Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.


Leave a comment

Why the SBC Executive Committee Didn’t Do the Right Thing

This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Series following the actions of the SBC Executive Committee’s regarding the Sexual Abuse Investigation.

We have partnered with an amazing organization, The Lamplighter Movement, to host the second article. Click here to read:


2 Comments

When will Rhetoric become Reality?

(Southern Baptist Convention, we’re talking to you)

Delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting this summer voted overwhelmingly to create a task force to oversee an independent investigation into the denomination’s handling of sexual abuse.

The resolution calls for the newly elected SBC president, Alabama pastor Ed Litton, to appoint the task force, which will head up a review of allegations that the denomination’s Executive Committee mishandled abuse cases, intimidated victims and advocates and resisted reforms.

And from the floor of the Convention, something happened I never believed would have. Someone, other than his victims, was finally willing to publicly name the person that molested and raped myself and many other little boys.

Pastor Troy Bush said this:

“What we did not know then, we know now.  And what we know should be important to Southern Baptists, especially Georgia Baptists.

We didn’t know Franklin “Frankie” Andrew Wiley, a student minister who served our church family, Rehoboth Baptist Church, Tucker, GA, in the early 1980s had molested 5 of our boys. We also didn’t know he sexually abused other boys at other Georgia Baptist churches before and after his time at Rehoboth.

We now know the names of each boy he assaulted in our church family. We know he assaulted 10 boys at 4 different Georgia Baptist churches. We know he assaulted an eleventh boy not in one of the churches. And we have credible-but-unconfirmed reports of 2 other boys at a Georgia Baptist church. We know that 3 weeks ago he served with the worship team of another Georgia Baptist church in a Sunday morning worship service.”

Sounds like positive steps, right?

It got me thinking about how long a-day coming this has been. For at least 40 years Wiley has been doing this to little boys. 15 years ago, I went to the SBC and Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) and told them. I was told by Kenneth Keene to be quiet and that they’d pray for me. This summer it was finally, publicly acknowledged from the floor of the Annual Meeting. And so, we waited to see what actions would be taken.

Since the time of the annual meeting, the following has transpired with the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF).

  1. They’ve been mired in who will pay for the investigation.
  2. The organization that has been mentioned to do the investigation, Guidepost Solutions LLC, seems to be more well known for defending predators than protecting victims.
  3.  The supposed “broad” investigation will NOT cover individual church cases, only the Executive Committee.
  4. The SATF has formally requested “the Executive Committee to vote to waive attorney-client privilege”.  Don’t hold your breath on this one. It’s going to be CYA in the SBC as per usual.
  5. We are told by the SATF, “We will be able to obtain expert recommendations for the Messengers to consider acting on, to help provide care for survivors of sexual abuse and respond appropriately to, allegations of abuse or mishandling abuse in the SBC. This, in turn, has a direct impact on abuse prevention.”

Really? You think so? This quote, much like the itinerary outlined by Guidepost, has a lot of great sounding words. But words are just that, words. Static, and exactly like the SBC has been toward victims of abuse…nonoperational.

How are victims supposed to trust this investigation with Guidepost Solutions reputation? How exactly are they going to accomplish this without a way to pay for it? Without being able to investigate ALL cases and without being able to waive attorney-client privilege so that truth is revealed? It’s beginning to appear, once again, that the Southern Baptist Convention put on a “dog and pony show” for the media, gullible members, and victims desperate for any measure of justice.

More words and still no substantive action.

The actions of the SBC towards victims of sexual abuse, historically and consistently, have been at best apathetic or at worst, vitriolic. It is actions that reveal the heart. James told us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

“Whoever sees their brother or sister in need and closes their heart against him or her, how does the love of God abide in them? Let us not love with word or tongue, but with deed and truth.” (1 John 3)

Where is Jesus in your actions, SBC?

“I’m sorry” means nothing. We must SEE repentance. You must ACT restoratively.

What we know is this: Any words spoken, no matter how true, are not real unless they are incarnated.

A criticism we hear as advocates is, “why do you bring up the past”, or “it seems like you only live in the past, only bring up the failures of the past.”

Well folks, let me quote a wise saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” And I believe Winston Churchill selected the appropriate word when he said “condemned”. Especially when you consider what Jesus said about those who cause children to stumble. Jesus condemned them in totality.

That is why we “keep bringing it up”.

We expose the past to help those living with the pain in the present. We help those with pain in the present with the goal of preventing it in the future.

If you can’t understand that, or refuse to learn this, then do us all a favor and stop acting as though you care.

Because the only people we can really work with, the only people who can truly serve the vulnerable, are those who will admit, lament and repent.

Those who will sacrifice for and serve those in pain. Those who will work their tails off to not let this happen again, no matter who commits these crimes.

A few days ago I learned that the person who molested and raped me and countless other little boys all across the state of Georgia has been welcomed back into a church that we thought had learned its lesson.

Guess what? The joke’s on us!

This church, which initially and with arrogance, stood beside him and said he was repentant. They said they believed in him. They then went on to say, we’re sorry we were wrong, and asked him to resign once the Southern Baptist Convention hinted at disfellowship. (Which in realty meant less funds from the national convention treasury). Once everything had died down in the press (and the predator had been run off from TWO other churches) he slithered his way back to his “home church” where deacons and members posted publicly to him, “It’s so good to see you back”, “your church loves you” and “welcome home love you”.

As you’ve already learned, this person is an admitted child molester. He has shown no repentance or remorse. And yet this church and these people welcome him with open arms and once again place their children in harm’s way. All I could think of when hearing this was the story of the “Scorpion and the Frog.”

A scorpion wants to cross a river but cannot swim, so it asks a frog to carry it across. The frog hesitates, afraid that the scorpion might sting it, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. The frog lets the scorpion climb on its back and begins to swim. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

When this sexual predator harms another child, and they always do, please don’t be surprised. He’s a scorpion, it’s in his nature.

So people wonder why I talk about sexual abuse all the time?

Whether I wanted it or not it has become my role, as Finley Peter Dunne once said, to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” The answer to why we do this is simple and heartbreaking, “because the people that should, won’t.”

I guess the real questions are these: Will the SBC take actual steps to protect children? Will the SBC help those already harmed find a path toward healing that is victim focused, not institution centered? And will the SBC take the necessary steps to prevent the predators in their midst from molesting and raping others?

SBC Executive Committee and Sexual Abuse Task Force…what will be your answers?

When will all this rhetoric about facing sexual abuse within the SBC become reality? We’re still waiting…

Copyright © 2021 Together We Heal, Inc.


2 Comments

Stop Calling It “Child Porn”

(Ways Language Minimize Victimization)

 

*Trigger Warning*

 

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a man I’ve gotten to know over the last year by reading his posts and watching his videos. Listening to him, it’s clear he has a heart for the vulnerable. His name is Kyle J. Howard and we soon realized a mutual frustration with the way certain words are used.

 

Our conversation centered on the misuse of the term, “child porn”. It got me thinking that some clarity is needed.

 

The arrangement of these words disgusts me on so many of levels, but I will begin with this… “child porn” is not pornography, it is the RAPE of a child!

 

To label video/images as “porn”, implies that there is a consensual and transactional interaction. Such as an adult man or woman receiving payment to permit their bodies be recorded and viewed by other adults in consensual sexual activities.

 

If you ask most any adult in the US, “what is pornography?” you’d probably get this type of response; “when 2 or more consenting adults agree to be paid for having sex on camera.”

 

And because most Americans view pornography as a mutual, consensual transaction; maintaining the word “porn” in front of the word “child” leaves the message to our brains, subconscious or otherwise, that it is not “that bad.”

Or many take the view, well I’m not doing it, I’m just watching it.

 

To do this, is an attempt to use language to lessen or soften the actual effects of this crime. And that is what the sexual exploitation of children is…a CRIME!

 

To record a child being molested and/or raped is not consensual!

 

To view a child being molested and/or raped is not a victimless crime!

 

To view this crime, YOU YOURSELF might as well be the one raping the child. Because that is what you are doing. You are re-victimizing that child OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

 

So let me say this as plain as I can. To record or view the video or images of children being sexually molested and/or raped is not just watching “porn”…you are another one of this child’s rapist!

 

And as Kyle Howard points out, “Pornography is largely made up of sex trafficked women. Porn itself makes one an enabler of sexual assault, sex slavery, and the like…we need to redefine how we see/understand porn entirely.”

 

He goes on to say, “I can’t think of a time where I haven’t referred to child porn as “child rape”. In discussion & teaching, I always refer to child porn as “child rape” in some way.”

 

So PLEASE stop calling it “child porn”. Its child sexually exploitive videos/images.

 

Language is the greatest tool we have for connecting with people. Therefore, precision with language is essential. Inaccurate words not only sow misunderstanding but also dehumanize.

 

Language matters and the way we use words is important.

 

Language shapes our responses to sexual violence.

 

In a recent article addressing how language matters in our responses to sexual violence, discusses how words that are used to describe sexual assault can “linguistically blur rape with healthy consensual sex”(p. 11).

 

For example, Attorney Claudia Bayliff observes that stating that the child “performed oral sex” sounds like a voluntary act, one of mutuality, as opposed to the man “forced his penis in her mouth.” Those two constructions create dramatically different word pictures.

 

In addition, euphemisms such as “child pornography” or “kiddie porn” minimize the violence inherent in such acts. 1

 

All of us need to be incredibly careful not to use the language of consensual sex when we are describing a sexual assault.

 

Don’t believe me? Do you believe we are exaggerating? Why then have we stopped using certain words?

 

Why do we use the term “little person”, rather than the word “midget”? Ask any African-American in the USA what they think of the “N” word. A word so offensive that it won’t be completed in respectful society.

 

Why do we use one of the LGBTQIA designations, rather than the word “faggot”? Or ask a person with a developmental disability what they think of the word “retarded”. Are you beginning to see the point?

 

It’s because those words harm.

 

That is the point of this article. When you use the word “porn”, you diminish the effects of a crime against a child. It’s harmful and hateful.

 

So what is the answer? How do we correct this? Claudia Bayliff gives us some concrete, simple directions:

 

  • Avoid using the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts.
  • Use accountable language that places responsibility on the person committing the criminal acts.
  • Help educate others about the importance of using accountable, accurate language when talking about sexual violence.

 

And please, stop calling it child porn!

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.

 

 

 

1)   Journal of Forensic Nursing, “Patient, Victim, or
Survivor: Does Language Matter? A Conversation
with Claudia Bayliff

April/June 2015, Volume :11 Number 2, page 63 – 65

2)   Cooper C. L. How language reflects our response
to sexual violence
. Perspectives, 23 (3), 10-11. (2015)

3) Janet Bavelas & Linda Coates, Is it Sex or Assault? Erotic
Versus Violent Language in Sexual Assault Trial
Judgments
, 10 J. Soc. Distress & Homeless 29 (2001).

4) James C. McKinley, Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town,
N.Y. Times, Mar. 8, 2011, at A13.

5) Jackson Katz, DSK’s Alleged Victim Should Not Be Called His “Accuser,” Huffington Post (Aug. 20, 2011), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-katz/dsks-alleged-victim-shoul_b_930996.html

 


Leave a comment

Our Worst Fears Becoming A Reality?

Just a few days ago, we wrote about our concerns that the shelter in place orders, which are absolutely essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, would potentially lead to more cases of abuse.

 

Yesterday, we heard from the President of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), Scott Berkowitz, that for the first time ever, a majority of their sexual abuse hotline users were minors.

 

According to Berkowitz, over half of the people who called RAINN’s hotline last month who identified their age, were under 18. Of those, 67% identified their perpetrator as a family member and, within that group, 79% said they were living with that perpetrator.

 

Berkowitz said the reason for the increased calls from minors could be that children can’t access the safety net of other adults they usually see outside the home.

 

“So many minors are now locked at home with their abuser, in the same house,” Berkowitz said. “The safety net that they had ― the parents and teachers and coaches that they would see every day who were likely the first people to notice signs of abuse ― children no longer have contact with those people right now.”

 

To read more about this risk to children, click on The Huffington Post article link here.

 

If you or someone you know is feeling trapped at home with a perpetrator, please reach out to someone you trust. If you don’t feel as though there is someone you can trust, contact one of these hotlines. Or call us at Together We Heal.

 

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

https://hotline.rainn.org/online

800.656.HOPE

800.656.4673

 

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

https://www.nsvrc.org/

 

Together We Heal – (754) 234-7975

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.


Leave a comment

Pandemic Can Lead To More Abuse

As Linda and I stay sheltered in place to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, I can’t help but think about a recent article in the New York Times…

 

The title of the article read, “Coronavirus Roils Every Segment of US Child Welfare System”.

 

The crux of the story and focus of the concern is this; Many child welfare professionals and advocates worry the pandemic will fuel a rise in child abuse and neglect.

 

Schools are closed. Many of these kids are from unstable backgrounds. Possible mental health issues with parents/guardians and drug/alcohol abuse to boot.

 

And with the two groups of people who usually offer some semblance of a safeguard, Teachers and other school employees NOT being able to report signs of abuse due to the school closings…”That’s a recipe for disaster”, said Boston social worker, Adriana Zwick.

 

Not having their eyes and ears means WE are going to have to be theirs, now more than ever. You may be sheltered in place, but you can keep your eyes and ears open in YOUR neighborhood.

 

Since older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19, children have not been a focus of public health efforts.

 

“That’s a mistake”, according to University of Pennsylvania professor Marci Hamilton, also CEO of CHILD USA, a think tank seeking to prevent child abuse and neglect.

 

“Already some areas are reporting spikes in abuse,” she said. “If caseworkers don’t have that protective equipment, it’s likely we’ll have fewer home visits, and fewer home visits mean more kids at risk.”

 

I think the sheriff of Harris County, Ed Gonzalez, said it best in a recent tweet…

“We cannot let a health pandemic become a child abuse pandemic! The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers, but kids aren’t seeing them right now. Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention.”

 

Please watch for signs. If you need to know the signs, just ask. We’ll show you places to find the information you need. And then we can find the help the kids need. Together we can keep all children safer during this crisis.

 

To read the NYT article in full, click on the link here.

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.


1 Comment

Can You Recognize Predatory Behavior?

This week’s article is the second part of, and provides a response to the question we posed last week…Is your faith community safe from sexual predators?

This week’s question: Can you recognize predatory behavior?

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/can-you-recognize-predatory-behavior.html

 

If you didn’t catch last weeks article, you can read it here:

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-your-faith-community-safe-from.html


1 Comment

Is Your Faith Community Safe From Predators?

This month I am honored to be the guest blogger for my friend and colleagues’ website. Her name is Rachel Grant and she is doing amazing work helping fellow survivors of sexual abuse. So, for the next 4 weeks I will be posting from here with the link to her page.

 

This week’s post is actually a 2-part post, so stay tuned for next week’s section!

 

Please be sure to explore all of the excellent information she makes available!

 

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-your-faith-community-safe-from.html


Leave a comment

Believing That Change Is Possible

This year I have decided to provide something new to the Together We Heal blog. In addition to my own writings, I wanted to offer some new voices with their own survivor perspectives. With April being “Child Abuse Prevention Month” we are honored to have a fellow survivor contribute. She has taught me much about healing and I am grateful to call her my friend, Rachel Grant. Join me in reading her words of encouragement today!

—–

But I’ve tried to get over this before!! Shouldn’t I be better already!? I know other people have healed, why can’t I?

Often the first hurdle to jump over in this journey is to put to rest (or a least put on mute for a while) your inner critic and doubter. I know you’ve been to therapy, I know you’ve read books, I know you’ve tried just about everything under the sun and you’re still running in circles. Don’t worry, I did, too! Or maybe you’re just for the first time ever admitting to yourself that the abuse happened and that you need to deal with it. Either way, there is likely a part of you that is wondering if you can get better! I invite you to allow yourself to embrace recovery as an adventure, an exploration. Be curious, check things out – and try to leave off stressing about end results. We each have to walk our own path of recovery. Sometimes, it takes just one thing to make things fall into place. Sometimes, it’s a variety of things.

For me, I tried all sorts of things before finally coming upon the ideas that I’ll share here that made the difference for me. I hope you can be open to the journey and remember there’s a lot to learn from turtles.

Lessons from a Turtle

“Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, because they are looking for ideas.”
~Paula Poundstone

How fabulous is that! I know I’m still certainly wondering about what I’ll be when I grow up, and I know many of the folks around me are thinking about this, too.

For me, though, there are the added questions of, “Is it too late?” & “Shouldn’t I have accomplished more by now?” I took a bit more time to finish my undergraduate studies than usual; then I spent some time roaming the halls of an elementary school trying my hand at teaching and learning a lot about myself.

When I came to California, I focused on child development (and napping) as I nanny before turning my attention to psychology & coaching. Seems a bit schizophrenic, but each stage has in some way built upon the previous one. Now, most days, I appreciate my wiggly journey. Still, I do sometimes agonize about this, because I am many paces behind those who followed the straight and narrow.

When we feel the pressure to make our mark, crave the pride of achievement, desire to experience ourselves at our best, or want more than anything to be fully recovered, our first point of reference for measuring where we stand is often what others are doing or have done. Is there real value in this exercise of comparison? Well, I suppose it depends on what your ultimate goal is.

To my mind, I see two possible outcomes from engaging in this sort of reflection (to be sure, there may be others). If your goal (though possibly an unconscious one) is to reinforce negative ideas you have about yourself as being less than, incapable, flawed, etc. – comparing oneself to others is like a gateway drug to self-deprecation. There can be real value in seeing how you measure up to others, but if you can’t compare yourself to others without becoming depressed, self-critical, exasperated, defeated, pitiful, and chagrined then this is not a healthy choice for you.

 
However, if your goal is to do something about your current situation and to move forward despite time, age, circumstances then it might be possible to become inspired, motivated, encouraged, and educated as a result of comparing where you are with others who have acquired the same things you now desire but don’t have. In other words, through curiosity and studying their very straight journey, you may add some arrow-like qualities to your own path.

My point is, I can look to a coach who is my age, has my education but is much further along in building her business and making a living and think to myself, “Damn it, see, if only I hadn’t…” or I can look to see how this person got to where she is and learn – and, perhaps, learn fast! Likewise, we can keep ourselves in a loop of comparing where we are in our journey of recovery to others or lamenting that we aren’t there yet, or we can set about doing the work and learning from those who have gone before us.

We only have one life journey. Whether it be a wiggly one or a straight & narrow one – it’s ours. So, for all my wiggly friends out there – move, be active, learn and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by self-deprecating thoughts.

Just as we might discover who we want to be when we grow up from kids, we also do well to remember the age-old Aesop fable The Tortoise and the HareIt’s not how quickly you can get to where you want to be – it’s whether you get there at all.

 

—-

Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Sexual Abuse Recovery Coach. She is also the author of Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse.  She works with survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken, unfixable, and burdened by the past. She helps them let go of the pain of abuse and finally feel normal.

Her program, Beyond Surviving, has been specifically designed to change the way we think about and heal from abuse. Based on her educational training, study of neuroscience, and lessons learned from her own journey, she has successfully used this program since 2007 to help her clients break free from the past and move forward with their lives.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. She provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. She is also a member of San Francisco Coaches.

www.rachelgrantcoaching.com


2 Comments

4 Ways the Pain of Childhood Trauma Impacts Us as Adults

As a fellow survivor, one of the things I always try to pass along are insights I have learned that have helped me personally. I feel as though this is how we can best help one another. Fortunately, I have had the benefit of some amazing therapists, learned from others trained specifically in trauma, and made sure to pay attention to other survivors who really knew what I had been through. The following article is another one of these from Dr. Andrea Brandt. I hope her words help you or someone you love. Please read and share!

David

—–

Whether you witnessed or experienced violence as a child or your caretakers emotionally or physically neglected you, when you grow up in a traumatizing environment you are likely to still show signs of that trauma as an adult.

Children make meaning out of the events they witness and the things that happen to them, and they create an internal map of how the world is. This meaning-making helps them cope. But if children don’t create a new internal map as they grow up, their old way of interpreting the world can damage their ability to function as adults.

While there are many aftereffects of childhood emotional trauma, here we’ll look specifically at four ways childhood emotional trauma impacts us as adults.

  1. The False Self

As a childhood emotional trauma therapist, I see many patients who carry childhood emotional wounds with them into adulthood. One way these wounds reveal themselves is through the creation of a false self.

As children, we want our parents to love us and take care of us. When our parents don’t do this, we try to become the kind of child we think they’ll love. Burying feelings that might get in the way of us getting our needs met, we create a false self—the person we present to the world.

When we bury our emotions, we lose touch with who we really are, because our feelings are an integral part of us. We live our lives terrified that if we let the mask drop, we’ll no longer be cared for, loved, or accepted.

The best way to uncover the authentic you underneath the false self is by talking to a therapist who specializes in childhood emotional trauma and can help you reconnect with your feelings and express your emotions in a way that makes you feel both safe and whole.

  1. Victimhood Thinking

What we think and believe about ourselves drives our self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves can empower or disempower us. Negative self-talk disempowers us and makes us feel like we have no control over our lives — like victims. We may have been victimized as children, but we don’t have to remain victims as adults.

Even in circumstances where we think we don’t have a choice, we always have a choice, even if it’s just the power to choose how we think about our life. We have little to no control over our environments and our lives when we’re children, but we’re not children anymore. It’s likely we are more capable of changing our situation than we believe.

Instead of thinking of ourselves as victims, we can think of ourselves as survivors. The next time you feel trapped and choice-less, remind yourself that you’re more capable and in control than you think.

  1. Passive-Aggressiveness

When children grow up in households where there are only unhealthy expressions of anger, they grow up believing that anger is unacceptable. If you witnessed anger expressed violently, then as an adult you might think that anger is a violent emotion and therefore must be suppressed. Or, if you grew up in a family that suppressed anger and your parents taught you that anger is on a list of emotions you aren’t supposed to feel, you suppress it, even as an adult who could benefit from anger.

What happens if you can’t express your anger? If you’re someone who suppresses your upset feelings, you likely already know the answer: Nothing. You still feel angry—after all, anger is a natural, healthy emotion we all experience—but instead of the resolution that comes with acknowledging your anger and resolving what triggered it, you just stay angry. You don’t express your feelings straightforwardly, but since you can’t truly suppress anger, you express your feelings through passive-aggressiveness.

  1. Passivity

If you were neglected as a child, or abandoned by your caretakers, you may have buried your anger and fear in the hope that it would mean no one will ever abandon or neglect you again. What happens when children do this, though, is that we end up abandoning ourselves. We hold ourselves back when we don’t feel our feelings. We end up passive, and we don’t live up to our potential. The passive person says to him or herself, “I know what I need to do but I don’t do it.”

When we bury our feelings, we bury who we are. Because of childhood emotional trauma, we may have learned to hide parts of ourselves. At the time, that may have helped us. But as adults, we need our feelings to tell us who we are and what we want, and to guide us toward becoming the people we want to be.

—–

Originally Posted on Psychology Today

Andrea Brandt, Ph.D., is a marriage and family therapist located in Santa Monica California. Andrea brings over 35 years of clinical experience to the role of individual family therapist, couples counseling, group therapy and anger management classes.  


2 Comments

A Woman of Conviction, Courage & Comfort – Barbara Blaine

 

As I once read somewhere,

A religious upbringing can bring comfort.
It can also turn a child’s life into a living hell.

Barbara Blaine understood this as much as any of us who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the church while we were children.

I learned of the passing of Barbara Blaine, as I am sure many of you did, with the message from her family. But it has taken me a few days to be able to talk about her and the impact she had. I believe I can best express my gratitude for Barbara by using an example of one of our normal interactions.

A typical phone call from Barbara would go something like this, “Dave, can you meet me in Tampa Saturday for a press conference in front of the Diocese there? We just learned of a priest who had…”

This call would of course, come on Friday, the day before the request. And I could rarely say anything other than, “what time do you need me there?”

You see, Barbara had a way of being persuasive that no one could deny! And that’s part of why we loved her!

One of the other reasons we loved her, and maybe the most important, is because she had not only lived our same pain, but was one of the first we could tell. Before I could tell my family, what had happened to me, there was only one group of people I trusted with that information. Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and Barb Dorris with SNAP.

You see, SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) was founded by Barbara Blaine. And when you’ve been betrayed by the church, any church, and your faith has been shaken or even lost, you find it difficult to trust people. Barbara was one of the very first people I felt like I could trust again, and I wasn’t the only one.

Thankfully, Barbara helped quite literally, MILLIONS of survivors of sexual abuse understand that they weren’t alone. I can remember the day I first called SNAP, and it was the first time I heard someone tell me these words…“you’re not alone David, we are here for you and with you.”

Thank you, Barbara, for being there for me. Thank you for allowing me that first opportunity to help fellow survivors through and with SNAP.

Thank you for being the original “voice for the voiceless” when it comes to clergy who have stolen the innocence of childhood. Thank you for never wavering when it came to exposing the cover-up of this abuse within the church. And thank you for showing us all how to tenaciously demand their accountability, while at the same time, providing comfort for those they harmed.

Decades before Together We Heal, or GRACE or any of the other organizations who do so much to help now, there was Barbara and SNAP.

We are all now working on what you began Barbara…and I hope we will continue to make you proud.

 

Below is the letter from her family.

Family-Statement-About-Barbara-Blaine-9.25.17