From Darkness to Light

What I was trying to express in my last blog was the permeating effects of trauma. We all know this. What frustrates me is our justice system and how those that abuse get such little “time” when those that are hurt will pay for the rest of their lives. Now what I didn’t cover in the last blog that I want to cover here is this:

I have touched base with many friends from my past, some who have experienced similar trauma and some whose lives thankfully never even came close - in their past or present. But their stories are the same - the crap that we go through builds us into who we are. Resiliency. Sometimes we just need to find some ropes to hang onto or some hands to hold.

The other side of Epigenetics and Resources

I talked about the fabulous Alberta study in my last blog - the one where our axis gets shifted? Well, guess what...

“The effects of trauma which can be transmitted to the offspring can be reversed by a positive experience”
Isabelle Mansuy, professor of neuroepigenetics University of Zurich, 2019

I love this study!! What it's confirming is that we are not our past. What happens to us does not have to define us.

So how do you shift? What's out there?

I am a huge fan of prevention, not reaction. One resource that is out there for kids both online and in Alberta is Little Warriors and the Be Brave Ranch There are 2 main parts of resources - one for the general community - the Prevent It! Program. Offered in-person and online by Little Warriors. Prevent It! is an evidence-based educational workshop developed in conjunction with researchers at the University of Alberta. Prevent It! educates and empowers adults to take action and help prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

The Prevent It! workshop offers hope to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Research has shown that adults who complete it become more supportive of children and begin using more behaviours that are believed to reduce children’s vulnerability to sexual abuse.

And for kids who have gone through being sexually abused there is a trauma-informed evidence-based, treatment centre focused on helping children who have been sexually abused, as well as their families. Our program is for girls and boys from 8-12 years old and girls between the ages of 13 and 16.

An international organization is Darkness to Light, which also offers online training for adults to help prevent and be aware of sexual abuse. Stewards of Training is $10 and this site is full of resources. There is access to professional counsellors 24/7 and a variety of other courses are offered as well such as resiliency around COVID!

What I learned when taking these courses is how even the simple steps of using the proper terms for vagina and penis help in preventing child sexual abuse. Simply because it takes away the shaming when talking about these parts. If we can talk to our kids about their private areas as easily as we can talk to them about their scraped knee can you imagine how that could open up a conversation without it being embarrassing?

We also took away forced touching from the time that they were verbal - meaning when bathing our kids we would ask permission to wash them or they could wash themselves. We would ask for a hug, not assume we would get one automatically. Always giving them control of their bodies and we honour that at family events. They don't have to hug every Aunt and Uncle - they can fist bump, high five or just say hello.

Our Kids Need More

All you have to do these days is turn on social media or the news for two minutes and you hear about kids struggling. I know my focus has been on sexual abuse trauma these past couple of chats with you but trauma can come in many forms - such as being told your world isn’t safe and you aren't allowed to see your friends anymore.

Waitlists for counselling or psychological services for youth are months or years long. I have worked in school systems as a social worker with kids ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 as a behaviour support worker in a variety of communities.

Here's what I’d like to do but I want your input as well. I would like to start up a children and youth online membership coaching program where there will be zoom calls, resources, a chance to chat and ask questions. There will be weekly or bi-weekly courses that are developmentally appropriate, guest speakers from leaders in the community and online.

And I’d like to get local business involved on a monthly basis for youth-friendly meetups that are co-sponsored - for example, a pizza party where members can meet up face to face, obviously COVID-safe, but a chance to form new friendships and new connections in the community. And for those not in Airdrie, I can coach a parent online if they are wanting to do something similar in their area.

If you would like to have any input on the creation of this program, please feel free to contact me directly or comment on this post. I am looking forward to launching this program in my community and helping bring children another safe place to connect and grow in a healthy way.