A couple of months ago, I was asked to contribute to a new training on child sexual abuse prevention by being interview for a training video, to help adults understand why prevention is important and to also share some hope from my own healing journey. This video was made to further spread awareness about the work of Restore Hope, an Oregon based nonprofit that is dedicated to keeping children and teens safe from sexual abuse and helping survivors heal through education, prevention training, and survivor support. (You can learn more about Restore Hope here.)
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I found my voice as a child sexual abuse prevention educator 10 years into my healing journey, when I realized if I had been given the tools to ask for help, that chances are I would not have suffered as long as I did. I thought that it was hard to speak about this topic because I was a survivor and it carried so much shame for me. But when I saw professionals in my training, highly...
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...
So much of the healing journey feels like a break down rather than break through. We hope for things to feel better but often, things just feel worse.
Stepping up to heal your life is an uncertain path at first because what we really want is something or someone to tell us exactly what to do, what to expect, and how to make it through. We want to know what the steps are and exactly what we can expect going through them.
Unfortunately, since survivors are all so different and our experiences are so varied, no one can give you that certainty of exactly how your healing journey is going to unfold. All anyone can tell you is what you can expect and what to do when things get hard.
However, there are certain things, universal things, that all survivors need and that will make it easier to heal:
1. A safe place to tell their story
2. To be believed and validated
3. To be educated about the impact of abuse
4. To be educated about the steps of healing
5. To be encouraged with hope
6. To be...
Becoming a loving, caring, nurturing parent to your inner child can be scary at first. This child remembers every minute of the child abuse you survived, even if you’ve blocked out the worst of it. Ouch!
But don’t worry. Your inner child isn’t going to unleash all those horrible memories on you. Instead, it will only be the parts of you that need healing, the parts you have rejected or ignored.
Yes, your inner child is angry. That’s scary, too. Mine was furious. She wasn’t as upset about the abuse from the past as she was the fact that I had rejected her for decades. I kept giving her to other people to love. She didn’t want their love. She wanted mine.
The wonderful thing about making the commitment to do inner child work is you discover just how loving you can be as an adult. In my case, I discovered I was capable of creating safety for this little girl. I could make her a top priority in my life. I could protect her. I could even help her...
When I began my healing journey, I didn’t know if I could heal. But I was hopeful.
Back then, there were plenty of people who could tell me what was wrong with me and why. They could diagnose me with depression. They could tell me the depression was caused by the trauma I had suffered as an abused child. But few could give me what I needed most at that time: someone who believed I could heal.
And that’s my message for you today. If there’s one belief you need to cultivate after child abuse or trauma, it’s the belief that you can heal.
How do you do it? The same way I did!
I searched until I found survivors who inspired me. These people were able to show me what it looked like to heal after child abuse and trauma. They showed me how to move from barely surviving to gloriously thriving. Their lives had become their healing testimony.
From these courageous survivors, I learned healing from child abuse and trauma is a lifelong process. Even though I’m...