Session Seeks To Promote Education, Healing

Coach Al Hollingsworth, co-founder of the B.O.S.S. (Building On Spiritual Substance) program

SACRAMENTO – Long before women started speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment through the “Me Too” movement, a local pastor was encouraging people to tell and begin to heal.

Dr. Deborah Simmons, co-pastor of South Sacramento Christian Center, is hosting a special service on educating young people about inappropriate touching on Saturday, February 3. The community forum is set to run at the church, located at 7710 Stockton Boulevard, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The guest speaker will be Coach Al Hollingsworth, co-founder of the B.O.S.S. (Building On Spiritual Substance) program.

“We are asking for pastors, teachers, caregivers, victims, etc to be there,” shared Dr. Simmons.

The subject of sexual abuse is personal for her. She penned the book “Little Sad Face,” in 2010 in response to abuse her daughter experienced. “Little Sad Face” is aimed at children ages 5-9 years old.

“This book started the healing process in her life and she used it to help her friends,” Dr. Simmons shared.
“I want readers to have conversations with the children in their care. I want guardians and caregivers to have conversations with children in their care. I want the healing process to begin for others who have been abused and I see it happening. I want my book to be in every home where there are children. It is now in coloring book form for smaller children,” she shared.

Recently, there has been a rash of charges filed against area teachers, accused of having inappropriate conduct with their minor students. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles just came out with accusations that she was abused by a former team doctor whom she was told by other adults to trust.

Sexual abuse is still a taboo subject, with victims often remaining silent and feeling they were somehow to blame. Often children are threatened by their abusers with violence to keep quiet.

“Silence has been one of the main reasons that perverts had been able to do what they do. They have no fear of being exposed,” Dr. Simmons said.

“I encourage parents to read this book with their children. Teens can read it to their younger siblings with their parents around. Talk about the pictures. Ask questions about the different scenes in the book,” she added.

Proper conversation and support for victims, Dr. Simmons believes, can break through the stigma, shame and depression associated with sexual abuse.

“From the upcoming meeting, I want the take away to provide support and healing for victims. I want to bring awareness to the problem. I want perpetrators exposed,” Dr. Simmons shared.

“I want to stop the pain I feel inside every time I hear of another victim. I want (them) to have a voice. I want the world to know that we are not nameless or faceless. I want “Me Too” to help the next person say, “Not Me,” as we link harms together to stop the issue.”
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By Genoa Barrow
OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer