I struggled with self-care for a long time. It wasn’t an easy task for me. Back then, I was solely focused on numbing myself. I was in too much pain and too ashamed of what had happened to me. It hurt too much to think about it. In the process, I had completely disconnected from myself, my body, and my needs.
What helped was when I learned about the long-term impact of trauma, what the long term impact of toxic stress on my body. I could easily see how the abuse I suffered made me not want to talk about the past, feel my feelings, or want to take care of my body. But what was invisible to me was how the toxic stress from my childhood was still fueling the high level of cortisol in my body. The high levels of stress hormones in the body can create and contribute to long-term problems with our heart and our blood vessels. This information became a complete game changer for me.
I had to start to practice good self-care to help my body counter the years of living with...
Summer is almost here and we are already on month 6 of the year, I can’t believe it. Now is the perfect time to review your healing progress, to check in with yourself and the tools you’ve been using and what’s working for you and what isn’t.
But first, I want to celebrate you for your commitment to your healing. I know it can feel like two steps forward, one step back sometimes. Remember to not focus on what you didn't accomplish. Because that's not important. The only thing that matters is what you did accomplish. I know you had several victories so far (even the smallest changes can be HUGE victories in the healing journey) and I hope you celebrated them. If you haven’t, do that now. You deserve it!
What healing goal did you set for 2019? It’s easy for abuse survivors to forget change is a growth process and that part of healing is to learn to trust the process. The journey is the healing, not just the destination.
Survivors often ask me if...
The power of your breath is that it is always in the moment, it is always something you can return to.
Self-awareness is key to starting a successful trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your toxic coping strategies.
I do a lot of trauma education with my clients. I know it provided me with the comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome was that I lived with toxic stress as a child and as an adult, that toxic stress was still living inside of me as if it was still happening and all my systems were on high alert, all the time!
As I started to...
On April 8th, 2019, I was babysitting the toddler of a family in Portland. The mother messaged me in the days before letting me know that a dog would be there. When I got there, a small Pitbull mix came to greet me at the door, very timid and shy. The mother introduced her as Roxy but quickly made it very clear that she would not be staying with the family for long. She explained that they had rescued Roxy from another family who had not adequately explained that she had separation anxiety and that between raising their first young child, full-time work, and still getting the house in order since they had just moved to town, they did not have the time or energy to properly train her to not be so anxious and simply had to heavily medicate her when they left her alone.
This instantly broke my heart and it broke even more to watch this poor dog fall apart once the mother left for her appointment. The dog was so panicked and so unsure, it took her minutes to even walk over to allow me...
To prepare for the upcoming retreat, I am looking for the best ways to present the concepts that I want to teach the participants, such as understanding what happens to our body, brain, and nervous system when we experience trauma. There are certain concepts that are very important for helping us see what is learned, what can be un-learned, and that we can choose the change we want as adults now.
A concept that fascinates me and that I love to help survivors learn about is hope. This is a word people often throw around without understanding the power behind it and, most importantly, how painful it can feel when you are being presented with a concept that you cannot quite conceive of or have any examples of. Most survivors struggle to understand what others mean they talk about hope because they have never felt it.
I realized a parallel of this that would happen almost daily in my life. English is actually my third language and I used to get so frustrated with English words and...
I am very excited to announce that I have finished setting up my very own Patreon page!
It was inspired by my son, who has been telling me for probably 3 years now to set up a way for people to support the work I do. He told me about Patreon and after some encouragement from others in my life, I knew it was time.
Any of you that are connected to me on Facebook know my relentless drive to end the cycle of abuse in our communities. For the past 15 years, I have focused all of my time and energy educating adults, parents, and caregivers about keeping kids safe from CSA. And since 2013, I began to also focus on supporting the healing of other survivors, holding a safe space for them to heal their hearts and reclaim their lives, to live wholeheartedly from their heart, not the hurt.
As my business has expanded, so has my reach. And I am stretching it even more by setting a goal to reach 1 million survivors in the next few years. But I know I cannot do this alone.
I know that every...
This month, I celebrate 15 years since I started telling my story in public.
For the first 10 years of my healing, I felt responsible for the abuse I suffered. Since no one else was talking about it, it felt bad, dirty, and shameful. But I was lucky enough to find a support group early on in my healing that helped to change this narrative in my head. I quickly learned that the blame I was feeling was the same blame all of these other survivors were feeling. We all shared the same toxic thoughts about not being good enough or not being able to ask for support. We all had to teach ourselves a new language of hope and healing. I came out of this support group more empowered and certain than ever that the abuse I suffered could have been prevented and it could have been stopped by the adults around me if they had been more informed and more empowered through education. I realized that if the adults around me had known how to talk about boundaries, safe touch, and sex in a healthy and...
Photo credit: HBO
This past week, HBO aired a documentary special called Leaving Neverland, directed and produced by Dan Reed, a British filmmaker. The documentary focuses on two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who were (allegedly) sexually abused as children by Michael Jackson for years.
This documentary did a powerful job of describing the grooming process victims go through and how these young boys and families were drawn into the world of fame and fortune. It had devastating consequences and a lasting impact on these men and their families.
My husband, David, and I watched the two-part documentary together. After the first night, we sat and talked. David asked me how I was feeling after watching this because the descriptions the men gave of the abuse was graphic at times. It was hard to hear, to imagine the little boys being abused in those ways. All I could feel was sadness. It stirred my heart to hear a story I have heard so many times before. The stories of...
Even though I have been on my healing journey for years and have come a long way, I can still fall into old patterns of resistance, old habits that reflect who I was, not who I am now. Even after all this time, I sometimes need gentle reminders that I have taken up these old habits. Sometimes that gentle reminder comes from someone else, sometimes it comes from my compassionate adult self. The thing that helps me stay compassionate and not immediately turn to shaming and judging myself is my awareness of automatic patterns and habits, also known as running on “autopilot,” and I hope that by sharing this information with you, it can help you move forward with compassion for yourself, once you understand that it isn’t always your fault when you resist change and revert to old habits. Because until we become aware of our automatic patterns and habits, change is very difficult, sometimes impossible.
Most of our day to day behaviors and actions are done on an automatic...
I saw this quote posted recently on social media (the image you see above) that reminded me of the ground rules that I set for group meetings I facilitated years ago. I had just moved back to California after starting a nonprofit in Iceland for child sexual abuse prevention and I immediately noticed the need for support groups in my community, for adult survivors looking for a safe place to heal. So I began to facilitate several groups, both in person and online. The non-profit I was working with in the U.S. helped me to partner with Kaiser in San Diego and they approved our use of one of their office spaces on Saturdays for back-to-back meetings for male and female survivors of trauma.
These groups had similar guidelines to the ones in the picture. Some of them were written and outlined before each meeting, especially for the newcomers. And some of the more important rules even turned into a way of being for members, becoming part of their values and beliefs.
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