Edmonton

Alberta musicians hope school program will give a voice to sexual abuse victims

For nearly a decade of his childhood, Alexander MacMullin suffered in silence as he endured sexual abuse at the hands of a close family friend.

'Going through this in silence is the worst thing you can do'

Jenesa and Alexander MacMullin, who make up the Alberta musical duo Jenesia, are hoping to raise awareness around childhood sexual trauma. (Jenesia/Facebook)

For nearly a decade of his childhood, Alexander MacMullin suffered in silence as he endured sexual abuse at the hands of a close family friend.

Now grown, MacMullin believes that he can use his experience to help make a difference in the lives of someone else. Along with his wife and bandmate ​Jenesa MacMullin, the two are working on an outreach program directed at Alberta students and teachers.  

"I was abused. It was a lot of the time, and it was at night," MacMullin, 25, said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It was a really difficult thing for me to deal with, especially in my later years, and I coped using drugs and alcohol.

'They're not alone'

The MacMullins — who make up the Spruce Grove-based pop duo Jenesia  — want to help others who may be going through the same struggles and facing the same decisions.

The format, which is still being developed, would include the musicians sharing their story and their music during hour-long presentations at junior and senior high schools.

The presentation would also include information about available resources for students dealing with sexual trauma, as well as for their teachers.

Jenesa MacMullin, 29, said she hopes people leave feeling supported and inspired.

"Hopefully we're leaving the place with staff being educated, students feeling empowered and, hopefully, affecting positive change," she said.

"We really want them to come away from it feeling like they have some tools and that they're not alone.

"Without resources, people don't want to speak up because they feel like it's a hopeless situation. We want to bring that awareness."

In 2017, the couple had a similar goal when they partnered with RSVP Ministries to create a DVD that also shares their experience.

Voice shares Alex and Jenesa's experiences with sexual abuse while outlying their mission to spread awareness and ultimately stop the issue from occurring in someone else's life.

MacMullin said they have started collaborating with school officials and psychologists over the past three months to ensure their program sends the right message.

MacMullin said he hopes a pilot of their lecture series will launch in classrooms before the end of this school year.

"Going through this in silence is the worst thing you can do," he said. "If I can get some kids to talk about their story with close friends and family, I know it will help."