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The Origin and Development of To Tell The Truth
Page Anchor Links
Strength in Numbers and Localization -- The Beginning -- First Media Coverage --
Bread for the Journey -- Incest Survivors Resource Network International -- Survivor Connections, Inc. --
About Sexual Abuse and Prevention -- Education and Prevention Ideas
Strength in Numbers and Localization
To Tell The Truth consists of local events, independently organized and independently run by local survivor groups, survivors with assistance from sexual assault prevention organizations, or by advocacy and crisis centers. Survivor Connections’ role is simply to track events, and, when possible, to help coordinate their simultaneity. By running our events at the same period of time, we become part of a nationwide movement, “America Speaks Out About Incest and Sexual Abuse,” which hopefully will someday soon become global in scope.
To Tell The Truth was founded on the belief that not only can we recover from childhood sexual trauma, we can also thrive and lead exceptional lives.
The Beginning (To Top of Page)
To Tell The Truth first began as a Speak Out in 1992, when survivor Mary Anne Benton of Santa Fe, NM, brought a group of survivors together to create an organization dedicated to breaking silence about abuse and providing an opportunity for survivors to share the challenges and victories of the healing process. On July 12, 1992, nearly 500 people came to listen to adult survivors tell their stories in skits, poetry, and song.
First Media Coverage
This initial 1992 event was covered by CNN and included in a documentary entitled Breaking Silence, which prompted more than 30,000 calls from around the nation. Up to this point, most of the media had portrayed incest survivors as victims who were often unable to recover fully and lead normal lives. This public gathering of survivors gave audiences one of their earliest opportunities to witness survivors’ incredible strengths in the face of childhood devastation.
This groundbreaking event expanded in its second year to encompass many more states, with simultaneous events on August 1, 1993.
Bread for the Journey (To Top of Page)
Bread for the Journey of New Mexico took over coordination of To Tell The Truth events in 1993. Mary Ann Benton emailed Survivor Connections in September 1999 with the information that Bread for the Journey is an ongoing Santa Fe non-profit, founded by Wayne Muller who has written several books on healing from childhood trauma.
Later on, another unknown group in Washington state tried to keep coordination going but were unable to follow through with this.
Incest Survivors Resource Network International
Next, Incest Survivors Resource Network International, a wonderful resource center founded by Anne Marie Eriksson of New Mexico, took on the coordination and promotion job.
Later though, as time passed, some locations around the USA began to operate their To Tell The Truths in isolation.
Survivor Connections, Inc., The True Memory Foundation® (To Top of Page)
In late 1997, Ann Marie Erikkson of ISRNI spoke to Survivor Connections, suggesting that we take on the TTTT coordination. We started doing so in January 1998. With Anne Marie's tireless advice, assistance, and inspiration, we were able to get coordination back in process for the November 1998 events. Survivor Connections, Inc. had previously run a local Rhode Island TTTT conference in October 1994 and a second in 1995. Featuring a keynote speech by noted author Judith Herman, M.D. at the first; and one by former Miss America and incest survivor Marilyn Van Derbur at the second; both events drew over 400 enthusiastic people apiece.
About Sexual Abuse and Prevention
Sexual abuse is a crime committed by fathers, mothers, uncles, brothers, grandparents, neighbors, family friends, teachers, police persons, clergy babysitters; by those we love and trust, as well as by other authority figures in our lives. The vast majority of sexual assaults on children are perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts. Many survivors work hard to keep their abuse a secret, just as society has worked hard to pretend that there is an effective taboo against childhood sexual abuse. The real taboo has not been against incest, but against talking about it. As long as the truth remains untold, children everywhere remain at risk, and adults suffer in the aftermath of traumatic abuse.
Education and Prevention Ideas (To Top of Page)
We must continue to talk openly and honestly about sexual abuse. Think about the following ways you can continue to be involved in educating the community as a whole:
- Visualize a world To Tell The Truth about incest and sexual abuse/assault to end the taboo against speaking out.
- Tell one person who may not already know about the problems of incest and sexual abuse. Share your hope and courage with them.
- Volunteer to sponsor or help with a Speak Out! in your area. Events range from full blown conferences to small gatherings of survivors and supporters.
- Donate money. Both the national coordinators and local sponsoring organizations for these events need ongoing financial assistance to continue the work of healing and prevention.
We are grateful for your interest.
Together we can work to create a world where the crime of sexual abuse can no longer exist.
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