The Truth of Living with Trauma

For those of us who live with the daily task of recovering from trauma, there are a few realities that we must authentically acknowledge and even embrace. Post-trauma life can be amazing, but we cannot afford to be in any denial about how our life experiences have changed us and our daily life. Trauma survivors in recovery know the importance of being truthful with ourselves and those around us.

Five realities of living with trauma:

  • Some people cannot be in our inner circle.
  • Be prepared for extra body pain.
  • We rebound slower from everyday stress.
  • Tough days will come, but they also fade out.
  • We will have a heightened awareness of our surroundings.

To read full article: The Truth of Living with Trauma 

Grief: The Surprise Emotion with Personal Growth

While we don’t expect sadness to accompany reaching a milestone in our growth, it’s a common experience. Once we’ve tasted the goodness of restoration in an area of life, we kick ourselves for not having made the changes sooner. In order to fully enjoy our growth, we must address this new grief.

To keep reading, visit The Grief that Comes with Growth

Sunshine and Rain

In each life, there will be sunshine and rain. In Texas, sometimes these two weather events happen at the exact same moment. I have taken my fair share of pictures with sunshine in the distance and dark thunderstorm clouds overhead. Life is often like Texas weather; we can be experiencing happiness and pain all at the same moment.

In each of our lives, there are bound to be areas of sunshine and rain. The rain, or painful situations, can make showing up emotionally and/or physically for the holidays difficult. The sunshine, or reasons to be grateful, will put a pep in our step. Often people will have two parallel tracks going in life. No life is all good or all bad. It is a mixture of both in the same picture.

Regardless of where our lives fall on the spectrum of joyful or difficult, we can enjoy the holiday in our own ways. If it involves a quiet day by yourself or a small group of folks, take in the calm that can be present. Pause and enjoy that you are in control of all your own decisions for the day. Learn to see solitude as a gift and a time to enjoy your own companionship or that of a few other people. As the day goes on, collect five (5) things that happened (or didn’t happen) that you can be grateful for.

If you will be spending the day in a large group, I suggest pausing to take in the five (5) senses. What are you seeing, what are hearing, what are you tasting, what are you smelling and what are you touching? In the blur of a busy holiday crowd, tensions can sometimes come up or we find ourselves drawn in different directions that can be overwhelming. Choosing to be purposeful in staying present in the moment can help us enjoy our surroundings more.

As for me, my day will be on the quieter side spent with my immediate family. It will include our favorite food, football (come on Cowboys, don’t disappoint!) and maybe a mimosa or two. Having a day to relax in my pajamas is a real treat for me and even though life is never “perfect” for anyone, there is so much to be celebrated. The holidays are when we can choose to focus on the things in our lives that bring us comfort and small joys.

Thank you so much for being a part of the blessings in my life. It has been an incredible season and I am thrilled to get to share the journey with you.

Keep Dreaming Big!

Shannon 

Why Women Don’t Speak Up About Abuse

We are afraid to tell anyone.

We are afraid to talk about the details.

We are afraid of being blamed.

We are afraid.

Women have had horrendous things implied about them, said to them and done to them. Many of these actions were abusive and illegal. Yet, millions of women around the globe have been afraid to speak. Too afraid to tell the truth. Worried that their words would not be taken seriously. Silenced by the power their abuser could wield in, and against, their lives.

In 2016, the discussion of sexual conduct as it relates to power was wildly debated. How far was too far? What words should be taken seriously and which should be swept under the “it was a joke” rug? In 2017, the dialogue had taken a dramatic shift and women found their voices. They also found support from one another. In 2018, we saw victims of abuse speaking up but then being the targets of horrendous personal attacks and even death threats. Have we taken steps backwards in women feeling safe to speak up?

With the radical explosion of the abuse disclosure hashtag #MeToo and its honor of being named Person of the Year 2017, women were speaking up in masses. It was an incredible shift in our culture to witness.

The powerful message of the #MeToo movement centers around women telling the truth about their experiences with sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.

Why is it not the norm for women to feel safe enough to tell their stories? Why have so many of us been silenced? Why are we so afraid?

As a trauma therapist and advocate for survivors of abuse, I believe we get pushed back into the darkness and are silenced by a few key concerns.

Only “Crazy Girls” Speak Up

We’ve all witnessed a famous woman speak up about her negative life experiences and do it in a manner that makes us uncomfortable. We can’t see ourselves following in her footsteps, thus making many women subconsciously believe that only fiery, aggressive, and foul-mouthed women publicly share their stories of abuse. We might see these boisterous advocates and feel their message is too messy and raw to relate to. They make us uneasy in their brash approach to speaking up, so we stay silent to avoid becoming one of “them”.

The “Nice Girl” Mindset

Nice girls don’t create chaos. We make lemonade out of lemons. We take our life circumstances as they come and faithfully believe that they are somehow helping us become better. Nice girls don’t turn in their boss for sexual harassment, or go to the local police when their pastor has sexually assaulted them. Nice girls clean themselves up and go on with their lives as if nothing terrible happened. Nice girls don’t make anyone else uncomfortable with their story of being raped and instead, hide the pain. Speaking up about abuse requires nice girls to go against what we’ve been taught since childhood – be nice to everyone and don’t complain about the way others are treating you. Nice girls don’t speak up.

Fear of a Smear Campaign

Another reason we are so afraid to tell the truth is the chance that our abuser will orchestrate a calculated smear campaign against us and our allegations. What is a smear campaign? It’s when the abuser and supporters go after the “silence breaker”, as TIME magazine referred to the women of the #MeToo hashtag. Victims worry that becoming a silence breaker will open the door to people attempting to discrediting their character, blaming them for the abuse, and causing enough embarrassment that she retreats from her disclosure to the safety of not discussing the abuse again. A smear campaign can even go so far as to cause unstable strangers to threaten the life of public women who come forward and tell their stories of abuse. When we live in the twisted world of conspiracy theories, smear campaigns can have a devastating impact on victims of abuse who choose to publicly come forward.

The Risks Outweigh the Benefits

Victims of abuse must weigh the risks and benefits when considering disclosure of abuse and too often, the risks seem to far outweigh the benefits. I believe all victims of abuse want to share their stories with at least one other person. Many want to scream what was done to them from the rooftops so the whole world will know exactly who the abuser is behind his public façade. What makes women stay silent and go about their daily lives as if nothing has happened? They feel they have lost enough already and can’t risk losing more at the hands of the abuser or the abuser’s followers.

Culture of Bystander Apathy

For more survivors of abuse to step out of the shadows and speak up, we must culturally address the phenomenon known as “The Bystander Effect”. This occurs when bystanders or witnesses to harm being done, do nothing. It is a well-researched concept that first came to light with the violent and public death of Kitty Genovese in 1964.  In a nutshell, people saw a young woman being attacked and did nothing to help her. This effect or apathy happens in families, among peers, in the workplace and in places of worship. The Bystander Effect and looking the other way has caused women to be too afraid to speak up.

How much support will she receive if she comes forward?

When we can fully identify why we are afraid to speak up about our experiences of abuse, we are better prepared to make backup plans for possible negative outcomes. For example, we can speak up in a way that maintains our sense of personal dignity and doesn’t make us feel like we have become too brash in our approach. We can learn that nice girls have a right to set boundaries and have the abuser held accountable for their actions. We can surround ourselves with supportive people so any smear campaign that does occur doesn’t reach our ears. We can put key aspects of our lives out of reach of the abuser to limit the risks of our disclosure. We can build a network of supportive people who will not fall into apathy but will walk with us through the process of disclosure and healing.

Speaking up about abuse is never going to be easy. Many internal fears must be faced. The power of disclosure is that the more women who speak up, the better chances we have to take back power that was stolen by an abuser. We are stronger together.

Keep dreaming big!

Shannon

3 Forms of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse. Economic harm. When money is used as a weapon within an intimate relationship.

The conversation about exposing financial abuse is just now starting to get traction and we have a long way to go before this hidden form of relational abuse becomes widely known and openly discussed. We have to push against the apathy that currently exists about relationships that include economic exploitation.

What are the 3 main forms of financial harm?

Family Court Fraud – Passive Control – Overt Control

To read the full blog, visit southlakecounseling.org