Photography by Lindsey Potter
Growing up between Chicago and South Florida, Mindi Fetterman endured verbal, physical and emotional abuse by her mother, while her mother’s boyfriend molested Fetterman at age 7. By 16, Fetterman was drugged and gang raped. At 23, it happened again. She was convinced she was responsible for what kept happening to her.
After struggling through her childhood and teenage years, Fetterman began a path of healing and sobriety in her twenties. She credits her education at Florida Atlantic University, during which she received a degree in women’s studies, as the catalyst for her activism. In the years following, Fetterman counseled women and provided clinic defense at Presidential Women’s Center in West Palm Beach.
She also founded the nonprofit organization The Inner Truth Project in 2011, based in Port St. Lucie, which offers therapeutic services to survivors of sexual trauma and provides education on prevention strategies and trauma to Martin, Okeechobee and Indian River counties. After nearly 10 years of servicing the Treasure Coast, Fetterman says, “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
What inspired you to seek out help and change your life?
When I was 23, I was introduced to the love of my life who is now my husband, Adam. He’s the one who really sat me down and said I needed help. He got me into recovery, and after I had some sobriety under my belt, he suggested I seek out a therapist. His family took me under their wing. They believed in me and my story. I never had that kind of validation in my life. It was truly my turning point from living as a victim and allowing myself to be susceptible to taking charge of my life.
I started slow. I would frequent small groups to share my experiences. That’s when people started to say to me, ‘You’re telling my story. This happened to me, too.’ I lived my whole life thinking I was alone, but then I realized there are so many other people out there who have gone through the same thing. That was a groundbreaking revelation and made me realize I had to do something.
Tell us about the growth of The Inner Truth Project since its inception.
Once I realized how much the community needed a safe space for survivors to come together, I sat down with my husband, who has a background in nonprofit and start-up law, and figured out how I was going to make it happen. We thought that if we started Inner Truth, people would start to come. And we were right. It didn’t take long for people to start calling and sharing stories. They realized they don’t have to be silent anymore either.
As you approach Inner Truth’s 10th anniversary, what are your goals?
We’re looking to get men engaged in the conversation. We are never going to change society until we have everyone on board. We also want to help more of our male survivors share their stories. Long term, we hope to create a program and a space where survivors can spend an extended period of time to learn different types of healing practices, instead of attending workshops during the day and returning home in the evenings.