The 5 Stages of Healing from Trauma

“The 5 Stages of Healing from Trauma” Original post first published on my blog

copyright Licia Berry 2013, All Rights Reserved

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While organizing my local One Billion Rising event in Tallahassee in 2013, I was reminded of the different stages of the process of healing after trauma because I saw women in every stage attracted or repelled by the event, based on where they appeared to be in their recovery.

I’ve healed myself from a lot of things, including physical, sexual, verbal and emotional assault, as my readers know. My recovery process began when I was 23 years old in a therapist’s office in Atlanta, where I first learned the name for what had happened to me. It’s been a long journey of 25 years since that day; I’m going to be 48 years old in April, and I’m happy to say that I am at the other end of a spectrum that I have developed in my practice of observing and recording my healing. I wrote about this spectrum of healing after trauma in my 2012 book SOUL COMPOST (available for purchase here).

After a diagnosis of PTSD in 1990, I began my long process of climbing the rungs of the ladder to wholeness and a happy, actualized life. I’m happy to say that I am now an expert in PTG, or Post Traumatic Growth, defined as positive psychological change as a result of one’s struggle with a highly challenging, stressful, and traumatic event. We all know the old saying, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”; as it turns out, there is a scientific term for this phenomenon that is measurable. “This growth is measured by the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996), a 21-item instrument for assessing positive outcomes in people who have experienced traumatic events. Five domains or factors are contained within the larger construct of PTG and are measured on subscales within the PTGI. The five factors include Relating to Others (greater intimacy and compassion for others), New Possibilities (new roles and new people), Personal Strength (feeling personally stronger), Spiritual Change (being more connected spiritually), and a deeper Appreciation of Life (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004).” (quoted from SOUL COMPOST, 2012 by Licia Berry)

I developed this spectrum of healing after trauma only after living through each of the 5 stages:

Victim  >  Survivor  >  Thriver  >  Server  >  Empowered Server
A short (and incomplete) description of each stage follows:

Victim
I call this the “Puddle on the Floor” stage. After a traumatic experience, the person who lived through the trauma may feel paralyzed, lifeless, as if there is no energy or will in them. From a shamanic perspective, it is the stealing of the life force from the victim that creates the sensation of lifelessness. From a psychological perspective, the shattering of the person’s well-being creates a schism in their psyche that renders them temporarily powerless. This is a dangerous stage because the Victim is very vulnerable, and it is essential that they seek assistance immediately from a qualified helper or someone who genuinely loves them. If they do not seek help, a pattern of learned helplessness can settle in and the person can feel powerless as they remain stuck in this stage.

Survivor
I call this the “Fight to Live” stage. In this second stage of healing from trauma, the fight begins to start to live again. There is a spark, however small, to integrate the scattered parts of self that were blown apart by the trauma. The puddle on the floor grows teeth and fingernails, and there is a mobilization of energy that can feel like gritting those teeth and crawling across the ground. An active determination to heal, as well as anger and rage identify the fight present in this stage. This is an important and difficult stage; it is easy to revert back to Victim if the Survivor does not have adequate help and resources to keep them moving forward in their healing. It can also be easy to get stuck in identifying with the Survivor stage because it feels so good to have energy after being a Victim.

Thriver
The fight to heal gains momentum and starts to propel itself forward of its own accord. The good will generated within the person who is healing starts to carry them, and the joy that is inherent in life returns. The Thriver thinks less and less about the trauma, focusing on other blessings in their life. The sun shines again. This happens in short bursts at first, when the Thriver can be triggered back into Victim or Survivor stage, but bounces back fairly quickly to thriving again.

Server
A determination to make good of the experience, to offer the lessons learned and the well-being gained to others who have experienced challenge or trauma in their life. This stage can include the Survivor and Thriver stages. Frequently a Survivor will feel the energy of the anger about their trauma and use this to become a healer or practitioner of some kind, resulting in a wounded healer who has not completed their recovery process; however, because of their stage, they may positively impact victims by mobilizing them into Survivors. A Thriver who has become a Server has a better chance of positively impacting

Empowered Server
The Empowered Server has completed enough recovery work that she feels the ground solidly underneath her, even if she is triggered by an external stimulus. She can see the trigger point and knows what is happening without falling from her confident stature into Victim or Survivor. This confidence enables her to present as a person who didn’t encounter trauma (even though she did), and to be fully present to her desire and commitment to be of service to others.

Of course, I will never be “done” healing…I find there are times I can revisit any of the 5 stages depending on the situation. However, the vast majority of the time now I spend in Empowered Server….and I find this is what changes over time….the percentage of the pie in the more joyous sections increases the more healing that I experience. May you, too.

This article is one of the most visited and popular on my blog. You are welcome to direct readers here, but please do not copy/paste. Copyright Licia Berry 2013, All Rights Reserved

There is much more to say about the 5 Stages of Healing! Read about resilience and the role of spirit in recovery from trauma in Soul Compost, first in the Woman, Awake series.

baby in arms

Also see Embracing the Dark Self (or, there is no such thing as an evil baby) and other posts documenting deep healing

Disclaimer: Licia is not a psychotherapist, but a 25 year veteran educator and facilitator with the same numbers of years of active recovery from violence and trauma. These observations are her own, culminating from her lived experience, extensive research and study, collaboration with psychologists, and observation of her clients.

Licia (pronounced LEE-SHA) Berry believes passionately in women’s innate resilience and empowerment. As an artist, author, educator, leader, mentor, women’s advocate, and compassionate guide, Licia teaches by example that women can claim their life song regardless of their experience. Licia’s visionary leadership was the force behind bringing One Billion Rising to Tallahassee in February, in which 400 women gathered and danced on Kleman Plaza to raise awareness about violence against women. Licia has a global audience of readers and clients who share her commitment to spiritual wholeness. Her personal journey of recovery from violence and post-traumatic growth is chronicled in her 2012 inspirational memoir, SOUL COMPOST.

For more information about her work, please visit www.liciaberry.com.

BUY MY BOOK!   SOUL COMPOST~ Transforming Adversity to Spiritual Growth
“an empowering memoir of unapologetic healing”  5 STARS ON AMAZON

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SOUL COMPOST by Licia Berry

What to do when no one believes you… Healing from sexual assault and sexual violence

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Few people would believe you if you told them there is something worse than rape, but there is: it’s finally finding the courage to speak up – to tell someone that you’ve been raped – only to be called a liar.

“All girls cry rape.”

“Guys can’t get raped.”

How many times have you heard someone say something like this? Dismissive comments hurt, especially when the victim just needs someone to talk to. Because, as they say, talking is the best therapy, so long as you can trust you’ll be listened to. Heard. Believed.

Being disbelieved is a survivor’s greatest fear.

According to Rape Response Services (RRSonline.org), there are “many different ways perpetrators use sexual violence to hurt their victims and there are many different ways in which people respond to sexual violence.” It does not matter if your trauma happened according to the rules that other people would agree upon. It does not matter if they would consider what happened to you as rape.

You know what happened because it happened to you and you were there. Not them. And it’s still bothering you because rape is an enormous challenge to heal from. If you’ve been hurt by someone not believing you, tell them this: according to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault “false rape reports only happen 2% of the time.” That means 98% of the time someone is telling the truth. You’re telling the truth. You just need someone to talk to who will believe you. It’s the best way to heal.

Call a Sexual Assault Center: it’s a good place to start.

If you’re afraid that no one will believe you – or you’ve already found that the one person you entrusted with your story does not – go to a validated and trusted source of support for sexual abuse survivors. People at national and local sexual assault organizations are trained to not only help you handle the trauma, but also be there for you in support. If you have no one else to talk to, or are too afraid of being shut down by not being believed, start here. Call someone who you know will listen and start the conversation of your healing.

Don’t let the fear that others won’t believe you get in the way of finding the help and support you need.

You need help. You need support. And everyone is different.

Don’t let the fear of someone not believing you stop you from finding that one family member of friend who will. Or don’t let them stop you from seeking out professional help from a trained sexual assault volunteer or counselor. There are people out there, just for you. And they will believe you. Rape doesn’t happen in just one way to just one type of person and they understand that. Once you find someone to talk to who believes you, you can ask them to be involved in helping you talk to others who won’t, if you feel you need to tell all to help you heal. Everyone is different. Heal in your own way.

Don’t let other people’s perception or reaction deter you from speaking up and seeking help.

Out of a handful of people you might tell in your lifetime, some will believe you and others will not. It’s just the way it is. People often times have a set belief system in place, long before you speak up, that inhibits them from understanding, listening or even hearing you when it comes to rape. They will only believe what they believe to be true. But you don’t let their perception of what rape is or their reaction to hearing you speak about your experience stop you from healing. What one person or even a handful of people say of your story is not your story.

Be in control.

You own your story. This happened to you. Someone took away your control and you will get it back, right? So be the one in control of who you tell, how you tell, when you tell someone about your trauma. You pick the time, the place, the person. And you set up boundaries with yourself beforehand of how much information you want to give out and to whom. Some people will be able to hear it all and be there for you. Others will only be able to handle an ounce of what you’ve been through. And that’s okay. That is their reaction. Not yours. Do not allow their reaction – good or bad – be part of how you feel about what happened to you. Keep your story safe with you and only give out what you are comfortable telling. And to whom you are comfortable telling it to.

If there are some people in your inner circle that you don’t trust to believe you, don’t tell them. You do not owe anyone. You don’t have to tell anyone you don’t want to. This happened to you, so take charge in a way that helps you feel more in control over what happened. And even if you can only find one person who believes you and will listen, don’t let that get in the way of your healing. Sometimes all it takes is one person to be there for you to open the door within you that will lead you to a path of better healing. Whatever you chose to do, do what you need to do to stay in control and heal.

It’s okay to wait until you feel safe.

If you’ve just been assaulted or raped, report it ASAP. The authorities will help you find the support you need. But what do you do when it’s been years and it’s still eating at you? You still have the details and emotions rumbling in you?

Or what if you’re like me and you’ve talked until those who were there just don’t want to hear or talk about it anymore. What then? Many of us know what it’s like to still need to talk beyond the limits of what others think is normal or necessary.

Write. Create. Run.

There is more than one way to help release the pain. Talking is one, but doing is another.

I found that by writing my story out in journal form was just the right dose of catharsis I needed. It’s helped me find peace. Then it grew into something altogether new. A novel.

Although I wrote the story from a totally fictional standpoint, bringing my character to life and through the same sort of trauma – and healing – was healing for me, in that I had to be honest with myself as to what healing really was. Looked like, from the inside. In writing this fictionalized version of a truth that so many of us live through, it also gave me just the right outlet to vent and talk as much as I need/want to. It doesn’t matter that my personal truth never make its way into the novel. It was the simple act of writing that helped.

And what’s more, I get to use my novel as a tool to help others heal! Talk about empowerment.

Just keep in mind, through the nature of our own creativity, you can find ways to help vent frustrations and emotion.

Writing. Cooking. Painting. Running.

There are more than a few ways that can help empower us that heal us too.

Healing. It’s not easy. It’s not clean. But if you find it helpful to be in control of who you tell, how you tell and when you tell your story, do it any way you feel fit.

It will totally release you.

If you’re about to talk about your trauma with someone who you’re not sure will believe you – or you’ve just talked to someone who didn’t believe you – check this out. It’s a list of what NOT to say to a survivor, along with an extended list of what TO say what will help us all heal.

And good luck. I believe you.

This post was originally published for The Survivor Manual on April 4, 2014.

Lia-Mack-400-400Lia Mack is the author of Waiting for Paint to Dry (Pen L, May 2015), one woman’s quest to reclaim inner peace, take back her life, and stumble into love… Mack has also seen her creative non-fiction writing in various publications such as The Washington Post, Nickelodeon Jr. Magazine, Advances in Bereavement Magazine and Nesting Magazine.

You can visit her online at www.LiaMack.com.

Removing Toxic People From Your Life…

removing toxic people from your life

CC Creative Commons

There’s a lot of information out there about toxins and their lasting negative effects on our physical health. We all know about the detrimental effects of artificial preservatives, additives, pesticides, and the like. But what about the negative effect toxic people have on our heath?

Can encounters with toxic people effect our physical, mental, and emotional health? If so, how do we protect ourselves from further harm? Then again, we survivors always struggle with putting our own needs first…Is it selfish to remove toxic people from our life?

Before you answer that hard question, ask yourself one more: Could removing such people turn out to be life saving?

Emotionally toxic people can ravage us from the inside out. Yet, what exactly defines a toxic person depends on who you talk to. In my life, I’ve found toxic people are those who:

  • take and never give in return
  • constantly complain
  • gossips
  • puts others down
  • makes others feel guilty
  • can only criticize

What all toxic people have in common is that they always leave us powerless, vulnerable, and depleted. And for us, feeling this way for long periods of time is devastating to our physical and emotional health. All in all, toxic people don’t help us, they harm us.

Just as with toxins in our food and environment, to keep ourselves safe, toxic people need to be avoided whenever possible.

On my blog, I’ve shared what works for me to keep myself, my sanity, safe whenever I’m in the presence of a toxic person. Since then, I’ve shared it countless times and helped others remove toxins from their lives too. So, below, I’ve shared them again, with you.

Be forewarned, though. Some of these tips are going to be hard to swallow at first. But try them out for yourself anyway. See what works for you. So far, following these guidelines has helped me not only be toxic people free, but also stress free. What a life saver…

Walk Away

Say, for instance, you are in a room full of people, and someone starts gossiping, ranting about this or that, complaining about anything and everything, and you know – you know – that no matter what you say, however eloquent, you will never change this person’s mind…just walk away.You do not have to be there to hear all of their negativity. Your presence is not necessary. They will rant and complain to anyone! Who says it has to be you anymore?Leave with your sanity intact! Save yourself!

Here’s what you do: Stand up, totally calm, grab your children so they can escape too, and nonchalantly leave the room. Come back only when you know enough time has passed that everyone else in the room has argued ’till they’re blue in the face with the toxic person, to no avail, and the topic has been changed.

Phew! You saved yourself from a toxic encounter!

Take Yourself Out of the Equation

How about this…There was a huge misunderstanding between you and someone and, had it happened between you and a person capable of having a normal conversation, it would’ve been resolved in a calm, adult conversation.Except this is a toxic person. They do not know how to have a conversation. They only know how to yell, scream, belittle. Nothing is normal about them. Instead of coming to you with the problem, they’ve been gossiping to everyone how you did this and you did that, bad mouthing you to everyone and anyone who will listen. It doesn’t matter if what they say is false or true, take yourself out of the equation.Don’t play their game. Don’t stoop to their level. Don’t counter act all their assaults. Remove yourself. If need be, say your bit to the toxic person – just the facts – totally calm and firm, and then let it go. You did your part. You’ve cleaned yourself of the misunderstanding. Now, let it go.

Chances are everyone else is just as fed up with this person as you are. Eventually, everyone will see that it’s just another one of this toxic person’s tirades and will start see your wise ways of getting out of the way. They too will remove themselves from this person’s path, seeing how calm and relaxed you are by no longer being involved with this toxic person.

If they don’t, it’s not your problem. Take care of yourself.

Take Responsibility

For your health! It’s your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? No one.Are you going to continue to let this person shape your life for the worse? Allow yourself to feel the effects of their negativity so much that it is effecting your health? They take and never give.Who is to blame that this person is still in your life? Them? Nope, sorry folks. It’s no one’s fault but your own.  They are always going to do what they do. But what they do to you is up to you. No one else.

If you don’t want to be treated poorly, don’t allow it. Do what you have to do to take control of your life. If that means no longer engaging someone in a conversation because you know it’s going to turn sour, then don’t!

If you know that just by being around a certain toxic person brings you down and causes you to feel horrible for days, weeks later, then limit or restrict your contact with that person.

You are in charge of your life, of you. Don’t let others bring you down. You have to take care of your health so that you can take care of all the other things and people in your life you are responsible for.

I know this is the hardest one to swallow, but it’s true. Just think about it. You are in charge of you. You need to take care of you. You. You. You!

So, there you have it. My own ways of dealing with the toxins in my life. What works for you may be different, as there are many ways in which you can save your sanity and your health.

If you have any of your own ideas and tips, please share! We can all use additional tools in our arsenal against our toxic common enemies…

That said, here’s to taking great care of ourselves and removing toxins from our life!



Lia-Mack-400-400Lia Mack is the author of Waiting for Paint to Dry (Pen L, May 2015), one woman’s quest to reclaim inner peace, take back her life, and stumble into love… Mack has also seen her creative non-fiction writing in various publications such as The Washington Post, Nickelodeon Jr. Magazine, Advances in Bereavement Magazine and Nesting Magazine.

You can visit her online at www.LiaMack.com.

Sexual Assault Survivors Tell Stories of Resiliency

The mission of the Powerful Voices Project is to educate, empower, and enhance the conversation around sexual assault and its survivors. We create short films illuminating the strength and resiliency that of sexual assault survivors.

The Project is about…

  • Empowering survivors who focus on their personal stories.
  • Preventing sexual abuse by raising awareness and for the first time, revealing the steps to recovery and resiliency.
  • Being grounded in principles of public health and best practices.
  • Our dedication to diversity and inclusiveness regarding gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, age, ethnicity, religion, geography, and class.

Watch our most recently released video:

steph

Stephanie Hamilton-Oravetz experienced very long-term abuse as a child at the hands of her psychiatrist father. As an adult, she has devoted her career to psychology and supporting vulnerable populations through their own trauma, all the while, keeping her own story deeply buried.

In 2014, realizing that she had a lifetime of emotional distance between herself and those she loves most, Stephanie has set out to release her story and express herself as a means to recovery, and her own resiliency. Stephanie is an accomplished photographer and a powerful voice in this movement.

Watch how photography, community, and her ability to speak out has impacted Stephanie’s journey.

Your story matters & you are not alone.

Contact us to explore telling your story and/or supporting our work.

“What do I do if no one believes me?” Healing from rape…

“What do I do if no one believes me?” Healing from rape…
Content
Few people would believe you if you told them there is something worse than rape, but there is: it’s finally finding the courage to speak up – to tell someone that you’ve been raped – only to be called a liar.

“All girls cry rape.”

“Guys can’t get raped.”

How many times have you heard someone say something like this? Dismissive comments hurt, especially when the victim just needs someone to talk to. Because, as they say, talking is the best therapy, so long as you can trust you’ll be listened to. Heard. Believed.

Being disbelieved is a survivor’s greatest fear.

According to Rape Response Services (RRSonline.org), there are “many different ways perpetrators use sexual violence to hurt their victims and there are many different ways in which people respond to sexual violence.” It does not matter if your trauma happened according to the rules that other people would agree upon. It does not matter if they would consider what happened to you as rape.

You know what happened because it happened to you and you were there. Not them. And it’s still bothering you because rape is an enormous challenge to heal from. If you’ve been hurt by someone not believing you, tell them this: according to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault “false rape reports only happen 2% of the time.” That means 98% of the time someone is telling the truth. You’re telling the truth. You just need someone to talk to who will believe you. It’s the best way to heal.

Call a Sexual Assault Center: it’s a good place to start.

If you’re afraid that no one will believe you – or you’ve already found that the one person you entrusted with your story does not – go to a validated and trusted source of support for sexual abuse survivors. People at national and local sexual assault organizations are trained to not only help you handle the trauma, but also be there for you in support. If you have no one else to talk to, or are too afraid of being shut down by not being believed, start here. Call someone who you know will listen and start the conversation of your healing.

Don’t let the fear that others won’t believe you get in the way of finding the help and support you need.

You need help. You need support. And everyone is different.

Don’t let the fear of someone not believing you stop you from finding that one family member of friend who will. Or don’t let them stop you from seeking out professional help from a trained sexual assault volunteer or counselor. There are people out there, just for you. And they will believe you. Rape doesn’t happen in just one way to just one type of person and they understand that. Once you find someone to talk to who believes you, you can ask them to be involved in helping you talk to others who won’t, if you feel you need to tell all to help you heal. Everyone is different. Heal in your own way.

Don’t let other people’s perception or reaction deter you from speaking up and seeking help.

Out of a handful of people you might tell in your lifetime, some will believe you and others will not. It’s just the way it is. People often times have a set belief system in place, long before you speak up, that inhibits them from understanding, listening or even hearing you when it comes to rape. They will only believe what they believe to be true. But you don’t let their perception of what rape is or their reaction to hearing you speak about your experience stop you from healing. What one person or even a handful of people say of your story is not your story.

Be in control.

You own your story. This happened to you. Someone took away your control and you will get it back, right? So be the one in control of who you tell, how you tell, when you tell someone about your trauma. You pick the time, the place, the person. And you set up boundaries with yourself beforehand of how much information you want to give out and to whom. Some people will be able to hear it all and be there for you. Others will only be able to handle an ounce of what you’ve been through. And that’s okay. That is their reaction. Not yours. Do not allow their reaction – good or bad – be part of how you feel about what happened to you. Keep your story safe with you and only give out what you are comfortable telling. And to whom you are comfortable telling it to.

If there are some people in your inner circle that you don’t trust to believe you, don’t tell them. You do not owe anyone. You don’t have to tell anyone you don’t want to. This happened to you, so take charge in a way that helps you feel more in control over what happened. And even if you can only find one person who believes you and will listen, don’t let that get in the way of your healing. Sometimes all it takes is one person to be there for you to open the door within you that will lead you to a path of better healing. Whatever you chose to do, do what you need to do to stay in control and heal.

It’s okay to wait until you feel safe.

If you’ve just been assaulted or raped, report it ASAP. The authorities will help you find the support you need. But what do you do when it’s been years and it’s still eating at you? You still have the details and emotions rumbling in you?

Or what if you’re like me and you’ve talked until those who were there just don’t want to hear or talk about it anymore. What then? Many of us know what it’s like to still need to talk beyond the limits of what others think is normal or necessary.

Write. Create. Work. Run.

There is more than one way to help release the pain. Talking is one, but doing is another.

I found that by writing my story out in journal form was just the right dose of catharsis I needed. It’s helped me find peace. Then it grew into something altogether new. A novel.

Although I wrote the story from a totally fictional standpoint, bringing my character to life and through the same sort of trauma – and healing – was healing for me, in that I had to be honest with myself as to what healing really was. Looked like, from the inside. In writing this fictionalized version of a truth that so many of us live through, it also gave me just the right outlet to vent and talk as much as I need/want to. It doesn’t matter that my personal truth never make its way into the novel. It was the simple act of writing that helped.

And what’s more, I get to use my novel as a tool to help others heal!

Talk about empowerment.

Just keep in mind, through the nature of our own creativity, you can find ways to help vent frustrations and emotion.

Writing. Cooking. Painting. Running.

There are more than a few ways that can help empower us that heal us too.

Healing. It’s not easy. It’s not clean. But if you find it helpful to be in control of who you tell, how you tell and when you tell your story, do it any way you feel fit.

It will totally release you.

If you’re about to talk about your trauma with someone who you’re not sure will believe you – or you’ve just talked to someone who didn’t believe you – check this out. It’s a list of what NOT to say to a survivor, along with an extended list of what TO say what will help us all heal.

And good luck. I believe you.


Lia-Mack-400-400Lia Mack is the author of Waiting for Paint to Dry (Pen L, May 2015), one woman’s quest to reclaim inner peace, take back her life, and stumble into love… Mack has also seen her creative non-fiction writing in various publications such as The Washington Post, Nickelodeon Jr. Magazine, Advances in Bereavement Magazine and Nesting Magazine.

You can visit her online at www.LiaMack.com.

End CSA NOW! EVENT – Save the Date

Join us in bringing awareness, prevention, and dialogue
to end child sexual abuse.

End Child Sexual Abuse NOW!
>>>EVENT<<<

Saturday, April 19, 1:30 – 4:30pm
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 9th Street, Oakland

As many of you know myself and 8 community members have been working to create an event that emphasizes the importance of community involvement to end child sexual abuse (CSA) and increase visibility of those impacted by it.

Please SAVE THE DATE. This event will include:

  • Discussions about current efforts being made to address CSA;
  • Community forum to bring voice to those impacted by CSA;
  • Special film screening of preliminary footage from You Me and the Fruit Trees;
  • Resources and information sharing;
  • Healing arts activity;
  • Most importantly, we want to bring visibility to this largely shrouded issue by leading a community march to the local city hall as a call to action!

Parts of the event will be filmed for the documentary my team and I are currently producing. It’s a character driven film that follows several survivors of CSA and includes leaders in the movement to end child sexual abuse as well as other community members impacted by CSA. For more information on this documentary please visit: Trailer

We are also thrilled and honored to share that the City of Berkeley unanimously passed our proclamation to recognize “End Child Sexual Abuse NOW!” as a day in Berkeley. We have a whole lot to celebrate and hope you can be there April 19th to celebrate with us!

Please share this invitation with your networks through social media, tweet it, post it and forward this post to your friends, co-workers and family.  Invite your friends on Facebook here:  End CSA EVENT

Stay tune for a list of speakers and more details.

Together we can end CSA!

Tracey Quezada –info@traceyquezadaproductions.com
&
Danielle Castro – Danielle.castro@ucsf.edu

Mending: Repairing the Trust Between Myself and Humanity One Mistake at a Time.

 

Kitsukuroi: (n.) (v. phr.) “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

February 4, 2014  by Dasha Cohen

Six years ago today, I was raped. And before your brain gets stuck in the details, let me just clear it up so you can judge me now instead of waiting till the end of the page: It was a guy I had met earlier that night, he was a friend of my roommate, I drank too much, we came home, I said no, he didn’t care. I was wearing a pair of jeans, boots, a long-sleeved thermal, a fleece vest, and a down coat.

It messed me up. For years it affected my work, my relationships, my sleep, my health—it was like a cancer, slowly spreading into every part of my life.

Nothing was the same after it happened. I didn’t love the same, I didn’t laugh the same, I didn’t even move the same. I started to cover my body up with layers of sweaters and weight brought on by alcohol and over-eating. Wine and pizza were my Prozac, and I took too much.

I couldn’t really talk to my family anymore. I hated myself for what had happened and I couldn’t let someone like me dirty the lives of people like them. They were good enough people. They had raised me and loved me. They weren’t perfect, but they deserved someone more than a daughter, a niece, a sister, like me.

I let go of most of my friends. They were better off. At work I was irritable, irresponsible, and operated with a hair-trigger temper. I cried a lot, raged more. Before I was raped I was working toward going to graduate school. I let that go, too. I didn’t believe I was smart enough or steady enough to get in, let alone succeed and graduate.

Before long I was stripped of my friends, my career, my sense of purpose, and my family. Where once had a stood a lively, healthy, career-driven girl there was only me: hung over, working in a liquor store, feeling only the gray and a lingering headache.

I stayed numb for the first five years after the rape. Food, alcohol, work, books, even pills. I went for anything that could turn my head and make me not look at the pit that was my life. For five years.

But this is where it gets really confusing. In those five years, the ones where I let go of so much and fell so far down a hole, I still managed to get married, have a baby, start a business, and finally get well.

I had split myself. Some call it compartmentalizing. Somewhere along the way I became two people, one who only went downhill and the other who had everything to gain. There was the old me that had been doing pretty well until she let herself get raped, and then there was the new me, the one that married the nice Jewish boy from temple. I lived as these two women, the good and the bad, the dark and the light. Sometimes the good one, the wife and mother, propelled my body through my days, smiling at friends, getting her work done, weeding her garden, wearing her mask like a pro. She was in complete denial. She had never been raped.

Other days, and mostly nights, the bad side burned. She stewed in her insecurities and self-perpetuated crises. She drank. She cried. She let the ghosts walk all over her and no matter what she did, no matter how much she ate or drank or screamed, the rape happened over and over again in her head.

I survived because I cut myself in two. I lived like this, the person who was raped and the person who wasn’t until they finally met. Then all hell broke loose.

It was March, a Saturday. The baby was napping, my husband was drinking coffee, and I was poking around the Internet. A story came up about numbing through food, alcohol, and drugs. It was about avoiding whatever hurt had had happened to you until the act of avoidance was what destroyed you, not the thing itself.

That was the moment that the two sides of me turned and saw each other. The treaty that had been reached between them was broken. The girl I was before I was raped was furious to discover she had lost so much of her old life and purpose—the grad school, the freedom of being single, the friends, the travel. The woman who has now a wife and mother, who had lived in denial, was shocked and horrified to finally feel what had happened. They were both in a lot of pain. I began the battle to fix it all, to restore my life, reconcile the two sides of me, and get through not only the rape itself, but the fallout. I’m still working on the fallout.

At the beginning of this process, I wanted to hate men. My husband was the nearest target. On the worst night after I began my recovery, a night where my husband and I sat fighting and crying on the bedroom floor, I got up and ran out. I grabbed my keys, got in my car, and just drove. I was furious with him, with me, with all of it. Bless him, he has been, and he has tried, to be there for me and see me through it, but at that moment I needed to be without him.

At the gas station not far from our house I sat barefooted in my car trying to breathe through the adrenaline and panic that had thrown me there. I watched the men coming and going from the convenience store and wondered which of them were predators, if not all. I needed to call someone. I needed to hear the voice of someone who loved me. And the only three people that came to mind were men.

I flipped my phone over and over in my hand, thinking of those three men, thinking that they could never do what was done to me. As much as I wanted to hate men, I couldn’t. My husband, my son, and the three men that walk this earth like my brothers are good people, good souls.

As I made my way through the next six months of therapy, research, and processing, I held onto that night. I held onto the thought that not all men were bad, that not all people were bad. What choice did I have.

Today, on the anniversary of the rape, I was home with my son when the plumbers came. A pipe had frozen out back and snapped clean off. Record cold temps had turned my normally passive Pacific Northwest February into a real winter month. Since I was raped home hasn’t been home. Having men in the house, especially men I don’t know, has been enough to set me into an irritable panic. Over the years most parties and dinners have been preceded by anxiety and vomiting.

The two plumbers, one young and one old, kicked the dirt and bent their heads to the cold and the wind. They had done all they could until my landlord could get there in another twenty minutes or so. The young one wasn’t wearing much of a coat. I left them to it, and then went inside and locked the door.

My son was napping down the hall. Suddenly I found myself wondering about that young man’s mother. He was out there, no hat, no gloves, a whisper of a coat on him. He was well spoken, and looked like a former college kid down on his luck. He was clearly just an assistant and not a trained plumber. What would his mother say to me? I thought of my own son and wondered if some nice lady would let him stand in the howling cold while she retreated into her warm home and paralyzing fears.

I unbolted the door and asked him in for coffee.

The older one said he was too dirty for the house and took to the truck. While the younger one and I drank our coffee and waited the ten minutes for my landlord to come, we made small talk about the weather, the house, the kitchen table my husband had refinished. And I didn’t panic or shake. I didn’t feel the need to run for the bathroom. There was a man in my house that I didn’t know and he was nothing more than just that—a young man having a cup of coffee.

I was raped six years ago today. That young man, whoever he was, proved that to me. It was six years ago, not yesterday. And in my heart, I finally know that.

Dasha Cohen

 

Love, Support and Protection for Male #Survivors

Help for Male Survivors

Today, writer Danielle Paradis shared helpful information–including facts supported by legal precedent–to help to remind you that you are not to blame for what took place, and she also shared a must-see video.

Coercion is Sexual Assault: Erasing Male Rape Victims

by Danielle Paradis

It really surprised me today that an MRA going by the name Angry Harry would present me with a blog post on what they are calling “Violence Against Men Day” with a post that describes a scene with a woman withdrawing consent, but then continuing with the act of sex–and apparently enjoying it.

What surprised me about this post was that he dismissed the way in which a male friend of mine was raped. He dismissed coercion as a rape tactic. Which is incidentally the way in which men are often sexually assaulted. Of course, he did this to dismiss feminists discussion of rape, but the point remains. It’s really offensive to throw male victims under the bus to prove a point. It’s Rape Culture at its finest. ()

Please Click Here to Read the Full Blog Post.

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Here’s a big “Mwah” for male survivors out there. Plus a “Squish!” for good measure.

We see you, and we love you.

You.Are.Loved.

Namaste,

Jaye

More Help For Male Survivors

 

As I Breathe, I Learn. 4 Tips for Creating An Attitude of Gratitude

PeaceandCalm 

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The Little Prince

Life is for learning. How often have you heard this or a similar sentiment, doing your best to suss out what that means, or filing it away entirely?

It can be hard to see sometimes but every day, we’re graced with at least one major opportunity to learn about ourselves. These lessons don’t have to be hard-earned, or even hard, but often they can feel that way. We can of course learn from what’s comfortable and uncomfortable in our experiences.

I’m firmly convinced that everything and everyone in our experience teaches us something.

Noted author Kahlil Gibran brought to mind the idea that we can always discover and explore lessons in kindness from those who seem unkind…as he digs even deeper into the idea, he chides us for complaining about others who are unkind, calling such expressions ungrateful. In a sense, he could be right.

Right?

As I reconnect with the idea however, I realize that complaint is an expression of a desire for things to be better, an elevated “ouch!” and ultimately the soul’s request for healing and insight. So-called “ungrateful” expressions are gratitudes not yet discovered or explored, expressed or claimed.

Yes, mean people (more kindly seen, hurt people who are acting out with actions that could be viewed as mean) can in fact always teach us to be “a little kinder.” Reflecting kindness back to disharmonious people or in uncomfortable situations is a decision, a habit, a practice.

Here are four tips to keep handy when you want to claim, reclaim, or experience an “attitude of gratitude:”

  1. Accept What Is, Right Now:  Making yourself or others wrong helps no one’s progress, and yet sometimes it’s the best we know. Once you accept what is and make peace with it, you can operate and make decisions with a clearer head. It also makes letting go of the past, forgetting mistakes, and dropping any perceived hurt sense that much easier.
  2. Focus on Learning Instead of Reacting: Be curious, stay in wonder (I got this “wonder-full” learning tip from  Gay and Katie Hendricks). When you are in reaction mode, it can rob you of the opportunity to make more conscious and loving decisions. Responding in a “like with like” manner (i.e. “You’re mean, so I’ll be mean”) destroys any chance of helping either party feel better. Ultimately, water puts out fires. Be like water. Here’s a great example, courtesy of Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks: ask, “I wonder what that means?” Being in a state of wonder can be internal. It’s something you can even just think to yourself. If the other party is somewhat interactive and willing to engage with you, you could even proactively ask, “Hm, I’m curious…what did you mean by that?” and stay present for their response with no attachment to what the outcome “should” be like.
  3. Make It “A New Day:” Let’s say you react with bitter tears, you mouth off like a hothead, or you otherwise seem to disappoint yourself in any given situation. Now, what? So what? Shrug it all off and make it a new day, right now. Whether that mental change happens in the early morning, late afternoon or middle of the night, just begin again. We can always begin anew. That’s why we call spiritual practices practices.
  4. Just Be Kind: Above all, just be kind. We are all doing the best we can. Just because someone else’s version of “doing their best” isn’t at all apparent to you, it doesn’t change this universal truth. Apply this rule to yourself first and foremost. Don’t worry, it’s not selfish—it will automatically reflect outward in your interactions with others. That’s just how life works.

Namaste,

Jaye

Good: Grief. On Grief, Remembrances and Moving Forward.

bloom

On Grief, Remembrances and Moving Forward.

by Jaye Johnson

What’s grief but a felt sense of loss?

And what’s remembrance but a… re-membering? A sense of “Putting it all back together.”

When we lose or lose touch with people we know, know of, love and respect, the pain can seem so hard to bear. So unspeakable. But speak about it we must.

Unresolved feelings—including mournful ones—find ways and means of expression that surprise us in ways we can’t even comprehend. For health’s sake, for closure’s sake, breathing life into grief so that it can transform, resolve itself, bring about healing, is essential to your well-being.

As each day makes its way into our collective consciousness, I renew my thoughts.

I remind myself of the spiritual truth that nothing is ever lost or hidden in Divine Mind. Memories keep our loved ones alive—this Life is eternal. Paradoxically, these feelings of being separated from others remind us of how we are all interconnected.

Seeing each day, moment, holiday, ritual, shared or sacred time as symbolic, we honor and celebrate all that is lovable with in ourselves.

Each life is precious. Each life lost…still cherished.

You are precious. You are cherished. Your loving thoughts keep those you have lost alive. Precious. Cherished.

Namaste,

Jaye

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Healing Happens: Discover Helpful Resources & Links

Angela Shelton – Healing – Angela Shelton is a healing sherpa and a walking, rocking testament that joy and healing happens. I’ve never seen anyone handle even grief quite like her. Great rest stop on the long and winding road, great space for online dance breaks!

This Is A War – Grief – Helpful reminders and ideas to help you navigate through the grieving process at your own pace.

Grief and Creativity – Creativity is forever an act of faith. It can help to get you moving out of any transition process simply “in the doingness of creative things.” Check it out.

Losing Your Parents  – Deals with grief and loss in terms of losing your parents. Great support and heart-opening updates.

 


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