Tonight's special guest is Vanessa McNeal from Cedar Falls, Iowa, 22, a child abuse and sexual assault survivor, NAASCA activist and documentary filmmaker. Her goal is to help other people heal and to spread awareness on the issues of child abuse and trauma. NAASCA needs MORE young folks in recovery like Vanessa! Growing up, Vanessa a lot of family violence until she was around five years old. Her father would leave the house voluntarily or because her mom would kick him out because of the fighting. "That left me and my older sister home alone with my mom who was very involved in the party scene," she writes. "I wasn't taken to school regularly so I became far behind in school to the point where I had to be placed in a special class for kids that were behind." Vanessa goes on, "Due to the lack of parental supervision I was placed in compromising positions with compromising people. I was exposed to men and drugs. There was a lot of DHS involvement and police intervention. My needs were not met adequately." Her grandmother eventually gained custody of all four siblings. "I was molested by my 2 older female cousins and by my older sister. There were times I went years without talking to my mother. We eventually began having a consistent healthy relationship around late high school." Vanessa's doing better now. "I struggled most of my life thinking that no one would want or desire me because I thought my own mom did not." She concludes, "I am in a wonderful place in my life right now and I have never been happier."
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