One Toronto woman turned her sexual assault into a healing initiative focusing on forgiveness, and the project is sort of hilariously called FYou.
FYou: The Forgiveness Project is the community outreach non-profit Tara Muldoon founded. Through it, she works with at-risk and gang-involved men in Toronto jails. As the FYou website explains, through workshops, conversation, and by teaching them conflict-resolution strategies, she helps them unpack their own trauma and reduce the likelilood that they'll re-offend.*
It can seem a little counter-intuitive that a woman who was subjected to a sexual assault is turning her efforts not towards other survivors, but to men in prison. Narcity asked Muldoon to tell us what she was thinking.
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What's the backstory here?
"I had just moved to Toronto when I was assaulted," Muldoon tells Narcity. "I was 18 years old and I had no idea what pain that would cause and I just started acting out of anger."
As a way to combat her struggle, she wanted to focus on her career and get ahead.
"This man had raped me and he had got away with it but my version of it was that I am going to be this amazing untouchable female boss," Muldoon says, "so I put everything into work."
What prompted you to take action?
Things were going well, but seeing her abuser at a party after she had experienced career success was a major turning point, she says.
The moment at the party changed everything.
"I thought, there’s no way that he is here, this is supposed to be my success story."
Though she didn't know it right away, that moment of shock would end up being the birth of FYou.
"He did this, he knows he’s guilty, he knows he ruined me temporarily, and I thought he’s probably living in hell and I’m just gonna thrive."
"The reality was that he’s actually doing really well. So that made me realize that I had a lot of work to do."
What is your mission?
FYou, which turns 10 in December, has worked with about 500 incarcerated men so far to help them upgrade their emotional intelligence and promote healing.
"We spend about 50% of our time working with young men in custody so half of the time goes towards people who society has shunned."
"I always wanted my abuser to get support, so we put a lot of emphasis on helping and rehabilitation."
Muldoon says she loves seeing people learn to unpack their trauma and find meaningful ways to work through emotional issues while "encouraging emotional intelligence as power."
"My favourite is when people start to see that it really has to do with ourselves and not the other person" Muldoon says. "To me, that’s taking the power back.
"It’s really encouraging how you take that energy and put it back to yourself because we deserve our self care, we deserve our attention, we deserve our self love."
* This article has been updated.