Michelle M. Kang is the founder and president of One Life One Heart, a nonprofit organization which helps underserved sexual abuse survivors by offering culturally sensitive community support. She has dedicated herself to creating safe spaces where survivors can feel heard, regain their self-confidence, and fulfill their purpose in life.
Michelle was born in South Korea, she has PhDs in Linguistics and Education, and she is the current Dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Saigon International University in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. In this episode she talks about how the trauma of childhood sibling sexual assault affected her, and the powerful role that faith has played in her healing. She discusses the work that she does with One Life One Heart and shares her passion for supporting survivors.
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I finally realized that all my fear and my uncomfortable feeling with the people of from that you know traumatic event that was the beginning that was the beginning of my healing journey and that was the beginning of me thinking about helping other survivors [Music]
thank you [Music] hi there thank you so much for joining me I'm hakatay and this is finding okay a healing podcast for survivors of sexual assault and any and all abuse today I'm joined by Michelle M Kong Michelle was born in South Korea and she is the current dean of the school of foreign languages at Saigon International University in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam a Survivor herself Michelle is the founder and president of one life one heart International a non-profit organization which aims to help underserved sexual abuse Survivors by offering culturally sensitive Community Support she has dedicated herself to creating safe spaces where survivors can feel heard regain their self-confidence and fulfill their purpose in life and now it's time for [Music] trigger and content warnings for this episode include the following trauma abuse PTSD sexual assault child abuse incest religion and spirituality please check in with yourself and make sure you're all right to continue so thank you so much for joining me today and some I'd like to begin by asking are you okay
I yeah I am more than okay I am feeling excellent I mean just for today I am exhausted because we have been hosting a international on International evaluation education evaluation team for a week for a week so today was the last day so I feel exhausted but in terms of uh you know sexual abuse and my healing I am feeling excellent wonderful and I would love to hear a compliment that you've received that you have never forgotten
um when I was in undergraduate school one of the instructors said to me you have eyes like a deer uh I I can't yeah I can't forget that yeah that comment uh I didn't ask what do you mean but I still remember that because I think she was the only person who said that so I still remember it it's a long time ago and still remember yes it's funny the things that just stick with you you know yeah and maybe maybe uh maybe two more people talked about my eyes but yeah that's the comments that I still remember very clearly so but at the back in the days I was really shy so I didn't ask what do you mean I just remember what she said and what is your favorite color or color combination and what do you associate with it I thought very very hard about that because I actually just feel it's very difficult to answer the question what is your favorite color because I enjoy multiple colors you know always it's very difficult to answer a question what is your favorite what is your yeah what is the most it's really difficult but I would just say because you asked me I would say pink you know pink different levels of uh Pink the different yeah levels of a pink the color pink um and I relate and I related the relate associate a beautiful and peaceful world with it and there there is nothing like a violence or whatever it's so beautiful and wonderful and that's that kind of world yeah I like that I often I haven't heard that Association but that that actually it makes a lot of sense so I like that I switched the little Moon lamp in the background to Pink for you yes oh thank you for that you know you you think about cherry blossoms so yeah kind of a pink it's so amazing so I like all kinds of um pink nice uh what five things best represent you as a person uh by the sage it should be you you mean uh things uh opposites or just anything it can it can be they don't have to be tangible like you go go with your gut and like whatever whatever you want it can be a song it can be you know family or like it doesn't have to be tangible so it's entirely up to you since you mentioned song that's yeah that gives a new hint uh first of all yeah I listed yeah I made some list so a thirst thirst for learning yeah I am I always have researched for learning I just enjoy learning just about anything and that was me I mean since uh since I was very young um and I enjoyed doing it so it's kind of weird and desire to help those in need yeah I am just I am ready to help actually but now I know that some people don't enjoy your your you know help some some people don't want it so I need a permission before I get to take action I I just learned it so now I don't take action immediately I ask if I can help so that's something different but anyway I am ready to help um the third thing is that I pursue Beauty uh both visible and invisible so it's a you know Beauty by Beauty I don't really mean beautiful faces like somebody right right just how can I describe it like yeah it's beautiful mind a beautiful color beautiful flowers or whatever it is whatever they are beauty is what I yeah pursue uh because of that I also always care about myself because uh you know how I look affects others right uh if if I don't if I look terrible they are not happy I make others you know unhappy so yeah I take care of myself uh the first one will be striving for excellence uh once I choose to do something I just want to be the best
um but what if I don't choose I don't care so that's that's me so I think God what has been so patient to wait until I understand what he wants me to do because I ignored it when I finally decided to do it everything changed and so so Excellence uh excellence in what I choose to do and the the fifth one is uh you know pursuing sincerity and honesty and authenticity that kind of thing I hate I hate to like people Etc so if I really have to uh I it's a it's not a lie but if I have to say something that I think I have to say something else then I I try hard to find anything so I can relate to it right in that case I don't lie to people right yeah I have something that I can provide so it's not a lie so I really have that kind of mind if I say something that is not true or I I keep thinking about it yeah yeah that's me that's me I love I love the all like all of your answers are tangible and that they were all like core values that's really beautiful thank you thank you and um I would love to know what are three Essentials to your self-care uh first of all reading I read a lot uh so reading like a reading uh print books or uh listening to audiobooks whatever formats it is whatever modality it is I I enjoy reading the second thing is I enjoy outdoor activities whether it is a sports or gardening or whatever enjoy outdoor activities and the third signage I enjoyed traveling yes although the three things are at the top
do you have a garden at home at the moment no but in the future that's it but uh but come to think of it AI one time I wanted to be a musician but I you know didn't didn't say anything you know oh that's weird what are the five things and also what are the three Essentials I didn't include the music that's weird anyway and music is mean also music what kind of music do you listen to um all kinds but one one time uh like in my um things I wanted to be an opera singer so music is me and but I in the list I didn't even mention anything related to music for about two years no I'm so glad you mentioned it now it's it's it's so important and it's so healing yeah it's wonderful do you play an instrument
I I am yeah I am vocal over you know playing so um yeah just a little about playing piano very little and some other things but yeah I haven't focused on any particular thing yeah but I if I have to I'll try to make time to learn something yeah nice then I would uh yeah I'd love to know more about you and and what you do so if you can tell me a little bit about that so I am an administrator at a university uh located in the hochini Sydney Vietnam uh so I have been serving in this education institution since 2014 so it's been quite a while um I've learned a lot and I and and so my role and responsibilities I discovered myself about my strengths and areas of improvements so areas for improvement so it was a very very rewarding uh Journey here
and then uh I have two phds um so in between yeah in between I also uh who I was in marriage and I had three kids because my ex husband wanted three kids uh I wanted one but he wanted the three kids and then I I just accepted it that's why I had the mama with three kids but they're all Now with uh with a father with their father uh so I'm by myself and I really enjoy being on my own it's just so much precious every single moment it is so precious I mean just every day every moment I am just just growing so so precious I thank God every time every day uh I yeah I might struggle but that it's not because of me but because of other things uh so that's that's a challenge but I myself I know I myself is growing every day so when I am you know angry or when I feel I am challenged that's not me that's not from me but from my environments and surroundings and other people yeah so that's a huge challenge I think that's important to have that that centered self and you know and then circumstances are what they are and yeah sorry yeah I I cannot help with the screen it should be like this but but then I have to pull it in my phone so it's very difficult so sorry about me whatever works whatever works is totally fine don't worry about it okay um yeah so I I would love to know uh uh more about your degrees what degrees do you hold do you mentioned two phds which is incredible one is from South Korea uh English Linguistics from English to Linguistics and the other is from the US um I got my pH second PhD in education wow were you always interested in linguistics growing up or how did that how did that happen as Linguistics and education also I began with the linguistics uh it was not actually based on what I really wanted it was based on what I could choose back in the days yeah so at that time I wanted to study something else but then I could not choose it so that was that that was finally what a right chose okay and then and then I became an educator uh then I realized that I need to study education to be an educator so yeah that was a motivation to get back to school and study more um but uh everything is related to education I'm not sorry the language language language teaching even even in education program my focus was literacy and it's other language second language learning so you know everything I studied is related to languages and language teaching and learning wow and I'd love to know more about your non-profit the name of my non-profit is one life one heart so based on my own lived experience I just chose that name I created that name one by phone art we have one life and we have one heart it's very precious just one thing uh how are you gonna take care of that right so and it's you right you cannot delegate your responsibility about yourself to others they're gonna make it horrible right maybe or or maybe doing better I don't know but anyway I would not delegate my responsibility so it's I think it's very very important and that's why also it's presence when something is just that that that's it then it's very precious so every single person is is a precious and important that's because they are individually or the only thing right it's very very precious so that's how created the name of the non-profit uh our goal is providing community-based program for uh for particularly the underserved the underserved um a sexual abuse survivors so I said Community Based so there are Parts in the program they can adapt based on the cultural norms in within their community so not everything but partly they can adapt uh the program the way they want they cannot change everything right because our program is our own property intellectual property so they can but they can partly so we we mentioned that in the agreement license agreement um yeah so that's one thing we are doing uh can I ask more about the cultural adaptation uh are you able to give me an example I'm very curious um sure So within a community you know there are do-gen domes uh and also there are kind of noise especially in the US and then it's there is a diversity wherever you go uh in almost all states there is a diverse study and they are coming from all around the world and they make one Community but just just um geographically or physically they live in the same Community but then when you actually get into that Community there is a diversity right how can you how can you uh serve people from all different backgrounds but then uh making creating one community so I wanna I wanted to provide a program that could accommodate uh the diversity in terms of culture so that anybody nobody nobody might be left out uh I I just wanted to develop a program because uh throughout my healing journey I actually didn't try so many different kinds of programs or you know uh intervention Etc I you know but I tried just to some like and I tried only some try to talk with some people my the number is very very limited I mean to me but then I was very unsuccessful so that experience uh helped me understand
who understand the people that I have to talk to when it comes to Healing they they should they need to have the kind of heart they need to have the kind of ears they need to have the kind of mouse Etc they need that so in one word we say we might say empathy right so it's very important so but then once uh people who are coming from all different backgrounds make one Community they also get to be assimilated right so that's how they make they probably develop their own culture again um so anyhow um there are Parts they can you know they can adapt our program so that they can incorporate their own culture into that program like a language for example when you when you respond to somebody it's different right if you go to Japan if you go to China or Vietnam depending on the cultures yeah people can be dragged specific or people can live indirect just to quiet and listening Etc so just if people don't understand the diversity of a culture they just misunderstand and just judge other people from other backgrounds and just just shut the door of a conversation and that that would be it apps no yeah it's difficult to to provide uh such such an incredibly sensitive support um when you are misstepping culturally um possibly causing offense so yeah that makes a lot of sense yeah but the good news is that anyhow where coming from you live within in a community and you become a part of that community and you know time gives you time gives you an opportunity to be assimilated right so that's how wherever you are coming from you become a part of that community so I thought that it's possible uh that people within one community can use our program the way they can benefit from it because somehow they can adapt our program there are core volunteers and volunteer on-site other volunteers the core volunteers can be trained by us we provide the volunteer training for core volunteers and then and then after that poor volunteers can run our program within their community so they for example they recruit the volunteers they will uh train their volunteers because we provide volunteer training guide and yeah etc etc but then if they need our help we are willing to help absolutely um what else and we also you know we want to serve the mental health needs of sexual abusive survivors mental health needs because we are focusing on healing and empowerment not as a medical expert but as a non-medical expert so we are not actually focusing on you know um counseling we are focusing on observation uh providing uh feedback and then maybe because this is a community-based program uh the participants may want to move to the next step so maybe they can go to a clinic right like a professional Clinic hospitals or any kind of Intervention Program so our program is like is is very very yeah like a lay person based right because I I'm not MediCal person but I know a lot about language and culture so through those instruments using those instruments I help people to discover where they are what they want or what they need to do for their journey to healing and empowerment so we want them to find out what is the next step for them right so we don't Focus On Healing we focus on listening and and providing feedback because we are going to observe what they are doing in our program yeah I like that a lot so someone you know would be able to to seek that like medical or professional you know support elsewhere and then through you be able to connect with other survivors and have a like a sense of community support which is um incredibly important and personally in my own healing Journey um I I ended up having a lot of that more like professional help and it left me feeling really disconnected because I wasn't able to to speak with other survivors and feel like the person sitting across for me understood firsthand um you know what I was talking about you know it having both I think would be extremely beneficial so yeah and I'd love to um I'd love to transition to to ask about your story and um and in your healing Journey my story uh my story is horrible because one of my eldest brother one of my brothers actually became a perpetrator so we didn't within a family I mean he's not my step step brother he's my own brother and uh because he and I were 12 years apart he was already like an adult and when I was only four or five he is already a teenager and and also he was a you know he was living and going to school in another city sometimes he was his back home and and he did that kind of things too so you know he was a teenager he had helped he probably had a lot of uh you know curiosity about body right and hormone only human he's going through in his body is a different now Etc so you know so yeah I mean I still don't feel like I forgave him about the other perpetrator I don't care but when it comes to my own brother I don't feel like I forgave him I cannot I just I just leave them up to my God I always I always say to my God I don't care I just you do whatever you want I I cannot say anything about that guy yeah and I I have I haven't been I haven't been uh I haven't visited my hometown uh since 2008. because he is now is living with my mother in my hometown hmm yeah in South Korea my mom now is Alone Home in my hometown and my eldest brother together with his wife moved moved into my mother's house and they live together so I never want to visit yeah yeah that kind of thing is happening to my life can I I don't want to see it no of course not um can I ask if uh if you ever disclosed that abuse to your family do they know I have never talked to anybody never okay never and can I ask um what what age were you when the abuse stopped how long how long did this go on uh between the age of five and seven yeah it didn't go too long but that was a kind of a beginning of me experiencing sexual abuse and that made me so vulnerable and uncomfortable I know uh getting along with the people and yes so it was the beginning of my tragedy in my life and and when I was in maybe in my grade fifth grade I even tried to destroy my memory capacity so it was horrible come to think of it so horrible so that affected me so negatively uh so finally when I was uh in my late teens I couldn't even remember couldn't remember uh so minor scenes because of my effort to destroy my memory so it was just so terrible and tragic so you were focusing on trying to block out or race exactly okay yeah exactly so okay nothing happened I mean in my life there was no such thing as like a childhood I don't have anything like that I just kept you know uh like a like what is it that the um yeah I kept saying to me like that and that affected us so much to my memory capacity and when I finally was in you know late teens and or even in my college I had so much trouble remembering things it was horrible especially in the presentation you know or a presentation I just forget and and I cannot remember what I have to say right it's just it's harder it's it's harder um it's just like a horror movie and then that gives that gives me or you know fear uh when I next time when I have to do the same thing right what if I make the same mistake right what if I don't remember again so now I'm absolutely fine but it was so much yeah so much terrible so terrible I didn't understand what's going on in my life why I had to go through uh so many ups and downs and that kind of uh challenging Etc and always why what's not a regular churchgoer but always I talked to God what and I asked God what is your purpose why did you bring me here and made me go through this what is it and just yeah that that is what happens and then finally when I when I've been through everything and realized something so beyond my understanding I just cannot unders cannot understand the the immense patience and love and Etc it's just so much to me I don't feel I deserve that kind of love you do um yeah so I just thank you I just thank God and and from my experience also I learned that you know God does not give people challenges I think he he chooses people who can bear with those kind of challenges he's going to send um and and then at the same time he patiently Waits until they realize what what the challenges are for it's just amazing I cannot say how I feel yeah actually I mean this is the the perfect opportunity I did want to ask um what role uh religion or spirituality you know plays in your healing and um yeah so we love you so much if you if you want to take a moment to to talk about um how that has helped in your healing or or what role it plays um I want to make space for that so like I said before you know I was not happy I didn't understand why I had to go through so many drop uh challenges and so much trouble I didn't try to think that God was loving me I just kept asking the same question what what is it why is it why is it for me why do I deserve it it's all kinds of questions requested um but then he never left me alone in the way I couldn't get out of
a trouble always when I was in a kind of a trouble he gave me something through which I couldn't get out of it it's just so amazing for example it's a very simple example but uh for example one time I still remember in my bank account I had only like maybe less than ten dollars or something so I I thought how can I how can I survive the next day there was a place I could get money so I I don't it's just very small things but it was like this yeah so there was never one thing one one time he just left me alone and just didn't care now always when I was in trouble it's just a moment and just a little while he gave me something and I got back out of it so it's amazing and but still I didn't delayed everything that's happening in my life to God I didn't relate it to God but but when I was in the doctoral program at Iowa Iowa State there was a kind of a challenging and complicated moment and my dissertation chair I thought might be in trouble because of me so I was a test for it and I I hated it I hated it because I I don't like uh any kind of situation that made other people in trouble because of me so I was very desperate and that made me go to church I just walked Walked to the church myself nobody asked me to go to church I did it myself because I wanted to pray to God I wanted to beg pray to God to help her not me to help her but then oh my God he I just I just needed on it was a December and I kneeled on on the very cold floor the the the floor is not even wooden floor it's just a cement floor or whatever so it was very very cold I was I nailed and like for an hour uh I just prayed maybe because I was desperate I just wanted to I wanted something I wanted to hear something or whatever but then something happened what something me is that he he took me to where I was with my you know uh sexual abuse so I didn't understand why yeah I am praying I am praying to you for my um dissertation or divisor you know why do you take me there I didn't understand uh but that was just a moment and just immediately I finally realized that all my fear and my uncomfortable feeling with the people of from that you know traumatic event that was the beginning that was the beginning of my healing journey and that was the beginning of me thinking about helping other um Survivors by doing something so yeah so uh yeah because you asked me about the religion so religion at the moment not at the time at the moment is is everything to me religion is in the center of everything I am doing in the center of who I am yeah it's just everything and did you did you grow up going to church or is that something no that came later no it it came later and when I was in like uh in the first first grade yeah there was a first church in my little town there was a first church established being established my grandmother back then was a Buddhist she was a Buddhist and she didn't want me to go so so okay so and then in high school I had a chance to go to church you know so from high school I began going to church but not as a regular Church School I was never a regular Church goer until uh I reached my uh 40s
because I I never related what whatever happened in my life to God I never related my life to God at the time I just asked to keep I kept asking so many questions to him why did you bring me here well what is the purpose yeah it's the same question I kept asked the same question asking the same question uh because my my uh life back then was not happy many brothers and sisters and they were like uh tyrants
um and also my my parents also going or going through you know ups and down with their business yeah it was it was not my teenager my childhood was not really happy moment to me so I kept asking the same questions why did you bring me here what's your purpose I never asked you to bring me here which is so many kinds similar questions yeah do you have a sense uh of that that answer or or or purpose now what is that for you or are you still asking um at the right now I don't ask because already I yeah I heard all kinds of answers absolutely and even even when I don't ask questions he he uh he keeps reminding me of many things for example I have a bigger goal and at the moment I achieved the small goal and then I am very complacent then it just it it pops it to my mind okay this is not your goal okay this is not your goal your goal is out there okay so it's something like that is I mean
so he it feels he's always or so with me around me
um he doesn't communicate with me through human language but uh he makes me feel yeah he makes me feel he's loved that's so precious and on undescribable most of the time yeah thank you so much for sharing that I know I know that that's deeply personal and um and I just so appreciate you talking oh if you are not if you are not Christian I am Catholic I I apologize I am so happy oh my gosh no I I love talking to to people from from all different faiths um and I mean personally I'm I'm Buddhist and Pagan um as you know both both and um you know and for for me it's Divinity is Divinity and it takes many forms for many different people and I love hearing from all sorts of different people and if spirituality has been healing to them then I I love to give them a chance to to talk about that healing and the place that it uh that it holds for them uh so that other survivors can can hear and uh and maybe it will help them and you know and they'll find something that they're looking for so um absolutely um yeah I mean it's funny because I don't know I mean is it isn't it like a chance because what if there was a temple instead of a church when I was in my first grade right because the first church was established when I was first grade in my little town and I was interested in that building okay so what what my people do in in that building Etc what if there was a temple right instead of a church then probably I might be interested in Temple maybe right yeah maybe it's a chance it's a chance yeah but anyway got I got uh came to me first right yeah so that's how I met God so yeah well and and that's personally how how I feel is is is that God um you know whatever form it takes for for anyone that that it it takes the form that it's meant to take for for each person so you know like different places it comes down in different ways different houses for you it was a church you know for for me it was a temple and for someone else it's a mosque like that you know that it it takes the form it needs to take and um you know if it takes any form at all you know that that it's all it's to me God means love um and Love Takes so many forms and some yeah and that's yeah you know and I think that's beautiful so yeah
so I'd love I'd love to ask uh where have you found the most uh support in your healing Journey uh have you know have has therapy been a part of your journey um and just just where have you found strength and support as you've been healing aware I think
um I think I two things I can tell you one thing is reading I try I I try to read as many as possible and the other is questions to myself I kept asking questions to myself um I yeah I just I just didn't just care if I if I am doing the same thing over and over I just didn't care and just to leave myself alone I asked myself why do you do that over and over or why are you who you are all the time can you be somebody else can you be yeah can you can you be better like that right how can you be the same right isn't it boring right Etc so because how can you be the same right today if you do something you might be better tomorrow today you didn't do anything you might be worse to tomorrow Etc how can you be the same if you are alive so I keep yeah I I keep asking even nowadays I keep asking myself many questions and then and then oh yeah so yeah that process yeah makes me you know go to many places which might be the answers to my question yeah that I think that's the that's one of the things um
yeah reading and asking questions to myself I love that answer I love it like that that introspection and willingness to ask those hard questions of yourself um it's something that is so incredibly important and it's something that uh that not everyone can do um or or is inclined to do naturally um and I mean I mean I I just realized that when I was very young that I was a kind of person who kept kept asking questions because even when I was sexually obvious at the age of four for the first time I asked myself what do I have to do what but I didn't know the answer to the person but I asked my ask myself the question right I wasn't just at four but I asked Michael what do I have to do this guy kissed me what do I have to do but I didn't know absolutely yeah so that was me and that's me I keep asking myself questions yeah do you do you mind if if I ask for is such an incredibly young age um while while this was going on was there a point in time like or a period of fears that you believed that that this was normal or did you always have a sense that this was not supposed to be happening or that this was something that was wrong that your brother was doing um no that that guy was not one of my brothers uh he was just a stranger yeah just a four of for a few uh months he joins a family and yeah he lived with us uh my I I don't I have no idea what happened at the time but anyway my father yeah made the team stay with my family and that's what happened and yeah it's all about culture you know uh you know touching or you know
Converse how you conversate converse with others uh how you respond everything is about culture so you know back then uh in our culture uh you know grown-ups can you know can hug little kids and catch them Etc it was it was a lot to them they could do it because they I I mean yeah Elder the elderlies were just respected they they had some they were given some privileges they can do whatever they they could do whatever they want wanted so even though I feel uncomfortable I had to bear with it and that was a part of a cultural Loom and yeah so he was yeah older absolutely author but his what he was doing is more than I expected more than I expected them yeah more than what I expected that's why I asked myself a question what does what what is it doing what do I have to do yeah so I still remember I was only four but I did that so that that's how I uh discovered who I was and I am a kind of person who kept kept asking questions yeah it's an incredibly important quality
So yeah thank you thank you for that hmm but that helps a lot that helps me uh learn so many more that I can
and when did when did you start um talking openly about the abuse uh when I just before I flew to Vietnam uh I joined my friend who is now a vice president of my non-profit yeah so like a full for a few months he he just invited me to join his family um and then yeah he was at that time I opened my mind and began talking about my experience to him and I mean it's weird men May men it was it was it was me who abused me but then this guy was a man makes me want to open my to open the door to my heart so it's just life is worth living and life it can be horrible so yeah so that's how I got back and think differently
because until then I never thought that I could love guys male figures guys as they are so yeah so during that time I began finally I began talking to him about my abuse and it was him who always listened to me and who and I mean the way his listening was different that made me made me want to talk more about me so I mean it was just an amazing process and it was a hymn I for the first time talked about my idea to establish a non-profit too and you it was also him and that I invited to my to join my uh to join me to work together so it's just incredible and he and his family are very precious so precious
very very precious and yeah yeah so his wife and I were a part of it's a part of Oak wire church choir that's how we got to know each other yeah it was incredible and without him I don't think uh I don't think anything happened it's all him he allowed me to use his part of his property uh for non-profit etc etc it's all him yeah it's all him that made everything happen he just listened yeah and he just listened and then he just provided everything it's just amazing that's incredible so yeah my non-trap is is a part of his property actually but he he made me do it yeah he makes me do it foreign yeah those are those are the people that that are just game changers for survivors people who are yeah there to to Really listen with an open heart like a non-judgmental minds and some and support um and uh I'm so glad that you know each other yeah yeah and also as you as you know there are some people who just who who just keep changing their minds right like you flip your your hand it's just so easy to change their minds for some people he never he never changed it so so I actually had a fear what if it changes his mind right tomorrow if it changes his mind everything will become can be gone right I have a fear but he never since you know 2000 something he never changed anything so precious yeah that's incredible yeah yeah thank goodness thank goodness for these people yeah so amazing I just uh yeah I cannot describe my feeling about for that because it's just too immense too big for me so yeah I cannot describe how I feel
and I'd like to ask what do you wish more people understood about childhood sexual assault uh yeah a child um so one thing just uh one thing people can hardly figure out is that kids are the best Target they are innocent they have no idea right are they are they educated about sexual abuse how do they know what's going to happen they are so innocent they so I don't know that's they know nothing right yeah what they think is the world with lots of beautiful things because what they are saying what they're reading everything makes them think that the world is so beautiful you know think about uh think about Disney World Disney movies Etc anything for kids everything is just so wonderful yeah magic yeah it's a full of magic it's not realistic at all but then if you yeah think about you have you think about you know think about this you have a kid but then you at the age of three you wanna teach kid your kid about sexual abuse Etc right instead of the world with lots of benefits and beauty and values it's it's very challenging right uh very challenging we need to educate our kids so that they could they can protect themselves but then we don't want them want to destroy the kind of imagination about the world they can imagine it's it's hard yeah so that so that's how they are the best Target for perpetrators I mean the properties are the same people like us but then there is like a addictive right the behavior our behavior is is like addictive once you do one thing it's something you want to keep doing it again and again so it's hard I mean it's hard so we need something uh yeah something so which people are always reminded it's not kids well when it comes to child sexual abuse it's not kids they can't can they for example can they attract you right so that they can be sexually abused it's not possible at all it's not possible it's not even possible to imagine that kind of situation so it's all about grown-ups when it comes to uh Childers of pure abuse so we need some kind of instrument or or channel channel or whatever through which adults grown-ups are always reminded
of course there are still challenges because we are very different you know or what we want from our lives can be very different right so still there are there might be bad guys and they still want an opportunity to use to take advantage of kids it's horrible people right they are horrible people yeah yeah so when it comes to yeah child abuse too many challenges because the keys themselves have no idea
I love the conversation around um language I providing children with the language that they need in order to express something is happening um you know that's part of that easy opportunity um yeah that yeah you know those those bad adults take advantage of yes I know that because of my experience I know that even in preschool kids learn how to protect themselves by using language right no say no right if somebody touches you say no right like that yeah but still yeah yeah they they are dreaming they are kids are dreaming about life their life right they not think about it they don't think about bad guys I mean also we don't as a probably as parents or as you know whoever in the family we don't want our kids to think about bad guys Dark World we will yeah that is a challenge yeah it's not really it's not real right
yeah yeah it's it's tough because you you don't want to be you know filling your a child's head with with nightmares or the idea of monsters but at the same time if you don't tell your children about monsters they protect themselves from Monsters actually there are monsters right yeah it's hard too for us because we don't want to admit that you know we it's easy for an adult to say there's no such thing as monsters and you know like you turn your head and ah exactly yeah they are
very uncomfortable um
I am very ambitious because like I said once I decide to do I want to be the best so the next step is is about my program uh we are planning to do a pilot and so I have to be back in the States and I'm gonna I'm gonna do the pilot for two or three months and we will move on from there we will we will yeah we will do everything we can I mean I mean we don't do anything terrible so we are doing we are going to do our best um
not because because we want people to know our program but because we believe that there is a something very precious in our program problem we we believe in the value of our program so we want people to know about it and they will decide right they will decide of course it's not us but we want them to know and if we can hear from them as feedback we can also keep developing our program so that's that's that's my next step
I I was not very successful like I said I was not very successful with the conversations or some programs that I I just just some poems that I tried in my little journey to Healing I was not successful that's why that gave me motivation that's why I decided to develop a program based on what I learned from my own Journey what you would have wanted yeah I like that yeah well I I hope that everything works well with the with the pilot and um and then yeah it's everything and it comes together the way that you want it to yeah we are we are working on it because yeah first of all I need a visa so yeah I'm working on that so yeah everything is uh yeah is uh ongoing and I'll see in a few in a few months I would stay at the answers yeah well and thank you many good thoughts to you in terms of Visa stuff is always such a headache so I
yeah I mean yeah I've been working on it with a lawyer and it's been months and she's gonna submit everything so yeah yeah well and I'd like to um yeah I said I said one more question but I I want to um just offer an opportunity um so uh before I ask my final question I'm going to I want to make space for something um and whenever I have a member of the bipod community on I do want to make space um for if if you would like to talk about race or racism if that has played any part in trauma or healing for you or if you want to talk about it I want to give you that opportunity and if you do don't want to discuss it that's totally okay so I just wanted to make sure that you had that opportunity if you wanted hmm
um yeah I I wouldn't mind I don't mind discussing it uh so I well I was very fortunate because I never think that I in any part of my life so far I was a victim of racism or yeah racism uh yeah that's that's also amazing oops oh can you hear me it's a low battery so yeah I'm gonna be gone it's just a just a heads up okay so if I go yeah that's it sorry about that uh so I have never been yeah a victim I just I don't know yeah I probably I look smart I look I don't look terrible so yeah people enjoyed me and just so yeah uh so never but then through education I learned that many people are you know but going through a top situation and I I and I can understand that so
oh wow yeah I mean actually many things are happening in our lives uh racism is one of them of course I don't like it uh but then when I think about myself and my life uh sometimes I question myself isn't it racism right are you a racist uh so you know unknowingly or unconsciously sometimes we become uh racist right we just don't know so we need to be aware of being somebody else otherwise we always easily cross the boundary I mean the border so we become somebody else I think so so you know for example uh uh yeah I think I have to think of think about listeners okay I would not talk about color Etc okay so yeah that's what I learned yeah okay oh this is my preference yeah yeah really so yeah I am yellow I am red okay I like red I don't like the yellow but people are not colors right people are not colors I mean even you change your color right your hair color Etc people are not colors okay you can like colors right but people are not colored you know I mean there there is so much more value that is on in incomparable right when it comes to human being you cannot compare a human to like objects right chair oh I like my chair my table oh my God so okay I mean humans are it's an incredible creature they keep changing their world I mean it's just amazing and it's you think think about thinking about human being and their Journey from the beginning until now you know so we cannot compare our fellow humans to something else and say that oh this is my preference I we should not do that okay so that's what I realized so I think we can easily cross the border we have to be very careful I think we have to be aware of it that's why reading is very important it keeps it giving us reminders
yeah any book you know comic book whatever it is there is always a story about people so those kinds of things you give us give us reminders So reading is very important if you don't like a reading you have to do something anything you have to just say anything so that you get to you keep knowing about what what what people are going through right yeah what other kinds people are all around me Etc so yeah yeah or very important I think well said expand your minds expose yourself to other people's stories that are different things on your own yeah and uh and I I love those things that you mentioned it's like reading expanding your minds and then also um very important thing that you that you mentioned like that being able to ask yourself this that question am I racist like that is as a baseline is like a really important thing to be able to do and um and I I love that people are starting to have that conversation more and you know talk about like this is a question we all need to be asking ourselves and so yeah thank you so much for talking about that I I deeply appreciate it but is there anything that you would like to say to the survivors who are listening you are the owner of you right that's that's what I want to say you are the owner of you never ever try to find somebody who can live your life or who can manage your life no no no you are the owner of you so uh and like I said you know uh one life one part you are the only one and you have your own heart nobody is sharing it with you yeah what it can be you Etc
um and and and and depending on depending on how you think about life you can even live forever right and think about you know Vincent van Gogh right he do it during his life he sold only one feasible painting but now everybody knows him he has a museum everybody is not everybody people are using his uh his paintings to make products right make bags whatever it is whatever they are so depending on how what what you want to do with your life you can even live forever so I hope um people think about the value of their life and themselves and never give up on themselves that's not easy however because they have to feel they have to feel it they have to trust or believe that they belong to themselves and they are the owner themselves they have to know that knowing it's not easy and accepting is not easy also so it they need to be patient they need to do something otherwise nobody will help them to realize that they are the they are the owner of themselves they have to find it out they have to find it out they have to do something as I said whatever it is they have to put all of themselves into something and through that process they discover themselves
yeah that's what I want to say thank you yeah and I I love that you talk about that because it it is such a journey owning yourself and knowing that uh that you belong to you after experiencing certain traumas in life so yeah incredibly important and um yeah and I I'm just so filled with gratitude thank you so much for your time thank you so much for for your truth and just like you're incredibly beautiful words and sharing so so much of your story and of yourself and um and for sharing so much of uh of the beautiful work that you're doing in the world and I'm just so grateful for for you and and everything that you're doing and for this time that we had together and thank you for for making this time with me so I really thank you for the opportunity thank you for the opportunity your time and especially your patience like I said before you know you yeah you've been very patient you tried again and again you never gave up oh that's right in the beginning with the text though yeah right man you got here we got here we did it thank you so much yeah thank you and uh thank you and have a beautiful rest of uh evening for you right yeah have a beautiful rest of your evening I'm just starting my day thank you go get more coffee you get some rest exactly exactly thank you all right thank you bye yeah take care
[Music] and hold on and hold on hold on for your life for your life for your life [Music]
Michelle M. Kang is the founder and president of One Life One Heart International, a non-profit organization. It is compliant and current with all Iowa and U.S. regulations as well as its operating bylaws and articles of incorporation. OLOH was formed to help especially the underserved sexual abuse survivors regain their self-confidence and self-esteem and fulfill their full potential for their lifetime. Michelle has been serving in her teaching career and is currently the Dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Saigon International University in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.