Help a Survivor Help Others
Summary: Education & Healing is Crucial
This campaign is about helping Joanna Price, a single mom and adult survivor of childhood abuse, cover the cost of higher education so she can serve a critical need in our society: the treatment, recovery, and healing of other adult survivors of childhood abuse.
Survivors, for short, are woefully under-served and are often left struggling on their own with severe depression, anxiety, night terrors, PTSD, and more. Yet, the statistics clearly show the problem of child abuse is at epidemic proportions, and untreated adult survivors at epidemic populations.
Paid options for recovery, support and healing are very few. Not every therapist understand this type of trauma. Free options for peer support are practically non-existent. Existing local services can deal with dozens and maybe hundreds. But there are tens and hundreds of thousands untreated and unsupported adult survivors struggling to do just that, survive.
Joanna is determined to accomplish two things:
1) Support & Healing - by spreading the idea of Survivors Anonymous Groups and ASCA Program resources far and wide until every adult survivor of child abuse knows where they can go to get free peer support in their struggle and journey toward healing.
2) Education & Service - by earning a Social Worker degree herself so she can work directly with those who are where she has been.
Knowing what I (Dwight) know about Joanna, these things are definitely going to happen. Joanna trusts things will work out they way they are meant to work out -just as you reading this campaign now is no coincidence- even if she doesn't know all the details of how that's going to happen.
So, as I see it, you can either sit helplessly by and watch it eventually happen, or you can reach into your heart and watch your contribution help make it happen sooner rather than later. Who knows how many lives you can improve through Joanna's vision?
Introducing Jo, Dwight, and Survivors Anonymous
Joanna Price is an ambitious woman and a survivor of child abuse. She worked hard to raise her kids as a single mom while running her own residential cleaning business. Years ago, her 15-year marriage ended in divorce. She always had memories and knowledge of the abuse, but she didn't seek help until she met her next partner, Jonathan Ervin, and he sought out support for her. She ended up in therapy as the issues of childhood abuse became obvious to someone else who cared. (Jonathan's full name used by permission from Jo. "Without him there wouldn't be Survivors Anonymous.")
Jo began participating in a therapist-led support group for extra help, but it was not free. Eventually, it became cost prohibitive to keep going. When she inquired about a no- or low-cost peer support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step groups supported only by member contributions, she discovered there was only one in the entire state of North Carolina (1) and none in her area. None. She decided to change that.
In Nov 2017, Jo created her own peer support group for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse in Greensboro, NC, called “Survivors Anonymous.” Her intention is to fill that blatant void of non-existent support groups for survivors in this area and others. Survivors Anonymous is currently a private Meetup group (2) with weekly meetings based on the principles and resources of the ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) Program, a Morris Center program for healing from the trauma of childhood abuse.
My name is Dwight Hurych, the co-organizer of the Meetup group Jo created, and the author of this GoFundMe campaign. I’m happy to take a back seat to Jo’s vision for Survivors Anonymous. She’s driven to make a huge difference in the lives of other survivors. If you want to begin to appreciate what her peer support group does for others, please watch the TEDx Talk below. Bear in mind, our group based on the resources of the ASCA Program is not restricted to sexual abuse and rape, but includes all child abuse.
We witness amazing transformations and experience touching insights at practically every meeting. We share vulnerably from our hearts and listen compassionately to each other’s personal journeys, pains and gains. The ASCA materials guide us through the Stages and Steps of healing. They provide us with plenty of topics with which we can relate and discuss openly, such as severe depression and anxiety.
A member who attended recently had this to say in the comments, "I had an amazing time and so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a meetup. I thank all of you for being so kind, loving and supportive towards me. I needed that more than you could ever know." Jo created Survivors Anonymous with a tender loving heart for such people.
Many of the horrific stories we hear, such as issues stemming from incest, rape, mental shaming, emotional neglect, etc., come from childhood memories between the ages of 3 and 12. You would think this is a time to form fond memories of family traditions and happy times with friends. Instead, deep issues often warp their ability to live fully in the present as adults without deep-seated fear and anxiety.
(1) There are only two support groups listed in ASCA’s directory for North Carolina at the time of this writing: one in Raleigh, and “Survivors Anonymous,” the one Jo created in Greensboro, NC.
(2) Although the group membership is anonymous, Jo and I agreed to share our identities and some information about our abuses for the purpose of raising awareness about the need for peer support groups and specifically the existence of this group in the Greensboro NC area. No one’s actual name, gender, age, or any other identifying information is used. Our priority is on creating a environment in which to safely experience vulnerability with caring peer support.
The Future Vision
It’s a sad and terrible situation that Adult Survivors of Child Abuse do not have access to anything like this peer support group in the entire state of North Carolina, except Raleigh, as far as we know, let alone the Triad area, which includes Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem.
But, if and when Jo’s vision becomes reality, with my help and yours, it won’t always be that way.
Survivors will learn to thrive. Healing can occur outside the therapist’s office and among new, healthy friends. Already we shared information about our group on Facebook and a survivor in Charlotte wants to start a group there. We're excited! Therapists we’ve contacted in the Greensboro area are excited that a peer support group is available to their clients who need it. Some are even offering to share news of our group with a network of colleagues. This group isn’t going to stay small and localized for long.
One therapist replied, "Thank you for all the information! I look forward to sharing it. This is a much needed resource for our area, for sure."
Even a small, local peer support group makes a huge contribution to the community. But, Jo has a powerful vision for Survivors Anonymous, and herself, that extend way beyond one, two or even three peer support groups. Right now, I can get a booklet of several AA 12-Step meetings where I could pick which day and time works best for me. Jo imagines a time when Survivors Anonymous meetings will be just as prevalent. In addition, she is taking steps to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker so she can help even more people in a real, caring, and tangible way, which for her means going back to school to earn her degree as well as networking to gain some real-world experience in that field.
Why an ASCA Support Group? Why Not a 12-Step Group?
While an addiction can be the fallout of childhood abuse, it isn’t the main issue. Instead of escaping reality in an addiction, an adult survivor of child abuse often does not know what reality is. Their own identity can feel like foreign territory where one remains hidden and confused. Their own skin can feel like a dangerous element with which to avoid contact. Unfortunately, 12-Step groups don’t come close to confronting the real issues facing a survivor. The ASCA Program, on the other hand, is specifically designed to deal with and heal from issues specific to a survivor.
Yes, there are emergency numbers for community services, and therapists who specialize in childhood abuse (although a minority). But, those resources are situational versus ongoing. Survivors can get the immediate care they need, or learn and assimilate techniques for coping with issues. But, there is no replacement for a healthy and safe peer support group. Without this resource, merely existing can be isolating and lonely.
ASCA, or Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, “is an innovative and effective support program designed specifically for adult survivors of physical, sexual, and/or emotional child abuse or neglect. The program was designed to support and assist survivors of child abuse, irrespective of their financial situation, in moving on with their lives.” (Extracted from the website of the ASCA Support program. See link above.)
The Biggest Hurdle to Jump
You can see our financial goal for this GoFundMe campaign in big numbers across the top. What is the purpose of the large financial goal? It’s not just to cover the cost of being a Meetup Organizer ($180 per year). It’s way more than we could ever spend for snacks and coffee for the meetings (about $5-10 per meeting, if that). There’s no cost for the training and meeting resources provided by ASCA Support (free). So, what is the financial goal for?
It’s to help Jo, a survivor, be fully present at the meetings to help other survivors, and with her dream of becoming a social worker. It’s to help her clarify her vision of widespread peer support groups like Survivors Anonymous becoming reality. It’s to help make her dream of going back to college for a degree and becoming a social worker come true in order that she may care for others in need. It’s to give Jo a head start in all this.
The immediate need is to help Jo payoff debt that is a barrier to her goals for other survivors thru Survivors Anonymous, and her dreams for helping others who may have experienced childhood abuse or some other trauma. The total debt from the divorce was shared between husband and wife. But, her share continues to hang over her like a dark cloud. Jo is a survivor of childhood abuse, a fact she lives with every day. She also faces this "inherited" debt from a failed marriage every day.
The resulting financial struggle has created the biggest hurdle in her ability to move this group and her vision forward. Let’s end that today. Let's give her some breathing room so pursuing Survivors Anonymous and a degree in social work are not thwarted by virtually impossible barriers. Let's help her become a social worker to help others she hasn't even met yet. Going back to college, the University of North Carolina in Greensboro (UNCG) means tuition and other expenses. The financial goal for this campaign is just give her faith to get started. Let's show her it's completely doable to want to do good for others. A dream to help others is not just a dream, it's a mission.
Help a Survivor Help Other Survivors
In all her options to deal with this debt except one, there is time and effort spent away from her vision and dreams, while other survivors miss out on the benefit of having a peer support to call their own.
What is that one exception to deal with this debt for good? Simply this: a miracle, a miracle to which you can contribute right here and now by making a donation. A miracle to give her a fresh start to help her vision manifest and dreams come true, not just for her, but for the communities Survivors Anonymous reaches. A miracle to spread the gift of needed, caring support for other survivors. A miracle to help survivors to thrive, not merely exist.
YouTube Video of TED Talk: https://youtu.be/ehTtJRHlk-0
To learn more about the Meetup group, go to www.meetup.com/SurvivorsAnonymous/
To learn more about the ASCA Program, go to www.ASCASupport.org
Beginning in 2019, the Survivors Anonymous Meetup group will choose a trauma/abuse related book title each month to discuss in a group meeting. No worries if you don't have time to read it as we will inform you of content that could potentially be helpful on your path to healing and recovery. The titles will be announced by the first Tuesday each month to be discussed on the last Tuesday of the same month. Hopefully, this will give us all time to take a look at and possibly even read that months selection. Feel free to offer book ideas. Happy New Year!!
The first title for January 2019 is "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. ( https://www.overdrive.com/media/1438715/the-body-keeps-the-score)
It was a test of our model for starting other Meetup groups based on the original Survivors Anonymous group in Greensboro NC. It passed! Now we know Survivors Anonymous Meetup groups can be started anywhere in the world where Meetup.com exists.
Are you a survivor looking for peer support? Contact us to get started today.
For the Charlotte group, see https://www.meetup.com/SurvivorsAnonymousCharlotte/
For information about starting a group, see http://www.SurvivorsAnonymousGroup.com/