Monday, February 16, 2015

[Video] A Real-Life Survivor

This is a beautiful video we all can benefit from seeing. It will break your heart and then send you to a place of joy and triumph for this incredible girl and her incredible story. You are not alone, it is not your fault, and you are not a victim. Thanks for sharing, Anna.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Posts In The Library

There's three new article links in the Resource Library on my website! Click above to go to the library itself, or below to go directly to the articles. 

Trigger warning: These articles contain descriptions of sexual abuse perpetrators and their methods, please use caution in reading - there is support for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Free E-Book!

Have you ever wished you could tell your family and friends what you really need from them, but haven't known what to say? Do you sometimes struggle to find words for what you are looking for from those around you?

Now you don't have to.

Coming this week, you will be able to download this free mini e-book to give to your friends and family as a roadmap for them to use to help you in the way you want and need to be helped.

Simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand, this short booklet will cover:

What you want people in your life to know.
What you don't want people in your life to say or do. 

And what you do need people in your life to say or do to support you. 

This book is a free gift to you.

I wrote it after hearing the same phrases over and over from the survivors I've counseled. I wish they knew... I hate it when they say...

And they always tell me, "I know they mean well but when this happens it hurts me." 

This book will gives you words to express those needs to those who love you most and want to help. 

All you have to do to get it is click on the picture above or this link here and I'll send to you when it's ready, in the next week. 

Just go here to get the book free!  

Your email address will be kept totally private and only used to send you the book link and occasional blog posts time to time. You can unsubscribe any time. (But I doubt you'll want to.) 

Get the book!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Resources for Therapists, Counselors And Families

As you know, the mission of this blog is to provide hope and healing for survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Part of that mission is to provide helpful and accurate resources for those working to support survivors. To this end, I recently created a video for therapists to help them understand the reality of the struggle clients in crisis go through when processing what has happened to them.

Click the play button to watch the video in the blog or click here to watch at YouTube.

This particular video would also be a good resource for families or friends of survivors with questions like:

"Why didn't you tell someone sooner?"

"Why didn't you go to the police?"

"Why didn't you feel people would believe you?"

You know the answers to those questions, but it's very hard to put the answers into words. This video is here to help you do that! 

Did this video help answer some of your questions as a counselor or therapist? How do you plan on using this information to help survivors? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What If I'm not sure?

Most of the people I speak to in counseling have come to me because they want to confront the sexual assault and/or abuse in their past. But not all of them.
Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Some of them, and maybe even some of you, think they might have been sexually abused or assaulted in the past, but don't know for sure.

This is a touchy but important concern. It's touchy, because the reputation of a person or people stands on the testament of an experience a survivor cannot say for sure has happened. But it's also important, because it's very possible that something abusive did happen to a person that they are unable, for very legitimate reasons, to remember. 

For example, a survivor may have been very young when the alleged abuse occurred. They may have flashes of memory, body memory, or uncomfortable feelings around a certain person, but not a specific recall of an abusive circumstance.

It's also possible for survivors to subconsciously block out abuse that is too painful to remember. This is one of the more controversial circumstances of lost memories, as humans are highly suggestible creatures and it has been proven that it is possible to implant false memories in another person through suggestion. This doesn't mean that every case of blocked memory is false, but it does make it harder to know even for yourself.

Finally, a survivor may have been under the influence of a date-rape drug or substance intoxication, and the effects of these chemicals have erased or altered the events in their memory.

However it happens, being unable to remember clearly  - and therefore, unable to prove or disprove the feeling that something bad happened - can be maddening to experience.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/

It seems there is no solution. Unless someone else was a witness, you have no way of knowing the truth. And that can make you feel helpless, angry, and unsure of who to trust.

Well, I can't tell you for sure whether or not something happened to you. If you, your therapist, and your law enforcement officer feel it is appropriate, by all means, investigate the situation to the best of your ability. But when you don't want to do that, or the search doesn't turn up what you want it to, there are other ways to reclaim your power and control.

Sit down and put together a "case" for and against the situation. One approach is to objectively look at the evidence, even if it's just for yourself. You may also invite a trusted friend or family member to help you look at what you know. Your decision, for or against what happened, may not hold up in a court of law, but it can give you a sense of peace.

Ask yourself, "What would it change?" If it was true, and if it was not true? Is it possible you might be afraid of one outcome or the other, and that is affecting how you look at the past? And, if it wouldn't change anything, do you really need to know?

Decide what YOU think and what that means for you. Saying it did happen, it didn't happen or you don't know are equally acceptable choices. The point is to take your power back by choosing one of these choices to be true until faced with further evidence to the contrary. This is distinguished from denial, which is a coping mechanism to avoid facing an unwelcome truth. You only truly regain control when you have thoroughly confronted all options and chosen to move ahead based on your own will.
Image Courtesy of markuso/

It is important that you know that none of these choices have legal implications...but they're not meant to. This isn't about deciding what happened for the point of justice, though that is also important. Instead, it's about finding peace and learning to set aside an old issue. 

Perhaps more importantly, it's about learning to trust yourself again. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pain Scale

Have you ever felt like you didn't have the right to be hurt or upset about what happened to you? That other people have had it worse, so you can't possibly complain about your situation?

If so, you're not alone. Many survivors feel that they aren't justified in their feelings of rage, loss, or betrayal because your story could have been worse.

From birth, we learn that everything has a rating. It's a "good try," or "not good enough," or "perfect." We have our best friends, our enemies, and everything in between. 

It's human nature to try to make sense of things we encounter in our lives, and one way we make sense of our world is by putting things into ranked categories. 

But that doesn't work with pain, and here's why.

Pain cannot be compared. It's not an objective measurement. Two people can experience the same pain, and to one it's excruciating, and the other it's a passing irritation. 

Pain doesn't only "count" at a certain level of severity. Even if you could measure pain objectively, at which point can you declare it sufficiently valid? Who has the right to say for another person if it hurts enough? 

Fact is, pain is pain. Your hurt is just as valid as someone else's, and it matters just as much. 

Accepting the validity of your own pain...and that you have as much right to be hurt as someone else a path to healing from it.

It's easier said than done. Hearing the truth doesn't just take it away. But what does help you is to start living it.

How To Ditch The Pain Scale

Evaluate your pain on its' own terms, not compared to someone else's.

Accept that you have a right to feel what you feel based on what happened to you. 

When you feel the urge to rate your pain, ask yourself why it's important that your pain be lesser than someone else's. 

Have you ever written off your hurt by saying "someone else had it worse?" Was that helpful to you or not? 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I can't hate him.

Have you ever heard this?

"You must hate him [her] for what he [she] did to you."

"Don't you just want to see them go to jail?"

"I'd like to kill that person for hurting you." 

93% of juvenile sexual assault survivors know their attackers.  85-90% of adult survivors already have some kind of acquaintance with the person who assaulted them

Words cannot describe the betrayal you feel when someone you knew and possibly even trusted sexually assaults you. 

It is common for those that surround you (family members, loved ones, friends) to receive the news of your assault with threats of violence to the attacker, or to want to help you prosecute him or her. It's a fairly predictable response, and we can all understand it. When someone hurts a person we love, we want that person stopped. 

But when it comes to sexual assault by an acquaintance, the situation simply isn't that easy.

An "acquaintance" doesn't begin to describe who this person is to the survivor. It might be his or her parent. Next door neighbor. Another student at their university or high school. A teacher, sibling, or pastor. The father of their child. 

Such relationships don't come in only one dimension.

Outside of the sexual assault, you have had interactions with this person - without a doubt at least some of them positive. If this person is a member of your family, you have other family members' feelings to consider. The uncle who molested you is also your favorite cousin's father. Your ex-boyfriend gave you your child. Your neighbor babysat for you. 

Good memories get mixed in with the bad. You've always thought of a sexual assault being perpetrated by some stranger in the bushes. Not your friend. Not your family.

How can this person that did this horrible thing to you be, at the same time, someone you once liked? Maybe even still have some feelings for? Does that mean there's something wrong with you? 

Absolutely not. Fact is, nobody is all good or all bad. It's just not that simple. If people went around wearing devil horns and red body paint, it would be easier to spot them. But they don't. 

We know there are complexities to people's moral character: after all, "good people do bad things sometimes." However, it's a harder trick than you might think to apply that knowledge to your everyday life. 

We want people to fit an either/or, when it comes down to it. We want to say they're good, or they're bad, and when we can't fully define them as evil, we want to turn it around on us. This terrible thing happened, and if I can't hate them...maybe it was me. 

That's a logical leap you don't want to make, because the consequences are devastating. 

So don't assume that it has to be either/or, black or white. You may choose to see it instead in a number of different ways. 

  • Good people do bad things. 
  • Bad people do good things. 
  • Or perhaps, that none of us is all good or all bad, but we make choices everyday to serve our highest self - or to serve our highest selfishness

Are you tempted to put people into opposite categories? Why do you think it's hard for you to allow a person to be more than one thing at a time?