Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Road To Restoring Lives

Over the years there have been many important things started in our horse lot. This Thursday the most important thing to happen yet will begin.

Ashley Edwards will have her first session training law enforcement to better communicate with severely traumatized victims of abuse. I will be assisting. She will start out with a round pen demonstration and then each investigator will enter the ring and learn how much more effective using prey animal body language is than using their natural predator body language.

They will learn to apply the lessons of the round pen to their investigations.

The bottom line is simply that severely traumatized people naturally respond to prey animal communication and are repelled by predator animal communication styles. This lesson is really driven home when patients in the ptsd program in our local Veterans Hospital come out to work with our horses. Explaining what a gesture means to a horse is much easier with this audience than it is to explain to a group of people who have had horses all of their life but know nothing of natural horsemanship.

This body language makes sense to these patients. They do not need to learn an entire new language. They just need to have a few points clarified.

In the great movie "Buck" the point is made that many of the greatest natural horseman have been what was described as "tortured souls." That is real. While those who have lived an easy life can learn to become solid horseman it is harder for them to learn to communicate with a horse than it is for those who were raised in the suburbs of Hell.

The first time Ashley came to my horse lot she walked over and began to hug and rub a young horse who was too shy to be touched by anyone. She had never handled horses before. She and the horse understood each other.

I have been prosecuting sexual assault cases and crimes against children for over fifteen years. It was in that capacity that I met Ashley when she was seventeen years old. She was brilliant, articulate, and filled with insight. Her ability to spend only a few moments with a person and then give me an accurate impression of the person's motivations, fears, and hopes is quite eerie at times. Ashley reads every signal that is given by a person whether the person has any idea that he is giving the signal or not.

It's not a cute parlor trick.

Her life depended on it. Like the horses she has developed  survival skills.

Ashley's childhood was the wost that I have ever encountered. She understands suffering and the effects of abuse as well as other young people understand that sugar is sweet. She also understands that if the system had worked as it should have her Hell would have ended about seven years sooner than it did--Seven Years. 

Her program is designed to inspire and inform professionals in the field how they can  keep that from happening to other kids. There is another component of what she teaches  for those who have been traumatized, including those with ptsd. That part of her program is called The Other Side.

Ashley is twenty years old and is in independent living in foster care. This fall she will begin studying for her paralegal certification. She has formed a company, Road To Repair, LLC so that she can reach and teach law enforcement, social workers, guardian ad litems, emergency first responders, CASA workers, and high school guidance counselors how to more effectively do their jobs.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an unbiased examiner on the issue. Ashley is one of the most impressive people that I have ever met. She recently changed her last name to Edwards and my wife and I will be adopting her.

Look at that picture above--that is what one finds on the Road to Repair--a smile--a big, broad smile. She will teach professionals how to help people get on the Road to Repair and she will directly help many more get on that Road.

This is a big deal. She has been developing this for months.

She will change lives.

I am proud to know her and I am very proud that she wanted her last name to be Edwards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Sure is great to read about a child that has truly "come out the other side". I have read about her before on this blog & was impressed by what she has accomplished. Horses and the people who love them are true miracles.