Looking back to leap forward

Filmmaker and child abuse survivor Sasha Joseph Neulinger speaks about “Rediscovering the Beauty Within” during the opening day of the 19th Annual Community Response to Child Abuse Conference, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Photo by Cham Phan)

Film maker, athlete and abuse survivor shared his journey, and horrors, as the 19th keynote speaker at the Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment (CPCM) at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Sasha Joseph Neulinger, out of Bozeman, MT, spoke to more than 600 people representing law enforcement, health care, education and social work professionals.

“You guys are pathfinders,” Neulinger said. “You guys are superheroes, and I’m thankful for each and every one of you.”

The list of attendees included South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson.

“It may be safer to walk down the streets of the Sturgis bike rally if you are a child than attend a family reunion,” Gilbertson said. “Child abusers do not come with uniforms or evil faces. They come with smiles, and they can be authority figures.”

Neulinger eventually changed his name from Nevison, after his case made national news in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Now, at 29, with a film degree from Montana State University, he is giving back through telling his story and sharing.

“Healing is not a destination — it’s a journey,” said Neulinger.

Acknowledging not all abuses or stories of abuse are the same, but learning of others surviving, and making better lives through determination, perseverance and sharing tales of success is how to perpetuate others to succeed, Neulinger tells his story.

Created with 200 hours of footage from home movies, Neulinger’s documentary, “REWIND” comes out in 2020 and will be a part of the Independent Lens series shown on the Public Broadcasting System.

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