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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We’re Home!

Thank you to all of our friends and family who offered houses, rooms and sofa’s during Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, we were able to find a hotel near enough to the state line which allowed us to return once the storm had passed.

We’ve been back for over a week now, but needed a few days to get storm shutters opened, brush cleared and utilities up to speed. Other than some branches to put on the curb and few shingles to replace this weekend, we were one of the fortunate ones that didn’t have any real damage. Many others throughout Florida, Georgia and obviously the Caribbean were not so lucky.

Please help those you can when you can. Just as Together We Heal could not do what it does without your generosity, so too are those trying to rebuild their lives in need. Whether it’s a $10 donation to the Red Cross or a case of water, whatever you give will be appreciated by those who need it most!

I am currently getting caught up on emails and website responses. Please know if you’ve reached out over the last few weeks, we WILL be in touch very soon. Don’t think you aren’t important or that we aren’t here for you. It might even be a brief, “we got your email and will be in touch soon” type of contact, so be on the lookout!

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

 

David Pittman

Executive Director, Together We Heal


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Hurricane Irma Update

It appears that Hurricane Irma is headed to our state and places us within the famous “cone”. Since this storm is stronger than Matthew was last year, we are not going to be able to stay and weather it out. Because of the preparation needed and the travel before and after the storm, Together We Heal will not be able to respond over the next week or so to any immediate needs. I promise to get back online and responding to any emails, phone calls, etc., ASAP!

Please keep our region in your thoughts as many people will be in need just as they are in Houston. Whereas the storm in Texas was a flood event, this one will be a wind and storm surge impact and just as potentially destructive and deadly.

We will post again the moment we are back and operational.


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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.

http://www.saferenting.org/

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.

http://www.saferenting.org/

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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What is Most Personal is Most Universal : The Never-Ending Nightmare.

*** Trigger Warning ***
I felt my wrists being held down. And then my ankles. I was trying with all of my might to get away, but I couldn’t. Then I saw his face hovering over mine and realized he was going to do this again. I screamed and screamed hoping someone would hear me but no matter how hard I kicked and fought and cried out I couldn’t escape and no one came to help me. I began yelling louder and trying to rip away from his grip around my hands and feet. But he was bigger than me so I couldn’t move. I continued screaming, “NO! NO!”…
and then in an instant I was awake, still screaming, “NO!”
Thankfully my wife Linda was there to calm me and let me know it was ok. She spoke in the sweetest voice, “you’re awake now and I’m here, it’s ok my love.”
I was awake, but I felt far from ok at that moment. It’s times like those that make it seem like I’ll never really be “ok”. Even though I believe I am better now than I have been in previous years, its how I feel at times, still. I know that I am on healing path because of the love of my family and friends. But damn it to hell, how I wish the one that caused this could feel the terror he’s caused. Just for a while, I wish Frankie Wiley would feel the terror he caused to that little boy…and to the untold number of other little boys he sodomized and raped.
My faith teaches me there’s a life after this one, and for those like Frankie, what awaits them is what they deserve. But for me, for most of us, it’s simply not bad enough…
As I told a fellow survivor tonight, the reason I write about what I’m experiencing is with the hope that someone else who is feeling the same way will see they are not alone.
As I once heard stated and finally found attributed…
Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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All In One Accord – CFFP Conference 2014

With the hustle and bustle of families and travel during the holiday season, it’s taken me a little longer than normal to write about the conference Linda and I attended in Austin, TX. Because its message and the message of this time of year are so simpatico, I knew now was the right time.

As many of you know by now, last month Linda and I attended The Child-Friendly Faith Project Conference and had the honor of speaking on Day 2.

To say we met leaders, advocates and what I consider “giants” within the community wouldn’t do it justice. It seemed like every time we turned around, heard another presentation, or were able to sit and talk in a small group, there was a striking similarity…

…We were all in one accord; We all are working to see faith communities, government agencies and private individuals connect to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and to better protect all our children from the sexual predators traversing amongst our respective communities, and in many cases “hiding in plain sight”.

It drove home the point that events like these and so many others are the launching point for the work needed to accomplish our common goals. So much so that Jan Heimlich, the Director of The CFFP said to me, “let’s begin soon working on another event of some kind where we can go into even more detail about the topics we discussed here over the last two days.” And I couldn’t agree more with her! It seemed as though we had just begun to scratch the surface and based on everyone’s responses, they wanted to hear more as well!

On day 2, we started with a video presentation from Boz Tchividjian, Founder of GRACE, who expressed his desire to see us all, coming from whatever faith background, or no religious faith, join forces for two primary purposes. First, to protect all our children from the clear and present danger of sexual predators. Second, to assist those already harmed by guiding them along a path of healing, rather than making them feeling shamed or shunned.

The conference began with two questions/objectives:

1) How can we better address child maltreatment that occurs in faith communities?

2) What should we do when religious or cultural practices are unhealthy for children?

In following Boz’s request; no matter whether our faith is based from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, from a non-denominational or non-faith background, we received information on both days about those two questions with real, actionable directives and practical ways to answer and address both and to resolve the problems. In doing so, I saw the questions being transformed;

**What now? What will we do with this information and the answers to tough questions? HOW and WILL we move forward knowing what we know?**

It would take several pages to go through all of the impactful speakers and presentations, but I’d like to highlight a couple. The folks listed are all prestigious experts in fields related to child advocacy. What I appreciated was how they were both enlightening and had practical applications.

They are speakers that I heard in person, have known and cooperated with for years or have some other working knowledge of their efforts to protect children. So as you have time, please take a moment to do some homework by finding their websites, reading their books and reviewing the amazing work they do for children and survivors of abuse.

Rev. Carla Cheatham
Marci A. Hamilton
Steven Hassan
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Rev. Jaime Romo
Peter Singer
Boz Tchividjian

I’ll say it again, the conference was simply amazing! We had the opportunity to meet with people who are equally passionate about helping those who’ve been abused. It’s clear they want to see TRUE change within our various faith communities. We saw the desire to make that change in a positive way from within, not just to criticize from afar. But don’t misunderstand, while those in attendance aren’t into “church-bashing”, no one pulled any punches either. When it’s time to call out one of our respective faith communities for its failure to act, or to protect, we are the FIRST to make it known what needs to be changed and provide them the steps in order to enact said change!

Upon completing my presentation, I received an extremely positive reception and made several contacts I’ll be following up with over the next month. Dr. Jaime Romo has already made an introduction for us to have an additional resource for survivors of sexual abuse and that’s just one example of many! Linda and I had lunch with Marci A. Hamilton and we’ll continue to work with her moving forward on SOL law reform. Prior to the event, Marci and I had talked on the phone, been interviewed on the same radio show, and had spoken at length about what is needed to eliminate statute of limitation laws, but it was great getting some face-to-face time with her!

We also had the opportunity to establish relationships Pete Singer, Steven Hassan, Rev. Charles Johnson and two advocates from the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center; Autumn Williams and Dianna Smoot. We also met with Joy Ryder with “Out Of The Shadows”. They will be launching their website soon so keep checking on it! “www.outoftheshadows.today” – To say it was a success would be an understatement!!

I also spoke with the lady from Atlanta who is trying to set up a conference for TWH and GRACE to educate a team of ministers at a large metro-Atlanta church.

Thank you Jan for giving all attending a catalyst for the upcoming year as we look for more ways to raise awareness, further education and reach even more of those most in need. It was an honor and a blessing to be a part of The Child-Friendly Faith Project.

May we all find the peace and healing we so desperately need. And Together, We CAN Heal!

David