El Chess: Healing Herself and Helping Others to Heal Themselves

We cannot ignore the high incidence of child abuse in our country nor can we look the other way at the impact abuse has on the child and the adult survivor. 

Here are some facts:*

          2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States.

          1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.

          Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violence crime.

          90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68% are abused by a family member.

          About 80% of 21-year-olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

          Approximately 5 children die every day because of child abuse.

 And here are some consequences of adults who were abused as children:  **            

          Physical health problems

          Emotional health problems


          Alcohol and substance abuse

          High risk sexual behavior

          Eating disorders

          Intergenerational transfer of abuse and neglect

          High risk sexual behaviors

My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime El Chess, suffered horrific abuse as a child. Her earlier years were fraught with degradation, deprivation, neglect, emotional abuse and dehumanizing conditions. It has been her lifetime commitment to do the deep inner work of breaking the constraints of shame, speaking the unspeakable and  learning to love herself that has forged her path towards living a fulfilling, happy and successful life today.

El’s goal is to share the practices and teachings that have helped her thrive so that others may also live happy lives.  El has worked hard to create the first ever 12 step program called Adults Abused Anonymous which meets weekly in Santa Rosa and very recently published her book Adults Abused as Children.

You can contact  El Chess at ellinchess.com and adultsabusedaschildren.com.

There are two stand alone shows on this page. Scroll down to listen.   

By Roberta Teller


First hour


Second hour




Elaine Leeder: My Life with Lifers


My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime was Elaine Leeder professor of Sociology and the Dean Emerita of the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University.  And while Elaine’s career encompasses roles as a professor, teacher, psychotherapist, consultant, author and advocate for social justice, Elaine has a deep commitment to the work she has done within the prison system and a special affection for the Lifers she has worked with who live their lives behind bars.     

Today’s show is about this often unspoken topic and the invisible and all too often forgotten people we consider to be the throwaways, the misfits and the incorrigible ones.  It’s a show about the prison system and the men that live, work and die there and yes, as we you will learn from her story, sometimes grow, learn and transform themselves.

Elaine’s latest book, My Life with Lifers Lessons for a Teacher: Humanity Has No Bars is a testament to the power of how education and self-help programs can be catalysts for redemption and transformation even for those who have committed horrible crimes. My Life with Lifers is actually a very uplifting and encouraging book about how even under the most dire of situations one can find peace, acceptance and freedom.  There are lessons here for all of us.

By Roberta Teller