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To Tell The Truth
Ideas for Planning, Organizing, and Running a Local Event
Revised September 2000, by Frank L. Fitzpatrick, President,
Survivor Connections, Inc., The True Memory Foundation®
52 Lyndon Rd, Cranston, RI 02905-1121 USA

Back to To Tell The Truth home page - OR - Survivor Connections, Inc. (separate Web Site)


Who May Be Invited
To Tell The Truth events are for survivors of rape, sexual assault, incest, and child molestation. Often, spouses, significant others, and supportive parents are included. Depending on the arrangements made by the organizing entity, people from the helping professions and the general public may also be invited. Starting in January 1998, Survivor Connections, Inc.was passed the task of tracking, Internet-publicizing, and coordination of these independently-run and locally-managed events. We warmly welcome other groups to join us in the coordination effort!

The gatherings, art displays, speakouts, conferences, seminars, music performances, skits, marches, or meetings of To Tell The Truth, usually take place on the same day throughout the USA. In the past many cities have simultaneously participated. The purpose is to let the world know that we will not be silenced; we will not permit sexual abuse to continue unchallenged.

Attention, Potential Organizers!
We would like to extend the TTTT conferences from a USA-only effort into a global one!

Each organizing entity is responsible for its own event. We will provide advice for planning and general information. We will also list all conferences and their locations on this web site. (See links above and below.) After the events are held - we would appreciate feedback from the various organizers.

CONTENTS (of ideas for planning section)
Information Needed for To Tell the Truth’s Web Site
Making the First Decisions
Simpler Events
Finding and Choosing a Location
Setting the Time(s) and Date(s)
Finding Financial and Organizational Help
Choosing a Contact Method
Who to Invite
Naming Your Event
Safe Rooms and Support People
Publicizing: Getting the Word Out
Admission Charges?
A Sequence for Planning

Introduction - to page top
Survivor Connections, Inc. screens all organizers to the best of our ability to try to make sure that listed events will actually take place, to try to prevent a would-be organizer from using an event as a cover for pure advertising for commercial gain for a product or business, and to try to make sure that the person(s) or organizations subscribe to our general philosophy of non-exclusion, political non-partisanship, and total support for past-victims / now-survivors of sexual abuse.
Definition: “Using an event as a cover for pure advertising for commercial gain for a product or business” means such things as an open house at a counseling center merely used to woo prospective clients.
It does NOT mean a discussion, speech, or workshop given by a counseling center concerning current successful therapeutic methods, for example. This is education presented by people who happen to be professionals. Many speakers and presenters are professionals, experts in their fields. -Just as many survivors are experts, having gone through it all ourselves!
“Using an event as a cover for pure advertising for commercial gain . . .” also means a law firm running an event purely to present a pitch for new clients.
But, it does NOT mean that a lawyer cannot educate survivors about the present laws that need changing, the process of going through the civil or criminal justice system, or significant. cases they have handled, etc.

Each To Tell the Truth event is independently planned, organized, and run by local people. To Tell the Truth is a national or international effort in the sense that individuals and organizations are united in a a common cause: to fight sexual abuse. Survivor Connections places free notices on our web site about these independent events.

Information Needed for To Tell the Truth’s Web Site - to page top
Any information about your local To Tell The Truth event should be given to Survivor Connections by the organizer(s) as soon as possible, so we can include it on our web site.
Sketchy information for our TTTT web site is fine for a PRELIMINARY notice, just to let people know that something will be going on in your section of the country.
“November 1999. Providence, Rhode Island area. For survivors, and pro-survivors only. Speaker and music planned. Location and details to be determined. Contact Mary at 555-555-5555 for information around or after mid-August. Details will also be posted on this web page as they become available”
You provide the information. Survivor Connections formats it to fit our web page.
Full information is needed from you as soon as it is known, so that people will know what the event is about, ( in this example, who is speaking and who is playing the music) and so they can make an informed decision whether to attend. The sooner the details are provided, the sooner you might know how many people might attend, in case you need to alter any plans this affect.

The volunteers of Survivor Connections do our best, but we cannot guarantee that we will post all TTTT events submitted to us.

To Have Greatly Detail Information About Your Event on the TTTT Site
For very detailed information about your event to appear from our TTTT web site, we can do a link from our web site to your site, or, if you have none, create a separate “Details” page for your event. We can do a “Details” page about your event if you postal mail on a floppy disk your formatted information in any of these ways:
- as an html document (please do NOT send an entire web site in html, in that case, just the URL)
- ASCI text (such as that produced by Mac SimpleText, or PC or Mac BBEdit)
- AppleWorks 5.0 or earlier (formerly called ClarisWorks), MacWrite Pro, MacWrite II, MacWrite
- Microsoft Word 97 (for PC) or an earlier Microsoft Word format
- any text document openable by Word 97 (PC version)
- Microsoft Works (for PC)
- WordPerfect 3.0 or earlier for Mac
- last resort, but OK: whatever word processor you use, so we can at least try to open it.

Making the First Decisions - to page top
Trying to make all the necessary decisions at once is overwhelming - and impossible, anyway. But, taking one thoughtful step at a time, and being reasonable about your expectations, can make the process of planning, organizing, and running an event far, far easier.

Answer this question first!
How much truly dedicated help do you have, or can you reasonably expect?
Remember, talk is cheap, so see who follows through on their jobs at the
beginning to see on whom you can depend.

Based on your answer, and on how much time (and personal energy) you have until the event takes place, you should pick the level of complexity, and perhaps the type of event you might plan, organize, and run.
For simple events a couple of months might be sufficient time to put everything together, but the earlier in advance you plan the better. For a full-blown conference, run by people who are really good at it and really experienced at running them, 6 months is enough time. For those organizations who wish to produce their first complex event with multiple speakers, workshops, etc., a year in advance is the place to start.

Simpler Events - to page top
If you (an individual) or just a few people will be doing the majority of the work, then it would be far wiser to plan a simple event , one likely to have some success, than to plan a complex one that is bound to either not come about at all or to be poorly run.

Simpler does not have to mean less important, less meaningful , or less worthwhile for those who go. Many times, anyway, a big crowd or a tumult of workshops and speakers is too much for more-fragile survivors to want to put themselves through.

Examples of simpler events include -
A small gathering of survivors to discuss forming an activism, discussion, or peer-to-peer support group.
A small meeting to share accounts
One person doing a speech and/or workshop on any topic of interest (a survivor, lawyer, therapist, author, etc.)
An art display by one or two survivors or pro-survivors, or an art therapist.
A music performance
A skit followed by a discussion
A planning meeting to discuss legislative changes that need to be made (or a meeting to assign people to investigate what the current laws are)
A public speakout by a few designated people. Never an open mic. (An open mic speakout is an invitation to disaster. I attended one where a pedophile got up to expound about the “loving” he had received as a little boy, which it seems he wanted to convince people was OK for him to pass on to another young victim himself.)
Other (your idea)

Consider what will be involved in whatever project you choose. An art display, for example, requires, at a minimum, a means to mount the art work, people there at all times to protect it, a way for the artists to deliver and pick up the art, and an area for the display where the site owners have given you permission to show what may contain explicit scenes.

Finding and Choosing a Location - to page top
Several people have successfully run To Tell The Truth events at their home. To do this, though, requires very careful pre-screening of attenders, or an organizer with a lot of experience with being a public figure. Care in choosing how people contact you about the event is very important.

Some places may provide a location for free. Check in person with your public library, local school system, college or university, or rape crisis or women’s center. A meeting room or class room on a weekend should not be a big problem, but find a site as soon as possible in case you hit unexpected roadblocks. If a particular place can’t provide a free space themselves, perhaps they can suggest one. Ask.

If your chosen location wants to charge a fee, see what they include: security guard - if they require one - podium, any audio-visual equipment such as slide projector, overhead, PA system, and such, if you need them.

If your date and time is not during the usual hours that your location is open, inquire who will unlock the door. Check out the space ahead of deciding on it. Look for seating, tables, and how many people can fit. Is the area so big that a small group will look puny, or too small to fit the number you might expect to attend?

For a simpler and smaller event you should set a limit to the number of people who can go.

Setting the Time(s) and Date(s) - to page top
The date and time depends on your availability, when the location is available, and if you can manage to run a simultaneous event to run concurrently with the national effort. Currently, To Tell The Truth simultaneous dates have been chosen as Sunday, November 7, 1999, and Sunday November 5, 2000. Most, but not all, TTTT events run on or near those dates. The whole idea is to present a united force spread throughout the country and the world, but if the national date does not fit your schedule, don’t worry too much.
An event can be a few hours long or less, or a jam-packed week-long extravaganza.

Finding Financial and Organizational Help - to page top
Both individuals and organizations can look for organizing and/or financial assistance from a counseling center, a nursing association, a rape crisis center, a survivor organization, a state mental health agency, a school, a women’s center, domestic violence programs, a law school, a school nursing program, a student organization, support groups in related fields, charitable organizations, or whatever,
Funds or other donations can be raised from grocery suppliers, printer discounts or freebies, interested and well-off survivors or pro-survivors, selling ad space in a program book for the day of the event, besides looking to any of the sources listed in the paragraph above. You might also know a group or celebrity that can do a fundraiser event for you.

Choosing a Contact Method - to page top
An individual or small, informal group should exercise care about how people can pre-register or make contact about the TTTT event.

It’s your choice. Use one , two, or all three methods: email, phone, address.

Many internet web sites offer free email, in exchange for you enduring looking a banner ads that appear in your browser window. Among those offering email are,, and With such an email address you do not have it tied in to your present Internet Service Provider, ISP, whether it be AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, or whoever you pay to get online access. Here, you make up your own user name, create a password, and you can then access the email from any computer and any present or future ISP.

Phones, Addresses, and Names:
Your local phone company can supply you with a second phone number on the same line for roughly an extra $7 per month. Bell Atlantic calls this a “Ring-Mate” number. The ringing of the phone has a different pattern than your basic phone number, for example, 2 short rings that repeat, instead of a series of equal longer rings. You can tell the phone company to make the Ring-Mate number unlisted and unpublished. The Ring-Mate number has to be registered with the phone company under someone’s personal name - not a business name such as RI to Tell The Truth - but it can be listed under a last (and first) name that is different from the person who pays the bills for the lines. ¿Comprendez?

If you don’t want mailed questions about the event delivered to your street or rural route address, don’t give one out at all, or buy a separate post office box.

Some people choose to use their full name for contact purposes, others use just their first, while some will advertise, “Call Townsville Activists and ask for To Tell The Truth information.”

Fictional Examples:
For further information, email Mary at
For details on attending, email Mary at, or call
For more information, contact Mary at PO Box 111, Townsville, SD 02299
Contact Mary at 1-555-555-5555, and also see her web site for details at
Email Mary at, call 1-555-555-5555, or write to Mary at PO
Box 222, Townsville, TX, 02299. For event details, view her web site at

Who to Invite - to page top
Choose to include just survivors, just supportive relatives of survivors (pro-survivors), or include helping professionals such as doctors, nurses, counselors, lawyers, police, judges; or make the event open to the general public.
NOTE: For an event where children are to be invited -not recommended - competent mental health professionals are necessary, and each child must be accompanied by a supportive adult. A method for long-term follow through must be put in place for children who disclose. Survivor Connections has not yet found a safe way for children to be invited to attend events personally run by us.
You can be careful about who will attend through screening people by phone or email, and choosing whether to give a suspicious-sounding person the exact location of the event. You might advertise on our web site just “Arcadia, Maine area,” and reserve the full address for those who are screened by you to attend.

Pre-screening people might not work completely.The most conservative of all approaches is to deal with a small group whom you can personally get to know beforehand. Otherwise, plan to have on hand people willing and able to handle or turn away uninvited news reporters or TV crews, and any other type of abusive or disruptive participant. Reserve the right to refund anyone’s money and to require them to leave for any reason.

Naming Your Event - to page top
The main title of your event can be To Tell the Truth or it can be something else with “To Tell the Truth” as a subtitle.
For example:

Survivors in Action: Ending Our Fear and Shame
a To Tell the Truth event

Event City area To Tell the Truth Art Display
simultaneous events around the country

In either case, please be sure to list the URL - web address - for our site, which lists your event and all other known To Tell The Truth events around the country.

Please type it EXACTLY as given. Every mistakenly added or missing space, slash or dot, or any capitalization or non-cap error will cause the site not to be found. Technical note: If you are typing the URL on a computer, select a serif font (serif typeface) such as Times because it clearly distinguish all letters, numbers, and symbols from each other. Here it is.

Safe Rooms and Support People - to page top
For larger events, especially, plan to have support people present, and for there to be somewhere quiet for those who cannot handle either a crowd or the event’s content to go to.
If the news media has been invited to come to the event itself, make this very clear ahead of time to those attending who might decide not to go because of it.

Publicizing: Getting the Word Out - to page top
Newspapers generally require that notification be given to them 6-8 weeks in advance of an event, for publication in their Calendar of Events. Don’t just notify a newspaper’s Calendar of Events, though, also call a local reporter who covers sexual assault or domestic violence issues to see if they will write a story.
TV and radio stations are a different case. Often they want to cover an impending event only at the last moment: sometimes the day before, sometimes even only on the day of the event itself. But, if a radio talk show or TV station will do a free advertising spot or a substantial show, then they will need notice further in advance.
Besides the media, passing out simple flyers, cooperation with other local groups, and word of mouth are good ways to spread the news. Deliver flyers to rape crisis centers, colleges women’s centers, sexual abuse counseling centers, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, or whoever you think is appropriate to your invited audience.
Use the idea of our national effort and/or simultaneous events around the country to let people know you are not just a local concept. Print our TTTT home page web address (URL) on all literature -
and, (for more tech-proficient people) find on our site and then print on your ads the URL for TTTT 1999 events-
or even use the specific anchor link to your specific state! to find out what it is, go to the 1999 page, as listed above, click on the name of your state, and then look at the URL near the top of your browser. then copy sand paste the whole thing into your word processor, or write it down on a paper. Example, for 1999 events in New York you might advertise: “Look for our 1999 event on the Internet at”
Note, again: the URL must be typed in EXACTLY by the browser user and on your ads by YOU, the organizer, .

Admission Charges? - to page top
If you have a free location, volunteer (unpaid) speakers and presenters, no expenses at all, and are not using the event as a fundraiser for a certified non-profit, consider making the event free. Sometimes, though, charging a nominal amount - $5 or $10 - will make people realize that since they are being charged, it might be worth taking a second look at attending.
For an event that provides an education track for professionals, a higher fee structure is appropriate.
To cover expenses, add on a percentage to cover unexpected costs or losses. If you are paying $100 for a room to use, then at $5 apiece, you need 20 people to attend in order to break even on that expense alone. If you have engaged and are paying nationally known speakers, and you are using an expensive site, then a proportionately higher charge is indicated.
If you are using the TTTT event as a fundraiser for a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to fight sexual abuse, then charge a fee that will allow the greatest number of people to attend, but at an amount calculated to provide some funding.
If you are charging a fee and the event is even moderately large, you must have a good means of tracking who is coming and who has pre-paid, unless you only accept payment at the door. Pre-registration entails people sending you checks in advance, and you keeping track of it. You can pre-register people, but then also allow payment at the door for the same or a slightly higher fee.
If you charge, remember to tell people to bring or buy their own lunch, or tell them lunch or a snack is included in the fee. If there is no restaurant close by, and you are not providing a box lunch, definitely remember to advise people to pack their own.

If you have extra money after all expenses are paid and you are not a non-profit yourself, track the amount and reserve it for next year’s event, or donate it to a non-profit that fights sexual abuse. You might also consider a donation to Survivor Connections, Inc. (a 501(c)3, IRS-recognized non-profit corporation) for us to use for our expenses in the To Tell the Truth national and international efforts.

A Sequence for Planning- to page top
Send preliminary information to Survivor Connections as soon as possible.
Enlist dedicated volunteers for planning and organization, or plan to do it all yourself as an individual or organization.
Decide what type and size event you want, who your target audience is, and locate a free or inexpensive location.
Decide on a specific date and time.
Decide how your contact information will be listed on the To Tell the Truth web site, and elsewhere. Send update of info to SC. Later, send Survivor Connections “Details” page information. (See farther below)
Find speakers and other presenters.
Find support people for the day of the event.
Make decisions regarding food.
Assess what costs will be involved.
When enough info has been gathered, decide on a fee to charge, if anything.
Give your event a name. (Example: “Stop Sexual Abuse,” a To Tell The Truth simultaneously run event.
Figure a pre-registration system, if applicable.
Prepare a publicity flyer and/or newspaper notice.
Complete your plans and make a list for what materials and people are needed for the day of your day.

Please feel free to use some of the information below in your program
or for publicizing your own local event. - to page top
The Origin and Development of
To Tell The Truth

See our To Tell The Truth Web Site for listings of all events!
The national Web Site coordinator since 1998 has been Survivor Connections, Inc., 52 Lyndon Rd., Cranston, RI 02905-1121 USA.
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 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 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
Bread for the Journey of New Mexico took over coordination of To Tell The Truth events in
1993, but later moved to Washington state and found themselves unable to continue in this capacity.
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. Sadly, Anne Marie, a lifelong activist, passed away in 1999.
Survivor Connections, Inc., The True Memory Foundation® to page top
In late 1997, Ann Marie Eriksson 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
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.

Together we can work to create a world where the crime of sexual abuse can no longer exist.

Information Form For To Tell The Truth Organizers
Postal mail this to To Tell the Truth Web Site Coordinators, c/o Survivor Connections, Inc.
52 Lyndon Rd., Cranston, RI 02905-1121 United States of America

Preliminary Info for TTTT site? ____ OR Additional Info for TTTT web site? ____

Leave blank what is unknown, and our web site will show that "details will follow."

Contact name to use (full or first) ________________________________________
Organization name (if any) _____________________________________________

Other contact info to be given out for this To Tell The Truth event
(address, and/or email, and/or phone, and/or Web site, and/or PO box



Who may attend (survivors, survivors and their supporters, and /or helping professionals, or the

general public, (news media invited or not invited to the event) ___________________________

Fee to be charged ("0" if none). Leave blank if unknown ______________

Exact date & times - OR just month if not yet decided ______________________________

Type of event (rally, march, support group forming, etc.) _______________________________

Details __________________________________________ (Attach page(s) if needed)

Location: Provide at least state and area initially ________________________________________

Maximum number of people allowed to attend _____________________________________

Provisions for food, if applicable to times of event ___________________________________

FOR OUR INTERNAL RECORDS, ("Contact" info for the site is what is given above)

FULL NAME ____________________________ PHONE ___________________

FULL ADDRESS __________________________________________________________


ORGANIZATION _____________________________________________________

EMAIL ______________________________ FAX ________________________________________