PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
Mindi Fetterman is a survivor helping other survivors come to terms with
the emotional after effects of rape, sexual abuse and drug addiction.
We also have yoga and a writers group. LunaFest is a film
fest with international films by women. At our annual Pop
Up Boutique, clients shop for free alongside elected officials.
They feel like human beings with dignity.
How did the pandemic affect your work?
We didn’t stop. The silver lining for us was reaching even
more people virtually. When we reopen for in-person meetings,
we’ll keep the Zoom. We have survivors in other countries
now and want them to continue to take part.
What keeps you energized and available?
You gain power every time you tell your story, your truth.
I started talking to others and they gravitated toward me. In
recovery, I learned to practice gratitude. It’s a 24-hour job and
can be heartbreaking when you encourage victims to report
an assault, knowing that things may drag on for years and
most likely won’t be resolved in their favor. But the successes
You’re changing the world, one survivor at a time.
My husband said recently that just once he’d like to tell
someone about me without hearing that they’re also a survivor,
or know someone who is. For him, it’s still a shock. I
said, “Welcome to my world.” E
Mindi Fetterman is the founder and leader of the Inner
Truth Project ITP, a non-profit committed to changing
the conversation about sexual violence. ITP is at
2190 Reserve Park Trace #13 in Port St. Lucie.
What was the turning point on your journey to become
My husband, Adam, then a state representative, was asked
to speak to a huge room in Port St. Lucie. He couldn’t go and
asked me to take his place. It was my first speech. Everyone
knew me as a political wife — the suit, the pearls, the polish
— so when I started by saying “I’m a drug addict, an alcoholic
and a survivor of rape and sexual violence,” you could
hear a pin drop.
Take us back to the beginning.
I was born in Chicago, then moved to New Jersey, where
my mother’s boyfriend sexually abused me. We moved closer
to my grandparents in Royal Palm Beach. As a teenager, I
dabbled in drugs and alcohol and at 16, I was drugged and
gang raped. I blamed myself.
Then at 21, I was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist.
By then, I was in recovery and was engaged. My future inlaws
gave me the massage for a gift; they’d used the therapist
before. So now, another experience where I felt like it was my
fault. I felt dirty. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. But
when I told Adam’s mother, she began to cry. It was a God
thing. For the first time, I felt validated and supported.
You started sharing your experiences.
How did people respond?
When Adam was working on legislation to limit statutes
of limitation, he thought it needed to be personal, not just
about statistics. He emailed my story to his constituents and
the floodgates opened. So many people said, “That happened
to my wife. That happened to me. Thank you for sharing.”
It was powerful. After speaking to one group, a 70-year-old
woman said she’d been molested as a child. Until that day
she’d never told anyone. I thought, “This isn’t OK.” When
I shared, people pulled off these emotional Band-Aids, but
then what? Nothing existed for the long term.
How did the Inner Truth Project unfold?
People don’t like to talk about rape, but we wanted to
provide a community for survivors that offered dignity and
respect. I started a support group that morphed into the Inner
Truth Project 10 years ago. Our landlord gave us a commercial
rental free for 11 months. Word got out and volunteers
created this gorgeous space — everything’s donated. A lot of
local nonprofits have angel supporters, but I’m still waiting.
Our budget is just under $200,000, most of which pays professional
therapists who specialize in mental health support
for our clients. They get 10 sessions free of charge.
30 Port St. Lucie Magazine