Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor at Penn was a rousing success

Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor - photo by Sarah R. Bloom

Last night I had the honor of presenting Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor for the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Penn Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and the Penn Department of Psychiatry. The experience was, in a word, amazing.

This was my first time presenting to a largely academic audience and the feedback was revelatory. I learned so much from the questions and comments of medical professionals and students and their feedback drove a performance that delved even deeper than usual into the issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse.

We talked about the importance of parents letting their children know that they could share anything and that their words would be heard and respected. We talked about the family narrative, about examining the entire picture surrounding an abused child, and taking time to address all of that. We talked about Statutes of Limitations reform, healing as an adult through positive relationships, helping the non survivor community to fully understand the survivor experience … and so much more.

It was without a doubt one of the most productive conversations I have ever witnessed at an Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor performance.

I would like to thank Denise LaMarra, Colleen Quinn, and Janice Radway of Penn’s Standardized Patient Program, along with Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Penn, Benoit Dubé, MD for coordinating all the tiny details that went into making this event happen.

I would also like to thank the Director of Penn’s Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, Steven Berkowitz, MD, Clinical Director of the Penn Department of Psychiatry Center for Couples and Adult Families, Jacqueline Hudak, PhD, and Chair in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cindy Christian, MD, for sitting on the after-show panel. Your wisdom and compassion were truly inspiring.

And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the invaluable support of Rob and Vic from Penn’s A/V department, as well as my own technical director and artistic collaborator, Galen Huggins.

Here’s hoping this is the first of many Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor performances for academic institutions all over the country.