Healing for women who carry the burden of sexual trauma

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Women who have suffered sexual trauma know what it means to carry the weight of their pain — many times in silence, alone, for years.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Women who have suffered various types of sexual trauma can find hope and healing through the Healing Heart retreat, from Aug. 21 to 23 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

This is the second time the retreat has been offered in the archdiocese. The women who participated in last year’s retreat reported positive experiences.

“I feel like there’s hope; I’m not alone,” wrote one woman.

“I’m feeling like I am back with God after feeling alone and avoiding him,” wrote another woman.

“It increased my faith, knowing that God does have a plan for me and that he loves me,” wrote still another.

The retreat will be conducted by Beverly Collin, who also conducted the previous one. She’s the assistant director of the Cedar Break Retreat Center in the Diocese of Austin, Texas.

The cost to attend is $125 and scholarships are available. For information, call Deacon Tony Zimmerman, lead consultant for the archdiocesan family life office, at (913) 647-0329, or contact him by email at: famlife@archkck.org.

Space at the retreat is limited to the first 12 who sign up.

Organizers believe the need for this type of healing exists.

“We heard last year that this is prevalent all over the country,” said Deacon Zimmerman.

“There’s date rape on college campuses and sexual assault in the military,” he continued. “So the whole point of this retreat is to help women heal from that trauma. This is a time for women to deal with their trauma with help from the Lord.”

The retreat is designed to help women who have suffered some kind of sexual trauma be it rape, incest, inappropriate touching, sexual assault or something else.

Confidentiality is assured, said Deacon Zimmerman. The whole event is designed to be safe, gentle, loving and supportive.

There is a healing service on Saturday night were people are prayed with and prayed for. There will opportunities to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, and a Mass will be celebrated. A licensed counselor will be available.

Women will be given a token, such as a prayer shawl or rosary, to help them stay connected to their retreat experience after the weekend is over. Collin keeps in touch with the participants through emails and encourages them to get counseling and spiritual direction.

“At the heart of this is healing,” said Deacon Zimmerman. “When you’re wounded, it’s terribly hard. It becomes a secret — baggage you’re carrying around that you can’t escape. But you can take your burden to God and begin the process of giving it to him.”

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