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.
This week Together We Heal, as an organization, and myself, David Pittman as an individual, have joined forces with Justice For Anne, For A Time Such As This & several fellow advocates. Together we have issued a statement that was most perfectly articulated by fellow advocate Ryan Ashton:
“If you please, read the joint statement myself and fellow abuse survivors and advocates delivered to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) yesterday regarding their announcement of a sexual abuse study group:
“We all have a decision—to become more polarized and distrustful of one another, hide, build barriers, and perpetuate numerous injustices. Or we can face this evil together, choosing to create a culture where healing and safety are the norm, where love and compassion dwell, where children and families flourish, and the hope of the gospel maintains its integrity. We sign with that hope, committed to a future where no one in the Church has to say “Me Too” ever again.”
Everything we do at Together We Heal and GRACE is because of the past and current failures of those within the church to better protect children and properly respond to those who’ve been harmed. It is our hope that the SBC will begin to live up to the call of Christ they espouse and not be just another one of those “cast to the bottom of the sea with a millstone around their neck”.
If not now, then when? If not us, then who?
The time is long overdue. The ball is in your court SBC leaders and church members. Do you truly believe the scripture you preach and teach? Then BE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS and quit giving lip service and protecting sexual predators.
Thank you to all of our friends and family who offered houses, rooms and sofa’s during Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, we were able to find a hotel near enough to the state line which allowed us to return once the storm had passed.
We’ve been back for over a week now, but needed a few days to get storm shutters opened, brush cleared and utilities up to speed. Other than some branches to put on the curb and few shingles to replace this weekend, we were one of the fortunate ones that didn’t have any real damage. Many others throughout Florida, Georgia and obviously the Caribbean were not so lucky.
Please help those you can when you can. Just as Together We Heal could not do what it does without your generosity, so too are those trying to rebuild their lives in need. Whether it’s a $10 donation to the Red Cross or a case of water, whatever you give will be appreciated by those who need it most!
I am currently getting caught up on emails and website responses. Please know if you’ve reached out over the last few weeks, we WILL be in touch very soon. Don’t think you aren’t important or that we aren’t here for you. It might even be a brief, “we got your email and will be in touch soon” type of contact, so be on the lookout!
It appears that Hurricane Irma is headed to our state and places us within the famous “cone”. Since this storm is stronger than Matthew was last year, we are not going to be able to stay and weather it out. Because of the preparation needed and the travel before and after the storm, Together We Heal will not be able to respond over the next week or so to any immediate needs. I promise to get back online and responding to any emails, phone calls, etc., ASAP!
Please keep our region in your thoughts as many people will be in need just as they are in Houston. Whereas the storm in Texas was a flood event, this one will be a wind and storm surge impact and just as potentially destructive and deadly.
We will post again the moment we are back and operational.
What if I told you that the people who own the property where you live knowingly hired a convicted sexual predator and they don’t have to tell you?
What if I told you a convicted sex offender has the keys to your front door and you were powerless to know or stop them from having access?
Unbelievably, I may have just described your home if you rent in Florida, and many other homes across the USA.
Even though in Florida, as in most states, sex offenders are prohibited from living within a certain distance from schools, playgrounds and other places where children gather; what they CAN do, is work where your children play and live, without your knowledge. And that’s not the worst of it.
Under Florida law, owners of rental apartments and homes are NOT required to warn you or your family that an employee at the property is a pedophile or sex offender. Children in Florida have been raped by sex offenders who were literally provided the keys to rental units, where the owner knew that the employee was a convicted sex offender. You and your family have the right to make an informed choice of whether to live in housing that employs convicted
It is because of the irrational and dangerous law as written, that Linda and I ask for your support of “The Florida Sex Offender Rental Notification Act.”
Below you will find a link. Help us to set Florida Law requiring tenants be notified when property owners employ sex offenders.
One of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass who said,
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Please keep these two things in mind when you begin to think, “it’s just too hard to talk with my kids about sexual abuse”.
Here in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse before they turn 18…don’t let your child be another statistic, don’t let them become another David, or Linda, or or or…
They need your strength and guidance…you CAN talk with them and they will be grateful you did!!
If you’re finding it challenging to talk with your kids, please read this post for some guidance:
I was going through my daily activity of reading fellow advocates and survivors posts, articles, etc., when I came across one of our many online connections, Tonya Prince.
When I read Tonya’s article it reminded me of one we published early on. And I’m thankful I came across her’s because I believe we all need constant reminders about this. We cannot talk often enough with our kids about being safer from sexual predators. And it is up to us as parents to let our kids know we have their backs, that we will believe what they tell us, and that they can tell us ANYTHING, no matter what.
What follows is her article, and then some follow-up of ours with a link I believe is extremely important for parents. Thank you for taking time to read today!
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How do good parents miss childhood sexual abuse? It is tragically simple. By not asking the right questions.
One day my son went to a classmate’s home for a Halloween costume party. When I picked him up a few hours later I could tell by the ear to ear grin on his face that he had a great time. As we were about to leave, I was standing at the door with the child’s father and grandmother.
Both adults were giving me a great report about his behavior. Parent relieved. Thank goodness. No issues. No worries.
But as I drove us home I felt uneasy. Something was off. Then it hit me. I swerved into the next parking lot.
I had been here before. Except I was the child.
When parents ask children whether or not they were good in front of children and adults most children feel pressured to say “yes”.
I could recall when I was being abused by a teen relative, my mother would innocently ask me a few questions as we left a relative’s home.
She would ask, “Did you behave? Did you listen? Were you a good girl?”
What mom didn’t know is that the teen who was living there had threatened me before she had arrived. Sometimes he’d even be standing behind her balling up his fists or giving me mean looks.
Asking me those questions, especially in front of a person who was sexually abusing me reinforced in my young mind that I was supposed to do whatever I was told by the person who was watching me while she was gone.
Because I had said, “yes” at the door I didn’t think that I could change my answer later. To do so would mean I would have to explain why I “lied” when she asked me earlier.
So in that parking lot I asked the correct questions.
Perhaps you may want to consider asking these questions the next time that your child is in someone else’s care. I asked my son privately whether or not he enjoyed himself.
1) How did you spend your time?
2) What was your favorite part of the party?
3) What was the least favorite part?
4) Did you feel safe?
5) Was there anything else you wanted to share?
Try to remember to make these questions a consistent habit. Also, it might be helpful to remind your children that they can always add details about what occurred while they were away from you. My mistake that day was a common one for parents. We think as long as we ask questions, we are on top of things.
The truth is, parents have to ask the right questions, at the right time, under the right circumstances.
This article was written by Tonya GJ Prince and was originally published on WeSurviveAbuse.com.
Be sure to follow her on Twitter @TonyaGJPrince
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When we started “Together We Heal, Inc.”, I wrote an article that goes into detail how parents can talk with their kids about childhood sexual abuse. Please take some time to read and PLEASE share with any and all parents you know. It is a straightforward, 7-step, “How To”. One of the things Tonya mentioned we echo with fervor…we MUST be consistent!
Our mission is simple: Help parents better protect their children from sexual predators & Assist fellow survivors find their own path toward healing.
If you are a survivor in need of assistance or guidance, please reach out. Help is available. If you are a parent and have questions, please ask. That’s why we exist. Below you’ll find mine and my wife’s contact info so depending on who you’d feel more comfortable talking with, we’re both survivors and we’re both here to help.
David Pittman: firstname.lastname@example.org
I felt my wrists being held down. And then my ankles. I was trying with all of my might to get away, but I couldn’t. Then I saw his face hovering over mine and realized he was going to do this again. I screamed and screamed hoping someone would hear me but no matter how hard I kicked and fought and cried out I couldn’t escape and no one came to help me. I began yelling louder and trying to rip away from his grip around my hands and feet. But he was bigger than me so I couldn’t move. I continued screaming, “NO! NO!”…
…and then in an instant I was awake, still screaming, “NO!”
Thankfully my wife Linda was there to calm me and let me know it was ok. She spoke in the sweetest voice, “you’re awake now and I’m here, it’s ok my love.”
I was awake, but I felt far from ok at that moment. It’s times like those that make it seem like I’ll never really be “ok”. Even though I believe I am better now than I have been in previous years, its how I feel at times, still. I know that I am on healing path because of the love of my family and friends. But damn it to hell, how I wish the one that caused this could feel the terror he’s caused. Just for a while, I wish Frankie Wiley would feel the terror he caused to that little boy…and to the untold number of other little boys he sodomized and raped.
My faith teaches me there’s a life after this one, and for those like Frankie, what awaits them is what they deserve. But for me, for most of us, it’s simply not bad enough…
As I told a fellow survivor tonight, the reason I write about what I’m experiencing is with the hope that someone else who is feeling the same way will see they are not alone.
As I once heard stated and finally found attributed…
With the hustle and bustle of families and travel during the holiday season, it’s taken me a little longer than normal to write about the conference Linda and I attended in Austin, TX. Because its message and the message of this time of year are so simpatico, I knew now was the right time.
As many of you know by now, last month Linda and I attended The Child-Friendly Faith Project Conference and had the honor of speaking on Day 2.
To say we met leaders, advocates and what I consider “giants” within the community wouldn’t do it justice. It seemed like every time we turned around, heard another presentation, or were able to sit and talk in a small group, there was a striking similarity…
…We were all in one accord; We all are working to see faith communities, government agencies and private individuals connect to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and to better protect all our children from the sexual predators traversing amongst our respective communities, and in many cases “hiding in plain sight”.
It drove home the point that events like these and so many others are the launching point for the work needed to accomplish our common goals. So much so that Jan Heimlich, the Director of The CFFP said to me, “let’s begin soon working on another event of some kind where we can go into even more detail about the topics we discussed here over the last two days.” And I couldn’t agree more with her! It seemed as though we had just begun to scratch the surface and based on everyone’s responses, they wanted to hear more as well!
On day 2, we started with a video presentation from Boz Tchividjian, Founder of GRACE, who expressed his desire to see us all, coming from whatever faith background, or no religious faith, join forces for two primary purposes. First, to protect all our children from the clear and present danger of sexual predators. Second, to assist those already harmed by guiding them along a path of healing, rather than making them feeling shamed or shunned.
The conference began with two questions/objectives:
1) How can we better address child maltreatment that occurs in faith communities?
2) What should we do when religious or cultural practices are unhealthy for children?
In following Boz’s request; no matter whether our faith is based from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, from a non-denominational or non-faith background, we received information on both days about those two questions with real, actionable directives and practical ways to answer and address both and to resolve the problems. In doing so, I saw the questions being transformed;
**What now? What will we do with this information and the answers to tough questions? HOW and WILL we move forward knowing what we know?**
It would take several pages to go through all of the impactful speakers and presentations, but I’d like to highlight a couple. The folks listed are all prestigious experts in fields related to child advocacy. What I appreciated was how they were both enlightening and had practical applications.
They are speakers that I heard in person, have known and cooperated with for years or have some other working knowledge of their efforts to protect children. So as you have time, please take a moment to do some homework by finding their websites, reading their books and reviewing the amazing work they do for children and survivors of abuse.
Rev. Carla Cheatham
Marci A. Hamilton
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Rev. Jaime Romo
I’ll say it again, the conference was simply amazing! We had the opportunity to meet with people who are equally passionate about helping those who’ve been abused. It’s clear they want to see TRUE change within our various faith communities. We saw the desire to make that change in a positive way from within, not just to criticize from afar. But don’t misunderstand, while those in attendance aren’t into “church-bashing”, no one pulled any punches either. When it’s time to call out one of our respective faith communities for its failure to act, or to protect, we are the FIRST to make it known what needs to be changed and provide them the steps in order to enact said change!
Upon completing my presentation, I received an extremely positive reception and made several contacts I’ll be following up with over the next month. Dr. Jaime Romo has already made an introduction for us to have an additional resource for survivors of sexual abuse and that’s just one example of many! Linda and I had lunch with Marci A. Hamilton and we’ll continue to work with her moving forward on SOL law reform. Prior to the event, Marci and I had talked on the phone, been interviewed on the same radio show, and had spoken at length about what is needed to eliminate statute of limitation laws, but it was great getting some face-to-face time with her!
We also had the opportunity to establish relationships Pete Singer, Steven Hassan, Rev. Charles Johnson and two advocates from the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center; Autumn Williams and Dianna Smoot. We also met with Joy Ryder with “Out Of The Shadows”. They will be launching their website soon so keep checking on it! “www.outoftheshadows.today” – To say it was a success would be an understatement!!
I also spoke with the lady from Atlanta who is trying to set up a conference for TWH and GRACE to educate a team of ministers at a large metro-Atlanta church.
Thank you Jan for giving all attending a catalyst for the upcoming year as we look for more ways to raise awareness, further education and reach even more of those most in need. It was an honor and a blessing to be a part of The Child-Friendly Faith Project.
May we all find the peace and healing we so desperately need. And Together, We CAN Heal!
Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.
This desperate pursuit eventually had me asking many questions about myself and my life.
Is that why I spent so many years seeking intimacy through empty sexual encounters?
Is that why I would take enough narcotics to drop a work mule and then get out on the road looking for party after party, person after person, hook-up after hook-up, connection after connection.
After I reread that last sentence it dawned on me. It’s that’s word, “connection”. I was looking for a true connection but in the most vile of environments, from the least genuine of people, and in the sketchiest of places with the most dangerous of drugs.
Sadly, when I’d meet a decent person, I’d find a way to sabotage whatever connection was made.
Over the last few years I’ve learned there are different types of “survivors” of CSA. First, there’s the type who grew up with abuse being so much a part of their lives, having no memory of life without it, that it was their “norm”. The second type consists of those who had, up until the abuse began, some sort of “regular” childhood. Once the abuse began, everything changed. Either they became withdrawn or they acted out, with combinations and variations of the two.
From listening to fellow survivors stories, It’s been my understanding that it depended on how old they were when the abuse began, how many years it lasted, who their abuser(s) were, plus a multitude of other factors. But please don’t misunderstand, whether the abuse occurred once or a thousand times, victims are left feeling alone.
To anyone looking at my life, I gave the appearance as if all was fantastic in my world! It would seem as if nothing so evil and certainly crimes so heinous could not be happening to me. After all, my abuser had total control over me. He was in the position of both male AND spiritual authority over me. In essence, he had possession of my mind, body and soul. He convinced me that no one would believe me anyway. And on top of that, the time and place where I grew up, we did not talk about anything negative and we certainly didn’t tell anyone else outside the family about such things. Who am I kidding, we didn’t even tell our family.
For the three years the sexual abuse occurred, no one knew what my youth minister, Frankie Wiley was doing to me, or to any of the boys he was molesting, abusing and raping at the same time. And since all of us felt we were the only ones to which it was happening, we felt completely alone. As I said, a feeling that would become more familiar than any other, and the driving force behind my desire to be loved, to be wanted, to feel “warm and fuzzy”, as the sex and narcotics both temporarily and falsely made me feel.
So as victims of these crimes, what do we do with this feeling of being “alone”? I have described how I dealt with it for the better part of 30 years. In doing so, I destroyed multiple careers, many relationships and almost lost my life.
Once I finally got clean and removed the fog of narcotics hanging over me, I was able to seek the help of one-on-one counseling and support groups that taught me proper coping skills. Now I know what to do when “triggered” or when I become overcome with the guilt, shame and self-blame associated with being sexually abused. I was also very fortunate to have a family willing to help me when I came forward about the abuse. Not everyone is so lucky. They assisted me in getting clean by keeping food in my belly and a roof over my head while I got my head clear.
I’m so thankful for all those who have helped me in the past and still help me to this day. And the reason I’m telling you all of this is to let my fellow survivors and their loved ones know what I’ve learned…help, healing and recovery are all possible.
As many of you know, I’m now married to the most amazing woman who loves me for who I am. Together, we work with victims and survivors. We see their healing begin and are witness to lives changing on a weekly basis.
I am now even able to be an active member of a church again. Having been abused by a minister, I had sworn at one time never to darken the doors of any religious institution. In my heart at that time, I believed God had allowed this and I hated Him for it. I eventually understood there was only one person to blame for the pain; my abuser, Frankie Wiley. And I see clearly now from his actions, he is not a Christian. A true Christian would not sexually abuse multiple boys at various churches over decades of time. Nor should I discount my belief because of what this sexual predator did to me and so many other little boys. I have decided not to allow his crimes to prevent me from receiving joy and peace from my belief.
My life now is one I had not dreamed possible. But when I opened my mind and heart to hope and healing, I began to finally experience what is possible for us all.
And that’s why I want all survivors to know THIS story, MY story, can be THEIR story. Turning your life into one that is both productive and fulfilling is within your reach, if only you’ll reach out to those willing to help you.
We are here to help. And together, we can truly heal.
Day 4 of our week of fundraising – Not Short But VERY IMPORTANT
My thought process behind not setting a “dollar goal” for our fundraising week was in the belief that those inclined to give would give as much as they could. And for those who didn’t realize fundraising was our primary way of getting the monies needed to operate Together We Heal, it would explain the need. Evidently either things are still too tight or the amount needed isn’t clearly understood. I’m thinking a little of both but more so the latter. So with that in mind I’m going to better clarify what is needed.
Last year, in order to pay for therapy that wasn’t done pro bono, to travel to give presentations and workshops to educate parents, guardians and others on how to better protect children from sexual predators, to keep the website and all our online presence up and running, to work on reforming statute of limitation laws, and more events and behind the scenes work than would be read if I itemized them all; we needed in excess of $5,000.
And the need increases every week, every month and will certainly increase for 2015 as more survivors learn of the aid we provide at free of charge to those who either can’t afford it or that don’t have access to insurance to cover the costs.
We are setup on the same premise as St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital; we don’t turn anyone away based on money. If they don’t have it, we find a way to get therapists to donate time or raise the money to pay for it. Which brings us back to today.
We need your help to continue the work we do. We cannot without your help. Because of your gifts, lives have been changed and saved. This is no exaggeration. Survivors of CSA need your help. Children need your protection. And with your help we can and will continue to do all of these things and more.
We are setup the way we are because this is what saved my life. Because someone was willing to help me when I had no money or ability to pay, help was given to me when I needed it most. I was able to finally address the struggles and issues that were destroying my life. The sexual abuse I suffered as a child was eroding what little was left of my life. So now, Together We Heal is doing the same for others. But we genuinely need your help. When we started there were just a few survivors asking us for help. Those days are long gone. We now have survivors from all over the world and we work with therapists and Counselors on three continents. And this happens because of your previous donations. As we grow, so grows the need for more funds. Please give so we can help more, serve more and protect more.
Thank you all so very much
Please go to our website and find the SMALL “donate” button at the bottom. The big donate button isn’t working right now but we’re working on it. Also, you can send a check to:
Together We Heal, Inc.
2336 NE Rustic Place
Jensen Beach, FL 34957
Just make the checks to “Together We Heal, Inc.” We are an official 501(c)(3) so your donations ARE tax deductible!
Well everyone, we’re coming upon the time of year when all of Together We Heal’s annual “bills” are due. It’s also the time of year I dread the most. Not because of the bills necessarily, but because I’m forced into a position to do something a hate doing…asking for donations.
Unfortunately the work we do doesn’t take place free of charge. I could go into the list, and will do so if anyone wants an itemized list, but rather than bore you with the details, please know the need never ends.
We have survivors of childhood sexual abuse who need counseling, a website that requires money to operate and travel expenses to give presentations and workshops. These workshops help to educate the public on all matters of CSA, the grooming techniques of sexual predators and how to keep our children safer from them.
We are not setting a “goal” we are going to trust that the amount needed for the upcoming year will be met by what your heart says to give. I can tell you that lives have been are continuing to be changed because of what you’ve given in the past. And with the holidays just around the corner and many events planned for 2015, the need will only grow.
If you will, please go to our website and find the SMALL “donate” button at the bottom. The BIG donate button isn’t working right now but we’re working on it. Also, you can send a check to:
Together We Heal, Inc.
2336 NE Rustic Place
Jensen Beach, FL 34957
Just make the checks to Together We Heal, Inc. We are an official 501(c)(3) so your donations ARE tax deductible!
I would not ask if we didn’t truly need. And as I said, I hate doing this but it’s necessary for us to continue the work we do to help survivors, change the laws protecting predators and prevent childhood sexual abuse. Thank you in advance for any amount you can give!