The Capitol was resolutely charged Tuesday as survivors and advocates stood alongside Mark Rozzi, Dan Frankel, Teresa Lancaster, and other noted speakers as they addressed issues including:

·      The necessity for abolishing the statute of limitations in PA.

·      The realities of Delayed Disclosure: Statistically most child victims of sexual assault disclose, if at all, during adulthood with a median age of 48 and an average age of 52, leaving the majority of childhood sexual abuse victims powerless when statues of limitations are in place, as they prevent them from seeking justice for their abuse as well as prosecuting or outing their perpetrators.

·      Spreading awareness that child sexual abuse is not just a Catholic issue by featuring Jehovah Witness Whistleblowers such as Barbara Anderson, Martin Haugh, and Michael Finkbeiner, Politicians/Advocates against policies that protect abusers rights, cast members from the Netflix series The Keepers including Teresa, and more.

I was very blessed to be among them due to the support via your GoFundMe donations, last minute assistance with renting a car, finding a place to stay, etc.

Chessa Manion, shres a laugh with Mark Rozzi, State Rep. D-Berks, minutes after a rally advocating for a change in state law to allow lawsuits for child sex abuse. Victims and supporters all gathered in the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pa. Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Manion, 29, who was raped by the son of a Jehovah’s Witness leader in Illinois when she was a small child. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

I was able to make many connections within the community and speak with different survivors, advocates, and politicians about the challenges survivors face after leaving High Control Organizations (HCO’s).

On top of being survivors of sexual abuse and struggling with mental health issues like identity disorders, trauma, and depression, as well as physical manifestations like STD’s, auto-immune diseases, and other chronic health issues, survivors of HCO’s such as the Watchtower, Scientology, Catholicism, etc. are left without families, communities, education, or support due to being shunned and silenced by their HCO’s policies that enact to protect personal identities and rights of accused pedophiles or abusers through enforcing policies that strongly suggest victims must remain silent or risk possible discipline, shunning, or losing every supportive member in their life simply for speaking out to warn others about acts of abuse by members within the organization, or desiring to press charges against their abuser and seek personal safety through the criminal justice system. ​

Due to my own personal experience in this area I was impassioned by the great amount of love, concern, and strength of conviction I witnessed in the advocates there. I had goals for a book and charity fund previous to going to this event, but after witnessing the true dedication everyone has to this cause as well as the support I received from all my contributors on GoFundMe and beyond to help get me to PA, my heart has been set alight with purpose and my goals are now much more than just dreams and plans, they are possible and more real now than ever. It was a beautiful and powerful moment for me in my life and I truly believe that the people who worked that day to raise their voices against silencing victims by calling out for better legislation and speaking their truth will not have their work be in vain.

Change is coming, it just takes time.

The personal goals I shared with others at the event included some of the same things I’ve outlined previously:

– Empowering survivors to channel their grief, pain, trauma, and other emotions into powerful works of self-expressionism including artwork, poetry, and personal accounts detailing what they have been through as well as how they are coping and moving forward to find their peace.

– Making the transition easier for survivors of sexual abuse and HCO’s to have access to community support through a charity fund for educational grants, crisis housing, therapy assistance from those especially qualified to help survivors with the unique challenges that come from leaving an HCO, etc.

Regarding my book I would like to take a quick moment to mention I have received a huge number of email submissions from survivors over the past week sharing their tales of trauma, survival, love, success, triumph over adversity, artwork, media, one gentleman even wrote a song. I haven’t had time to answer back to you as of yet but I plan on it this week. Thank you so much for sharing those beautiful expressions with me, you are all my heroes and in my heart. I am honored to have such captivating tales and submissions for the book and I look forward to getting with you all soon.

None of this would have been possible without your support and I am incredibly grateful. It has helped me to heal, and to find something constructive within myself to help me deal with my trauma as my story becomes public and my case moves forward. It also has proven to me that the support I received to get to PA can become a catalyst for starting a charity for survivors like me, because if I can do it anyone can, and I believe that together we can continue to build a strong foundation for a charity specifically geared towards silent victims and assisting them with the unique challenges they face in moving forward through those challenges and finding safety, stability, peace, and justice in the future.

– Chessa