CORNWALL – An American survivor of a kidnapping and sexual assault brought a special message of empowerment to the Children’s Treatment Center Celebrity Walk and Breakfast.
“This is a safe space,” Angela Rose said during her opening to 600 people at the Cornwall Civic Complex this morning (Wednesday).
“We’re going to be talking about a tough issue this morning. You personally know a survivor. Sexual assault touches all of us. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. That means all of us in our personal life knows somebody who has been impacted by this,” Rose said.
She detailed her survival after being abducted in a shopping mall in Chicago in 1996 when she was 17 years old.
“I remember making a a conscious decision, I said, if I get out of this alive, he’s not going to get away with it.”
Her push to find the perpetrator, who was eventually caught and convicted, led her to start PAVE: Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment. It’s a non-profit organization which is educating and promoting action in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom surrounding sexual violence.
“Everybody’s first reaction is to just push it under the rug and not talk about it. Sexual assault, it’s embarrassing. I want to say there’s no shame in being a survivor,” Rose said, detailing her initial negative experience with police, who believed she had made up the attack.
Rose also noted that faith is a huge part of her life and she believes it helped keep her alive. It turned out her attacker was on parole after murdering of a 15-year-old girl named Julie Angel. Rose noted the victim’s angelic name as a spiritual sign.
The author’s speech also turned to the Children’s Treatment Center, where she highlighted three of the programs at the CTC, including the Healing Program, which does not turn away anyone seeking treatment for physical and sexual abuse and does not have a wait list.
The other programs are the Sexual Offender Rehabilitation Program, which treats young sexual offenders to stop the cycle of abuse. “Sometimes hurt people, hurt people.” The newest CTC intervention program zeros in on children participating in inappropriate sexual activity.
“What is so critically important is to have the trained help,” Rose said.
She challenged those at the breakfast to raise $250,000 this year – $50,000 more than the initial goal.
Her speech concluded with a number of empowering messages, telling people that “tomorrow is promised to no one” and to live every day to the fullest with a positive attitude. “We choose what we put into our consciousness,” Rose said.
“It’s incredible to know that a life of joy and peace and happiness is absolutely possible after trauma. But it’s so much easier if you have the help and support of trained professionals like here at the (Children’s Treatment) Center.”
The morning at the civic complex also saw a number of cheque presentations to the fundraising campaign.
They included $10,000 from Caisse Popularie de Cornwall, $10,000 from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, $10,000 from Dr. Rachel Navaneelan, $12,000 from the Benson Charity Golf Classic, $10,000 from Rozon Insurance/Intact Insurance, $4,000 from Rogers from the Roberto Alomar signing event, $1,000 jointly from M&M Meat Shop and Leon’s, and a minimum donation of $5,000 from Giant Tiger Cornwall.