For Amanda Bruin, the new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre offers hope others will be spared some of what she went through after opening up about her childhood abuse.
She was only eight years old when the abuse began and it lasted for six years. For many years, she kept her pain bottled up and was 28 with thoughts of suicide when she told her family and sought help from the central Alberta’s advocacy centre.
On Tuesday, she told her story as the province announced $3.4 million to help build a new $22.4 million advocacy centre bringing together professionals with experience in abuse, addictions and mental health in one building.
“Honestly, when I found out about the project a couple of months ago my heart just exploded,” said Bruin.
Opening up about her experiences was only the beginning of an incredibly difficult journey. The abuse happened in different places, which meant she had to retell her story to police in three separate detachments.
“Every time you’re telling that story, you’re recalling it. You’re reliving that abuse over and over again,” she said.
“It took a long time for me. Even as a mature adult, it was really hard to go through and tell, especially family members, what happened to you.”
For children, it is even harder, said Bruin, a mother of two daughters who now advocates on behalf of children who have suffered abuse.
“To have to imagine them going through that there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do to stop that.”
The advocacy centre will spare others some of that emotional and psychological toll of repeatedly recounting their experiences because all of those who can help will be working together and sharing information. They can also help victims work through the feelings of guilt and shame that deter so many from coming forward.
She believes it will also play an important role in teaching others what signs to look for if they suspect abuse and how best to respond.
For abuse victims who may be suffering from feelings of guilt and shame, the advocacy centre will help them understand they are not to blame
“The fact this centre is here it warms my heart to see how far, not only I have come in the last five years, but how far Red Deer has come.”