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.


4 Ways the Pain of Childhood Trauma Impacts Us as Adults

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



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

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

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

  1. The False Self

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

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

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

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

  1. Victimhood Thinking

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

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

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

  1. Passive-Aggressiveness

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

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

  1. Passivity

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

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


Originally Posted on Psychology Today

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


A Woman of Conviction, Courage & Comfort – Barbara Blaine


As I once read somewhere,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Below is the letter from her family.


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Child Safeguarding Policy for Churches and Ministries

September is Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor Awareness Month. So it’s appropriate that I tell you about a recently published book I believe is a must-read. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am not a pitch-man for any product, but when we come across a great resource we let know about it. This book is one we consider essential.

The book is titled, Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries, and it was written by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira Berkovits. I tell you the authors names because I know one of them personally and have worked with him professionally. The importance of that information is so you will know what I know; that he is dedicated to protecting children and helping those who have been harmed by sexual predators.

If you are person of faith, have a position of responsibility within your local church or have a ministry of any kind or size, you need to read this book. It will provide you a foundation to better protect those most vulnerable within your care, the children.

This is not just some online checklist of “things you should or should not do”. This is a comprehensive resource that covers just about anything you can think of, and some things you aren’t even aware you should know.

Whether you have already developed a child safeguarding policy and are looking to find additional resources to update your knowledge base or you need to start from the beginning and build it from the ground up. This book covers the spectrum from understanding what abuse is, the indicators of abuse and those who harm children, all the way through developing best practices, how to properly respond to abuse and training those within a ministry.

I have read this book from cover to cover and I can tell you, from a survivor’s perspective, this is what is needed for those within the church to use as a “bible” for better protecting kids. I don’t mean that as hyperbole, that comes from my heart.

Please pass this along!



What is the Real Cost of Child Safety?

“This world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

Albert Einstein

Mr. Einstein was of course talking about people, both within Germany and around the world, who knew of the atrocities being committed by the Nazi’s, but were saying and doing nothing.

Tragically, this can too easily be applied to childhood sexual abuse within the Church.

Of all the places children SHOULD feel most protected, we would think a place of worship and faith would be one. Instead, children can be just as likely to find sexual predators with a culture that protects the offenders and blames the victims.

CSA survivor awareness month


With that in mind, let me ask some questions:

How much money would you spend to keep your children safe?

How much time is enough to learn what is necessary about abuse and those who would harm children?

How much effort/energy would you exert to save a child’s life?

The answers that come to all “normal”, rational people’s minds are easy, right? Any amount of money it takes! Whatever amount of time is needed! I would give anything and everything to save a child’s life!

But would you? Really??


I once met with a group of people, all who were people of faith, who seemingly spent more time asking me questions about how to get around protecting children. They asked what is “really” needed to protect children? What were the basics rather than all the details? They thought the statistics were exaggerated to get people to react. Thought that many on predator databases were made out to be worse than the crimes actually were.

Think your community is different? Think your church is different? Think you are?

Let me ask you this…what is your “price”?


We all have our price. You know, that imaginary line we cross when what is “costs” becomes greater than what we are willing to give…of dollars, time or energy. To say different is to be lying to yourself, or not very self-aware. We all have our price. I have mine.

Until I was about to drop dead from drug addiction, I was unwilling to say a word about the sexual abuse that I and others endured. Finally, I decided I wasn’t willing to pay that price for my silence any longer.

When I did come forward about the sexual abuse that occurred within the church, what I needed to hear was…we believe you, what can we do to keep this from happening again?

What I got was, “shut up, get over it, go away” and a perpetrator that wasn’t just allowed to assault more little boys, he was practically encouraged and definitely emboldened to do so by the church’s lack of action and silence.


With sexual abuse now coming to the forefront of society’s attention, I am scared…no I’m terrified, that churches run the risk of going off the tracks. Either by bunkering down in a CYA “we did all we could” mode with watered-down, so-called Christian checklists, that supposedly make a “ministry safe” for children. That churches will say, “Look, for a couple hundred dollars, we can make our church free of sexual predators by taking an online course.”

Or that they become numb and calloused from information overload, or misinformation by clerical surrogates. These things can happen without us even realizing it. Let me give you an example. Do you remember how you felt the day after terrorists attacked on 9-11? Do you remember how terrified you were?

What about now? Still just as terrified? Most would say no. That’s what happens. Its human nature.

Today, because there are so many cases of sexual abuse being made public, and just as many people trying to nullify their impact, we can forget WHY we need to learn more and do more…because there are children who have been harmed beyond what most can imagine.


Sometimes I post information of an event or resource I think is helpful. Sometimes I post about something I’ve learned and want to share.

Sometimes it’s simply something that’s on my heart…this is one of those times.

Please don’t assume your faith community has done all it needs to protect the children under its care. Ask questions, demand they do more. Lead by example and be willing to do more, give more and pay ANY price to protect your children and help those who’ve been harmed.


Why Can’t I Heal?

As someone who writes, occasionally I come across words that I’ve read and think to myself, “why didn’t I think of that?”

The following blog post is one such set of words. While doing the work we do, I have had the good fortune of meeting, working with, even being able to call many of our fellow advocates “friends”. Folks like Svava Brooks, who is not just a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but has dedicated her life to helping fellow survivors.

So take a few minutes to read her words. Share them with someone you know who might have been impacted by a similar trauma. As we say around here all the time…together, we heal…

Why Can’t I Heal?

This is a question I asked myself for a long time. So many people could diagnose me. So many people could tell me what was wrong with me. But few could actually help me heal.

Why? Because my healing wasn’t the task of these other people. It was my job. I had to take all the information I had gathered about recovering from child abuse and trauma and move that knowledge from my head to my heart. In other words, I had to do the tough, messy work of applying it to my own life.

Today, I’m going to make this task easier for you. Here are the seven steps child abuse and trauma survivors need to take in order to heal. Apply them every day.

  1. Establish Safety. Figure out what makes you feel safe.  This is your first priority.
  2. Develop Courage. Eventually, your willingness to heal will develop into courage, as you take more and more healthy risks.
  3. Create a Mindfulness Practice. Connecting with your body is essential for healing.  As abused children, we learned the toxic skill of disconnection.  Mindfulness will help you reconnect.
  4. Express Your Emotions. Learn how to identify, listen to, feel, and express your emotions in a healthy way.  All of them: the good, the bad, and the ugly!
  5. Change Your Negative Beliefs. You created these toxic beliefs as a way to survive an abusive childhood.  But you’re an adult now.  Change your story (beliefs) to what benefits your adult life.
  6. Practice Self-Care, Self-Love, and Self-Compassion. Put yourself first on your To-Do list.  Every day find a way to lovingly care for and celebrate yourself.
  7. Build a Support System. You can’t do this alone.  Healing doesn’t work that way.  Surround yourself with nourishing friends who support your healing goals.

Just the act of implementing these seven steps is a major move forward on your healing journey. Stick with it, and you’ll experience a positive shift sooner than you think. Why? Because these steps are more than a decision. They’re a lifestyle change.

And that’s how you heal. Finally!


Svava isn’t saying that healing is easy. But if you take to heart what she’s shared, I promise the path to healing will become illuminated. And as she mentions in her original article, if you’re still having difficulty healing, reach out and find someone trained in trauma to help you. You can find Svava’s contact info here. Other survivors like Rachel Grant can help also. But no matter where you go, go forward and gain the help available to you.

Below you’ll find the link to the original publication of this article as well as some bio information on Svava. Thank you Svava for sharing these straightforward tips for your fellow survivors and for being a friend in this work we do.

Svava Brooks is a survivor of child sexual abuse and the co-founder of a nationwide child sexual abuse prevention and education organization in Iceland called “Blátt áfram.”  She is also a certified instructor and facilitator for Darkness to Light Stewards of Children, as well as a certified Crisis Intervention Specialist, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, a BellaNet Teen support group facilitator, a Certified TRE® Provider, and an Abuse Survivor Coach.

The mother of three children, Svava has dedicated her life to ending the cycle of child sexual abuse through education, awareness, and by helping survivors heal and thrive.  She is a certified facilitator for Advance!, a program created by Connections to restore authentic identity.  Every week she writes about healing after trauma on her blog, and also leads a discussion forum on Child Sexual Abuse Healing and Recovery online.


Liberty University Has Sold Its Soul for Football

Monday, November 28th 2016. That date will go down in Baptist history as the beginning of the end. Not of the end of baptists; but something more tragic, and much more sinister. It’s the end of women being safe on Liberty University’s campus.

It was on Monday that Liberty University gave the middle finger to all victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault and told “whoever has ears to hear” that THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF WOMEN ON CAMPUS.

On Monday, Liberty University and Jerry Falwell, Jr., joyfully welcomed Ian McCaw as its new Athletic Director.

Falwell, Jr. said of McCaw, “He’s a Godly man of excellent character and I could not be more excited about this announcement!”

Just in case you don’t know Mr. McCaw, let me catch you up to speed.

He was up until recently the Athletic Director for Baylor University. Yes, the Baylor that bears the same Baptist support as Liberty. And yes, it’s the same Baylor who fired its President, Ken Starr; Head Football Coach, Art Briles, and depending on which media outlet you believe, the aforementioned Athletic Director, Ian McCaw.

So why did this “Godly man of excellent character” leave Baylor?


Here are the football totals.

While McCaw was AD, Baylor football went from averaging 3 wins a season, to 9 wins a year. This is what Liberty wants everyone to focus.

But these are the human totals of a McCaw administration.

Reporter Jake New of Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday:

“McCaw resigned as athletics director at Baylor in May. His resignation came days after Baylor’s Board of Regents fired the university’s head football coach and forced out its president following allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university mishandled — and sought to suppress public discourse about — reports of sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students.

Baylor officials said earlier this month that, in total, 17 women reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of the reports involved gang rapes.”

Tragically it gets worse…

New’s report went on to say, and folks this is the crux of the issue…

“Baylor said McCaw was told about at least one of those gang rapes, which involved five football players, but he did not report the allegations to the university’s judicial affairs office or anyone else outside the athletic department, as required by federal law.”

So now you know the truth about Ian McCaw. Well, at least as much as we know for now. Pending litigation and the unknown number of silenced victims will probably prevent us from ever knowing the TRUE number of victims. But this is how they operate.

This is the organizational strategy of the Baptist Convention, its Churches and now we can see, it’s Colleges and Universities. They manipulate, they silence and they cover-up anything having to do with sexual abuse and sexual assaults within its walls or by those in power.

I know this to be true because they tried to silence my voice also.

Mark my words, starting on Monday, you will begin to see an increase of sexual abuses and assaults and the ensuing organizational coverup of them that Baptist have become so adept. Or so they believe. Lives will be ruined if not worse. And certainly souls will be tarnished, if not lost.

Monday, November 28th 2016. The day where mothers and fathers can no longer send a daughter to Liberty University with the belief she will be safe.

Welcome to the pursuit of FBS football Liberty. How pathetic that you traded your soul for it.

As a dear friend said to me recently…

“Sadly, None of this resembles Jesus.”



Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal

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Does a Sexual Predator Have the Keys to Your Front Door…

…and do you even know?

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
sex offenders.

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.

I would further expound if I felt necessary, but this is pretty darn self-explanatory to myself and Linda. We hope you feel the same.

No matter where you live, PLEASE SIGN and pass along to EVERYONE you know! Then find out what the law says where you live.

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.