Find yourself…among friends at Camp Amy for Adult Survivors

Camp Amy
Camp Amy

Welcome to Camp Amy! Get ready for five transformative days of hope, discovery and empowerment. At Camp Amy, you’ll meet women much like yourself – courageous, capable, and confident – yet still struggling with the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). Camp Amy is for women who are ready to move forward, ready to overcome, and ready to replace surviving with thriving.

Some may ask, “Camp? For women? Why not a posh retreat?” The answer is simple: Because it works. As a survivor of CSA, you’ve been deprived of the innate innocence of youth. In a natural and peaceful setting, you’ll enjoy the excitement of traditional camp activities like kayaking, biking, ropes course and camp fires. Each will initiate the playfulness and freedom vital to overcoming childhood trauma.

In addition, you’ll focus on art therapy, music therapy, spoken word poetry, yoga, mindfulness, process groups and other therapeutic models. You’ll learn the necessary skills to help you become aware and connect with your feelings, as well as embracing the importance of mind/body connection.

But perhaps most important, you’ll discover the healing power of community. You’ll make new friends, share similar experiences, and find hope as you realize that you’re not alone. We at Camp Amy are here to cheer you on as you learn to put the past behind you!

*Camp Amy is modeled after Camp Cadi which was created by Safe Girls Strong Girls founder, Amy Barth.

One thought on “Find yourself…among friends at Camp Amy for Adult Survivors”

  1. I was websurfing when I came across this. I’m in no position to go to a camp now, needing to first find a place to live. But I wanted to post my story (I’m going to avoid paragraphs, because I don’t know how much room I have and there’s a lot to tell). I came from an extremely abusive home. My father was a sociopath, sadist, psychotic man. My mother married him after divorcing her first husband, the father of my older sister, Donna, whom he physically, but not sexually abused while she was an infant. As soon as my mother found out, when Donna was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma which the doctor told her did not match with the father’s story of her falling out of her crib, she divorced him. She was a single working mother for a few years, in the late 1950s. Before meeting my father on a blind date,she had an affair with a married doctor and became pregnant. Her lover gave her an (illegal at the time) abortion. She married my father when she was one month pregnant with me, which she denied for years, claiming her family forced her to marry him. I suppose they would, considering her condition, and the fact that she already had one child. I can remember back earlier than many children. I remember always fearing my father, never loving him. And I remember never feeling loved by my mother, who became pregnant with my younger sister, Diane when I was 2. I felt left out, abandoned. She didn’t even bathe me (at least after I was 2), but dumped me in the tub with Donna, who didn’t bathe me either, but told me stories she made up about me being adopted and not wanted. I don’t remember my mother ever reading to me either, until she began to read to Diane and I was allowed to listen. My mother never parented; she didn’t give us breakfast before school, telling us to get it ourselves. But she always allowed Diane, to choose. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten Captain Crunch, but it gets so lodged into the molars that it’s still there after school, like cement that can’t be brushed out. Because she smoked throughout all her pregnancies, and our childhoods and beyond, still) we were all prone to URIS. Because she didn’t want to deal with more than one sick child at a time, she nagged the pediatrician into prescribing liquid tetracycline, which for some reason was only given to me. Antibiotics don’t affect viruses, but when given to children under 10 tetracycline does discolor and weaken the permanent teeth, which I’m seriously dealing with now, tho it wasn’t pleasant being called “yellow teeth” while a child. My mother didn’t teach or enforce personal hygiene either. She didn’t help with homework, or check that it was done. I never had a birthday party. And when Diane was 2 and I was beginning kindergarten, she decided it was too difficult to care for two children with long hair, so she took me to a barbershop and told them to cut it off. I threw a tantrum, so she had them tie me down and gag me in order to cut my hair. From the moment Diane was born, both parents seemed to spoil her, altho my mother always made excuses for Donna, who was experimenting with drugs and I suppose sex. My only sources of love were our German Shepherd and my grandmother. The only way my mother knew how to maintain order was to threaten to tell our father. Except she never told on Donna, and he never beat Diane. But I remember being 2 years old and being “spanked” with his leather belt for heinous crimes, such as forgetting to turn off a light. At about the age of 10-12 he used the buckle end. I would scream with pain, begging for her to stop him, but she never responded. Finally, the spring before I was about to turn 17, he, who’d been cheating on her for years and gave her what would eventually be called HPV, gave her an ultimatum: him or me. I sat at the top of the stairs, not believing how long her answer was taking. After he walked out, I forgot about his habit of leaving and returning to continue an argument. So when I went downstairs to talk to her, he came in, and before he could say anything, I had had it. I opened my mouth and all the hatred I felt for him poured out. Finally, I saw his expression, and realized I was trapped, and if he touched me I’d be dead – or want to be. I ran to the sink and grabbed the largest knife, an held it out at him, taunting him. And for one brief moment, I was happy, because the sadistic bastard had fear in his eyes of his still 16-year-old daughter! Then my mother got in the way, and he was able to twist the knife away. He then beat me, until the last thing I remember were his hands around my throat, squeezing, as he slammed my head repeatedly against the wall. He suffered from Cluster Headaches, the rarest and most painful in the world. His mother had them too (she died before my birth, but his father reportedly beat her. Clusters are always preceded by a severe head injury abt. 3 years before the onset of the headaches. My first Cluster Headache began the summer of 1980, while I was in college, planning to be a nurse practitioner. The headaches took that chance away. I fought thru the next 15 years, until 1995. I had been headache free for just over 1-1\2 yrs. after suffering thu what up to then had been the longest cluster yet, 3 years. I banged my head at work and laughed about it, until I woke up and was told I’d been found unconscious in my office. My boss rode i the ambulance with me, and I told the ER intern I wasn’t a drug seeker, but I needed an injection of Solumedrol (an anti-inflammatory steroid) to prevent my brain from swelling. But he was too into his Dr. God routine, and simply gave me a shot of codiene and released me. My then neurologist agreed if I’d gotten that, I’d probably have been fine. I’ve been in constant pain since 1995 and on disability. These headaches aren’t ever expected to end. During my adult life, I voluntarily sought psych. help to deal with the pain, but I refused to discuss my childhood. Of course I now know what a mistake it was. In 2003, a psychologist at the pain clinic I attended diagnosed PTSD, and luckily, there was a study underway at NYU which was fully funded. I applied and was accepted, and the work was HARD. When my part of the study was over, my therapist was leaving and invited me to follow her. We worked together for 6 years, and it helped. But in Oct. 2011, my landlady went to live with her daughter’s family, and the 2-family house was sold. I had until March 1 to vacate. I couldn’t afford and didn’t want any of the ridiculously overpriced apts I saw, and I had nowhere to go. I didn’t want to go to my mother’s, but I had no choice, and she kept pulling the rug out from under me right up till the day of the move. I never expected to be here this long, but I’m trying to find somewhere out of state, by computer, when I’ve never been tothese places. I need not just affordable housing in a min. 6 unit bldg (for the Fair Hsing Act), but reliable public transportation because I can’t afford a car and my vision is legally blind without glasses (and not much better with them, since I can’t wear contacts any more). She’s been difficult ince the beginning, even though I’ve cared for her through illnesses and injuries. I just got out of the hospital with a very bad case of pnuemonia, which may have resulted in some form of asthma, and she never keeps her promise to keep her bedroom door shut so I don’t have to breathe the smoke. Yesterday, not for the first time, but the mos seriously, I think, she told me she wants me out. She doesn’t care what happens to me. She threatned to call the police an say she fears I’ll hurt her, something I’d never do to anyone! On Saturday, she told me that before she left to shop I was having a seizure (a complication from the headaches), yet she went anway. What kind of mother does that? Yesterday she added if I have another seizure, she’ll call an ambulance and they WILL take me. And wen they release me, she won’t allow me in. She practically forced me to go to PTSD therapy, but when, on the single visit she atended, she started saying to me what she’d been saying for my entire adult life, i.e. “I asked for the beatings because I provoked him, and therefore I deserved what I got.” My therapist, younger than me, said to her, “NO SHE DIDN’T. You were the parent, and a parent’s first job is to protect their child. You didn’t do that. If anyone’s at fault it’s you!” After that, she decided my therapist is a quack, and I don’t have PTSD. My older sister, who I’ve spoken to this past year for the first time in 30 years has an MSW, and says all 3 of us have it to some extent. Whenever I was asked if I was sexualy abused, I’ve always said no, because I believed that. And tho I was jealous of Diane, every night our father used to call her to come watch TV in bed with him. I knew nothing about sex, but I got an “Icky” feeling, and as I got older, the fact of him there with his porn in plain sight…Diane told me that he’d been molesting her until she was 11, when he began to rape her. It continued during college, much like the Mackenzie Phillips situation, she says. She claims when she was 8, she told our mother that he was “touching her in bad places”. She said she was told she was wrong. I completely believe part of it. But I’ve caught her in so many lies, I do have to wonder. And my mother has worked very hard, despite her stated desire for her “girls to be closer” to sabotage our relationships. Divide and conquer, and since I’m the only one brave enough to confront her, I’m wrong, I’m crazy. Even tho she says she was angry at me because I’m always in pain. Yes, that’s why SSDI pays me such big bucks, precisely for that reason. And she says I need to stop blaming others. Who should I blame, me? If it were my daughter being beaten, I’d have killed him. Which brings me at last to: after diane told me that, I had a flashback in the shower of being touched as a baby. I told my therapist, who said she’d thought all along that I’d been molested in some bsed on some phrases I used. I also told another woman, whom I didn’t know was a psychiatrist, and she too said she believed it was true. During the move, hile I was trying to clear out as much junk as possible, I came across medical records from my appendectomy when I was 22. I had a healthy appie, but the surgeon discovered endometriosis, and much stranger, an infection in my fallopian tubes. I’d never had an STD, so I asked how I could’ve gotten it. My mother was there (she was a medical secretary, and the surgeon knew her. However, because of my closeness with her bosses, who wanted me to switch from nursing to medicine; they’d had me scrubbing into surgeries since I was 15, and they knew I had a special diagnostic gift. So most of the attendings knew it, and knew me.) I remember him glancing at her, then saying as tho with significance, “you could have had this since childhood, or even infancy”. So when I found the medical records, I looked for the lab report, and the organism causing the infection was a bacteria that’s normal flora on an adult’s hands. I set that aside, and when my mother and a nurse friend of hers who she tells everythng came to help me pack, it disappeared, probably into the garbage. No proof. But my mother once told me that before Diane was born, when I was a newborn, my father “couldn’t get enough of me.” How frigging dense can she be? She divorced he first husband to protect her child, and even as a single working mother managed to teach Donna how to read before she started school, and take her to ballet school. But she couldn’t figure out a way to brush two kids’ hair. And she ruined my teeth. Now she’s destroying all the hard work I did over 6 years. My startle response is the highest it’s ever been, and she gets mad at me! She can’t remember a single thing about my chldhood or adolescence except rebellion, which is always normal, and especially so given my home life. But I’m not supposed to feel bad or jealous when she casually points out,”Oh, that’s the first dentist I took Donna to!” She can’t remember when I had surgery to try to have a child in 1999, but she can remember a dentist from the 1950s? And that’s not supposed to hurt me? Just like all the times she told me having children is more trouble than its worth – just me, not my sisters. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I don’t have the time or the money to find a therapist. I need to find a home. But I have no one to talk to, no one who understands. And I think I’m beginning to see that he wasn’t the only sociopath, because she’s convinced quite a few people she’s the innocent, it’s all ME. If she kicks me out, I won’t survive. I’ve never even been camping. And with my head – I can’t even get to the doctor to get my prescriptions unless she takes me. So if she does this to me soon, while the water in the bay is still cold enough, I’ll have no choice but to slip in in the middle of the night, and hope no one sees me. Hypothermia should be fast and relaively painless. It’s just that I believe in karma and in reincarnation. I want to be in the Light with my grandmother and my dogs. I don’t want to die with anger in me. I don’t want to be sent back immediately to the first available body to live out my remaining years. I’m so tired of the pain, of being all alone, with no one to care. I pray every night that I won’t wake up. I can’t even imagine what will happen to me if I live to and past 65, when the supplemental insurance ends. I guess that’s it. Oh, except for one thing – the name, Amy Barth. He’s since reinvented himself (including a new wife and a non-existent military career in Vietnam), but I was told that before he married my mother, he was maried to a woman, in New Jersey. The weird thing was that they were both named Phyllis. And when he brought home my dog (the only good thing he ever did), she was already named. Amy. But when I found out about his previous marriage, she also said he claimed that his first wife had a daughter, but she wasn’t his. And her name was Amy. How peverse to have a dog with the same name as your child? Because after thinking about it, after Diane told me, it became clear. It’s so unlikely she wasn’t his kid. It’s obvious he has girls, he shoots Xs. So if you put it all together, you get this: He was married in NJ and had a daughter the age of Donna. His wfe probably came home and caught him doing something, or unlike my mother, believed her daughter. That would be the only logical reason not to sue for child support – she just wanted him gone. And he didn’t want her to change her mind,so he got out of Jersey. Because I know his Blood type. It’s the same as Diane’s and mine, A. The wife was most likely either O, the most common, or A as well. The child could be either one, and even if she wasn’t his, at the time, that would have been enough for him to be ordered to pay, since they didn’t have DNA. Except he probably would have paid the way he did after he and my mother got divorced – practically nothing at all. And the stupid bitch never would listen to me, and let him keep half the house, which he promptly attached to his bankruptcy, forcing her to sell for practically nothing. She also wanted to be “fair” about him seeing Diane, so despite the judge’s orders, and the obvious way her personality changed before and after visits, she let it go on. I suppose she thinks it’s a coincidence that Diane has HPV too. I was on the phone when Diane told her part of it, that he raped her then held her at gun point in Florida. A few weeks later it never happened. By the way, none of this is an age thing. If ife was fair, t would be. My grandmother would’ve lived a long, healthy life, and my mother… Well, maybe not Instant Karma, but karma nonetheless. My only problem with it is one almost never knows why.

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