Shelly Ann Wieringa was a victim, but she is not letting her traumatic past define her. She is a sexual abuse survivor. She is trained in social work, is a certified anger resolution therapist, program facilitator, public speaker, and a staunch advocate for victims of sexual abuse.
The award-winning Métis author’s memoir is entitled I Never Lied, and chronicles her tumultuous life story. Growing up in North Battleford, Wieringa said she encountered many hardships, including sexual abuse, alienation from her family, thoughts of suicide, and substance abuse. As reported in late March, this tour is part of her ‘Journey towards Justice’.
She was in Meadow Lake on May 2 for one of 17 stops on her book tour, and to host a discussion and awareness workshop. The event was hosted by the North West Friendship Centre, at the Other Side Youth Centre.
Gladys Joseph, Executive Director of the centre said the organization felt it was important to host this talk.
“We thought it would entwine well with what we do with our family violence department,” she noted. “We hope to host one of the programs she offers in the future. It was nice to see how she delivers her presentation.”
In the opening pages of her book, Wieringa said she doesn’t “profess to have a magical cure to suffering, but the more that we as a society discuss the issues, and the more that we become aware of the challenges that victims face, the greater chance victims have to heal.”
She said by sharing her story, she hopes that others will feel less alone and be encouraged to seek help and justice as they heal.
“The biggest thing is that we need to start talking about it, we need to start making it OK to talk about it,” Wieringa said. “It is a problem that can be fixed. But we need to work together in this community we call Canada. Sexual abuse is not defined by race, colour, creed, religion or financial status.”
She said that after her presentations, people approach her in person, but also reach out through other channels.
“I know I’m going to get emails from people here today,” she said. “I get hundreds of emails from people saying that they see themselves in the book and they say ‘thank you, I’m not alone.’ I just wish that I could get everywhere, and to everyone.”
Wieringa has made her story and advocacy a lifelong duty, and offers discussions on alternative parenting, anger management, and abuse counselling.
“I’m on a mission for the rest of my life,” she said. “If I can save one person’s life, it takes a really terrible thing that I went through and makes something good of it. The biggest thing is: don’t sit and wait for change, stand up and be the change.”
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