals. She lives with her husband and two cats in Washington State.

Glorious Awakenings, My Journey of God’s Healing from Sexual Abuse reveals Chris’ journey of God’s healing from sexual abuse. It shares the abuse and the path she took to heal –God redeeming the pieces of her that were broken emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually. Chris says “It is a beautiful story of how Jesus saved me – how my journey healed me and brought me to a closer relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”

You can find Chris at: Glorious Awakenings or The Lord Who Heals or email her at gainvictories@gmail.com. Purchase her book at electiopublishing, www.amazon.

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com or. barnesandnoble.“
Depending on the offense, forgiveness isn’t one fell swoop of saying, “I forgive” and it’s done. We must allow ourselves permission to take our time with each layer. Forgiveness can’t be rushed.

Around day ten, I could feel impatience laced with frustration winding its way up my spine, making my jaw clench, eyes squint, and heard my internal critic, Pacasandra, chortle, “Enough already. You going to let this virus stop your life?”

DEEP SLEEP

What happened was two and a half years down the pandemic road, I got covid. I stared at the two emerging red lines in the home test kit labeled C and T, thinking, ‘you’ve gotta be kidding me.’ I’d been carrying around the silent arrogance

that I’d dodged the viral bullet until I didn’t.

I’m six weeks down this covid paved path, and I’m grateful I got vaxed, thrice boosted, and able to get prescribed Paxlovid early. And grateful, too, that I don’t have a 9 to 5 job to drag my butt to when my body still needs a serious nap after human activity. But I’d be lyin’ if I said I’m all gratitude.

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The first week there was no arguing with my body. She was down for the count, plain and simple. I was sleeping more than awake. Around day ten, I could feel impatience laced with frustration winding its way up my spine, making my jaw clench, eyes squint, and heard my internal critic, Pacasandra, chortle, “Enough already. You going to let this virus stop your life?”

She said a lot more, though mostly; it sounded like a cross between a growl and a hum. And it was familiar. When I boil it down, it’s a garden variety form of selfblame. I probably don’t need to tell you, dear reader, the debilitating consequences of self-blame. But I will. For me, anyway, it stops me in my tracks.

I embarked on my healing path four decades ago when I determined it was where I would recover from the incest and move my life and creativity forward.

I do all I can to stay on that path because life and shit happens. And when I contracted Covid, I knew it had to join me on my healing path for me to recover from it. I knew instinctively, and from both my medical team and Posse, that rest with a capital R was necessary. But there can be interruptions.

The worst interruption to rest is when the toxic smoke of self-blame envelops me. Whatever degree of energy resides within me revs up and marches up, and down the list of all I have done to cause said illness. When I’m done with that nasty list, I construct the indictment of my inability to overcome said illness – or worse – my deliberate disregard for my responsibilities which I am not just failing to do but wantonly shirking.

One might ask, “Why, dear Donna,” no, “Where dear Donna, did you learn to

be so hard on yourself?” I welcome this questioning because it is a surefire way to snap me out of it. What do I mean by “it”? The internal activity of blaming myself.

Luckily, I have my Posse – those dear beloveds who, in many ways, throw roadblocks onto this activity of self-blame. Usually, one of them will ask, “What does this questioning remind you of?” In a millisecond, the echoes of my father and his mother’s response to any level of incapacitation jump forth. They both had plenty of blame to spread around and believed compassion to be a weakener.

When I came up for air, I gave my head a shake, took a few deep breaths, and told myself, ‘Do not go there again while you’re sick.’ I also told some posse members of my detour off the path and into the self-blame quicksand and asked them to keep an eye on me. I am happy to say I spent less than 24 hours goose-stepping into the quagmire of self-recrimination.

I’m rounding the corner of a month since I tested positive, and I’m proud to say I’ve not gone down the rabbit hole of depression again. Of course, it helps that my symptoms are receding. I’m coughing less, and while the fatigue can still come knocking – it doesn’t knock me out as it did three weeks ago.

Last week two dear friends tested positive, and all my messages have been, one way or another, ‘REST!’ I surrendered to rest. Not usually one of my go-to activities; surrender. But in the face of this illness, I believe my surrender to resting is what’s helping me to heal. Deep rest.

I am privileged to be surrounded by nature as I travel this covid journey. I’ve spent every available sunny hour stretched out on a lounge chair on the deck off my bedroom doing nothing but tracking clouds, slowmoving clouds. For variation, I let my gaze move to the trees below the clouds: pines, birches, and one colossal sycamore. I’m sure it was a meditative state I was in though I didn’t initially set that as an intention when

I laid my body down. I was laying down – to rest. To not think, worry, plan, or bitch and moan. Just rest.

There is a tickle of a question that has started to bubble up. What have I learned? What am I learning? Maybe it will become, “What do I notice about this time and experience?”

As I walk this path, I’m not just the walker but a watcher. What will the watcher have seen, noticed, or taken in, once the walker is through this patch of her journey?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Jenson founded Time To Tell in 2009 with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, is a narrative of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma and will be out as an audiobook in late 2022. She produced a 35-minute documentary; Telling Is Healing, which contains excerpts from her book and play in a live performance. She leads online writing workshops for survivors to find and use their voices. The next cycle of her writing circles begins on Dec. 3rd. For more information, click here. Find her on Time To Tell Instagram and Timetotell.org

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CLARITY WITHIN THE SNOW, HUMIDITY, AND HEAT

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault, mentions of self-harm and suicidal thoughts, and other traumatic themes.

In December of 2018, I was attacked by people who I thought I could trust.

It is not an easy sentence to say out loud and it pains me still to this day to write that out. I went through my life after that doing what I can only describe as stomping on eggshells. I was destructive, not to others intentionally, but the majority of this destruction came from me to me. I had no clue why I was acting out for the longest time. I didn’t even register my attack as a sexual assault until a therapy session five months later when one of my professors suggested that I speak to one of the therapists at my college. The best way I can explain that realization is to ask you to picture a tsunami. The magnitude of those feelings was devastating; however, the signs were all there.

I know now that my brain and body were trying to protect me from the horror of what had been done to both. I know now that due to the fact this was not the first time someone had felt entitled to my body this was my brain and body’s way of making sure we were protected in the aftermath.

I thank that therapist who gave me the courage to tell the school about what had been done to me, and I thank the school for respecting my wishes in the way that I chose to move forward from what had happened to me. While they did remind me that although that much time had passed, I was still free to make a report of the incident,

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Artwork by Myki Jones

I knew that I would not be strong enough to potentially be re-traumatized by the events that could have followed after.

I only saw one of the three attackers in passing the following year and I froze like a deer in the headlights on a snowy night where the drivers are advised not to slam their brakes. They didn’t even see me, or if they did, all I could think at that moment was how unfair it all was. How unfair it was that I became a shell of the woman I used to be, now lacking the love I gave so freely to others, that I should have kept for myself, angry at the world, angry at myself, and blaming myself for what happened, while this person got to go about their life pretending as though nothing had happened, just like they had when I confronted them about the way I felt after they did what they did.

Though in the present day, I am on my healing journey, and I am in a position where I am loved and cared for, it wasn’t until recently that I experienced a moment. I can’t put my finger on what this event was and trust me when I say I looked for ages once it happened to try and explain this feeling; consulting old therapy books, and the internet, I even looked for words in a different language to describe this feeling, but until that definition of this feeling comes to me I will only refer to it as a ‘moment’.

Everything froze after my assault. My way of life felt like it had hit a brick wall and just kept moving in slow motion as all the pieces of my soul, the last few pieces I had been holding onto with a vice grip since the first time a man felt entitled to my body, came apart. I am still picking up those pieces.

I am not sure where it all changed as I did

my best to ease on down the path that my life was currently routed. Sure I was smiling, sure, there were times where I showed genuine happiness. And, yeah, sure, maybe from the outside looking in I seemed like I had it together, but the blinding and painful reality was that I truly wasn’t. To others, I may have seemed like I was more than okay I was anything but. I think once I was able to break away from the coping mechanisms that were dragging me down deeper than I already was, as well as leaving behind relationships with people who either invalidated my trauma or showed me that they didn’t care enough to learn about that part of my being, I felt like I was finally breaking free.

It wasn’t until I left Glenwood Springs, CO, and moved in with my family in Camden, South Carolina that I would finally take all the time I needed out in the country to unpack all the trauma from my assault as well as the toxic and abusive relationships I was in, in the aftermath of it. While living in SC I took the time to be alone with myself. This had started as me isolating due to the depression that finally had hit me like a freight train while I was on the plane ride over, but after a while, I became comfortable. Not defeated, as I had been before, not numb, just comfortable, finally feeling all I had been pushing down.

I will say that it was my time in South Carolina that truly allowed me to do this. With the change of scenery, the fact that I was no longer living in the building I was traumatized in, and the fact that I would no longer face the possibility of running into any of my abusers again, I could finally breathe. Well, as best as I could with the humidity being as thick as it was, but even still, getting away saved my life.

I would later move from South Carolina to Arizona during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was in the desert, another good change of scenery where

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It wasn’t until I left Glenwood Springs, and moved in with my family to Camden, South Carolina that I would finally take all the time I needed out in the country to unpack all the trauma from my assault as well as the toxic and abusive relationships I found myself in the aftermath of it.

CLARITY WITHIN THE SNOW, HUMIDITY, AND HEAT continued

I would finally take charge of my mental health. I enrolled in therapy and with the help of my newfound friends; I started doing small things which led to big things that helped me feel like I was taking my power back in a healthy way. I learned the art of setting and respecting boundaries. I learned healthier coping skills, and reignited my love for hobbies I thought I would never pick up again. I started writing short stories, painting, journaling, and I even dipped my toes into the world of online content creating, which helped me gain a small, but mighty following.

I learned while I was in Arizona that it is okay for me to be selfish.

Not like the cartoony and vapid selfishness that we often see women portrayed as in a lot of media, which I could get off into the weeds about another time, but a selfishness that doesn’t let one limit themselves to comfort, pleasure, and peace. It was liberating.

There were a lot of laughs, a lot of tears, fears I overcame, and new ones I developed, but all in all, I would not change it for anything. I would eventually meet the man I love and whom I know loves me and return to the town I longed to be in after I had taken the time I needed to heal; Glenwood Springs, CO.

I turned 23 in May 27, of this year. A year I joked with my friends as the year nobody likes you, which is in reference to a Blink-182 song titled “What’s My Age Again?”; this birthday celebration was a much-needed escape from the noise of my life. Notifications going off, incoming phone calls, and even emails were all muted for a majority of this.

In the silence, I was able to be still. I rekindled connections that I thought were long lost, and most importantly I was

at peace because I knew I was surrounded by people who I know love me. The same people

I know care about what I went through and have taken the time to learn to love the woman

I am evolving into.

The defining moments for me since this trauma have been learning to live again, learning to love myself again, and also channeling all the pain and anger I still have leftover into something beautiful. The beautiful thing about my attack is that I survived, the attack itself could have had the potential to end my life, and the way I went about life after it happened could have easily done the same.

I will not say that the trauma made me stronger.

The aftermath of what I went through turned me into a bitter, self-conscious, angry, and anxious person. As time marches on, I have found myself shedding a lot of that, but that does not mean it is all gone. I can’t say for certain if it ever will be, but I do know that I have power now. I am no longer stewing in what happened to me now that the floodgates have been busted, I am simply swimming. I have been able to take my experiences and create some of the best stories and the best poems I have ever written – while I never plan to release any of them, the drawings and paintings have captured all the good, bad, and in-between feelings.

I am not done yet, I know this, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me.

I learned the art of setting and respecting boundaries,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Journalist, Feminist, Educator, Content Creator, Myki Jones is working on several creative writing projects that focus on her healing journey after domestic/sexual abuse, the dismantling of rape culture, and justice for survivors and survivors’ families. She is also writing an upcoming adult fiction novel that is helping her make sense of the trauma she experienced.

Myki Jones was the victim of two separate traumatic events which set her on a journey, not only of healing, but also using her theatric and creative writing skills to educate and inspire others. She lived in Arizona through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where she went on her spiritual journey and began the process of unpacking her trauma through the art of writing.

This promising 23-year-old native of Colorado, considers herself lucky to have three strong, beautiful, amazing sisters and a mother who taught her to stand on her own. She is a current student of life.

Myki is a freelancer doing what she loves. She is happily living in Glenwood Springs with her partner where they spend free time taking walks around town and watching shows together. Her favorite movie (at the moment) is Promising Young Woman. In her spare time, she can be found watching documentaries, cozied up on her couch with her journal or a good book, running, or hiking. Her favorite food is Indian.

IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN CRISIS...

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER AND NEEDS MEDICAL ATTENTION, CALL 911.

NATIONAL

RAINN Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) Live Chat 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text “START” to 741741 Rain Website

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Select “chat now” Or call 1.800.799.7233 (If you’re not alone text LOVEIS to 22522) NDVH Website

COLORADO

CCASA Hotline: 800.799.SAFE (7233) CCASA Website

Advocate Safehouse Hotline: 970.285.0209

Response Hotline: 970.925.7233 Response Website

Colorado Crisis Services: 844.493.TALK (8255) Text TALK to 38255 4 pm – 12 am 7 days a week

SHARE YOUR STORY

Are you looking for a safe space to share your story?

Giving voice to your story helps you heal. Seeing it and hearing it helps others heal as well.

Share your story in Voices Heard, the interactive e-Zine that empowers you to SHATTER YOUR SILENCE.

BE ONE OF THE VOICES HEARD!

Submit art, video, poetry or a personal story for a future edition.

SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE NOW

19

THEY STOLE MY “NO”

“no.” Every time I said “no”, I felt anxiety and guilt.

In the city of Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, resides the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, home to one of the most notorious art thefts ever.

Over thirty years ago two individuals impersonated police officers, and stole thirteen priceless pieces of art. They were all one of a kind, revered for their beauty and composition, pieces which can never be replaced or duplicated. If you were to go and take a tour of the museum today, you would find empty frames in the space where the masterpieces once hung. The empty frames are a ghostly reminder of what once was. Through years of investigation the museum holds out hope that these wonderful pieces of art will be returned to their rightful place –in the museum for all visitors to enjoy.

Priceless pieces not only hang on the walls of art museums; they also hang in the souls of people. The beauty of eyes that sparkle, smiles that light up a room, or wrinkles on the face of someone that expresses the wisdom of life. There is also the inner beauty of a person’s confidence, compassion, and humility. Just like the priceless pieces of art that once hung in the museum were stolen, so too can the attributes of a person’s life,

their value and beauty be taken. They too are left with a void, an empty space where their value and beauty once hung.

When items are stolen that one has worked so hard to protect, there are often feelings of anger, confusion, and blame. Reliving the event over and over and asking yourself, “What could I have done better?” or “How could I have been so careless or foolish? ” The reason the art was stolen that night in Boston was because of the pieces’ value and importance. What made that art so valuable and important was the one who created it – the master who put brush to canvas, the sculptor who casts and creates a masterpiece that would inspire, compel, or enlighten, bringing the viewer to tears, laughter, or reflection.

I believe we have all been created by God, who on a canvas full of love through the brush strokes of God’s Word, formed you and I –God’s masterpieces. That we are each God’s masterpiece gives us value and importance.

Genesis 1:31 tells us, “And God saw all that He had made, and it was very good...” As we were created to be a masterpiece, it also makes us a prime target for a thief. There is one who hates all that God has created. The first half of John 10:10 reveals the thief’s purpose, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” Just as thieves may not get all that

Even into my early adulthood, years after the physical abuse ended, it was hard for me to say
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The empty frame of Vermeer’s “The Concert” in the Dutch Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

they want in their first attempt, which is why we have all heard stories of thieves returning to steal from the same place over and over, our enemy keeps coming back to steal the most valuable and important things from our lives until we are left empty, broken, and full of shame.

As a child of abuse, my abuser groomed me to never say “no.” I was manipulated and brainwashed. “No” was never an option.

I was taught to believe it was wrong for me to say “no.” I was made to feel shame for saying “no.” I felt guilty for saying “no.” I believed that people would abandon me, or be angry with me, that it would be all my fault if I said, “no.” After my “no” was stolen, I was left feeling broken and powerless.

Even into my early adulthood, years after the physical abuse ended, it was hard for me to say “no.” Every time I said “no ”, I felt anxiety and guilt. I still believed people would be angry with me. Saying “no ” still felt like I had done something wrong.

As a result, I said yes, many times when I should have said “no.” Especially when people came to me in excitement and shared decisions or expectations for my life.

Sometimes, I wanted to scream “no”!

But I was too afraid; it was just too hard to say “no.” The feelings of awkwardness and disappointment I felt from others, when I did try to say “no”, was a weight on me. It brought back all the emotions and feelings of being helpless. The “no ” that I did express always came from a place of hurt, a place of anger, frustration, or spite. I had to learn that a “no ” could be healthy. “No” is honest. It places limitations, respects boundaries, and enables self-care.

I remember my first big “no.” My past was trying to own me; the brokenness was trying to control me; and the lies were whispering to me, trying to keep me bound. My heart cried out Psalm 27:7-8 “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Finally, with all that was in me I said, “no ”!

That “no” released the helplessness and restored freedom, power, strength, and confidence. A healthy “no” gave my “yes” a deeper and more committed ring and made my “yes” even sweeter.

I no longer live with the inability to say “no.” Now I can say “no ” because I have learned, a “no ” is just as good as a “yes.”

When I found my voice and my “no ” was “no ” and my “yes ” was “yes ”; my “yes ” shone like a diamond that sparkled. The “yes ” became even more valuable. Simply being able to say “no ” allowed my “yes ” to be expressed with confidence and grace.

I now live my life in the promises of God that are “yes” and “amen”. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.

So, through him the “Amen ” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

*Scripture is from the New King James Version and the New International Version.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pastor Mark Sowersby has a testimony to share about how he was set free from a nightmare of abuse and years of suffering. Condemnation, shame, and guilt were replaced with forgiveness, joy, and life in abundance.

Mark’s ministry, Forgiving The Nightmare, is on mission to help those who have experienced hurt, abuse, and pain to find freedom and peace through God’s love and the many facets of forgiveness.

His testimony, told to live audiences, on television, and through his book, is a powerful reflection of the love of our Savior. Since 2019, he’s been sharing his story around the world of how he went from hurting to health, from death to life.

Mark’s book “Forgiving The Nightmare,” begs the questions “How do you forgive when you’ve been wounded deeply?”

“How do you move past the pain that keeps you up at night, leaves you isolated, untrusting, and afraid? How can you possibly forgive them, especially when they don’t deserve forgiveness?”

Pastor Mark Sowersby shares his testimony with his ministry and book by the same name, “Forgiving The Nightmare.” Get it now.

21

HERE’S TO NOT BEING NICE

I was depressed, overwhelmed, and was at the same time trying to chart a course for my future.

My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer right around the start of my senior year of high school. I had also broken up with my “first true love” right around that same time.

As you can imagine, my little 17 year old self didn’t quite know how to cope with it all. Sure I put on a good front (childhood sexual abuse had made me a master at pretending)!

But as I watched my father wither away and at the same time tried to mend my broken heart, I was a swirly whirly mess of thoughts and feelings.

I stopped caring about pretty much everything. I was depressed, overwhelmed, and was at the same time trying to chart a course for my future. I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so that whole applying for college process was daunting for us all.

Side note: I have to give mad props to my mom who was watching the love of her life die, and she still never once dropped the ball with me, stopped encouraging or helping me. #warriorwoman

Given all of this, I started skipping school. Though, I was pretty cunning about it!

I had a doctor who could see I was struggling and so he gave me a bunch of signed doctor’s notes so I would get excused absences (now that was a medical professional who was trauma informed way before his time! ).

All was going well, until one day about 3 months before the end of my senior year, I just spaced (hello dissociation!) and forgot to turn in one of the notes.

The principal, who was already not my biggest fan (why? that’s a story for another day!), pounced on me.

I was called into his office and he gleefully announced that I was going to be expelled for too many absences and truancy.

While everything inside of me wanted to rip his face off, I kept my cool and explained that things were tough right now, my dad was dying, and I was having a hard time keeping up with things.

To which he replied, “I don’t want to hear your excuses. You’re probably lying anyway.”

I stopped caring about pretty much everything.
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Image by ronstik from IStock / Getty Images Plus

I was so stunned that I couldn’t say anything, which he took as confirmation that he was right.

Luckily, I had a school counselor who advocated on my behalf and got him to agree to let me finish my senior year, but I would have to do so at the Junior High in the detention room! This meant I would have to teach myself all of the remaining material and prep for and take my finals in what I sarcastically began to describe as “exile” (humor has ALWAYS been one way I’ve survived the tough shit in my life).

Long story short, I passed all of my finals with flying colors.

Graduation Day! I had done it, and my dad was still alive and able to be there to see me walk across the stage to get my diploma.

As I approached the principal, one hand out to take the diploma, one hand out to shake his hand as we’d been instructed to do, I channeled every hurt and angry part of me to grip his hand so he couldn’t let go and said,

“You see that man over there in the wheelchair, about to breathe his last breath?” He glanced, then feebly nodded. “That’s my dad. You can go f*** yourself.”

I didn’t do the nice thing. I refused to be the “bigger person”. I rebelled against all of my country girl training.

I found my voice in that moment and let that sad, pathetic man know exactly what I thought!

This was a critical turning point in my healing journey — though I didn’t fully appreciate how much until years later.

But it was in this moment that I felt and understood the power of breaking free of people pleasing. I became firmly committed to set as a goal to not care so much about what people thought and to live my own damn life.

Now I certainly haven’t been perfect in that — abuse really does a number on us, fills us with shame, makes us question our deservingness so much that it just feels easier to take care of everyone else, play nice — right?

But I want you to know — that if you are struggling to find your voice, if you’re stuck in cycles of people pleasing, pushing your needs aside — that doesn’t have to remain the case.

Everyday, I work with people who are no longer willing to sacrifice themselves and support them in developing their “No! I won’t be nice!” attitude. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of my time with them!

Here’s to not being nice,

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Sexual Abuse Recovery Coach. Rachel holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and is the author of Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse and Overcome the Fear of Abandonment. You can download both free on Rachel’s website.

She works with survivors of childhood sexual abuse to help them let go of the pain of abuse and finally feel normal.

Her program, Beyond Surviving, is specifically designed to change the way we think about and heal from abuse. she has successfully used this program to help her clients break free from the past and move on with their lives.

Reach Rachel here or Rachel on Facebook .

23

NOT MY FAULT

It was New Year’s Eve 1970. I was 18 years old, home from college for the Christmas holiday. I’d brought home my boyfriend, Dan from college who was staying nearby with a friend.

My Mom had the flu, so I was fixing dinner — a roast beef with potatoes and carrots. My father comes by as I’m peeling the carrots and makes a lewd comment. The first one since I’d been home but enough to trigger me.

I quickly walked into the bedroom where my mother was resting and said “I know that earlier this afternoon, I told you I’d stay home and take care of the kids as long as you need me, but I can’t. I just can’t. I’ll be leaving with Dan and the rest of the gang tomorrow to go back to Denver.” I left the room. I couldn’t explain why.

I couldn’t tell her I was afraid my father would start up again with me. I couldn’t even think it.

She went into the hospital that night before I got home from the New Year’s Eve party just down the street. He (my father) never even bothered to call or send one of the kids 3 doors down to let me know. He knew exactly where I was. So, at 2:00 am, I came home to a note.

“It’s your fault your mom’s in the hospital ” the note read. “She’s afraid of Dan ”. Dan was 6’2” and weighed close to 300 lbs. My gentle bear I called him. “If you want to see her in the morning, be ready at 7:00am. I’ll pick you up.”

I cried until at 5 am, I was in hysterics, knocked over a lamp, and woke up my 10-year-old sister. Startled by the noise, she walks into the living room. I’m still in hysterics, I can’t speak.

Finally, I say “Go get Mrs. Smith ” (our next door neighbor), hoping she’d know what to do. By now my 13-year-old and 5-year-old brothers are awake too.

I couldn’t say why. I couldn’t tell her I was afraid my father would start up again with me. I couldn’t even think it.
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Claire O’Leary Composition by Claire O’Leary

Mrs. Smith comes over and takes us all to her house next door. She serves us hot chocolate and I begin to calm down a little. I tell her that Mom is in the hospital, but not about the note. Nobody ever knows about the note. It was my fault she was in the hospital! While I knew it was not, part of me still believed him for years. I remember screaming out that night in hysterics “It’s not my fault. She isn’t scared, you are! You’re scared if Dan finds out what you did to me that Dan will beat you up!” “And rightly so!”

I went to the hospital with him that morning while the kids stayed at the Smiths.

I struggled with the question “should I stay?” The Smiths came to house to convince me, the priest came over to convince me. I’d graduated from my 6-month computer programming program. Why wouldn’t I stay? They didn’t understand — thought I was selfish and stuborn. I couldn’t tell them why I wanted to leave so badly. No one understood why I wouldn’t stay.

I still couldn’t say the words. I still couldn’t say “He comes to my bed every Saturday morning while my mother sleeps in late and the kids watch cartoons.” “It’s my fault” he always tells me. “It’s your fault, if you got up earlier, I wouldn’t have to come wake you up.”

It would be 10 years later at his funeral that I’d finally tell my family and 40 years later that I’d finally share with the world.

Weeks later, when nothing had happened — no remarks, no advances — I sent for my things. I assured my mom I’d stay home until she got well. She gradually got better and seven weeks later she was scheduled to come home, just in time for Norm’s (my 5-year-old brother) birthday. We’d planned a birthday party for him. Excited as we were to

have her home, we added a banner that said “Welcome Home Mom.”

But she didn’t come home. The night before, she was found on the floor bleeding out at the hospital with a stroke. She was moved to a larger hospital in Albuquerque. My father and I stayed in Albuquerque until the end of March when my father finally made the decision to pull the plug.

The only thing I remember after she died is from a photo at the funeral. I looked like a Zombie — eyes unfocused staring out. I’d been on tranquilizers ever since I got the news. Though I didn’t know what it was, I’d gotten good at dissociating by then so most likely that’s what I did.

Life went on, we moved to Phoenix, my old boyfriend from high school moved there shortly afterward and we eventually got married. It didn’t work out a story for another time.

Writing this story today makes me realize why I believed so easily, that it was my fault — why though I knew mentally that it wasn’t my fault, emotionally though, my body took it on. My body believed it. I understand why so many of us feel it’s our fault for so long.

It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. No child is to blame for being a victim.

While I hear this all the time and have believed it for many years. I now understand why I took on the blame for my mother’s death so easily. Why I’ve taken the blame for so much other stuff easily. I also know, I no longer accept blame for that which isn’t mine to carry.

Finally, I really get it! We are NOT to Blame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founder of The Empowered Voice and Voices Heard, Claire O’Leary is a survivor of incest. She created Voices Heard as a safe space for survivors of sexual abuse to share their story so they can shatter the silence of their sexual abuse. She is an advocate, speaker and mentor. She wants to change the average age a CSA (child sexual abuse) suvirvor discloses their abuse from age 58 to age 18.

She is also a Reiki Master, artist, and loves to dance her heart out whenever possible.

You can find Claire on Facebook, and Instagram.

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I knew mentally that it wasn’t my fault, emotionally though, my body took it on. My body believed it.

KEEPING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AWAY

Trigger Warning

Contents contain references to severe abuse and rape.

like suicide, by running off and getting married.

Struggling with memory loss from the extreme abuse and neglect I’d lived with; I was told my parents would run off (sometimes for a week at a time). Thankfully, I had an older sister and brother who skipped school to take care of my three siblings and I: Marlene and Darlene (infants); Charles Jr. (1-year-old); and Gwen (2-yearold). My younger brother, Derrick, was born two years later. As frequently happens, my family was unsupportive and turned a blind eye to the truth of the abuse.

My aunt grew tired and frustrated after picking up us five small children frequently after we’d been abandoned at grocery stores repeatedly. One day, after picking us up (now ages 2 through 6) she refused to let our mom take us. We rented my aunt’s house next door. My older cousins, aunts, and uncles kept coming over to change us, bathe us, feed us, etc. My dad was an alcoholic at the time.

After my parents divorced, Dad met my stepmom, Sue, whom I loved because we had a meal every day, instead of having to eat raw oatmeal from a box. I finally had warm food, clean clothes, and a bed to sleep in. However, she later became abusive and crude. She would dip my nose in cow manure, drag me through the house by my hair, kick me in the rump while I was washing the dishes, and even held me down while her son raped me. Sue also beat me for sneaking out of the house to worship God.

When I was 11, my birth mother, Hilda, and stepdad, Daddy LC, got custody of the five of us. While I was in the 6th grade, we had art

class which I really enjoyed. The other students liked me. I was not used to being liked.

Whenever I wrote my birth dad, Charles, my stepmom, Sue, and my half-siblings and stepsiblings, I drew each a picture for each of them. It was something I thought was sweet. I imagined, Sue’s voice, putting it down, but I shirked that negative talk. Years later, when I moved back with Dad Charles and Sue, I found out she had saved our letters. She said, “You drew these, stupid, ugly pictures.” My heart sank. For many years after that, I would not draw or color. I hated anything that pertained to art in school. I felt incapable.

At age 14, my father died. I chose to stay with my stepmom. even though she was abusive.

But, at age 18, while still in high school, I overheard my stepmother, stepsister, and stepbrother planning to kill me and make it look like suicide to gain my inheritance. For my own safety, I ran off and married my boyfriend before the plan could be enacted.

For so many years, I was doubtful of my talents. As a child, I hated life. I wondered why God would have us on this earth just to suffer. I had learned children were to be seen, but not heard

My stepmom did a cross stitch chart that I admired for my new step-step dad. Years after I married, I got some cross stitch items of my own. I could not believe I did well. I was shocked. It helped my self-esteem to hear that I was good at it.

For so many years, I was doubtful of my talents. As a child, I hated life. I wondered why God would have us on this earth just to suffer.
I was abused from the time I was an infant until I escaped, after overhearing my stepmother, stepsister and stepbrother planning to kill me and make it look
26

While married, I gave some cross stitched gifts that I’d made, to my stepmom, stepsister and to two of my husband’s great aunts.

My family did not take theirs with them. Instead, they pushed the cross stitch into the couch cushions, which I found after they left. When I visited my husband’s great aunts, I was shocked to see they had framed and hung the pictures I made them – shocked to see anyone hanging anything I had made so proudly. I thanked them for showing an appreciation for my gifting. Since then, I have cross stitched many pictures. When people appreciate my artistic projects, it helps motivate me. Crafting keeps my mind on creating, instead of the pain from the past. Even today my abusive family worms their way onto social media sites trying to devalue and discredit me. Instead, it shows people who the abusers are. Crafting helps me forget and focus on positive things.

After about ten years of crafting, I discovered YouTube. Following some tutorials convinced me to think outside the box and began creating different things. I work with crafts to to keep negative thoughts away.

Continued on page 28

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When I visited my husband’s great aunts, I was shocked to see they had framed and hung the pictures I made them shocked to see anyone hanging anything I had made so proudly.
T-rex I cross stitched by Darlene J. Clark Serenity Tablet Book by Darlene J. Clark Ship Planner with Tablet and Pen by Darlene J. Clark

KEEPING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AWAY continued

ABUSE

Abuse affects our lives in so many ways.

What do we do when: We are too scared to tell? When we have trusted someone, and they did not help? Sometimes someone asks, “What did you do to get punished this way?”

ABUSE IS ABUSE!!! ABUSE is not punishment!!! Abuse is torture; crippling, debilitating, What advice would you give others to help them through the horrendous memories?

Are you there for the person or are you part of the knife in your friend or relatives’ back since you may have turned a blind eye to it? Are you claiming to advocate against abuse, but condemn the people who tell and share their stories?

Do you want to be a part of the solution or part of the problem? Let’s stand united and discuss ways in which we may help others. What ways have helped you in your healing journey? Are you in a constant battle fighting the negative forces within? Stop! Let’s encourage one another. Are you an officer in the judicial system not doing your job to help the victim?

That means you are not doing your duty. Your duty is to serve and protect. How do we open the public’s eyes so they can acknowledge and feel the need to help protect the children and our citizens? The children are our future. You Matter!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darlene J. Clark is a survivor of severe child sexual, verbal, physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial abuse, and domestic violence. She relates, “I was basically abused since birth, and a child, I believed every child was abused.”

Years later, an online support group inspired her to write her first book, Born In A Living Hell (which is no longer in print). and Shattered Innocence which shares some of her life’s experiences as a youth. Darlene currently resides in Tennessee and shares her story to help others. She states. “I am triumphant over the abuse, so now I share my story to help others.”

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You can reach Darlene on Facebook

i can’t love like a wild animal

once i was a lion prowling savannahs, seeking prey. what was love if not teeth piercing skin, digging into soft tissue, slurping up blood. once,

i was a starving seal swimming under melting ice, ready to eat anything that floated by. once a friend asked me if he could give me a massage, & i said, ok. & it turned into more. & he didn’t ask. & i didn’t know how to say stop.

once i was a turtle without a shell, all flesh, no heart, & i was left in the sun to dry out, & i knew i couldn’t love

like a wild animal anymore. couldn’t wake up on couches after drunken poker nights in the arms of men, who ate my lips for breakfast without consent. hunt by hunt,

i discovered the wildness of my howl & how it didn’t have to be a call for a mate. claw by claw, fur patch by fur patch, i grew not less feral, but less fearful of the beast roaming the woods of my bones.

now i crave burrowed connections & a hole in the ground i can call my own -- a self-love not built on the brutal urges of men.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karo Ska (she/they) is a South Asian & Eastern European non-binary poet, living on unceded Tongva Land. They migrated here in 1996 from Warsaw, Poland. Some of their other work resides in Dryland Lit, Resurrection Magazine, Sobotka Literary Journal, Cultural Daily, Ayaskala Magazine, and Marías at Sampaguitas. Their first fulllength collection, loving my salt-drenched bones was released on February 23rd, 2022. For updates, follow them on Instagram @karoo_skaa or check out their website karoska.com.

We don’t overcome trauma. We learn to live with how it shaped us.

In loving my salt-drenched bones, karo ska, a bi-racial survivor of child sexual abuse, is not afraid to tackle the topics we rarely talk about — anxiety, depression, suicide, racism, grief. Ska invites us to swim through the tumultuous rivers of healing and asks that we fall in love with our vulnerabilities. Through striking images and poignant metaphors, ska shows us the power of being our true, authentic selves.

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BUILDING RESILIENCE

A LOTUS FOR YOU

In its essence, resiliency is the ability to return to ourselves over and over again, especially amid challenges, struggles, and hardships. Resiliency is what enables us to return, reset, and move forward.

Often when we think of resiliency, we think of strength.

And while courage and strength are important, if not vital qualities that we embrace on our life journey, I invite you to consider another aspect of resiliency — the elements of resiliency that require tenderness and empathetic, compassionate care.

When over-emphasized, resiliency can lead to pushing away or burying our struggles.

Yet it is through naming and honoring our challenges and difficulties that we can really embrace our resiliency. It is here that we can water the seeds of loving kindness, non-judgement, and compassion. It is here where we can see that amid tumult or discontent, we are always worthy of love, joy, gentleness, peace, safety, and care.

We can cultivate the tender and gentler aspects of resiliency by knowing when to intentionally create space and time off to care for and nurture ourselves. This nurturing space and time can inform, stimulate and maybe even guide us through our advocacy work which requires resiliency.

By creating space for resiliency with an open awareness we can tune into what we need — what practices, people, and environments are serving us. Through a lens of compassion, kindheartedness, and care, we can learn ways to release any experiences that are not serving us as we navigate our world and our daily lives.

We can encourage, strengthen, and expand our resiliency when we fully engage in the caring for ourselves because resiliency is at the intersection of self-awareness, openness, optimism, self-efficacy, adaptability, and evolution.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rona Brodrick is the mother of a sexually abused child. When her daughter was in college, she learned that she was a survivor of incest. It was a devastating day to learn that she endured six years of abuse and did so in silence as so many who are abused do.

“It is one of the worst nightmares you can wake up to as a mother and parent. It was equally devastating to learn that it was my father.“ she states.

Rona founded M*OASIS (Mothers* Of Adult Survivors of Incest and Sexual Abuse) a blog for anyone looking to understand how to support a survivor of incest and sexual abuse. “While I am a mom and some of the resources and articles may be skewed toward that perspective, my hope is that M*OASIS will be a resource for friends, partners, siblings or any family member trying to figure out how to support an adult survivor.”

“I am not a therapist, nor do I have any professional training in abuse. I am a mother who wants to share her story with others so we can shed the shame, open the dialogue on this issue, and work toward ending childhood sexual abuse.” You can find Rona at M*OASIS. You can also email Rona at rpbrodrick@mac.com.

— Inspired by and adapted from a meditation on embracing resiliency by Daniel Sannito and the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

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COMING OUT MY DEFINING MOMENT

It’s an interesting thing – being a coach. My life experiences, who I am, how I navigate my own relationships - well, it all becomes a part of the work I do with my clients.

Sometimes, this creates a bit of internal tension for me.

What do I share? What do I hold privately? How do I keep the focus on my clients while still using my own lived experiences to support them?

Lately, more and more of my clients have been sharing with me about their struggles to be authentically themselves when it comes to their desires and identity.

One woman has always known she was bisexual, but was afraid to tell her husbandworried it would end their relationship. One person is navigating an open relationship and all of the feelings and communication that come with that. One woman is feeling frustrated because her husband can’t hold space for the idea that she could want to be with a woman. One male client needed support in normalizing his nonheteronormative fantasies.

In these sessions, I’ve been sharing my own experiences that relate to these struggles and the journey it’s been to embrace myself, love myself, trust that my desires are my own and not born out of trauma.

I see the relief on their faces when they understand that they aren’t broken or weird.

All of these conversations have got me wondering how many more of my clients (or followers) might be feeling these things, struggling in these ways, but might be hesistant to broach the topics with me since for the most part I present as a heterosexual woman in a monogamous relationship.

And while of course we don’t have to identify in the exact same way in order to relate to another person, it just feels like the time is now for me to come out to my community more fully.

I am a bisexual woman who is in an open relationship. My primary partner is a man. My secondary partner is a woman.

Damn - that feels great to say out loud!

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I see the relief on their faces when they understand that they aren’t broken or weird.
Image by DisobeyArt from IStock / Getty Images Plus

What’s really true is that there are people who have come before me who have inspired and encouraged me to come out: Glennon Doyle, Sarah Buino, and Ellen just to name a few. And I know that their stories helped me first personally claim these identities, and now today, to say, “If you really want to see me, know me, then you should know this!”

I always tell my clients that I’m not going to ask anything of them that I wouldn’t do myself.

So coming out, being vulnerably, authentically me ... well, it’s just a must at this point.

And my hope is that I can pass along to anyone who is struggling to embrace who they are, what they feel, what they want, this truth - it is 100% OKAY TO BE YOU!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Sexual Abuse Recovery Coach. Rachel holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and is the author of Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse and Overcome the Fear of Abandonment. You can download both free on her website.

She works with survivors of childhood sexual abuse to help them let go of the pain of abuse and finally feel normal.

Her program, Beyond Surviving, is specifically designed to change the way we think about and heal from abuse. she has successfully used this program to help her clients break free from the past and move on with their lives.

Reach Rachel here or on Facebook

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So coming out, being vulnerably, authentically me...well, it’s just a must at this point.
Image by Andrea Migliarini from IStock / Getty Images Plus

WORKING WITH THE ENERGY OF ANXIETY

Our world continues to come at us at an overwhelming rate.

Whether it’s at a personal level, community level, or world level, there often seems to be more information, challenges and stress to deal with every day.

In my world, recently, I have been dealing with the learning curve of a new job, my husband trying to transition to a new job and career, and our beloved cat undergoing cancer surgery which was only partially successful. Usually, I can successfully juggle one or two challenges coming at me, but when things start piling up, I can quickly move to a place of overwhelm. For me this manifests as severe anxiety with a feeling of being trapped, intense diffuse fear, and an inability to get enough breath from one moment to the next.

Anxiety has a particular flavor and energy for me. Its’ energy is claustrophobic and tight; like something has my lungs in a tight grip; and my mind is filled to the point of freezing, with a reactive fear of the world at large. I feel trapped emotionally and energetically, and reduced in my mental picture of my body to a fetal position.

So how do I deal with this overwhelming energy of anxiety when I feel there’s no way past it?

During the years of exploring practices to bring to my healing journey from childhood sexual abuse, I have discovered several techniques that I can bring as self-care when I’m in the space of overwhelm and powerful anxiety.

In this and future articles, I will share three of these self-care practices for you to explore. I encourage you to try these techniques to see which one’s work for you as described. Or you can modify them as works best for you. Take what works and leave what doesn’t!

White Light Sphere

One practice I have is to work with white and golden light. These colors are traditionally known in Eastern cultures to be healing and protective. (But you can use whatever color resonates for you.)

This practice coordinates the light imagery with your breath.

While taking a deep inhale, imagine that white/golden light is pouring down from the sky into the top of your head and flowing into your heart chakra.

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I feel trapped emotionally and energetically, and reduced in my mental picture of my body to a fetal position.
Denise Bossarte Image by Torwai from IStock / Getty Images Plus

You can imagine the source of the white/ golden light being God, Goddess, the unconditional love of the universe — whatever resonates with you. I like to imagine it is the gentle, loving light coming to me from all the stars in the sky. (I walk early in the morning before work so I’m under those lovely stars nearly every morning.)

Take as deep a breath as you can to fill yourself with the white/golden light. See the inhale as filling up your heart (body)

The idea is to have the image of a spacious white/golden light sphere surrounding you where you have plenty of space to

breathe and move. Where you could scream, dance, skip, sing, twirl, or simply be without any fear. You’ve expanded yourself out in this safe space.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise Bossarte is an award-winning poet, writer, photographer, and artist. A certified meditation facilitator she is also a contemplative arts teacher. As an IT professional, she works for a large urban school district. Denise holds a BA in chemistry, an MS in computer science, and a PhD in developmental neuroscience. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

with that light — you never have to produce or create it, it’s always there, just invite and accept it in.

Then on a slow, steady exhale, imagine that a sphere of this white/golden light starts from your heart chakra and steadily expands 360 degrees from your heart out beyond your body. I usually imagine it to grow to be 8 to 10 feet beyond my body. See the sphere as extending your sense of self, giving you more space, you filling up more space.

And this white/golden light is acting as a barrier to any negative energy that might be coming at you. This sphere will not negate the need to deal with the challenges of your daily life. I’m not proposing this as a practice of procrastination! But this is a way to create an energetic space where it is easier to do what is needed.

Then you just continue accepting the white/ golden light on an inhale and expanding the sphere of that white/golden light on the exhale, one breath after the other, for as long as you need.

You can check in throughout the day and work with expanding your sphere, replenishing your light whenever you need to counter the feeling of anxiety.

Denise spent her adulthood healing herself from the traumatic impact the sexual abuse had on her life. She is not a mental health professional. She is a Thriver who has traveled a healing journey and shares personal, guided experiences for readers to find and engage in their own journey to healing, and becoming Thrivers. Thriving After Sexual Abuse is a winner of 16 book awards and was recognized by Kirkus Reviews feature in the “30 Great Indie Books Worth Discovering” March 2022 edition.

Whether writing about overcoming trauma in her nonfiction work or recasting her reallife experiences into award-winning dark urban fantasy in four novels— Glamorous, Beginnings, Return, and Readings—Denise tackles the dark side of things with courage, fearlessness, and compassion.

Denise has also published other articles in Voices Heard: Yoga: A Self-Healing Practice for Survivors in the Summer 2021 issue; Meditation: A Self-Healing Practice for Survivors in the Fall 2021 issue. We’re excited to have her back with this 3-part series about working with the energy of anxiety. Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3.

Also see us on our Building Resilience Live Podcast.

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Composite image by Claire O’Leary

SUPPORTING SURVIVORS

DEBRA ADAMS Rifle, Colorado

TANISHA BANKSTON Oxford, Mississippi

CARLA BEATRICE Boston, Massachusets

TANYA BLACKLIGHT Paonia, Colorado

DENISE BOSSARTE Houston, Texas

KATE BOSWORTH Oakland, California

DRU COWAN Oakland, California

ALISON EISEN Santa Monica, California

JANE EPSTEIN San Francisco, California

DINA ZISKIN FORTUNE Latham, New York

RACHEL GRANT Oakland, California

JULIE HART Glenwood Springs, Colorado

WE SURVIVED ...WE THRIVE

GENEROUSLY SPONSORED BY THE EMPOWERED VOICE

We Survived ...We Thrive is a sponsored page that invites survivors to be listed in support of other survivors. It demonstrates the secretive and pervasive nature of sexual abuse/assault and gives survivors a voice.

BARBARA JOY HANSEN Massachusetts

KIMBERLY HENRIE Glenwood Springs, Colorado

ROGER HOUSE Denver, Colorado

DAVID IRVIN Watertown, Connecticut

JACOB JAQUEZ Avondale, Arizona

JEANNETTE JAQUEZ Avondale, Arizona

DONNA JENSON Leverett, Massachusetts

SHANNON JONES Carbondale, Colorado

ANNE LAUREN San Diego, California

CARI KNAUDT LAUSIER Fruita, Colorado

MINDY LATHEN Salt Lake City, Utah

VERAKERR LOPEZ Oakland, California

CHARLOTTE LOZANO Seattle, Washington

ANNIE MARGIS Long Beach, California

BOB MCNUTT

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

CLAIRE O’LEARY New Castle, Colorado

BARBIE KRISTINA ORCHARD Maynard, Massachusetts

HOLLY PERREAULT Ireland

DR. LORI PITTS Los Angeles, California

SARAH RITT Boston, Massachusetts

SHIRKYDRA ROBERTS Seattle, Washington

JAY SANTOS Brazil

STEPHANIE STANFIELD

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

TINK Northampton, Massachusetts

ANU VERMA Coventry, England

MICHELLE WHITE HART Los Angeles, California

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RESOURCES: BOOKS FOR ADULT SURVIVORS

the impact sibling abuse has on survivors, provide tools to help them begin their healing journey and emphasize that survivors can leave the past behind and build happy lives ahead.

Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse by Rachel Grant. Author Rachel Grant brings to the table a passionate belief that you do not have to remain trapped or confronted daily by the thoughts or behaviors that result from abuse. Through her own journey of recovery from sexual abuse, she has gained insight and understanding about what it takes to overcome abuse.

Forgiving The Nightmare, by Pastor Mark Sowersby begs the questions “How do you forgive when you’ve been wounded deeply?” “How do you move past the pain that keeps you up at night, leaves you isolated, untrusting, and afraid? How can you possibly forgive them, especially when they don’t deserve forgiveness?”

Healing My Life: From Incest to Joy by Donna jenson. A deeply personal story that explores the sexual violence Jenson endured at the hands of her father, the refusal of her family to acknowledge her pain, and a rocky escape as a teenager from the Midwest to start anew in sixties-era California. Jenson writes with her sense of humor firmly intact, reminding us that joy is possible in the face of great pain. Poignant, brave, and helpful, Healing My Life offers a much-needed testimony for anyone affected by childhood sexual abuse.

The Journey of the Heart by Anna Cley. From floating boxes to lifesaving riddles to an enlightened mirror, The Journey of the Heart is a timeless tale that speaks to the inner child in us all.

The Journey of the Heart offers heartfelt assurance that no matter what circumstances we are born into, our future is ours to write.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.

Glorious Awakenings, My Journey of God’s Healing by Chris Cline is about her journey of God’s healing from sexual abuse. It shares the abuse and the path she took to heal – God redeeming the pieces of her that were broken emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually. Chris says “It is a beautiful story of how Jesus saved me – how my journey healed me and brought me to a closer relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”

Healing Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Very Personal Story by Hannah Louise Cartwright RN, MA Memoir and self-help book for adult survivors of sibling sexual abuse written by a psychotherapist. Her book tells the personal story of recovering from sexual abuse at the hands of a sibling. Cartwright aims to help victims understand

Loving My Salt Drenched Bones by Karo Ska. Karo Ska delivers an ensemble of poetic magic in her highly anticipated book, loving my salt-drenched bones. Ska’s mastery of emotional and interpersonal subject matter takes the reader on a journey into the bright side of darkness filled with love, heartache, joy, and the poetic tone that only Ska can manifest.

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The MindBody Toolkit by Kim Deramo, D.O. Ten Tools to Instantly Increase Your Energy, Enhance Productivity, and Even Reverse Disease.

The MindBody Toolkit explains the science behind the mind-body connection and gives you 10 tools you can use anytime, anywhere to activate self-healing and awakening now!

My Pain is My Power by Tanisha Bankston. Tanisha’s life changed before it began at the age of 5 or 6 years old when she was raped by a friend of the family and she wasn’t believed. The damage caused her to have to relearn how to walk. Her pain continued through adulthood before she could finally enjoy life.

Sibling Abuse: Hidden Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Trauma Second Edition by Vernon R. Wiehe Often excused by parents as `kids will be kids’ behavior, sibling abuse remains largely unrecognized. Symptoms of such abuse and its devastating effects on victims go undetected, victims do not receive appropriate therapeutic intervention, and transgressors do not come to the attention of the courts.

Thriving After Sexual Abuse: Break Your Bondage to the Past and Live a Life You Love by Denise Bossarte. This book is an eloquent and empathetic selfdevelopment book laying out a blueprint for survivors to heal themselves. Bossarte writes with fierce candor as she shares her own traumatic experience with childhood sexual abuse.

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Miss America by Day by Marilyn Van Derber. Former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derber, tells the story of how she was sexually violated by her father from age 5 to age 18. She was 53 years old before she was able to speak the words in public: “I am an incest survivor.”

Van Derbur describes in detail what specific “work” she did on her successful journey from victim to survivor.

Shattered Innocence by Darlene J. Clark. Abuse happens too often. Back in the 1960’s, it was taboo to speak about this - especially the sexual abuse. “Shattered Innocence” takes us on Darlene’s journey of discovery and healing.

Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic by Brad Watts. This book is written by a counselor who rehabilitates offenders. The author gives insight into sibling sexual abuse—the causes, the effects and the devastating statistics.

The Ugliest Word by Annie Margis tells the story of a little girl named Lark whose father is molesting her, as she navigates childhood, and the woman she becomes. An aspiring writer and artist, Lark’s spunk and creativity buoy her as the abuse progresses.

The Ugliest Word is for those who survived childhood incest and for everyone who loves a survivor, is friends with or works with one.

BOOKS FOR KIDS & TEENS

Victim 2 Victor by Anu Verma. This inspiring and brutally honest memoir details the struggle for survival and the search for healing and happiness. Raised in abuse and navigating through consequences, a young, broken soul finds the strength to embark on a journey to reclaim her self-worth. Her inspiring journey is a lifelong struggle to find self-worth on the ruins of self-esteem.

30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 8-11: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy by Educate and Empower Kids. This is a series that helps you discuss sex education as a family. Having these talks with your child will establish a pattern of healthy conversations for the future. As you move through the discussions, these interactions will gain depth and your relationship will strengthen. Your child will become more comfortable talking to you about anything as he or she grows into the healthy, knowledgeable person he or she will become.

Cory Helps Kids Cope with Sexual Abuse First Edition by Liana Lowenstein This therapeutic story and collection of creative activities are designed to help children cope with sexual abuse and trauma. Therapeutic games, art, puppets, and other engaging techniques address the eight components of TF-CBT (TraumaFocused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Includes a reproducible story, assessment and treatment activities, and detailed parent handouts. Geared to children aged 4 to 12.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds by Kristen A. Jenson (Author), Debbie Fox (Illustrator) It’s not if our kids come across pornography, it’s when. This is a great book for parents to read to kids about why pornography can be harmful.

What Do I Do Now? A Survival Guide for Mothers of Sexually Abused Children (MOSAC) by Mel Langston PhD and Leona Puma. What do I do now? is a mother’s cry after she learns her child has been sexually abused. A mother’s belief in her child’s disclosure and her active support and protection after disclosure are essential to recovery from the horror of sexual abuse.

Ascend, a Zine for teen survivors of sexual assault and friends. Ascend supports young people who are survivors of sexual assault.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures by Kristen A Jenson (Author) and Debbie Fox (Illustrator). A comfortable way to talk with your kids about pornography. This newly revised edition of the original bestseller from Defend Young Minds makes that daunting discussion easy! Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a read-aloud story about a mom and dad who explain what pornography is, why it’s dangerous, and how to reject it.

I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Kimberly King and Zack King (Authors) and Sue Rama (Illustrator) Helping kids set healthy boundaries for their private parts can be a daunting and awkward task. Written from a kid’s point of view, I Said No! makes this task a lot easier.

Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan. The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human. Inclusive,

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KIDS & TEENS CONT.

accessible and honest graphic novel guide to growing up, from gender and sexuality to consent and safe sex. Perfect for any teen starting to ask questions.

Please Tell: A Child’s Story About Sexual Abuse (Early Steps) by Jessie Written and illustrated by a young girl who was sexually molested by a family member, this book reaches out to other children in a way that no adult can, Jessie’s words carry the message, “It’s o.k. to tell; help can come when you tell.

Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept by Jayneen Sanders (Author), and Craig Smith (Illustrator). A beautifully illustrated children’s picture book that sensitively broaches the subject of keeping children safe from inappropriate touch.

SHARE YOUR STORY

Repair for Kids: A Children’s Program for Recovery from Incest and Childhood Sexual Abuse by Margie McKinnon (Author), and Tom W. McKinnon (Illustrator) R.E.P.A.I.R is Recognition, Entry, Process, Awareness, Insight, and Rhythm. Enter a Six-Stage Program with your child to cross the Bridge of Recovery and make available a whole new world of hope.

Tootles the Turtle Tells the Truth by Lenell Levy Melancon. This is a lovely book that playfully walks a child through a story about someone scaring a child into not telling. The characters ask interactive questions at the end of the book to engage readers in a candid discussion of good, bad and scary secrets.

Are you looking for a safe space to share your story?

Share your story in Voices Heard, the interactive e-Zine that empowers you to SHATTER YOUR SILENCE.

BE ONE OF THE VOICES HEARD!

Submit art, video, poetry or a personal story for a future edition.

FIND OUT MORE

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ONLINE SUPPORT COACHING RESOURCES FOR SURVIVORS

ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS FOR SURVIVORS:

1 in 6 sponsors free anonymous chat-based support groups for male survivors of sexual abuse seeking a community of support. Sessions are offered Monday through Friday. These written chat (no audio or video) groups focus on education and mutual support for males and are facilitated by a counselor.

Complicated Courage is a website and blog for sibling sexual abuse survivors.

Healing PTSD Naturally iKathryn Berg, of Lotus Homeopathy offers support on Facebook for people who suffer from PTSD to help them discover natural methods of dealing with PTSD, no matter what the cause. This group supports all trauma not only sexual abuse survivors.

HelpRoom Offered by 360 Communites an affiliate of RAIIN, HelpRoom is an anonymous online group chat option that allows members of the community who have been affected by sexual violence to connect with one another. Trained staff facilitate group discussions to ensure a safe environment for all visitors to discuss topics and experiences related to sexual violence.

Hidden Water Healing Circles meet weekly — either in-person or online — and are designed to enable participants to find the growing edge of their healing alongside others who have had similar experiences with childhood sexual abuse.

Incest AWARE is a group for those working to end incest and help survivors of incest abuse to heal.

The Incest AWARE Facebook was born following a large meeting of incest prevention advocates, healers, and authors who came together in February 2021 to talk about the opportunities and challenges we face today in our efforts to prevent incest.

Isurvive is an online abuse survivor support group. Their forums/chat rooms are open to adult survivors and their loved ones seeking to heal from all forms of abuse including sexual, physical, verbal, emotional and ritual.

The Lamplighter Movement is dedicated to recovery from incest and child sexual abuse. They have chapters located throughout the US that organize groups for survivors.

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse NAASCA has a list of recovery groups and services worldwide for adult survivors of abuse, including incest. Their online daytime recovery meetings are an open discussion forum about child abuse trauma and recovery and are hosted by volunteer members.

Sexual Assault Advocacy Network (SAAN) Facebook Group was founded to support the people who support sexual violence survivors. Their active Facebook group connects survivoradvocates who are working to support other incest and other sexual abuse survivors, change policy and raise awareness.

Survivors Of Childhood Trauma is a friendly Facebook group that offers help and advice to fellow survivors from all walks of life.

Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA) is a 12-step recovery program for adult survivors of incest. They offer a range of peersupport groups including virtual, phone and in-person – all free of cost. Their website also contains resources and information of interest to incest survivors.

Tail of the Bell is geared toward adult survivors of incest. It will soon be offering peer-to-peer incest survivor facilitated groups called YANA. Participants will become members of small groups of 6-8 survivors maximum who will meet weekly in a virtual space to offer mutual support and guidance.

Wings Support Groups offers a variety of virtual and in-person groups in the Denver Metro area. Wings supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to live their fullest, healthiest lives as they speak about, heal from and thrive beyond CSA trauma.

SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES OF SURVIVORS

M*OASIS Support (Mothers* Of Adult Survivors of Incest and Sexual Abuse) is a resource website and blog for anyone looking to understand how to support a survivor of incest and sexual abuse.

StopSO Support for Families Online Group is a safe and supportive space for family members of a sexual offender or for family members of someone who is worried that they may cause sexual harm. (StopSO also provides services for those at risk of offending and concerned about their thoughts or behavior.).

SEARCHABLE DATABASE

Psychology Today’s website has a “Find a Therapist” directory of therapists, psychiatrists, treatment centers and support groups located throughout the US that is searchable by city or zip code.

RAINN’s National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones resources and references

NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) has compiled a list of linkable websites and resources offering support and help for survivors, which includes links to support groups.

BEYOND SURVIVING

Beyond Surviving, is specifically designed to change the way we think about and heal from abuse. Rachel Grant has successfully used this program to help her clients break free from the past and move on with their lives.

HOPE FOR HEALING ACADEMY

Terri Welbrock provides a space for trauma-warriors to engage in hope and healing strategies. Her mission is to shine a light of hope onto the healing path and offer a guiding hand to hold as you travel a hope-filled journey.

Learn about coping strategies, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), resilience, the healing powers of hope, positivity, mindfulness, and so much more.

At the conclusion of these courses, you will have a better understanding of steps you can take to create your own Hope for Healing journey so that YOU can welcome a life filled with joy and tranquility.

THE GET CLEAR METHOD

Lori Pitts, founder of Still Whole Wellness, developed the Get Clear Method to help clients identify how their lives were impacted by trauma while setting realistic goals that promote healing. Using holistic methods like trauma coaching, Reiki healing, guided meditation, oracle readings, as well as hosting classes, webinars, and healing circles, clients of Still Whole Wellness have amazing success.

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YOU WILL:
Heal with a small group of women like yourself who are committed to healing their sexual abuse
Create an artist book or art of your choice using simple, effective techniques
Learn how to be vunerable yet powerful as you share your story ACCELERATE YOUR HEALING AND RECOVERY • Learn simple practices for when you get triggered • Share your needs and desires confidently at home and in business • Reclaim who you are at the core and love yourself completely Creativity Unleashed Do you feel as though you’re not being heard? RECLAIM YOUR CREATIVITY TO ACCELERATE YOUR HEALING JOURNEY www.empoweredvoicetravelingexhibit.com/creativity-unleashed/ The 9-week Creativity Unleashed program encourages survivors to unearth the root of their story & nourish their creativity through expressive arts to find their voice BEGINS JANUARY2023 RegistrationLimitedto 9Students REGISTREARLYBIRD ATIONSAVE$99SignupbyNov.30

Voices Heard shatters the long held silence of sexual abuse survivors through story-telling and expressive arts.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.