Hey everybody, welcome to Catch the Message. We are excited to be bringing you some really inspirational and empowering messages that we've experienced when we go to schools. And before I bring Deanna on, uh, hi, you wanna say hi, Deanna.
Hi everybody. I'll be the one, uh, kind of taking the rights today after Victor does a little introduction.
So, Deanna, uh, and I, we, we present at schools all over the country and we talk about, uh, basically we talk about sexual abuse, awareness and prevention. And we do that by helping schools, uh, fulfill a mandate called Erin's Law. We're not gonna get into that today, but what we do with this podcast is, you know, we've experienced a lot of, a lot of amazing, courageous, uh, students to courageous, uh, staff members who have come forward and shared some of their stories after our presentation. So, catch the message is really, uh, it's, it's an, it's, it's an opportunity for us to share what we experience at schools and maybe, I dunno, help you understand a little bit more, uh, uh, how important this work really is. So, Deanna, why don't you share something that's happened recently at one of your schools?
So I have had just like Victor, tons of disclosures about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and, and a lot of them have stuck with me, but some more than others. So, uh, couple of years ago, uh, right around when I first joined Victor and childhood victories, I went to a school. Now it was the first time I'd ever been to this school. And starting in fifth grade, we used the terms sexual abuse. It's the first time we use it with our students. We give a simple definition. And starting in third grade, we start sharing our stories. Um, again, developmentally appropriate. However, I feel like the story I'm about to tell was a perfect storm of a child sharing what they had experienced. It was the first time they'd ever seen our presentation. Uh, they were the word sexual abuse, and they were hearing from a survivor who had asked for help and received it and now is open about their story.
So I'm with this group of fifth grade students and I give them the term sexual abuse, the definition, and I go into my story. Now, I do not disclose during programs that my abuser was my biological father. I will only answer that during q and a. And I, I give a lot of information about why I talk about that and, and that most parents, most adults in our lives will protect us to the Moon and Baca as saying that, you know, Victor says, and I have also taken from him and I, at the end, during fifth grade, q and a happens and a student raises their hand and asks, if you don't mind me asking, who is your abuser? And I give them my answer and I I remind them again, most parents would never do this. I am very fortunate that I was able to get help in adulthood, but I wish I had gotten help much, much sooner.
I think school would've been easier. I think, um, sitting with my feelings would've been been more manageable. And after the entire program was over, all the students are leaving. And once student stayed behind, um, and they, I'm gonna keep this gender neutral, uh, they pulled me aside and said, um, there's something I wanna share with you. And this student shared with me that they had been sexually abused also by their biological father. And I, I said, I'm so sorry. I think it's so incredibly brave that you shared with me. Have you told anyone else? Again, we can't ask leading questions. We just wanna get any facts with very simple questions. And the student shared with me that they did tell their mom believed them and immediately went to the police. So this child is coming to me and disclosing to me that they're in the middle of a court process against their parent, their abuser.
And they just started crying. And they said, when you said you felt guilty for telling on your parents, I get it cuz I feel so guilty and I love them and I don't, I didn't wanna do this, but I also didn't like what was happening. And they, again, this, this child shared, they, they had told they were helped, they were getting support, at least, you know, the support in the moment, um, from a parent, from their mom. And I said, okay, well, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna check in with your school social worker and I'm gonna check in just to make sure you know you have support when I leave here today. So that student goes, I go to the, uh, office and I meet with the social worker and the principal, and they end up calling home mom answers. And uh, you know, they explained to her that the student had received the program and she just broke down.
And she goes, you know, I feel so ashamed, um, because I feel like I can't talk about this and I wanna protect my baby, and I feel guilty for not seeing the signs, but I didn't even realize that I could tell someone at school and make it easier for my child to get more support. And, and that's exactly what happened. This student had been struggling in school and the teachers didn't really know why sofa word really didn't know why the student would be in class and the teacher would say their name 2, 3, 4 times and they were dissociating they were having, um, you know, not not overt behavioral issues, but they saw a change of behavior. And all of a sudden all the pieces connected, all the dots connected. And they said, we're gonna be able to give this student the support they need. We're gonna get mom the counseling that she didn't realize she she could get.
And to me that was such a, a powerful story of disclosure. They're all powerful, but it wasn't this student, I wasn’t an outcry witness. They were just sharing with me what they were going through in that moment. And while I wasn't the first person they told, and I certainly wasn't the person, um, to get them help in a way that a lot of mandated reporters do, right? We make the call, we make the report. No, we were able to advocate for that student to get the extra support that they needed on that healing journey in the middle of this court process. So to me it it was, it was empowering. Um, I don't often pry with students. Um, I did tear up with that student. Um, they gave me a big hug when I said I was gonna make sure that, uh, they get the support that they need while they're at school. That's exactly what happened.
Well, that's, see, this is why this work is so important because first of all, now you said that the student had already disclosed the his mom, right?
The thing is this is that, you know, when teachers are trying to teach their, their, their students and they're not understanding why someone's having a tough time with it, they don't know what to do necessarily. And, and who knows, it could be a, a multitude of things, but the fact that, uh, this student was able to share with you and then you got the school involved, it makes it even a better situation for that student to, to be able to be in an environment where people are gonna be supporting this person. So that's great.
Absolutely. That, that, that the healing can happen in multiple aspects, right? It's, you know, to be validated by a parent immediately is life changing. It's
Know, it, it, it, it, how we're responded to when we disclose abuse can potentially determine how we heal the rest of our lives. So that was one piece of it to now have safe adults at school that if that student needed a break or was triggered, or again, is working through these very big feelings, they have other support systems now. Right. And while I'm not gonna say that that automatically makes things easier, no, but more manageable. Not doing it alone makes a world of difference. So I, I think I, I know that student, you know, had the opportunity to catch the message that day.
Excellent. Thanks for sharing Deanna. Really appreciate it. Until next time, everyone, thank you. Continue to catch the message and share this with people that you know, and, uh, schools that you know too. So thank you so much. Have a great day and we will see you next time. Bye-bye.