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Vienna Presbyterian Abuse Victims Take Stories to Stage

The victims' monologues will be included in "The Goddess Diaries," opening at GMU on Oct. 7.

Two victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a former employee have written personal monologues that will be performed in front of a live audience at next week.

The monologues are just two in a collection of eight monologues that are included in the latest production of "The Goddess Diaries," the brainchild and labor of love of Oakton resident Carol Campbell.

The production, soon-to-be performed in its fifth iteration, shares narratives, written by women and read by women, about different stages and seasons of their lives. The stories range from funny to heartbreaking, soulful to somber.

Cindy Hamblen, who will for the first time as part of "The Goddess Diaries," admitted she is a little nervous about talking about her experience as a victim of sexual abuse.

"I was 17," said Hamblen, now 26. "There were other girls who were as young as 13 and 14."

Hamblen was , a former student ministries director at Vienna Presbyterian Church. De Vries was from the church in 2005. 

"The church did not support us at all in the beginning. The one girl who came up very publicly got a target put on her back," said Hamblen, a kindergarten teacher for Fairfax County. "The people throwing the pitchforks were the church members. It was a hostile community."

Another victim, Hamblen's close friend, has also written a monologue for "The Goddess Diaries," but has chosen to remain anonymous. That monologue will be performed by actress Alex Giller.

"I feel like a medium for the story," said Giller, 20, a junior at George Mason University. "She’s not concerned with me telling her exact story exactly as she felt it, exactly as she lived with. She concerned with me giving an interpretation of it — which is her story, but also a more universal story, as well."

It took Hamblen and her friend two bottles of wine and eight hours to initially put these stories down on paper.

"I don’t think I could do it alone, but I was able to do it with her," Hamblen said. "It’s the story that has molded me into who I am. It is a part of who I am. I don’t do it as a shameful thing that happened to me any more. I’m proud that I survived it. I’m proud of the strength I’ve gained having gone through this because it wasn’t an easy road."

Campbell, who helped edit and curate the monologues, said including Hamblen's story in this production was an easy choice.

"It helped her feel like it was a safe place to go," Campbell said. "When we take a story, I’ll go through a questioning process to help flesh out the storytelling process. It becomes a cathartic experience for the teller. It’s like theater is therapy."

It doesn't make the prospect of performing in front of a packed house any less intimidating, though, Hamblen said.

"I had a dream that it went really really bad and I forgot my lines and it was really awful. I just have to trust that it’s going to be alright," she said. "God has me doing this for a reason. He wouldn’t let me fail. I have to trust that."

"The Goddess Diaries" will be performed at the Harris Theater on the George Mason University campus at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 and Oct. 8. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $5 for George Mason University students.

Becky Ianni September 28, 2011 at 02:42 PM
I applaud the courage of these two women for telling their stories. I too was abused by a religious figure as a child. The more these stories are told the more other victims will be encouraged to come forward and begin to heal. It took me 40 years to be able to talk about what happened to me at the age of nine, I hope that any victims that see this play will realize that they are not alone and that there are others who understand. Becky Ianni Washington, DC/Virginia SNAP Director SNAPVirginia@cox.net

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