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For My Good tackles a taboo on sex abuse

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There are some subjects the Church just does not seem to address.

Sex abuse is one of them.

Praise Theatre will attack the taboo topic in a powerful new play, For My Good. Written by Joelle Williams and John Duncan, it runs Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at Earl Cameron Theatre.

“As a community we just thought it was time for this message to get out,” Ms Williams said.

“So many people are impacted by sexual abuse and living in shame and without hope, but you don't have to struggle silently in your pain. We have to be transparent and say, ‘Yes, this happened to me' and look at how can we move forward and start the healing process.”

The script tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who is abused by a family member a few years older than her. The perpetrator isn't punished. He marries and becomes a minister while the female character is left with the scars from the traumatic experience.

The overarching message is there is purpose behind every pain, Ms Williams said.

“Initially when we go through things some people question God and say ‘Why is this happening to me?' But even when we don't understand it there is a purpose in it even if it's just to help or encourage someone else,” Ms Williams said.

“Ultimately, we want people to take away that it's not your fault if you've been the victim of abuse. We want them to walk away with some hope. We know it's heavy content, but we want them to leave the play with faith and ready to heal from those scars.”

Sex abuse is something that no one talks about despite the number of people affected by it, Dr Duncan said.

“Even within our small cast there have been people affected by sexual abuse and we have had some rehearsals that have been very intense. There have been tears shed and personal stories shared because the whole notion about sexual abuse is it doesn't have a face and affects different people in different ways and different things might trigger those painful memories.

“That healing experience is also different for each person.”

Helena Pipe, Talitha Davis, Simona Mills-Pitcher, Nathan King, Jermaine Jeffers, Tracy Richardson, Korrin Lightbourne are all in the play. Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt acts and is also the producer.

“Basically how this all came about was most of the cast sing together in a group called Anonymous Praise,” Dr Duncan said.

“What we wanted to do was expand our brand from just singing, into theatre as well. Many of the performers in our group have acting experience already and have had roles in various plays, so we decided to do a stage play centred around something that we felt would be community conscious — something that would really bring about awareness in the community and make a difference.”

Proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to Scars, which works to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse on the island. The charity will host a talk on October 30, aimed at helping people heal from sexual abuse. Niechelle Guidry, named by Time magazine as one of the 12 new faces of black leadership in the US, will share her testimony at the event.

Why I am so excited

Scars co-founder Debi Rivers tells us why she was excited to support next week's play, For My Good.

Q: Why did your charity, Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, get involved when they heard about the premise of this play?

A: We were really happy that the issue was going to be highlighted because a perpetrator can be anyone, even a church member. It can be a teacher, family member or coach. Ninety per cent of the time it's someone we know, love and trust so the church isn't exempt from sexual abuse, but it can be a place where sexual offenders can hide. So Scars was really happy as not only do we provide training and awareness, but we also promote healing, which is what the play is about.

Q: How can sexual assault impact a person's faith overall?

A: You can imagine what happens to a child who has been abused by a member of a church, a person who professes they know and love God. After something like that has happened a child might think, “Where is God? Is there a God? Is this God?” They would be extremely confused. How can a person love God and harm me? It would be really difficult for them to put their trust in God after something that traumatic happened to them. They often lose hope, but we want people to join us next week for a time of healing. They need to know abuse is not their fault and God loves them.

Q: Why is this play so important?

A: It is helping to get this out in the open and shedding light on a dark topic and one that isn't very comfortable to be discussed in this forum. And because we promote the healing process this is an opportunity for people to heal and know that children were not meant to be abused. God didn't intend for little ones to be harmed. This is the choice of people who do this. No matter what has happened in the perpetrator's own past it is still a choice.

Q: What part does the Church play in this?

A: I think the Church is vitally important and provides education about God and is often a hospital when people need healing. But it's important to acknowledge that even people who profess to know and love God can be harming children and sitting in the Church. Every religion may differ, but there is one common thread and that is a spiritual obligation to protect children. Loving God means loving and protecting children — not harming them.

Tickets to the 7pm play at Earl Cameron Theatre are $65 for general admission, $100 for patrons and $50 for seniors. You can purchase them at bdatix.bm, People's Pharmacy and Caesar's Pharmacy. If you want to learn more go to Facebook: For My Good

Healing through art: Joelle Williams and John Duncan (Photograph by Nadia Arandjelovic)
Joelle Williams and John Duncan (Photograph by Nadia Arandjelovic)
We have to be transparent: playwrights Joelle Williams and John Duncan, who want to instill hope in sex abuse victims (Photograph by Nadia Arandjelovic)

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Published October 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 22, 2016 at 9:19 am)

For My Good tackles a taboo on sex abuse

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