Posted on January 27, 2016
Our society invests backwards. We prefer to invest in children who prove themselves—children who demonstrate adults’ standard of excellence—and refuse to support a group of children who need us the most: child survivors of trauma and abuse. If we want our communities to thrive, we must be willing to invest in children who are suffering and who need healing and support. I believe children are our greatest gifts and the extraordinary bravery of each child survivor deserves to be honored. As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I created the organization that I would have wanted as a child.
The Challenge: Through no fault of their own, child survivors of sexual abuse—especially poor and marginalized children—lack access to healing, and their families struggle in secrecy and isolation. Once a child discloses sexual trauma, their access to treatment is determined by many factors, but none as exclusionary as income. Poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect, the trauma of which is compounded by the fact that families living in poverty simply cannot afford the treatment they need for their children to heal from their abuse. Without a focus on healing, children and their families will continue to suffer the trauma and their voices will continue to be absent from the movement to end child sexual abuse.
The Solution: Build a community invested in the healing and well-being of child survivors of sexual trauma, and provide a holistic system of support to fill a critical gap in the spectrum of care for child survivors who are living in poverty.
The Strategy: The Firecracker Foundation offers high-quality, consistent mental health therapy and trauma sensitive yoga therapy to children between the ages of 3-17. Contracted mental health therapists undergo an extensive vetting process to ensure that service providers are licensed, insured and trained in an evidence-based model proven to treat trauma. Children are invited to be an active participant in their own healing, and parents and guardians are invited into Caretaker Support Group sessions, where they are offered solidarity, psychoeducation and resources to give them a safe space to share their own emotions while supporting the healing of their children.
The Firecracker Foundation also works to bring about local culture change where the experiences, symptoms and reactions to sexual trauma become well known and understood, so that each survivor’s community is a healthy environment conducive to healing. We encourage the validation of survivor experiences and an understanding of their responses to sexual trauma as normal while raising awareness of terminology and the prevalence of child sexual trauma and abuse. In so doing, this work is building a local movement where the entire community—volunteers, survivors and their families—are engaged to take action and support the healing of others.
I am a survivor.
I own the sparks flying off the wreckage, the scars that still burn, and the story I am left to tell about the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. As an inspirational and engaging public speaker, I draw fire from the embers of my past to empower and encourage other survivors healing from the devastating effects of sexual trauma. As the founder & executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, I work to honor the bravery of children who have survived sexual trauma by encouraging the Mid-Michigan community to invest in the healing of their whole being.
I am wife to a talented tile installer and mother to three boys that carry my heart with them wherever they go – much like the worms I find in their pockets. I am the author of my namesake blog, Tashmica Torok, and sometimes contributor to xoJane, where I offer humor, insight and inspiration to women across the U.S.
I preach militant self-care for all freedom fighters, the walking wounded, the in-the-trenches parents and the ambitious souls interested in building a productive and adventurous life without sacrificing self-love. As a former skater with the Lansing Derby Vixens, I have a deep love for all things roller derby and some of my closest friends still call me Firecracker. I can usually be found pouring my heart on to a yoga mat, writing in a local coffee shop or offering up behind-the-scenes volunteer work to the brilliant world changers in my hometown.
Despite my best intentions, I forget to turn the oven off, cannot arrive anywhere without GPS assistance, and will never succeed at two things: knitting or waking up without hitting snooze. These hiccups aside, I aspire daily to take Mother Teresa’s advice and “do small things with great love.”
The Firecracker Foundation believes that child survivors of sexual trauma and their families deserve the investment of their communities. We fulfill our mission daily by honoring the bravery of children who have survived sexual trauma by building a community invested in the healing of their whole being.