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Educational series on sexual abuse starts Thursday

Mission of Hope House hosts three-part event

By Scott Bellile

Survivors of sexual violence often feel their safest option is to hide their experience from the world.

Trish Propson is a chaplain, advocate, and counselor who understands their pain: She was first molested as a 3-year-old and never spoke of it until age 30.

Propson hopes she can encourage New London area victims to share their stories at last. Statistically, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, she said.

“The reason I like to start by sharing my story,” Propson said, “is not to just share all of the gory details of my assault, but because when I am willing to openly, publicly share my story, it gives people the freedom to share theirs. … So one of the reasons I like to do this as a community outreach is to let people know it’s OK to share your story, and that can be the first step in the healing process.”


The Kaukauna resident will kick off a three-part informational series in New London this week titled “Broken or Beautiful.”

The sessions will take place on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Mission of Hope House, Waupaca County’s resource homeless shelter that is set to open to families Feb. 1.

The three-session schedule is:

• Thursday, Jan. 17: “Broken or Beautiful” will chronicle Propson’s journey out of the darkness of chronic sexual abuse and exploitation. She will explain the chronic victim cycle – “Sexual assault and abuse rarely happens once in a person’s life,” Propson said – and how sexual abuse does not have to define a person’s future.

• Thursday, Jan. 31: “Sexual Abuse and Exploitation 101” will shine a light on definitions, statistics and trends regarding sexual abuse in the community.

• Thursday, Feb. 7: “Reconnecting with Hope” will address myths, signs of abuse and exploitation in children and adults, and how people can take action in their own community.

A victim of sexual exploitation growing up, Propson said she was groomed to be a “non-discloser” of her assaults, which is a common occurrence.

“Sexual assault is a very intimate and personal crime, so it can be very confusing,” Propson said.

“There’s shame, there’s fear, there’s family dynamics, there’s all of those things going on, and so a lot of times sexual abuse issues are hidden or pushed aside a little bit because people don’t know how to deal with that,” Propson said.

Propson said she hopes her talks will help family or caregivers understand why a loved one who has been sexually assaulted never reported it.

“The caregivers around them may be confused as to why they didn’t disclose or why they didn’t come forward, and what is the thinking of a victim that prevents them from getting help or healing for their situation,” Propson said.

As a resource homeless shelter, MOHH directs people to organizations that can help them through crises. MOHH is hosting “Broken or Beautiful” because of the number of people who called to ask for resources in dealing with sexual assault, the shelter’s co-founder Lori Prahl said.

Community feedback gained through the three sessions will help determine whether the New London area needs more resources such as counselors and support groups to help survivors of sexual violence.

Each session of “Broken or Beautiful” is free and open to people 14 and older. Attendees younger than 18 should be accompanied by an adult, MOHH says.

Everyone must register in advance by calling 920-249-4705 or emailing [email protected].

People who cannot attend but wish to read Propson’s insights on many angles surrounding sexual abuse can view her published articles here.

MOHH is located at 520 N. Shawano St., New London.

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