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Timmins woman gains courage to speak about sexual violence


Michelle Mailloux’s healing path after enduring sexual violence as a child and as an adult led her to join a project that united several other victims of violence with singer-songwriters.

The group is called Chorus of Courage, and it produced the album, ‘Always By Your Side.’

Led by Cindy Doire -- also a native of Timmins -- Chorus of Courage met last summer for a retreat at Limberlost Forest in Huntsville.

The survivors were paired with the artists to share whatever they felt comfortable talking about. Lyrics were composed in response to what the songwriters heard.

“I found so much healing in going to this Limberlost Forest,” Mailloux said.

“Spending time in nature and mindful practices and journaling and just getting to know the other survivors, the four artists, singer-songwriters, the facilitators, the chef who worked in the kitchen -- all the folks were all there for different reasons … Everybody has their own story.”

“I think it was a project that has been an evolution and growing for quite some time and many, many conversations led to it,” said Doire, who is also a psychotherapist.

“I think often survivors are holding onto the burden of their experiences in isolation and I think when we can come together and hold it together, there’s a deep level of processing and integration that can happen.”

Always By Your Side was released in March, but Mailloux waited until now to talk about it to highlight Sexual Violence Prevention Month, which is the month of May.

Michelle Mailloux is a survivor of sexual violence who found the courage to take part in the Chorus of Courage, a project that paired singer/songwriters with survivors to create the music album called, ‘Always By Your Side.’ (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)

Much of Mailloux’s work experience includes working for sexual assault centres and women’s shelters and helping other victims. She hopes the music on Always By Your Side helps make others feel less alone and encouraged to seek support.

“There's a song in particular … about my experience in my story and at the end of the song --it's everybody from the project saying, ‘I got you, I got you’,” said Mailloux.

“So we want to extend that…to say it's OK to feel what you're feeling and I've got you -- somebody's got you. There are services and people out there who can help you work through what you're wanting to work through and whether that looks like.”

“There are songs of beauty and hope and shining and love and taking your time,” said Doire.

“Considering what it holds, you would think it would be like a really heavy album and I would say it just it honours the entire spectrum of experience and emotion.”

The album is also about the power of making connections. Mailloux invites other victims to reach out to her directly.

She plans to attend local markets, as well, with her ‘Mimi’ dolls that she sews with pieces of fabric she reuses from old clothing.

The dolls come with the message to find light and love within yourself, even if you think it’s out. Top Stories

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