Monday, January 25, 2010

Me, Mary O'Connell, Judy Clini

I was honored to speak last week at a meeting of the Agawam Junior Women's Club in Agawam, MA. The AJWC has at the heart of its mission dedication to the "betterment" of the community, which it accomplishes through a variety of programs. Club President, Mary O'Connell, invited me and my Hartford pal (and fellow Darkness To Light facilitator), Stacy Karpowitz, to address the group about child sexual abuse and its prevalence in our communities. We also spoke about recognizing and preventing abuse and about how taking a community from awareness to action is the key to a safer world for our children.
Just before the meeting began, the AJWC, which purchased many copies of "Kisses From Dolce" to deliver to local youth-serving organizations and child advocacy centers, made a presentation to the Agawam Public Library. Judy Clini, the library's director, accepted the club's donation.
Thank you to Mary for inviting me and to the club for the warm reception but, more importantly, thank you for your commitment to a safer community and your willingness to turn intention into action.
One of my favorite actors, Gabriel Byrne, spoke out recently about being sexually abused at age 11. Byrne, who so beautifully portrays therapist Paul Weston in HBO's "In Treatment," was an altar boy at the time of the abuse. One of the storylines from the first season of "In Treatment" involved the sexual abuse of a young girl, Sophie, who had become suicidal. Byrne's portrayal of the compassionate Weston was almost therapeutic for me as a survivor to watch, as he gave Sophie her safe place to fall so she could face her truths and begin to heal.
I know, for me, revealing my own story was a process and I held it close to the vest for a long time. Still today I understand that I owe no one anything regarding my story and sharing it is always my choice.
So, I say thank you to Gabriel for sharing his. He and other celebrities who speak out open a door for others, who may be fearful or ashamed, to realize that they did nothing wrong and that there is much support and love out there to be had.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cindy McElhinney, Cathy Townsend (both of D2L), me, D2L Founder and CEO, Anne Lee

Darkness To Light held three days of workshops here in Massachusetts earlier this week: two days of community awareness training followed by a facilitator training. The days were dense with information and a wonderful opportunity to connect with so many others working on child sexual abuse prevention. Day three was particularly meaningful to me as I led the full-day workshop and became certified as a Facilitator Instructor, able now to "train the trainers" who go out and lead our Stewards Of Children trainings.
I invite you to visit Darkness To Light's web pages at and learn about its mission to educate adults to "prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse."  Stewards Of Children is a 3rd-party evaluated, evidence-based program, winner of the 2007 Crime Prevention Program of the Year by the National Crime Prevention Council, leading the way in turning awareness of CSA into action, changing behaviors, that protect children. We know this program works. I encourage you to take the 2.5 hour training, live or online, and help make your community, and our world, a safer place.