Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Literature can illuminate the human condition by speaking to the ways society functions.  One amazing story, written by Ursula Le Guin, does that. It applies to abuse, and here are my thoughts. "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas"

What is the main issue in the story?
The topic appears to be whether or not many lives are more worthy than one life ( in the case of the abandoned child kept in the dark). I see this from a personal place too, because I am an abuse survivor, though I was never kept in a basement. I was sexually abused, and people knew, but chose to look (or walk) away, to maintain their sanity/denial, but at my expense. The child in this story seems to be symbolic of what some would call evil, or what the Jungians would consider the shadow self, perhaps the collective shadow of society. Will the child really be worse of if he/she is released and freed and treated like a human being? Is acting based upon principal relevant? I cannot say for sure, but at the symbolic level, Le Guin seems to be saying that while peace (or the bliss of ignorance) may come at the expense of someone else, walking away to avoid having to look at others who are suffering is cowardly. Omelas is presented as a utopia, but with caveats. Ultimately, is it worth it? Who pays the price?

What is the claim in the story? Is it better to walk away from the unfair treatment of some, particularly children who are hidden and abused, or stay and face  the problem. And Omelas is universal, in my opinion.

What happens to the people who walk away? Why do they walk away? We do not know where they go, but we know they go away from Omelas. Sometimes a person just cannot handle the ugliness of the suffering, and possibly to assuage the inner guilt, they walk away. 

I could also see the child as a symbol for our inner child, which some embrace in themselves, and some treat very poorly. I think it is symbolic of how society and individuals treat anything that we do not want to face, be it child abuse, the reality of war, or the environment. Instead, we compartmentalize the issue and disown it. 

This must change. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Emotion Coaching for Children

Dr. John Gottman is one of my favorite enlighteners in our culture. His words on children are pretty profound in addition to his marriage wisdom. 

From The Gottman Institute:

Five Skills of Emotion Coaching: 
SKILL 1: Be aware of a child’s emotionsSKILL 2: Recognize emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teachingSKILL 3: Listen empathetically and validate a child’s feelingsSKILL 4: Label emotions in words a child can understandSKILL 5: Help a child discover appropriate ways to solve a problem or deal with an upsetting situation

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Body Shame-Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!

I recently came across this article and wow-wowowowowowowow! I hope to help young girls believe in their uniqueness and beauty (whether they have endured abuse or not) despite our very sick culture. Body Shame by beautyredefined.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Birth Light

Birth Light
We are all born with an inextinguishable light inside. Abuse is sacrilege against the blessedness of an innocent child. Sexually abused and raped from ages 3 to 10 by my father, I could not see myself as I truly was. I only saw myself through the distorted lens of his incestuous rape. When I met my husband and gave birth to our first son, my image of myself as I knew it transformed. A deep knowing stirred in me; this abomination I endured did not destroy my innate light, but blinded me to it. The birth of our second son profoundly deepened this understanding.
Giving birth dilated me in body and emotionally in heart. Through my baby I was opening my heart to myself too. When the nurse rolled him into my room and handed him to me, everything became silent, my vision narrowed and I could see only him. He was pink, with oceanic indigo eyes, rosebud lips, silken vanilla skin. My body caught fire. My eyes met his stare. I could not pull my gaze from him.
I wept, Every hair on my body stood up. Rushing with ecstasy, a feeling of wholeness and holiness immersed me. I did not put him down for 3 days, he nursed then slept in my arms. I awoke at 3am. the first night. I looked at him and saw a halo of light. A vibration emanated from him. In this moment it hit me, at 21 years old, this light in him existed simply because he existed. It was the intuitive light of birth, a birthlight we all possess. Suddenly, I looked into the mirror of him, and he reflected to me my inborn goodness, my birthright to my light. I thought, “I had this, I was just like him.” I felt a whooshing in my belly, an echo of remembrance that I too was once a tiny girl baby with an intrinsic light that no man could kill. That no abandoning mother could kill. I, in those revelatory morning moments, had an epiphany, I only thought I had lost this light. My body became melodic, like a child‘s. I remembered the song of my birthlight.
Sexual trauma creates a tremendous fear of my children ever feeling anything like I felt. If my own parents abandoned, raped, and denied me and my basic right to exist, I must be damaged, right?
Wrong. I have persecuted myself as a mother, thinking any mistake meant my kids would be traumatized. I am hyperaware, even paranoid regarding my children’s safety. I am completely bewildered how anyone, especially a mother or father, could sexualize their child. I don’t understand it. I never felt the need to idealize either of my parents. This is a blessing. It has saved me much pain and anguish, as many who do traverse that path end up unable to feel the righteous anger, the mental and emotional separation, the boundaries that come down. It is, in short, empowering to look at abusers as they are. But it is also painful, because we are born loving our parents. To have to see the reality of what they are is painful to say the least. However, becoming a mother showed me that my birthlight was always within me. I am capable of keeping my children safe. The tapestry of their lives is totally different than mine was. I now see my light, and vow to protect theirs eternally. That is the unexpected gift of my trauma. Namaste.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Betrayal Trauma

 If a parent perpetuates abuse, it is often necessary for the child to survive thus, they "forget". The memory can be pushed into unconsciousness. There is something called Betrayal trauma, which occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’s trust or well - being: Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver are examples of betrayal trauma. "Indeed it is the human condition to know and not know about a betrayal." Women do this with their husband's affairs sometimes. Something as mortally terrifying as sexual abuse understandably can elicit this. If a child lives with the abuser, the defense mechanism would likely be to repress what is happening in order to cope with something they do not even have words or the mental capacity for. (Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse By Jennifer J. Freyd)

Another definition of betrayal trauma is a theory that predicts that the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trusted and needed other will influence the way in which that events is processed and remembered. (Betrayal Trauma Theory: From Sivers, Schooler, & Freyd (2002) What if the abuser is someone the child can't afford NOT to trust? In the case of preverbal children who have been abused, "as adults, our conscious memory of our first three years is blank because we index so much of our explicit memory by words that nonspeaking children have not learned, but also because the hippocampus is one of the last brain structures to mature." (Myers, 285) I wonder if the fact that our culture has historically been mute and language-less about sexual abuse, especially incest, contributes in some way to the psychogenic amnesia some people face?

In therapy it is essential to give the patient a sense of an invitation to talk, that it can and will be heard, tolerated, and that an excessive level of personal horrification can be contained, and properly dealt with.....this is so key.

My personal experience with trauma is that my memories are very clear and lucid. I know what happened, I remember it all.  I have never repressed anything, but when living with my father, I had to dissolve the truth of what was happening in a kind of vortex of unthinking. My memories of the trauma ARE like a video, like an old time movie reel. I have remembered more and more in the first person over the last few years. Most survivors I have met say the same thing. I have learned, in my personal life, that the totality of the emotional impact, which may coincide with MORE remembering, happens when a person gets into a safe atmosphere. It is akin to Stockholm syndrome. You are the child, you love your parent, and thus you CAN NOT KNOW what is true. That comes later, when you are in a safe environment. It wasn't until I met my husband at 19, and moved away from my family of origin/abuser that I was able to really start to deal with what happened. No therapist ever said to me "You were abused." I came in already knowing.  In the safe container of good therapy, all reveals itself when the patient is ready. And IF, so no forcing should happen. There are many arguments to be made for the fact that mass denial of abuse still exists in society about sexual abuse. Both on a personal level, as well as institutional. Look at Penn State or the Catholic Church. I have seen and experienced copious families torn apart by NOT believing, by choosing to protect the abuser.
Many people are and will go to great lengths to NOT believe.That is the conscious, motivated betrayal that I find unforgivable.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Tribe’s Epidemic of Child Sex Abuse

U.S. Stepping In As Sexual Abuse and Rape Pervades Sioux Tribe

This is unacceptable anywhere, but for people already marginalized since just about forever, I am relieved that something will be done. Before we blame poverty and alcohol, we need to look at WHY is there rampant poverty, and alcoholism? Those questions must be asked to even begin to unearth the root(s) of this soul-murdering that is happening to these children.
In May 2011, a 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother were killed on the reservation after being raped and sodomized. This is not something to look away from, but to look directly at and do what we can where we are with what we have to stop it. When will we become a nation that will NOT tolerate this?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sparks of Hope

I recently came across another advocate. This woman really is incredible, and her organization is just what we need.  Her name is Lee Ann Mead, and her story is in this article, published in The Oregonian. Lee Ann's Story

"Our Mission is to empower children who are survivors of physical or sexual abuse to thrive by providing special services to encourage hope, and by creating opportunities that will develop
trust and healing so they can achieve life-long success."

Sparks of Hope