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January 13, 2004

Silence not always golden, deaf actress says

From: The Grand Rapids Press, MI - Jan 13, 2004

By Melissa Kruse
The Grand Rapids Press

She says silence is a predator's best friend, and she should know.

Deaf actress Terrylene was abused sexually as a child and found it hard to communicate about the encounter with adults.

But now she's making some noise.

On Saturday, the woman, who goes by only her first name, will conduct a teaching workshop on appropriate and inappropriate touching. It will be open to children and adults (a voice translator will be available to accommodate the hearing).

The 25-minute play will focus on the difference between a "good" touch and a "bad" touch and will end with a question and answer session.

The event follows her one-woman performance of "In the Now" Friday in the Northview High School auditorium. The work is an autobiographical piece about a little girl within a woman who discovers her womanhood.

"I decided to tell my story to break my silence," Terrylene through e-mail.

"I realized that I am not alone and that I need to keep telling my story to allow others to also heal from this experience ... to empower our community to create a safe place for our children."

The Santa Monica, Calif., woman said deaf children are more susceptible to sexual abuse because they cannot communicate well with adults.

"Our children cannot do anything to ward off predators as long as we are not willing to teach them that their bodies belong to them."

Terrylene's acting resume includes appearances in the film "Natural Born Killers" and on television shows "ER" and "Doogie Howser, M.D."

The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon in the Fishladder Performance and Training Center, 419 Norwood Ave. SE.

Cost for the workshop is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. A combination ticket for the 7:30 p.m. Friday performance and Saturday's workshop will cost $18.

Deaf Education Advocacy Focus Etc. is sponsoring the Terrylene performance and workshop. To get tickets, call DEAF Etc. at 732-7358. Tickets also will be available at the door.

© 2004 Grand Rapids Press.