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Lorene began working on Broken Branches out of her own experience of sibling abuse, her healing through that experience, and an understanding that people will continue to harm and be harmed until we bring the conversation of sibling abuse into the open.
At the age of 18, Lorene met her first of many therapists as she tried to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with her. Anxiety, fear, depression, lack of self-worth, and a feeling that she was never good enough haunted her. She used alcohol and marijuana to fly above it or numb herself. She felt like she was standing in front of an open door, and on the other side was an eternal black abyss. And she could not understand why. She never seemed to find a cause, a starting point, a root for the deep despair that she lived with. So she continued to see therapists, because somehow she knew … there must be a reason.
It wasn’t constant – she had love, joy, friends, work, creativity, and a beautiful son. But the dark times, when they came, overshadowed everything good, making all of it a lie; she felt she didn’t deserve the good stuff. In therapy groups, she was struck by how strongly she identified with abuse survivors; their shame was similar to the shame she lived. But she hadn’t been abused; her parents didn’t hit her, there were no “strange uncles”. But it was there, hidden. As a child, she’d been taunted, humiliated and belittled; choked until she couldn’t breathe, many times in many ways. But she didn’t know it was abuse. Because it wasn’t a parent or an uncle, a stranger. It was her sister. It was just … normal. Then, in her mid-30’s and contemplating suicide, a therapist said it. That was abuse. It wasn’t normal. And everything started to make sense.
Trauma has a way of sticking around, creeping into every area of a life. It would be many years, many more tears, a great deal of searching and the love and friendship of many ‘angels’ before light reached the open door. She slowly came to realize that there was nothing wrong with her. She had been harmed.
She dug in and started researching. When she realized that she wasn’t the only one, that this was bigger than just her family, she knew she needed to do something about it. The real issue is the normalization of sibling abuse. The world simply accepts kids harming other kids – if they are siblings. And the harm impacts the survivors throughout their lives. But nobody was talking about it. A conversation was desperately needed.
As an actor with training in Drama in Education, Lorene knows the power of theatre to teach and incite social change, to move and challenge intellectually and emotionally. She is also a counsellor, and has witnessed many people’s search through their darkness, difficulty, success and joy. It was clear that writing a play – exploring the issue of sibling abuse through characters and their stories – was the obvious, most exciting and most powerful means by which to raise awareness.
Thus, the journey that would become Broken Branches had begun. Welcome! She looks forward to sharing these stories with you.
Check it out! Lorene was a recent guest on CBC's The Current, talking about sibling abuse.
Lorene wishes to thank the many people who have supported and encouraged her while creating and developing this project. A special thank you to those who have shared their stories, as difficult as that sometimes was. Those stories are what keeps her going.
And a special thank you to the following for helping to bring Broken Branches through the first phase of development, culminating in its first public reading:
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