One Badass Redhead

Click the graphic to visit Rachel’s website

In this journey of traveling the grid of the internet, I’ve been privileged to connect with a variety of individuals.  Through these connections, I have learned, found support, grown and joined the ranks of strong survivors who are shamelessly telling our child abuse stories with the intent of helping others.

When I met Rachel Thompson, owner of Bad Redhead Media, on Twitter, I resonated deeply with her writing.  In her books, Broken Pieces and Broken Places, she passionately pours out the rawness of her pain in a writing style akin to painted, language art.  I was immediately hooked.

Being an independent author, I equally latched on to her amazing marketing book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, geared toward toward supporting the budding author in learning how to market on their own.  I took the challenge, and I learned!

I recently had the honor of talking with Rachel on my radio show, Survivor Voices Show.

Click below to listen as she shares her life, her story of child sex abuse, her triumphs and how she masters focusing on self care, writing and growing her brand.

Click to Stream Rachel’s Interview on Spreaker.

Click below to listen to Rachel’s Interview through Survivor Voices Show on YouTube:

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Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

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I See You

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Liz Ianelli

I met her online, but I feel like I have known her forever. We have conversations like sisters, laughing and saying whatever we want.  We understand each other’s brash language and sarcastic thinking.  I feel so happy to have this connection.  Child abuse survivors understand other child abuse survivors.  We have our own way of conversing.  We joke about off color things. We find the macabre fascinating and nerd out on unexpected subjects.

Liz Ianelli was sent away as a teenager.  For 993 days she suffered.  Now, she rises out of the ashes to speak for those who cannot.  Liz sat down with me and shared her story on my radio show, Survivor Voices Show.

Click below to listen:

Liz’s story and incredible artwork was recently featured in ICSA Today’s 2017 Fall Quarterly Journal. After over 80 deaths of her fellow survivors, many of them suicides, Liz decided to begin the #ISeeYou campaign to inspire others and let them know they are not alone in their struggle. She rallied up her fellow survivors to make videos sharing their stories and what we deal with on a day to day basis as a result of being abused. Soon, survivors were sharing their stories. Liz hopes to continue rallying survivors, asking them to make videos as they feel comfortable.

I proudly stand with Liz in the #ISeeYou campaign. We have to continue reminding each other that we are real, authentic and here to share with vulnerability. We will not live in shame. I see you.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

Liberation Point: Survivor Voices

I recently listened to the story of a woman who escaped a life in a fundamentalist religious cult.  I am always drawn to those who were children in cults, as I find the most comradeship with their stories, often similar to mine.

She is standing at the podium, poised, articulate and dressed in a dark suit.  She tells her story slowly, unfolding the pain of the cult survival which drives her passion to grow an organization supporting people just like her.   She speaks of her struggles to adapt, the experiences which she will never forget and the scars it has left upon her family.

“My worst day as a free soul is far better than my best day in captivity.”

Samie Brosseau

Samie Brosseau

I have tears as she shares.  I am her.  She is me.  We are the faces of random strangers we pass in the street.  We know nothing of their lives, but they could be us.  We grew up sequestered from life.  Our normalcy was reversed as we learned to become accustomed to being hurt.  We were refused a connection with our own authentic being and free will.

Yet, we have survived, and now I sit here so proud of who we have grown to be.  I listen as she bravely talks about the work she and her partner have done in just a short fifteen months. They have helped eight cult survivors transition into a life they would otherwise be floundering inside of.  Eli Weiss and Samie Brosseau work on event fundraisers to garner funding to provide real-time support for cult survivors.   I hear the echo of their voices’ repeated passion of being “ON THE GROUND“; understanding crisis, and what is truly needed.

“On the weekend, a couple of us will hop in the car and just drive, you know? They get to experience what it feels like to do what they want to do. They get to connect, and we laugh. We just talk about regular life. That’s how they want to be treated. Accepted.  Just like they’re people, because they are.”

Eli Weiss [on supporting cult survivors]

Eli Weiss and Samie Brosseau

I am watching from the wings as child cult survivors, now adults, are swiftly rising.  They are creating storms with their voices and healing as they exhale.  They are standing up for themselves.  They are refusing to bend.

We must pay attention to what is happening right now within our communities.  Every day, children wait for us to notice; for us to speak up.  Every day another child wonders if there is someone out there waiting should they become brave enough to run.

Oh, yes, we are here waiting for you with open arms. It is the time of the Experiencer, and we will all rise together through support, open communication and sharing.

Click the logo below to visit Liberation Point and find out more about their organization.

https://www.liberationpoint.org/home.html

 

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

I Never Loved My Body. Here’s Why.

When I broach the topic of my own sexuality and where I am inside of it, I am sometimes told that my state of mind and feelings regarding my sexuality are just skewed by my child sexual abuse. I don’t completely disagree with that perspective. It’s not a new concept. It’s a scientific fact that child rape shatters a human both mentally and physically.

I do however, disagree that’s its skewed. I wouldn’t use that specific word.  My whole view of sexuality was formed from being raped as a child.  To define my perspective as skewed is implying that I once had a choice to know what sexuality even was.  Just as I have had to travel a path of re-programming my DNA back to its authentic thought perspective form, to expel physical and mental childhood trauma, so I’ve also had to do work specifically with my sexuality.

 “You see, I’ve never loved my body, but not because my body isn’t lovable. It’s that the natural urge to love myself in any way was taken from me by abusive adults.”

Vennie Kocsis

You see, I’ve never loved my body, but not because my body isn’t lovable.  It’s that the natural urge to love myself in any way was taken from me by abusive adults.  When I say, “never loved my body”, I don’t mean standing naked in front of a mirror and being happy with what I see. I didn’t love my body by not caring how it was used. I didn’t know what boundaries were. I didn’t know that I had an option of saying no. By the time I was old enough to learn I could say no, I was formed into a fearfully compliant and sexual system. I often moved into a space of sexual robotics, dissociated away from the act itself, even convincing myself that I loved individuals I did not love, so the programmed guilt of my sexuality would not plague me.

Growing up in a religious cult, I was taught that my body was a temple. Masturbation was a sin. Females who had sex before marriage were vile, dirty whores. Girls who were caught being seductively raped by much older men were blamed for their own fear and compliance. We were taught that our bodies belonged to the Christian God until a husband was chosen for us.

We were taught purity in conjunction with being raped by pedophiles, who came in droves to backwoods communes full of children; pedophiles who sought healing from the religious ministry, a ministry more intent on their doctrine and accepting the pedophiles into the fold to cast out the “pedophile demon”, than on the safety of us children.

If you think all rape is violent you are wrong. There are many ways a predator takes what they want from children and/or adults. Sometimes it’s soft coercion through gifts and items given, so the predator can later say, “Now you owe me.” Sometimes it’s offering sweets, toys or gadgets to little children. Sometimes it’s seducing a teenager or adult who blindly believes and hopes for love. Sometimes there is the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Sometimes it is taken by force as the victim fights to no avail. The list of ways rape is enacted is long and varying.

The media tends to highlight violent rape when soft coercive rape is possibly more often used. It can leave even the victim blaming themselves. It can coerce the victim into believing they participated and even enjoyed it. It shatters the mind into countless pieces.

Whether through physical violence or mental coercion, when the intent of the rapist is to TAKE for them-self, it is, indeed, rape. It is not a fully consensual act.  Children cannot consent to and should not be consenting to sexual acts.  It is a violation for which there is no coming back.  There is no argument for this.  The fact that child rape damages a human so deeply, is proof enough of its dissecting aftermath.   When fear or falseness is involved in the taking of anything from another human without their awareness, it is an absolute act of taking. It leaves scars. It leaves a broken body and mind as the predator walks away full and fed.

Shattered throughout my whole-body system, physically and neurologically, I ran through life in many modes. At times I was in fight or flight for days. Other times I was dissociated. I had other states of being come into my forefront as the authentic me wandered and self-moved like a robot behind them. I had no way to gauge what was healthy for me.

I would search many facets of sexuality, from bisexuality to the lifestyle of fetishes and BDSM; to poly-amorous attempts and more. Being a sexual abuse survivor, I had no self-awareness to connect my spirit with my sexuality.  I had yet to call my soul back into my body.  Instead, sex became a way to both numb and sometimes expel rage and pain.

I had been trained to never say no. I had been trained that saying no would leave me punished and/or shunned.  Saying no meant I wasn’t a good person.  Saying no meant I was selfish. I had been trained for compliance since the age of three. It was all that my mind and my body ever knew.

Many victims of sexual abuse take a journey through exploring extreme sexuality. I do not blame them or judge them for this journey. There is both a disconnect and a confusion in the mind towards our sexuality when we have been raped starting at a very young age. We sometimes become dominant to control being hurt. Yet, in the quiet of our mind, the pain still exists. We sometimes become compliantly submissive, believing if we give our bodies fully, that we will be loved, often ending up further abused.

I am not ashamed of my sexual past.  You should not be either.  Let no one shame you, and please do not shame yourself.  All my experiences, especially the ones which left me hurt and damaged, with more scars, remnants of my pain left in the hands of men who only cared about their own wants and having visuals to hold for their own pleasure, have formed me into who I am today. This does not erase their accountability for their predatory behavior. Acceptance is merely my path to freeing myself from the hold these sexual patterns have had on me.

I believe deeply in my own sacred sexuality. I now know that my vagina belongs to MY body. I am not a fan anymore of the ideal that sacred sexuality means giving my body away. This does not at all feel in alignment with my spirit or what makes me feel comfortable inside.

I have misgivings about the industry of sacred sexuality. It is a new-age trend rife with predators, many seemingly moving through one partner after another, and charging money to other humans to “free them from their sexual traumas and blocks”. One can only wonder the effect this has on individuals emotionally, especially when they have been severely sexually abused. I see the trends of sexual gurus, and their followers crawling behind them, believing that “free sex” means “healed wounds”.  I’ve see the aftermath from those who have awakened to understand they were being preyed upon by ill-intended individuals.

I am becoming very comfortable in owning this personal space. As the numbers of my age rise, the more I am deeply connected to the ethereal strand holding my body together. I have come to many realizations over the years. I have given my body to other humans for the wrong reasons, most of which did not align with my greater good.

Sexual healing, for me, has been learning to say no without fear of rejection and loss.

Healing from my sexual abuse has meant being willing to walk away from anyone who can’t respect the space I am choosing to be centered into, who would still coerce me or place me in a compliant or humiliating position, even after me having said it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  Healing has meant walking away from those who may have a hold on this part of me. Healing is putting my body first in health and energetic care.  Healing has involved learning to be alone with myself without feeling lonely and loving my body with a healthy perspective.

I dare say be mindful of your intuition, fluttering there below your rib cage. If you feel as I feel, in a space of exclusivity, with no urge to give yourself to others out of a “free sexuality” trend following or patterns of past abuse, don’t let anyone persuade you away from yourself.  Do not judge, but more so, do not let yourself be judged for not following along with any patterns of group think.  You have the right to be an individual with your own choices.

This poem grew out of this journey, as my childhood sexual abuse has been the deepest wound I’ve had to clean.  It is the wound which has held the densest toxins and had the strongest hold on me.

Somewhere

There are kisses invisible

Sent by men who

Stare at ceilings

Dripping with strands

Of hair.

I don’t dare travel there.

Imagine surprises;

Beach town getaways,

Watching watery sunrises.

But aloneness

Doesn’t call

For such privileges.

Floating to other circles,

Hoping for different hues;

Something new,

Unfamiliar.

Some call it

‘Being loved unconditional.’

I don’t know what

That feels like.

I know abuse and use,

Sex feigned as passion.

Forever exists;

Waiting somewhere.

by Vennie Kocsis, 2015

As I am rising higher inside of my own power, I am wielding an invisible sword called boundaries.  I reserve and demand the right to say no. I do not consent to being love bombed and flattered into giving myself away. I hold onto my power, as it is my sovereign right to be in full control of my human body. My mind can no longer be persuaded to go against the greater good of my own thoughts and desires.

As it is, so shall it be.  img_3657Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

GASLIGHTING: The Movie That Should Make You Shudder

Gaslighting

GASLIGHTING is a twenty minute film packed with a raw and candid look into the true-life story of a teenage girl named Brooke, played by Hannah Walters, who has suffered sexual abuse as a child. In just a short twenty minutes, her whole life unfolds. With a mother who is caught in a domestically violent relationship and rearing three other children, Brooke is often left in the care of questionable adults who use her compliance and fear to their advantage. The child welfare system continually fails her. Held silent in mental fear, she is victim blamed by teachers, her own mother and a court judge. In essence, for Brooke, there is no safe place.

If this film makes you cringe, cover your eyes, gasp or even cry then you are one of the good ones. This movie is a raw depiction about how a child protection system, justice system, parents, teachers and caregivers continually fail children who have been abused.

GASLIGHTING is a perfect example of what society must fix in order to bring about change in our world. This movie is a reminder that the planetary social construct can no longer ignore the horrors being wrought upon the most innocent of its inhabitants, our children.

Children deserve to have a safe space. Children deserve care, love and protection. GASLIGHTING will remind you of something incredibly important. That teenager you can’t stand, who you think is so horrible, is most likely in even more emotional pain. Beneath their sullen silence, the lashing out, the self-harm and inability to communicate, is a child needing someone to listen to them tell us why they are broken.

As a survivor of sexual abuse I can assure you that this ripping of innocence shatters the very core of a child. I am a firm supporter of anyone working with children being required to go through an intensive course on recognizing the signs of child abuse. GASLIGHTING should be added to the list of required viewing.

Anger is not a base emotion. Pain is. Anger is the projection of that emotion. When you see anger you are really seeing pain.

Watch GASLIGHTING here:

Gaslighting

Please support  GASLIGHTING by leaving a review or donating to the work involved in utilizing this film for global education.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

LOCKED IN: by John Huddle

At the 2014 conference for the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), I was in a conference filled with cult survivors. We were sitting in a large circle, some of us child survivors, some parents who had been lured, yet all of us had one commonality, we were victims. We shared openly, and a comradely connection swept through the room.

There was a man with a great sense of humor who seemed to interject at just the right time with softly funny quips that seemed to break moments of heaviness.  He had a gentle smile and kind demeanor.  John Huddle, survivor of Word of Faith Fellowship cult and author of LOCKED IN, ended up spending time with our group of survivors.  It was a great connection of healing and realizing that none of us were alone.  I was thrilled to meet another author, and we exchanged our books with each other.

Huddle’s book, LOCKED IN, opens with a young John, innocent minded, with a heart to do good in his community, a working man who volunteered at his local church.  He meets a like-minded woman and soon marries.  Life seems fulfilling, with Christian oriented goals of giving and helping in the community.  But this simple life quickly takes a turn when a woman named Jane Whaley enters the scene. John’s church, formerly led by Gerald and Linda Southerland, merges with the Whaley ministry and morphs into what would be re-titled as Word of Faith Fellowship.   Jane Whaley rules her congregation with an iron fist.  Her intensive and extensive set of rules are strenuous, dictating everything from styles of dress to her members’ employment, relationships, how children should be disciplined and much more.  In time, John and his wife have a family, but as his family grows, so does the sadistic, abusing and controlling environment and rituals set out by Jane WhaleyThe congregation travels to Brazil on recruiting trips. Over time, John becomes conflicted.  He struggles to come to terms with the truth of what he is embedded in.  Eventually, John is forced to make a decision that will ultimately change his life forever.

LOCKED IN is an excellently written, compelling and fast read.  Well-crafted with a style that can be related with, LOCKED IN allows the reader to follow the slow unfolding of religious based mind control on an adult.  The question of how an adult is slowly lured, turned and trapped into an abusive cult is lain out with brilliant precision.  With an informative forward by Lorna Goldberg, L.C.S.W, Psy.D, former President of International Cultic Studies Association, and quoting cult experts such as Janja Lalich, PhD, LOCKED IN tells the story of how innocent humans are preyed upon by swindlers who use religion to extract everything they can from their victims.

I recently had the honor to guest host one of their broadcasts and sit down to talk with John about the experiences he details in LOCKED IN.  John also discussed the current court case involving assault victim, Matthew Fenner by members of Word of Faith Fellowship.  Click below to listen to John’s interview.

John’s blog is a hub which details the history and the current drama involving the criminality of WOFF.  To stay abreast with the current events of the WOFF criminal case, follow John’s blog.  Word of Faith Fellowship has been deemed an extremely brutal cult and is currently charged with human trafficking of its Brazil members.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” by Zack Bonnie

 “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Lily Tomlin

Let Me Be

art by Jonathan Weiner, San Francisco, CA 2015

Accented with unique and relevant art by Jonathan Weiner of San Francisco, CA,”Dead Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir“, by Zack Bonnie, reveals with precision the mind bending abuse enacted inside of the youth reform industry. “The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry”, by Mother Jones, explains the birth of this industry and provides the following graph.  CEDU had roots in Synanon and began in 1967.

how_a_cult_spawned_the_tough_love_teen_industry_630x738

It was indeed an industry of profit as parents were indoctrinated with the belief that any slightly “off” behavior by their teenager was a sign of serious problems, resulting in parents not only giving away their children with the belief they were helping them, but additionally being swindled out of millions of dollars.

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” opens with Bonnie taking a ski trip with his father. Subsequent events find a fourteen-year-old Bonnie checked into a youth reform facility in Idaho. He is tricked, and left there against his will. Thus begins the enactment of Bonnie’s mental shattering. Overnight, he joins the ranks of the large number of throwaway youth in the eighties, who eventually were labeled “Generation X“.

With every phone call monitored and Bonnie’s parents receiving false reports of his progress, he becomes trapped in an intricately woven scheme of abuse.  He has no means of escape.  He is unable to relay his alarming conditions to anyone.  Forced through bizarre, psychological techniques to become emotionally naked, Bonnie is often left confused about what is real in his mind.  The children are left unsure of what a right answer to staff questions should be.  They are love bombed, then verbally abused, with severely psychotic mind control rituals. The CEDU facilitators often use the children’s personal family dynamics to manipulate them.

“To not share would be to betray them and the confidences that they shared.  I said the most innermost things that made my voice tremble to admit, bringing an ancient anger and self-hatred to the surface.  It wasn’t just the situation; it was where it was taking me, inside myself.

I’m useless.”

Who used to say that to you?” Keith’s soft voice back at me.

My father.”

Your father called you useless?”

Yeah.

Had he really? Yes, he had.

Say it again. ‘My father said I’m useless.’ Good. It hurt you? Yeah. You can say that again, that’s riiiigth.”

Tess and Keith repeated what we said a lot. Just about every time a kid in my group said something, Jasper, Tess, or Keith was there to repeat it. This is how we always seemed to get roped into going deeper within ourselves.

Rituals involve teenagers verbally confronting themselves and each other.  Every detail of their life is invited to be shared as their overseeing handlers note them to use against the children later.  Rounded into groups, they are put through almost daily, mind bending sessions of unimaginable attacks as staff strategically controls the children into turning on one another.

FullSizeRender

art by Jonathan Weiner, San Francisco, CA 2015

Zack describes session after session, as every part of the children’s emotions are controlled and manipulated.

Bianca, what do you remember about your mom? She used to have a name for you, too, didn’t she?”

I guess so.” Bianca Taylor picked up her cue from Tess.

Yeah. What was her favorite nickname for that beautiful little tyke? Can you remember for me?

She used to call me Rainbow...” Bianca started crying. I wanted to start crying from watching Bianca, who I’d never really even talked to. Seeing raw sadness like that felt like a punch to the solar plexus.

Toughen up.

The berating of kids is a carefully crafted tool.  Broken down into nothing, with their self-image lost and lacking any emotional worth, the children become easier for the staff to manipulate.  Using every piece of their fragile lives, the staff takes as many opportunities as possible to verbally abuse the children.

I can’t hear you, Bianca. A spoiled little bitch? Spoiled little bitch. LITTLE BITCH! Why did he call you that? That’s right, let me hear you.”

Go for it, Wally…GET IT OUT, PEOPLE. That’s RIGHT!”

A SLUT! Who said that to little Daphne? You really let that little girl down, didn’t you?

Yeah? When? After the abortion? Say that again, Narissa – you’ve got to stop being that girl with the reputation? Look at her!

Here’s some tissues, Bianca. Let it go.”

Catch terms such as “bans“, when children are forbidden to speak to one another, and “bad rapping“, children saying bad things about each other, are among a plethora of rituals used to manipulate the minds of vulnerable teenagers.  Meanwhile, the children are allowed to smoke cigarettes and other self-harming behaviors, geared to feed into their anxiety, which grows, the longer they are forced to remain inside of the program.

Bonnie’s writing style allows his reader to easily flow between what he is forced to witness happening to other children and the silent thoughts he is disallowed to ever let leave his lips lest there be intense punishment.  The children are trained to adhere to a system filled with mistrust and expected betrayal of one another.  They are strip searched upon admittance to the program.  They are heavily worked.  They are humiliated in front of one another.

Yet, even trapped inside such a sordid system of complicated tier goals, systematic punishments, humiliation and anger, Bonnie’s resilience becomes his counter weight as he journals.

“Guess what I went through my truth prophet August 9 & 10 and I found out that I basically I was a dick at home. I have been mulling it over in my mind and I know the point of raps and prophets.  Just to make you cry a lot so naturally being the way I am I didn’t cry. – Author journal entry, 11 August 1988 (one month at RMA)”

Through this writing, Bonnie brilliantly flows between descriptive enactment of the program and his attempt to retain a critical thinking mind.  Bonnie takes his reader’s hand and pulls them directly into the center of his deeply intense experiences.

Bonnie navigates the CEDU system until he can no longer withstand the thin line between the reality in his mind and the constant psychological belittlement he daily endures.  One day Bonnie decides to go on the run.  Will he make it out?

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” reveals the sadistic truth of the youth reform’s use of mental and physical abuse to control children.  Never has a book had an impact on my own teenage memories since I was a young person reading “Run, Baby, Run” by Nicky Cruz. The detail through which Bonnie brings his story to life is exceptionally mapped out.

Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” is guaranteed to make you intensely feel. You will be outraged. You will ask why and how a human being can do such things to children. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will cheer for the incredible strength and courage Zack journeys into as he brings his teenage memories to life on the pages of this exceptional book.

portrait.jpg

Zack Bonnie

Zack Bonnie is in the process of re-launching his website, complete with an audio-book of  DEAD, INSANE OR IN JAIL: A CEDU MEMOIR, which is available in paperback and e-book. Additionally, he is beginning the publishing submission process for the sequel, entitled: DIJ: OVERWRITTEN.   All of Zack’s work can be explored at his WEBSITE.

To subscribe and stay informed as Zack continues developing his literature, please sign up for his NEWSLETTER.  You may also follow Zack on Facebook and Twitter.

Personal Note: Sometimes a book is so well written, it sinks into the skin of a trauma survivor like me, who found incredible familiarity in the words I read.  This author touched my heart deeply when I met him. The ache in his eyes was familiar. The strength was admirable. The energy was filled with the passion for advocacy. So, dear Zack, please forgive my delay in this long overdue review of your book. I truly wanted to give you the honor you so rightly deserve. Love, Vennie Kocsis 

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist