By Svava Brooks
My amazing relationship with Darkness to Light began in 2003. By then, I had been on my healing journey for 10 years, dealing with the burden of pain and shame I carried from my sexually abused childhood.
At this point in my healing, I realized prevention information is vital, and I wanted to do something about it. I knew if the adults in my family had been educated about how to respond to a suspicion of abuse, chances are I wouldn’t have suffered for so long.
I will always be grateful to Anne Lee, the founder of Darkness to Light. With her support, I was able to bring D2L to my home country of Iceland in 2004. Later, I began teaching Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children training program every month in San Diego, California.
I have trained thousands of adults and provided facilitator trainings for D2L in three countries. Not only do I teach others about child sexual abuse, but I also practice what I teach. And I’ve had several opportunities.
The most challenging occurred at a gathering of family and friends in my home. One of the older men suddenly touched my daughter in an inappropriate way. She had been sitting on the couch, talking to this man. When my daughter stood up to leave, the man reached over and smacked her on the butt. Before you decide that I overreacted, I want to let you know that before this moment, this man had made me uncomfortable because of how he would speak about my kids and their development. I was paying attention. There were already clues, and standing right there – watching it happen – it was clear what his intention was.
My daughter was 13 at the time. Her entire body stiffened and froze, as she looked across the room at me. This wasn’t something I could ignore. So I took action in a way that let my daughter know she could count on her mother to protect her from harm.
With my daughter standing next to me, I told the man what he had done was inappropriate and not allowed. I informed him I would share this incident with other family members so they could protect their kids. Then I hugged my daughter.
I acted quickly because I needed to be courageous for my daughter. It was an empowering moment for me, doing for her what the adults in my life didn’t do for me when I was a child.
A year after this incident I received a call from that man. Much to my surprise, he thanked me for what I had done. “I went home and got help,” he said. “It made me realize the lack of boundaries I had with kids and adults. You helped me start healing, and for that I want to thank you.”
I have been lecturing and teaching child sexual abuse prevention education to adults, teens, and kids for over a decade now. Every month I’m reminded what a privilege it is to provide the D2L program to so many people.
In every country and in every language, it empowers. I call it “Hero Training.” I say that because I’ve seen it create heroes, and I’ve heard their stories.
Being able to witness so many people talking openly about an issue that was a shameful secret for me is an incredible experience. It’s a gift to teach this program. It truly is!
Being an instructor and facilitator for D2L all these years has also provided a powerful training for being a Abuse Survivor Coach and the support I provide for other victims of childhood sexual trauma.
I feel that my past is being put to good use now. The hardest parts about my life are now the best and strongest parts about my life. It has given me the ability to end the cycle of abuse in my family, and for countless others. It has truly been a blessing.
We are stronger together.
ABOUT SVAVA BROOKS
Svava Brooks is a survivor of child sexual abuse and the co-founder of a nationwide child sexual abuse prevention and education organization in Iceland called “Blátt áfram.” She is also a certified instructor and facilitator for Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children, as well as a certified Crisis Intervention Specialist, a certified Parent Educator, a BellaNet Teen support group facilitator, and an Abuse Survivor Coach. You can read more about her at her website: http://www.educate4change.com.