The journey that led Vivian to start JustTell began in 1988 as a social work graduate student working in a therapeutic nursery program. Her first clients were three sexually abused 5 year olds. She then designed and implemented the first Mental Health Program for a Federal Head Start center and trained numerous other Head Start Centers in abuse detection and reporting policies. She taught social workers for eight years as a professor of social work at the NYU, Adelphi and currently teaches at the Fordham graduate schools of Social Work. In 2007, Vivian stepped down from her special appointment to the New York City Panel for Educational Policy to found Just Tell. She also did doctoral level research working with non-disclosing adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in order to better understand why they did not reveal their abuse during childhood and has done extensive consulting with adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse in order to better use the perspective of male survivors to help boys being sexually abused.
Vivian is the mother of two teenagers, both of whom are an important part of Team JustTell.
“Throughout the past 20 years, I have spoken with many, many children and teens who are being sexually abused as well as hundreds of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I have watched parents and authorities react very well, and very badly. Experience has shown me what statistics confirm; long term, unrevealed sexual abuse usually leads to psychological damage and potentially severe mental health and social problems. Supportive adults and swiftly revealed sexual abuse usually result in short term trauma. I’ve seen how people suffer if they do not reveal their abuse, or revealed and weren’t believed and supported. I’ve known adults for whom the consequences have included: promiscuity, becoming teen runaways and prostituting themselves, becoming drug and alcohol abusers, becoming parents at vulnerably young ages, becoming abusers themselves, self-mutilation, and violence inside and outside the home. I believe that reaching out to sexually abused kids in order to reassure them that they are not alone and to encourage them to choose a trusted adult to reveal the abuse to can lessen the horrific and potentially life-long consequences of unrevealed childhood sexual abuse. I strongly believe in the ability of Just Tell to change the way a generation of children view sexual abuse.„
– Vivian Farmery
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