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Jane E. Stevens

I learned about Jane Stevens through her organization called ACES Too High

ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

I have limited time right now to say all I would like to say about Jane and her work, but for now what I want to say is a big thank you to her for taking our work on teen suicide prevention seriously. Yesterday Jane posted on her site an article which features the book I helped create. The book is Letters from the Unloved. I am hoping this will bring more attention to the causal relationship between abuse -- particularly emotional abuse -- and teen depression, self-harm, and suicide.

Again, thank you Jane. You are for me one of my "enlightened witnesses." By this I mean someone who understands abuse and its long term damaging effects, and who acknowledges me, validates me and values my contribution to humanity.

I want to show part of a letter I got from Jane recently, after I wrote to her and told her that in November of last year I had decided to kill myself. I also told her that the co-author of the book, who prefers to just be called Priscilla, also decided to kill herself at least once in her past.

Jane wrote back:

Well, I'm certainly glad you decided to stick around, Steve, otherwise I would never have learned about this book and the work that you are doing. I am so sorry that you and Priscilla experienced abuse as children. Neither of you deserved it.

I think both of you are doing important work, and I certainly urge you to continue it.

For people who are on the forefront, it's normal to feel ostracized and misunderstood until the ideas become more mainstream. And although there's a long long way to go, that's happening with the recent findings in the epidemiology, neurobiology, physiology and epigenetics of adverse childhood experiences.

I am starting to cry now, because I feel more understood and valued by Jane, someone I just met through the Internet, than I do by anyone in my own immediate family. I feel very, very sad about that. I feel rejected by my own family, but accepted by Jane, so she has helped fill my unmet emotional need for acceptance, along with my need to feel understood, valued, acknowledged, validated, affirmed. I don't think it is just that I "feel" sad personally about the fact my own family never did that - and honestly they probably literally don't know how - but I believe it is a sad or even tragic reality that so many people in the world are in a similar situation with regard to their own families. I know because I have been receiving the letters for close to 15 years now. The pain from the knowledge, in combination with the pain from my unmet emotional needs, is almost too unbearable at times. So people like Jane who seemingly magically appear in my life from time to time are helping me make it through the pain until I can stand on my own two feet again, as the saying goes.

So once more... Thank you Jane.

S. Hein
July 3, 2013
La Paz, Uruguay

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I also want to thank SoulRiser from School Survival and xcritieria, a regular poster there. xcriteria is the person who first shared a link to Jane's article about Jim Sporleder. I'm crying now so I am going to take a break. But I want to say I have read more about and by JS and I think he is my new favorite principal. This comes from a guy who once said "Fuck you" to a high school principal in the USA - not as a teen student, but as an "adult" in my forties... I did not respect that principal, because he had not earned my respect. But JS has earned it. I hope JS will read my writing on respect and other stuff.  
I just got this in my mail...10:38 AM July 3, 2013 (Uruguay time)

It's funny, I went to your site when I was feeling like no one listened or cared.
Maybe this won't get to you, S. Hein, but I'm going to write it anyway.
My family doesn't seem to listen, either. It's cruel and unusual to ignore your child to the point of feeling they don't care if you exist or not. But... I couldn't keep waiting on them to care. Any of them. I was distraught and mourned the idea of them, the good times, and just feeling cut off from the "normal" world who had good families.
Please do not let people like that destroy you just because *they* don't care.
I wish I knew some way of getting in touch personally, because you've become someone important. You helped me realize I was killing myself with holding back everything I was really feeling inside.
Thank you so much. I hope that you can find hope again... and again, as many times as is needed.

Link to Priscilla's page on "Enlightened Witnesses"