Hi! My name is Abi and I would like to welcome you to The Thursday Group blog!

If you are looking for support and information about healing from sexual abuse, you have come to a good place. You might have come to this blog because someone you know has been sexually abused or you might be here because you’ve been sexually abused yourself. Either way, you could still have some uncomfortable, difficult, or scary feelings about what happened. It is wonderful that you are looking for more information and support. If you are like me, just thinking about the topic of sexual abuse can be stressful.You may want to take a few minutes right now and notice your breathing. If you are holding your breath, or taking quick shallow breaths, see if you can take a deep breath into your belly, letting your stomach go out as you breath in. When you breath out, just let the air flow out slowly and easily. Take another slow easy breath into your belly, and then let the air flow out slowly. If you want to, slowly take three or four more breaths, making your stomach expand like a balloon each time you breath in, and relax each time you breath out. Inside yourself, just say hello gently to your body and any feelings you are noticing. Look at some of the things that are around you wherever you are. Breathing, and noticing things around you like this, is something I learned about when I was in a support group with four other middle school girls in my town who had been sexually abused. I wrote The Thursday group to hopefully make things easier for others. This blog tells about the book (including messages from the other characters and sample chapters to read or listen to), and where you can order it. You will also find links to other good books and web sites. If you start to notice that your breathing becomes uneven or really fast, or your heart feels like it is pounding in your chest or you get dizzy or feel unreal; please, get up from the computer or iphone, look at the things that are around you, and go find or call that trusted adult. If you don’t have an adult in your life that you can talk to, please call a hotline number.

I am a fictional character, but I was created out of the very real feelings and experiences of the girls PeggyEllen and Kimber used to be, and the girls they have known.

We hope that this blog and book will help you heal.


Need to talk to someone or report abuse? Call: 1-800-4ACHILD or 1-800-422-4458

The person who answers your call can help you figure out what to do and how to get help. If you call from a land line instead of a cell phone, the call will be free and will not show on a phone bill.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12th Indian Nations Conference

About one thousand people gathered in Palm Springs, California last week for the 12th National Indian Nations Conference: Justice for Victims of Crime sponsored by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and the Office for Victims of Crimes. The theme of the conference was "Walking in Harmony: Honoring Victim Voices to Achieve Safety, Justice & Healing." I was honored and grateful to be included as one of the 175 presenters. Just being there in the presence of so many courageous and powerful victims/survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence was amazing. All of the people attending and participating are dedicated to speaking and working for healing and change, helping people find justice and stay safe. Many spoke clearly and honestly about the terrible things that had happened to them.
My workshop addressed how to talk about a traumatic event in a grounded, healing way.  Telling our stories of abuse or other trauma is an important part of getting help, healing, and trying to prevent the same thing from happening to others. Unfortunately, telling about it can be difficult because it may bring back feelings from when the trauma happened. In my presentation I demonstrated ways to keep from getting sucked back into the memory. We practiced many of the things that the characters in The Thursday group practiced, such as using belly breathing, stomping, and the butterfly hug. 
My mother and my sister-in-law came with me to the conference, which was great. Mom sat at my book table. It was wonderful to hear from people how helpful the book has been in their communities, or how excited they were to be bringing it back to their workplace, or to a family member. My sister-in-law, Laurie, was sunning herself next the pool near a tribal judge who was reading The Thursday Group. She said she planned to order copies of the book to give to girls coming through her court. When Laurie mentioned that the publisher, NEARI press, gives a 40% discount for orders of 40 books or more, the judge said that they could easily use 40 of the books. A number of other participants also said that they would be placing bulk orders.  Kimber and I are soooo thrilled that more and more of the books are getting out into the hands of girls.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kimber's November Presentations

If you live in Alaska, you may want to attend these training events:

November 13th, in Wasilla, Kimber will be presenting a day long workshop on Reactive Attachement Disorder for the Alaska Attachment and Bonding Associates. It is titled, Flirting with Disaster but Coming Out Ahead; Living and Loving with the RAD Child. http://www.akattachment.org/

November 19th, Kimber will speak at the Child Maltreatment Conference in Anchorage about Facilitating Groups for Children Who have been Sexually Abused.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Will I Know When I’ve Healed?

:Remember, healing doesn't happen all at once, like flipping a light switch. Gradually you will start noticing that more and more of the items on this list are true for you, more often than not. As you grow older, changes in your life may stir up the old memories from the abuse, but, because you have healed in so many ways, it will be easier for you to deal with old feelings, and to find support when you need it.
  • You will be able to think and talk about the abuse
  • You will be able to think and talk about things other than the abuse
  • You will sleep pretty normally
  • You’ll be able to concentrate in school
  • You’ll feel comfortable being assertive, or standing up for yourself
  • You’ll feel comfortable leaving your house
  • You will experience joy
  • You will be able to tolerate someone touching your shoulder or shaking your hand
  • You will be able to bathe normally, without experiencing shame or thinking that you are “dirty”
  • You will be interested in your future
  • You will start conversations with others
  • You will be able to handle someone criticizing you without feeling shame
  • You will be able to tell the difference between supportive and non-supportive relationships
  • You will choose supportive relationships
  • You will be able to tolerate strong emotions in others and in yourself
  • You will have a positive body image
  • You will be able to relax without using drugs or alcohol
  • You will look for fun things to do by yourself and with others
  • You will care about and show concern for other people
  • You will be able to remember recent and past events
  • You will be able to express your anger in a healthy way
  • You will feel confident that you have value
  • You will laugh
  • You will trust yourself
  • You will have a healthy appetite and you will eat when you are hungry
  • You will take care of yourself physically and emotionally
  • You will be able to feel sad about things that are sad and it will have nothing to do with the abuse
  • You will have a sense of your own personal space
  • You will feel good about yourself

Friday, August 6, 2010

Being a Tree

Imagining being a tree can help you feel your own power and strength. It will help you open to the support that is available around you like sunshine. You can do this anywhere: sitting or standing, inside or outdoors. Remember to keep breathing.

Imagine you are a tree. Take a deep belly breath and let it out slowly. Feel the warm sun on your branches, and a breeze gently ruffling your leaves. Breathe. Listen to the sounds of the birds. Take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. Notice your trunk at your center. It is a highway fro energy moving up and down between heaven and earth. Breathe. Reach your tree roots deep, deep into the earth. Breathe.

Sense the water and other nutrients that are available deep underground. Take a belly breath and let it out slowly. Allow the minerals and water from deep in the earth to flow up through your roots, up your trunk, and into to your branches and leaves. Breathe. Feel your leaves fluttering in the sunshine. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Enjoy the feeling of being a tree.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What happens if you don't tell?

Bad things have to be worked through in some way. If you feel like you can’t share the abuse with anyone, you can’t truly work through it, and it doesn’t get any better. When you try to hold the feelings about the abuse inside your body, they only leak out in anger problems, substance abuse, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, or illness.

As hard as it may be to ask for help, you deserve it! Keep asking for help until you find someone who believes you, values you, and helps you to heal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stevie's Place Talk and Book Signing

In April I gave a talk at Stevie's Place, the Children's Advocacy Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. There was no Children's Advocacy Center in Fairbanks when I was growing up, and my family and I really could have used one. I decided to talk about that and about how it was for me to be kidnapped and molested at gunpoint when I was eleven. I wanted to talk about it in a way that would not be traumatic for me or my audience. I didn't want to get overwhelmed with old feelings. I decided to do what Kimber and I did in The Thursday Group, that is, break up the story with ideas and suggestions for coping with difficult feelings. As I talked, I walked back and forth, letting the left side of the room hold the past, and the right side hold present time. When I was on the present time side, I reminded myself and the audience to take some slow, deep breaths, letting our bellies expand. When I was on the left side of the room I talked about my fear and bravery that day. I walked to the right and talked about the work of therapy, and how when I look back at what happened, healing images have been woven into the difficult memories.

It felt amazing and wonderful to be there talking, speaking openly, looking at the faces of my family and friends and others I didn't know. Back in the days after the kidnapping and assault happened, I had been told not to talk about it. Nowadays we know how healing it is for people to be able to talk about the traumatic, confusing, or disturbing things that we experience. Unfortunately, sexual abuse and assault are still taboo subjects. They are seldom spoken of in our society compared to how often they happen. That is one reason Kimber and I wrote The Thursday Group.We wanted to make it easier for people to talk about.

I'd like to get more comfortable with the topic, myself. It is one thing to write a book and a whole other thing to speak. The talk I gave at Stevie's Place felt like a good step in that direction.

I am so thankful for the work that the people at Stevie's Place and the other Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) do to make it easier for teens and children to get support if they are abused or assaulted. If you are wondering if there is a CAC in your area, please look here:

Haven House CAC Event

Our first public speaking and book signing event was held in Homer, Alaska, at the Homer Public Library on June 16, 2009. We joined Jessica Lawmaster, the Director of the Child Advocacy Center in Homer, for a promotion of both the CAC and the book. Near the beginning, Kimber passed out stones from the beach that her children had collected. Talking about and thinking about child sexual abuse often brings up uncomfortable feelings. Kimber invited the audience to imagine any difficult emotions flowing into the stones in their hands.  At the end of the program she offered to collect the stones and return them to the ocean. PeggyEllen read a part in the The Thursday Group where the girls are learning about breathing.  The narrator, Abi, says "We do this in choir. Our choir director tells us to breath low." It was fun to see our local choir director in the audience smiling when he heard his words quoted by one of our characters.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Making a Comfort Box

Making a Comfort Box can help with over-whelming feelings. Sometimes difficult memories or thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself can overwhelm you. When this happens, it helps to have a place to go or imagine going to help you remember about the good stuff in your life, or the things you want to do in the future. If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming feelings. When you have a plan, you can help yourself feel more stable and safe.

To make a Comfort Box, simply get an empty shoe box or other cardboard box. Next, think of the things that you like to smell, taste, see, hear, and feel. You may be able to put your favorite things right into the box. If they’re too big (or if they’re people, pets, or otherwise not appropriate to put in a box), you can use pictures of your favorite things. You might consider having a larger box for home, and a smaller one for traveling, especially if you will be gone from home overnight. Below are some ideas to get you thinking about what you might collect that will work for you.

Hmmm…What Should I Put in My Comfort Box?

Smell: lavender, incense, candles, your favorite aunt’s perfume, soap, flowers, bubble bath, freshly cut grass, camp fire, hot chocolate, vanilla, saltwater, garlic, your pet, freshly baked bread. Remember, if you can’t package it and put it in the box, any kind of reminder (even a list) will work.

Taste: chicken noodle soup, your mom’s famous casserole, fresh oranges, fried chicken, pears, cookie dough, taffy, cotton candy, warm milk.

Sight: photographs of your support people, including friends, family, therapist, school counselor, teachers, foster parents, social worker, etc. Certain colors, or pictures, a drawing of your safe place, pictures of gardens, cottages, stars, laughing babies, and family portraits.

Sound: your favorite positive music, relaxation tapes, the sound of the ocean in a sea shell, your favorite DVDs, words of affirmation, a tape of your therapist, your mother, or yourself saying calming and soothing words, evening bird songs, rustling leaves, loud music, love songs, crickets, laughter, a cat’s purr, falling rain.

Touch: an old blanket from when you were a kid, a piece of your mom’s old shirt, a stuffed animal, a letter, a worry stone, brand new socks, flannel.

Other important stuff: names and phone numbers of friends and support people, your personal list of “what to do when I feel like hurting myself,” affirmations, special letters or cards, your personal lists of “what makes me happy,” “fun and interesting things to do list,” and “places to see.”