"Nobody can guide you up a mountain they themselves have not climbed" ~ Rob Bell

Christy Heiskala

Mama Bear, Survivor, Thriver, & Victim Advocate

In 2007, I walked my sweet little girl to school as usual and went to work. That night her dad picked her up, she jumped in the car visibly upset and blurted out, "my teacher touched me inappropriately." Life changes instantly when you are faced with something like that. It is so surreal. I had so many thoughts and questions spinning around in my head. I believed everyone would feel the same horror and sense of urgency that I did. I expected answers to be easy to find and that justice would be served swiftly. I was sadly mistaken.

I spent the next eight years navigating the criminal and civil justice system. Even though I had the best lawyers in the country, I felt alone and lost throughout the whole process. Every conversation with my attorneys left me with more questions than answers. My attorneys were wonderful humans with kids of their own, I liked them and trusted them. However, that did not make them any less intimidating. I didn’t understand their legalese and I was too proud to admit my ignorance. I was successful and a leader in my field but didn’t have a clue about the litigation process.

I spent numerous sleepless nights searching the internet for answers, sometimes not even knowing what I was looking for. I didn't want to bother my attorneys every time I had a question. I knew their time was valuable and better spent building a strong case for my daughter. I wished there was some type of support person I could call that would translate the legalese and explain to me what was going on and what to expect in a way that I could understand, as a mom in crisis mode. I wanted to speak to someone who understood the situation from my perspective, someone who had been in my shoes.  

I am self-reliant, tenacious, and a fighter and yet sometimes I was brought to my knees. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. There were moments I wondered if it was all worth it. Now I can say with conviction that knowing what I know now, I would do it again. My daughter and I made it through, from victims to victors.

I emerged from the situation determined to fill the void I felt going through the process. There is a need for victim advocates to help people through both criminal and civil cases. I’ve learned a lot from personal experience and professional training and continued education. I want to help survivors by being a bridge to resources and helping them navigate their path forward.

I’ve made it to the other side and you can too!

Christy Heiskala Changemaker of the Month.JPG
Thank you for all you do to protect children, empower women, and fight rape culture.
— Heather Robert, Health Educator and Mother
Christy, I honor you with the I Leap Award for speaking for those who have been abused. You take a stand for children and all people living healthy, abuse-free lives. You are a woman of action. I admire your courage and perseverance.
— Dana Bristol-Smith, Executive Director, Leap to Success