Celebrating moms: Torey Ivanic

In honor of Mother’s Day, The Tot presents a series of profiles of inspiring moms who are changing the world. Torey Ivanic, author of No Big Deal, shares the story of childhood betrayal that led her to become an advocate for sexual abuse prevention…

Torey Ivanic is a holistic health consultant who lives in Golden, Colorado, with her husband, Jay, her children, Otis, 7, and Emi, 5, and their dog, cat and three chickens. Her memoir, No Big Deal, will be published in 2018.

“When I was 15, my gymnastics coach abused me. He started by “grooming” me for over a year, meaning that he built an emotional connection with me to gain my trust, and then he sexually violated me multiple times over the course of a few months. He didn’t rape me, but he raped one of my teammates for several years.

She and I reconnected after not speaking for 12 years, and in 2006 we went to the police. They brought our perpetrator in and he admitted his crimes, and so he was arrested. The trial date kept changing and the wait was incredibly difficult, but after a five-day jury trial in 2008, he was found guilty and sentenced to 43 years in prison.

Last year, I wrote a #metoo memoir called No Big Deal. For 15 years, those three words kept me from telling my family and friends about what had happened. My book is a story of hope, truth and healing, as well as the aftermath of pain. I hope that other women who have been victims of abuse will read it and see what they’ve experienced as the BIG DEAL that it is, and that it will encourage them to speak their truth so they can start a journey towards healing.

I healed by doing things that I loved – spending time in nature, doing yoga, skiing, climbing, as well as seeing a therapist who had experience in child protective services. The year after the trial, I got married and started a family.

Since becoming a mom, I see the world in an entirely different light. I became acutely aware of simple things like swearing after having children. I’d watch a movie I loved as a teenager and see horrible lessons in it that I didn’t want my children to learn. Instead of thinking about how societal influences affect me now, I think about how they affect my kids. It’s somewhat terrifying if I think too hard about it, but at the same time awareness leads to more intention.

I haven’t yet talked to my children about the fact that I was abused. I will someday, but I’m not sure when. As far as prevention goes, we talk to them about their bodies and the correct names for their anatomy. We talk about if and when it might be appropriate for adults to look at their private parts and that one of their parents should always be with them. We took an “empowered family” class that was excellent. We talked about not only physical altercations and how they can be avoided, but also verbal altercations and how to protect yourself while also trying to avoid them.

As a family, we try to approach life with a sense of adventure. That way, things stop being good or bad – they’re just the next step in the adventure. We take our kids skiing, climbing, snorkeling and camping for this reason. I try to keep them away from electronics as much as possible and direct them toward playing in the natural environment.

I’d also like to impart in them the values of truth, love and simplicity – we don’t need so much stuff and it doesn’t all need to be new.

When it comes to dealing with other people, I tell my kids: “Work it out using words, and if you can’t, go find a different friend to play with.” I won’t always be there for them, so learning to use their voices with their peers when they’re young is good practice for speaking up for themselves throughout their lives.

Life won’t always be fair, but it doesn’t do us any good to feel sorry for ourselves or to play a victim role. I want my children to know they can choose another path and it’s THEIR choice.”