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Newmarket woman who survived childhood sexual abuse helps others through charity

Ellen Campbell knows what it takes to start over.

After a long road to healing herself, she wanted to empower others by sharing her story.

“I’m a survivor myself of childhood sexual abuse and I ended up in a really destructive life,” said Campbell, founder and CEO of Abuse Hurts. “I have a strong faith and I started to get help.

“I thought if I could help just one other person as I started to heal, I knew it was possible.”

Twenty-five years ago from the basement of Campbell’s home, she founded Abuse Hurts, located in Newmarket.

“It is an organization that really is to support survivors of abuse,” Campbell said. “And it’s women and men and children. It’s everything from prevention to support to support with product, as well as legislative reform.”

The national charitable organization is designed to assist approximately 100,000 individuals each year through more than 100 agencies.

“You teach people how to treat you, that’s what Ellen Campbell has taught me,” said Josie Schywiola, who volunteers with the organization. “The first time she said that, I didn’t know what she was talking about. Teach people how to treat you — now that requires speaking up, that requires saying, ‘that’s not appropriate.’

“That requires not being afraid of the bully who’s bearing down on you by saying ‘you can’t do that.’”

For many years, Schywiola has been volunteering at Abuse Hurts, whenever and wherever she’s needed. By helping others, Schywiola said she was really helping herself.

“Which is key for your own healing,” Campbell said. “Because you have to be around healthy people.”

“For me, it was overcoming the shame,” Schywiola said. “But I also listen to my heart a lot more. When I’m around something that doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right and I remove myself from that situation.”

Abuse Hurts runs solely on private donations, which makes John Derringer’s 13 Days of Christmas extra special.

“If it wasn’t for John Derringer and Q107, and the amazing listeners, we would not have the doors to Abuse Hurts open,” Campbell said.

After 15 years, Derringer’s annual campaign has raised more than $11 million in product and money for the organization.

“When people come to Abuse Hurts, more than anything else, I want them to feel loved,” Campbell said.

“I want them to feel that no matter what’s happened to you, you’re special.”

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