Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Conference will offer safe space for dialogue about childhood sexual assault By Jackie Bussjaeger/Staff Writer
Conference will offer safe space for dialogue about childhood sexual assault
Monday, October 24, 2016
Chamber Welcomes Non Profit, EmpowerSurvivors
STILLWATER, MN – Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors joined EmpowerSurvivors Director, Elizabeth Sullivan along with her family, board members and supporters at a welcome celebration on October 18 at Rivertown Inn Bed & Breakfast in Stilwater.
Founded in 2014, with non-profit status as of July 2016, EmpowerSurvivors is a Stillwater based, peer led nonprofit organization for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse that promotes individual and group peer support. They offer both online and offline peer group support, individual support, and education on childhood sexual abuse and prevention. Group meetings are currently held Thursdays at Roach Hall, 921 N Fourth St, Stillwater from 6:00-7:30pm.
“We want to bring attention to this extremely common, and very important issue that is so often not discussed or addressed” stated Elizabeth Sullivan. “Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are everywhere and this issue often affects a person for their whole life, even if it has been repressed for decades”.
EmpowerSurvivors is run by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. They focus on supporting the survivor in mind, body and spirit through peer support, education and prevention. They will soon be launching resources to help others start up peer support groups in their communities.
Their first annual conference, “Giving Voice- EmpowerSurvivors 2016” will take place Saturday, November 5 from 8:30-5:00 at The Grand Banquet Hall in Stillwater. The keynote speaker is Matthew Sandusky who was molested by his father, Jerry Sandusky from Penn State. Matthew has gone on to form his own nonprofit. The event will also include education from nonprofit, Cornerstone, free acupuncture, and yoga, and much more. Tickets will not be sold the day of the event and can be purchased online at EmpowerSurvivors.net.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
At 19 years old, Cleo Tellier directed her first film The Silence, which won over 50 awards across the world and got over 30 additional nominations. After The Silence became OSCAR eligible, Cleo made her second film, Mishka (TRAILER RELEASE: DECEMBER 2016).Ann, Leslie, Isabelle and Jerome were four out of the two million children who live in foster care all around the world. Before their life in foster care, they were forgotten, abused, unseen and unloved. Today, they decide to break the silence surrounding child abuse, and share their story to the world in a heartbreaking way.
I watched this film this morning,while drinking my morning cup of coffee.
It is amazing to me how the young 19 year old Cleo Tellier can create a film that captures the truth about childhood sexual abuse and can show in such a short period of time what childhood sexual abuse is like for a child.
Childhood sexual abuse is a silent epidemic in our country and one that most do not want to talk about. Let's face it, childhood sexual abuse is one of the last taboos, it makes people uncomfortable to talk about and most non survivors can never truly know what it feels like to have this crime done to them in childhood and then try to function as a healthy adult in this world.
As survivors, most of us stay silent. Why is that?
For those children that never broke their silences the pain does not stop because the abuse stopped. Trauma is stored deep in the mind, in the body and in the soul of that child. That child begins to live a life built on the belief system that they will never be good enough, clean enough, smart enough, loved enough. These children take the blame, the hit. The blame that is NEVER the fault of a child.
Many of us went on to have troubles in school, early pregnancies, drug addictions, alcohol addictions, and mental or medical health issues. We may have issues with sexual identity, relationships, authority, self image, intimacy, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and PTSD, just to name a few.
Then we grow into adults.
We may have buried the pain, the sexual abuse, our childhood deep inside of ourselves to only have the memories come screaming back in our mid life. For the average adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse we don't begin to deal with the abuse done to us till we hit our 40's or above. Something in our current lives trigger the memories and we may again be right back in the mindset of that child. Frozen in fear, isolating to stay safe, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and a world that seems to be suddenly turned upside down. We may look 40, 50, 60, 70 but inside there is the child screaming, begging to be seen, heard, and loved.
When we are silent, whether as a community or individual , we cannot find healing. We cannot prevent this from happening to others, we cannot recognize the signs and symptoms of children that are being sexually abused.
Childhood sexual abuse does not have to be a death sentence but it does need to be talked about, processed, and validated. Victims of childhood sexual abuse can heal. The abuse does not need to own us. We can learn and educate ourselves, break the chains of shame, and stop the abuse in our generation so it does not happen to our children and our children's children.
We can unlearn too. Unlearn the lies we believed due to abuse, unlearn the unhealthy lifestyles we may have developed as a result of abuse, and unlearn the self hate we may have been putting ourselves through all our lives.
As a community of people we can lower the risks of our children being sexually abused. As a community we can start talking about this epidemic that plagues so many children, we can learn, we can become educated on how to talk to our kids, how to teach prevention, how to train adults on the signs and symptoms of childhood sexual abuse. We can heal.
To heal we must break our silence. This is where the healing begins. Just as we can not grow a garden in the dark we cannot grow in our healing in the darkness of silence.
It is also time to break our silence as a community of people. Our communities will become safer for our children if we can break the silences that surround the silence of childhood sexual abuse. Communities need to be educated on childhood sexual abuse, taught how to support survivors of any age, and how to prevent and when prevention fails to take action.
Join me today. Break the silence.
CEO/President of EmpowerSurvivors