Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Myths that prevent Healing

I see and hear over and over again like a broken record so many statements that make me cringe inside when it comes to my recovery of being sexually abused as a child. Some of them include of all horrors for the religious right: “Oh you need to confess your sins for having sex.” When I heard that one I was angry to say the least. I asked the guy why I should confess to that sin. It was a criminal act that was committed against me. I was a child for Pete’s sake! The man backtracked quickly about that one then went on to say it was in the past and I should bury it and never even bring it up if I believed in God and I was already healed from it for it happened many years ago. I saw right away I needed to end the conversation quickly. I just listened and let him finish what he wanted to say and left. It’s funny how those that never walked in my shoes think it is so easy and something must be wrong with me if I even speak up about the issues concerning sexual abuse. I have finally gotten to the point that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. That should be my only shame. I’m sorry it took me so long to truly get over my past to the point where I will talk about it. I say to all those victims in years past that I met that I’m sorry I missed you because I didn’t open up. I’m sorry for the ones that did share their stories with me and I was too messed up myself to reach out and comfort you.

If I didn’t speak up and share my story today because I buried the past I would have missed so many opportunities to give aid and comfort to those still hurting. Just in the last week for example a lady was so thankful to learn of S.N.V., Inc. and our support counseling and group counseling sessions. She opened up to me and you could just see the pain in her eyes as she shared her story of being sexually abused at the ages of eight and nine. She had only tried to share once before with someone her abuse only to be hurt even worse by someone that didn’t truly understand or care.
I would have missed being at a party most of my “religious” friends would have said I had no business going to. But while there yet another young lady with tears streaming down her face shared her story of being gang raped by thirteen “men” and then later spending seven years in a psych ward because of it. As she cried and I spoke words of life and love into her she raised her hands and began praising God from the most deepest part of her being and thanked me for being there for she felt God had sent me to let her know she was worthy to be loved.

I make no apology for speaking about my past. For I have found that it has paved a way for healing for others. To learn more, call, write or visit us at S.N.V., Inc.

Article by Jack Stoskopf

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You Don't Need Santa Claus

I couple of weeks before Christmas I was out shopping and saw this Santa Claus suit. On a whim  I decided to try the suit on and decided that if the suit fit I would buy it. I had some ladies at the fitting room help me put it on and what do you know, it fit and I didn't have to use any stuffing either. They cheered me on and told me I better not take it off because kids were already watching me and they would be so disappointed if Santa Claus just disappeared. I peeked around the corner and sure enough there were kids with their eyes just lit up because they saw Santa. (Side Note: Can you image the look on our face when we finally catch a glimpse of Jesus.) I thought to myself "Why not?" I ended up having the time of my life walking through the store with kids and a few ladies giving me hugs and telling me what they wanted for Christmas. I decided right there that I was just going to go around all day pretending to be Santa Claus. I never had so much fun in all my life going into stores and doing my very best at coming through the doors shouting "Merry Christmas" and laughing out a Ho Ho Ho. Even being stuck in traffic couldn’t have been any funnier with kids and adults alike rolling down their windows waving and pointing and yelling out to me "Merry Christmas" and saying Santa can I have this or that?
Later that day I drove home and a neighbor lady a few doors down was on her front porch so I walked up the street and continued my Santa Claus routine. She finally asked "Jack, Is that you?" I was laughing so hard when I pulled the beard off to reveal that yes it was me. We talked for awhile and I told her I had to go and change up because I had to go back out. She asked me if I minded her being so personal by asking where I was going. I told her no I didn’t mind and that I had a support group meeting for survivors of sexual abuse to go to. She looked at me then and told me we had something in common, that she herself was a victim of sexual abuse. She went on and told me her story and I could see it still had a painful effect on her many years later. I could see the pain in her eyes as they began to tear up as mine did to and I just gave her a hug and let her know we are survivors and some of us don’t even make it to be our age. She then told me her brother had also been a victim and didn’t make it for he turned to drugs and was no longer with us. By now she and I really had tears flowing and I told her that is why I write and advocate for S.N.V. Inc. This is a problem much deeper than most will admit.
I wish I could stop there, but a few days later an old friend of mine called me up and was very shaken because of the suicide of a man he knew and he needed to talk. It was late and I told him I would come over right if he needed me but he just asked me to pray because he knew I had an understanding of life deeper than most he knew in his circle of friends. The next day I decided to go visit him. The ex-wife of the man that killed himself was there, and as we all talked I learned that the man lived a life of turmoil because of being sexually abused as a child and could never shake it. I looked at her and understood so very much more in just an instant. By the grace of God it could have been me. The lady was so broken by the situation and by her eight year old boy being without his daddy. I did my very best to comfort them and prayed for them and asked myself what more can I do?
It is with a heavy heart I write this, this Christmas morning. If I can say anything to anyone, I want to say to you that you can make it if I can make it. I’m a survivor and I have a joy and a peace and happiness in my heart. I used to not be that way. My wife of 19 years used to say time and time again with much concern in her voice that I was so miserable inside but I could never express why. God has given me strength to tell you why and that there is hope. I don’t need to put on a Santa Claus suit to be happy. I am happy. Learn more about how you can be more than a victim of whatever is causing you to be unhappy in life. You don't need Santa Claus. Call, write, or visit me or S.N.V. Inc. today. Thank you and Have a Very Merry Christmas.
Article Jack L. Stoskopf

Forget The Past, The Future Is Bright

As a spiritual man one of the hardest passages in the Bible I come to grips with is when the apostle Paul talks about forgetting the past. He talks about not achieving all that God has in store for him just yet but he strives for a goal. I strive for a goal of a better future. I’ve struggled my entire life to escape the past. One of my favorite songs has the lyrics of “Remember me not as you see; as I will be not as I am.” For the life of me I can’t remember what the song is but the words were penned by Kerry Livgren of the rock group Kansas. Those that really know me and I’m not sure anyone really does know me as a whole which includes family and the many acquaintances I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and being with my entire life. Even being with one woman for over 20 years I really don’t think she fully knows or understand all that is within me. I strive today to become all that God has intended for me. Forgetting the former things, I reach for the goal that lies ahead.  I want to say as a victim of sexual abuse the past does not hold me in the grips of pain, fear, shame, or embarrassment anymore.

Yes I have a bad rap sheet of the many things I’ve done to cope with the past. I no longer hide behind the many masks that I used to put on. I no longer pretend to try and be someone that I’m not. I have come to like myself. There is no one even close to being as uniquely made as I am. I am special. I make no apologies for what was once a shell of the man.  I wanted to be so much more but felt like I could never attain. It led to many feelings of inadequacies, anger, aloneness, frustrations and so many more. The woman I married would say from time to time she knew I was miserable inside. I never felt like I could really express all that was within me. I myself was clueless somehow. If I really understood how simple a concept it really was to confront the past.  It was much harder in reality to do so.  I felt less of a man to say the very least. I know I’m not the only guy that has and is going through all that I have gone through. I personally know of at least six guys that have opened up and shared their story of being sexually abused by both other men and women with me. I know there are many others out there. I know you. I may not recognize it. You hide it well.  I know you hide behind a false façade, you drink, you party, and you have your secret addictions. Your wife is concerned but hasn’t got a clue of what really troubles you so deeply. You yourself don’t even realize what the driving force behind what you do really and in your wake you leave people hurt and used and abused. I know I’ve been there.

I’m here today to say you can change. You can have life worth living. You can know a joy and a peace in your heart and in your soul. There is relief and it’s not found in a bottle. It’s not found in a woman or man for some of you. It’s not found in something you smoke, swallow or snort up your nose. That’s not the way to deal with the past. It takes a man to do so. I didn’t recover on my own. No. I had a lot of support from my friends at S.N.V. I prayed. I read many other survivor stories. I read the Bible. But most of all I talked about my past. My past doesn’t make me who I am. It does not define who I am. It does not control what I do or what I say. I speak about it only because I have the strength within me to do so. I want to prevent as many children from the tragic effects of sexual abuse. I want you to experience the freedom and escape of your own nightmare. It will be in silence that you will not escape. Healing begins when you speak out and confront and not cover it up. It takes a man to stand. Call SNV or contact me and make a stand with me to save our children, save your marriage and save your own self. When you see me today I want you to know I am not as I once was. I will not be tomorrow as I am today. I will be stronger. I will be better. I will be moving forward continuously in my quest to be the best man I can be. Join me as iron sharpens iron so does man sharpen man. I need you. You need me.
Let’s do this together. You my friend are not alone. Here’s to a brighter future. Put your sunglasses on.

Article by Jack Stoskopf

S.N.V. sponsored a Halloween Party for the children in the surrounding community

October 31, 2010 - S.N.V., sponsored a Halloween Party for the children in the surrounding community. In an effort to provide a safe but fun atmosphere for our children during this time of the year that can be dangerous with predators lurking in the shadows to harm our most vulnerable treasures.  S.N.V., provided them with the Halloween fun that children expect; Plenty of candy, Halloween fright, and lots of food and entertainment for the evening. S.N.V.’s goal was to protect the children in the community by providing a safe, fun and secure environment, which was worry free for parents on a night that can be harmful to our children.  Unfortunately some of our communities are not as safe as we would like for them to be which is why S.N.V., provided that environment of safety for our most precious ones.  As you can tell by the pictures attached the children had a wonderful time with storytelling, games played, a piñata to beat down even more candy.  It was an enjoyable for children and parents as they watched their children safely play and have fun on Halloween night without worry".

S.N.V., INC. Hosts 1st Annual Feeding the Homeless Thanksgiving

November 2010 (Hampton, VA)  - S.N.V., Inc.  held its First Annual Feeding the Homeless Event at their Community Center in Hampton, Va.

Over 325 homeless and poverty stricken citizens enjoyed a wonderful thanksgiving feast provided by S.N.V., Inc.’s Head Chef Mr. Jarvis McCaden, Ms Delphine Morley and all the chef’s helpers.  Not only did they get the opportunity to enjoy great food, but they also had the opportunity to shop S.N.V.’s Clothes Closet which was stacked high with clothing for men, women and children of every size. Many walked out with free clothing, shoes, purses, Avon products and coats that were donated by generous individuals all over.  Men, women and children received free haircuts provided by Mr. Tim Lucas and Ms Amber Brinkley, barbers who volunteered their time and skill.  Appreciation and thanks to them for providing this service.  Another special thanks to several members of the Newport News Air Traffic Control Tower who also stepped in to give a helping hand.  Ashley Winbush, John Murray, Andrew and Angela Black. Everyone had fun, and we had WONDERFUL volunteers such as Ms Barbara, Ms Anita Frazier, her two daughters Jazmine and Jada Bynum, Ms Regis Anthony who all served, Ms Rose who helped with the clothes closet and Ms Teyonna Atkins from the organization Molding Minds who heard about our Feeding the Homeless Thanksgiving event through the Hampton Roads Live E-Paper and decided to come out and give us a helping hand with this effort. And through this event another friend and collaboration has been established to continue to help the homeless with two more clothing events for January 8th and the 15th by Ms Atkins of Molding Minds and Ms Thomas of S.N.V., Inc. But the true reason this event was done was to let the homeless and those less fortunate know that we do care.  And by the many thanks and hugs I received that day, we did exactly that. 

Anyone interested in donating to this continued cause, please contact Ms Atkins at 757-597-4644 or Ms Thomas at 757-234-1387or email address:


Monday, December 6, 2010

Stop The Silence

One of the main themes here at S.N.V. Inc. is “Stop The Silence”. One of the ways to do that is to join together with other survivors of sexual abuse here at SNV and be a loud voice to be heard in our community. I read a very disturbing article in our local paper about the huge increase of sexual crimes against children in our area. I myself am sorry to say for most of my life I stayed silent because of my own shame I had in being a victim of sexual abuse.

I know first hand the impact that this has on ones life. If you know of someone or you yourself have been a victim of sexual abuse please join us here at SNV.  SNV is like a family here to support one another and reach out to the community to prevent this tragedy from happening to as many children as we can. We reach out and help those that have already been hurt.

It is only in silence that these types of crimes are committed. It is in our silence it will it continue to happen. Please, if your life has been affected by childhood sexual abuse join us before more children are hurt. You ask what can you do? You might surprise yourself. There is strength in numbers. There are many different ways to help support SNV and in doing so you yourself will find many rewarding experiences.

So please, stop being silent. Silence is never the answer. In silence you protect the ones that commit these crimes. So please once again, join SNV in speaking out loud with one strong loud voice for our children and our future.

Article by Jack Stroskopf

I am a survivor.

There are an estimated 60 million reported cases of childhood sexual abuse in the U.S. alone.  And these are only reported cases.
I am a Mother of two and grandmother who survived childhood sexual abuse. I am a survivor who did not allow someone else's choice to ruin my life, and supersede my ability to succeed.
I was a child when I was faced with the traumatic experience of sexual abuse.  My survival inspired me to write an autobiography called VISIONS FROM THE PAST (A True Story).  Despite the fact of it being difficult for me to recall the unfortunate sexually abusive encounters of my past, a dear friend convinced me that there were others like me who shared my experiences and pain.  Although it took years for me to build the courage to write my story, I did.  The refusal to remain silent freed me from the shames of the past.  Now, through our Non-Profit Organization S.N.V., Inc. (Survivors Not Victims), I’m in a position to help and assist those who has experienced this great sin of sexual impropriety which has caused so much harm in our communities,  
Going through life’s trials, through God I learned that with Shame; there is no shame in something that was out of my control, with Guilt; there is no Guilt for the atrocity that was forced upon me and with Fault; I was not at fault for the actions of others.
Learning that I was a strong individual that could beat all odds, sharing my story so that others would know they were not alone and accepting that God had given me strength to survive all that I had experienced, I realized I had a choice to either remain a victim of my abuse or become a survivor. I understood that I could not allow my past to deter, break or prevent me from being the successful individual that God meant for me and all survivors to be; I am a survivor and not a Victim. 
Being a survivor of Sexual Abuse, I want other survivors like myself to realize that there is life and success after such a traumatic experience.  I was a child when my sexual abuse occurred and writing my book was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life.  However, being Survivors, we face difficulties in life that others would not understand; overcoming fears, jumping over hurdles or just taking the next step.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7.
I do not want to see another child go through what I went through as a child; something so horrific and atrocious that no child should ever have to experience.  Sexual Assault is wrong; not the people who were victims of it.  It took many years to understand I was not the one at fault.  What's key here, is for those who have been affected by sexual abuse to do something about it, and that's what S.N.V., Inc. is all about.  This organization is a beacon of hope for those who seek to survive and overcome the effects of sexual abuse.
All those who are victims of sexual abuse, join me in becoming a SURVIVOR, because God gave us the strength, the power and the choice to do so.  Faith and a desire is all we need.

Article by Veronica Thomas