By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A few months after her adopted daughter moved in with her, Brandi discovered she had been sexually abused in the past. That revelation began a process of healing, lobbying and learning that, while there is much help for predators, there is little to no help for the prey.
After reading a letter to Little Warriors, written by another young victim, Brandi decided to become involved with the organization that works to give strength to victims of sexual abuse.
“We’ve become involved with Glori Meldrum and Little Warriors,” Robinson said, adding Meldrum, the founder of the organization, asked her to spearhead a letter writing campaign to try and get the politicians to pay attention to the plight of the abused. “Apparently there have been no other parents other than me and this other mother, and no other children other than my daughter and this other girl, who have ever reached out to Little Warriors. There’s been adult survivors, but no one at the level they are reaching out to.”
She said the organization is trying to raise funds to build the Be Brave Ranch, a centre that will help children like her daughter. “It’s going to be a ranch for kids to go to, a 30-day in-treatment program for children, victims of sexual abuse, to get the therapy they need,” Robinson said. “Everything is going to be in one place rather than all over the place.”
It is a facility she wants to see completed, given the absence of such a facility anywhere. She presently takes her eight-year-old daughter to weekly counseling sessions and has been for a year and a half, a process she believes is not even scratching the surface of the emotional pain her daughter is in.
“There’s all kinds of rehabilitation centres for the perpetrators to rehabilitate the people who commit these crimes,” she said. “There’s multiples of them, but there is nothing, not one single place for kids of these crimes to go to.”
Spreading the word via social media
To spread the word on the letter writing campaign, which seeks to get Albertans to write Premier Redford as well as provincial and federal politicians, Brandi has set up a Facebook page to get the word out. The Letter Writing Campaign To Stand Up Against Child Sexual Abuse page currently has 191 participants and more than 3,000 people invited to participate.
“It’s just kind of taken off,” she said of the page. “I think a lot of people have seen it, but not necessarily invited people because they don’t realize they can just invite [Facebook friends] from the page.”
But invitations through social media are one thing; what is needed are pens to paper and fingers to keyboard. Although roughly 200 people have indicated they would write a letter by joining the event page, only 50 letters have been received to date.
Looking for letters
Those willing to take a stand for sexually abused children need only draft a latter by email to participate. Brandi believes each and every letter will help Little Warriors achieve their goal of building the Be Brave Ranch.
“Right now we are looking for letters to Premier Redford,” she said. “What we are hoping to do is take all the letters sort of en masse to [Premier] Redford because they’re not paying attention, and we want to get their attention.”
Brandi said Little Warriors founder Glori Meldrum wants to deliver the letters in person, but just when that will be is not known.
Letters should be addressed to Premier Redford but mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, people are encouraged to write their MLA or MP on the matter in the hopes of further support and awareness.
“We are getting responses back from the politicians,” she said. “I personally have got a response back from the Prime Minister’s office. I have got a response back from the Minister of Human Services, Dave Hancock. I’ve also gotten responses from my MLA and my MP. They are starting to wake up. They are starting to realize. We are just looking to drum up as many letters as we can.”
Brandi said people can also help by voting for Little Warriors and their Be Brave Ranch in an Aviva Insurance funding competition. Full details can be found at littlewarriors.ca. If selected, the initiative would receive $150,000 in funding from Aviva Insurance.
Sexual abuse awareness program coming to Morinville
While she and Little Warriors are looking to get help to help victims, a course is being offered in Morinville to help people identify the signs of sexual abuse in children.
The Stewards of Children program will once again take place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre at no cost to participants. The evening session takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 16 and is being put on by Morinville Family and Community Support Services.
“It’s for anybody that works with children: educators, babysitters, day home providers. Even people who have kids and have other kids coming into their homes,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter. Really, it’s for anybody. It teaches you how to recognize the signs and symptoms and help without scaring the child away.”
Those interested in participating can register through littlewarriors.ca.