Choices: Strength and Courage or Giving Up   Leave a comment

Last October I had the privilege of being the photographer for the Plantetree International Conference in Montreal, and also to lead a workshop with the title of Child Sexual Abuse, Recovery, and Creative Expression –

Another title could have been:  Healing the Past to Live the Life We Were Born For

 

As many of you know I have written and published my memoir, Without Faith: A Motherless Child Redeemed by a Determined Spirit – withoutfaith.com – The book describes the abuses suffered as an abandoned child, the pitfalls of addiction, and the miracle of healing recovery.  In the workshop I told my story, but more importantly shared the constant healing and closeness to God that I experience when expressing gifts of love in photography and poetry.  I ended the workshop with a powerpoint demonstration of my images and quotations to demonstrate.  

During my talk I said, “Today if you’re at a party and someone is discussing sexuality you’ll most likely create a stirring conversation among a group of people … but, if you mention child sexual abuse you’ll probably find yourself standing alone in the room.”

 

After the workshop, one of the people that came up to thank me was a thirty-something, attractive, professional woman who said, “I’m the person at the party who’s usually left standing alone…When people ask what I do for a living, as they usually do at parties, I tell them I’m a Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiner.” –  (also known as S.A.N.E. nurse). 

 

Very few people want to hear the words child sexual abuse, no less have a conversation about it. When children or adults suffer sexual abuse the response is most often the same: Shame — Buried in silence by the victim, and by the family who often feels responsible as caregivers.  Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor and author has delivered powerful speeches on the debilitating effects of shame. 

 

Everyone has experienced shame sometime in someway — If they would be honest and courageous enough to talk about it, and not run from it, we could be a society that would love more deeply, have less crime, create more art, and live more openly and unafraid.

 

Kerry, the S.A.N.E. nurse I met at the Montreal workshop wrote to me yesterday to tell me that her hospital in Chicago would like to purchase a 24″ x 36″ canvas of my image of the fork in the road to be hung in their examination room.  She said, “I like this picture because I feel like a sexual assault patient that is in the ED can walk down one of two roads, one of strength and courage, or one of giving up.”

 

Today, I am honored and grateful beyond measure knowing that this image will be seen by sexual assault victims that are in crisis, and getting help —  I pray  for all who have suffered to know they have a choice and to take the path of  “strength and courage.”

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