ellensagh

4. Taking Care of My Soul

Still on Social Assistance and had to drop off to them a photocopy of $100.00 cheque I received for assisting with a workshop. Found out they labelled me disabled and had to accept that. They were feeding me. Started a new Journal and wrote, Taking care of my soul and bringing it all back together.
Collage July 15, 1996
 Women are weaving the world; am I aware that most lovely women batter; that the #1 fear is of losing control; that something in the present is a reminder of past and action comes out of fear. By facing my fears such as learning to swim and getting organized to publish my book; I will be facing the truth of my past; find the beauty that is underneath the tears; see the truth merge the masculine, organized parts of me with the feminine broken parts of me. They are subtly merging everyday as I treat myself royally and keep celebrating by living. The tears wash away my brokenness. I am in a calm before the storm as I am about to show myself the brokenest parts of self; I can do it. I t will be easy to live with because I care about every part of me. I am more open and honest with myself. The celebration has begun as I live and learn and share with people who respect me. There will be a time for a job when the broken parts of me are strong. About one sixth of me is bleeding in pain and needs my most intensive care right now. What’s in it for me as I put myself together – intensive benefits – wholeness.
These days my back was feeling like it would break. An aboriginal woman picked me up early one morning and we went out on the banks of the river; we sat and shared with each other for 2 hours; and at the end of it; she burned sage and prayed; then asked me to… I was able to thank someone – whoever – for her; for birds, for earth, gifts; was hard for me; who am I praying to; going there and coming back; my back was like it would break but was okay all the time I was there. She gave me a basket and a brown rock to start preparing for winter. She corrected me as we were leaving as I butted a cigarette on the ground and asked me to take the butt with me.
Collage July 24, 1996 
 Now I live from the heart. I am becoming intimate with myself, all of me and accepting all of me. I now trust that I can dare to dream and the dream comes true; peace and joy will be mine the way nature intended. I have my angel inside guiding my way. I am at a new place in myself; a special place where I see things in a whole new light, a whole new way because I am more whole than I have ever been. I am climbing the peak of my mountain when all of the forgotten comes into the light. The unwanted touch while I was sleeping separated me from part of myself. It’s like now I have to survive re-entry; as I face the hidden and feel the pain; the terror; the deep sadness. By standing up for my child who was hurt, she will give me all the information t hat is stored inside so I can enter this second part of my journey with love. I will be able to face the truth of my life; see everything clearly; past and present and realize life doesn’t have to be complicated; my inspiration comes from within; in the company of women; care and respect – I can expect a lifetime of love.
I spent some time with my family of origin. They all said I was getting younger looking. I was able to listen as other people were pouring out feelings. Mom was angry and grouchy most of the weekend and as if I was seeing her and her judgementalness for the first time. I went home and did a collage about her.
Collage July 25, 1996
 Earliest memory to do with Mom is grabbing onto her leg and she pushing me away. Now I’m all grown up on the outside; inside as if I’ve been sleeping and my secret self is just waking up screaming help; help; remembering that Mom didn’t know me. She used scare tactics and guilt, guilt, guilt to control. As if I was pre-owned from the day I was born. She always said everything was perfectly normal, that awful things were a part of life, but she lived without being there for me, without seeing what was happening and now that she knows, acts as if there’s nothing she can do about it. I know to survive I chose a novel way to escape; no trace of the real me; but all her feelings of insecurity, anger and pain I took with me. Now is a time for calm, for finding my soul, become a woman, a gentle woman with all the qualities of the women who have been there for me and I will be able to find the real me as I deserve to today.
I spent days crying; feeling so alone; down on myself for not having a job; that my son didn’t have a driver’s license; that I have no blinds in my house; can’t clean or vacuum; am on welfare; questioning if I have multiple personality disorder. One of my friends told me to make a list of what I did like so I did. I was glad that I learned to use a computer; set boundaries with Stretch and Calvin; told Mom about book; reclaimed part of my soul, wrote 40 songs and all the poems; moved to Oiltown and moved back; better relationship with my kids; allowing new part of me to emerge; the VOICE, I healed a lot; and am there for my kids. The friend asked what gives me energy and life. I said creativity, purpose and action.
The next morning I woke up thinking of giving motivational seminars called Living in Respect. I felt good, had energy, changed my living room around. It looked awful but I felt good. I spent 2 days taking a self-assessment for career planning. When it was over, I found out I no longer fit the counsellor/ social worker mode; the main values I’d want in work are creative expression, artistic, freedom, independence, innovative ideas and moral fulfillment; did a visualization exercise and I could see myself travelling; listening to other people; learning from them; research; can’t imagine what type of job.
The kids and I were able to go to our first live theatre performance – CATS; a neighbour from the farming community we used to be from had given us the tickets. My counselling sessions that summer were me crying throughout the sessions; feeling no closer to figuring it all out; talking about trying to organize, sort out everything; put my whole life into perspective; pick out the good; know I talked a lot about no one in my family knowing me or ever asking what I do with a day; what my plans are; dreams, visions and is it they don’t want to know or they are just accepting of how I am; unsure what to do for a job; not feeling okay with where I was at in my life in Saskatoon; that my book was okay for me but wasn’t any use to anyone else.
Collage August 2, 1996
 I was so little when Dad hurt me; what he did is the same as murder; murder. He was a murderer when he wasn’t there for me; or when one minute he was gentle and nice and the next he was yelling at me and calling me names. The tears are coming now because I know it’s true. His rage that he took out on me was a crime; the crime of not being there for me was just the beginning of me going underground and seeing life like a blur forever; silence; screaming inside and my body wore down and wore down trying to hold the screams inside; control; ultimate control murders the self. The Rock of Ages; the Father is the be all and end all ; has the final say is crap. It left me under the water desperately fighting for air; trying my best to find beauty in shit. It seems what I knew from the beginning and couldn’t face till now; I have to face over and over again till I can bear the truth. All along the power I’ve needed has been inside. The flame inside has never burned out. In my search for approval, recognition and love from him, I tried to be good, so good and never ever hate anyone. It has been so hard to hate but the hate was always there; the pile of shit getting higher and higher as I never ever spoke up when someone hurt me. Beneath it all is the pure innocent me that wasn’t part of the horrible things done to me. Her eyes are wide open and I can ask her anything. She is the lost daughter whose creativity was stifled but never eliminated. She is strong enough now. I have been taking good care of her. I am strong enough and have 100’s of creative ways to break the silence imposed on her by Dad and all the primary teachers of my life. Easy does it can be a way of life for me as I listen to the voice of my soul and sort out what from the past I want to keep. I wanted to believe my father was the gentle man that exemplified Jesus and the saying Let the little children come to me. His buried rage and power over had none of the love I’d want in a Jesus. As I listen to my sadness, my tears, my anger and outrage, the ice inside is melting and I am growing into the creative soul I was meant to be; what it means to love and be loved will become crystal clear.
Collage August 3, 1996
 This is the dawning of the new me; when I surface from the deep and am able to take a deep breath anytime I want; relax. My body knows what I need to do ; to burst out of the old, be part of a new family that is real and open and I can rise from the murky waters, wake up out of the years of having to keep my eyes closed to what was really happening. It’s time to shine; I can be as creative as I want, as expressive as I need to be. I am a new kind of women whose time is now. I want to exchange softness for the hard world I’ve known up till now. It’s time; time to break from the old; break the control I was fed all my life; at home and at church. When I was fed granite and marble all my life; I became pretty hard; become what I ate; It’s hard to give up when it was all I knew; when I persuaded myself that it was good; that tradition is good. But someone special is here; the part of me that was nearly extinguished. I am speaking out and filling in my family history and right now it is about his story; the real story about how I was treated by my Dad; I can do it; speak my piece as it is a gift of love from me with love; the adult me is ready to listen to the content of my soul; till my heart’s content; till we have freedom together that we can enjoy as we bloom in the garden of life.
Was meditating. Saw indigo blue light and crackling white shooting through darkness like lightning on the right side of my brain. Through all these weeks and weeks of being angry at Mom and Dad, I was deciding whether to go with my sister and Mom and Dad to my sister’s in the States. The sister is the one who is the born again Christian. Finally I decided to go. The eight to ten days went fine; enjoyable even until we were on our way home.
I woke up in the motel room about 5 am; had been dreaming about someone who’s been working hard for 3 years and is very rich; who wants to give hugs and be hugged; wants to play on same side of volleyball net that was playing against and the sister who we had just visited was putting a golden yellow pendant on me. I stood up in the motel room; as if couldn’t get out of the dream; the hurt part of me that always feels betrayed and scared I would be hurt again was standing there shaking; my stomach was burning. I went outside and as I stood under the predawn sky; as if a knowing came through me that …we are all Jesus.
Before I had left for States, had completed a collage but wrote about it when I returned…

COLLAGE August 8, 1996 and August 19, 1996
 I am on the edge of something wonderful – serenity born – I am out of the deep; I can dream on to better things; I survived. I grew because of it. I have made a home for myself. I am lovable. I have discovered new ways of both needing and being needed. I am independent in every way except financially. I am discovering the parts of myself that love music, art, sisterhood and living straight from the heart. I am now comfortable being alone. I know I deserve the best; all the pleasures of life. These are the times when my body, mind and spirit are working together to create a garden within and without. This has been a summer of growth. Now I want to make all my dreams come true. I can think big. I am blooming. I am real enough. My natural instincts inspired by nature will allow me to explore comfort and style. My life will never be dull. I am authentic. I will live authentically; always protecting the still hurt, vulnerable parts of myself. I want a soul mate to share with but also to have a relationship with. I am a touchable woman and I’ve broken free of feeling I deserve shit; I can take it to the next level with song; as I spend time with real people living in harmony.
 I want to be a good mom with lots of family time in our calendar where we journey together. My 40’s: I feel like Life’s Adventure has begun; I am no longer like a porcelain doll that could crack into a million pieces; if I was hurt once more I am as soft and gentle and pure as a newborn angel that is discovering the world around and has a genuine interest and caring in those around me. I feel like Rebirth; New. I can start a beautiful dream; travel will be part of it; people will be getting the picture. I am ahead of the rest of society. It will be a do it yourself design. I can decorate my dreams anyway I want. A simple way to make me sparkle and bloom beautifully is being open; by my own rules. I feel like a hummingbird testing out it’s wings; and on it’s first journey out of its nest; finds a flower full of honey; sweet nectar. I also feel ready to meet a man and enjoy his company. I will whistle while I work towards everything being back following my natural instincts to keep me safe. In four years I won’t recognize myself.
Towards the fall, I wrote a bunch of the following in my journal as I was so struggling with not being able to work. I would feel like I was at fault for being where I was at and then like it wasn’t my fault; totally mixed up and confused; think I was ready for work; then I wasn’t ready; I’d want to be a social worker; then I didn’t; that I was fully dependent on Social Services over and over; they were taking care of me; then would think, no; I am taking care of me; scared I’d always be dependent; scared my car would quit; sick of thinking I’m always in the wrong; don’t want to be around survivors; don’t want to be different; don’t like the clothes in my closet; want to appear as if I have it all together; I am my emotion or I am not my emotion. I do what I do – inner healing and expression so I can end the pain I have been carrying inside; live consciously for my children and their children; want to know myself; express my inner self. Nothing is making sense; violence doesn’t make sense. I didn’t choose my memories to come back. I chose how to deal with them; Alfred chose how to deal with them. I didn’t threaten him and if I did try to control or manipulate him it was what I needed to do at the time to get through. He could have found better ways of relating. I am no longer going to judge myself. It will all come clear someday. I will be gentle with myself. I have all the qualities and abilities to do hundreds of things and can accomplish anything I want but I also give myself permission to feel the hopelessness, the inadequacy, the anger, the fear and to grieve that I lost my marriage, that type of family life and I may never have it again. The kids will never know what it’s like to have a happy home of a mom and dad and kids; a father who is there for them and I won’t have a husband to talk to about the kids, my day, to help them get into university, to help get their driver’s license, to get them cars, to take care of the car.
It was fall and kids were back in school and people had lives and I was struggling with what to do with mine. I joined a job finding club and as we sorted out our gifts and strengths; I was deciding to be a customer relations officer; a motivational speaker, a community development worker or an individual/family support worker. I ended up making a resume that said at the top that my objective was: I would like a position as a social worker providing individual and family support and/or in community development. One woman phoned to see if I would speak out at a Women’s Take Back The Night March; another woman asked if I would put a proposal together to do educational workshops for lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc regarding survivors of sexual abuse; that an organization in Saskatoon had some training money for a coordinator. I saw the pro’s of that as giving meaning to what I’d gone through, knew I was good at public education and coordinating; I would learn things but the cons were, would I overdo it; would there be any money in it; would I have enough support.
A friend who was married to a lawyer offered to print my book from disc if I supplied the ink. The day it was printed, her husband came home for lunch and I asked him if he would consider reading it and tell me if there was anything in the book that I could be sued for. He said he would and within a day, he let me know his thoughts. What could anyone sue me for as I had nothing and that he saw the book as my truth and my experience; and so what if the Catholic Church sued – it would only draw attention to them and so he didn’t think anyone would. That was helpful to me. 

I took the kids out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate I wrote the book even though I was exhausted and down. I wrote pages and pages in my journal of all that had changed and would never be the same again and then I wrote and mailed the following letter to 13 different well known Canadian Publishers.

 Sept. 14, 1996
This is a letter of inquiry asking if your company is interested in publishing my book, Titled: Wanted: Someone To Understand.
 My book documents my experience of recalling memories of childhood sexual abuse. The abuse included incest within my family of origin, and, of a rape by a Roman Catholic priest. The priest was still a practicing clergyman when my memories returned in 1992.
 For 3 1/2 years, I kept a daily journal chronicling my inner and outer experiences. My book uses excerpts from these journals as well as court transcripts, and press clippings regarding the criminal trial of the convicted priest who is currently servicing his sentence for 15 sexual assaults in the Sask. Penitentiary. His statutory release date will be Dec./96. Correspondence and journal entries also portray the response I received from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, my family, church community, City of Saskatoon including the health, social services, justice and counselling communities.
 At the same time, my book demonstrates the inner process of coming to terms with truth, moving through the darkness and my search for understanding within myself as well as from the community around me when all previous belief systems were shattered.
 The book is presented in chronological order – story format. As the 3 ½ years unfold, the journal excerpts include the use of free writing, collage, prose and poetry to demonstrate the inner journey in the same chronological order.
 This book is timely. It will educate the general public, other survivors and professionals; including psychiatrists, doctors, physiotherapists, counsellors, families dealing with sexual abuse, church laity and hierarchy, justice and social worker on the following:
 impact and aftereffects of sexual abuse
 magnitude of the problem and society’s denial
 how the Catholic church is handling these issues
 memory recall, body memories, emotion, pain
 methods of healing
 understanding of the multifaceted issues survivors face on a daily basis.
I look forward to hearing if your company is interested in publishing my book.
Sincerely,
Sharon Speaks
I made a proposal to the Inter Agency Council for Survivor Services that I would like to be a Coordinator for Education Workshops for professionals. They asked me to submit a budget for half time work to their Oct.1996 meeting. Walked out of there hoping that someday I could find a plain job where I could pay off my student loan, pay my Dad and my aunt the money I owe them, buy whatever the kids need; always have eatable things in the house, buy runners for myself; be able to join things, get my car fixed.
Excerpts from SPEECH FOR TAKE BACK THE NIGHT******
 I just went through 4 weeks of hell trying to decide if I had a right to say what I needed to say; to speak my truth and not worry about what others think; I just wrote a book. I was trying to decide if I would publish it. It’s a book about what it’s like to get memories back of childhood sexual abuse; what it’s like to be raped; what it’s like to go thru the pain, the anger, the rage and the support I need. It’s also about the support I got so that I can speak out today. For 35 years I was not aware of what violence was; what being safe was; what feeling safe was. I got hurt. It was normal. I didn’t feel it. A day later, I didn’t know it happened.
When I have no feelings, I have no consciousness of fear, of safety. The last 4 ½ years I have been feeling. I have been healing. I am now aware of what being safe is about; what being respected is about; what my rights are. When I first heard about sexual harassment about 4 years ago, I didn’t know what it was, what it meant. I didn’t think it had ever happened to me. This spring I got memories back of 20 years ago working in an insurance agency and my male boss, who was about 45 years old; never walking by me without touching me; never leaving me alone. I remember having to come to a conference in Saskatoon with him and him pressuring me to go to a motel with him and me begging and begging for him to take me home. I quit my job over that. He continued running his insurance agency and for 20 more years had a continual succession of young woman work in his office. I think of all the times I’ve said no and it wasn’t respected; all the times women have said no and it wasn’t respected.
 Thinking about coming here to talk and a poem came out:
Plan plan plan, have my keys in my hand
this way or that way; Is it safe for me this way
Walking to my car; always ready for flight
Is it safe for me to walk at night
Wanna go for a walk, could I go thru a park
Have to plan again, be home before it’s dark
Would anyone hear me if I called for help
I practice in my head how I’d scream and yell
Going to university when the sun has gone away
Will there be enough lighting to light my way
I’m into taking good care of me
I deserve to be safe, I deserve to be free.
 I believe in speaking out saying these things are happening, speaking out until I am heard, until I am understood and that means asking for what I need; charges be laid, support in my healing, a safe place to work, a safe place to play, changes made in our society, society to understand what it’s like, to deal with abuse, assaults, deal with sexual harassment.
I believe in healing our hurts, building on our strengths and supporting each other.

Sept. 27, 1996
Told Mom & Dad how angry I am that all this happened to me; how hard it is, maybe it is a depression but depression is anger turned inward and I’m angry; just haven’t been able to get it all out; how now as an adult I chew my fingernails off; I feel like a little girl lost; how hard it was in Oiltown, that I made a police statement, police dropped charges, angry at that; how many times I tried to talk to them and couldn’t; read some poems to them; told them I want to do public education but pretty pathetic if I can’t discuss it in the family; what the kids face from their father; how things have changed; children have to have a say; talked about how much pain I go through to do with Dad; how I used to think he sexually abused me and now I know that he didn’t but know he yelled at me; hit my brother; knocked on the walls.
It was mostly all between Dad & I; Mom cried but didn’t say hardly anything except that my Aunt thinks I should go on depression pills and then Mom asked if shock treatment would help.
When I work on the workshop proposal, my body pain goes away. Tamara’s House asked me to assist with the volunteer training weekend as a paid job and I agreed. At home I was doing so much crying so went out to Mom and Dad’s for the weekend. Woke up Saturday with body pain and worse. Left Mom’s crying and went over to a sisters. Cried there. Went to another sisters. Cried there. Went to a friends who lived in the country. Cried for a half hour. Walked in the fields for 1 hour crying and screaming. Walked to a church where I used to play the organ. Sat on back steps. Felt so lost. What’s it all been about; What do I know – What am I doing with my life; cried for hours; went back to the house and cried again. Talked about God and my marriage and the horror and having faith to now have no faith; sometimes no connection to God or a bigger picture and towards the end was feeling a bit better. Slept sound for first time in a long time. Went home and went to the Unitarian church the next morning. Didn’t really get anything out of it.
The publisher rejection letters started coming and added to my down. Was at a place where I was thinking of going on depression medication when I went to a talk at the university on Women and Depression. Know I’m not ever going on the medication; side effects are unreal; decided I don’t care if this takes 5 years; not giving in. Felt a lot better when my friend from England wrote and said I think you are doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can do. Wondering if this is about giving up being a survivor; that its not to go anywhere further; to be proud of the work I did at Tamara’s House and in my own life and I have my self respect; have made some necessary changes in my life; openness and respect with the kids; with friends; with my family; between God and I; question am I filled with the Holy Spirit; is it working in me as a channel of love between God and others; maybe have to accept that I’m just one of many; I’m not special in the world; just special to myself; wonder if I write the word God enough; will I feel the presence of God; can’t think of a God as a him.
Went back to Oiltown for the weekend – did lots of connecting with people I had met when I lived there. Decided to try the United Church. Felt like it was written for me – all about Remembering and Responding. Went walking the hills and fields I used to walk and song came into my head:
My spirit is out on the water
My spirit is out in the trees
My spirit is out on the hillside
My spirit is inside of me
Your spirit is in the fields I’ve walked
Your spirit is in the rustling of leaves
Your spirit is in the rocks I’ve picked
Your spirit is inside of me.

 Wrote a letter to God saying I am so angry that is so hard for me to believe in you; that this has gone on for so long and I don’t know what else to do to make it go away. I think I want to work at Tamara’s House; maybe I can do your work I wrote and then – those phrases just get me; they are all phrases I believe in; have I been doing your work all along; did I forget about you; was I trying to do it on my own; did I reject you; was I mad at you; or did I think you just weren’t there; so many things felt right when I was at church; now I don’t know anymore.
Was asked to speak to the Ursuline Sisters (Catholic group of nuns), at at place not very far from where I grew up, about Tamara’s House. I said,:
“This week has been another week of getting a lot of grief out. A song I made up kept going through my head: Somebody please listen, it hurts inside, Feels like I am dying, My tears they slide, down my nose and off of my chin, Maybe they’ll wash away the pain within.
 Coming here is like coming home because I knew there would be people here who I knew from my past; from when I was married; and went to the different churches around here but more than that; I’ve never had the chance to thank the Ursuline Sisters for providing a safe place for my sister Louise when she was trying to escape an abusive partner and my memories go back further to when I was in Grade 10 and wanted to come here; to the convent to school; I wanted to be a nun but what I really wanted was to escape from my home; I was being abused by my oldest brother; my aunt said she would pay the tuition but my Dad said no and that’s what it was like; when Dad said something; that was the law.
 I grew up in a Catholic home by Smalltown. Mom and Dad and 10 kids. I was the oldest girl. We went to church every Sunday; music was a big part of our lives. When I was 13, I started playing the church organ and stayed part of the music ministry in whatever parish I went in until I was 37. Outside of church, my Dad played the fiddle and I played at lots of dances and was involved in lots of areas of community life. I married, had children, moved a lot to do with my husband’s work and loved my God, my family, my church and my community involvement. Four and ½ years ago, my world shattered. I had never remembered being sexually abused. Then one day in 1992, it was just there; images in my mind of not one but 2 of my brothers sexually abusing me; different times; different ages. For 2 months it was like I was going crazy and I went away for a weekend to take a break from it and I got memories back of being 7 years old and being raped by my parish priest when I was practicing for my first communion. In those 3 months, my whole world view changed. I was not only in shock but I was outraged. I confronted my brothers. I confronted the priest. There were more admittances than denial. I tried to tell my family. What shocked me and still shocks me is the magnitude of this problem; 11 members of my family; sisters, sisters-in law, daughters, nieces had all been sexually abused as children; by brothers, uncles, grandfathers, fathers, friends of fathers, a babysitter.
 My sister, Louise, who died when she was in that abusive relationship; suicide; that can be an aftereffect of being sexually abused as a child – to be re-victimized over and over; to have problems with drug or alcohol addictions; to be suicidal.
 Louise, another sister and I were all sexually abused by that priest. 16 other women came forward and there were many who said they couldn’t and I admire their courage for dealing with the abuse in the way that works for them. I was living in Saskatoon when all this happened to me and I went around to every agency I could find to help me deal with this; because it was like I didn’t have a family anymore; it was like I didn’t have a church anymore; no one knew how to deal with it; except to ask me to just forget about it; get on with my life; it happened; to put it in the past. I had clergy question me on whether it really did happen or how could I not remember; what do I mean, I didn’t remember; or I’d talk to a parish worker and never hear from her again or when my marriage was totally falling apart; it was getting more and more abusive. I was trying to tell a priest about the fear I felt and he just said, oh don’t let your marriage be affected by this and wasn’t able to hear what I needed to say or ask me, What do I need. I had 2 sisters who supported me 100%. I had individuals who supported me 100% – over and over. One of your sisters; was there for me. I thank a friend for the wisest words she said to me at the beginning – don’t do a patchwork on this and those words have always stayed with me. I know that what is happening is I am healing through and through; I am not done and I will keep healing.
 What I’m healing from is crimes; what has happened over the last 100’s of years is this has been kept quiet; it’s been invisible; kept silent; in the 50’s and 60’s; children were told to be wary of the local town pervert or the dirty old man ; In the 80’s the silence got broken; women and men started going to counsellors, doctors, ministers; priests and telling them of the sexual abuse they had experienced in their homes. Now the invisible is visible. We are hearing about it every day. We are reading about it every day. When I hear about it, I am glad one more woman is speaking up and ending abuse. Years ago people might have said I had a nervous breakdown or a depression; but what is really happening is I am feeling the feelings that it wasn’t safe to feel; the horror, the terror; the rage; the pain; the deep deep grief at how my body was violated; how my mind was messed up, how my soul got shattered. All those feelings have been stored in my body and now it is safe to feel them but many times there’s no place to feel them.
 The first 2 years after my memories came back I did what I did all my life; stay so busy; be on hyper alert all the time just trying to survive. I went through a divorce, had to go on welfare and for the first time in my life; begged the church for help; went thru the court process. Even though the priest admitted abusing me and other girls; I had to go through 5 court appearances; including testifying at a preliminary hearing so he really wasn’t taking responsibility. I asked the diocese for concrete things to help me heal; for them to send me a list of resources for reading; to learn about this; I never received it; for them to provide me with someone to phone once a week like a pastoral care worker to talk to ; I never received it; for them to provide a safe place like a retreat place for all the survivors to have a place to heal. They thought it was a good idea but needed public and government input. It hasn’t happened.
Anyway I had to find my own places to heal and it’s not only me; it’s all the families that need support as well. One in three women are sexually abused before they are 18; 1 in 7 men; all I could think about was the amount of women sitting there on a Sunday dealing with this all on their own. I went back to University to finish my social work and in 1995 when it was time to do my practicum; I was able to do it at Tamara’s House – an organization dedicated to supporting survivors and working to get a safe house. In 6 months while I was there over 400 women called and/or visited the centre. After six months I knew I had to do my inner healing and I needed a safe place. I moved to Oiltown and had my own apartment. There, I was able to visit the Shelter House; which is a place where women go when fleeing an abusive relationship and they listened to my pain. That is what is needed. We need a safe house now; community response support; for the long haul. Many women have never had or known what a safe house is. We can be there for them by supporting a place like Tamara’s House.
 The talk went well and was the beginning of many as Tamara’s House interviewed me and offered me the position of Community Development Worker for 28 hours a week. It was meant to figure out ways to get the money for a safe home; to do community fund raising and public education and one part of the job was to develop and deliver three one day workshops in Saskatchewan prior to the end of Jan 97.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: