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Two Staff Connect


Hey everybody, welcome to Catch the Message. Um, my name is Victor and I'm here with Deanna. Hi, Deanna.


Hey, how are you?


Yes, I'm good. Um, we are, uh, if, if I always say this, because sometimes maybe you're, you're coming in at this point, uh, of our podcast. We are all about creating very important, uh, curriculum and content for kids and teachers and parents to help, uh, help them keep their bodies safe. And, and this podcast is really about sharing the courage, uh, that we hear, uh, almost every day we're at a school. We hear it from a student or from faculty, um, or parents for that matter. So today, um, we, uh, Deanna would like to share something that she, uh, experienced.


Yeah, absolutely. So Victor and I, oftentimes when we go to a district, uh, we, we kind of split the district as best we can, right? Unless someone specifically requests him or me. So last year we were both at, um, one of the two middle schools, and then this year we flip flopped. And I had never been to this middle school, although they'd had Victor's program, you know, uh, uh, be seen and heard <laugh>. I almost said the name of the podcast, be seen and heard, I mean, for years. And when I first got there, they were like, oh my gosh, you're not Victor. And they were so kind. I mean, the staff literally walked me down to this amazing presentation space in the library and, you know, they were, they were just very warm and welcoming. And that's, to me, that's always such a good sign.

And so, uh, I presented to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, and after the first presentation, sixth grade, uh, a staff member had come up to me and they, they, you know, kind of waited till everybody had left after q and a and said, you know, I, I have a daughter and she was sexually abused by my ex-husband. And it all came out after we got divorced, after everything was settled in family court. And she goes, and I feel like it's still impacting her today. And she goes, I just feel like your story would resonate so much with her. In each of those programs, students had asked me who my abuser was, and I have this long-winded answer, which ends up me telling them that it was my dad. And she goes, you know, it's just so empowering to see not only that you share this, but just that you seem okay.

And so I gave her my card and I said, please, if, if you wanna chat, because this can impact you if, if your daughter, you know, wants to reach out, like, I'm such, I'm, I'm an open book, I'm happy to provide support. I'm not a therapist, not a counselor can always stay within, within what I'm able to do, but I'm always happy to listen and provide resources for people who could provide extra help. Okay? So that was the, the first presentation. After the second presentation, I had a longer break and, uh, someone had been listening to the first two programs and they had heard, you know, my story in two different ways now. And she came up to me after, and we had a, a kind of a long break. So I was kind of eating my lunch and, which was so nice cuz I'm in the library, they let me eat my lunch <laugh>.

And, and she came up and was very quiet and started sharing with me that her sister had been sexually abused by, um, her step grandfather and that it actually happened to many of the kids, but never her. And I said, okay. I go, and, you know, I did my validation thing, you know, as we often do is helping professionals, um, you know, that it can hurt us when we think about a sibling and we may ask ourselves, you know, that's survivor's guilt, why not me? And she goes, yeah. And it's, it's very interesting cuz the, you know, the abuse he inflicted upon her was very severe, um, uh, I mean the most severe that you could think of, you know, without, without going into graphic detail. Um, and she said, well, I can't wait to hear the last program and a few more minutes go by, I'm reading my book.

And she comes back over and she goes, you know, there is some things that he did to me, but I never thought of it as abuse. And I go, okay. I go, well, you know, you're always welcome to share with me. I would never pressure you. And through this conversation, um, this woman came not, I don't know if she came to terms, I don't know if it happens that quickly, but she came to the realization that it wasn't survivor's guilt. She was feeling it was that she's a survivor. And I let her know that, uh, it can be a very difficult thing to recognize and acknowledge. And I also, uh, let her know that, you know, knowing that it happened to someone we love and care about, and then realizing that we also experienced something horrific is a lot. And that if she needs to take time for the day, that's okay.

You know, all about self-care. So I do my last presentation and the staff member is packing up the space, she's putting chairs away, and she was not talkative like she was before. And I had said, you know, that's some pretty heavy stuff, you know, that I talk about throughout the programs. I didn't wanna bring up what she had shared with me unless she wanted to. And she goes, yeah, that was really heavy. She goes, and honestly, I feel like I'm just trying to move my body right now to, to process what I have realized today. Uh, so I ended up finishing, packing up my stuff, and I walked over to her and I, and I said, you don't ever have to talk about anything ever, um, but here's my card and please know that anytime you wanna chat, no pressure ever. Um, but, and she gave me the biggest hug and walked me to the door and I turned and I said, thank you for making a space, um, for me to come in.

But the kids understand as well how safe this room is. I go, that's probably why they came in here and were so great to me. And the reason why this stuck with me, it wasn't just the disclosures, it wasn't just, you know, the realization that it happened. Um, I've said this before on the podcast, Erin's law or sexual abuse prevention, the priority is the kids. But we are reaching so much more than just kids, right? We're reaching the parents, the adults, the survivors, the people who have kept this a secret or not even realized they were abused until they heard a program like ours. And I find that to be so powerful and, and I've said it before, it's such an honor to get to be that person. And I, I, I feel like we never forget those moments. We really don't. And, you know, um, I haven't gotten a call, I haven't gotten an email. Um, but you know, whenever they want, I'm, I'm there. And that's, that's the power, uh, you know, as we say kind of right. They, they caught the message. They did,


Yeah. They definitely caught the message. And it's a great, even, you may never hear from her, but mm-hmm. <affirmative> the fact that she started that process, you know, who knows, she could be talking to somebody else or not, or whatever. Hmm. But it's the idea of of being comfortable enough to bring it up. Um, I think that's really, really important. Um, since our, our presentation started in 2014, we've had, uh, and I'm assuming after this year, it's closer to 500 disclosures of kids, parents and faculty members, teachers that have come forward to share with us in some capacity. And that's what we know of. There's a whole bunch of, uh, disclosures that we never hear about at a school, but, you know, who knows, this is, this is really important work. And we continue to do that, and we always tell the kids, catch the message.

What's the message that we're sharing with you today? Really extremely important. So, um, I'm gonna ask you if, if you're finding this valuable, please share this with your family, friends, and your schools. If, if you're a parent with a student in a school, a child in a school, um, share this message. We, we offer all different kinds of curriculum from obviously sexual abuse, awareness and prevention. Uh, we have a gun safety, uh, awareness, uh, curriculum. We have, uh, human trafficking and exploitation, um, curriculum, different types, uh, harassment. Um, check out our [email protected] and reach out to us if you've, uh, feel inspired to. So with that being said, thank you very much. Thanks Deanna, and we will see you next time. Bye everybody.