Vicki Hamilton, with supporters in the background, hopes to open Heartfelt House next year.
Vicki Hamilton, with supporters in the background, hopes to open Heartfelt House next year.

Opening up on sexual abuse

By Bree Price

For Vicki Hamilton finding someone to confide in about being sexually abused as a child was like lifting a heavy fog from her life.

Now the 33-year-old Alstonville mother-of-two is endeavouring to help others do the same by establishing Heartfelt House, a charity organisation designed to offer support to adult survivors of child sexual abuse and their families and friends.

"Life was like living in a fog ? a dirty, grey, heavy fog," Ms Hamilton said.

"My self-esteem was very low. I felt I had no right to take part in conversations with other women and that I had no right to take an active part in my own family.

"But my life started changing after I met a group of women through a local church playgroup. They nurtured me, enabled me to build trust with them and eventually I confided in one of them.

"I joined a support group for survivors and it still is one of the most important aspects of my healing.

"We talk about everything ? about the crazy thoughts that go through our head, our insecurities, our relationships and we encourage each other to emerge from that foggy existence.

"I walk around with wings on my feet and I want all survivors to feel this."

Mrs Hamilton said she hoped to raise $60,000 to allow Heartfelt House to open its doors by the start of next year.

She said Summerland House With No Steps had already donated the use of its premises to allow the charity to provide counselling services, workshops and therapy programs.

"The effects of sexual abuse are profound and can include low self-esteem, inability to trust others, depression, violence, sexual difficulties and even psychiatric disorders," Ms Hamilton said.

"Heartfelt House will give survivors that outlet where they can go and build confidence and get the support and validation they might not be able to get anywhere else.

"Part of healing is being able to tell your story.

"One-in-three females and one-in-six males have been sexually abused by the time they're 18 years old."

She said Anglican Bishop of Grafton Right Reverend Keith Slater and the Catholic Bishop Diocese of Lismore had donated $5000 each to help set up the charity.

"We have been astounded by the level of support already expressed by the local community as we move towards establishing Heartfelt House," Ms Hamilton said.

"We thank all those involved in establishing Heartfelt House to date and invite the community to help us get started by making donations."

Heartfelt House will be holding a fundraising concert featuring vocal group Isabella A Cappella at the Alstonville Anglican Church Hall on Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for concession and are available at the hall, Alstonville Book Worm or by calling 66287422.

Ms Hamilton said any donations to Heartfelt House could be sent to PO Box 904, Alstonville, 2477, or by calling the number above.

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