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The Tree House

Painting by Lindy Gruber

 The Tree House:

 A Place for Victims of Sexual Abuse

& Their Families to Recover Together


Sexual abuse is a devestating event for any child to live through. But for far too many children, it is not just the abuse that hurts them- it is the reality of living in a home where they are not safe.

90% of CSA victims are abused by someone they know and trust. 68% of them are abused by members of their own family. In her book “Trauma & Recovery”, Judith Herman wrote about the disruption this causes to a child’s sense of well being:

The child trapped in an abusive environment is faced with formidable tasks of adaptation. She must find a way to preserve a sense of trust in people who are untrustworthy, safety in a situation that is unsafe, control in a situation that is terrifyingly unpredictable, power in a situation of helplessness. Unable to care for or protect herself, she must compensate for the failures of adult care and protection with the only means at her disposal, an immature system of psychological defenses.

For many years, the response to children who have been abused at the hands of their own parent or caregiver has been swift and punitive. Children are removed from their families, and the legal response is often to punish both the abuser and the non-abusing parent who may have enabled it to occur. While this response may seem an appropriate form of justice, it is now understood that it is extremely traumatizing to already traumatized children.

When a child is removed from his or her home, this may remove them from the immediate danger of their abuser- but it also removes them from siblings, non-abusive caregivers, and other cherished loved ones. Even the removal of the abusive family member can feel like a loss to the child. These children are often left to recover from their traumatic experiences in isolation, and are left to deal with not only the aftermath of their abuse but the loss of everything they know. They often feel guilt for having broken apart their families.

Not only is this response non-therapeutic for children, it often prevents them from disclosing in the first place. Those who abuse them often use the threat of being taken away from their family as a way to keep them silent. The non-abusing parent is often abused herself, and is faced with not only the terror of domestic violence, but the prospect that she will lose custody of her children if she goes to the authorities.

We believe that if offered support, most non-abusing parents will ultimately take the side of their children-and preserving those relationships is vital in helping children recover. The Tree House will be a place of sanctuary for families-with the abuser removed-to recover together and restore the bonds of trust that have been broken.

Where is the Tree House?

Right now, it is in our hopes and dreams. But with your help, we can make it into a reality.

How you can help

1. Donate to TREE Climbers- a portion of your donation will go into the Tree House fund, which will help us buy the land and procure the materials we need to build the Tree House. We need to raise around $500,000 for the purchase of the land alone, so this will be our first major goal for this project.

2. In-Kind Donations- If you have gently used furnishings, toys, clothing, books, appliances- anything that you might find in a home, we may be able to use them. Please send us an email at

3.Your artistic talents-. If you are an artist, whether amateur or professional, and whatever your medium is- from painting to quilting and everything in between-please consider creating or donating one of your works to us, and help bring a joy and light into a child’s life!

4. Your labor- The Tree House is going to be a creation of love, hand built by survivors and those who support them. If you are willing to get your hands dirty and donate some of your time and hard work, you can literally help build a dream.

5. Sharing our vision- Even if you are not in a position to donate anything, you can help us by spreading the word! Share our story, and our ideas for the Tree House with the people you know.

Every bit of support gets us one step closer to creating a safe place for victims to heal, and one step closer to a world that is worthy of it’s children.

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