Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog post and watch this video resource. As always, I want to say I appreciate you being here and my sincere hope is that you will share this valuable resource with a trauma survivor you know and love.
As trauma survivors we often struggle to feel safe in all aspects of our life. In this debut episode, Bobbi Parish and I talk about how to establish safety emotionally, physically and relationally. All survivors and their supporters are welcome!
Please enjoy and share with someone you love : )
P.S. * a complete transcript is available below
Trauma Survivors & Safety
Athena: We are live on our very first Google Hangout on Air. My name is Athena Moberg and this is my amazing partner, Bobbi Parish.
Bobbi: Hi everybody. Welcome. We’re so excited you’re here.
Athena: Yeah. We’re both brand new to this. If you don’t know either one of us, I’m Athena and I live in Hawaii and my partner Bobbi lives in Texas. Bobbi is a therapist and I’m a certified professional coach and this is a live Google Hangout on Air for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. If you are here participating because you are part of our Twitter family, our sex abuse chat family which happens every Tuesday at 6pm Pacific Time, 9:00 Eastern. Yeah, I’m assuming that the people who are finding us right now are from our Twitter family but maybe they’re not. What do you think?
Bobbi: I think so. I know that there are people out there who are watching this from our Twitter family. But we’ve also been posting to Facebook and Twitter so I’m hoping that however you got here that you know that you are so welcome and that you are the reason why we’re here.
Athena: Absolutely. Not too far away from now, we are going to be having this broadcast available on iTunes and Stitcher and SoundCloud as the podcast that you can download on your smartphone or your tablet. We will also be available on Roku devices so lots of really interesting, amazing things coming up in the future. We’re just really excited that you’re here. We want you to know that this is a safe place. The reason that we show up every single week in our Twitter chat and here on our live Google Hangouts on Air is so that you, the adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, have a safe place to come and receive peer support that is non-judgmental. We just wanna make sure that we are welcoming you, wherever it is that you are tuning from. We’re just excited that you’re here and since this is our very first broadcast, we’ve obviously just tumbling our way through. We thank you for playing along with us.
Bobbi: One of the things that Athena and I really really want you to understand is that we’re here and we’re being vulnerable and we’re being real. We’re not here to let you know that we have completely recovered. We’re both survivors ourselves and that we have all the answers because we certainly don’t. There may be times that one of the other of us might get upset and might get a little teary and that’s okay. That’s fine with us because we are here to show you that we understand what it’s like to be a trauma survivor and to in a trauma recovery. Now we want you to understand that you aren’t alone. So many times, for people who have suffered trauma especially childhood trauma, they feel so isolated and they feel so alone. We want you to understand that you are not alone. Even if you’re sitting there in the middle of the night, 3:00 in the morning, you just stumbled across this video on YouTube and it has been 3 months since we taped it. No, you’re not alone. We have a lot of followers in Twitter, we have Facebook support groups. We have a lot of ways for you to connect with us. And so please don’t hesitate to reach out to either Athena or I. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to make sure that you realize that you’re not alone, or not accepted or supported.
Athena: I love that. I’m glad that you brought that up. We have so many resources that are gonna be becoming available to you. I just brought my business online this year, in the year of 2014. I built my website in 2013 but I really didn’t bring it online and even begin to know what I was doing until several months ago. Since that time, I have been taking online courses and learning how to be a better source of support for you, the survivor, you the person who feels alone or ashamed or sad or overwhelmed or suicidal or just completely in despair. We’re excited to be able to provide tons of free resources for you and in the coming months, we will be offering a way for you to pay for premium content, online courses, ways that are much more affordable than therapy or the different ways that people are receiving support for childhood sexual abuse. But the complimentary resources that we provide for you will always be complimentary. If there is ever a way we can help you personally one-on-one, obviously we will be having those ways. Those opportunities and resources available for you as well as one-on-one coaching, courses, webinars and other paid events. But this will always be complimentary. This weekly Google Hangout. Our Twitter chat is always free and our very dear friend and colleague, Rachel Thompson, who is an award winning author of the book called Broken Pieces. She’s started sexual abuse chat which is on Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific Time and that is how many of us met. Rachel had the courage to step out in faith and start a Twitter chat and everybody just came and joined and we all became community of family. We all have private Facebook groups and other ways that we connect offline. We’re just excited that you’re here. We do have an agenda for today’s show. We were just so excited to tell you who we are and why we’re here and perhaps when this does go on to iTunes and Stitcher and SoundCloud, this would be labeled Episode Intro so that you can maybe get a feel for whatever it is that we’re about and what we are looking to offer in the future.
Bobbi: We’ll be here every week. So just in case you missed something, we didn’t share you something, I do wanna share with you real quick. These are ways that you can connect with Athena and I. There’s our Twitter handles. We were doing a lot of our work underneath the umbrella of the NoMoreShame Project. When we first started our Twitter chat, we develop our own little model, called NoMoreShame because our intent was to rid ourselves of the shame that we have felt since we were children and since we were abused. And in the NoMoreShameProject came about when we started the Anthology project. A couple of months have actually and it closes this Friday if you wanted to make a submission. There’s information on both Athena’s and I’s websites. And now, Athena and I have come under the umbrella of that project to offer this Google Hangout. Our email addresses are on there: mine, Athena’s and then the NoMoreShameProject@gmail.com. You can contact us at any of those. The Facebook page, the NoMoreShame Project and Athena and I are both on Facebook individually as well and then there are our websites.
Athena: Yeah. I wanna tell people about the Anthology. Can I tell them about the Anthology?
Bobbi: Absolutely. Yes, yes.
Athena: Okay. So it sounds super fancy and it really is. The NoMoreShame Project Anthology Volume I is a book project – a real life book. Not just an eBook, not just a downloadable resource that you’re able to purchase. It’s an actual paperback book and the publishing date for that book is November 17, so mark your calendars. I wanna just tell them what the Anthology project is and what it’s going to include.
Athena: Awesome. Like what I was sharing with people this week, the Anthology Volume I of NoMoreShame Project is a book that will be published on November 17 and it is a compilation of survivor’s stories. The only criteria for being accepted or able to submit for this book project is that you are in fact an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and that the content was written by you and not previously published.
Athena: How many submissions have we received, Bobbi?
Bobbi: Oh gosh, we’ve received probably close to 40. A lot of people sent material in and I know a lot of people are still planning to. The deadline is this Friday at midnight.
Athena: Okay so if you are watching this live, that’s 48 hours away. So this is an opportunity for survivors to either use a pen name or not use a pen name.
Bobbi: Absolutely. You can do it anonymous, too.
Athena: And it’s not a work of fiction. This is actually true, non-fiction, essay or poetry. Obviously, using a pen name will protect you if you were not able to come to that place where you are – perhaps you haven’t confronted your abuser, perhaps you are very sensitive to the ramifications of what could happen with your family, perhaps you have young children. You can be protecting yourself or family members for a number of reasons and that is only your choice. It’s never up to us.
Bobbi: Right. Whatever you wanna do, that’s fine. We support you.
Athena: Yeah and I had an interesting thing happen Bobbie. I had someone email me and say “No, I’m past the point of anger. I’m no longer angry so I wouldn’t wanna participate in your project.” And I thought, hmmm, that’s interesting. I’m so curious about that. I tried to dialogue that comfort with this person but I just need people to know that this project is definitely not about anger.
Bobbi: No, it’s not about anger, vengeance, any of that.
Athena. And I realized that coming out and sharing and really facing the things that happened to us when we were children and how they’ve affected us in our adult life and all of our relationships can be very frightening. And, it can trigger emotions. One of those emotions is anger. However, we are not in any way nor we’re we ever encourage people to write about the things that happened to them when they were younger in an effort to punish or be angry. That’s not what this project is about. This project, as I understand it, and how it has been formed and developed from its beginning stages, is a beautiful way for survivors to find their voice and share their voice. Some survivors are finding their voice and sharing their voice for the first time in their entire lives by writing.
Bobbi: Yes and it’s so amazing. It’s amazing to watch that in the entries that I’m getting where people are saying “This is the first time I’ve told my story and I feel so free. And that’s the reason why we did this. This is the reason why we do the Twitter chat. One of the big reasons is to be able to give survivors a platform to share their voice and to share their story. In fact, you’ll notice that our tagline for the NoMoreShame Project is “Every Survivor, Every Voice, Every Story” because we want every survivor to have a way to tell their story and to share their voice. One of the most powerful things that abusers rely on is shame and they rely on that shame to keep us silent. So when we’re not silent anymore, when we use our voice, when we tell our story, then we get rid of some of that shame. And then, once we get rid of some of that shame, we can do our work and we really can get into recovery. It’s hard to do recovery and explore those traumatic memories. And feel all those feelings more and be angry about things we might need to be angry about when the overwhelming thing we feel is shame. So we’re here to give you a platform in any way, in Google Hangout, in Twitter chat, in webinars, in the classes, in some of our support groups if you want to belong. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Athena or I and we can help you plugged in your secret, private support groups. No one can come in there except the people we’ve allowed, no one can see them, no one will be able to know the truth there. That’s the core of what we’re about – is giving you a place, a safe place to get rid of your shame. To come together in a community. That really is another big thing that we’re trying to do – to bring survivors together in a community. Because when we come together in community where we’re able to say “Hey, that happened to me too. I think that way, I feel that way.” In fact this is a good way for Athena to end the topic for the tonight which was Creating Safety for Ourselves. And this was the topic we talked about last night in Twitter chat. And that’s what we’re gonna be doing each week. We’re gonna take you to the topic we do on Tuesday nights, Twitter chat. And then we’re gonna carry that topic over to into our Google Hangouts. And last night we talked about Creating Safety. And safety is a huge issue for some survivors. Because the abuser stole our safety and it taught us that we are not safe. We are not safe in our bodies, we are not safe in the world. And I talked about how I got in public, I like to sit in the back against the wall and I like to sit so I’m facing the doorway so I can see who will comes and goes. It was so powerful to see the other people go. In fact, I don’t even like when I’m standing in line in the grocery store and someone is behind me. That is so powerful because even I think we feel like we’re weird. We’re an odd person out there in the world. But when you have other survivors that say “Hey, I did that. I know what that feels like. I’ve been there.” The shame goes.
Athena: The shame goes away. I want to share with everyone a quote: Community is shame’s kryptonite. What I mean by that if you are not familiar with the term is that when we allow ourselves to be in community with other survivors, shame no longer has a grip on us. We’re literally set free from the bondage of shame when we allow ourselves to be in community with other people. It was so powerful yesterday during our Twitter chat to watch our feed and everyone just responding. And then we had a gal, oh, I forgot, I wanted to do a little shoutout Bobbi. I wanted to give a shoutout to some of our new fans and followers in the UK. It is after 2:00 in the morning where you are at right now, it is 2:18 in the UK and we have some new friends and followers that are just blowing our minds. They’re just vulnerable and transparent and kind and supportive. It was really wonderful to see the dedication to our little community that was only started by Rachel and you in January. Here we are in the beginning of September 2014. It is only been 9 months and our community is so big. People are staying up to 2-3 in the morning just to be part of our chats to receive the non-judgmental support that is being provided that is complimentary and just being in community with others.
Bobbi: Exactly, and we have followers in New Zealand, in South Africa, Canada, Australia, Wales, I think we have a few in Scotland. That’s all that I know of right now. There might be others. We have a large community of people who lurk in our Twitter chat which is just fine with us because Twitter is a public forum.
Athena: I wanted to share with people what the word “lurk” means because some people go “ew lurk, that’s kind of derogatory word”. But what the word lurk means in social media realm is when you type in a hashtag, and you watch without participating. So you’re receiving the same amount of support, you’re reading what everyone is saying. “Oh me too.” “Oh I’ve been through that as well.” “That is something I’m struggling with also,” but you’re not chiming in on the conversation, so therefore, that is called ‘lurking’. It’s not some creepy weird word. That was brought to my attention by someone who says “what do you mean lurk”? It’s kind of really creepy word. So there’s nothing creepy about you.
Bobbi: We’re so not creepy people.
Athena: I think that we really tend to stay away from creepy people. We have enough creepiness in our lives. Let’s save way into our topic for this week which is carried over from Tuesdays. As you mentioned, every Tuesday, we have a topic in Twitter chat, it carries over to Wednesays. Why don’t you go ahead and take it away, Bobbi.
Bobbi: We talked about safety in 3 different ways. First is creating safety for ourselves physically. Second is creating safety for ourselves emotionally. Third aspect is creating safety for ourselves relationally. We talked about physical safety in terms of how can I feel safe in my home, how can I feel safe when I’m out in public, how can I feel safe at work, how can I establish a personal boundary around myself. I thought it was so interesting and I didn’t talked about this last night but I have been looking this week at mental health service dog which I think is the most incredible thing especially for so many survivors who deal with social anxiety. Getting a service dog can be so powerful. I worked with a client that had one and we have to take that dog to a grocery store, everywhere so we should train the dog so it was able to accompany her. But one of the things that they do with a service dog is that they can train the dog with a cue from the handler. And the dog places itself between a person near the dog owner and the owner. So the dog inserts itself between the two people just so that the person could feel that they have more of a physical boundary. And I thought that that was so amazing because many of us, when we go out, we don’t want to have people next to us and I think somebody talked about that last night. They were sitting at a diner or Starbucks or something. The place is virtually empty and this fellow comes and sits down like 6 inches away from her. That’s difficult for us to handle.
Athena: It is difficult because literally, we don’t have any control of our environment when we’re in public, obviously. Not much at all. And as survivors, I know just for myself, I prefer to be in an environment where I can not only have a physical boundary but also have some sort of way of asserting a boundary verbally. I really enjoy finding new ways to assert verbal boundaries or even relational boundaries with other family members or loved ones. Since a huge percentage of our survivor community has their abusers one of their family members or people that they were close to, it is difficult as adults to break that thought pattern of this person is a close family member or someone that is a loved one and they are safe because their mind is automatically thinking that they’re already are feeling that their family member or loved ones could potentially not safe because they were violated by family members of loved ones. So for me, what is all of this look like? How is this even play out? For me personally, the way that I assert relational boundaries in my own life is for instance, if I have family members that are recovering alcoholics or drug addicts and I tend to know, I can tell within just few minutes of speaking with them if they were to call me in the telephone, if in fact they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I can just tell because it is very well known in the survivor community that sexual abuse is oftentimes coupled with other types of abuse. It’s not just sexual abuse. Rarely is it ever just I only want to be near you and take away from you sexually. Often times, it is verbal abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse. There are several types of abuse. So in order to assert a relational boundary with family members or loved ones that perhaps tend to violate you without even knowing it because it’s just their way and they don’t have boundaries, I tend to either accept phone calls during daylight hours, when I know that the drug or alcohol use will be at minimum. Or if there is a certain tone of voice or an abusive verbiage that is being used. If people are being combative or abusive in their speech, even in joking way. Being abusive, even if they’re “joking” or “I was just kidding” is still abuse. As survivors, we need to know that it is okay to protect ourselves from family members, loved ones, “friends” that tend to be either verbally aggressive, passive aggressive abuse without even knowing it or intending to do it. We need to know that it’s okay to protect ourselves relationally. It can be a little bit more tricky, a little bit more difficult to protect ourselves relationally than physically because physical boundaries are clearly defined by physical space that is here and that is present. And relational boundaries can tend to rub into a sort of a great area that can be justified by our abusers and that is manipulative behaviors tend to sort of take over and cloud our judgment. For any of you that are out there watching right now and you found this and you stumbled on this and you’re wondering what is this creating safety and how do I create a safe place for myself. I just encourage you to reach out to Bobbi or myself. We will put all the information on the screen again before we sign off later. Reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, email and any way that you would like to reach us on our website and we will help you. We’re gonna have some resources posted shortly in the next coming weeks and months. Relational boundaries are difficult to assert and maintain because people don’t like them, because they’re so used to being able to act certain ways and if it makes us feel uncomfortable, we need to know that it’s okay to protect ourselves. So please just know that you’re not alone and that you can learn boundaries at an older age. You don’t have to already know what a boundary is. I didn’t even learn what a boundary was until I was in my mid 30’s. Seriously, in my mid 30’s. I didn’t know what a boundary was.
Bobbi: Even once we know it is, learning to assert it, learning to use it a totally different game, especially with family members, especially where we’ve been raised with family members who taught us that it was wrong to not listen to them, not obey them. For us to stand up and say “You know it’s not okay for you to treat me like that.” All of sudden you’re the black sheep of the family.
Athena: That’s me, that’s me. I’m black sheep. I recently needed to assert, maintain and re-maintain a healthy boundary with a family member of mine and it was not well received by the rest of the family. That particular family member that I asserted this boundary with and had maintained that boundary with has no problem whatsoever with me having a healthy boundary. In fact, they’re adjusting to my boundary so that I feel safe but the rest of the family has labeled me a sort of a snooty or I used to think like when I was young or kind of looking down at all of us. And that’s not the case. When you have boundaries, that does not mean that you are looking down at others. It means that you care enough about yourself to assert that boundary to create a safe place for you for sometimes, maybe the first time in your entire life. So, we support you, we are cheering you on, we’re your cheerleaders and we’ll help you learn how to create, assert and maintain those healthy boundaries so that you feel safe in your daily environment. And it’s just a moment by moment, day by day thing. None of us are ever gonna arrive or figure it all out. It’s just not that possible.
Bobbi: That’s one of the things we’ve talked about. We’re here to help you reduce your shame. We’re here to help you get into community with other survivors and we’re also here to educate you. Because one of the most important things that we want for you is that you feel empowered. And one of the ways you’re gonna feel empowered is if you have education. I started my recovery when I was a freshman in college and I went through the therapist, in and out, suicide attempts and it wasn’t until I got into my late 30’s that everyone set me down and said “This is what recovery from trauma looks like. This is what you should expect. This is what you’ll need to do. These are the goals for you in therapy.” And when someone did that I made huge head way. But until then, nobody ever shared that with me. So that’s what we’re here to do. We want you to know, this is how trauma affects you. This is how it affects your brain. This is how it affects your body. This is how it affects your relationship. This is the pitfalls that you’re gonna have. This is what’s gonna happen. And then we can help you move forward. Once you have all that information, I knew now that you are in control of your recovery. I’m not. Athena’s not. You are. And you can do that when you get rid of the shame, when you’re in community and when you’re educated. Huge things for you that we’re open to provide.
Athena: Absolutely. I think it’s really exciting when we find out that first of all, we’re not alone. Second of all, there are books and resources and things that have been around for decades about these very topics and I’ll never forget the first time I realized that all of the behavior patterns that I have been struggling with most of my life that were crippling me for having healthy relationships. This is a good example. I didn’t have any memories, any clear memories of my abuse that I was able to work through or address or recover from until I was into my 30’s. Now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t remember or have knowledge of that abuse. I definitely did but I didn’t address it, acknowledge it and decide to purposefully work through the effects of the abuse so that I can be a healthier adult. I will never forget when I realized I was having these memories and I got involved in a local community. Organization that was offering some support and when I sat down in this room with these complete strangers, and I heard their stories of their upbringing and their abuse, and how they were violated sexually by their family members of loved ones, I was baffled and somehow comforted by the fact that they were speaking my life story. It was interesting, I couldn’t believe that something that I thought was like I was the only one in the whole wide world that felt this way or that had these things happened. I didn’t know that it was so prevalent and I clearly remember like obviously when looking back, once I realized that I wasn’t alone and all these people had same experience, similar situations. They started describing their thought process and their relational behaviors. Several of them were talking about how they never quite felt they fit in and another one was saying she always felt everyone was looking at her and she never really quite had any friends, she always felt overweight, she never felt enough, she had deep, deep, deep shame and body image issues. Never has she felt quite comfortable in her own skin and it caused her to have fear of commitment and unable to be in a relationship longer than a month or two which is really normal and sort of status quo for survivors because historically speaking, when someone gets close to you overtime, long periods of time, longer than a couple months, and you let them in, that you are more vulnerable and they get an opportunity to abuse you. These are all things that go on behind the scene. These are no things that you’re constantly doing or thinking and when each of these women were sharing their thought process and their relational behaviors, I felt like I could take a deep breath for the first time. I felt like “OMG. I’m not weird.” It’s not just me. These people get me.
Bobbi: Yes and finally for the first time, you understand why you do what you do. I mean that to me was so powerful because we think “I’m just a bad person. If I were a good person, I wouldn’t do these things in my life so this just means that I’m bad.” No, it’s not that you’re bad. It’s just that you were abused, you suffered trauma, and as a result, the damage was done or some of us when we were raised in our families, there was so much chaos, so much abuse, so much neglect, that we didn’t get the normal lessons that people get from their parents. Our parents didn’t teach us how to choose partners in life. Our parents didn’t even teach us how to have a bank account or grocery shop or driving a car. They didn’t teach us how to have friendships and maybe they’ve got us isolated that we couldn’t have friends. So we don’t know any of those things. We go out into the world and all of a sudden, we realized all that we’ve lacked and that everybody else in the world seems to have. And so we think we’re bad. But when you finally understand that you’re not alone and that other people think and feel the same thing as you are, that huge “aha” moment. Wow.
Athena: Light bulb, light bulb.
Bobbi: It’s not to say that those things are normal but for survivors, they’re normal. And so, you’ll lose that shame.
Athena: And there’s such comfort in knowing and it’s not just an excuse. It’s not “Oh, I’ve done all these horrible things and have abused people and I know why, it’s because I was abused. That’s what it is and like as a justification for some sort of intentional wrong doing.” That’s not what we’re getting here at all. I think it’s just very powerful to know that in spite of the things that have happened to us when we were younger, we see things through a different lens. For instance, I’m married, I’m newly married. We’re still honeymooning. We’ve been just married just a few short years and my husband was raised in a family where his mom and dad has been married for 65 years. He has a loving brother and a loving sister and a niece and nephew who are incredible. They have this incredible support system for him his entire life. They’ve cheered him on and he did learn how to have a bank account and how to invest in stocks and bonds and how to buy a home and how to go to college and have relationships and friendships. Dinner was always at the same time and everyone always ate together. Shelter, food, clothing, relationships, love, affection – all of those things were provided on a daily basis in a safe environment for my husband and for his family and for all their family members who I have now met all of them. They see life through that lens, that everyone must have experience, something similar. And yet, my upbringing couldn’t be farther from that. There was no breakfast at the same time, lunch is packed and dinner is together and family vacations every summer visiting national parks and friends over for sleep over. This is how you do a bank account, this is how you do these things. Those things weren’t a priority. There was a level of absentism going on, whether it be emotionally or physically with my closest family members. And on top of that, the abuse which is difficult to address because my family members are all still living and this is life on the internet and while I do have a very healthy relationships now with almost all of my family members, it is still a little uncomfortable. I would be lying if I didn’t say it was uncomfortable for me to talk openly about this because I don’t want to inflict pain, like that person emailed me. Like, I’m not angry. I’m not planning to inflict pain and ruin anyone’s life or anything like that. That’s not what this is all about. But I do want to give other people permission to feel their feelings, to allow that healing to happen. If you’re a person of faith, I am a woman of faith, I believe that ever since I have opened up and become vulnerable, I am actually allowing God to heal me in places that I’ve never been healed in before. And that way, I’m able to show up, the way I’m showing up right now, on live internet television stuff with podcasting if you’re listening in on iTunes or Stitcher or SoundCloud or Roku. I’m able to actually show up in the world and share my voice and give a voice to other people because I am in a place where I feel safe, in community with others. People actually understand me. They don’t judge me. I’m not alone and the shame is flowing away. The layers are all coming off like I’m able to be healed in places I’ve never been healed before because I’m doing the work and I’m pressing in. I’m doing the difficult thing which is address the truth and then give myself permission to feel those feelings even if it means living with them for a moment which is painful, assessing responsibility and actually understanding the things that happened to me were not my fault. Often times, survivors go their entire lives into their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s thinking that the things that happened to them when they were younger, not only were they horrific and terrible, but they were all their fault because they were told that they were their fault. I did this to you because you did this. Or because I love you, I punished you. Just the different verbiage that abusers use to justify their actions which were obviously all wrong. But you’re not alone. You’re not alone and as you let us in and as you allow us to invite you in to our community of survivors. This is not some sort of sales pitch. We just want to show up in a way that is transparent and vulnerable to give you permission to show up in a way that is transparent and vulnerable only when you are in a safe place. We’re not saying go out there and be transparent and vulnerable and get re-victimized. Re-victimization can be a whole another topic for next week or like five weeks from now because I’m pretty sure we’re already scheduled out. We’re just so happy that you’re here and you’re watching or you’re listening. However it is that you found us. You are not alone. You have a voice. We wanna help you find that voice. We wanna nurture that voice. We want to watch you blossom and grow into a stronger version of yourself that is more healthy and has healthy relationships and safety. Places of safety, healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, healthy physical boundaries, verbal, emotional boundaries that all create a safe place for you to learn and grow and feel less shame.
Bobbi: Yes. You know one of the things that we talked about was yesterday, we talked about emotional safety. And for so many of us, anger is a feeling that is so not safe. Because often when we were children, it was anger that would come just before the abuse. Like you said, many children are not abused just sexually. They’re physically abused, they’re emotionally abused, they’re verbally abused, or they’re neglected completely which is another form of abuse. Just absence. And so when we heard anger, we heard the arguing voices or heard a father’s voice, or a mother’s voice or uncle’s voice filled with anger, we knew that something bad was gonna happen. And so anger isn’t safe for us. And we have to find a way to live with people who are angry. Because people get angry. That’s just part of life. We don’t want to encourage you to be around people who are angry, but you do need to become comfortable at some point with people who are able to express anger in a healthy way. And you have to be comfortable with your own anger. Survivors so often say to me when they’re angry in the Twitter chats: “I feel angry about that.” And I think they expect me to say “No, no don’t get angry. That’s not good.” I always say “Hey good for you. I’m glad you’re angry. Anger is a good thing. Access that anger. Let it empower you. Let it help you move forward. Because anger is incredible energizing. So we do have to learn how to feel comfortable with our anger, how to feel comfortable with other people who are expressing healthy anger. It’s a hard one. That’s one I know that a lot of us struggle with.
Athena: Yeah I reached out to a dear friend of mine for coaching when I most recently, I had some surprising news with my family. And it somehow triggered some unsafe feelings for me and triggered some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and I know that PTSD is that you have to be a soldier in battle or a marine or an army or some in the coast. Someone that’s experienced traumatic in your life as when you get PTSD. PTSD actually is very common in adult survivors of sexual abuse because the abuse was so traumatic at such a young age and was oftentimes ongoing and so that that I was sharing, I had some PTSD symptoms come up and I reached out to a friend of mine who is also a survivor, who is a coach and shared with her. I am alarmed by some things that are happening with me mentally and emotionally and I need to have an outlet for that. Do you have any availability in your coaching schedule? And it was wonderful for me to share so transparently and cry and most of what I’ve shared with her was pain and grieving and there was a lot of weeping and sharing. But she really wanted me to feel safe enough to be angry. We had some in-person sessions and I got to tell you, she even gave me this pillow, called the angry pillow that you can scream into. I could really tap into that – that anger and it was very deep in there. I’m sure I am angry about some things. It was explained to me when I first when through counseling, I went through an amazing counselor, when I first have memories and she said, “Athena, the things that happened to you when you were younger were outrageous. It was natural for you to and for your body to rage out.” And I couldn’t figure out why I have to struggle with rage my entire life. I would literally go from 0 to completely ballistic angry in my brain, whether I express it or not outwardly. But inwardly, I would feel in rage and it happened so quick and so often and she said “Well, there is something that must be from your childhood. Let’s talk about your childhood.” Cause I personally reach out to her because I was struggling with rage. Not because I was having specific memories. I initially reached out to her. I had a couple memories but I thought that was a long time ago, I should “be over” by now. Cause that what I was told, right? And then we went a little bit deeper and found out some things that I was processing. She said “You know, it’s important for you to give yourself permission to feel those feelings. Otherwise, you’re gonna continue to struggle with rage. And I was able to tap into that anger that time and I thought that I was completely healed for that but I know that I still have some in there and occasionally I’ll have new memories. It’s neat to be able to allow ourselves to feel the feelings that we need to feel in order to heal and to be in community with others and to feel safe enough in our own bodies and in the community of survivors that we are a part of and that we provide. To be your authentic self and if that authentic self is angry, then it’s the safe place to share that anger and say “You know what, I feel really angry today and this is why.” And no one has ever point to say “Please don’t feel that way or you shouldn’t feel that way.” Or, I’ve never had in any of these survivor groups that I’ve been invited into, been told that “Please don’t feel that way or don’t say that or don’t feel that if it’s something regarding any type of feeling regrets, shame or anger.” Because it’s just non-judgmental, amazing support which is necessary for healing to happen.
Bobbi: Absolutely. And I think that a lot of survivors, any kind of strong feeling, is scary. I know that I’ve said to my own therapist and I’ve had people say to me “I’m afraid to go there. I’m afraid to look at those trauma memories. I’m afraid to feel those feelings. Because I’m afraid, I will be overwhelmed by them and I won’t be able to get myself back.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. I won’t be able to get myself back. A break down completely. And they need to understand that that’s part of the reason why we’re here. That’s what not gonna let you go. If you are overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings, I know that both of us have spent times sitting online with someone in Facebook chat or in Twitter direct messages, just sitting with them and listening and letting them talk and reminding them to breath. And reminding them to stick around so that when they can express their feelings, they know they’re not alone. And we will stay with them and not let them fall in that rabbit hole, that deep abyss, that they can’t get themselves back from. That’s a big one.
Athena: And it’s all part of creating that safety which is was the topic yesterday and it was all about finding a way to create safe place for you to recover and to heal from the things that have happened to you. Like I mentioned before, if you’re a person of faith or if you’re not a person of faith, a lot of times in certain circles, this type of community is not something that is openly welcomed because you should just be only discussing what’s going on with your life with your higher power or with God. I’m not a believer in that you should only reserve anything just for your higher power or God. I really feel that we are the plan, we are the community, we are the hands and the feet, we are the body and that in order for anyone regardless of your faith or your belief system, for anyone to fully heal and live the life that you were created to live, you absolutely must allow yourself to be in community so that you can know and know that you know that you know that it is a safe place. You are in a safe place. Your feelings are safe and your feelings are validated. We believe in you and we care about you. Then there’s no more shame, hence the hashtag #nomoreshame. So in order for anyone to heal from the effects of childhood sexual abuse – physical, emotional, mental – being in community is the most powerful way for you create a safe place for your healing, for your feelings, for your mind, for your body and to heal to the degree to the life that is satisfactory and victorious and to live a life of freedom and to help others ultimately. I mean, honestly, your purpose of being here on this planet is not for you. You are here because someone else out there needs you and they need to know that you’re a safe place. So we are opening up this phase not only in the Tuesday night Twitter chat at 6pm Pacific, not only on the Private Secret Facebook groups, not only on Twitter, not only on this Google Hangouts which is complimentary every Wednesday 6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern, that’s 2am on Thursday morning in the UK. We’re available by email as well and we’re just so excited that you’re here, that you’re listening, that you’re watching. We do just wanna welcome you if you’re listening on iTunes or Stitcher or SoundCloud or if you found us on YouTube, watching us live on Google Plus or if you found us on Roku.
Bobbi: These are the weekly activities that we offer right now. We’re gonna add more as we begin to gear up even more. For example you see right there on our YouTube channel, the NoMoreShameProject, we’re gonna be adding videos that we do other than our Google Hangouts. We’re gonna be adding videos that talk about things like this is the trauma recovery model – these are the steps that you’ll go through. This is how you know what stage, this is how you move from stage to stage. All those different things – we’re just gonna start adding more contents, adding content, adding content so you know what to expect. You’re empowered and you can make your ways through that. This is what we have right now. The Twitter chat on Tuesday evenings, Google Hangouts on Wednesday evenings and you can watch it on the Google page, you can watch it on our YouTube channel, and it will also be available to watch reply on the YouTube channel any time you like.
Athena: I think I’m gonna post some stuff on my website and on social media as well. I think I’m gonna hook up and share some screenshots on my Instagram and share on my Facebook page and tweet up some stuff and I’ve got someone helping me on Pinterest. Pinterest overwhelms me. I really want to learn more about Pinterest but I’ve been in it for about a year and it is the only social media platform that I’m struggling with. So hey Jo, Jo, if you’re watching, I need help with some Pinterest.
Bobbi: That was our social media guru.
Athena: Yeah she is.
Bobbi: And then don’t forget we also have the Anthology which is coming out on the 17th of November. Next year, we are going to begin getting more in the publishing. We’re gonna start publishing memoirs of survivors. So if you’re interested in being published or self-help books from people who are interested in publishing the book about how to help survivors recover, we’re gonna start conferences, we’re gonna start offering virtual online conferences, just so many different things. Everything that we can think of that is gonna help you feel better – we’re gonna offer. Because it’s important to us. I think Athena and I have both more than 50 years of experience, both being in recovery and helping other survivors. And we wanna put off that knowledge to use for you. One of the components that you don’t get in trauma abuse recovery is community. And that is, as we talked about here tonight, that’s the core. In fact, I don’t usually take clients anymore unless they agree to belong to community of survivors. Because I think that is absolutely key. It’s critical. You need to begin that community of survivors where they can get that extra support, that education and to be begin to practice. That’s what the huge things that we can do in community. Once we learn these relationship skills and all these things which we should’ve learned when we were a kid, we can practice them now. We can practice them in community where it’s safe and then once you get the things down, things will go out there in the big wide world. And practice there even more. So get in touch with us. Come join our Twitter chats, come back next week, we’ll Google Hangout again. Next week, we’re gonna talk Crisis Management plan. We’ll actually show you some different plans that we have come up with. How to know when you start to get into crisis is not unusual for survivors. If you’ll suicidal or you get engage in self-harm behavior. So we’ll gonna talk about what you do when you start to feel those, how can you arrest those feelings. So join us next week, come back. We’ll be here.
Athena: I love it. Well again if you are listening on iTunes or Stitcher or SoundCloud or you found us on YouTube or Roku, we just wanna welcome you into our community. We wanna thank you so much for your support. Please click the share button or just send someone a message that you know may benefit from community, from a safe place if they are survivor of any type of child abuse, please just reach out to them and let them know that they’re not alone. And we would love to be a source of support for them. Thank you for your amazing support. We made it.
Bobbi: So we’ll be back here next week. And we look forward to seeing you, we look forward to helping you. If you have any questions or if there is something specific you want us to talk about, something you want us to address, email us, put a question on the Google+ page. However you wanna get a hold of us, let us know because we are here for you. We are not here for ourselves.
Athena: I did have a question that came in regarding creating a safe place for yourself through writing. And I know it was addressed briefly in our Twitter chat yesterday. So we’re gonna have to leave you with a little cliff hanger and well maybe in another down the road episode, we’ll address creating a safe place for yourself through writing, which is the perfect way as publishing some survivors memoirs, providing the Anthology. Anthology Volume I is going to be available to the public in paperback or digital eBook on Amazon and Kindle on November 17, 2014. We look forward to seeing you next week and this has been really exciting. Thank you.
Bobbi: Thank you.
Athena: Bye everybody.
P.S.S. * a complete transcript, video and show notes can also be found at http://nomoreshameproject.com