Honoring and Using Our Voices

An Online Writing Workshop for Survivors

Starting in Spring 2019

Dates, time and cost yet to be determined

To be put on the “interested” list click here

 Come join us to discover what we each have to express in a timed and guided writing process and share what was written, if you so choose, within a supportive group of survivors.

What we have to say is important and well worth being honored. One way we honor each other’s voices is by actively listening as each member reads their writing. This act of listening, in and of itself both confirms and affirms for narrators that what they have to say is worthy of our undivided attention. And when our circle goes one step further to tell the narrator what has stayed with us, from a piece of their writing, the narrator is given the profound message that their voice has been received and heard.

We adhere strictly to the following guidelines for both maintaining safety and to hold the direction that the writing and responses to it are what is most important:

1. Everyone has a unique voice that deserves to be heard and nurtured. We will be hearing our unique voices through the act of writing.

2. Everything written in the workshop is confidential and voluntary 

3. We respond to each other’s writing with positive comments. We do not give criticism, make suggestions or ask questions.  

- When you are listening, notice what stays with you, what resonates with you. That’s what we will be reflecting back to each writer.

4. We treat all work as fiction: when we comment we refer to the writer as “the narrator.”

5. We don’t assume that someone wants to talk about the experience they have written about. Let them open the subject.

6. While writing within the safe confines of the group may feel therapeutic, this is not a therapy group. Our focus is on finding our voice and articulating our experience through our writing.

7. We treat each other with respect and compassion, bearing in mind that we each bring different experiences, emotions and challenges to this workshop.

P.S. from Donna

I have found the act of reading my writing aloud to be the most effective way, however momentary, to diminish, muffle or sometimes even silence the voice of the critic in the back of my head that is chanting to me: “don’t read what you wrote because ____________ (fill in the blank)

·     it’s stupid

·     it will bore people

·     someone’s feelings will be hurt

·     it’s not as good as what anyone else here wrote

·     they’re going to think you’re weird

·     it will upset someone, or

·     it’s just stupid

The act of reading out loud mostly drowns out the critic so, come on, read us what you wrote.

“A great part of the damage of childhood sexual abuse is the silencing. When you break through the silencing…you chip away at the wall, the prison, which was built around your voice, around your capacity to express yourself.” D. Jenson, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, page 14.

Next Performance of

What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy

Thursday December 6th, 2018 “Creating Resilience from ACEs* to Joyful Advocacy!”

Conference presented by: Building Connections: the Sexual Assault & Mental Health Project

The performance and audience dialogue will be in the morning followed by a writing workshop in the afternoon.


First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany 405 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12206

9:30am- 4:30pm. Registration information will be announced soon and found at www.nyscasa.org and www.mhanys.org

*ACEs refers to Adverse Childhood Experiences

Upcoming Book Readings with Audience Dialogues

  • Wednesday November 7th, Huntington, NY Date & Time TBA

  • Thursday August 9th, 7:00 to 8:00pm Tewksbury Public Library, 300 Chandler St,

    Tewksbury MA

  • Friday August 17th, 1:00 to 3:00pm Sheboygan County Health & Human Services 1011 N. 8th St. Sheboygan, WI

  • Tuesday May 8th from 6:00 to 7:30pm Jones Library, 43 Amity St. Amherst, MA

  • Friday May 11th from 6:00 to 7:30pm at the Book House of Styvesant Plaza. 1475 Western Ave. #62, Albany, NY

  • Thursday May 17th from 6:00 to 7:30pm at the Athol Public Library. 568 Main St. Athol, MA

  • Friday May 18th from 4:00 to 8:00pm the first Author's Cabaret` at the Anchor House of Artists Art Gallery. We'll be 8 author's doing 10 minute readings interspersed with musicians playing. Drop in for some libation and tapas along with the artists' sharing. 518 Pleasant St, Northampton, MA

  • Sunday May 20th from 2:00 to 4:00pm at the Cambridge Public Library Lecture Hall with quilt display from the Survivor Quilt Project. 499 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 2nd Floor

The Play  

What She Knows:

One Woman's Way Through Incest to Joy

What She Knows is a one-woman performance which depicts a full range of what it is like to grow up in a sexually abusive family; what one woman experienced and then did to reclaim her life and make it worth living. Witness the main character figuratively (and once literally) dancing between her life’s joys and traumas, between time periods and experiences showing how she survived and ultimately came to thrive.

The original score, composed and performed by master guitarist John Sheldon, provides live music that weaves a heightened impact into the play’s dramatic tempo and opens audiences to the full richness of its sadness’ and delights.

The play is presented as a 60 minute dramatic reading by the author, Donna Jenson. In a post performance dialogue the audience is invited to engage with Donna, exploring the issues surrounding sexual abuse that What She Knows has raised for them. Jackie Humphreys, LICSW, is present at all performances, available to audience members needing support. 

To book a performance and community dialogue

Click the sign up box

Winter Workshop TBA

Come join us on our next journey to discover what we each have to say, express, write and share within a supportive group of incest and child sexual abuse survivors. The format is an amalgamation of two primary activities:

  1. Writing & reading our writing to each other and

  2. Gentle Yoga & Mindfulness practices

We are convinced that by combining these two we can move in and out of the myriad of emotions and impressions our experiences have placed within us to finding the joy and strength of our true selves.

There are threads of common purpose for writing within a supportive group – to catch the undercurrent of our minds, spread it out on the page and see what we make of it to:

•    broaden self awareness

•    pour out feelings and emotions onto paper

•    reclaim or preserve memories of ourselves, people, and events

•    sort out thoughts and clarify ideas

•    reap the wisdom of the unconscious

Our yoga and mindfulness practices are designed in synergy with the writing, supporting nonjudgmental self-awareness, acceptance and creativity. Our bodies often hold our experiences of trauma, loss or suffering on a cellular, muscular and visceral level, constricting our capacity to be fully present.

By engaging in gentle yoga postures: simple twists, heart opening stretches; breathing practices: breath awareness and deepening; and mindfulness practices such as connecting with our highest intentions, we clear the obstacles to our creativity and compassion which opens us to experience our own clear voice in the present moment.

Consider giving yourself and your voice this gift of attention. We’re all so worth it.