Writing and Talking to Heal Scars of Abuse

By Susan Chaityn Lebovits
Boston Globe [Milford MA]
January 15, 2006

Barbara Hansen can't recall exactly when the sexual abuse began, but the Milford resident thinks she was around 3 years old.Her grandfather would take her out for ice cream, and touch her.

"Don't tell," he'd say.

By age 8, she said, she avoided him and the abuse eventually ended.

But three years later, while attending a Bible camp in New York State, Hansen said she was molested again, this time by a youth pastor. The familiar words, "Shhh. Don't tell," were chilling.

Hansen, now 61, shares her story in "Listen to the Cry of the Child: The Deafening Silence of Sexual Abuse," a book she published herself in 2003 that is now available in local bookstores and online. It's written in the first person and heavily interspersed with writings from the New Testament. Although sales have not broken even, she said she was more concerned with "getting the message out there, and help for those in pain."

Hansen, the daughter of a preacher, grew up in upstate New York. As a teenager she said she felt lifeless inside and couldn't figure out why. She'd have flashbacks, then work hard to rebury her memories.

All that changed after she heard David Seamands, author of "Healing for Damaged Emotions," talk about incest at a conference in 1985.

She told her parents about the youth pastor. "My father listened, but said nothing," said Hansen.

When she turned 51, she told her father her maternal grandfather had abused her.

"He discouraged me from telling my mother saying, 'It would kill her.' "

Hansen said her father's reaction made her feel victimized again.

In 1998, a week after her son's wedding, Hansen happened to watch "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with her mother when the theme was "confronting the demons of your past." Her mother was then 82 years old and her grandfather had since died.

With her father and husband present, she shared with her mother the pain that had consumed her for nearly 40 years. Based on her research, Hansen suspected that she wasn't the only one who had been abused by her grandfather.

Her mother confirmed her suspicions: Her own father in fact had molested her as well.

In 1998, Hansen returned to the summer camp where she had been molested for a family retreat. While there she ran into an acquaintance that she hadn't seen in nearly 27 years. The woman shared her troubled life with Hansen, including her experience with the same youth pastor.

Together, in 1999 -- through a disciplinary hearing provided by Christian Missionary Alliance -- Hansen and her friend confronted their abuser, who by then was 75 years old and living in Florida.

Hansen said she approached the man and handed him a photograph of herself when she was 11 years old. She spoke to him for over an hour then asked, "Who hurt you that you had to hurt me?"

Though he offered no response, Hansen said she was shocked when he asked her for forgiveness."Most people think that if you forgive, you're letting someone off the hook but [I've found] the pain is so deep that you never forget your past," Hansen said. "The scars remain, but once you forgive, you begin to heal yourself and the pain will lessen."

Hansen's website is Other resources for rape and incest victims are Metrowest Voices Against Violence 800-593-1125; Rape Crisis Center of Central Mass 800-870-5905.

For Frugal Yankees

With little more than a laptop and a telephone, Garen Daly and Louise Sacco have been helping New Englanders enjoy life and save money with their program "The Frugal Yankee Radio Hour," which airs Sundays on WNTN-AM (1550) out of West Newton.

Tips like how to get the best deals on insurance; how to help someone whose memory is fading; and how to make your kids money smart are taped inside the 12-by-15-foot room at the Rumford Avenue station.

The 55-year-old Daly said that as one of 10 children, saving money wasn't a hobby; it was a necessity.

"The one thing that's remained with me is that we were always cold," he said. "There was a time when my brother, Brian, and I were so cold that we literally burned papers in the one of the fireplaces. At 11 years old we're lucky we didn't burn down the house."

Saving energy -- by sealing windows and adding insulation -- has almost become an obsession with Daly and is a frequent "How to" topic on the show that's taped on Tuesday afternoons, edited on Daly's computer, and sent to the station on a CD.

In addition to airing weekly features, regular guests offer advice on cars, real estate, and finance with a touch of cracker-barrel chit-chat. Daly's website, which he said receives up to 5,000 hits per week, features topics ranging from health and gardening to kids and travel.

Daly himself is an entertainment pundit, primarily in the motion-picture industry. For nearly 31 years, he ran movie houses, including the defunct Orson Welles; the Somerville Theatre; the Coolidge Corner Theatre; and the Dedham Community Theater, which he sold in 2002. He has run the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival since the Orson Welles burned down in 1986 and reviews movies for New England Cable News and radio stations in New Hampshire.

The Frugal Yankee was conceived out of Daly's love for the media, his varied background, and favorite hobby: gleaning interesting information, then talking about it. So it was no surprise to those who know the New Hampshire resident that he would crave an audience of his own.

"I sold my business a couple of years ago. It's not that I have a lot of money, but it has given me the luxury of being able to pursue a new angle on my career," said Daly.

Cohost Louise Sacco, a 59-year-old marketing consultant for The Enterprise Group, met Daly 10 years ago when he owned the Dedham theater.

"We always had the idea that sooner or later we'd have a project to do together," said Sacco, who lives in Needham. When he decided to do the radio show in 2004, they connected.

The team, which also includes producer David Goblaskas and engineer Paul Roberts, moved "The Frugal Yankee" from a Worcester station to be closer to the Boston market. Financially, they're just breaking even through advertising and Internet links.

With the balkanization of information on the Web, Daly is hoping that The Frugal Yankee site will act as a "a clearinghouse for practical information, not only to help you in your house, or with your finances, but to have a good time."

The Frugal Yankee airs Sundays from 1 to 2 p.m. and can be downloaded at

Around the towns

Faith Westerfield of Marlborough won Paragon Rehabilitation's national clinician of the year award for her work at the company's Mary Ann Morse Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Natick. . . . Babson College students Eddie Drake, Kevin Guy, and Jay DeRienzo have created The Five Minute Activist (, a website that provides links to advocacy groups, letter-writing campaigns, and donation sites. . . . Kayla Ringelheim, 16, will perform songs from her new CD "Tides" on Friday at the Center for Arts in Natick. The folk singer/songwriter is a Wellesley High School student. For information, call 508-647-0097.

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