Up Front and Personal

Abuse Victims’ Spouses Will Share Their Struggles

by Tara Franco

A few years back, as I was sitting on the couch watching television and snuggling with my Weimaraner, Lucy, I recall viewing the Cymbalta commercial for the very first time. On the surface, this commercial struck me because the depicted family also owned a large Weimaraner. Moreover, its message resonated with me like few others. Its message stated, “Depression hurts. Everyone.” Its clips gave a glimpse of how conditions such as, but not limited to, depression affect not only the individual, but his or her family as well.

Shortly after viewing that commercial, I began to reflect on my own life. Although I have never experienced depression or anxiety personally, I have experienced the affects of these conditions through the lens of a spouse, a survivor of sexual abuse. I’ve spent countless times feeling frustrated and heartbroken, not knowing how to help my husband through the ups and downs of his journey toward healing. It was then that I realized that despite all of the counseling services offered by the Diocese of Brooklyn to survivors themselves, their spouses lacked such support.

And so, just about three years ago, I emailed Jasmine Salazar, the victims assistance coordinator for the diocese, to express my concerns. She responded with immediate interest in my desire to receive support. We spoke for a long time on the phone, and shortly after that conversation, she organized the first meeting of what is now the Survivors Advisory Committee. I am proud to say that since then, our work has brought to fruition two diocesan healing Masses, a survivors support group, a survivors parenting group and a confraternity of survivors. Now, I am looking forward to the spousal support group, “Sharing the Cross,” which Jasmine and I will be co-moderating beginning Nov. 30 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Forest Hills.

After much planning, we are excited to invite spouses of survivors of childhood sexual abuse to join us in this support group, which will meet twice a month, from Nov. 30 through the spring. Not only will this provide spouses with an outlet to express their own struggles and frustrations, but it will also provide us with suggestions and possible coping strategies to assist ourselves and our spouses. Topics for discussion may include but are not limited to the physical, social and emotional affects of abuse on an individual, how that affects spouses and children, how spouses might support survivors in times of great need and how spouses should be concerned with self care as well.

So, in thinking back to that Cymbalta commercial, I remind you that the effects of abuse hurt… everyone. I encourage any spouses of survivors who are looking for additional support, to consider contacting Jasmine at 718-623-5236 to register for “Sharing the Cross.”

Together, it is my hope that we can find strength in each other and continue on our road toward healing.

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