Linsey McMurrin and Lisa Deputie (photo by Sarah Whiting)
Linsey McMurrin and Lisa Deputie (photo by Sarah Whiting)

At the January 15 “MWP Conversation: Healing in Community,” more than 150 women discussed the prevalence of sexual assault, trauma-related addiction, and generational trauma, and how to promote stronger community solutions.The opening session shared personal stories of four women. Breakout sessions dived deeper into Resilience & Adversity, Treatment & Solutions, Talking Addiction, and Acknowledging Impact. The event concluded with moderators reporting action steps discussed in their groups. This is a summary of one of the conversations.

Use this link to find video highlights from "Resilience & Adversity" breakout session, or see below (12 min., Trigger Warning: includes insights from a sex trafficking survivor)

Resilience & Adversity 
Linsey McMurrin and Lisa Deputie were part of a group from Minnesota Communities Caring for Children, which works with service providers and parents around the state. They report that more work needs to be done to prevent trauma. “We’ve been treating symptoms, not root causes,” said McMurrin, a Bemidji-based member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Deputie added, “It is vital to have parents involved at all levels, which makes some uncomfortable. Nothing gets done without them at the table.” 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are hard for children to admit to. As one person noted, sometimes youth deny being impacted by sexual abuse, or that a family member has been imprisoned, partly out of shame, and also from the deep-seated fear that no one outside the family unit would care.

Many times, children don’t know what is not normal. 

Libby Bergman is director of Family Enhancement Center, which particularly works on therapy with children impacted by sexual abuse. She suggests society contributes to sexual violence because we don’t have conversations about healthy sexuality. Toxic representations of sex and sexuality are prevalent in media.

Advocate and survivor Chris Stark was sexually trafficked at an early age. She said it is hard for good people to understand the network of sexual abuse of children, and how difficult it is for those children to find someone to trust. Teachers and neighbors are afraid to notice and say something. She is involved in trauma conversations now to try to prevent others from experiencing what she went through. 

Many women suggested that we have little sense of being part of a village, which means neighbors tend to feel “it’s not my business” if they suspect a child is experiencing trauma. 

One woman says that whenever she moves to a different place, “I knock on doors simply to introduce myself to neighbors.” 

Click here for recommended resources

Click here for needs suggested in conversation

Click here for trauma-informed action steps offered by featured participants