Queens author helps abuse victims to heal with words

Queens author helps abuse victims to heal with words
Photo courtesy Erin Cohen
By Steve Mosco

A Glendale author used writing as a way to free herself from anger, and now she’s giving others the same chance to turn the page on their past.

Angelica Harris, the author of the sci-fi book trilogy “Excalibur” and the memoir “Living with Rage: The Quest for Solace,” decided to create the Unicorn Project-Raven’s Hope, a crisis center for abuse victims in Queens, after coming to terms with her own encounter with abuse.

A victim of child abuse and later rape, Harris hid her pain for many years, but the married mother of two came to terms with her anger and shame and now wants to help others do the same.

“It’s a place where your voice can be heard,” she said. “It’s a place where a woman can come in if she’s been beaten or raped, and we can look her right in the face while she’s crying and say, ‘It’s not your fault. We are here for you. It’s not your fault.’”

The grand opening fund-raiser for the nonprofit will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. and will include a wine and cheese party. Harris will be on hand to greet guests, discuss upcoming activities at the center and provide more information about how she was able to move forward with her life after trauma.

Harris also runs the Excalibur Reading Program, where she teaches children with special needs and their families the use of writing to express emotions. The new project will combine the reading program with the abuse center, offering multiple services to families in need.

She said the programs are designed to address different needs in the community with Mommy and Me classes and provide parents with networking opportunities while their children enjoy arts and crafts activities, music appreciation and computer games.

“While the kids are having a good time, I can facilitate and talk with moms about their kids going to preschool or kindergarten, or talk with teen mothers about enrolling in a GED program,” she said. “Attendees can become resources for each other for long-term benefits.”

The Excalibur Reading Program and Unicorn will also form parent support groups to help families with children who have special needs, such as ADHD, oppositional defiance, Asperger’s syndrome and other disorders.

“You learn that you’re not alone,” said Harris, whose son was diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome when he was 10. “By bringing together parents with common concerns, we can help support each other.”

In addition, the program will offer arts and creative writing opportunities for adults and children — something Harris has experience doing, as she teaches creative writing at the Queens Public Library’s program for teens in conjunction with District Attorney Richard Brown’s Second Chance Program, which aims to divert first-time nonviolent offenders from racking up a criminal records by enlisting them in community service at public libraries.

Staff at the program, at 80-17 78th Ave. in Glendale, includes preschool, reading and GED instructors as well as social workers.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.