Sunday, December 13, 2009

MA State Senator and Republican U. S. Senatorial candidate, Scott Brown, showing off his copy of "Kisses From Dolce." Though I have been a life-long Democrat, I admire Senator Brown's tireless efforts in fighting child sexual abuse: he has supported and sponsored a variety of legislation toward that end. Thank you, Senator Brown.

"Kisses From Dolce" may be purchased at Amazon, Trafford, or, at a slightly discounted price, from me. Wherever you choose to purchase, please know that a portion of each new book sale will be donated to a child sexual abuse prevention workshop fund. Thank you for helping us help kids.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I was honored with the first guest post on Darkness To Light's facilitator blog. Please take a look:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In this photo: George Markley, me, Norma Peterson

I had the honor of speaking last week at the Fairfield, CT Rotary Club ( Given Rotary's commitment to community, ethics and "service above self," discussing the hows and whys of child sexual abuse, and the difference a community can make, with these folks felt especially meaningful and productive.

Indeed, because of that event, every single children's advocacy center in Connecticut will soon have a copy of "Kisses From Dolce!"
Thank you to Paul Greatsinger, Norma Peterson and George Markley for giving me such a wonderful, receptive forum; thank you to those who attended and paid such rapt attention to what can be a tough subject; thank you to the folks who stayed to chat and purchase books for themselves and the CAC's. It was a lovely, meaningful day.

After an event, I will often take a walk or a ride to clear out my head, take in all that's happened and, weather permitting, soak up the wonderful weather. After the Rotary luncheon, I headed to Fairfield beach, where the sounds of the gulls and the waves melded with the glistening tide to create just a little slice of heaven and offer some peace. One of my favorite things to do in one of my favorite places to do it...

Me, October 12, 2009, the night of the MomTV interview. Though technology got in the way of the full interview we had planned, MomTV has posted video that can be watched on their playback page:

Once you are on the page, do the following:
click on the word "Menu"
then click "View Movies"
then click "Live Recording 10/13/2009"
The video will begin.
Kudos to Danielle Smith for getting out the info I was so hoping to share myself:
the drive to get "Kisses From Dolce" in every children's advocacy center in this country.
To purchase a book for a CAC, please contact me at

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Kisses From Dolce" may be purchased directly from me at, at or from the publisher at A portion of each new book sale is donated directly to a child sexual abuse prevention workshop fund. Please consider purchasing one or more books to donate to a children's advocacy center, school, library or other youth-serving organization. There are 700 children's advocacy centers in the U.S.; I can help match you up with one that would like the book.
For more information about the book, book events, Darkness To Light workshops or speaking engagements, please contact me, Susan Komisar Hausman at
Together we can make a difference!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Please tune in!
I will be on MomTV talking about "Kisses From Dolce" and child sexual abuse...this Monday, October 12, 9 PM EST at You can participate, ask questions or just sit back and watch! I'm launching my drive to place "Kisses From Dolce" in all 700 US children's advocacy centers and fund the No Secrets No Shame Foundation. For more information, you may reach me at

I hope you'll join us!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Teaching Children To Trust, To Tell," written by Susan Campbell, was published on April 28, 2009 by The Hartford Courant. The article was recently archived by the paper, accessible only for a fee, however, the Courant has graciously agreed to let me post it here, fully credited, in its entirety. Thank you to Susan for a beautiful article and to the Courant for allowing me to post.


    Susan Komisar Hausman settles herself onto a dinky preschooler's chair too small for a 7-year-old, much less an adult woman.
    But Hausman is on a mission.
    She has in hand her new book, "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling," a story about a little girl named Sophia and Dolce (Italian for "sweet"), a dog she befriends.
    In the story, Sophia one day withdraws from the class - even beloved Dolce - and works up her nerve to tell her teacher that someone is touching her inappropriately. The story ends happily. Her teacher "made some phone calls to people she knew who could make things better. Thank goodness! Phew!"
    It is a story with which Hausman is all too familiar. At age 7, a trusted family friend in his 40s molested her. She told no one until she was in her late 40s, and her parents believed and supported her.
    So her story ended happily, too, "but who wants to wait until you're 48 years old?" says Hausman, who has also written poetry. "That's always been the driving force behind this book. If one little one who hears this story would turn to someone they trust and say, 'I need help,' it will have been worth it. It comes from that place."
    Today, Hausman has come from her Massachusetts home to read "Dolce" with other volunteers to all 71 Community Renewal Team preschool classes scattered around six towns, including Hartford. That's nearly 1,300 students, and she's joined by Department of Children and Families Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton, and state Sen. John Fonfara, D-1st District, in conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month.
    Everyone put their own spin when they read the book aloud, but their shared message was: If someone's touching you, and you feel bad, tell someone you trust, and keep telling until it stops.
    Hausman settles in under the watchful eye of Stacy Luna, a CRT teacher and a fierce and smiling woman who looks as though she can part water just by raising her eyebrows. Luna talks to the children about safe touch all the time, she says. These are her children, and they are what keep her coming in.
    The 10 children in Miss Stacy's class today - ages 3 to 5 - sit cross-legged on the floor, crackling with energy and quick to shoot their hands skyward when Hausman asks a question.
    "Who should Sophia tell?" asks Hausman as she starts reading the story.
    The answers come quickly: Her mom. Her dad. Her aunt. Her grandpa. Her teacher, to which Luna interjects: "Because Miss Stacy is here to keep you - what?"
    "Safe!" the children answer.
    "Do we keep secrets about touching?" asks Hausman.
    "Nooo!" the children cry.
    "That's right," says Hausman. "We tell, and we keep telling until it stops."
    When Hausman finishes the book, a tiny boy sitting in the corner pops up and asks, "Can I give you a hug?"
    Hausman says yes and is soon smothered in a clutch of preschoolers throwing their arms around her, and each other.
    Afterward, Hausman says quietly, "They had a workshop or something. Did you hear them ask? 'Can I give you a hug?' "    

*To purchase "Kisses From Dolce," e-mail: 

 To see the photo "Just After The Group Hug Broke Up" on Susan Campbell's blog, "Fear Itself", click here.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart" ~ Helen Keller

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My heart goes out to the very brave and courageous Elizabeth Smart, and her family. She testified today at the trial of her abductor.You can read about her testimony, and her horrific ordeal, here...,2933,558548,00.html
Whatever your personal beliefs about Mackenzie Phillips' incest disclosure, it is hard to look away from the outpouring of public reactions. So many of the online comments I've read are vicious broadcasts of disgust at her and her decision to disclose. Comment after comment, blaming the hideousness of the story on her, berating her for her drug abuse, for now removing the joy of listening to John's music, among other things. There are also numerous supportive, compassionate words, but one thing is very clear: the topic of incest provokes tremendous disgust, aimed, unfortunately, and all too commonly, at the victim.
And make no mistake about it, she was a victim.
It is a parent's job, an adult's job, to create environments for children that are safe, to establish and uphold boundaries. Even with the incest piece removed, it seems there were few, if any, boundaries, in Mackenzie's life with her father. They did drugs together; by his own admission, he shot her up for the very first time. Though she was 19 at the time of their first sexual encounter, the parent/child boundaries that should have been in place were non-existent. While she has love and compassion for him, her father failed her and some
of his behavior was, I believe, criminal.
Perhaps Mackenzie cannot access her anger at him. Perhaps she has and isn't sharing that with us. I don't know.
I do know that this step, speaking out, is the hardest thing any survivor can do because recrimination awaits at every turn. She will, though, find supporters among the throng and, hopefully, garner enough fortitude from that support to cope with the myriad of feelings and challenges survivors face.
For the rest of us, this is a lesson. Child sexual abuse is all around us. 90% of abuse is perpetrated by someone a child (and likely the family) knows and trusts. Approximately 50% of that is familial, incest.
Based on the remarks I've seen online, many people need much education about how CSA happens, why it continues and what they can do to prevent, recognize and respond to it. People still do not want to think that those among us, folks they know, would do such a thing. People want to maintain the status quo at all costs, which is why the victims, rather than the perpetrators, so often take the very harsh blame.
But the most important piece in protecting children is for each of us adults to look within, taking a good, long look in the mirror, facing ourselves and our own self-imposed obstacles. What are our personal challenges in combating abuse? Why are we afraid to report something when we have a "reasonable suspicion," the standard for mandated reporting? Holding onto false beliefs, often grounded in ignorance, steeping ourselves in denial, makes action impossible and perpetuates this terrible problem. The choices we make, to face this societal problem, and each case, head on, or to look away, are ours.We owe it to our kids to do the right thing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thanks to Mark Snyder, host of "Snyder's Stoughton," for inviting me on the show to talk about "Kisses From Dolce" and preventing/responding to child sexual abuse. We taped an excellent, thoughtful interview today which will air locally this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM on channel 9. Viewers who would like to order the book may contact me at or find it at

Photo by Cindy Pazyra

Friday, September 11, 2009

I cannot let this day pass without mention of all those who lost their lives, or were injured, on this day, eight years ago. They, and their loved ones, are in my thoughts.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oh, yes..."Reading and weeping opens the door to one's heart, but writing and weeping opens the window to one's soul" ~ M.K. Simmons
I am honored to share with you that Darkness To Light has included "Kisses From Dolce" on its prevention resource reading list for children! You can link to it here (and peruse the D2L website at the same time)!
Thank you to local TV producer, Roy Cohen, for inviting me to appear on Comcast's "We The People" show, hosted by Steve Fradkin, to discuss child sexual abuse and "Kisses From Dolce." When Roy told me they wanted to interview me for an hour I was concerned: would I have enough of interest to say for such a long show? Well, yes, I did! We did; Steve had some thoughtful and engaging questions/ideas that easily sparked conversation. Before I knew it, the hour was done!
I am relatively new to the interview business and still have a lot to learn about making sure I say what is important to me. Two things I omitted were: 1) a nod to my ATC Sisterhood associates who have helped the Darkness To Light effort up here take wing and, 2) the important point that a % of every new book sale benefits our D2L Workshop Fund at ATC Sisterhood! So to all readers who are here as a result of the show, please take note!
You can link right here to Darkness To Light, and our ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop schedule. If you would like to purchase a book, schedule a prevention workshop or contact me for any reason, you may reach me at
The show we taped will air in Stoughton this Sunday @ 6PM, Monday @ 8PM and Tuesday @5PM. It airs in Easton Monday @ 4 PM and Tuesday @ 4:30 PM. I hope you will watch it and let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So beautifully soulful and inspiring...
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth
Friends. There would have been no way for me to navigate my road without them. Healing is a process, at times more intense than others, and each step of the way I've been surrounded by great people. They all have their own lives, their own struggles, but, for the most part, when I've needed them, they've been there, offering an ear, some sage advice or a supportive shoulder to lean on.
Putting together "Kisses From Dolce" was more than creative process, it was an opportunity to look at some old beliefs and challenge them, creating confidence where there once was none. That process took time and, because of that, the book took longer than it otherwise might have. In the end, I did the book, as Sinatra used to sing, my way. My friends' support allowed me self-acceptance, helped give me that confidence.
Today, navigating the business of getting the book out there to do its work, is no different. I still need sage advice, not only from friends, but from folks in-the-know about such efforts. Carrie, who knows the social work world; Lynn, who knows public relations, and David, with years in business and an MBA, my business guru. Professionals all, they are also my friends.
I'm prompted to write this piece after consulting with David about yet another business question.
Despite the fact that I used to be an accountant, my head just doesn't think in business mode any more (if it ever really did in the first place). I do think about opportunities, possibilities; I contact folks I believe could use the book or might help others find the book. I want to meet and speak with as many folks working in CSA prevention and resolution as I can. But I don't always see that through a business lens. David does. And he usually reminds me so.
What is fascinating to me, though, is how that reminding, coaching, teaching, has changed over the last months. In the beginning, David could be tougher on me (and I don't judge him for that, it was his way of making sure I understood and would get the job done); now, though he has his standards, his approach has softened.
A few months ago, as we sat at lunch, David asked me a simple question, something as a business owner I should have known but did not. I was mortified at not knowing the answer and said so. I knew that not knowing something so basic about my own operation was not a good thing. We sat in silence for a bit until I looked over at him and reiterated that I was "mortified" at not knowing the answer. I just don't think like that anymore, I had said, feeling bad, having trouble even looking him straight in the eye. He was quiet for a moment and then, softly, thoughtfully, explained that, maybe, if I did still think that way, I never would have written the book. I looked over at him. He got it. He got me. And I got a sensitive, supportive remark from this veteran businessman that allowed me self-acceptance. It was the remark of a friend.
Sometimes, in response to a question I'll pose, David will write or call and begin the conversation with "Ah, grasshopper!" his nod to the old TV series, "Kung Fu" and the wise David Carradine character addressing his underling. He'll often remind me, when I become anxious or flustered about the business piece of the book, that I'm just a "podunk author from a no-name town!" Instantly, I'm more at ease, things seem more in perspective and I can move ahead less intimidated.
We laugh, I listen, sometimes we disagree; I solicit his advice and respect it and he'll still, thank goodness, call and strongly make his points about what he believes I need to do to keep my book out there and strong, growing No Secrets No Shame, hopefully helping others. But the most important lesson I've learned is that, in the end, when all is said and done, I must do my business, and my life, my way. Weighing great professional advice gets balanced with increasing reliance on the self-respect that's been so long in the making and that can still be a struggle. Such confidence and self-respect might never have come my way without the support of my great friends along this twisting, turning healing road. And I am so grateful.
Fear, hope and renewal just north of NYC...offering hope for those who struggle with addictions...from the New York Times

Friday, August 14, 2009

Did you know that when children disclose abuse, many of them tell a teacher or coach? Would you know how to respond if a child disclosed to you? Would you know who to call for help?
If you are a teacher, you are invited to our next Darkness To Light Stewards Of Children workshop free of charge. Join us on Sunday, August 23rd, 9:30 AM til noon, at ATC in Stoughton for this award-winning program where you will learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse (CSA). Stewards was named the McGruff Crime Prevention Program of the Year by the National Crime Prevention Council in September of 2007 and is a powerful, motivating 2 and 1/2 hours of information and discussion, primary prevention education on CSA.
No matter what you do for a living, if you care for children and want them to grow up healthy and whole, this workshop is for you.
Every participant will receive a certificate of completion at workshop's end. A light breakfast will be served.
A % of the sale of each "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting & Telling" is donated directly to the ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop Fund.
Contact me at if you would like to attend or to get more information. You can visit Darkness To Light online at and ATC Sisterhood at

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Kisses From Dolce" is now also available at The New Social Worker Online bookstore! Click here to link...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If you Google the name Wayneho Kam, you will discover that this young man, now a student at Duke University in North Carolina, has accomplished quite a few things in his young life. He, along with his twin brother, Waynekid, graduated their magnet high school in Raleigh, NC as co-valedictorians. The brothers were among 14 students chosen from over 100 to participate as interns in a cutting-edge program for outstanding high schoolers at Duke's Cancer Center four summers ago and also co-authored a science blog where topics included the environment. Involved as well with the Duke U. Red Cross group, Wayneho seems deeply committed to improving our world.
Toward that end, he has teamed up with the founder of the Invisible Youth Network, creating an initiative for child abuse prevention, "Students For The Children." The effort, in its early stages, hopes to establish groups on campuses and high schools across the country where students will take on the task of preventing child abuse in their communities. Given the scope of child abuse, this could mean that many more folks will become aware of and educated about abuse, preventing and recognizing it, ultimately mitigating its occurrence.
I learned about Wayneho's efforts when he contacted me about a collaboration via Twitter. If you visit the Invisible Youth Network site and click on the "Our Campaign" link, you can read more about the initiative and its collaborators.
My hat is off to you, Wayneho! Let's keep the prevention wagon rolling...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Check out our upcoming Boston-area Darkness To Light workshop dates! If you haven't already taken the award-winning Stewards Of Children CSA Prevention workshop for adults, join us. It could make a difference to a child you know.
A % of each new "Kisses From Dolce" book sold benefits the ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop Fund.
Help us help kids!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today, the day of the year with the most light, we walked from darkness to light in support of ATC Sisterhood's Darkness To Light Stewards Of Children CSA education and prevention workshops. Named the "Take 7 Steps" walk, it was our way of saluting D2L's 7 Steps To Protecting Our Children, the backbone of the Stewards program. We walked 7K (4.3 miles)...1K for each Step. The police escorted us as we made our way through Stoughton, MA, passing 4 schools, the Little League fields and the courthouse, stopping along the way at each K to post and acknowledge each Step of prevention. "Kisses From Dolce" fits perfectly with Step 3, Talk About It. For more information about bringing the workshop to your school, faith center, youth-serving organization or neighborhood, or about the book, contact me at You can find Darkness To Light online at

Photos by Inez Springer (that's her, 4th pic down!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two years ago, on the longest day of the year, we literally walked from darkness to light in support of ATC Sisterhood's CSA (child sexual abuse) prevention efforts and our Darkness To Light Stewards Of Children workshops. It was an awesome, meaningful experience; we gathered before dawn on Boston's Freedom Trail at the site of our nation's first school house and walked to the colonial home of Paul Revere.
This year we will "Take 7 Steps" in support of D2L's "7 Steps To Protecting Our Children," the tenets of the Stewards Of Children workshops. We will walk in Stoughton, 7 K, one K for each step ("Kisses From Dolce" fits beautifully with Step 3: Talk About It).
Please join us on this meaningful occasion. Learn the 7 Steps, promote awareness and help make our community, and the world, safer for our children. You can read more about our efforts and the walk here.
See you Sunday!

(photo by Marilyn Rabinovitz)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The wonderful Hartford HeadStart event in April: Lena Rodriguez, President and CEO of Community Renewal Team, Susan Hamilton, Commissioner of DCF, and me. Lena and Susan were among many guests invited to read "Kisses From Dolce" to over 1300 children in 71 classrooms.
I wrote to the New York Times this week in response to John Banville's heartbreaking, and sobering, op-ed piece on child abuse in Ireland. The abuse, documented in a recently released 2600-page report, went on for years and was supported by a community system of secrets and denial. Those secrets resulted in, among other things, tremendous shame, both for the abused and for many in the surviving complicit community. Mine is letter # 2.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

If you already have "Kisses From Dolce" in your home, please consider purchasing one or two copies to donate to a children's advocacy center, school, library or other youth-serving organization. There are so many deserving orgs., across this country and around the globe and, especially given the tight economy, I am sure they would be most grateful for the gift, another tool to use in giving children a voice.
If you are unsure where to gift your purchase, let me know and we can work together to find a place. I'm at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Judith Caplan and me after last night's event at Temple Beth Am in Randolph, MA. The audience was multi generational and even the youngest attendees, middle schoolers, had something to say about keeping kids safe. It was an excellent program!
This story is a tough one; so much pain and suffering for so many children, our most vulnerable population. No one should have to endure these things.
"Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling" is # 1 on Amazon's Juvenile Fiction/Social Issues/Sexual Abuse book list! Awesome! Thank you!!
You can read reviews of "Kisses From Dolce" on Amazon; order the book from Amazon, Trafford Publishing or directly from me at
A percentage of the sale of each new book is donated to the ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop fund, allowing us to offer the award-winning "Stewards Of Children" prevention workshop for adults to as many folks as possible.
Preventing, recognizing and responding to child sexual abuse is what the workshop and the book are all about.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today I had the pleasure of addressing the Norfolk/Sharon Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee at their lovely spring luncheon. What a lively, thoughtful, intelligent group of women! Here I am with event organizers Rochelle Hurvitz, Joyce Kaufman and Hilda Egel.
Louis Brandeis once said, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." He wrote those words about the banking industry, upon the creation of the Federal Trade Commission, but they couldn't be more apropos of child sexual abuse. It is up to us adults to shine the light on the insidious problem of CSA by learning what it is, how it happens, how we can prevent, mitigate and respond to it. We can't be afraid of talking about it, we must...both with other adults and with our children.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Kisses From Dolce" is now on Twitter!!
Barring any surprises at Tuesday night's town selectman meeting, ATC Sisterhood will be sponsoring our "Take 7 Steps" 7K on the longest day of the year, Sunday, June 21st. We will begin just prior to sunrise and, like we did on the Freedom Trail two years ago, we will walk from Darkness To Light in support of D2L's "7 Steps To Protecting Our Children" and its Stewards Of Children CSA prevention workshop.
I know it's Father's Day, but what better way to demonstrate your devotion to keeping your kids safe than walking in the name of prevention?
If you live in the Boston area and would like to schedule/attend an upcoming D2L Stewards workshop, please contact me. You can learn more about Darkness To Light's mission and the Stewards program at

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hartford MDT Coordinator, Ann Glaser, with Hartford Courant columnist, Susan Campbell. Susan received one of the afternoon's two "Child First" Awards for her work reporting on abuse.

Stacy and "Child First" Award winner, Jake Lewtan, 13, who organized "Jake's FREEZE" to raise money for the Aetna Foundation Children's Center child abuse prevention programs.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pinwheels explained...

Reading at the child abuse prevention event on 4/15.

Regina Dyton, me and Stacy Karpowitz at the 4/15 prevention event in the St. Francis rotunda.

Rotunda event poster surrounded by over 400 pinwheels (painstakingly tied by Ms. Karpowitz).

Rabbi Diana Manber, Angela Shelton and me at the Voices of Valor Celebration in NYC 4/1/09.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. While those who work tirelessly on prevention and resolution know that every month, every day, is abuse prevention time, dedicating a calendar month toward abuse, I believe, is an effective way of directing public attention to a topic many folks prefer to sweep under the rug. No more. Not possible.

April began for me in NYC, attending the Voices of Valor Celebration sponsored by Dayenu! Enough Silence. Dayenu is the family violence initiative of the NY Board of Rabbis, headed up by Rabbi Diana Manber. The event, meaningful and moving, honored several NY area professionals for their work in prevention, resolution and healing: Dr. Mel Schneiderman, Iona Siegel, Shoshannah Frydman and posthumously, Rabbi Julie Spitzer. Also honored was keynote speaker, Angela Shelton. Angela, who due to a back injury was forced to spend most of the event in pain and in a wheelchair, has been a dynamic, outspoken advocate for victims and prevention. A model, actress, writer, Darkness To Light facilitator, and filmmaker, Angela won acclaim for her film “Searching For Angela Shelton.” It was an honor and inspiration to meet her and hear her speak.

April 15 took me to Hartford, CT, back to my friends at the Aetna Foundation Children’s Center at St. Francis Hospital. Stacy Karpowitz, Coordinator of Outreach and Education for the Center, planned a wonderful abuse prevention event in the Patient Care Tower Rotunda at St. Francis. Students from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts sang (I was floored to realize I knew the composer, Jim Papoulis; haven't seen him since freshman year at UPenn), Sister Judy Cary, VP of Mission Integration at St. Francis delivered a beautiful blessing, Stacy "emceed" and I was the speaker. I read "Kisses From Dolce" to the 80-plus attendees and then spoke, briefly, about my own experience with abuse, hope and healing. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting several attendees, like-minded folks, for whom abuse prevention/resolution is paramount. Displayed in the rotunda were over 400 pinwheels, each one symbolizing an abused child who had been treated during the year at the CAC.

Minutes before I spoke, the CAC manager, Regina Dyton, shared with me about meeting, in the hospital corridor, a young woman she had helped 14 years ago. The woman rushed up to Regina, gave her a huge, firm hug and asked if she remembered who she was. Regina had successfully worked to save the then-teen from an abusive living environment. Here she was, so many years later, living a fulfilling and productive life, the goal of any professional working to help a young abuse victim. Ironically, the night before the event, Regina and Stacy had spent hours at the CAC working on a crisis case, a family just at the beginning of their road. It had been a long, draining evening for all involved and yet, here, the very next day, in all her weariness, Regina came face to face with someone on the other end, someone she herself had helped. The reminder of why they do what they do. Less than 24 hours, full circle. I know it resonated deeply with Regina, and, after I received her permission to share the story with the rotunda crowd, with everyone else there.
It was a beautiful story, beautiful event, beautiful day.

Friday morning I headed back to Hartford, first to one of the Community Renewal Team's Head Start centers for its Family Fun Day. The center, on Locust Street, is bright and vibrant and there was so much going on that morning. Bethanne Vergean, the Disability, Mental Health and Transition Manager for CRT, had invited me to read "KFD" to 13 classrooms. What a wonderful experience that was! This is what the book is all about and sitting, reading, and interacting with these smart, beautiful children was fantastic. They "got" the book; we talked about trusting, touching and telling. We talked about not keeping secrets and who they would tell if they ever had a problem. All of these children have taken Stacy's "My Body Is Special" workshop, so this reinforced what they've already talked about before.

Each class had prepared a special question for me...these were the best! Among the topics: the color of my house, how long it took me to write the book, what color Dolce really is. One child told me about her pet goldfish, another about his pet tiger!! The children often gathered close around me, playing with my jewelry. Some asked for a hug.

After reading it was off to the Lyceum for the very first “Child First” luncheon saluting the Hartford Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). Stacy and MDT Coordinator, Ann Glaser, were the masterminds behind this event and they did a wonderful job. Two awards were presented: to Susan Campbell, the award-winning Hartford Courant columnist who writes often about child abuse, and to Jake Lewtan, 13 years old, who created a “Freeze” event to raise money for abuse prevention. Several folks spoke, including the Hartford Chief of Police, Daryl K. Roberts, who so beautifully reminded everyone of our daily duty in protecting children through not only our actions but also our words. For those of you unfamiliar with the Multidisciplinary model, the team includes law enforcement, medical personnel, mental health professionals, educators, legal representatives and victim advocates. The goal of the MDT, and I am greatly simplifying here, is to provide a coordinated effort, maximizing successful prosecution of perpetrators and minimizing further trauma to the child.

This team does incredible, amazing work. It was an honor to spend an afternoon in their presence; every community needs a team like this.

And, finally, speaking of honored…Thursday, April 23rd, was, for me, an extraordinary day. 71 Head Start classrooms, almost 1300 children, read “Kisses From Dolce” simultaneously.
CRT’s Bethanne put this event together, inviting, aside from me, guest readers to read and discuss the book with the children. Among the readers were some of CT’s top child advocates: DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton, Jeanne Milstein, Karen Foley Schain of the Children’s Trust Fund, Elaine Zimmerman of the Commission on Children. Seven of Hartford’s police detectives, who work closely with Stacy on the MDT, read, as well.

Combined with the Locust Street event the previous week, almost 1500 Hartford children have had the experience of hearing and discussing the book. Child abuse prevention is a self-described passion for Bethanne and it shows. She worked long and hard to coordinate this event and, in the end, many children walked away with knowledge and tools to help themselves a bit better.

The photos from the CRT event have not yet arrived in my mailbox, but I do have one to share with you. Classroom # 8 wrote a song to sing for me about the book and what they learned. They wrote the lyrics on a very large paper bone:

“Touch me high, touch me low, but PLEASE respect me when I say NO! With a Knick Knack Paddy Whack Give a dog a bone. This is Dolce’s favorite song!”

After they sang, they presented me with my bone and I went on my merry way! I adore it!

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not stop and say thank you to the cadre of wonderful people I have met in Hartford. Who could have known when I met Stacy at our ATC Darkness To Light facilitator workshop one year ago, that not only would we become fast friends, but that so many wonderful opportunities and other friendships would come my way? It’s been a pleasure and an honor. I hope we have many more opportunities together in the future.
(Bear with me...I have several event photos to share but am having a problem uploading...they are on their way...)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two weeks ago the Connecticut Post published this piece on me and "Kisses From Dolce." Though no illustrations appear in the online version, they did in the hard copy and it was clear to me from the Post's choice of the page 16 artwork, that they really "got" what this book is all about. Thanks to Eileen Fischer for doing a wonderful job.
The article is now online and, so, I share it with you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tonight begins the holiday of Passover, a time for looking back and telling our collective story, again, so that we may inform the next generation of its history and, also, so that we will never forget our struggles. I have had mixed emotions about organized religion for a very long time, though I am spiritual, and each holiday brings with it a bundle of thoughts and feelings with which I must cope. I do have to say, though, that as a CSA survivor I know how important the "telling" of any story is and Passover is no exception. My good friend, Carrie, a therapist and the model for "Kisses From Dolce's" Miss Carrie, has said to me all along that "the healing is in the telling" and how right (and write) she has been.
Toward that end, I am including here an essay I wrote several years ago. It was the first time I had written for a larger audience about my abuse and it was published in a Jewish newspaper. Unfortunately, the publisher, acting as editor and without informing me, removed the very lines that had been hardest to say and write. When the essay appeared, I was inconsolable for 15 minutes. Then, I picked myself up and sought answers from him. He never responded to any of my inquiries. He did, however, inform my husband that he removed the lines because of "Loshon Hora," the Jewish concept of negative talk, gossip. He went on to say that he felt the piece was still powerful, even without the lines. As you will see, nowhere in my piece are names named, just me baring my soul. I felt disregarded and disrespected.
And so, I offer this to you, whether you observe Passover or Easter or nothing at all, the unedited version (lines he removed in bold), my feelings about religion, goodness and decency in humanity.

"O Lord,
Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile,
And to those who slander me, let me give no heed.
May my soul be humble and forgiving unto all."

So begins the conclusion of the Amidah and some of my favorite words in the siddur.

Of late, they have been especially meaningful.

Almost forty years after the fact I have recovered memories, hideous and evil.
A beloved neighbor and dear friend to our family raped me, among other things, and finding my way out of a lifelong struggle with my own worthiness has meant needing to face the truth, head on, and surmount it.

Thankfully, I am doing that. Each day is a struggle, some better than others. And not just for me, but for my husband and child. I’ve found tremendous support, both professional and personal, in the form of my wonderful family and true, compassionate friends.

But mostly, I have found myself, always a deep believer in God, deeply grateful to Him for granting me strength and for guiding me from one source of illumination to the next. I am very aware that it is His gifts that have enabled me to see those things in front of me, the tools in my healing, as steps along the way, on a path I am carving with the stones He has provided. I believe that my ability to be open to seeing and hearing truths which for so many years I could not is one of His great gifts to me. And I am so grateful.

I am married to a rabbi, but I have never been a regular shul-goer. I always went when I felt the need or inspired, and indeed that hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is my ability to embrace the Jew that I am, as good enough, for only me to judge. I’ve known traditional Jews who have maligned the reform traditions, and even-more traditional Jews who malign those not-enough-traditional for their tastes. Arrogance takes hold of those who would deem they are “better Jews” than others.

I have never subscribed to those ways of thinking and indeed I have resented them, especially when judgment came my way (never from my husband). For many years, though, I couldn’t embrace my own faith, the way God meant it for me, and look the other way when righteous indignation from others began.

Now, however, I take a deep breath, a sigh really, and understand that my truth belongs to me and others need not understand or approve for me to revel in my love and abiding faith in my God, my way.

And, ironically, having been able to let go of worry about what others think, has freed me to reread the liturgy and rethink text and halacha and see what has meaning for me, knowing all the time, that God will love me and share a personal relationship with me, no matter how that fits into Judaism. I have always believed that character, ethics, morality and the ability to respect others and treat them with kindness has been what the God of us all wants for us and from us all. That hasn’t changed for me one iota.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This editorial, from yesterday's New York Times, is, I believe, right on target. Child sexual abuse is all about power; this bill is meant to even the justice field for the powerful and the powerless. It needs to pass.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Each day I receive Google news alerts relating to "child sexual abuse." Volumes of alerts arrive, from all over the world, all kinds of stories that have some pertinence to CSA. Some days, when I open my inbox, faced with the sheer volume, knowing how heavy and draining the topics can be, I just don't want to face what's within. And some days, I don't. But, most of the time, I do, and the perusing of what is, often, at least 50 alerts begins.

This morning, to my surprise, I was greeted by "only" 40 alerts. News came from New Zealand, India, Utah, New York, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. Some stories were case specific, others about proposed legislation. Some lauded folks for their great prevention work, others criticized activists and legislators for focusing on topics other than the economy, for overstating the problem or being unjust. News comes from blogs or newspapers, magazines or organizations devoted to one side of an issue or the other. You never know just what you'll find, but, trust me, always, always, among the plethora of offerings, is at least one case of a child who has been sexually victimized.

And I guess that's why I'm writing this particular piece today. I avoided my alerts for the last three days; I didn't feel like I had the energy to read them or that the work I do could in any way counterbalance the enormity of the problem. I read them today, though, and quickly returned to the philosophy that drives me: no matter how many issues under the CSA umbrella I might read in a day, no matter how frustrated or impassioned I might become, for me, it always comes down to this: one child, one person, whose personal journey has been made forever more complex by having been sexually abused and he or she deserves our support and protection.

I have to remind myself that I have my mission, only one small piece of the overall war. I cannot tackle all of the issues surrounding CSA, l can only do my piece, piece by piece, day by day. Anything I do on a given day that makes the populace more aware, possibly making one child safer, makes it a good day. Taking a deep breath, working toward balance, not becoming all-consumed or enveloped by the enormity of the problem, for me, is essential. Writing this, I guess, is my way of putting a proverbial arm around my own shoulder and saying to myself that that is OK, despite all that remains to be done.

And so, the quest continues. One book, one blog post, one workshop, one conversation, taking us a little bit closer...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kate Sullivan Foley, a reporter for the Brockton Enterprise, wrote this piece, which appeared in today's paper. It tells some of my story and how that led to "Kisses From Dolce." Hopefully, some folks who need the book will now know it's out there and where to find it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Wednesday morning aftermath of the CT launch...a lovely yellow rose from Stacy K.'s beautiful bouquet...the exquisite bottle of Dolce wine from Michelle and Gary N., who had it sent in from Napa in honor of the the back, to the left, a handful of yummy kisses...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday night was the Connecticut launch for "Kisses From Dolce" and what a night it was! Friends, family, therapists, name it, they were there, supporting me and my effort, and, most importantly, combatting CSA.

Child sexual abuse is so rampant, so pervasive, crossing cultural, ethnic, religious and racial lines, that it is rare for me to be anywhere where I am not approached by someone who has a story to share. These adult survivors seem glad to be able to finally tell, some never having told before. Tuesday evening, despite the positive, upbeat tenor of the event, was no exception.

One woman pointed to the line in the book, "I don't want to be touched" and said to me it had taken her years to tell. And she didn't tell just me; what had once been a shameful secret was now something about which she could openly express herself and, especially, her disgust with her abuser. Letting go of the shame is not easy but getting to that place is liberating and healing.

Hope is the name of the game, folks, and that's what we're here for. The No Secrets No Shame "Kisses From Dolce" healing train has started on its track and, I hope, it will keep on rolling for a long time to come! Thanks.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Me and my super Sisterhood team at Sunday's launch! They are the best...
Photo courtesy Madeleine L.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday's book launch was a wonderful event, filled with family, friends and community. We sold a good amount of books, enabling us to make a nice donation to the ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop Fund. Several people there were survivors, some talking about it openly with me for the very first time. Many attendees bought multiple copies to give as gifts to teachers, therapists and their local libraries. In fact, the next day, I had an inquiry from a librarian who received the book as a gift and wants to purchase several for her local elementary school.
And that is the point of "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling." It is meant to be out there, helping kids, giving them a voice and helping them get to a healing place.
To all who came and celebrated and continue to show unwavering support, I say "thank you."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I am very excited! Tomorrow, I, along with an incredibly supportive community here in MA, will celebrate the publication of "Kisses From Dolce!" We will toast with some wine (sparkling grape juice for the kids), indulge in a bit of cheese and crackers and fruit and, most importantly, introduce the book to the world! I will be meeting the community, talking about the book, selling and signing. It should be quite the day!

So far, feedback from those who have seen "KFD" has been wonderful, especially from educators, therapists and savvy parents. Still, receiving feedback from the broader community is a humbling thing and I am gearing up!

The women of ATC Sisterhood, who have steadfastly supported my CSA prevention efforts since day one, will be by my side, helping to assure an event that runs smoothly. When it was so hard for me to speak up about my background and my intentions of turning that into a way to help kids and make the world a safer place, Sisterhood was there. As any survivor knows, having people around you who support you, encourage you and believe in you is key to gaining confidence, forging ahead and healing. The women of ATC Sisterhood have consistently done that, in a very concrete way, and I thank them. A percentage of the sale of each new "KFD" will be donated directly to our ATC Sisterhood D2L Workshop Fund and, tomorrow, I will double the normal amount in celebration of the day.

Child sexual abuse can be a very difficult topic for many people to discuss; we are slowly making headway with that. Denial and fear of CSA often get in the way of the very discussions that could lessen its occurrence. It is my deep hope that "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling" will open up new avenues of discussion, between parents and children, educators and their students, therapists and their patients and, also, between adults, all with the promise of making the world safer for the children we love so much. I hope you will visit here again and share your experience with the book or about your own CSA journey.

There is an expression used by yoga practitioners that means "the light in me honors the light in you;" that expression is "namaste." To all of you who have stopped here to visit I say, "Namaste." I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling" is now officially for sale!
You may order directly from the publisher or contact me at and I will get a copy to you. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yesterday was an incredible day. For eight hours I steeped myself in the world of a true child advocate, one who spends all day, almost every day, working to make the world safer for kids. Stacy Karpowitz is the Coordinator of Outreach and Education at the Aetna Foundation Children's Center in Hartford, CT and a human dynamo! A trained LMFT (as well as a fellow Darkness To Light facilitator), Stacy has spent the last 12 years working tirelessly on behalf of children, presenting prevention and awareness education to a variety of populations in a variety of, often, very creative ways.

Stacy is also a forensic interviewer of children who are believed to have been abused. Good forensic interviewing is a skill, one that requires intensive training and continual honing. It can be long, arduous and emotionally draining, but effective forensic interviewing is essential to bringing perpetrators to justice while minimizing further trauma to the child. There is one interview, one interviewer and, behind a two-way mirror, a panoply of professionals, from law-enforcement and social services, to accommodate the need for this crucial information without overwhelming the little person involved.

Our day together began at a local Head Start where Stacy presented her workshop, "My Body Is Special" to approximately 50 children, their teachers and some parents. Since November, Stacy has met with over 1500 local children, teaching them about their bodies, good boundaries and giving them voices. They learn to say "Stop!" and "No!" to touches and activities with which they are uncomfortable. They repeat "My body is mine!" and "My body is special!" throughout the workshop. They learn the proper names for body parts, an essential piece of this education, as perpetrators often count on kids' ignorance and inability to effectively report what has happened when they choose a victim. At the end of each 30 minute workshop, the children receive their own personal "Promise To Tell" card and each shares, aloud, who they promise to tell if unwanted things happen to them. They promise to continue telling until the unwanted touching stops, essential, considering that 9 out of 10 kids never tell what has happened to them when abuse has occurred.

Sitting with Stacy amidst the kids, watching them engage with her, listen intently and shout proudly about their power, was electrifying and heartwarming. Several approached Stacy after the workshops for a high-five or to give her a hug; one little boy moved to sit next to me and placed his hand on my wrist while turning to give me a big, broad smile!

We spent the afternoon back at Stacy's office, meeting her colleagues, touring the facilities and getting a feel for what happens at a children's advocacy center. If you have never seen a CAC, or are not aware of the wonderful work they do, I encourage you to seek out the one nearest you and learn what services they offer: advocacy, therapy, education, diagnostic/forensic interviews, medical evals and collaborative case management. All of this in the name of minimizing trauma and promoting healing. I believe CAC's are a great gift to any community, truly working with children and families at heart, often on a challenging budget. Support the ones you can, any way you can.

I had the opportunity to view a powerful DVD, produced by the center, called "Do? Tell! Kids Against Child Abuse." Four children, victims of different types of abuse, tell their moving stories, bravely and boldly, and all is interpreted throughout by signers for the deaf (the center offers interpretive services). "Do? Tell! Kids Against Child Abuse" is educational and moving and, in the end, offers what I saw as the theme of my visit yesterday, hope. You can learn more about the DVD, as well as purchase one, on the center's website at

Despite the heavy nature of the issues that drive Stacy's work, and that of any CAC, there is an overwhelming feeling of hope in the mix. Hope that some abuse will be prevented, some mitigated and brought to justice, but mostly, that the little ones involved, whose lives have been disrupted, will learn that not everyone is out to harm them, that, in fact, many in this world are here to help them and listen, patiently and lovingly, so that they may find their voices and their peace and heal.

In the Darkness To Light Stewards Of Children workshop both Stacy and I facilitate for adults, one of the adult survivors in the workshop video likens her experience of abuse to the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, who had all of his stuffing pulled out by those seeking to do him harm. She then goes on to say that there were many people around her, afterward, as with the scarecrow, who were there to help put her stuffing back in. These were the people, her supporters, who helped her heal and feel whole again. I know from my own road how true that is.

Stacy and her colleagues in Hartford are tireless scarecrow re-stuffers, working as hard and as fast as they can to lighten a little one's load and educate the public in hopes of prevention. With heart and skill, drive and determination, they, and countless other CAC's across the country, offer the children they serve the best of themselves and that most important element for a rewarding life: hope.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Getting here, to this place, has been a long road and one I have not traveled alone. Though there have been moments, even hours, sometimes, of solitude, I have had some of the best support a person could ask for. Friends, family and compassionate, insightful professionals have helped bolster me to make it to the next mile markers every step of my healing journey.

And that is why we're here. This is not just my place, but it is your place, too. Whether or not you've read "Kisses From Dolce," it doesn't matter. Just that you have found your way here, to a place where you can share, in the way you need to share, is all that matters. Whether you are a survivor or supporter, this place is for you.

For me, there have been joys and sorrows, highs and lows, fears and challenges that have made my road to healing rich, raw and real and it is still unfolding. The people by my side have been true friends, allowing me to be where I am at any given moment, supporting me when I was ready for the next steps and challenging me to believe in me, love myself and have the confidence any truly happy, authentic person needs for a full, rich, meaningful life.

"Kisses From Dolce" was a labor of love, truly inspired, and seeing it through to publication was an amalgam of every challenge I've faced and met on my road. If "KFD" helps even one little person find his or her voice and speak up to get help, I've done my job.