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.


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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.

Family-Statement-About-Barbara-Blaine-9.25.17


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Why Do We Only Put Up Traffic Lights After a Tragedy

Impotent Georgia Act Protects Sexual Predators, Baptist & Catholic Churches and the Insurance companies that underwrite their policies.

Usually when my wife and I travel to Atlanta it’s for visiting friends and family. Atlanta is where we grew up, were high-school sweethearts and eventually where we wed. (Even if it did take me over 25 years to muster the courage to ask her to marry me!)

But this week my wife and I will be in Atlanta with an additional purpose. Actually it will be a two-fold mission.

As with almost every Together We Heal event/conference/etc., we will be teaching parents, guardians, and adults of various leadership and authority positions over children, on how to talk with kids about childhood sexual abuse and better identify the grooming methods of sexual predators.

In addition to this, we’re going to have the opportunity to lobby local representatives and their constituents about making a change that would have permanent, positive benefits for all of the children of our home state. We want to help them see how imperative it is that they pass a law eliminating the statute of limitations on all sex crimes against children.

I know, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Tragically, you’d be wrong. When myself and my wife were sexually abused as children, not one single state had such a law on the books. And it’s only been in last few years that states started passing said laws. Sadly, the pressure from “higher powers” had a greater hold on state assemblies than did the courage to do the right thing.

Based on Together We Heal’s non-profit designation, Federal law limits the amount of time we are able to spend lobbying for laws to protect children and assist victims in attaining any measure of justice. Therefore, we quite literally must make the MOST of every second of time we put forth on this type of effort.

So this week, we will be making one such effort at a DeKalb Women’s Meeting with 2 legislators in attendance. It’s our hope, that since we will be speaking to people who live where our abuse occurred, it will resonate with them on a more personal level.

That being said, here is the reason why Georgia needs to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding sex crimes against children. And by the way, my personal example is just one in millions that have happened. I’m telling you my story so you can know that this happens all too often.

When I FINALLY gathered enough strength to come forward, name the man who sexually abused me as a child; I did what I was told to do, I went to the police because everyone said that’s what you do and certainly they would help me.

I went to DeKalb County Police Headquarters, the original one on Memorial Drive, and spoke with a detective in the Major Felony division (now called Special Victims Unit). After over 2 hours of excruciatingly painful memories being drawn out, vile detail by vile detail, it finally came to an end.

And that’s when she asked me the question she should’ve started off by asking, ”when did this crime take place?”

I told her from 1981-1984. That’s when she said the words that ripped my heart and stomach COMPLETELY out of my body and threw them in the sewer.

Her reply, “Sorry, but we can’t help you. You waited too long to report this crime.”

WHAT!? I WAITED TOO LONG?! How could I have done anything WRONG here?!?!

She said, “it’s not that you did anything wrong, you just didn’t know. There’s a law called statute of limitations. And in Georgia, since you didn’t come forward by the age of 18, the time limit is up and he can no longer be criminally prosecuted for the offense. No matter what he did to you. No matter how many times or for how many years. You’re just too late.”

Tragically the police, even when they genuinely want to help, have no way of doing so because of the laws OUR legislators keep on the books.

Ask yourself this simple question and let logic dictate the answer.

WHY?

Why would OUR representatives allow such laws to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the abused???

Recently a piece of legislation was passed in Georgia called the Hidden Predator Act (HPA). It was spoken of as some amazing Act, enabling any and all previous victims to come forward and get the justice they were for so long denied.

Turns out it was smoke and mirrors to make one Georgia representative appear good, but the bill is toothless and practically worthless. Although literally a couple of survivors have been able to utilize this bill, in a state of over 10 million, the VAST MAJORITY of Georgia victims will receive no such justice. Meanwhile, their perpetrators, and the ones protecting them, will remain happy all the live long day.

Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Roman Catholic Church and the Georgia Lobby for Insurance made it so. They “persuaded” YOUR representatives to remove all language that would give victims the ability to go after the churches, institutions, schools or companies that had any role in enabling, hiding or protecting the predators. By doing this it eliminated the possibility for almost any survivor to get representation. And with no attorney, no justice. Just all of the predators free and clear, to continue abusing, molesting, raping children and murdering their innocence and souls.

Most victims don’t have the strength to come forward, if they ever do, until their 30’s or 40’s, and by then it’s “too late” with the existing laws.

Sexual predators, Baptist & Catholic leaders, the Chamber and Insurance companies know this statistic, so their bean counters and leaders “convinced” legislators to orchestrate the law to read as it does. With the current language, it protects THEIR INTEREST.

And what, might you ask is their interest.

M-O-N-E-Y, NOT Y-O-U.

If these leaders actually cared about their constituents, parishioners, etc., this would not be the case. So to these “so-called” groups of faith and elected officials I say this…

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

If we work together to do what’s right, protect potential future victims and enable justice for past ones, then we must pass a LAW, not a temporary bill like the one that expires in a little over a year, that does what should’ve been done already.

That’s right, the current HPA expires July 1st 2017, and at that time Georgia goes back to being one of the WORST states in the union for protecting child victims of sexual abuse.

So pass a law that ELIMINATES the statute of limitations on ALL sex crimes against children. And include language that allows for another 2-year window, only this time enable the revival against organizations & institutions and cap the claims at victims aged 53 (18 + 35). Georgia’s current bill allows victims to pursue litigation against the perpetrator only, not the people or organizations that covered it up or assisted them in any way. This is the only way to truly begin to stop this epidemic of abuse, to punish their enablers. If these predators had no protection, they most likely would’ve been caught.

Some very smart folks, who could explain the math about capping the age at 53 much better than I, have set that age for the reasons of how long it takes for most victims to be able to come forward and the age at which the perpetrators would be at that time. This gives the best chance for as many victims as possible to get the Justice that’s been denied them.

And maybe just as important, to expose the predators so that they can’t harm another child. Litigation shines the light and truth on them and that’s what they fear the most. And contrary to what certain church leaders and media members would have you believe, Pedophiles do not “age out” of abusing children.  Fr. John Geoghan in Boston was abusing children in his 80s. The only 2 things that stop them are incarceration and death.

And to the people who inaccurately claim that enabling this 2-year window would inundate the court system with copious amounts of claims. I refer you to Marci A. Hamilton’s website for the facts – If you look at the “Relative Success” document and especially at the chart at the bottom, http://sol-reform.com/data/

you can see (1) the civil revival windows that have been opened against individuals AND institutions have not resulted in an avalanche of claims; (2) there are no false claims that have made it through the system; and (3) Georgia’s window has been relatively ineffective so far because it is only capable of being brought against individual perpetrators and aiders and abettors.

Want to know how many victims in Georgia have been able to file litigation against their abusers?

9

That’s 9 in a state of 10 million with AT LEAST 2 million victims. So far the Baptist & Catholic churches, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Insurance lobby is winning. And Georgians are losing.

Going back to the question I had you ask yourself, what is the logic in these representative not already passing a law like this. What do THEY have to hide or be afraid of? If nothing, then it should pass unanimously, if not, then please give SERIOUS consideration to replacing your current legislator. Unfortunately, that’s the only language most lawmakers understand. Only when told they won’t be reelected will they actually listen to THEIR constituents.

I wish I could expose my abuser through the courts, but it’s too late for me. And because of this, he has gone on to molest, abuse and rape AT LEAST 7 others. Those are just the ones I know of. God and Frankie Wiley are the only 2 who know how many little boys’ childhood’s he’s murdered.

It’s too late for me, but there are approximately 2 million of your fellow Georgians who need your help. The only way this will happen is if YOU, make a stand, demand your representative pass this law or you vote in someone who will. It’s up to you. What will you do? Please don’t wait until it’s happened to one of your children or grandchildren. I beg of you.

Because I promise you, if you don’t, it WILL happen. The facts are the facts. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually abused by the age of 18. The only way this changes is with the ability to prosecute predators. The only way that happens is for the laws to be changed. And the only way that happens is when it matters to you. Will it be before or after it happens to someone you know; someone you love.

Don’t let this be another example of putting up a traffic light AFTER a tragedy has happened. You have the ability to do something now. Will you?

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.


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“It’s Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”

One of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass who said,

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Please keep these two things in mind when you begin to think, “it’s just too hard to talk with my kids about sexual abuse”.

Here in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse before they turn 18…don’t let your child be another statistic, don’t let them become another David, or Linda, or or or…

They need your strength and guidance…you CAN talk with them and they will be grateful you did!!

 

If you’re finding it challenging to talk with your kids, please read this post for some guidance:

How To Talk With Your Kids about Sexual Abuse

You are NOT your abuse.

You are NOT what they did to you.

You are NOT your trauma.

You ARE the cleverness that survived.

You ARE the courage that escaped.

You ARE the power that hid & protected a tiny spark of your light.

You will fan that spark into a bonfire of righteous rage and love,

and with it you will burn all their lies to ash!

Do you feel the heat yet Frankie Wiley???

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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How Good Parents miss Childhood Sexual Abuse & 5 Questions to Change That

I was going through my daily activity of reading fellow advocates and survivors posts, articles, etc., when I came across one of our many online connections, Tonya Prince.

When I read Tonya’s article it reminded me of one we published early on. And I’m thankful I came across her’s because I believe we all need constant reminders about this. We cannot talk often enough with our kids about being safer from sexual predators. And it is up to us as parents to let our kids know we have their backs, that we will believe what they tell us, and that they can tell us ANYTHING, no matter what.

What follows is her article, and then some follow-up of ours with a link I believe is extremely important for parents. Thank you for taking time to read today!

— — —
From TonyaGJPrince:

How do good parents miss childhood sexual abuse? It is tragically simple. By not asking the right questions.

One day my son went to a classmate’s home for a Halloween costume party. When I picked him up a few hours later I could tell by the ear to ear grin on his face that he had a great time. As we were about to leave, I was standing at the door with the child’s father and grandmother.

Both adults were giving me a great report about his behavior. Parent relieved. Thank goodness. No issues. No worries.

But as I drove us home I felt uneasy. Something was off. Then it hit me. I swerved into the next parking lot.
I had been here before. Except I was the child.

When parents ask children whether or not they were good in front of children and adults most children feel pressured to say “yes”.

I could recall when I was being abused by a teen relative, my mother would innocently ask me a few questions as we left a relative’s home.

She would ask, “Did you behave? Did you listen? Were you a good girl?”

What mom didn’t know is that the teen who was living there had threatened me before she had arrived. Sometimes he’d even be standing behind her balling up his fists or giving me mean looks.

Asking me those questions, especially in front of a person who was sexually abusing me reinforced in my young mind that I was supposed to do whatever I was told by the person who was watching me while she was gone.

Because I had said, “yes” at the door I didn’t think that I could change my answer later. To do so would mean I would have to explain why I “lied” when she asked me earlier.

So in that parking lot I asked the correct questions.

Perhaps you may want to consider asking these questions the next time that your child is in someone else’s care. I asked my son privately whether or not he enjoyed himself.

1) How did you spend your time?
2) What was your favorite part of the party?
3) What was the least favorite part?
4) Did you feel safe?
5) Was there anything else you wanted to share?

Try to remember to make these questions a consistent habit. Also, it might be helpful to remind your children that they can always add details about what occurred while they were away from you. My mistake that day was a common one for parents. We think as long as we ask questions, we are on top of things.

The truth is, parents have to ask the right questions, at the right time, under the right circumstances.

This article was written by Tonya GJ Prince and was originally published on WeSurviveAbuse.com.

Be sure to follow her on Twitter @TonyaGJPrince

— — —

When we started “Together We Heal, Inc.”, I wrote an article that goes into detail how parents can talk with their kids about childhood sexual abuse. Please take some time to read and PLEASE share with any and all parents you know. It is a straightforward, 7-step, “How To”. One of the things Tonya mentioned we echo with fervor…we MUST be consistent!

https://togetherweheal.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/how-to-talk-with-your-children-about-sexual-abuse-2/

Our mission is simple: Help parents better protect their children from sexual predators & Assist fellow survivors find their own path toward healing.

If you are a survivor in need of assistance or guidance, please reach out. Help is available. If you are a parent and have questions, please ask. That’s why we exist. Below you’ll find mine and my wife’s contact info so depending on who you’d feel more comfortable talking with, we’re both survivors and we’re both here to help.

David Pittman: dpittman@together-we-heal.org
(754) 234-7975

Linda Pittman: lpittman@together-we-heal.org
(772) 985-9056

As we say every day…Together, We Can Truly Heal!
Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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In-Studio Interview June 4th  “Helping The Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse”

**UPDATE** Tammi and I were warmly welcomed by Geoffrey Riley and the staff at JPR. The recording of the interview is now available at the link below. 
Listen tomorrow “LIVE” on JPR as we give an in-studio interview, along with CAC Executive Director, Tammi Pitzen. The interview starts at 8:30 a.m. PT (That’s 11:30 am ET) for my folks back home so you don’t even have to wake up early 😉

JeffX, THURSDAY 6/4 @ 8:30: David Pittman began writing a blog about being sexually abused as a teenager. The blog caught on, and led to the formation of a non-profit group, Together We Heal

TWH works to help survivors heal, and to help educate the public about child sexual abuse. 

Those are goals shared with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County.  

Both organizations are part of a child abuse symposium this week in Medford. David Pittman and CAC Executive Director Tammi Pitzen join us in the studio.  

http://ijpr.org/post/helping-survivors-child-abuse

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Sometimes I Just Get So Tired…

Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of fighting a battle with those who are supposed to be the one doing the protecting… 

Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of losing said battles to churches, fundamentalist “Christians” and other so-called “people of faith” who seem only to care about the money in their church coffers and potential lawsuits against their precious denominations. Tragically and simultaneously these same folks don’t appear to give a rat’s ass about the innocence, lives and souls of children…

It feels like everyday we turn on the news and hear of another case. This week was no different with Josh Duggar from the TLC show, “19 Kids and Counting” and the news he admitted to sexually abusing at least 5 girls in his family.

It’s 6:24 am and I’m tired. No that doesn’t accurately describe how I’m feeling. In truth, I’m exhausted. Exhausted because I’ve been awake since around 4 a.m., due to screaming myself awake from ANOTHER nightmare of seeing Frankie Wiley’s face over mine and feeling him holding my childhood frame down while he sexually abused me over and over, just as he did for almost 3 years.

I have no doubt this was triggered from the reports of the Duggar family doing more to protect the offender than the victims. Much the same way I feel how the Southern and Georgia Baptist Convention treats myself and countless others who’ve fallen prey to predators they continue to protect.

The only solace I had this morning was my beloved wife, Linda. Because of her, I was once again gently awakened with her loving touch and soothing voice before the nightmare became too much for me to handle.

She asked if I wanted to talk about but at that moment it was simply too much. So I’m doing now what I’ve always done since I began therapy for the sexual abuse I endured, I write. It’s one of my few true releases from the torture, torment and pain.

And in some small way I hope it reveals to other victims/survivors who’ve been through a similar trauma that they are not alone, that we are not alone…that I am not alone…

With every post or article I publish, I try to extend some measure of hope and potential for healing for what we’ve been through. And this one will be no different. It’s just that in the moment I’m too tired to feel like much of an encouragement. Instead, this time I sure would like to hear from you. To hear you say, I know what you mean David.

Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be standing in front of countless numbers of parents, guardians and other adults, looking to me for answers. And I will provide guidance, solutions and direction. I will do so with confidence, conviction and courage. But right now, at this very moment I’m just tired, hurting and scared.

Thank you to all of my friends, family and fellow survivors and advocates. It’s because of y’all I can manage to move forward on my own healing path. And for this same reason you can too.

Thank you for “listening” to me today. This is another example of why it’s so VERY important that we all be there for one another. We all need each other because as we say here…

Not alone, but…together we heal

Thank you to our TWH family. You mean so very much to me. You’ve helped me through and to overcome so much. This is the 8th year since I first came forward about having been sexually abused as a child and in October I will celebrate 10 years of being clean from narcotics. None of this would’ve been possible without your love and support and I genuinely love and appreciate you all from the core of my being and bottom of my heart.

David

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Southern Baptists, Catholics, Insurance Lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce – SHAME ON YOU ALL!!!

While I had hope that House Bill 17 in Georgia, also known as “The Hidden Predator Act”, would be able to finally give some measure of justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse, the truth is, the bill finally signed into law was practically GUTTED.

These are the follow-up stories that get buried on the 24th back page of the Atlanta-Journal or are posted to the online-only section of a WSB-TV site. And this is why politicians and your local churches are getting away with murder of your children’s future…and souls.

But don’t take my word for it, please read what these two investigative journalists discovered.

Channel 2 investigates ‘Hidden Predator’ act’s challenges
By Terah Boyd and Rachel Stockman.

Sadly and tragically, the bottom line is this. The Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, Insurance lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce chose to put money before children.

Nancy Stanley told Stockman. “Anyone that would put money above children’s lives and these heinous acts that are being done to them, it’s just despicable.” And it is that very thing — Despicable!!!

And one more thing, if you think or believe…”well I don’t have anything to worry about because I don’t send my child to a Baptist or Catholic Church so my kids are safe”…think again…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the U.S., NOT JUST BAPTIST OR CATHOLIC, ALL KIDS, will be sexually abused by the age of 18.

It literally breaks my heart that once again victims of this most heinous crime have been re-victimized by the very organizations and people who are supposed to be there to protect them.

What will it take for folks to finally wake up and realize what is happening to the future generations? How many children’s lives must be ruined before REAL action is taken?

Maybe when it happens to YOUR child or a child YOU KNOW, then maybe you’ll understand why I keep shouting this from the rooftops! But by then you’ll find out, there’s not a damned thing you can do about because you waited too late…

But don’t take my word for it…PLEASE, READ FOR YOURSELF…