Chaplains, Rehabilitation

CMC group offers support for abuse survivors

Prison chaplain wearing jacket in California Men's Colony lobby.
CMC Chaplain John Farao helps incarcerated survivors of childhood sexual abuse learn to heal.

California Men’s Colony (CMC) Catholic Chaplain John Farao sponsors a new kind of self-help group for abuse survivors. The group offers another mental health and rehabilitation resource for the incarcerated population who survived abuse as children.

For several months, Farao has sponsored a group for survivors who choose to expose the darkest moments of their youth. For incarcerated survivors of childhood sexual abuse, this group allows them to meet, share and learn. One of their lessons is how this childhood trauma has impacted their lives and emotional development.

In each session, participants are given homework requiring them to explore their innermost selves while answering difficult questions.

An example would be reading a short essay written by a childhood sexual abuse survivor then answering questions.

The answers to these personal and painful questions are supposed to be in writing, but many feel compelled to verbally respond. By providing answers aloud, in the presence of incarcerated participants, the survivor empowers themselves.

Farao said some individuals want to answer the questions in front of the group because of how poignant and close-to-home the descriptions of abuse in the essays were.

“The deeper levels of individual rehabilitation reached by exposing the trauma and owning the antisocial behavior resulting from the trauma is truly remarkable and groundbreaking for those involved,” said Farao.

By Lt. John Hill

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