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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse

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Hearfelt house in Wollongbar, Lismore. Photo supplied.
Hearfelt house in Wollongbar, Lismore. Photo supplied.

Supporting a survivor of childhood sexual abuse as a partner, friend, non-offending parent, sibling, work colleague, family member or adult child of a survivor can often leave people feeling ‘helpless in knowing what is going on and how to support them,’ said Heidi Tornow, program development coordinator for Heartfelt House near Lismore.

Eyes Wide Open is a seminar aimed at helping the people in a relationship with an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, from a partner or work colleague to family members, to both understand and help the person they love and care for.

Children feel deeply betrayed when a trusted adult sexually abuses them. Their sense of safety is shattered and they often feel intense shame and guilt and that it was their fault that the abuse took place,’ said Heidi.

‘This can and often does continue into adulthood, affecting their capacity to have fulfilling relationships and friendships. Many decide to rather live in isolation than “admitting” to someone they care about, what has happened to them.

People who are in the immediate environment of a survivor truly care about their partner/ friend/ sibling/ adult daughter or son but feel often helpless in knowing what is going on and how to support them.’

The seminar aims to creating understanding of the myths around child sexual abuse, grooming, coping strategies and potential ways  to support survivors in empowering ways.

Seminars are run twice a year and there are four places left for the upcoming seminar this Saturday, November 18. Bookings are essential and can be made on 6628 8940.

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are invited to contact Heartfelt House to apply for participation in its 18-week group program Taking the First Steps. For more information you can look them up online here.


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