What is an emotional support animal (ESA)? Unlike service animals, ESAs need no special training, only a letter from your mental health professional stating that the animal’s presence is necessary due to your disability (which need not be named).
After  40 hours of training by the MN Dept. of Corrections Approved Crisis Counseling program,  David staffed a hotline for PAVSA,  handling calls from persons in crisis.  On  May 20, 1998, PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault) paid tribute  to David for his volunteer work with this organization.
Ever concerned about children's safety, David volunteered his house as a McGruff Safe House for Kids. After a required background check by law enforcement  and the subsequent training  orientation, he was accepted  into the McGruff program  in June 1995.


Image of Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth MN

An upcoming series of documented

memoirs telling the real story behind

the headlines that shocked

a nation

Photo of Arial Life Bridge, Duluth MN: 
Yahoo free images
  • “Animals can ameliorate the effects of potentially stressful life events...reduce levels of anxiety, loneliness, and depression."           
  •  Deborah L. Wells, Animal Behavior Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
Adults with a history of childhood sexual assault (CSA) are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

Adolescents with a history of CSA demonstrate a three- to four-fold increase in rates of substance abuse.

Adults with a history of CSA are 30% more likely to have a serious medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, or stroke. 

The cost of CSA including healthcare, criminal justice, child welfare, special education, and productivity losses are largely paid for by the public.

Copyright 2018 David Samarzia

From a commentary by Dr. James Mercy, researcher with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

IMAGINE A CHILDHOOD DISEASE that affects one in five girls and one in seven boys before they reach eighteen* —  a disease that can cause dramatic mood swings, erratic behavior, and even severe conduct disorders among those exposed; a disease that breeds distrust of adults and undermines the possibility of experiencing normal sexual relationships; a disease that can have profound implications for an individual's future health by increasing the risk of problems such as substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal behavior;** a disease that replicates itself by causing some of its victims to expose future generations to its debilitating effects.

IMAGINE WHAT WE AS A SOCIETY WOULD DO IF SUCH A DISEASE EXISTED. We would spare no expense. We would invest heavily in basic and applied research. We would devise systems to identify those affected and provide services to treat them. We would develop and broadly implement prevention campaigns to protect our children. Wouldn't we?

SUCH A DISEASE DOES EXIST — IT'S CALLED CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. Our response, however, has been far from the full-court press reserved for traditional diseases or health concerns of equal or even lesser magnitude. Perhaps the perception of sexual abuse as a law enforcement problem, or our discomfort in confronting sexual issues, contributes to our complacency. Whatever the reason, we have severely underestimated
the effects of this problem on our children's health and quality of life.   
 * Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994          **Crowell & Burgess, 1996

Mercy, J. A. (1999). Having New Eyes: Viewing Child Sexual Abuse as a Public Health Problem. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11(4), 317-321.
 Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence                  


DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website (not including links to other sites which are the responsibility of those site owners) are based on the opinions of David Samarzia, and presented with the understanding that he does not intend to render any type of medical, psychological, legal, or any other kind of professional advice.

David Samarzia

Advocate  ~  Author  ~  Listener

Listening. That’s what David Samarzia found himself doing, from the first moment the story of his childhood sexual abuse by a pastor hit the media. Three men called him, crying, to say they too had been molested by the minister. Mothers sobbed while speaking of their sons who’d committed suicide for the same reason. One told him, “You have to be their voice now.”

Volunteering with anti-abuse organizations, contacting legislators to change laws, writing his painful
story to educate readers . . . perhaps this is why David survived a youthful suicide attempt — to be an impassioned voice for those who carry lifelong scars from sexual assault.

(c) David Samarzia   2018

Can our society afford to turn a blind eye to sexual misconduct? Most molesters will abuse again and again, and the costs are enormous. Although efforts are being made in many sectors — especially in light of recent news reports — there’s still  much to be done. Each of us doesn’t have to do everything, but we all need to do something. And it starts with learning more about this vital topic. 
      Persons who've experienced abuse need a support system. Often, that support includes an animal  friend. My Siberian Husky, Nakita, is a loyal and loving friend who keeps me company, makes me laugh...and gets into mischief when I'm not looking. Often she’s the first to notice a change in my moods. That’s one of the reasons emotional support animals can be so important to someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.