On Saturday, October 1st, 2022 The Ironwood Project hosted our first Thank You Event. It was a chance for donors to hear from participants and board members, and see our new home. Participants had an opportunity to speak to those gathered. We were fortunate to have Sarah share what she had written that day, and with her permission, we share it here as well. Thank you, Sarah.

Childhood sexual abuse isn’t something that just remains in the past. Depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, self-loathing, PTSD, addiction, anger, chronic pain, and a host of other issues are far more likely to occur in adults who’ve be sexually abused as children. 

But before my time in Ironwood, I didn’t know any of these facts.

I was sexually abused from the age of 5-13. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, people didn’t really talk about childhood sexual abuse. I didn’t see my story reflected in any movie or tv show, newspaper article, or magazine. Because of that, I thought I was alone in my experience.  When the abuse stopped and I developed so many of the difficulties I just described, I thought it was because there was something wrong with me. I was defective. Worthless. Weak. Someone who wasn’t strong enough to “just get over it”. 

And so I over-compensated. I became a relentless perfectionist. I tried to outwardly excel at everything I did personally and professionally to hide the fact that I was deeply suffering inside. To the world, I appeared happy and put-together. But when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was someone who was inherently flawed and unlovable. The perfectionism didn’t solve my internal war, but it kept me going, so I soldiered on.

And then, at 37, I was sexually assaulted by a doctor. All the childhood sexual trauma I tried so hard to suppress came roaring to the surface. I couldn’t control my emotions. I had angry outbursts and cried hysterically at random. I couldn’t maintain the image of perfection anymore. My inner wounded child refused to be silenced. She needed help. I needed help. 

And that’s when I discovered the article about Ironwood in the paper. I was terrified to attend- the idea of sharing my deepest pain and secrets with total strangers made my whole being cringe- but I knew I couldn’t carry on as I had before. Life had become untenable, unmanageable. I needed to do something. 

Walking through the door for my first group session is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it’s also one of the best. It is here that I learned I am not defective. That all the guilt, pain, shame and myriad of other things I’ve struggled with my whole life are what Chris calls, “A reasonable response to an unreasonable situation”. These words are a gift, they are my freedom. Every time I share my story with the incredible people involved with this group, I see heads nod in solidarity, and am met with overflowing compassion, understanding, and support. I have attended Ironwood for four years, and in that time, I have done more healing than I have in my entire life. This group quite literally saved my life. 

From the bottom of my heart, to all the donors and supporters who make Ironwood possible, thank you. You are changing lives in ways immeasurable and profound.  

~Sarah

 

Ironwood is pleased to offer our first Supporters Workshop

This new workshop is just for the supporters of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  A chance to ask hard questions, talk with other supporters and gather information, tools and understanding about the survivor in your life.

          We will be discussing:

          • Ways to support your loved one(s)

          • Brain function after trauma

          • Neuroplasticity

          • Triggers

Thursday, November 24th from 7pm to 9pm

For more information: info@theironwoodproject.ca

We are now adding a second night to our peer support groups. . Meetings will be held at the Ironwood space in downtown Georgetown. If you would like to be included, please reach out. 

We will no longer be requiring participants show proof of vaccination, but we do ask they everyone in attendance complete the Ontario COVID-19 Self-Assessment online before attending and wear a mask.

All groups are offered at no cost to participants. New members welcome.


For more information please send an email to info@theironwoodproject.ca

 

 

 

 

We are proud to announce that The Ironwood Project has partnered with Darkness To Light to bring training and awareness to organizations and the community about the prevention of sexual abuse.

For more information, please see our Darkness To Light page.

 

 

After three years of hosting coed support groups, we felt it was time to expand our services to offer an all women's group. Covid-19 put our plans on hold, but not forever.  

Depending on enrollment, Ironwood will begin hosting a new all women's peer to peer support group once a week.  Like with our coed meetings, this group will be hosted by two survivors, but in this case, both hosts will be women.

This expansion will allow us to offer more room for participants. It will also allow us to offer a different experience for female survivors that may be looking for support from other women. 

Look for both coed and all women's support groups to begin in person in shortly.

For more information, please contact us at:  info@theironwoodproject.ca

 

 
 

 

 

 

The Ironwood Project is a not for profit organization based in Halton Hills.

We are dedicated to improving the lives of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Our services are offered free of charge and run by volunteers.

 

 

   

Making a donation has never been easier

Your donation will help us continue to offer support groups to survivors of childhood sexual abuse, to educate groups and individuals in the community, and to both prevent and heal the impact of sexual abuse in our society.

Thank you to our donors.

Because of your generosity we have been able to fund our peer support groups and plan for the future.

 

What Past Participants Had To Say

"I am so proud of what I have been able to accomplish."

"This group has absolutely changed my life for the better. Being around people who 'get it' is so incredibly healing. Hearing people's stories helped me to better understand my own. I felt safe, seen, heard, and understood."

"I had so many breakthrough moments that have fundamentally changed my life."

"Benefits of group sharing were surprisingly valuable to my own understanding and acceptance."

"I wasn't sure I would feel comfortable opening up in a group format but it was so helpful to hear other members' stories."

"I always felt safe and heard and surrounded by people that understood and respected me. I looked forward to coming every week."

"An experience like we just went through makes me want to continue and do more. It has been the most life altering therapy because it was among peers."

"I always felt completely safe."


The Ironwood Project is not about telling your secret.  It isn't about therapy or counselling.  It is simply a safe place for survivors to gather.  It is an opportunity to get together and talk about things that maybe you feel you can't talk about anywhere else.  It is an opportunity to share as much or as little as you are comfortable with.  It is a place to explore topics like isolation, fear and anger with people who are looking for some of the same answers you are.  It is a place to hear what has and what hasn't worked for your peers and to maybe start to figure out what would work for you.

The Ironwood Project - Halton Hills

The Ironwood Project - Halton Hills facilitates support groups for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Weekly meetings include peer based discussions on the struggles and challenges facing adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse with an emphasis on understanding and overcoming those obstacles.

For more information, or to register for a future groups, please contact me at: info@theironwoodproject.ca

 


 

Why Ironwood?

Ironwood is a common name for a large number of woods found all over the world. These woods have a reputation for strength, durability, and an incredibly beautiful wood grain. They are known to grow in both dry and wet conditions, mostly requiring sunlight and a stable environment.

This is us.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are very common, occurring in frighteningly large numbers all over the world. We are not separated by gender, race, religion, economic standing, social class or geographic location. We are everywhere.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are the strongest, most durable and heart-warmingly beautiful people I have ever had the privilege to meet. Each and every one of them.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse need light to thrive. For far too long we have been stuck in the shadows, shoved into dark corners and spoken about in furtive hushed tones. It is time for us to shine a light. It is time for us to speak in strong, unwavering voices.

It is time for The Ironwood Project.


The purpose of this website is to provide general information about us and our services only. Everyone has different life experiences that have brought him/her to this page.  We are not crisis counsellors or therapists.  If you are in crisis please contact a qualified medical professional to assist you. If you need a list of support resources, please go to our Information page.