Catherine McCall MS, LMFT

Overcoming Child Abuse

Where Have All the Lifeguards Gone?

Resources to help child abuse survivors stay afloat this summer

Posted Jul 02, 2016

My Own Photo
Source: My Own Photo

Whether you’re living in the US, the UK, or another part of the world, you’re living in a time of turmoil, trauma, and treachery. Here in the US people are preoccupied with issues related to the upcoming election, devastating floods, rampant fires, increased violence and horrific terrorist attacks. It’s impossible to escape hearing all of this disturbing news because constant coverage is being relayed to us from TV, radio, and the internet. TV’s are so common that now the news follows us into taxi’s, doctors and dentists’ offices, restaurants, bars, and elevators whether we want it to or not. If you’re a survivor of child abuse all of this input can make for a rough ride through days and nights of being stirred up, frightened and depressed. But I assure you, not all news is bad news. There are good people in this world who are dedicated to helping. In this blog you will find a list of some healing resources which are available to you, and I invite you, readers, to share any you may know of, in the comments section after this blog.

1. Websites Joan Boaz founded Gift From Within, an international nonprofit organization for survivors of trauma and victimization, in 1993 and has been Executive Director ever since. Her philosophy is to respect those who have survived catastrophic stress and to help them help themselves and others. She definitely fulfills that mission through the website. It is packed with articles, DVD’s, trauma support, bookstore, art, poetry, & music related to PTSD and trauma. It’s a great website.  Mariska Hargitay plays the role of Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order, Special Victims Unit. The content of the scripts and the work she did to prepare for her part opened her eyes to the epidemics of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault, and lead her to create The Joyful Heart Foundation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Active members work toward a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, helping victim/survivors to heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives. It is a beautiful and easy-to-use website, filled with relevant content for supporting the healing of survivors. The mission of the Darkness to Light Program is to empower people to prevent child sexual abuse. As the website says, their programs “raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.” The website explains about programs that have been developed and how they are available. is the website for the Rape and Incest National Network. It is our country’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800)656-HOPE. Dedicated to changing the lives of many children, this organization has developed treatment programs like the Childhelp Advocacy Centers and Childhelp Group Homes, all designed to help children already affected by child abuse. They’ve also designed prevention programs like Childhelp Speak Up & Be Safe for Education, which is designed to educate children. is the national campaign for all children to promote their healthy development and prevent child abuse before it can occur. is the website for the organization that invests in childhood every day in times of crisis and for our future. It gives children a healthy start in 120 countries including the United States, by giving them the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.  is a wonderful, user-friendly website designed for teen girls and young women who have survived sexual abuse. It is packed with information, stories, and expert interviews.

2. Music

Here are a few songs that can help during different junctures of the healing process. They're my favorites. I invite you to share any more - perhaps your favorites - by listing them in the comments section.

Sara Barrelis – Brave

Bobby McFerrin – Angry

Bobby McFerrin –  Psalm 23

Tracy Chapman – Tell It Like It Is

Phillip Phillips – Home

Lady Gaga –  You Don't Know

Deshai Williams – No More

3. Books

Books can provide a kind of "bibliotherapy" by educating us, inspiring us,  giving us hope, and also giving us the language with which to articulate our own experience. But sometimes they can also stir up pain, trigger memories and painful sensations, and lead to symptoms that are difficult to deal with so it’s important to choose wisely and have the support of a therapist or other informed, healthy, confidant. These are just a few book suggestions – two are novels; the others have some clinical base to them:

Say It Out Loud by Roberta Dolan

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman

Invisible Girls by Patti Feureisen

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Trauma by Sheri Oz & Sarah Jane Ogierst

How Long Does It Hurt? A guide For Recovering From Incest and Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends and Their Families by Cynthia Mather and Kristina Debye

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

If you’ve got similar resources you’d like to share with our readers please do so in the comments section.

* note: I dedicate this blog in loving memory of my brother Paul, himself a survivor of child abuse, and a sensitive, kind, and gentle man, who would have celebrated his 61st birthday today if he had not died at the age of 39 from complications of AIDS

About the Author

Catherine McCall is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the author of Never Tell: A True Story of Overcoming a Terrifying Childhood.

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