NAASCA: Hi, Pastor Deborah! Thank you for being here today for this interview. We appreciate your contributions to NAASCA and its goal of offering hope and healing to adult survivors of child abuse. Please tell us about your ministry.
Pastor Deborah: I left the world of clinical mental health counseling as a Florida Licensed and Nationally Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor in 1995 to train, learn and to go into ministry to help people the Lord’s Way. I teach that humans are a tri-part being of Spirit, Soul and Physical Body. All three are important and each part/area needs care, healing and ministry. I believe in working with the other professions to accomplish a TOTAL healing for the person, and that Pastors need to be a part of the total team of leaders from around the world.
Mental health professionals have their own language, and spiritual guidance has its own language. Sometimes, people don’t know what to ask. They’ve had experiences, but it’s a hard subject to talk about. They look for spiritual help in addition to mental health help and physical health help. I know both the spiritual and the mental health languages. For example, I understand that some people don’t talk about their experiences of multiple personalities or having visions with a mental health professional, for fear of being labeled mentally ill and merely given medication. I know that these experiences are common among those who have survived childhood abuse and, although medication helps with the symptoms, spiritual counseling is also needed to heal the person’s Spirit. All three parts of the being need to be ministered for total healing of the person.
Platforms I have used for spiritual education, spiritual leadership, spiritual shepherding and spiritual outreach include a Market Place Church and personal spiritual ministry; social media such as a YouTube Channel, my website, podcasting, Zoom classes and international spiritual classes; and articles and blog posts with a variety of organizations, including NAASCA, helping people to recover from abuse and trauma.
NAASCA: You have worked closely with Bill Murray and with NAASCA, which has grown into an international organization. What ideas do you have for a possible path for NAASCA as it continues to grow and expand?
Pastor Deborah: We survivors grow up with a “code of silence”: not asking any questions of mental health professionals, who ask us to tell our story. But telling our story doesn’t help; it keeps us “in our story” and not beyond it. We need a happy ending to our story. We need to show others there’s light on the other side. Many survivors just relive the abuse, retraumatizing themselves, getting stuck. Retraumatizing an event is one form of PTSD. When asked “how does that make you feel?” you get stuck in your story.
Most survivors are stuck – how is that helping someone getting abused now? If you are still in your story, retraumatized, there’s no happy ending. Mental health doesn’t know what to do. Is there a happily-ever-after? Have something good come out of your story, help show others that there is an end, give hope – you are not just your story.
Substance abuse has a 12-step program that is proven to be effective. There should be a 12-step program for the mental health and recovery for adult survivors of child abuse. NAASCA could create such a 12-step program, with one step highlighted each month, starting in January 2020. The step could be listed in the monthly newsletter, there could be group discussions in the online Facebook group(s), and one Blog Talk Radio show per week could be dedicated to that month’s step. Monthly, NAASCA can recommend a book or a movie that could help its members, offer words of encouragement, and discuss in support groups as part of the healing process of all its members.
Some of my recommended books and videos: Days of Wine and Roses, Helen Keller story, Patty Duke story, Oprah Winfrey story, Sybil, 3 Faces of Eve, Vivian Lee story, A Beautiful Mind. Watch videos on YouTube. Stay with the classics, only free books from the library and free YouTube videos.
In addition, after a NAASCA volunteer goes through the 12-step program, the person becomes certified as a mentor for other survivors. NAMI’s peer-to-peer mentor training certification program could be modified to create a similar certification program for NAASCA.
NAASCA can step up to the challenge and provide a 12-step program and mentors for survivors, which help them add a spiritual component on top of the mental health and physical health help they are receiving. Reading or watching true stories of people who came out of their abuse stories, providing testimonies of good news and outcomes, offers words of encouragement to those seeking a way out of the quicksand.
NAASCA can help survivors answer questions like: Is there more to me than I know? Could a Higher Power help? How do I stop wallowing in my own childhood story? NAASCA can provide hope and help to survivors so they can overcome their adversity through a structured program and mentorship. Tell survivors they don’t have to waste their life being stuck; walk with us at NAASCA. We are a Beacon of Hope and Light to survivors throughout the world.
Look at the current level of the organization’s programs and services. Is NAASCA doing all that God has told us to do? NAASCA can help survivors not only become thrivers, but also overcomers.
NAASCA: Thank you, Pastor Deborah, for your inspirational ideas! How can people contact you?
Pastor Deborah: Pastor Deborah Schleich, 850-501-5040
NAASCA: Thank you, Pastor Deborah!