Thursday, October 30, 2014

Really? We're Still Having this Discussion?

The very first conversation I had at this interfaith conference about human trafficking and domestic violence was astonishing.

The concerned father was telling me how he told his daughter that her dress was bait; that she was tantalizing men.  When I explained that those types of comments contribute to victim blaming, he pushed back by saying, 'my daughter isn't a victim.'  When I asked that if she did become one, would his first response be, 'I told you not to wear that skirt', he paused and said, 'I never thought about it that way.'  And when he stated, 'women have to demand respect,' I countered with, 'why aren't we demanding that we raise boys to respect women.'

He walked away.  I hope he doesn't forget our conversation.

I was left with a deep angst and concern of my own.

  • Why is it we are still holding women responsible to control men's sexual behaviors?
  • Why is it that childhood sex abuse, a contributing factor to human trafficking, and more prevalent than human trafficking, has to fight to be included in the discussion?  (It took me two years of lobbying to get invited to the discussion.)
  • Why is it that conferences are still focused on information, when what we need are personal challenges to the mindsets that keep it all in place?
I'll keep going to the conferences.  I may even hold my own conference.  The focus being: ask the attendees to take personal responsibility and do some self-confrontation.  To take a look at their language and mindsets so that we can obliterate sex abuse, not just manage it.

I wonder if anyone would come.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Overcome a poverty mindset

Learning to" live without" is actually an overlooked impact of being victimized by sex abuse.
  • The victim learns to live in silence and live without voice.
  •  Losing the ability to trust means you live without connection and intimacy.  
  • Realizing you are not safe in your home  means you live without a sense of well being. 
  • Having your body violated, you learn to live without boundaries.
For the victim of sex abuse, this "living without" translates into developing a poverty mindset.  This mindset keeps the victim trapped in thinking "I can't have", or "I don't deserve." Couple this with the emotion of shame, and the poverty mindset becomes really strong.

Safe people around him show him love and acceptance and he can't receive it.  She is encouraged to ask for what she needs, but she doesn't.  She makes sure her children have the latest style clothes, but she won't get them for herself.  A poverty mindset at work.

Why is it important to recognize this concept?  Because a poverty mindset keeps the victim of sex abuse trapped in patterns of behaviors that reinforce the belief that she doesn't deserve.  In addition, it has the potential to set up a pattern of behavior in which the victim needs to have constant validation of worth in order to silence the whisper of her wounds.  Because the poverty mindset blocks her from internalizing the safe intimacy, and safe love offered, she must hear it again and again.  That can get tiring for the people around her.  And that can trap the victim in thinking she needs to hold onto the wound so she can hear the affirmations she needs.

Use your power of agreement and take down the poverty mindset.  Align your thinking, will and emotions with the truth that ALL human beings deserve and need love, care, nurturing and acceptance.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Trigger is Gone!

It happens almost every time.  The push back when I share the possibility of restoration. People are skeptical - I get it! Our culture is so blanketed in the status quo, that we dismiss our power to change.

Last night one of the attendees at the training could not believe that it was possible to conquer the impact of sex abuse.  Her question to me was:  "Do you mean to tell me that if the perpetrator came near her (the restored survivor) she would not be triggered?"  My response: " She would not be triggered.  She most likely will have an emotional reaction in the now moment, but she has the tools to process that now emotion without experiencing the trauma again."

Then this morning I had a conversation with a Connections alumni who spoke of seeing a former husband and feeling disgusted and shameful.  She was worried that she would fall into old thinking and behavior patterns.  As we talked further, she stated that in the moment she had a new awareness of what she had lived through, and felt emotions that reflected her experience. That is healthy!  She did not, however, get flooded with memories or experience the internal reinforcement of being shameful.  Her trigger is gone!

Here's what I have understood as a result of these two back to back conversations:

A trigger is something, i.e. a smell, a sound, a piece of clothing, an emotion,  or anything that has the power to take you back to re-experiencing unresolved trauma.

Your emotions by themselves are not a trigger! The unresolved trauma connected to the emotion, (or smell, etc.) is. When you do the hard work of facing the trauma, processing emotions, shifting beliefs born of that trauma and reconnect to authentic identity - the trigger dismantles.  You are free to experience life in the now and not from the past.

Yes, you can learn to relax when it is dusk. 
Yes, you can learn to receive a hug and not quake.
Yes, you can smell that aftershave and not get nauseous!

Yes you can dismantle triggers!