After recognizing the healing power of sharing stories, Anthony decided to start writing about his own experiences in hopes of reaching others who are struggling with similar memories and emotions. Writing publically about his hidden secrets for the first time, Anthony is hoping to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse, address the realities of living with dark memories and give hope of a happy life to others who have been affected by childhood sexual abuse. He found that sharing his experience with others, meditation, and physical activity have been all been instrumental in his healing.
April M.D. Resnick
April is a meditation instructor, adjunct faculty, advocate, writer, veteran, and mom. Her written work can be found on her blog www.sometimesihatemycat.com, and in the Purple Sparks Journal, an annual journal of poetry by sexual assault survivors which raises money for “youthSpark Voices.” She is a member of RAINN’s Speakers Bureau, and she recently participated in, and contributed poetry to, the film Hold Me Right, a documentary about childhood sexual abuse. Her area of interest is the intersection between meditation, creativity, and vocal advocacy and their use together as tools for public awareness, and for individual management of PTSD symptoms and recovery from sexual trauma. She obtained her MAMS (Master of Applied Meditation Studies) from The Won Institute of Graduate Studies and was a meditation instructor there for the community for several years. Additionally, she created and taught a Masters class which explored the intersection of language, creativity, and practice. She has also instructed meditation at Penn State Abington, for faculty and staff; and at Intercommunity Action, LLC, for adults in the Philadelphia area with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She obtained her RN/BSN from the University of Florida and practiced in the fields of Medical/Surgical, Same Day Surgery, and Labor & Delivery. She is also a veteran Captain of the United States Air Force where she served, as an active duty member and as a reservist, for 6 years. Read all of April’s posts here.
Sharing her worst secrets and thoughts publicly was not something Shana Shippee ever envisioned doing. However, one day she realized that writing for herself wasn’t good enough. She had things to say, and had been holding them inside for far too long, creating a world of isolation and self-blame.
Through sharing her thoughts, fears, and memories, Shana discovered that there is a desperate need for survivors to feel that they are not alone. She believes that survivors deserve a space space where they can scream instead of remaining silent, and strives to destroy the stigma, secrets, and lies that perpetuate childhood sexual abuse.
Shana has worked in the field of early childhood for 25 years. She is currently a preschool teacher, in addition to raising her own 17 year old son, 10 year old daughter. She manages an Awareness of Childhood Sexual Abuse blog and Facebook Group. Read all of Shana’s posts here.
Jenna currently works with developmentally disabled adults, but her hope is to one day work with child survivors of sexual abuse. If money were no object, she would send them all to Disney World, to help remind them there is still joy in the world. She found that writing about her experiences as a survivor have brought her a sense of closure, and hopes they have helped someone else realize that they aren’t alone. Jenna runs the Ordinary is Extraordinary page on Facebook, and some of her other writings can be found at Ordinary is Extraordinary
Jenna has interned at a rape crisis center in Massachusetts, and works hard to be n advocate for people like her.
Karen Bluth, PhD
Dr. Karen Bluth received her PhD in Child and Family Studies in 2012 from The University of Tennessee, and is Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the UNC School of Medicine. Dr. Bluth’s research focuses on the roles that self-compassion and mindfulness play in promoting well-being in youth, has practiced mindfulness since she was a teen, and teaches Mindful Self-Compassion to adults and teens. Dr. Bluth is author of “The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self-Criticism and Embrace Who You Are.”
Leadership Team & Board Members
Bharathi Zvara, M.S., PhD, President & Co-Founder
“Through my study of family relationships, I gained a deeper understanding of the dynamics of childhood abuse and how traumatic experiences in childhood impact health and well-being across the lifespan.”
Dr. Bharathi Zvara is an Assistant Professor with extensive experience as an early childhood developmental scientist. Her work informs programs and policies focused on children born into families experiencing risk and challenge from conditions associated with trauma, maternal depression, poverty, and violence. Dr. Zvara initially became interested in the role of childhood trauma through her work examining high risk family systems, particularly how intimate partner violence impacts family functioning and child development. As her knowledge of family violence expanded, she recognized a pattern – a significant number of adult female victims of partner violence also report childhood sexual abuse. This has been the focus of her research for the past decade and laid the foundation for the development of Gravity Network.
Amrita Bhowmick, MPH, MBA, CEO & Co-Founder
“I’ve seen how impactful online communities can be, particularly for individuals who struggle with stigma or feel isolated.”
Amrita Bhowmick is Chief Community Officer at Health Union, leading the team that brings content and community to patients with challenging health conditions. With a background in healthcare marketing, and expertise in business and public health, Ms. Bhowmick pioneered Health Union’s successful model of community development – creating safe, informative and supportive online environments for people to learn, share experiences, and connect with others. In addition to her professional activities, Ms. Bhowmick volunteers to prepare baked goods for Meals on Wheels, provide marketing services to Taproot Foundation, and offer comfort as a Certified Therapy Dog Team Member with Canines for Service. In connecting with Dr. Zvara, Ms. Bhowmick recognized childhood sexual abuse and trauma as a public health issue, and was inspired to apply her expertise in online community development to serve the needs of adult survivors. She knows first-hand that helping people feel heard, validated, and supported can empower change. And hence, the Gravity Network was born.
David Zvara, M.D., Vice President
“Gravity Network can make a difference one person at a time. People will find a new hope, a better pathway to wellbeing.”
Dr. David Zvara is Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of the UNC Faculty Physicians. Dr. Zvara entered healthcare at age 16 working first as an assistant in a hospital based physical therapy unit. He subsequently trained in cardiothoracic anesthesiology specializing in anesthesiology for open heart surgery, heart transplantation and operations on the lung. Throughout his career, Dr. Zvara maintained a high level of community interest volunteering and subsequently leading as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Horizons Residential Care Center, a residential facility for people with severe mental and physical disabilities in Winston Salem, North Carolina. As a physician leader at a large academic medical center, Dr. Zvara has emphasized wellness among patients and providers initiating and supporting numerous programs aimed at bringing care to those in need regardless of station in life or financial need.
Jeanne Dombcik, Secretary
“I believe in the healing power of making connections and feeling that your voice is heard.”
Jeanne Dombcik is a native Ohioan and has been involved in the nonprofit community for the last 17 years. She received a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art where she majored in metalsmithing and minored in photography. Ms. Dombcik’s involvement in the nonprofit arena started at an early age when began volunteering in the Youth Services department at the American Red Cross, inspiring a life-long passion for helping others – particularly children. Throughout her many nonprofit roles, Ms. Dombcik’s talent for fundraising and program development has helped children experience new careers in the animal world, discover a love of art, and improve lives of families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. She is proud to contribute her experience and passion for charitable work to Gravity Network and help bring a platform for healing to those who have experienced childhood sexual trauma.
Janis Tillman, Treasurer
“I believe in the mission of Gravity Network, and I wanted to contribute to this important work.”
Janis Tillman is a retired community volunteer, wife and mother to two adult children. She was raised in Chapel Hill, NC and is a graduate of Duke University. Ms. Tillman had a long tenure at Record Bar, before owning and operating Moondance Gallery, a nationally recognized company specializing in American handcrafted gifts and jewelry, with her husband Jeff for the next 17 years. After Moondance closed in 2009, she devoted herself to raising her two children and volunteering in ways that would allow her more time to spend with them. Ms. Tillman’s volunteer efforts support fundraising and development for many different community organizations; she currently serves as a Durham Academy trustee, a member of the Board of Visitors for UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and board member at the Chapel Hill Country Club.
Lauren Lawhon, Board Member
“I had no idea childhood sexual trauma was so common, and that so many people who are abused do not receive help and support – as children or as adults.”
Lauren Lawhon began her career as a health educator at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and quickly discovered new interests in nonprofit governance, community grant-making, and cause-related marketing. She was intrigued by the opportunity to use consumer marketing principles to motivate health behavior change. With the growth of digital technology, Ms. Lawhon specialized in digital brand strategy, marketing, and health communications among non-profit organizations, hospital systems, and biopharmaceutical companies. Today, Ms. Lawhon is Chief Operating Officer at Health Union, leading the company’s core business functions. Learning about Gravity Network inspired Ms. Lawhon to use her professional experience to bring attention to the long-lasting impacts of childhood sexual trauma and help people find a place for healing.
We’ve been fortunate to have the support of some incredible people to get us to where we are today. Special thanks to Blake Harris for his creative genius, Casey Hribar for her expert medical writing, and Olivier Chateau for his ingenuity with SEO.