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Elaine Walters

Elaine Walters. Photo by Paul Neevel.

“My first attempt at college was a failure,” says Elaine Walters, who fled her unhappy family life in Santa Fe to enter college at University of New Mexico before she’d finished high school. “I had no study skills.” A year later, she was pregnant. She had a son, Kienan, and two years later a daughter, Nitara, but when the children’s father got violent, she gathered the kids again and ran off to another college. After a year at New Mexico State, she transferred to UO, where she earned a bachelor’s in sociology and, in 1992, a master’s in public affairs. “I was on welfare when I wrote my thesis about welfare,” says Walters, who found part-time work as rural outreach coordinator for Womenspace. “I loved the job. It was focused on ending sexism and sexist violence.” Later, she did consulting work with child abuse teams in nine counties, then took a job with the attorney general’s Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, training nurses to give sexual assault exams. “The common thread is making things easier on survivors,” says Walters, who started the Trauma Healing Project 10 years ago. “I became passionate about healing as a path towards ending violence and abuse.” Since it gained nonprofit status and office space in 2007, THP has trained nearly 3,000 people. Its healing arts program provides group and individual support, including yoga, acupuncture and digital storytelling workshops. Learn more at healingattention.org.