Amanda Thomashow At The Heart of Gold HBO Documentary Amanda Thomashow At The Heart of Gold HBO Documentary

Amanda Thomashow

Amanda Thomashow (she/her/hers) is a survivor and advocate for all victims of gender-based violence. She studied art and science at Michigan State University before working for Michigan’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.

What’s one way someone can be a better ally to survivors of sexual abuse?

Meet survivors where they are at. Ask them what they need and want. Show them compassion and allyship and remember what is best for one person might not be the best option for another. The first time someone asked me what I needed and what I wanted to do, it felt like I was actually taking my life back and I finally felt seen and understood.

How do you remain positive in challenging times?

I make gratitude lists. It’s really easy to let everything pile up and overwhelm you, especially after trauma. Anxiety gets the best of me far more often than I’d like to admit, and I’ve definitely spent many days crying on the couch (I call it spiraling). But, after giving myself the time and space to feel what I need to feel, I like to make lists of all of the things I am grateful for. Anything I can think of, from my dog Ollivander to the way the summer sun feels after a long, cold winter, I list reasons to smile until I am actually smiling. Even on the darkest days, there is always something to be grateful for, and that keeps me going.

What do you hope viewers take away from the film?

I have a few hopes for viewers of this film.

First, I hope that this sends a message of hope and strength to anyone that has survived sexual violence. I hope it shows them that they are not alone, they are believed and they are supported. I hope it encourages others to shed the shame and guilt that too often shows up in the aftermath of sexual assault, and to give that burden back to the people that hurt them.

Second, I hope viewers walk away with a deeper understanding of grooming, predators, enablers and the dangers of prioritizing money and reputation over human lives. Almost everything that happened to my sisters and I was preventable, if only the adults that were told had listened. We have to do better, and that starts by believing.