Kind Hearted Woman, Raped by Dad at 3, Helps Others Heal


Angry about those charges and the making of the film, the ex-husband's family file complaints that Poor Bear herself has been abusive. The two children are placed in foster care and Poor Bear exhausts her retirement funds fighting a five-month custody battle.

Poor Bear's accusers never produce proof, and social services fail to show up for custody hearings. She ultimately reunites with her children, but they are "confused and scared."

The family is always on the move -- because of rent costs, or where a job takes her and when Poor Bear falls in love again, with a man who lives on a reservation in Canada. That relationship, too, is fraught with problems.

For the most part, Poor Bear said she got accustomed to the cameras following the family from the kitchen table, to the bedroom, to school and to court hearings. Both children become involved in her campaign to stop sexual abuse, raising money and awareness at a school basketball game.

One of the only times Sutherland said he lost it emotionally and had to put the camera down was in a scene in which Poor Bear's son, Anthony, blames his sister for the sexual abuse testimony that sent his father to jail.

"I ruined half the film," he said. "I burst out crying."

Today, off the reservation and living in International Falls, Minn., Poor Bear is still sober and said her children, now 17 and 14, are thriving.

Poor Bear still does not have full legal custody, rather joint custody with their father, who has since been released from jail. Her ex-husband is not allowed to see his children without a monitor present because he has been convicted of a sex crime.

According to Poor Bear, her children have not seen their father since the court hearing that sent him to jail. Anthony still misses his father. "We are working on building that relationship," said Poor Bear.

Knowing the struggles other women face, Poor Bear is committed to creating a nonprofit that will support a long-term treatment facility for women and children, where they can stay together when the family breaks up because of abuse. She plans to call it Tipi Wakan Omani -- in English, Sacred Journey Lodge. It will be a refuge, with the latest technology in place to do forensic interview and sex assault exams.

To this day, Poor Bear said she draws on courage deep within.

"My adopted mom told me when I was going through stuff and bullied in school and at home, 'You're just as good as everyone else and don't believe differently,'" she said. "She told me that time and time again."

Only Darian and her mother have seen the film in press previews.

"The first half Darian was crying and crying," said Poor Bear. "She held on to me and said, 'Mom, I know you were telling me all that stuff, but to see it from your perspective -- I can't believe it."

Poor Bear has taught her children, both now planning for college, to always speak up. Her advice to parents is to warn their children of the risks of staying silent if they have experienced abuse.

"If nobody is listening, keep telling someone until they listen," she said. "And sometimes the parents are the perpetrators.

"My kids have gotten the honor," she added, "the honor of speaking out."

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