I help women find the tools they need to move past shame, relieve anxiety, and find ways to trust again. It's hard to have great self esteem when you feel broken. In my 10 years of being a psychotherapist, probably more than half my case load has shared stories where they have felt like a victim. They are stories of friends, family members and perfect strangers who have assaulted them, emotionally or physically; trauma that sticks around long after the tears are gone.
But I believe in empowering people to live their best life, to be the best YOU, you can be. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t change others. I think globally ending the silence is a huge start, I think empowering women to share their story is the first step towards healing and change. But it’s not realistic to believe we can end this tomorrow, that just from speaking out, it will stop happening. I feel that there are a lot of women that are coming forward today, whose voices shouldn't fall on empty ears. Women who are taking the first step towards getting help.
So I’ve compiled a list of ways to protect yourself, ways to protect young girls you know, and ways to move forward from past trauma.
Ways to protect yourself
Women were born with something amazing, a powerful, inherent, incredible little tool a lot women don’t realize they have. It’s called INSTINCT. We were born with intuitive nature; ability to sense when something doesn’t feel right. We were born with it because we are mothers, we are here to protect our offspring, and we weren’t gifted with brute strength. Intuition is our tool to defend ourselves. But there is a trick, you have to be mindful. You have to listen to it when it’s speaking to you. Intuition won’t work if you’re drunk. Intuition won’t work if you’re exhausted from a long work day, because your brain is too preoccupied to listen.
Intuition is the culmination of our subconscious, processing years of survival tools to give you a heads up. A perfect example: the other day I went hiking. I had left the house without pepper spray or a gun. I had my cell phone. It started to dawn on me quickly that I was alone, but not alone. There were mountain lions and given the time of year, a lot of hunters – strange men out here hiding. My guts started feeling icky, telling me something wasn’t right. I called a friend on my cell phone and her stay on the phone with me until I got back to my car. It may not STOP something from happening; I had already put myself in a dangerous situation, but at least by being on the phone someone knew exactly where I was, and someone would hear if something happened.
“There is a voice in us that doesn’t use words. Listen.” Rumi
In order to start listening to your intuition you need to commit to becoming more mindful of the situations and people you are in and around. There are times in life where things happen that were unavoidable (some could argue everything is avoidable, but for the sake of argument, we’ll say unavoidable).
That is where preparation comes in. Take a basic survival class, attend a self defense workshop, and carry pepper spray in your purse, in your car. If you feel uncomfortable, carry your pepper spray in your hand.
Talk about vaginas. For years the topic of sex and sexual organs was taboo. We live in a world where they are now exposed to it at a very young age. Not talking about it makes it mysterious, makes it shameful.
Talk openly in plain terms about who is allowed to see them naked, who are allowed to touch them, who are not. Let them know that they can always come talk with you (and if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, discuss a close relative that they would feel comfortable going to) if someone made them feel uncomfortable.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Brene Brown
Encourage them to speak up for themselves when someone makes them feel uncomfortable, whether it’s via touch or verbal. Allow and empower your young girls to say “no means no,” “no thank you,” and “get away from me right now.” Encourage them to avoid hanging out with people (girls, guys and adults) who don’t respect when they say no. Something has harmless as a tickle fest should end when she says no. If it doesn’t, she shouldn’t have to be around that person.
Ways to move past trauma
If you have experienced a trauma the most important thing to remember is that the things that happen to us do not define us, they are opportunities for growth and change, and how we move forward from them is what defines who we are.
Reach out to a local counselor, speaking about your trauma is one of the most effective ways to decrease the sense of shame that victims of crimes often feel. Much like “getting back on the bike” it is important not to withdraw. Find a women’s group, find a self defense class, and let your past become your empowerment.
Spend some time reflecting, whether it’s sitting on your front porch, at a park, or going for a hike, take time to reflect on the pain. Say out loud, “You get to be here for 2 minutes, for 2 minutes I am going to allow your memory, I am going to remember, but not with pain. After 2 minutes is up, say out loud, “You aren’t welcome here anymore; I have good, positive, happy memories to remember now.” Then spend at least 2 minutes reflecting on positive memories, ways you have been strong.
“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu
I could spend hours on this topic, but the goal was just to get you started…I hope this empowers you to be the BEST you that you can be. #beyoufindhappy