Survivor, Mother, Friend, Activist, Therapist,
Co-Founder of The National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect.
My name is Lori Ellen Poland, I am a survivor of childhood abuse, and yet, I am so much more as well.
My story began in 1983 at the age of 3 when I was abducted from my front yard and taken to the foothills of Colorado. After being sexually abused, I was placed 15 feet beneath the ground inside of an outhouse toilet cesspit.
I was left for 3.5 days when bird watchers heard me crying and I was rescued.
My family did everything they could to create a “normal childhood” for me after this event. We didn’t move, we didn’t run, we went about our lives, trying to sludge through it all. And together we were able to do so, not without a lot of struggles and pain. Yet, we muddied through it all.
When I was 10 years old, my kidnapper was released from prison after only 6 short years of being behind bars for rape, kidnapping, and attempted murder. This experience was a rehash of the kidnapping all over again. The media, the community, my friendships, it all was altered.
I learned that people believed in life after listening to me. They were motivated, hopeful, empowered, healed, and excited. So I just kept talking (this wasn’t very hard to do). At 15 I also wrote a business plan for a camp/ranch for children to attend after abuse. This place was one that would reintroduce love and light to children and their families. A place where they could go to find healing through treatment, but also joy through connection, rebuilding trust and experiencing a newfound sense of nurturing. So, as I aged, every step I took was with this goal in mind.
I went on to work with abused children, getting a degree in counseling/psychology and later becoming a therapist working on attachment, trauma, relationships, and family systems – all things affected by child abuse and neglect. As the years went by and I continued to struggle with my internal sense of value, worth, and abandonment issues, I realized that this camp had to also be one for adults, couples, and families of adult abuse survivors.
In 2016, the pediatrician who’d run the agency where I completed my forensic interview after my kidnapping in 1983 – and I, we’re in yet another deep discussion about the gaze aversion people have when it comes to child abuse and neglect. About how isolated the field is and how millions and millions of people are affected by abuse and have never talked about it, how they’ve lived with their pain, or have succeeded in life despite their childhoods. We talked about what worked for them.
This Dr. (Richard Krugman) was the Dean of Colorado University Medical School, and he also didn’t know what worked when it came to healing from abusive childhoods. Collectively, we knew, this was a major issue that had to change. We talked at length about how we needed a national foundation like The American Heart Association, or the American Cancer Society to help prevent child abuse and neglect. There are thousands of providers and agencies in the trenches providing the much-needed treatment, but instead, someone to help fuel the field in understanding itself to ultimately end it. The child abuse field needs an organization that focuses on Prevention, Education and Training, Research and Advocacy. The field needs a safe place for survivors and those affected by abuse to have a united voice (like the breast cancer community and LGBT supporters).
So after months of planning, coordinating and many conversations, in December 2017, we filed our 501c3 application and launched The National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN). You can learn more at www.endcan.org.
The National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN) is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of the health, mental health and public health impacts of abuse. EndCAN focuses on funding research; investing in innovative child abuse prevention and treatment; and supporting survivors. As a 501(c) (3), EndCAN relies on public donations and support to advance this life-changing work.
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