Clatsop County has one of the highest child sexual abuse rates in the state. The abusive cycle is often generational, and many survivors feel too much shame to come forward for help and support.
The Healing Circle – Victory Over Child Abuse (VOCA) has been breaking that cycle since 1988. Below is a story of why:
My name is Jeannie and this will be my 22nd year with The Healing Circle.
My life didn’t start out real great; both my biological parents were unable to be the parents that I needed. I went into the foster care system at the age of one, believing I was lucky to be placed with a family that adopted me.
Things were going ok until my adopted dad began sexually abusing me. As you can imagine, this caused a great deal of hardship in my family. My mom fell into depression and acquired other health issues. I was left to become the adult. I was 9 years old. I took care of my mom more than I was taking care of myself. I was really struggling, feeling I had ‘ruined’ our family. I had suicidal thoughts and felt so alone.
Then I was referred to VOCA camp. Victory Over Child Abuse. From the moment I got on the bus I felt like a rock star: this group of adults welcomed me and loved me and let me be the kid that I needed to be. They made me feel safe.
I went back year after year. These adults became my family. As I grew up I transition into an adult volunteer and eventually asked to join the governing board, which I accepted.
I graduated Job Corp, then college, and have became a mom myself. I know wouldn’t be the person I am today without the love and support I felt from VOCA. I feel empowered and safe and free to be me and have come to love myself through this program.
United Way is proud to partner with The Healing Circle – Victory Over Child Abuse, where children are taught that they have intrinsic value, no matter what.