Revealing truths about different forms of abuse

Anne Marie Amacher
Maureen Mosse listens to a story about child abuse during a tour through the Lisa Project at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport on Oct. 17.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Listeners hear a 911 call for help by a 6-year-old girl as her mother is being hit in the background by a boyfriend and the child’s siblings are crying for it to stop.

The listeners heard that cry for help as participants of the Lisa Project, held at Our Lady of Victory Parish on Oct. 20-21.

The Lisa Project is an audio tour about prevention and awareness of abuse: physical, mental, verbal and sexual abuse in addition to neglect, said Dawn Knutson, family advocate and Lisa Project coordinator for Scott County Kids.


The project was created in California but its creator had a connection with a board member in the Quad-Cities. “We looked at the website, went to California to see and tour the project and decided it was important to bring back here,” Knutson said.

Tours of the Lisa Project started this fall and have been to Bettendorf High School, Unity Point-Bettendorf, St. Ambrose University and Our Lady of Victory in Davenport. The next scheduled tour is Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.

Black drapes separate each station of the tour. Participants put on an audio headset and advance to the next station after a tone goes off. The first room shows a picture of Lisa, the project’s namesake. It was her 911 cry for help that participants heard in the first station.

The next room focuses on Ashley, who comes from a high social economic background. Pictures of her bedroom are displayed on one wall. A table with makeup, Ashley explains, is used to cover her bruises. A nightstand has a bottle of pills which she depends on to try to forget the abuse inflicted on her. She steals the pills, hoping she will not get caught.

The third room is the room of chance or luck of the draw, Knutson said, explaining that economic background or family dynamics don’t matter. Abuse can happen to anyone. Participants were asked to put their hand in a basket to draw a piece of paper describing their “luck” — physical, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, neglect or safety.

The next room focuses on Ethan. Items are strewn around the room and some items are tattered. He speaks of the neglect and verbal abuse he receives. He is hungry. The house in which he lives is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The water is often shut off.

The last room returns participants to Lisa’s story. The voice transitions from a young girl to a woman. She talks about being stuck in that same situation as an adult enduring abuse. But then she gets a wakeup call and vows to and succeeds in breaking that cycle of abuse.

The audio concludes by encouraging people to help break the cycle of abuse. Call 911 immediately if the situation is life threatening. Contact the Department of Human Services if you suspect but do not see or hear abuse. “This can be done confidentially,” Knutson said. “There are resources for families. We can help families get food, clothing, heating assistance, support and counseling.”

For a student, another resource may be the principal or counselor. Call and share concerns with them. They will contact authorities if needed.
The Lisa Project has secured funding for tours in Iowa. But a fee is required for tours in Illinois, Knutson said. The event is rated PG-13, so high school age students and older are permitted to participate in the project.

Parishioner Maureen Mosse said the project was “emotionally gut wrenching. It shows that you can survive and overcome abuse through guidance and support.”

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