08/31/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin
A brave response to this injurious and cyclical issue, STARR helps victimized teenage girls ages 14-18 “Succeed Through Accountable Responsible Resolve” to positively redirect their lives. There is no cost for participants, because for these young women (most of who are considered “high-risk” have been removed from their homes by Social Services due to the sexual abuse they suffered there) the price they pay for what they were forced to endure is far too high.
STARR is unique in that it is experiential, meaning that participants must personally and responsibly accept the program’s three-tiered approach, which addresses specific after-effects common among sexually abused girls: low self-esteem, self-mutilation, age-inappropriate sexual behavior, and suicidal thoughts being the most devastating.
Phase one of STARR is a three-day, facilitated seminar where participants share their stories, assess poor self-perceptions, and participate in accountability exercises that prepare them for STARRCamp. Phase two of the program, STARRCamp, provides the girls with a “safety first” and supportive environment in which they will learn how to set goals and conquer crippling inner fears, during a week of physical challenges and courses. According to STARR, “The significance of this process is to prepare them to break through the barriers that keep them from being young women of purpose.” The third phase is STARR Leadership/Accomplishment – a three-month program with curriculum that incorporates and supports the principles learned in phase one and two.
The results speak for themselves. Many STARR graduates have made the transition from distrustful young victims to accountable and high-functioning women of promise.
Even with such a remarkable program like STARR, one cannot help but acknowledge the sickening reality of needing it at all. It is hardly an understatement to say that childhood sexual abuse is, for most of society, too appalling to think about. Ironically, it is this refusal to accept and reluctance to understand, that contributes to why shame and secrecy co-exist with sexual abuse, leading its victims to express their pain recklessly, in ways that exhibit little self-esteem and almost no self-care.
“As a society we shelter ourselves from sexual abuse issues of children,” says Gloria Manchester, founder and president of CARTE and STARR. “People [are] uncomfortable talking about it. But statistics are statistics.” She also admits that there is a double standard for boys who are sexually abused by women – cases which, it is believed, go largely unreported – and insists that it is absolutely imperative that conversations about sexual abuse at all levels be fostered.
STARR is funded by small grants and the net proceeds of a program called Partner In Excellence (PIE) – a two-day personal development course for all women. To get involved with CARTE, register for PIE, or learn more about STARR, visit <a target="_blank" href="http://www.be-a-starr.org">be-a-starr.org</a> or call 1-800-606-4227, ext. 3.