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Sex abuse workshop is Saturday

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Joy Busse was carrying a lot of emotional pain. She knew it was probably connected to the sexual abuse she experienced as a child. Busse, now 58, remembered being molested regularly by her father from the time she was 12, but it wasn't until she was in her late 30s that she realized there was more to the story.

COEUR d'ALENE - Joy Busse was carrying a lot of emotional pain.

She knew it was probably connected to the sexual abuse she experienced as a child.

Busse, now 58, remembered being molested regularly by her father from the time she was 12, but it wasn't until she was in her late 30s that she realized there was more to the story.

"So much of what happens when you're small is repressed, you push it aside until it comes out and affects the way you behave, and then you remember," Busse said.

It was her behavior that first pushed her into counseling years ago.

Busse found herself using food to keep the hurtful thoughts at bay, to fill the hole she felt in her soul.

"I knew I needed help when my eating had gotten so out of control," Busse said. "I started out in counseling with an eating disorder."

When she got into therapy further, Busse began having flashbacks about the episodes with her father.

That's when she remembered that her mother participated in the sex abuse.

"She was only 15 and he was 25 when they married," Busse said. "She was his first victim in the family."

It's been a long journey to healing for Busse. She started receiving counseling in 1995, and has been in therapy constantly since 1999.

Busse will be in attendance at the Sexual Abuse Recovery workshop being hosted Saturday by the Women's Center.

The free program is open to the public and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon at North Idaho College in the Edminster Student Union Building's Lake Room.

"I'm going because I'm working on trying to rebuild me from the damage that has been caused, having missed out on some normal early development as a child," Busse said.

Kari Joys, a Coeur d'Alene resident and psychotherapist, will lead the workshop.

"We'd love to have ministers, professionals and family members as well as survivors, because survivors need a lot of support to heal," Joys said.

Joys, who has a practice in Spokane, said the workshop will be interactive.

"We sit in a circle and anybody who wants to can share," Joys said. "What happens is that rather than it being a lecture about something, it becomes very real."

Sexual abuse and assault survivors will be present, including Joys herself.

She was sexually abused by two brothers from the time she was 5 through high school.

Like Busse, Joys recalls knowing there was something wrong with her, and being unable to figure out why she was unhappy.

She grew up in what she describes as a very religious home, but that was used against her.

"In our religion we were taught if you were a girl or woman and you did anything to make a man feel attracted to you, it was your fault," Joys said. "I, of course, grew up believing it was my fault."

When she was in her 30s and got the strength to tell her family, they shunned her.

Forgive and forget, they said, but in her case, that really meant to sweep the abuse under the rug.

It's not uncommon, Joys said, for families to blame the victim.

She earned her master's degree when she was in her late 30s, and completed her thesis on childhood sexual abuse.

"Since that time, I have worked with survivors of abuse every day," Joys said.

"I'm good at it because I know it from the inside."

The workshop is being held this month because April is Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Joys said they want to let people who have been abused know that healing is possible.

"I encourage everyone to come to this workshop," said Women's Center director Ann Chatfield. "There's something for all of us to learn because one in three women are affected by this horrible crime. It's a way to support victims with more compassion and stand with the Women's Center in doing the very important work that we do, advocating for any victim in our community that has been affected by family violence."

The nonprofit Women's Center provides 24-hour assistance for victims of rape, domestic abuse and sexual assault in the region. They provide counseling, domestic violence sheltering, court advocacy and children's services for victims of family violence.

Information: (208) 664-9303

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