Feb1MonFebruary 1, 2016
Nostalgia: (noun) a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.
If I had a dollar every time someone said, “too bad we can’t go back to the days when we didn’t have to do all this abuse prevention stuff,” I would be a very wealthy person.
So often we think, “the good ole days, were so much better than today!” We wistfully remember piling a dozen children in the back of a station wagon without seatbelts, we remember staying outside until the light came on - our parents having no idea where we were.
But, for many, the “good ole days” were not all that good. I remember attending a conference a few years ago where survivors of child abuse were in attendance. I was one, of only two attendees, that didn’t have stories to tell of child abuse they had experienced.
Henry, a 67-year-old man, sat in front of me and I often saw him wiping tears from his eyes. He was silent for much of the weekend, until the last day when some brave souls stood up and shared what the conference had meant to them.
Henry waited until he had the courage to stand up and speak. Henry said, “I’m from Tennessee, and my wife thinks I’m in Michigan fishing and hunting this weekend. That is why I am dressed the way I am! I didn’t have the courage to tell her where I was coming. You see this is the first time I have ever faced my abuse head-on. I was sexually abused from the time I was five years of age until I was fourteen. I have never told a soul about the abuse; this is the first time those words have ever come out of my mouth. I have lived with pain, shame and guilt my whole life. I have felt dirty and worthless because that is what was told to me over and over again. I thought I was alone; I thought it had only happened to me. Coming to the conference this week has opened my eyes to the prevalence of abuse and for the first time in 60 years, I realize that what happened to me was not my fault and that I can talk about it. I can face this terrible thing that happened to me. I am going to go home and tell my wife and my children. I am going to get help!”
For Henry, the good ole days weren’t all that good. Henry’s last words to me, as he left the conference, were to thank me for making things better, and safer for children.
We encourage a philosophy shift, in the perspective you take on abuse prevention and protection of the vulnerable sector! Plan to Protect® is NOT about what we NEED to do to run programs and activities, it is NOT to place a hardship on our staff or volunteers. Rather, our efforts to prevent abuse and to protect those we care about is because of our desire for a better tomorrow, and a yearning for a safer world where abuse, injury and harm are not present. Abuse prevention and vulnerable sector protection is not something we HAVE to do, but rather it is something we GET to do. We GET to make a difference! We GET to make things better!
A philosophy shift includes staying on top of your policies, by updating and auditing them yearly; holding regular training that your staff and volunteers repetitively attend; complying with your policies; creating a culture of safety, and becoming known for this in your community.
Demonstrating your love, care and commitment for those you work alongside and those you serve is laying a foundation for a much better tomorrow - a safer environment for individuals, like Henry, to tell their stories and find healing from the not so “good ole days”.