Ellen Campbell tirelessly devotes her days to abuse prevention across the nation as the CEO of the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.
Her work with the leading organization has supported the lives of over 200, 000 children, women and men who have suffered from abuse. In 2014, she was appointed to the Order of Ontario for her efforts. It was a life she once never expected to have, being a victim of childhood abuse herself.
“I was suicidal. All my trauma had never been dealt with,” she recalls of her days before creating the CCAA. “It all came up to the surface and was too much to deal with.”
It was what she recalls as an “Aha” moment for her. Campbell, on her road to recovery, took the pain from her childhood and decided to turn it into hope for others. She founded the organization in 1993 and started it in the basement of her home, never expecting it to grow. One of her biggest passions is helping male victims of sexual assault in particular, who she feels lack the same support as women survivors.
When Martin Kruze came forward as the first survivor of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex scandal, Campbell knew the need to raise awareness about the issues of sexual abuse for both men and women. With the help of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Shoppers Drug Mart and the Kruze family, the CCAA founded the Martin Kruze Memorial Fund to raise funds for frontline programs that aid victims of sexual abuse. Sadly, Kruze committed suicide after learning of Gordon Stuckless’ original sentence of two years less a day.
Today, CCAA represents 130 organizations of frontline workers seeking to support victims of sexual abuse. The organization relies solely on private donations.
The CCAA has worked tirelessly to influence government legislation. Most notably, in 2008, a report prepared by the CCAA titled “Martin's Hope” — in honour of Kruze — played a major role in the Age of Consent legislation. The legislation contains the report word-for-word.
A staff of three people, as well as volunteers, work endlessly to support programs that assist survivors of all ages and prevent future abuse through education currently runs the CCAA. While the organization now represents more than one hundred organizations across Canada, Campbell says that the biggest success of her organization is the hope it gives to survivors.
“This is my issue. I don't need a big salary, I don't need a fancy building, I don't need all that. I just need to exist.”