National Crisis Intervention Training Institute, Inc.

Courageous Survivors Group


ABOUT NCITI's Courageous Survivors Group

Healing and Recovery are processes, not events.  Tragically, many Victims of various forms of trauma --such as abuse, exploitation, and catastrophic loss-- stagnate within what we refer to as a "STUCK STATE," very often due to a potentially-deadly combination of: 

  • inaccessibility to, or unawareness of, extrinsic vital resources, 
  • various intrinsic co-morbidity factors, 
  • surrounding circumstances, 
  • toxic influence from other people, and, finally, 
  • their own "STINKIN' THINKIN.'"

NCITI Staff and Volunteers are dedicated to aiding suffering people in making the successful transition  from 


While  many of our Board Members and Staff have been called "Experts," from time to time, we believe that , in many respects, the  true "Experts"  are people who are somewhere on the Recovery Continuum, as well as, unfortunately, the Perpetrators who targeted the Victim.

In planning our programs and training courses, we strive to make it a consistent practice to ALWAYS REMEMBER TO ASK THE EXPERTS.  The Courageous Survivors listed on the Advisory Board are brave and resourceful individuals who, due to past abuse, exploitation, or loss, are somewhere on the Recovery Continuum.

Those individuals are called upon by our Curriculum writers and Program Designers to review our material, and to offer their experience-based insight to the planning and writing process.  In addition, we will be utilizing certain members of the Courageous Survivors Group to participate in future training seminars as Guest Presenters and Victim Impact Panel members.   Upon occasion, certain members of our Courageous Survivors Group voluntarily aid other Victims and Survivors through 1:1 mutual aid support.

Out of respect for their privacy, we do not disclose the type(s) of trauma these individuals have experienced.  Some are recovering from various forms of addiction, while others have been past victims of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, chronic bullying, or catastrophic loss of a loved one or relationship.   Each Courageous Survivor named on our Advisory Board have consented to having their first and last names listed on the website.  We protect their identity by not listing their last name, as well as their location.  We ask, if you know any of them, that you not approach them to query re: why they are on the list.  

In conclusion, many Courageous Survivors have been subject to scorn, ridicule, lack of forgiveness, rejection, and condemnation by people in their lives.  NCITI's underlying message to them is that they are capable, lovable, and worthy children of God...and that we have deemed them deserving of our time, efforts, resources, and support.  From time to time, we come into contact with those individuals who have rejected or scorned our Courageous Survivors.  Our philosophy in dealing with those individuals is to not be critical and confrontational, but, rather, to make every attempt to understand and empathize with them, as well...realizing that they, too, have often been victimized by the collateral effects of addiction, mental illness, et cetera. 

For those "arm-chair critics" who don't know the Courageous Survivors, but who have formulated a negative, judgmental opinion, our hope is that our message will inspire them to change their minds and hearts, in order to become more effective in intervening in the lives of those in need and in pain.

The following poem illustrates how criticism and focus upon those who have shunned the Courageous Survivors, rather than "Keeping Our Eyes Upon the Prize," can result in disastrous outcome. 


A Change of Hearts Begins With Me

One day I sat and listened to

Some “righteous” folks I barely knew

Discuss, with venom, a poor lad

Whose plight on earth was truly sad.

But, while they could have eased his pain,

They chose, instead, to wound and stain

His reputation; now it’s lost.

Their entertainment had great cost.

With loving words they could have healed.

Perhaps that young lad would have kneeled

And thanked the Lord for showing love

Through Emissaries from above.

But, due to their snide, mocking tone,

A suff’ring boy now bears his own

Despair and pain, because he knows

That no one cares about his woes.

He knows that others deem him “bad.”

My heart wept for that hurting lad.

I prayed that God would call and send

A True Believer who would end

The awful lie that boy believes;

The horrid lie that man receives

Into his heart when in a lurch:

That they can’t trust God’s Holy Church.

I’d grown so tired of people who

Stand ready to do great harm to

Someone whose life is not the same.

I’d grown to shun those men who blame;

Who hold themselves above the rest,

And who avoid this simple test

Of worthiness to cast a stone:

“Let every man think of their own

Transgression as they grab a rock

And throw it, as they jeer and mock.

For, if some guilt they do not know,

The sacred right is theirs to throw

Those deadly, hard stones, if they can

Say ‘sinlessness’ applies to them.”

I grew so tired of hearing men

Are guilty of some ‘special sin.’

When, actually, this God-born fact

Condemns each harsh, judgmental act:

All men have sinned, and also failed

The Will of God that has prevailed

Since Adam and his mate walked out

Of Paradise with painful shouts

Of shameful guilt, and sad regret

For their own sinfulness, and yet,

We are so staunch, and do not budge,

Because we deem ourselves as judge

And jury, as we aim to blind

And wound our fellow, suffering kind.

We are together in this place.

We’re all in need of Precious Grace

Of God, who sent the ONLY man

Who ever walked the earth and can

With righteousness so truly say,

“I came to take your sin away.

I don’t condemn, I do not store

Your guilt, so go and sin no more.”

I lashed out at those wicked men

Who wallowed in their own foul sin.

I turned my eyes, and kept my gaze

Upon their sinful, wicked ways.

I gave them hell, and told them that

A Righteous God on His Throne sat,

For their eternal fate I feared,

By then, the boy had disappeared.

I looked around, until past dawn,

To find where that poor boy had gone.

I heard that he had left our town.

That wretched boy was never found.

At first I was so angry at

The men who on their judgment sat.

Because they had distracted me,

And, now the boy would not be free. 

The day I heard those “hypocrites,”

I prayed to God, who Gloriously sits

Upon His Throne, then realized,

As scales fell from my blinded eyes.

I’d asked the Lord to show me why

Because of them the boy might die.

But, while God’s answer often frees,

It often brings us to our knees.

I saw myself before a bench

Of judgment, then smelled my own stench.

I realized I, too, was stained;

That I had also judged and blamed

Those “hypocrites”…that it was me

Who God had called to heal and free

That hurting lad, but I’d instead

Cast stones at other brothers’ heads.

I searched for days, but could not find

That hurting lad who haunts my mind.

I’ve prayed that God will bring a friend,

So all his pain and strife will end.

A friend who will help heal the pain,

And help that hurting lad regain

A sense of love, and peace, and grace,

And put a smile upon his face.

A friend who can explain why folks

Reduce their faith to hurtful jokes;

That we are ALL imperfect men,

Who need God’s Grace to cleanse our sin.

I may not ever see that boy,

Or share with him my blessed joy.

That is a thorn that I must bear,

To daily teach me how to care.

For now, the Lord will comfort me.

I pray that one day I will see

That lad, and show that he is loved,

And embraced by Our God above.

I’ll not forget, now that I’ve learned.

Upon my mind his face is burned.

I claim by faith that God will bring

Another chance to share the King

With that poor lad who never had

A single moment to be glad

That he had met a man like me.

I pray that his heart will be free.

I felt so bad for him that day,

But judgment stole my gaze away.

I took my eyes off God’s Own Son;

Distracted by the wicked one.

If we would only live each day

By asking God to take away

Our tendency to judge and shame,

To fail to love, to harm and blame.

Then, we might see a better world;

One where God’s Blessings are unfurled;

A kinder, gentler, better place

Where all who live there know His Grace.

God’s humbled me, and showed me how

To bring about His Kingdom now:

By focusing, not on the lies,

But keeping focused on the Prize.

He placed into my heart a voice

That gives to me a blessed choice

To give my life, my words, my deeds,

So He can meet the sufferer’s needs.

I’ve learned love’s more than what we feel.

It’s how we comfort, give, and heal.

I’ve learned that healing truly starts

When God’s Love brings A Change of Hearts.

So, now, I pray to serve each day

My God, who washed my sins away;

To set the wretched captives free,

A Change of Hearts Begins with Me.

Copyright 2013, Joel Johnson