By Speaking Out About Abuse, Victims Are Paying it Forward

(Note See: KSL NEWS July 11, 2011 “Victims help others by sharing their stories of survival”) 

Jaycee Dugard’s long awaited survival memoir “A Stolen Life” comes out today, with details about her 18 years in captivity. Her courage to speak out and to help other families suffering from abduction and traumatic experiences comes on the shirttails of other high profile cases here in Utah.

Deondra, Desirae and Melody of “The 5 Browns” recently turned in their father for sexual abuse that occurred during their childhood. Elisabeth Smart was recently praised for her courage during the trial of Brian Mitchell, who was accused of kidnapping and abusing her for nine months, and just last week she took a job at ABC Good Morning America as a special correspondent for missing persons cases.

 Because of these newsworthy events, KSL News Reporter Carole Mikita asked me to come in and share an experts point of view on how these cases can help other victims come forward. Here’s a link to my interview on KSL.  

As the news clips are limited due to time constraints, here is a longer excerpt on what I would say to victims of abuse.

You’re Not a Victim Forever

susanne mitchell children's justice centerIf you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse there can sometimes be a long-term impact on how you feel about yourself going forward in life. Sexual assault, incest, rape or even attempted rape can shatter the confidence of victims and make them feel a lingering vulnerability and sense of shame even though they are not responsible for what happened.  

How we feel about ourselves can steer us down a different path in life and limit us from the very things that make us truly happy. Victims may wonder: “Who was I before I was sexually abused? I am not the same person anymore.”

Well, maybe you are the same person deep inside but need to learn to trust the world again so that you can let yourself come out into the sunshine. Being a victim of a crime does not mean you have to be a victim forever. It was a really bad experience caused by someone else and you are not to blame. You survived the experience and can move forward on the path you were meant to be on.

It may take the help of professionals and some counseling so that you can release the emotions and free yourself of the painful memories. It is amazing how good people feel once they get through the pain to the other side and can really feel a sense of freedom and even a new purpose. Take it in small steps and keep moving forward to your goal of becoming the awesome person you were meant to be and you will get there! It is possible to put bad experiences in your past history and not part of your wonderful future.

For more information about victims resources, visit the Children’s Justice Center web site at


About slcjc

Hi! I work at the Children's Justice Center and love my job. It is great to make a difference every day. I was a therapist before I came to the Children's Justice Center and worked in hospitals, juvenile detention, and shelter care programs. Teens are my favorite age group because they are fun and tell it like it is. I have 2 amazing kids, a cool dog and 2 lazy cats. I am always up for an adventure and love to see the world. It matters to me that kids are safe, protected and supported to become who they were meant to be in life! Seize the day and make it your own!
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