Leadership of Pandora's Project
Pandora's Project, which operates the Pandora's Aquarium online support group, message board and chat room for sexual abuse, rape, and sexual assault victims, was founded in 1999 and is run by survivors for survivors.
More than 50 volunteers are devoted to the organization. The Board of Directors and moderating team are comprised of strong, diverse, and committed survivors of all types of sexual violence, including stranger rape, acquaintance rape, date rape, gang rape, partner and marital rape, and child sexual abuse. The staff includes therapists, teachers, published authors, advocates, a lawyer, parents, and partners. Although we do not offer professional advice or moderate Pandora's Aquarium in our professional capacities, we do bring varied and educated skills to Pandora's Project.
Additionally, we are grateful to consult with experts on sexual violence through our Advisory Board. These volunteers, with diverse qualifications in trauma, eating disorders, and mental health, provide feedback and advise us on programming, enabling us to best serve rape and sexual abuse survivors.
We are passionate about supporting rape and sexual abuse survivors, and we welcome you to get to know us.
Shannon L., JD (President and Founder)
I've been part of Pandora's Aquarium for most of my adult life, having started the message board when I was 19 in 1999. I am also a co-founder of the nonprofit that grew around the online support community. I am a survivor of an acquaintance rape, and I don't want any survivor to feel as alone as I did when I began healing.
I was named the 2009 Women of Worth National Honoree and Daily Point of Light (June 28, 2010) for my work with Pandora's Project. I am a trained domestic violence and rape advocate and an active rape awareness and education speaker. I first spoke out when I appeared on 20/20 with Tori Amos in 1999, and I am a member of RAINN's Speaker's Bureau and was selected to be part of TEAM SOAR. Additionally, I serve on the Board of Directors of An Infinite Mind.
I am an attorney, living with my husband, son, and pets. My heroes are the late Senator Paul Wellstone and Sheila Wellstone, and if I can have a fraction of the positive influence on the world that they had, I will be thankful.
Jessica S., MA (Vice-President and Pandora's Aquarium Administrator)
I joined Pandora's Aquarium in June of 2001. Being a member of the message board helped me immensely as I began my healing after being raped in April of 2001 by my neighbor, so I was honored to be asked to be a moderator in April of 2002. Helping to manage this board remains a humbling privilege. I am awed by the brave and noble people who come here to heal. I also created the website Surviving to Thriving.
My healing path lead me to return to graduate school in 2003 to earn my degree in counseling, which I did in August of 2005. Although I focused my studies on the effects of sexual assault, I am not a practicing clinician. Shortly after I graduated, I married my husband Stephen and am now a stay-at-home mother to our two wonderful daughters. After bouncing around the east coast, I have recently settled in North Carolina with my family and our cat, Kiana, where I am a cook, gardener, and reader. I love to learn and laugh and am happier than I ever thought I could be.
Jackie (Secretary and Pandora's Aquarium Administrator)
I became a member of Pandora's Aquarium in the summer of 2001. After being raped
by an acquaintance in 1998, I made a few efforts to seek online support, but
didn't find anything beneficial until I arrived here. Having gained so much from
this community, it was an incredible privilege to become a moderator in 2004.
Being a moderator and member of the Board of Directors has provided me with an
avenue to take this life altering experience and help others realize it is
possible to heal from sexual violence.
Being an educator in the inner city has been my life's work for the last 16 years. Thirteen of those years have been in the classroom and then four years ago I made the move into educational leadership and became an Assistant Principal. There isn't a day that I don't spring out of bed at the opportunity to work with children and help shape the future.
I am extremely patriotic and enjoy reading about U.S. History and politics. While I don't have any of my own children, I am blessed to have two wonderful nieces & a nephew whom I adore. I'm a gym rat and currently have a goal to hold a plank for five minutes. We all need goals!
I joined Pandora's Aquarium in 2001, when I was 18 years old. I had been a
victim of gang rape that was organised by an ex-boyfriend. I am also a survivor
of childhood sexual abuse. At the time, I would never have believed that it
would be possible to heal, but finding a community of people who understood made
all the difference in my healing. I became a moderator and member of the Board
of Directors in 2007, and am thankful for the opportunity to give something
back. I’m grateful for the life I have, and I’m not sure I’d be who I am today
without the support of this beautiful community.
I initiated the Survivor Mural Project, which aims to raise global awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault, and provides all survivors with an opportunity to be heard.
I’m Australian, and I love to travel. I have been to the United States three times, working in summer camps and as an au pair. I'm a primary school teacher now and I love it!
I love local history, and art has always been an outlet for me. My other favourite outlet is the gym. I enjoy taking body pump and kick boxing classes. My favourite possession is my ipod, and I love drinking coffee and hanging out in my pajamas!
Louise M. (Director & Pandora's Aquarium Administrator)
I joined Pandora's Aquarium in 2001 to research for my then forthcoming book. I was so impressed with the quality of support and kindness that I stayed on as a survivor. I have been a moderator of Pandora's Aquarium since 2002, and was honoured to join the Board of Directors in 2007. As of 2010, I also manage the Australian branch of the Pandora's Project Lending Library. It has been a real privilege to give back to this community from which I have gained so much.
I have been an anti-rape campaigner and supporter of survivors for 20 years. After surviving domestic violence which included repeated sexual assault, I gained an Associate Diploma in Welfare Studies (La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia), and chose to put my professional qualifications and survivorship to the use of tackling the insufficiently addressed issue of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence. I have gained a measure of international recognition for expertise in the topic of IPSV. In 2002, I built the website Aphrodite Wounded, a site for survivors of marital/partner rape. In 2006 Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for women sexually assaulted by male partners, the book I co-authored with Dr Patricia Easteal was published to excellent critical acclaim. I speak on IPSV internationally, contribute articles for international publications, assist with the provision of training to workers, and speak in the media. In late 2008 I was offered an honorarium to be part of a new collaborative project between the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) in the USA.
I'm Australian and married with five children and five grandchildren. I love random net-surfing, bellydancing, classical music, Harry Potter, good booze, off-colour jokes, and watching DVDs with my children.
Read Louise's story here.
I am a survivor of rape - I originally joined Pandy's in 2001, when the board
first began, but soon realised I wasn't ready yet to deal with my past. I joined
again in 2003 and have never left since! I was just out of high school, alone
and completely lost with how to ever begin to deal with the memories. The
feeling of relief I felt as I worked my way through the board was incredible - I
never truly believed that I would ever be able to heal and yet here I was
surrounded by so many inspiring people who seemed to be voicing the same things
I was feeling.
Being a part of this community has been a huge asset to me as I dealt with the many issues that arose in the aftermath - shame and self-blame, self-injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and so on. Members of this community helped me find the strength to start therapy and join a support group, to speak out about my past and to build the life I wanted outside of simply being a survivor. During my years here I have had the opportunity to give back to this community by being a chat moderator, a section moderator and a member of Team Welcome. Becoming a board moderator and being able to assist in maintaining the very place that allowed me to see that healing is possible was such an honour and one that I value every day.
In my off-line life I can be found in Australia, in a place that is far too sunny for the heavy metal-loving likes of me. I am an audiologist, working with children and adults, and I live with my husband and four fish who I have to supervise carefully in case they decide to eat each other - the fish that is! I have a background in science and finished my undergraduate intending to work in environmental science, but after more study ended up with a career in hearing instead. I love travelling and wish there were more money in my bank account and leave at my work so I could do so at will - favourite places to visit are Japan, Norway and Finland. Other passions of mine include wine, bacon, The Sims and dogs - and definitely sleeping in.
I joined Pandora’s Aquarium in February of 2004 after realizing I still needed to heal from the sexual abuse I endured for several years of my childhood. I was immediately relieved to find such an insightful, caring, and fun group of survivors that I could relate to. The chat room became one of my favorite places and I became a chat moderator in September of 2004. Later I was able to be one of the first people to welcome new survivors to the board as a member of Team Welcome. To my delight I now serve the community as a board moderator; it’s fulfilling to be able to give back to the community that has provided me with so much through the years.
I have been married to my husband for 2 years. We live with our 2 cats in Philadelphia, PA, where I work as an Engineer. I volunteer with various programs in my community that foster interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math with youth, especially girls. In my free time I enjoy cycling, reading, baking, planting flowers, various video games, and anything having to do with music.
I'm a survivor of partner rape and abuse and have been at Pandy's since
February 2006. I joined Pandy's just over a year after I left my ex and
really needed a place where I felt safe and could connect with other
survivors. Since I've been here, I've been encouraged by survivors new
and further along in their healing to reach out for support, seek
therapy, and take those tentative steps and really believe in that
evolving realisation that it is possible to heal and live my life more
I became a Section Moderator in the Relationships and Surviving Relationship Violence forums in September 2009. I've really appreciated how good it is to be able to talk and be listened to and heard; that we all have times in relationships where we face dilemmas. Being able to let someone know that we're here, that they're not alone, and they will get through this can make such a difference; seeing the changes and growth of people here is beautiful.
I really value the opportunity to give back something here as a Board Moderator as this place has been awesome and really instrumental in helping me to seek out help and support as I continue to rebuild my life and heal. It's an honour and a privilege to be able to help shape this community and keep it safe, supportive and welcoming for everyone here. I find the inspiration and depth of heartfelt compassion, support and encouragement here really makes this such a wonderful community.
I am in the UK and work as a consultant for a company that specializes in immigration related services to corporate and private clients; it's demanding, challenging but ultimately rewarding work. When I'm not working, or pottering around in the kitchen or at the gym, I've a certain penchant for music, books, films, chocolate, birdsong, tea, biscuits, and walks in the park and by the river near where I live. I've been known to eat pudding first and love Sundays - I just wish they could go on forever!
I joined Pandy's in June 2009. I had spent years in therapy but it was
through this amazing community that I finally found my voice. It is an
honor to become a moderator and I look forward to giving back to a place
where I have received so much.
I am a survivor of CSA, the effects of which led to further abuse including a gang rape. When I left home at age 16, I mistakenly believed I had left it all behind me.
I spent many years working in restaurants where I loved the pressure and occasional insanity of working the line as a Sous Chef. The emotional demands of finally coming to grips with my past forced me into early retirement. I've since found work at a fairly large privately owned preschool/daycare. My desire to adopt children has been replaced with a daily dose of hugs, high fives, and plenty of laughter! Everyone knows when I've entered the building.
I share my life with two cats and one fluffy dog. I'm in the very slow process of restoring a house built in the late 1800's, I love sports, gardening or just about anything outdoors.
I joined Pandys in December 2003 in an effort to find support and
encouragement while healing from CSA. Pandys has been a wonderful
source of encouragement and strength during times I felt alone and
worthless. I'm honored to give back a fraction of what this community
has given to me.
I am a LCSW, serving the community in which I live since 1992. My specialties include sexual assault, suicide prevention and working with children with attachment difficulties. I own and run an online support group for parents of children with emotional difficulties and volunteer my time hosting support groups for these parents. I also volunteer training foster parents and sit on the Board of Directors for my state's chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I have two children, one of which is still at home and have had many foster children over the years. We have three dogs to round out our family.
Monika O., MSW, LICSW
I joined Pandora’s Aquarium in 2001. The members were instrumental in helping me to cope with and heal from the experience of being stalked and repeatedly raped. I should probably mention that I am also a survivor of prolonged childhood sexual abuse and partner abuse and that Pandy’s was the first place where my complex history was understood. What a gift! I have done so much healing in the past years and Pandora’s Aquarium was an integral part of that process. Today I feel incredibly honored to be able to give back to this wonderful community.
I am a therapist, author and consultant specializing in eating disorders. The former Program Director of Hampstead Hospital’s Eating Disorder Treatment Center, I am currently in private practice in Exeter, NH. Among my credits, I am a contributing author to Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders 2004 and co-author of Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide to Recovery, 1999. I have also appeared on several radio and television broadcasts including the Vatican Radio’s Generation Jubilee, NPR’s Public Affair and Boston’s WGBH Arts and Ideas.
I have been active in the field of eating disorders for the past nineteen years. I also taught the graduate level clinical course in eating disorders treatment for Plymouth State University and I’ve presented at a numerous national and regional conferences and often am called to consult for local private schools and colleges in my area.
I make my home in New England with my husband, our amazing and beautiful new daughter, our mischievous, fun-loving little puggle and our two quirky cats. I love being with my family, laughing, playing outside, meeting people and finding ways to drink up every minute of life.
Dr. Patti Levin
A Clinical Psychologist, my academic training includes a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University (1975) and a Doctorate in Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (1990). Much of my pre- and post-doctoral training was at The Trauma Center in Boston under the direction of Bessel van der Kolk, MD where I continued on as a supervisor for about 20 years.
My areas of special training and expertise include couple’s therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization), IFS (Internal Family Systems) and individual "talk" psychotherapy with an eclectic orientation (relational, authentic, feminist, existential, cognitive-behavioral, “whatever works”). I consult to and/or supervise other clinicians. I am an EMDR Institute Facilitator (I help train other clinicians in the method). I have taught and lectured internationally as well as authored a number of publications.
My “Common Responses to Trauma and Suggestions for Coping” [PDF] handout is now available on websites world-wide with my permission to reproduce and disseminate, so long as it is free and unedited. Learn more about me on my website: DrPattiLevin.com.
Jaime lives in Central Florida where she teaches pre-school children with special needs and works part time as an in-home early interventionist for special needs children aged birth to three. Community involvement has always been a passion for Jaime. She started volunteering in a local elementary school when she was in high school and then in college became director of Best Buddies Colleges. For several years after college, she worked as a wish granter for the Make a Wish Foundation.
In 2000, Jaime switched gears and became involved with organizations focusing on sexual trauma, a cause that has become one of great importance to her as she herself is a survivor of childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. She helped organize and participate in the first Operation Freefall: The Two-Mile High Stand Against Sexual Assault, a survivor skydive benefiting Speaking Out About Rape, Inc. (SOAR) and has continued to support and participate in the event ever since. She has also assisted with various fundraisers and events for SOAR and The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Jaime found a new way to help survivors and spread the word about sexual violence by becoming a speaker for TEAM SOAR in January 2007. Through TEAM SOAR Jaime has had the honor of speaking at several major universities as well as various community events. She is also a writer for the organization (Wo)men Speak Out and a special projects volunteer with the Sidran Institute for Trauma.
Her advocacy work took a different turn when, in 2005, she was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Jaime searched for support only to find there were very limited resources available. Her efforts to find support for herself led her to seek out other survivors living with the disorder. As she found others living with DID, she witnessed first hand the challenges they shared and decided to shift her focus to help others, like herself, living with DID. In July of 2007 she started one of the only peer led DID support groups in the country, which led to the creation of An Infinite Mind in January of 2008.
Jaime’s passion comes from the hope that people with DID can find the support and resources they need and will no longer fear the stigma surrounding the disorder.
I have watched Pandora's Aquarium grow from from a seed of an idea to the amazing non-profit that it is today. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and intimately know of the transformative power behind sharing our stories in order to heal and live thriving, passionate lives. I volunteered for several years as a certified rape crisis counselor and worked to educate the community about sexual violence by serving on a speaker's bureau. I have worked as a child advocate in a domestic violence shelter and facilitated expressive arts groups for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. I have also worked closely with LGBTQ youth to address the profound sexual violence issues that effect this community. I currently work as a wilderness therapist for teens in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. I also have created my own private practice in earth-based transformational life coaching. Here, I work to reconnect people with nature so they can be inspired to make the changes in their lives that will lead to a more fulfilling and purposeful life.
I love my cats who love to torment each other. Most days you can find me photographing random, interesting things found in nature, hiking, or kayaking. Other days, you will find me curled up on the couch, napping, and dreaming up life's next great adventure.
Healing yourself is connected with healing others.
- Yoko Ono