News

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we’re going to start posting these resource blogs the day following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation the night before.

Our next meet-up date will be in September, to be announced soon, stay tuned!

FACT: one in two girls and one in three boys falls victim to unwanted sexual advances before the age of 18.
FACT: 60% of rape victims are under the age of 17.
FACT: Sexual assault refers to all incidents of unwanted sexual activity, including sexual attacks and sexual touching. Sexual assault = rape.

Canadians must rally together to take a stand against the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and rape. Our first Victor Walk in 2013, was a huge success nationwide, and since then we have been working to keep the momentum high with the community we’ve built up together. A national movement powered by an Orange Wave of Courage, the Victor Walk will see Theo Fleury giving a voice to those who have been affected by trauma throughout their lifetimes. Supported by communities across the country, this Victor Walk on July 22, 2017, is recognized as a national movement and is hoped to change the way Canadians understand the effects of childhood trauma.

In 2017, our team will be walking an extended route for five days from Saskatoon to Regina, Saskatchewan, to bring a very bright spotlight on the horrors of childhood rape. Eight million Canadians have suffered from shame and pain of childhood sexual trauma long enough. An exciting addition to this year’s walk, in every stop in Saskatchewan, we will be screening the eye-opening documentary, Victor Walk, which followed Fleury and his team on the first Victor Walk in 2013. The film screenings are FREE!

All of the details of the 2017 route will be updated as they are available, but here’s where the 2017 Victor Walk Tour will be heading and when:

  • July 18: Saskatoon 
    • 4:30 – 5:30pm: meet at Persephone Theatre (100 Spading Crescent E) for walk
    • 5:30pm: rally with Theo Fleury & Victor Walk team (location TBD)
    • 7:00pm: documentary screening at Persephone Theatre (100 Spading Crescent E)
    • Stay up-to-date on Facebook
  • July 19: Swift Current
    • 4 – 4:30pm: meet at Subway (1100 – 11 Avenue NE)
    • 4:30 – 5:30pm: walk
    • 5:30pm: rally with Theo Fleury & Victor Walk team at Market Square (corner of Central and Chaplin)
    • 7:00pm: documentary screening at Lyric Theatre (227 Central Avenue N)
    • Stay up-to-date on Facebook
  • July 20: Moose Jaw
    • 4 – 4:30pm: meet at Subway (825 Thatcher Drive E)
    • 4:30 – 5:30pm: walk
    • 5:30pm: rally with Theo Fleury & Victor Walk team at Moose Jaw Funeral Home (268 Mulberry Lane)
    • 7:00pm: documentary screening at Moose Jaw Funeral Home (268 Mulberry Lane)
    • Stay up-to-date on Facebook
  • July 21: Estevan
    • 11 – 11:30am: meet at Subway (513 – 4 Street)
    • 11:30am – 12:30pm: walk
    • 12:30 pm: rally with Theo Fleury & Victor Walk team (location TBD)
    • 2:00pm: documentary screening at Orpheum Theatre (1235 – 4 Street)
    • Stay up-to-date on Facebook
  • July 22: Regina
    • 4 – 4:30pm: meet at Subway (919 Albert Street)
    • 4:30 – 5:30pm: walk
    • 5:30pm: rally with Theo Fleury & Victor Walk team (location TBD)
    • 7:00pm: documentary screening at Conexus Arts Centre (200 Lakeshore Drive)
    • Stay up-to-date on Facebook

Many of you have expressed interest in joining us on the five-day journey, however due to safety reasons, we cannot oblige.

We encourage you to join your own community walk, or if you live along the route that we are walking, meet us during the walk to cheer us on. Please click here to find out how you can organize a Victor Walk in your area, and be a part of one of the greatest teams ever assembled to make a difference on behalf of childhood trauma.

Cities where Sister Walks are being organized:

Watch the trailer for Victor Walk documentary.

*The Victor Movement reserves the right to refuse people or groups to join or participate in the Victor Walk at it’s sole discretion. The Victor Movement is not liable in any way for any injury or damage caused by participating in the Victor Walk.

**Sources: Sexual Assault Canada, Badgley Report, Statistics Canada.

The Victor Walk movement is an initiative of the Breaking Free Foundation, helping support those who have suffered trauma. All funds raised on the Victor Walk, go to support the Therapy Grant Program via Breaking Free Foundation.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR 2017 SPONSORS!

Without the generous donations of amazing businesses, the Victor Walk movement wouldn’t be possible. We have sincere gratitude to all of the people and organizations that stepped up this year to make our 2017 walk a success.

Did you know that one in three girls and one in five boys will be victims of unwanted sexual activity before the age of 18?

I do, now. Thanks to the work I do with Breaking Free Foundation and the Victor Walk, I am armed with an arsenal of education and awareness on this difficult reality. Having survived ten years of sexual abuse as a child, I knew of my own experience only, but was not surprised to learn that three people in my family had suffered the same reality (that we know of).

I had my first “me too” experience at the first Victor Walk in 2013, when I stood in front of strangers at the Calgary rally and revealed the truth that had weighed me down for years. Since then, my voice has catapulted me to new levels of healing and happiness and vulnerability that I never knew existed. The domino effect of positive change that continues to occur from the Victor Walk movement, never ceases to amaze me. But, it did amaze me this past week in a huge way, when I got to to witness the ripple effects in my own family first-hand.

Towards the end of 2016, my uncle Peter emerged as a newly sober and inspired person. We had spoken in December about his plans to cycle across Canada following his sobriety journey, and that in light of learning about my story and the other members of the family, he wanted to dedicate this ride to raising awareness about child sexual abuse. But truthfully, this was the last we really spoke of it.

Uncle Peter, and his newfound friend Jacques Letourneau, began their bicycle journey across Canada in May. On June 16th, they arrived in Calgary. The second day they were in town, I was surprised to find my uncle donned in Victor Walk apparel.

“Where did you get that?” I asked.

“I ordered it online months ago,” he said.

I was shocked, in a good way. How cool is it that he was cycling across Canada dressed in orange Victor Walk gear?!

The rest of the weekend was great, I had not seen my uncle in six years, and it was great to spend time with him, Jacques and the rest of the family for a weekend. On his last day in Calgary, my uncle divulged that him and Jacques had setup a website to raise money and awareness for child sexual abuse on their cycle trip across Canada. Their website was titled “2 Frogs Against Abuse”, and they chose in part for humour because they both hail from Montreal, but also because the Victor Walk frog inspired them. The notion that a frog never hops backwards, was a key message for them.

Sexual and physical abuse are prevalent, systemic and at epidemic levels.  Abuse is masked, silenced, or ignored by institutions like the army, police forces, the media, former native residential schools, universities and even our own families.  Recently, Peter  learned that his family and his neighbourhood were casualties.  The number of victims are reflected by a shocking national average of over 30%. Furthermore, the relationship between abuse, addiction and crime are overwhelming. We want to dedicate our ride across Canada to all those who have been traumatized by abuse.

Wow, I couldn’t believe the gratitude I felt that they would take inspiration from our message and kickstart this whole nationwide movement. I was also thrilled to learn that he, as a teacher, has taken his platform and has been using it to raise awareness and educate young people about consent, addiction and sexual abuse.

Yesterday, my uncle called me from Edmonton, to let me know that CBC wanted to interview him about this awareness ride. He asked my permission to mention me in the piece, of course, I obliged. He also let out a few tears over the phone and let me know that he was very proud of me, and that this is important to the family.

As fellow victims of childhood trauma will know, that feeling of “not good enough” can linger. And for me, hearing that threw me into a whirlwind of emotions. I hung up that phone and cried my eyes out. I was happy, proud and most of all grateful. Silence took a toll on myself and my family for years, and it is really amazing that conversations are starting to happen. I am so incredibly proud of my uncle and the Victor Walk movement.

For our Francophone friends, here’s an interview in French on CBC radio that my uncle and Jacques did; for English, check out this video on CBC (hit the 10 minute mark).

You can learn more about the Victor Walk here.

 

 The eye-opening documentary film ‘Victor Walk’ will make its Calgary debut at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on June 2, 2017, raising funds for local non-profit.

Local non-profit, Breaking Free Foundation (BFF) is pleased to host the Calgary premiere of the eye-opening documentary, ‘Victor Walk’, at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on June 2, 2017. The documentary follows Calgary Flames legend, Theo Fleury and his team on the inaugural Victor Walk back in 2013, where they walked from Toronto to Ottawa to raise awareness on the epidemic of childhood rape.

Since 2013, Fleury and the Breaking Free Foundation have led two provincial Victor Walks in Alberta and Manitoba, and the team will be heading to Saskatchewan this July for the 2017 Victor Walk.

In Canada, one in two girls and one in three boys falls victim to unwanted sexual advances before the age of 18, which is why this film is an important awareness tool.

The event is also serving as a fundraiser for the non-profit, founded by Fleury and six other Calgarians in 2015. All of the proceeds from the June 2 premiere will go towards funding the organization’s work for trauma survivors in Alberta.

The money raised is vital to keeping their innovative Therapy Grant Program running,which provides free trauma therapy to Albertans suffering from PTSD, mental health issues and the lingering effects of trauma.

Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster, with exclusive VIP packages available. The evening will be full of surprises including exclusive Victor Walk merchandise, photo opportunities with Theo Fleury, meet and greet with BFF and a special performance by Theo Fleury and the Death Valley Rebels following the screening.

The Victor Walk Documentary premiere is June 2, 2017 at 7pm at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (1415 – 14 Avenue NW). Tickets available online at Ticketmaster on 10:00 AM on Wednesday, March 8th.

Last week, the Breaking Free Foundation was in Whistler, BC for the 2016 Whistler Film Festival, taking in the excitement of the Canadian premiere for Victor Walk Documentary. The screenings of the documentary were emotional, powerful and motivating for all who watched them. As our community already knows, the Victor Walk is an important awareness movement aimed at bringing attention, healing and change to the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse and rape.

While in Whistler, our President Theo Fleury, was given the first-ever WFF Humanitarian Award for his continued leadership and advocacy work on the topic of trauma and healing.

“Theo Fleury is a true hero for being brave enough to share his story and advocate for victims of sexual abuse and change,” said WFF Director of Programming, Paul Gratton. ”VICTOR WALK is a testament to his story, and given recent events that make Theo Fleury’s concerns about inadequate legal punishment all too relevant, we expect this film to reignite the debate.”

Theo Fleury has been awarded the Canadian Humanitarian Award, The Queen’s Jubilee Medallion, and is an honourary Chief and recipient of the Aboriginal Indspire Award. He was awarded an honourary doctorate in Science from the University of Guelph-Humber for outstanding contributions to the Mental Health of Canadians. Most recently he was bestowed with a second honourary doctorate in Laws from Brandon University in recognition for his contributions combating child sexual abuse and for his outstanding efforts to promote healing and recovery. [Whistler Film Festival]

The BFF and Victor Walk teams are truly grateful and honoured that the Whistler Film Festival believes in the importance of this message and this film. We look forward to sharing the film with many more in the future, check out VictorWalkDoc.com for updates.

 

In light of the the Graham James parole request that is making headlines across the country today, Theo Fleury has decided to forego making a comment about this story, and instead use the opportunity to promote the more important message—healing.

Right now, Fleury and his team are on the third Victor Walk, a powerful grassroots movement and nationwide awareness campaign focused on childhood trauma. After the first Victor Walk in 2013, hundreds of thousands of people have stood together to say, “me too”.
Stories that give the limelight to abusers like James in the media, only serve to re-victimize the people who they have hurt, and put attention where it’s not needed. We are only interested in bringing attention to one message—healing.
The message of the Victor Movement is not about seeking justice, it’s about focusing on our individual journeys of healing. A movement from victim to Victor. There is emotional pain and suffering in the past, and that is why the frog is our symbol for the Victor Movement: frogs never hop backwards, they always move forward. Our team is supported by thousands of people nationwide, who are banding together this week, to break the cycle of trauma and empower the cycle of healing.
On July 19, Fleury’s Victor Walk team has been walking from Russell across Manitoba, where their journey will eventually come to a finale in Winnipeg on Saturday. We have been honoured and moved by the incredible support in the communities across Manitoba and Canada, that have come together to help share this message of awareness on childhood trauma.
Perhaps the most important underlying message of the Victor Movement, is the spreading of awareness of the Breaking Free Foundation (BFF), the non-profit that was founded by Fleury, following the first Victor Walk in 2013.
The Victor Walk is supported by and for BFF, an organization that is aimed at providing survivors of traumatic life events with the treatment and support needed to reclaim their lives.
In addition to providing online support for people healing from trauma, we provide a safe space for people to share their stories. Perhaps the biggest mission of BFF however, is to ensure everyone has access to trauma therapy, despite their economic status.
With an innovative new initiative, BFF has introduced a Therapy Grant Program, where survivors of trauma can apply for paid trauma treatment with a high-quality, vetted trauma psychologist.
The 2016 Victor Walk tour wraps up in Winnipeg on July 23 at 11:00am, more information can be found here. For information on the many sister walks happening across Canada on July 23, click here. To learn more about the Victor Movement, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
To learn more about BFF, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
*Information on donating to BFF can be found online, as well as applications for both Trauma Therapists and Therapy Applicants who want to be part of our programs.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Calgary launched a 60 day initiative recently, to help end stigmas surrounding mental health and addiction. Each day, their website featured stories about resilience, strength and hope in healing. The Breaking Free Foundation Chair, Amber Craig, shared her story on the CMHA blog. Her piece:

“Sharing your truth is key to the healing process”— Theo Fleury from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake

Have you ever had a secret that ate you up inside, a secret that you hid from the world, for fear of judgment or misunderstanding? I did. I hid myself in a cloak of shame and secrecy for 20 years.  

That shame and secrecy manifested itself in many difficult ways, including my depression diagnosis at 13-years-old. I felt very alone during my teenage years and early adulthood, mainly because I thought I was the only one dealing with this pain, and my secrecy kept me from accessing the mental health care I really needed.

In 2013, a nationwide movement was launched by Theo Fleury called the Victor Walk, an awareness initiative on ending childhood sexual abuse. The focus was to help survivors transition from victim to victor, it sounded amazing. I volunteered to help coordinate a Victor Walk rally in Calgary, and on May 23, 2013, my life changed forever.

During our Victor Walk rally, I listened to a dozen or more strangers bravely stand up and share their stories of trauma, abuse and the effect these experiences had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The last person to come up was a young girl, about six-years-old, with her mother. The pair shared a heartbreaking tale of abuse the young girl had suffered, and that brave little girl stood in front of us without fear, and declared to the world she would be a ‘victor’ too. Something shifted inside me as I heard these two share, or perhaps someone, the six-year-old girl inside me.

I grabbed the megaphone, and for the first time in my life, I spoke my truth and said “me too”. In that moment, I felt so incredibly free, I had risen above my mental illness and past trauma and accepted myself without shame. The best part was, the fear I was holding onto all those years turned out to be totally unfounded, because what happened after that day in 2013, was a domino effect of support from near and far. Even more compelling, the amount of people who reached out to say “me too”.  

Following the Victor Walk in 2013, I made a promise not to live in secrecy and shame anymore. I wrote a blog about my experience, and that blog made its way to the person who indirectly opened the door for me in the first place, Theo Fleury.

Fleury kick-started a group of Calgarians with a common goal to help the trauma community, and the result was seven of us creating the Breaking Free Foundation. Our foundation not only continues to put on the annual Victor Walk movement, but also provides free trauma therapy via a grant process. I feel blessed to work with an amazing group and in an amazing community of supporters and advocates who are working together to create awareness and end stigma surrounding trauma and mental health.

In the three years since the first Victor Walk, I have transitioned from victim to victor to advocate. Not only was I able to finally receive mental health treatment from an amazing psychologist, I have been able to turn my experience into a gift.

Today, I live a fulfilling and mostly happy life. Like many others with mental illness, I too have ups and downs, but I’ve learned to embrace them as opportunities for growth. I am always learning, always healing and always growing.

#NowImStronger because sharing my story helped me help others.

 

Link to the CMHA story and website here

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Labels.

When I look back at my life thus far, it seems every segment of it has been defined by a label someone gave me. My biggest mistake, was letting myself believe they were true.

My childhood labels were generally harmless, imposed upon me by adults, teachers mostly. “Distracted”, “talkative”, “class clown”, these words only served to define more once I felt like there was some of kind of title to uphold.

As puberty hit, so did the bullies. I’d have welcomed those harmless labels from years past any day over the new ones: “slut”, “fat”, “ugly”. I knew deep down this was just the pain and suffering of others being projected onto me, and I certainly knew deep down they weren’t true, yet I wore the shame along with those labels anyway.

At the first Victor Walk in 2013, I went public for the first time about the trauma in my past. At first, it was a show of support for the group of strong strangers surrounding me, all sharing their story in unity. But soon after, it was as if a weight had been lifted, it became fuel for the fire I was burning as an advocate for change, and proved to be a huge leap in my healing process.

“Helping is healing.” ~ Theo Fleury

Those words have proven to be exceptionally true for myself. But even as I was making huge strides in healing and happiness, labels got in the way again.

“Victim”, “survivor”, these labels tarnish the hard work that I’ve done. People feel comfortable labelling me based on my experiences. But what many don’t realize, is that these labels give power to my abusers, and take the power away from me.

I don’t need to be called anything, I’m just me, and my past does not define me. But if you must call me something, you can call me “strong”.

 

— Written by Amber Craig
[Follow me on Twitter]

Interested in sharing your story on our blog? Please send submissions to: contact@breakingfreefoundation.ca

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This is a letter to the men out there. Men in my past, men in my life now, and the men I’ll meet in the future.

My abuse does not define me. It took over a decade of silence for me to be honest with myself, and the world about being sexually abused. So please, please don’t think you’ve got me all figured out the second you find out about the trauma in my past. Even I am still trying to figure out what it means in my life, and I’m constantly learning how to heal and grow.

The worst thing you could do, is treat me differently. I am still the same girl you met, and developed a relationship with. I am not my trauma, please remember that.

I am capable of intimacy, love and trust. Of course, going through sexual trauma made relationships and trust very difficult (and nearly impossible) for many years, but every day I grow and every day I do better. I have loved, and I have been intimate and I have learned to trust. You can tread carefully if you need, but I’ll guide you through it. Just communicate with me, and we’ll be fine.

Don’t walk away because of my past. A fellow Victor told me that her husband left her when he found out she had been sexually abused, and that broke my heart. I sympathize with the fact that you may not understand the trauma I’ve been through, but you don’t have to. If I can stand up and be honest about it, and face everything that comes with that honesty, you can at least stand by me.

If you don’t know what to say, just don’t say anything. Just be with me. Letting my past mar your view of me, just gives more power to my abuser. I am strong, I am getting stronger, and I am still capable of love.

My trauma does not define me. I’m still me.

 

— Written by Amber Craig
[Follow me on Twitter]

Interested in sharing your story on our blog? Please send submissions to: contact@breakingfreefoundation.ca