My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for A WINDOW BETWEEN WORLDS, Venice, CA, USA
The following is an testimonial I wrote about how one particular AWBW project, Pearls of Wisdom, that enabled me to heal from a lifetime of sexual abuse. The Pearls of Wisdom workshop propelled me farther down my road toward healing more than any other therapeutic endeavor. The pearls workshop enabled me to modify my behavior and move forward more than all the work I diid in the past with countless counselors, friends and advocates. The workshop, just like my abuse, took me through a roller coaster of emotions. During the workshop I felt everything from anger, frustration, and sadness to feeling supported, enlightened, relaxed, adventurous, reinvigorated and finally, empowered.
Creating my pearl allowed me to clarify things and reaffirm that I am okay. Each aspect of the workshop revealed aspects of my long history of sexual abuse that I had become so adept to ignoring. During the writing portion, it was very telling that I couldn’t look at myself in the reflective paper. Writing my story on reflective paper helped me see how much I have detached myself from it, even though I had previously journaled about it on many occasions.
I also greatly benefitted from wrapping my pearl in bandages! Taking the strips and dipping them in water gave me a feeling of being in control and symbolically healing my own wounds. I felt very powerful and the bandages brought me out of the negative place the reflective writing portion took me. Each part of the workshop seamlessly fit together. The process not only allowed the terrible feelings that came from my abuse to surface, but also gave me the opportunity to process those feelings in a different way and symbolically heal my own wounds.
I always thought that the sexual abuse was my fault because I never fought off my abusers. From childhood to adulthood whenever sexual abuse took place I automatically detached my mind from my body and went numb. Each time I was molested reinforced my unconscious coping mechanism of lying quietly pretending to be asleep. Through the project I was able to reconnect parts of myself that I had shut off in order to survive the negative experiences. I was finally able to internalize the saying “sexual assault is never the victim’s fault” and truly recognized that none of what I experienced was my fault. Just because I never said no doesn't mean that I said yes.
Another aspect of the abuse that was hard to reconcile is that sometimes the bad touch felt good, which was confusing, especially when I was little. I have since learned that I couldn’t protect myself from sexual abuse when I was little, but I can now. My vagina is mine! I have power over my sexual activity.
This is the first time that I haven’t been sexually abused for over one year. The last time it happened was December of 2008 and it will never happen again. The day I made my pearl I found myself in danger of being sexually abused again. This time I spoke up and protected myself for the first time by saying “no”. I am a warrior who, not only protects others, but most importantly, protects myself and I have the Pearls of Wisdom project to thank for it.
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