Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


9 Comments

What’s Your Reason To Fly?

I witnessed something this morning that at first made me immensely sad. Initially I thought someone had thrown something at my sliding glass door. When I rose to see who had done it, instead I discovered a tiny blue bird lying on the ground at my feet. Its’ fragile body was twisted sideways and I could see its’ heart pounding from beneath its tattered feathers. As I got closer, it lowered its’ head, its’ heart began to beat slower and I almost started to tear up as I thought I was witnessing the end of this little creature’s life.

My dog was inside going nuts wanting to get to the bird, so I led her away, and truthfully, I really didn’t want to see it die. Strange thing, death. I did my internship at the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s office in the summer of 1996. I witnessed all manner of death that year. Every conceivable way a person could naturally or horrifically come to their end. The extreme ways in which one or more persons would look into the face of the evil inside to take another’s life. And yet, with the exception of the children’s deaths I saw, I accepted it as the natural occurrence of events, handled myself in a professional manner, and gained knowledge, insight and compassion in what turned out to be a transformative time of my life.

But for some odd reason, I don’t do well with the death of an animal. Especially if it’s been a pet of mine. Knowing this about me, understand why I just couldn’t watch this bird die. So I went back to the couch knowing it wouldn’t be long. I settled my dog down, gave it a few minutes and returned to what I knew was going to be a sad moment.

What I saw before me was remarkable. This brittle-boned fowl had managed to somehow shake the cobwebs out of its little bird-brain, straightened out its feathers, and was teetering back and forth like a heavyweight boxer would had just been given an almost knockout blow! Oh he was wavering back and forth, but he wasn’t down for the count just yet!

I sat down in awe as he fought with every instinct in his body and spirit to regain his composure and his life! As the minutes went on, the rocking back and forth stopped, his heart rate normalized, and eventually he even started to look around as if to say, “What the heck just happened to me?!”

At this point I opened the door, used my cane to scoop him up and onto the shrubs outside my patio so he would be free from ground predators like snakes, rats, etc. You know we have a few of those down here in south Florida.

As I placed him on the shrub, he even started to get his wings flapping. He wasn’t ready to take off yet, but you could tell it was only a matter of time and he was going to be just fine! I was so relieved! I lay back on the couch, watched him for the next 20 minutes and then, BAM, off like a rocket he shot! Flew away as if nothing happened!

This got me reflecting on the “sliding glass doors” that I’ve flown into! After all I have been through; after having been sexually abused as a child, addicted to narcotics in an attempt to numb my emotional pain, arrested, imprisoned, divorced, fired, kicked out, knocked down, and as we say in the south…”felt like I’d been rode hard and put up wet!” How on earth did I manage to do like that little bird? How did I shake off those cobwebs, dust myself off and get back on my feet again? One word – RESILIENT. The human spirit is amazing that way. Like those little birds’ instincts, so ours is to survive at all costs, no matter what’s happened to us.

For that little bird, he was born to fly and that’s what he knew he had to do again. I had to figure out my reason to “fly again”. All of our drive and reasons to push on, to fly again, have as many variables and possibilities as we are individuals. For me, mine is to keep other children from going through what I did and to help my fellow survivors begin to heal. I gain a little more altitude each time a person comes to me and says, “What can I do to better protect my child?” Or when a survivor says, “Thank you for telling your story. When I heard what you said, I knew I could move forward too.” Let me tell you something folks, I’ve done a lot of drugs, I’ve been as high as any addict out there. But for me now, there is no better “high”, no greater lift, then when you know you have helped someone struggling with what you’ve also been through.

So let’s all learn a little lesson from that tiny blue bird. Figure out your reason to fight like hell to survive, and no matter what happens…

…find your reason to fly.


Leave a comment

Help Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

A very dear friend of mine and our group “Together We Heal” is doing an AMAZING fundraiser for us. Her name is Angie Frazier Scrivner and she has dedicated a section for TWH on her webpage. While I have told her thank you a hundred times, there’s no way to truly thank someone for giving of themselves and using their business for such good, but I will do my best to try here.

Thank you so very much Angie for doing this for us. But more importantly what you are doing for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse that need this help.

For those that may not know, when we raise money, it goes directly to pay for counseling survivors of CSA that can either not afford it or do not have insurance to cover it. We do not have any “admin costs” or “executive fees” to pay to anyone. We operate solely for the benefit of survivors and raising awareness by public speaking on the issue of CSA. We do a monthly support group meeting here in Fort Lauderdale for the entire South Florida area and the location is provided to us at no charge. Nor do we ask any that attend to give money to pay for books, information packets, etc. We do what we do because every member of TWH is either a survivor themselves or related somehow to one and donates their time, energy and support out of a desire to help. We are truly blessed to have the team of volunteers we have.

Below you will see the link to the webpage. Please take a moment and consider making a purchase for a loved one or simply to help a survivor of CSA.

You don’t see me asking often, but every once in a while we do have to remind everybody that we are only able to do what we do with your help. Thank you for considering helping the survivors Together We Heal reaches.

Peace be with you,

David

http://m.houndstoothhunnyllc.net/FUNDRAISER-FOR-TWH.html


24 Comments

Southern Baptists, like Catholic Church are protecting Pedophiles.

For sometime now I have felt like a “voice in the wilderness” when it comes to exposing the childhood sexual abuse occurring within the confines of the Southern Baptist Church. Since my abuse happened at the hands of a youth minister at a prominent SBC church in suburban Atlanta, I have received nothing but contempt and distain from those in power within the SBC. This man, who admitted to a pastor and deacon that he sexually abused me just keeps getting moved from church to church…sound familiar? And I am not is only victim. 6 others have come forward telling their own story of abuse. These are just the boys I KNOW about, ages ranging from 9 to 15 at the time the abuse occurred. Only God and Frankie know how many little boys he’s actually molested, abused and raped.

His name is Frankie Wiley and currently acts as the “Praise Leader” at Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn, GA. All I get from the SBC, is that they “will pray for me”, but no one seems to be willing to act on KNOWN pedophiles using their facilities as a hunting ground for new victims. Even the pastor of Trinity, Rodney Brown, knows the truth and refuses to do anything about it. He actually called me and told me “I was a bad person for causing a split in HIS church.” To which I replied, he is the one giving a known pedophile access to children. And the last time I checked, it’s not HIS church, the church is the body of believers, not the man standing in the pulpit. After which, he has given no reply.

The constant rhetoric I am told is that, “each church is autonomous”. The problem with this fallacy is that if each so-called autonomous church doesn’t pay the SBC a certain amount of money, they are not allowed to send “Messengers” (or delegates if you think of it in political terms) to the national convention to vote on issues and help create the platform with which the SBC uses to have guidelines that “rule” over each church. Sound “autonomous” to you?

It has been clear to me for sometime now, and it looks like others are recognizing that the SBC is no better than the Catholic Church when it comes to covering up the pedophiles hiding under the cloak of ministry. Below you will find an article that shows exactly what I’ve been saying for years.

As we have seen in recent news, no religious organization is immune. Childhood sexual abuse occurs in churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, Boy Scouts, etc. We have got to stand up for these children who aren’t able to speak up for themselves. Help us help these children. Demand the immediate removal of known child molesters like Frankie Wiley.

http://www.abpnews.com/culture/social-issues/item/8413-blog-shines-light-on-abuse-in-sbc#.UXHzHGt5mK2


1 Comment

Another Child Commits Suicide After Sexual Assault and Online Humiliation.

Since I know the people reading this blog are folks that care about children, care about survivors of CSA, and want to do something about it. I feel the need to let you know about ANOTHER child who has committed suicide after being sexually assaulted and humiliated online. Read, and do what y’all do best…take action based on what you know is the right thing to do since law enforcement doesn’t have the balls, courage and moral fortitude to do something about it!

It’s up to US; survivors of CSA, loved ones of survivors and others who actually give a damn about children losing their lives. We can no longer depend on the so-called justice system getting justice for these children. Bless you all for doing the right thing!

http://www.examiner.com/article/rehtaeh-parsons-17-kills-herself-after-being-raped-and-bullied


5 Comments

How Many Children Must Die Before We Make A Stand?

Another child has committed suicide after being sexually assaulted and humiliated. How many more lives must be lost before we as a society decide to take a stand and say, ENOUGH! Please don’t wait any longer. Join us, join another group that works to end childhood sexual abuse. But for God’s sake, join something and take action! Don’t wait until it happens to your child or a child you know before that occurs. Step up to the plate now. Let’s work together and save the lives of our children!

http://news.yahoo.com/3-teens-arrested-assault-girls-suicide-024221519.html?goback=%2Egde_2354331_member_231913571


9 Comments

When It Comes To Love, 3 Is The Magic Number!

I have often wondered why so many things in history, our world and in spirituality seem to revolve around the number three. This is NOT a discussion of theology, simply a series of analogous citations for emphasis. Neither am I a numerologist, I just came to a deeper understanding of human nature through a series of questions that brought me to this conclusion. So with an open spirit, indulge me and I believe you will find some truth of your own.

– God’s attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
– God sent three messengers to Abraham.
– Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
– Jesus Christ was resurrected on the 3rd day.
– The Holy Trinity: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
– In Muslim devotional rites, certain formulas are repeated three times.
– A devout Muslim tries to make a pilgrimage to all three holy cities in Islam: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

Moving away from religion we find it’s significance elsewhere in the natural world, science and math, language, even how we quantify our own time and lifespan with the number of three.

– Thought, word, and deed, complete the sum of human capability.
– Three propositions are necessary to complete the simplest form of argument–the major premiss, the minor, and the conclusion.
– Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter–mineral, vegetable, and animal.
– Time is divided into three portions: The past, the present, and the future.
– We designate three phases of our existence: Birth, Life, and Death.

So I found it interesting one day when I learned that a three-legged chair, or stool, is more stable than a four-legged chair. A three-legged chair is guaranteed not to wobble, because the ends of its legs always form a plane. But why is that?

In Geometry, a plane may be considered as an infinite set of points forming a connected flat surface extending infinitely far in all directions. A plane has infinite length and infinite width. I know, I know, boring nerdy stuff, but IMMENSELY important because it deals with love!

In this number we have quite a new set of phenomena. We come to the first geometrical figure. Two straight lines cannot possibly enclose any space, or form a plane figure; neither can two plan surfaces form a solid. Three lines are necessary to form a plan figure; and three dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are necessary to form a solid. Hence three is the symbol of the cube–the simplest form of solid figure. As two is the symbol of the square, or plane contents (x2), so three is the symbol of the cube, or solid contents (x3).

Three, therefore, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire.

I tell you this so you will understand there are quantifiable mathematical reasons for the “stability” or “completeness” of the number three, as well as ancient mysticism, spirituality and religion.

So, you ask, who cares? There is a very good reason. Do you want to have a better relationship with your spouse, partner, friends or coworkers? Then understand the importance of three. We are made up of three: our body, mind, and spirit. And without any one of those being whole, we are incomplete.

In our relationships, when we bond with others in all three areas, with these main areas being of common ground and goals, there is a much greater chance of success.

Body – Enjoy similar types of lifestyle, whether it be active or sedentary, staying at home or traveling, going for walks/bike rides or sitting inside watching movies.

Mind – Politically, socially compatible doesn’t mean agreeing on everything or believing exactly the same way, just that if it’s important to one it’s important to the other.

Spirit – Common faith or following. A similar set of values, principles or core belief structure.

When any one of these, or more, are sacrificed for the purpose of being in the company of another, the relationship, no matter how serious, will most likely fail.

In my life there have been moments where I so longed for the affection of another I would sacrifice one of these components. In one instance, I gave up all hope of having a spiritual connection with my girlfriend because she had no belief in a higher power. At no point growing up was she encouraged to seek out a divine of any kind. To the contrary, her mother told her it was for fools. So eventually, this lack of faith became our downfall. It’s in those trying times that we of faith tend to lean most heavily upon it, and when my significant other had none, we had no place to turn for support. The result was an utter collapse.

In another attempt for loving companionship, I gave up all of my own personal goals and ambitions to support hers. I got her though nursing college, had her on her way to a masters program, and then when I expressed my desire, even made plans to move forward with it, she called at 2 a.m. from the hospital she worked and said, “I’m not going to help you get your masters degree. I don’t love you anymore and I want a divorce.” It was clear afterword that she probably never really loved me, just used me to get what she wanted and when I no longer was willing to serve her purpose, I was discarded.

That being said, I’m not saying that opposites can’t attract. I have an amazing example of a lifelong love, 54 years to be exact, of two people who couldn’t have been more different. He was 36, she was 18 when they married. He was a yellow-dog democrat, she a diehard republican. He was career military, having served in the Army Air Corps, then the Air Force through WWII, Korea and as a Civilian Aid stateside during the Vietnam War. She was a bit of a rebel for her day, having had a child out of wedlock before my grandaddy came along. Scandalous for its time!

The end result was a marriage that lasted until my grandaddy passed at the age of 90. While they had their share of arguments, disagreements and outright fights (nothing physical mind you, only verbal), the one constant was their love for each other and all of us kids. Three girls, plus the girl my granny had before, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. We have more now, but that was our family population total at grandaddy’s funeral. And they showed us that love through self-sacrifice, setting an example of a positive work ethic and a never ending reminder to love one another.

The one thing I heard my grandaddy say over and over and over was to make sure to love your brothers and sisters, your cousins, aunts and uncles, and take care of each other, because one day that’s all you’ll have.

And that’s why we have the family bond we do today. And the relationships we have as well. That’s not to say there haven’t been some trial and error along the way. But when we had a misstep, they were right there to help pick us up, dust us off and see us on our way again. As he often said, there’s no harm in failing, only failing to try.

They loved their yard work, they were both up at the crack of dawn and early to bed. While politically polarized, they taught us the ability to debate your position while listening to what the other had to say. They both had a devout belief in an almighty and practiced not with lofty prayers and donations that added wings to church buildings. No, they built their faith within each and every one of the hearts of their children.

That is what I meant about having those THREE COMMON GROUNDS. The REAL stuff. The meat of the relationship. And they had that down pat. They had ideological differences but their ideals were the same. Their main goal was the same—to raise a loving family. And that doesn’t mean we always get along, but in the end, even in moments when we don’t necessarily like each other, we always love each other. And that’s the key.

To have that love, maintain that love and never quit on it. Quitting is easy, fighting for what’s good is challenging. But so worth it.

So work on something we get from a combination of ancient Greek philosophers and William Shakespeare, “Know thyself….and to thine own-self be true, thou canst then not be false to any man.” Once you do this you will find yourself in a position of stability, to truly know and love another. And then don’t quit when it gets tough. Use the example of my grandparents. What they had was solid, real, substantial, complete, and lasted their entire lives. They must have been doing something right!

——————————
References:

The Suda

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

E. W. Bullinger

The Holy Bible

The Quran

The Torah

MSgt. Eddie R. Pittman

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian


21 Comments

I’ve Got Abandonment Issues

This week we conclude our 3-part series with Rachel Grant as she provides insight on the topic of abandonment. Whether you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse or not, this is a subject that many folks experience at some point in their lives. If you have or know someone who has, you will benefit from her wisdom. Thank you so much Rachel for blessing us with your words and your spirit.
—————————–

Abandon: to leave completely and finally, forsake utterly, desert, to give up, discontinue, withdraw from, withdraw protection or support

When it comes to abandonment, we are very much driven by a fear of the unknown. We do not know if the people we are connecting to may one day withdraw their protection or support. They may “forsake” us, and not just a little, but utterly. The greater the connection, the greater the risk, because we have more at stake should the person choose to walk away.

In an effort to alleviate this terrible sense of “not knowing,” we will often do a variety of things. We will over-control, seek constant reassurance, or be on high alert for anything that looks like withdrawal. Worst-case scenario, as soon as we start to feel close, we will push away and sabotage the relationship.

The fear of abandonment is extremely common in those of us who have been abused. We have experienced very real and tangible abandonment, the loss of protection by those who were supposed to care for us. Unfortunately, we then begin living as if this is going to be the case with everyone we come across.

For quite a long time, I had the false belief that “people always leave.” As a result, guess what, people around me often didn’t stick around for long, because I would pretty much act in a way that ensured they would not want to! It is hard to acknowledge, but we have to be straight about the role we play that leads us to re-create the experience of being abandoned over and over again.

Earlier, I gave you just the first part of the definition of abandonment. Here is the rest:

To give up the control of, to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation

When I read this, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I need to abandon myself to abandonment!” Our relationships can thrive if we are willing to shift our focus and energy away from trying to prevent the withdrawal of others and enter into an open, free space, where we are present to the fact that they are here with us right now, in this moment. Instead of maneuvering to try to get some guarantee that they will always be here no matter what, we can appreciate the person for being here right now.

The point is, that fear of abandonment keeps us so focused on the future “what ifs” that we miss out on what is happening right now. Another, and more tragic, outcome is that we behave so poorly as a result of our fear, that we pretty much guarantee that things will fall apart.

There is no getting away from taking risks in relationships. We can, however, learn to take calculated risks. This means we have to get out of the nasty habit of connecting to others who are so high risk that we are pretty much setting ourselves up for failure.

One client, intent on maneuvering to get some guarantee that his girlfriend would never leave, would text her every couple of hours to keep tabs on her. If he did not get an immediate response, his meaning making machine would immediately kick into gear, leading him to thoughts such as “She must be with someone else.” As we worked together to challenge his false beliefs, he first had to acknowledge that, while it was possible that she was with someone else, it was unlikely given all of the experiences they had shared. Furthermore, her actions time and again indicated she was committed. The risk he was taking in trusting her therefore seemed well calculated. We then decided that he must hit the pause button (no meaning making) for four hours after sending a text and would limit his texting to three times a day. Over time, his fear and anxiety gradually abated and he was able to form a deeper bond based on trust and respect rather than fear and anxiety.

We need to practice giving up trying to control the future and remain in the present moment. We also need to give some thought to the types of risks we are taking—are they measured (even if still daring) or just playing with fire?

REFLECTION
1. Who abandoned you and how did they abandon you?
2. What have you come to believe about people and relationships as a result?
3. What do you do to protect yourself from being abandoned?
4. How can you shift your focus from trying to control future outcomes to what is happening right now?
5. How do you know if you are taking a calculated risk or not?

Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Trauma Recovery & Relationship Coach. She is also the author of BeyondSurviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse. With her support, clients learn to identify and break patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past sexual abuse or making changes in their relationships.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. With this training in human behavior and cognitive development, she provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. Rachel is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.

Learn more at http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com