Today I was making my “rounds”. No I’m not a physician, I don’t even play one on T.V. But I was reading through the regular authors, bloggers, fellow survivors and colleagues with whom I follow their writings. As I was reading Joelle Casteix’s latest piece entitled, “It All Started with a Support Group”, her words made me realize something I’d not considered prior;
If it weren’t for SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), our organization, “Together We Heal”, would not exist.
I know the genesis of most non-profits comes from a place of loss, grief, illness, tragedy or any number of other reasons we choose to take up a cause. And they are almost always good and noble reasons that provide for a need or service that others desperately require but have no access.
That being said, Joelle made me realize the reason(s) behind the formation of organizations like SNAP, The Joyful Heart Foundation and Together We Heal, that often go unspoken or taken for granted.
So as I turned my thoughts inward and asked myself, “why did we start Together We Heal”? I realized it was for the same reason as she titled her article…
…it all started with a support group.
Flash back 3 years. I had come forward about the sexual abuse I had endured as a child, and after 3 years of counseling I was looking for a support group. As I scoured the internet and government agencies looking for something, anything to further assist me in my recovery, It seemed as though I wouldn’t find anyone who could help. It was truly like looking for a drop of water in a desert.
Then, as I was about to give up, I came across a post referencing a group called SNAP. At first I thought I was mistaken, because the only SNAP I had ever heard of had to do with food stamps, or something like that. But when I found their office number and contact email, I got through, spoke to a volunteer and realized, they were exactly what I was looking for and needed.
At first I didn’t think I would be accepted because they specified “priest” in their organization’s name. And since my abuser was a Protestant, I thought here we go again, another false alarm. Boy was I wrong. Not only were they accepting of me, and all other victims of CSA, no matter the circumstance or religion, they eventually showed me I could both receive help from and become a help for my fellow survivors.
All of this was great for my own personal recovery. I was getting the help I needed from fellow survivors who understood what I’d been though. And my one-on-one counseling was still a tremendous help. But during several of our group sessions at our local SNAP meeting, I kept hearing others say, “boy I wish I had a therapist like yours Dave”, or, “if only I had insurance I could get some counseling too.” This was painful to hear. I almost felt guilty for having the privilege of personalized counseling. You see, what the others didn’t know, was that my therapy had been donated by an amazingly generous person. Someone who knew I had a need and they were willing to give of their time to help me since I didn’t have the funds or insurance to cover their standard $100/hour rate.
This got me to thinking, why can’t I recruit some therapists to do what mine is doing, donate their time to survivors in need? And the answer was simple, I CAN. And I did, and we still do! We currently have about 30 counselors/therapists who work directly with TWH, another 30-40 who work for government agencies we’ve partnered with and they too give of their time.
So why have I given you a history lesson about Together We Heal? It’s quite simple, and also profound. You just never know when one thing will lead to another. If you’re finding it difficult to get the help you need, don’t give up. I promise help is just around the corner. If you feel like you’re all alone, keep searching. I guarantee there are many out there just like you and will stand with you. And if it appears to you that there’s no purpose to your life, take another look. I too, once thought all of those things and had all of those feelings but because I refused to give up, I not only found the help needed, but now I’m able to help others who’ve been through what I went through and my life has a purpose I never knew possible.
Something Joelle mentioned in her article that I want to bring to your attention. She said, “People are talking and walking into our cycle of healing whether that be in our meetings or the meetings of other wonderful organizations. The Catholic Church and other institutions did not start or continue the cycle of healing. Victims did. Without support groups, none of this would have been possible.”
And just like it happened for her, it happened for me, and guess what?
This can happen for you too.
Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.
May 22, 2014 at 10:10 am
Your experience was my experience as well. Where, oh where would I be without the SNAP support group? Thank you for the insight.
May 26, 2014 at 2:03 am
You said it Tim, where of where would we be?!?! I’m just thankful we don’t have to ever know and I’m also thankful for the friendships, like yours, I’ve made because of the work done by SNAP. Keep up the great work you do my friend and know I’m always here.
May 22, 2014 at 10:38 am
Reblogged this on healingmylittlegirl and commented:
The organization that has helped me, and it can help you too! We are NOT alone and Together we can heal
May 26, 2014 at 2:03 am
Thank you for sharing our latest article with your readers 🙂
May 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm
This is another brilliant and thoughtful article! I am truly impressed with your sensitivity, good judgment, and loving-kindness towards other survivors. It’s one thing to find healing, solace, and solutions for your suffering. It’s an entirely differently thing when you make it your mission to reach out to other survivors, and give back. It puts you on a specific playing field: a playing field where you have invited the love and power of a loving God. Automatically, the blessing is bestowed upon your very generous work. David, one of the most painful dynamics of childhood sexual abuse, is the profound loneliness a survivor feels, not only during the violation, but from that point on. Your articles, only one aspect of your outreach, touch the heart of the survivor, as there is a special power of the pen, that writes words of truth, love, and compassion.
A blessed Memorial Day, to all our veterans, most of which have suffered trauma themselves. You are not forgotten. You are loved and prayed for.
Rivka Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Author of: “Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”
May 26, 2014 at 2:01 am
As always Rivka, you are so kind and have an amazing way of encouraging others. And you brought up the point, that to me is of the utmost importance…that we need to do all we can to let our fellow survivors know they are NOT alone. We are here together and in doing so we help each other learn, grow and heal. Bless you my dear friend. Although it was a horrific series of events that led us to meet, I’m so grateful for you now. I know just how much you help others and hope you know I’ll always be here to help you do the work we do. Together, we can truly heal.
May 26, 2014 at 8:52 pm
I agree with the blessing of being brought together. I appreciate, and I am comforted by, your presence, your extreme generosity of spirit, and for reaching out to survivors in the four corners of the globe. You, your organization, and the amazing people that are on this journey – are truly ushering in the dawn of a new day in trauma recovery. A day where LIGHT is shone on the darkest of places, and survivors see that the perpetrator’s darkness caused their anguish. Light that reveals to the survivor, that their core is in fact, a pure ball of light. And to do everything they can to uncover that light, discover what they personally need to discover, and recover. I love and support you, because you FIERCELY hold the flashlight, not daunted by the darkness or its attempts to suck you back in. You just keep on moving in the right direction, firmly maintaining your grip on the Spiritual Flashlight God entrusted to YOU. How can I not love, adore, respect, and admire you? My love to you always.
May 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm
All I can say is thank you because I’m so humbled by your kindness…
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