Update on PA Trip, Using Our Voice, and my gift to Romy:
Continuing the journey:
As previously mentioned in my previous blog update I have plans to continue on my journey and keep moving forward. I have had many families reach out to me about their situations who have asked for assistance in their cases or to share their stories and media with me for the book, I have made personal contact with advocates who are looking to utilize the skills I have to offer in the community to help survivors and others seeking assistance, and there are many more opportunities that seem to be on the way.
PA was a start, not an end to my fundraising campaign, and there is still much more work to do.
So What’s Next?
After visiting the Capitol and discussing project planning and upcoming events with various advocates I was overwhelmed, inspired, and captivated by their productivity. However I was still at a loss myself as to how to continue forward on my own and do something constructive. I had so many ways to move forward and so many avenues to consider, but what would be my next crucial step? As I was brainstorming with Annie to find an answer, I received a phone call from Romy Miquell Maple.
Romy was recently featured on A&E’s Cult’s and Extreme Beliefs in an episode pertaining to Jehovah’s Witnesses and child sexual abuse detailing the horrific events she experienced as a child being sexually abused and silenced while the Watchtower’s policies protected her abuser relentlessly. Despite all that, she has remained steadfast and courageous and has become a force to be reckoned with since she began using her voice. She is a survivor and a strong advocate for mental wellness and currently is very involved in advocacy, spreading awareness, and even legislature.
She called to congratulate me on my successful venture to PA as well as to talk about the International Cultic Studies Association conference happening July 4th. In the conversation that followed we became fast friends discussing our various goals as well as the challenges inhibiting them, the main one being seeking higher education and certification to move forward as supporters in our community, but also the financial struggles we both face individually.
Her goal is to become a mentor and a motivational speaker for survivors of sexual abuse, and she has already been inspiring to so many through A&E, podcasts, posts, videos, and so on. In mentioning her goals she said she was eager to learn more through programs like the ICSA and that she has so much more to learn. She also spoke strongly about never wanting to take any money from survivors at all, and instead is giving her time, effort, support, and future mentorship to survivors at no cost.
We both have a shared history as survivors in childhood sexual abuse, growing up in a high control organization, being discouraged early on from advancing our educations, health issues, and so on. We also share some of the same challenges as far as taking the experiences we have now and going forward on our different paths as we work towards helping survivors.
Romy has mentioned being interested in certain discourses by ICSA involving the martyrdom of children in cult organizations and how it can make them physically ill.
I am interested in the addressing of mental health issues and stigma inside HCO’s and abusive relationships, as well as educational discrimination and preventing members from receiving a higher education or outside knowledge. I am also interested in the role a family dynamic plays inside as well.
Our shared challenge is finances. We both are working around the clock speaking with survivors daily, working on law reform, attending conferences and events, writing books, etc but having difficulty with the financial strain of travel as well as conference fee’s, etc. If we could attend the conference it would greatly aid us in achieving credits towards becoming mentors and motivational speakers for survivors, as well extensive knowledge into the culture that we were born and raised into.
It would be another huge leap forward for both of us and the training would be extremely beneficial as we look to continue finding ways to aid our community of survivors while also growing stronger within ourselves and finding our inner peace.
Romy has told me in our conversations that she is not comfortable asking for donations or support through a charity thus far, but I know how much it would mean for her to go to this conference. Therefore I have chosen her for my next UOV beneficiary because I believe she is exactly the kind of survivor worth supporting in seeking further education. With her background she has been such an asset to the community in such a short time. With the support of this charity her potential is limitless. If I can raise the funds through Using Our Voice I will be giving Romy a gift towards her travel, rooming, and other expenses and also utilizing these funds myself as well for my own.
The previous week has proved to me that a charity fund is quite possible, and that crowdfunding could successfully help someone obtain higher education, certification, or assist with travel expenses to pursue opportunities they never would have been able to achieve without public assistance.
I am also going to be occasionally setting a higher funding goal on this page and restructuring because it is no longer about a single trip, or a single survivor, it is about creating something long lasting that survivors can find solace in. Creating this charity for survivors like myself, Romy, and so many others who are held back from seeking higher education financially and enabling them to become empowered through this resource and build themselves up in the community is essential so we can better combat silencing and HCO policies through attaining higher education, tenacity, confidence, etc.
Let’s build that together.
If you are reading this and in a position to assist Romy and I’s expenses for the ICSA Conference in PA and also the beginning of a nation-wide charity to help victims that have been silenced by HCO’s and their abusers protected, abolishing statutes of limitations, helping survivors cope through self-expressionism, assisting them with higher education and crisis housing, and building up the community, be assured your donations are greatly appreciated and will be utilized effectively.
With that I would like to also take a moment make a special thank you to everyone who has shown support or donated so far: Annie Dodd, Daniel Glorioso, Valerie Lee, Mary Ann, Mark Ehlert, Brandon Brady, Tricia Lanni, Patricia Clements, Barbara Anderson, Jennifer Stevens, Paul Carter, and other anonymous contributors who helped make this past trip and this future charity possible.
If you are a college or institution wishing to donate grants, workshops, or otherwise please contact me.
If you are a survivor wishing to share your story or artwork with me, need assistance, or otherwise would like to contact me please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be posting more updates soon!