Today was our local Lamplighter Meeting. We hold it at the Public Library once a month from 10:00 am to Noon. I’ve been doing this for five years. When I first started out I had an interview with the local radio station regarding the meetings, an interview in the local paper, I mailed announcements to all of the local churches, doctors, the Guidance Clinic and all of the therapists and counselors. I send out reminder emails the first of the week to all those who I have email addresses on who have expressed an interest. I have brochures and flyers at the local Police Station. Announcements are in the local papers as to the time and location. I’ve also said that anyone who needs a ride can contact me and I’ll pick them up. I’ve had to move the location several times. We had it at a conference room in the local Medical Center for a while, then at a local coffee shop for a while. We’ve been at the library for a couple years now. I’m hoping they’ll allow us to stay. I’ve had as many as ten attend and as few as one. Most of the time it’s just me and a good book. Today no one came. I felt like crying.
The reason I started the Lamplighter Movement in my area is because I heard that it was a hot bed of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Everyone I spoke with gave me a knowing look and said, “If anyone needs a support group to go to our town does.” When I was in recovery and I found a support group I was so grateful. It was called Alternatives to Domestic Violence and I was in my third domestic violence relationship. This abuser was the cruelest, most sadistic, most violent I had ever known. I was living in hell. The support group saved my life. It was heartwarming to find out that all of the women in that group had the same problems, the same background I did. I listened to everyone’s stories and then told them they were all married to my husband. I had previously joined another group. But the women in that group were angry at me and vented their feelings every time I joined them. I finally asked the moderator what was wrong. She had each woman tell me. It turned out since I was still married to my abuser and since I hadn’t turned in the perpetrator who sexually abused my two oldest daughters they wanted to use me to throw their anger at. They needed an outlet for their feelings and I fit the bill. I tried to explain that my daughters had told me they would only share what happened to them if I gave my word I wouldn’t turn him in. A few years later he died of cancer, alone and friendless, with only one of his four children even in touch with him. I confronted him six weeks before he died. He admitted it but blamed my daughters. They were four and five at the time.
So here I am, a product to sell and no customers. I rattle my brain trying to think of ways to get people to come. You can’t force them. If they are not interested, they are not interested. I had one gal I picked up each time. This week she wasn’t coming. She said she was quitting because it was “too much”. What to do, what to do. Most of my chapters are having the same problem. Are they not ready? There has been so much publicity what with Penn State and the Catholic Church that you would think people would be coming out in droves. What are the reasons? I’ve heard all the reasons: I’m not ready seems to be the biggest reason. Others are, “I don’t really need a support group, I’ve learned to live with my abuse,” “I don’t have a baby sitter”, I don’t like the location, the time, the day etc. etc. and a dozen others. Every month I tell myself I’m going to just quit. It’s too frustrating. But I know in my heart I won’t do that. I have to be available if they need me. But I still feel like crying. If you know of any reasons why someone won’t go to a support group if they have been sexually abused please email me. I need to understand and find ways to overcome people not showing up. If you know of any ways to get people to come please email me. I need the help.