Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2010 (4124 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nana-gale Fagnan was always curious about why her childhood was shrouded in darkness, unable to grasp at memories of being a little girl.
Then, three years ago when she was doing laundry, it hit her -- a sudden flashback to when she was a baby, a strange man opening her diaper and sexually abusing her.
The event left Fagnan, 44, in a crying heap on the floor.
"When that happened, I couldn't believe it, I thought 'Oh my god, what's happening, why am I feeling like this?'" Fagnan said. "I fell to the ground and just started crying. I didn't know what was going on with myself."
Three years later, Fagnan still doesn't know what triggered her flashback and still doesn't know who her abuser was.
All the mother of four knows is with the help of counselling through the Laurel Centre, she's been able to unhook herself from drugs and alcohol, which had permeated most of her life.
That, plus her blacked-out childhood at least makes a little more sense.
"All my life I've always used drugs and alcohol to numb my shame and my pain. But I never knew that I was carrying (those memories) around," she said. "By realizing that it wasn't my fault and that I didn't have to be ashamed, I stopped using drugs and alcohol."
Fagnan was able to do that with help from the Laurel Centre, which provides individual and group counselling to women who have experienced child sexual abuse.
The centre serves about 300 women a year out of its Roslyn Road location.
"The effect of child sexual abuse is really destructive on any human being," said Laurel executive director Suhad Bisharat. "Some of the issues our women face are compulsive coping behaviours, like addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
"For us, we are able to link their current behaviour to unresolved trauma. Our therapists work to develop healthy coping mechanisms and help rebuild their lives," she said.
The small 10-person centre is funded with help from the provincial and federal governments. A $115,000 investment from the United Way this year helps the centre keeps its counselling programs staffed and stable.
But the United Way's contributions go beyond the dollar sign, Bisharat said. The agency helped the Laurel Centre team up with Habitat for Humanity to build an extension on their building, and guided them through the permit process at city hall.
"Their contributions are enormous. It's an example of the whole community coming together to build a community agency," she said.
With a year left in her counselling program, Fagnan is still learning how to cope. But she's in a much better place than she could have been.
"I could be dead, I could have OD'd on drugs, or be living on the streets drunk and on drugs," she said. "When I look around the streets I have to wonder how many of the people I see were abused and how they're dealing with it.
"It's a terrible thing."
For more information on the Laurel Centre, visit www.thelaurelcentre.com. For information on the United Way's 2010 campaign and how you can help, visit www.unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca