We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathy Butler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathy, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When we discovered our child had been sexually abused by a family member, it caused a pain that was literally stifling and it changed us in an instant. We had to look our child in the face and come to terms with our monumental failure as parents – we hadn’t protected her as well as we thought we had. We were thrust into a fight to save her life; our lives, and our family. Yet, we had way more questions than answers. And the one nagging question that was etched in our minds daily was, “How did this happen right under our noses?” But there was no one to talk to. There were no support groups that we knew of, nor were there any how-to manuals to help us navigate the unchartered terrain. We literally had to figure it out as we went along, and in many ways, suffer silently just as our child had.
As we fought our way through the dark places, we needed to give our pain a sound, a voice, a purpose. We needed to make sure other children were protected from the trauma of abuse and give their families the tools they needed. The tools we so desperately wished someone had given to us. So, as a family, we collectively agreed to share our story with the world and this business is the fulfillment of the thought process behind that decision. Through our training and peer support, we have been able to give our pain, shame, and rage a sound – a fever-pitch alarm. It’s blaring everyday to warn parents, caregivers, adult professionals, youth-serving organizations, schools systems, small and large business and anyone else who’ll listen about how to protect our children from the trauma of child sexual abuse.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Comfort In The Storm provides child sex abuse prevention and awareness training for parents, caregivers, adult professionals, youth-serving organizations, school systems, associations, municipalities, and small and large businesses/organizations. We offer a 4-hour comprehensive training that equips you with the knowledge to talk to your children about boundaries and body autonomy, as well as how to identify potential grooming patterns and predatory behaviors, signs of abuse, how to develop an ever-evolving safety plan for your family, how to protect your children from online abuse and many other topics. We can also tailor a training to accommodate your specific time constraints.
What makes our training unique is we incorporate our perspective as the parents of a survivor. Our lived experiences coupled with evidence- based data gives attendees a completely different learning experience. We believe it helps attendees to better grasp the pervasiveness of the problem. We also do keynote speaking engagements and we are extremely proud of the transparency we offer in sharing our missteps because it shows that healing is possible ; growth is possible, and it helps to ease the shame and guilt that parents who are just embarking on their journey with a child who has recently disclosed may be experiencing.
Now if we are being honest, this hasn’t been an easy journey because as you can imagine, exposing your perceived failure to the world was hard at first. Wondering if we, as parents, would be harshly judged by others or possibly ostracized by our family and community for exposing the abuse gave us pause at times. But our faith and the encouraging words from victims, survivors and their families reminded us why our work is so important. Because of them and the passion that we have – a passion that wakes us up in the middle of the night with new training ideas – we know it’s our purpose and it doesn’t feel like work.
The greatest challenge we currently face is the same as it was in the beginning – getting people to understand how pervasive child sex abuse truly is and it’s not something that only happens to “those people”. So, we continue to present the information in ways that helps others to understand that perpetrators look just like the rest of us and can be as close as the next room.
We want the world to know that prevention is the goal and the greatest investment you can make is learning how to protect your child from the trauma. Hence, the reason our business exists. But, we also want victims, survivors and their families to know that if you’ve been affected by the trauma of child sex abuse, healing is possible. It’s definitely a journey and it looks different for everyone, but it is possible.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We are definitely going to eat! We are going to historic spots like Mary Mac’s Team Room because those hot cinnamon rolls are both a sin and a shame, but to die for. We are also going to Slutty Vegan because while we aren’t ready to forsake wings and rib-eyes, that Fussy Hussy is not to be trifled with. Oh, and let us not forget the blessing that is King Crab ATL. The sweetness of those king crab legs and their special seafood butter sauce releases endorphins and sends you into a state of pure euphoria – well, for me anyways.
For ultimate relaxation, we are going to take a 90 min drive to Chateau Elan Spa and Winery. There we will be rubbed and kneaded in all the right places and then we will soak the day away in their jacuzzi while sipping something refreshing. And, we will have a bite to eat and tour the winery. Of course we’ll have to take a drive to the historic Atlanta landmark that is Ebenezer Baptist church and visit the MLK Jr memorial and center. And, we will make our way to Piedmont Park and take in the beauty of the miles of green grass and hopefully be serenaded by the tunes of a music festival. For nightlife, we are going to Kat’s Cafe and St James Live for live music and entertainment.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The people who deserve the biggest shout-outs are our daughters, Taylor & Tyler.
Our business only exists because Taylor gave us permission to share her story and our family’s experience with the world. She could have said, and rightfully so, that she didn’t want her story nor her face to be plastered over the internet as a way of bringing attention to a crisis that has plagued our families, cultures, communities and society for generations. But instead, she decided that she wanted to help protect other children from the trauma of abuse. This was by no means easy. Just recently she shared in an interview that that there were, and still are, days that she doesn’t want to be recognized and/or approached by strangers because they’ve seen her story online. However, she also said “I take honor in the fact that my story and the things that I went through are a testimony at this point and they’re encouraging for the people who may be battling with the things that I did.” Today, Taylor is known as the Thriving Survivor and it is so apropos. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her willingness to put a face on – and give voice to – the epidemic of child sex abuse and trauma.
Tyler deserves. a shout-out as well because there is a great deal of sacrifice that comes with having her family at the forefront of a movement that generated attention and questions that she didn’t ask for or want to endure. We also know there were times when she felt left out of the loop because decisions were being made that ultimately impacted her and she felt like her feelings weren’t being considered. Not to mention, attention sometimes shifted to her sister and we didn’t always recognize how traumatic the entire situation was for her. However, through it all, she was supportive to her sister and gracious to us as parents who were learning how to navigate our new normal. And, although she prefers the background, she has played an integral part in moving the business forward. Her ideas and innovation are truly invaluable.
Other: Tik Tok – Comfortinthestorm
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