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.


2 Comments

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


Leave a comment

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


1 Comment

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.


1 Comment

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!

child-safeguarding


2 Comments

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.


2 Comments

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.

http://www.educate4change.com/blog1/why-cant-i-heal

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.


1 Comment

Cover-Up Equal To The Crime

Two months ago I wrote an article called “Liberty Has Sold Its Soul for Football.”. Yesterday, those who chose to believe the words of victims over that of bureaucratic administrators like Ian McCaw and Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University, were PROVED to be on the side of truth…and that’s a shame.

It’s a shame on so many levels, it’s not possible to include them all here. So I’ll do my best to hit the “low-lights” of why Liberty hiring Ian McCaw goes against anything ANY Christian, or human with a moral compass above Charles Manson would stand for.

Yesterday, the public was given access to the texts between Baylor University’s former Head Football Coach Art Briles, Athletic Director Ian McCaw, and Assistant Athletic Director Colin Shillinglaw. Additionally, the reports of the investigation came to light. Within these texts and reports, we discover that not only did Briles, McCaw and Shillinglaw lie about not knowing that crimes were committed under their watch, they WERE ALL INVOLVED IN COVERING UP THE CRIMES!!!

These crimes involved in the texts and reports include drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure, academic fraud, 52 acts of Rape, and 5 Gang Rapes.

But don’t take my word for it, read for yourself Ian McCaw’s OWN WORDS:

On September 20, 2013, after a player was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, a football operations staff official tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges. Meanwhile, Coach Briles texted Athletics Director Ian McCaw: “Just talked to [the player] – he said Waco PD was there – said they were going to keep it quiet – Wasn’t a set up deal… I’ll get shill (Shillinglaw) to ck on Sibley (local attorney Jonathan Sibley).” Athletics Director Ian McCaw replied: “That would be great if they kept it quiet!”

Would be great if they kept it quiet. Ian McCaw wanted the assault and potentially life threatening situation of a student at Baylor to BE KEPT QUIET!!!

And let me remind you of what Jerry Falwell Jr., said when he introduced McCaw as Liberty University’s Athletic Director.

Falwell called McCaw, “a godly man of excellent character,”

Falwell went on to say, “I spoke with regents at Baylor who could not say enough good things about this man’s character.”

“There will be a time, no doubt, for Ian and his attorneys to address questions about what happened at Baylor but we don’t intend to litigate those facts with the press.” “If he made any mistakes at Baylor, they appear to be technical and unintentional, out of line with an otherwise distinguished record.”

In a statement to InsideHigherEd.com about the end of his tenure at Baylor, Liberty said that it is “completely satisfied” that McCaw is the “perfect fit” and right athletic director for the school.

So according to Jerry Falwell Jr, President of Liberty University, Ian McCaw is a “godly man and is completely satisfied that he’s a perfect fit for Liberty”. That begs the question…

What kind of school is Liberty and what kind of school does it want to become to hire McCaw as the “perfect fit”?

All I can say, if I had a daughter, I would keep her as far away from that campus as possible. And if I had a son that played football, Liberty University would be the LAST school I’d allow him to represent.

And even more disturbing is how Liberty University proclaims its supposed high-moral, Christian standards to any with ears that hear.

How do they sleep at night?

I guess the allure of football revenue is greater than the reality of the evil they hired in McCaw. Seems to me the leaders of Liberty University should read their own bible, 1 Timothy 6:9-10:

“Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

If Liberty University keeps Ian McCaw as its Athletic Director, or hire anyone else like him in his place; ruin and destruction, according to its own theology, is what Liberty will get and what it will deserve…

 
But please, do your own research. Learn for yourself I’m not writing just an opinion. It’s opinion based on facts. And please keep your children away from Liberty University until or unless they change.

 
http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/docs-reveal-art-briles-baylor-coaches-actively-involved-in-covering-up-player-incidents/

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/dialcreech/article/Truth-doesn-t-lie-and-regents-say-Art-Briles-did-10904097.php

Leaked Art Briles Text Messages Paint Ugly Picture Of Baylor Tenure

 

Copyright © 2017 Together We Heal