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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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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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


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Cooperation Or Competition – What Will Our Legacy Be?

“Its amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

I have been working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse in a professional setting for a few years now and I’ve noticed something that worries me. There seems to be some sort of inability for all of us to work together as groups of survivors. It’s almost as if there is a competition, rather than working together in a spirt of cooperation.

I don’t have any explanation or understanding of it, but there’s one thing I do know – we need to be working together any way we can, to pool our resources for the benefit of all survivors of CSA everywhere and for the benefit of protecting children all over the world. This is much too important, our children are in too much danger and survivors need our cooperation.

I understand these are tough economic times. And I also understand the challenges each and every 501(c)(3) non-profit, public charity, and private foundation faces in times like these. I lead one, so I know it first hand. But what I also know is the very reason we formed Together We Heal was to help our fellow survivors. That’s why I am honored to work with people and organizations like SNAP, Ark of Hope for Children, The Lamplighters, Voice Found, Survivors Chat, Maryland Children’s Alliance, Victim Services Departments from Palm Beach County to Utah, Marci A. Hamilton of SOL-Reform, Rachel Grant, Jim McKenzie, Svava Brooks and soon to be working with GRACE, just to name a few. (Please forgive me for those I’ve not listed as it would take up the entire article.)

I believe with all my heart, if we join forces, we can and will see real, long-term and measurable change in the protection of children and prosecution of sexual predators.

There’s an old saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. And if we are to defeat the evils of childhood sexual abuse, we must work cooperatively.

The reason being: The forces that oppose us are larger, stronger and more well-funded than what we have in our smaller joint alliances. Even the largest of our groups receiving the most donations have bank accounts and organizational structures that pale in comparison to those we are fighting against. In order to take down these Goliath’s, we need the combined talents of all our efforts to be the “David” that slays this monster called Childhood Sexual Abuse.

The reason I’m reaching out and asking that we all work together is simple:

Our common foes – the sexual predators, pedophiles and those that protect them have most certainly “circled their wagons.” You can’t open a newspaper, turn on the TV, radio or open a web browser and not see or hear of ANOTHER case of these monsters being moved, freed of prosecution, given promotions to move them away from the threat of prosecution, given reduced sentences or flat out being given immunity from all wrong doing. The only way we can ever hope to make real, substantial change is for us to become as one, united in our efforts, and not wavering one iota.

We must be as zealous in defense of those wronged and in the protection of all children from potential crime as the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptists and Penn State, (just as examples) either were or currently still are in defending these monsters hiding within their walls as a haven for hunting.

And that’s the sad thing, they aren’t even hiding anymore. Once upon a time the powers that be would send them from one location to another. Long enough to destroy a number of lives before sending them onto the next location for more destruction. Now they just deny and/or defend. They are so well funded that they will sacrifice whomever it takes, pay whatever it costs, knowing they still have more in reserves and they don’t care how many children go down the tubes or how many lives are destroyed.

So I’m sending out an S.O.S. Please, let us all unite together. Put down the chains of competition and take on the yoke of cooperation. If we aren’t willing to take the steps necessary to be bound together, our children and the adult survivors of CSA don’t stand a chance. Together we have the talent, means and will to make our collective dream a reality, to make it so there would be no need for what we do.

How much greater a legacy would it be to say, we all had to find a new line of work because we had eradicated Childhood Sexual Abuse, just like we’ve eradicated other evils of society. But…

“Remember that, wherever there’s a will, there’s usually someone that’s in the way.”

Please don’t let that last quote be our legacy…

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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The Correlation Between CSA & Substance Abuse : Radio Interview with Elaine Crocker

Sunday, March 23rd at 7:00 pm ET, I was interviewed on Elaine Crocker’s Radio Show.

In addition to recapping my story of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), we discussed the correlation between CSA and drug addiction/substance abuse.

Elaine’s show is called Experience-Strength-Hope

The foundation of her show is: Everyone experiences defeat, heartbreak, loss. Hear inspiring stories of perseverance from people who have found strength & hope in and through despair.

If you are a survivor of CSA, and/or have had or still struggle with substance abuse, or if you know someone who has been through this, please take a few moments to listen. My hope is that you find some information that will help you or someone you love.

Unlike the era I grew up in, times are different now. You WILL be believed, people WILL listen and help, healing and hope ARE available. All you have to do is reach out and we’re here for you.

experiencestrengthhopelogo

Below is the link to the recording of the show:

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc


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Getting Away With Murder

When I originally came forward about my childhood minister, Frankie Wiley, sexually abusing, molesting and raping me, I titled the article “Pedophiles Are Like Serial Killers.” http://together-we-heal.org/2012/10/01/pedophiles-are-like-serial-killers-my-story-by-david-pittman/

I did this because what they do is like murdering the soul of a child. Over the last 8 years I have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of action being taken by lawmakers to protect children from sexual predators like Frankie Wiley.

For far too long pedophiles/sexual predators have been getting away with the murder of the innocence of childhood. What has enabled this, is the inability of a child to speak out against their abusers in the “time allotted” by outdated laws that exist in almost every state in the Union. In most cases, a victim of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has only a few years to come forward and these pedophiles/sexual predators/monsters know and count on the fact that most children are either too scared or think no one will believe them. By the time they are able to say something, if they ever get to that point, it’s too late legally to prosecute them.

It is beyond the pale that we have sat back and done nothing to protect those that cannot defend themselves. There are just a handful of states with the courage to do just that. It’s called “window legislation” and it allows an additional measure of time to bring justice to those that deserve and for those that are in need. Window Legislation has to become a MUST for ALL STATES if we ever hope to give victims a chance at the justice they deserve. Even more needed is the total elimination of the statute of limitation laws regarding CSA.

As it stands now, most states only give about 5 years either from the time of the incident(s) or from the time the victim turns 18. So at “best case” they have until they are 23 to come forward, or less if it happened younger. Most children do not have the ability to even realize the harm that has befallen them, much less say something about it. Sexual predators know this and it’s why the average offender, if not caught, has approximately 117 victims over the course of their life. (National Crime Statistics).

Together We Heal (TWH) has partnered with Marci A. Hamilton, who is leading the charge to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding CSA. I would ask of all of you that you do the same. Go to her site: http://sol-reform.com/News/home/ and find out what the law is in your state, then go to your legislature and demand these archaic laws that only protect predators be squashed and laws be put into place that defend those who actually deserve it, our children.

I know that most people, because I was one of them for a long time, believe it’s not their representative standing in the way. “My” local Rep/Sen. is a good person and looks out for their constituents. If this were really true, would these laws still be on the books? I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth usually is. Most all of the current people in Congress are doing little to nothing. And the only thing that will cause them to take action is if we all let them know, either they make the changes needed or we will put in office someone who will. This is the message we must send and it’s the only one they will understand.

Please help us to make the necessary changes needed. We cannot do it without your help. And we cannot allow these sexual predators to keep getting away with murder. It’s in your hands now…what will you do?

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal


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Stop Child Abuse Now – Statute of Limitation Law Reform

Our latest radio appearance was as a member of the panel for an incredibly important show on Statute of Limitation Law reform with special guest, Marci A. Hamilton.

If you have read any of our recent articles on the issue of SOL law reform, you know how important it is. And even if you have read the previous articles, please take the time to listen to this show. Marci is the foremost figure in providing information on each states current status and where they’re headed or leaning on the issue.

I cannot stress just how much she means to us, helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse, having any chance at legal justice.

Marci is an attorney and professor who’s leading the battle to eliminate the Statute of Limitations for issues of child abuse. She has served as constitutional and federal law counsel in many important clergy sex abuse and religious land use cases in state and federal courts, and has testified before numerous state legislatures regarding elimination of the statutes of limitations for childhood sex abuse. She is frequently asked to advise Congress. She is an author, lecturer, and advocate on the protection of the vulnerable from religious institutions. She is also a national leader for legislative reform, particularly Statute of Limitations reform through her website http://www.sol-reform.com — Marci is the author of “Justice Denied: What America Must Do To Protect Its Children” (2012). I can say, having read her book, just how important the information she provides is. Please be sure to read it.

This is MUST HEAR to get the info you need to fully grasp how out of control these outdated laws are and how they protect pedophiles/sexual predators and further victimize survivors of CSA. Let me repeat what these laws do and who wants to keep them in place – they PROTECT SEXUAL PREDATORS and RE-VICTIMIZE SURVIVORS of CSA. And the very people keeping them in place are CATHOLIC BISHOPS, THE VATICAN, and YOUR LAWMAKERS SYMPATHETIC TO PEDOPHILES. But don’t believe me; listen, read, research and learn for yourself.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/10/29/stop-child-abuse-now-scan-

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Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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It’s Time We Stood Together – Its Time To Eliminate SOL Laws

My friend and colleague, Marjorie McKinnon, director of The Lamplighters, posted this saying and I believe it sums up everything we should do as organizations working toward the same goal – “We must all stand together, so that no one must stand alone.”

I’ve been speaking with Marci A. Hamilton, because I was thinking of forming a 501(c)(4) in order to work more in the area of changing/reforming statute of limitation laws that dealt with sex crimes against children. But since, as a 501(c)(3) we are allowed to use up to 20% of our time/resources to work in this area, she brought up a great point and I wanted to share it with you. Before I do, you should know why I called Marci.

She is a nationally recognized professor, religion/state scholar, and a leading attorney in major clergy sex abuse cases. She is the leading national expert on child sex abuse statutes of limitations, and maintains the cutting edge website, http://www.sol-reform.com, which contains up-to-date information on this vital social movement in all 50 states. She is frequently asked to advise Congress and state legislatures on the constitutionality of pending legislation and to consult in cases involving important constitutional issues. Professor Hamilton is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press 2008, 2012) and God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press 2005, 2007), which won the Silver Medal, Foreword Magazine Political Science Book of the Year Award, Political Science in 2005 and she is a visiting professor at Princeton University, New York University School of Law, Emory University School of Law, and the Princeton Theological Seminary.

She suggested, rather than starting over, why not pool our resources and work together with other groups already established to change the laws. So with that in mind I’m reaching out to everyone. Join with us to eliminate SOL laws that protect pedophiles/sexual predators and impede justice for survivors of CSA.

Rather than working alone and at times even against the grain, I believe we, and all survivors would be better served by this combination of resources. I’m so tired of a few organizations being more worried about “eyeballs on websites” and who gets what donor money. Isn’t this supposed to be about our fellow survivors of CSA? If so, if you really believe this, then email me and Marci so we can add your name and organization to the list and website of those already working together and lets get this done!

I am going to send some direct emails to those of you I believe will be on board but I also wanted to get this out there for everyone. Please join us in changing these outdated laws that protect the criminals and re-victimize those who’ve already suffered.

Let me say this again, if you really believe as we do, then step up and join us in this fight. This is an area we can make meaningful change, long-term, in the lives of survivors past, present and future. For those in the past, like myself, it shows our efforts and what we been through won’t be in vain. And for those present and future…the results will be self-evident.

We need your company name, logo, primary contact name and email address.

To see what is happening on SOL reform, visit Prof. Hamilton’s website
http://www.sol-reform.com. It is regularly updated.

Email either of us at:

David Pittman – togetherweheal@ymail.com
Marci A. Hamilton – hamilton02@aol.com

If not for yourself, then do this for those now and in the future.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal