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Doug Dane’s Story: How Support Would’ve Made a World of Difference

Content warning: This article contains subject matter which could be triggering for some readers. Themes include child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and substance abuse. Please exercise caution and take care of yourself.

This is the story of Doug Dane, who grew up in Kitchener, Ontario. Today, he is a successful man in business, inspiring speaker, impactful author, and proud father. Doug is doing a lot of good to help others on the road to their personal success. But as a survivor of intense childhood abuse, his life was filled with pain and mistakes for many years into adulthood.

It is wonderful that Doug has experienced a dramatic life change from brokenness to wholeness. But he also sees clearly the difference our services could have made – had they been available to him as an adolescent going through the criminal justice process. This article explores how much turmoil could’ve been avoided, and the vital impact for young survivors who receive our supports.

Doug Dane - Professional photo

Hurt, Harm, and Pain

Doug Dane was adopted at six-months-old by a violent, alcoholic couple. Home was not a safe place, but rather where physical and emotional abuse were an everyday part of life. Doug witnessed aggression between his parents, and on many occasions was the victim himself.

Doug Dane - Youth photo

Growing up in this tumultuous environment, Doug was left fearful, vulnerable, and hungry for love. This set the stage for Doug, at the age of 13, to be lured into a local ring of four male sexual predators. The first assault was carried out by a 26-year-old-man. After that occurrence, Doug went on to be assaulted by all four men over a period of two years. And then came the time when Doug was deceived into believing he was being taken on a trip to Walt Disney World. Instead, he was kidnapped and taken to Halifax for a week.

Upon Doug’s return to Ontario, police visited him at home. With a poor perception of authorities, Doug felt caught and possibly in trouble himself. He only told the detectives what he had to. Traumatized and facing a disturbing reality, Doug soon learned that he had to go to court. All four men had been charged with numerous counts of crime. At age 15, Doug went to court as one of many boys who had been targeted. He went feeling alone, ashamed, and afraid of possibly having to testify. This process would go on for about a year.

Throughout this time, Doug was struggling from the abuse – mentally, emotionally, and even physically. He lacked any sense of inner healing, education, and comfort from someone understanding.

What came next was a long chapter of darkness for Doug. The damage caused by his trauma prompted him to make many mistakes. Doug quit school and began working at a fast-food restaurant. This provided money for hard drugs and alcohol – a dependency he would have for the next decade of his life. Doug would go through many more low points.

Doug Dane - Teenager photo

The Positive Change

Over time, Doug’s trajectory slowly began to change. One of the first ways was to stop abusing substances after finding it was only making him feel more ashamed and filled with uncertainty. Doug had also discovered that he was gifted at sales and business for a career path. His success made him feel a little better about himself.

However, Doug’s issues related to healthy relationships were still quite prevalent. Always keeping his past a secret, he struggled to believe someone could really love him, and that he could ever be a good father. With Doug’s second marriage falling apart, it was a marriage counsellor who recognized and pointed out the awful ramifications that childhood trauma was having in his life.

In his late 30s, Doug became enlightened to the impact his troubled past was having – and the power of telling his story to overcome his shame. This helped him come to terms with the terrible things that had happened to him. People began affirming that the crimes committed against him as a youth were wrong – and it wasn’t his fault for being lured into them. Doug decided he wanted to go public in a big way!

The next thing Doug knew, the Toronto Star published his story on the front page of their Life section on April 6, 2002. This prompted many other newspapers to follow suit, and Paula Todd interviewing Doug on TVO’s “Person to Person” show. Doug's story spread far and wide. He now knew he wasn’t alone – many people could relate to his deep struggles.

Doug Dane - Newspaper photo

Today, Doug is a completely different person. In dealing with his adverse childhood experiences, he has found freedom from their harsh symptoms. Doug has stopped the perpetual cycle of hurt and harm and strives each day to bring hope to others. Through the power of his healthy perspective, constructive habits, and faith, Doug is moving forward in a positive way – and is coaching others to do the same. He feels one of his greatest accomplishments is being a good father to his daughter.

How Support Would’ve Made a Difference

While in a much better place now, Doug knows a lot of pain in his own life, and in the lives of others, could have been spared if he had been supported as a youth. Unfortunately, this was not his experience going through the criminal justice process as a victim in the late 1970s – prior to Child Witness Centre’s beginnings in the early 1980s.

It would have made a world of difference if Doug had found a safe landing place, listening ear, and comfort at that critical time in his life. He could have been released much sooner from his debilitating sense of shame, with the help of our trauma-informed frontline workers. Along with receiving testimonial support and being accompanied to court, Doug would been encouraged by our caring professionals to make healthy decisions for his future. Our services would've done wonders to break him free from the cycle of pain, and set him on a brighter path.

Doug sums it up best: “While I can’t say specifically how my life would’ve been different with the support of Child Witness Centre, I am sure that things would have been better sooner. My adverse childhood experiences wouldn’t have cost myself and others so much pain – mentally, emotionally, physically, and even financially. I would’ve been in a better place, doing better, for many years.

Support for Local Young Victims Today

While Doug’s story is a dramatic one, we know he is far from being alone as a survivor of crime. And many never experience anything like the positive transformation that Doug is now living out. Statistics show repeatedly that child victims are much more likely to face a host of negative outcomes in life – including mental health struggles, dropping out of school, substance abuse, and unhealthy relationships.

The good news is our services at Child Witness Centre truly prevent poor outcomes. Our young clients benefit with supports that make an immediate and long-term difference for them. It mitigates their trauma and builds their resiliency towards a strong future.

Join in our mission to reach more child victims in our community. Together, we can stop the cycle of pain and change life trajectories before more damage is done. We need your help to overcome our waitlist, so every child can receive our vital services before it’s too late. Please give today.

Learn more about Doug Dane on his website, follow him on social media, and reach out to him if wanting to learn how he can help you move toward your goals.