Monday, December 31, 2007

A Grateful, Happy 2008!!

Today's Daily OM:
December 31, 2007
Loving Presence
Surround Yourself With Love

In our everyday life we are surrounded by a variety of people. Some of the people we deal with on a daily basis are a joy to be with, and their loving presence nurtures and encourages us. Others may have the opposite effect, draining us of our energy, making us feel tired and exhausted. Our well-being can be easily influenced by those around us, and if we can keep this in mind, we will have greater insights into the quality of our social interactions and their energetic effect on us.

Once we think more deeply about the people we interact with, it becomes easier for us to work toward filling our lives with people who help us cultivate healthy and positive relationships. Even though it might not always seem like we have much control over who we are with, we do. The power to step back from toxicity lies within us. All we have to do is take a few moments to reflect on how another person makes you feel. Assessing the people we spend the most time with allows us to see if they add something constructive to, or subtract from, our lives. Should a friend sap our strength, for example, we can simply set the intention to tell them how we feel or simply spend less time with them. We will find that the moment we are honest with ourselves about our own feelings, the more candid we can be with others about how they make us feel. While this may involve some drastic changes to our social life it can bring about a personal transformation that will truly empower us, since ! the decision to live our truth will infuse our lives with greater happiness.

When we surround ourselves with positive people, we clear away the negativity that exists around us and create more room to welcome nurturing energy. Doing this not only enriches our lives but also envelopes us in a supportive and healing space that fosters greater growth, understanding, and love of ourselves as well as those we care about.

No matter where you are in your life, on your journey, whether embarking on that single step Lao Tzu speaks of, or heading up the spiral again, praise yourself, make a Gratitude List, and start with YOU. Praise that you have hands to type and a brain to think so that you can be a part of this movement. Be proud of the fact that you survived what happened, that you are breathing, that you are where you are no matter how much further you have to go. Just sit and say thank you. Then list everything else you can think of to be Grateful or. Not just thankful, thankful is one thing, but deeply grateful for, that feeling of vital resonance in the soul. Spend one day focusing on all the good you can see in your world. A glimpse of a flower, sunshine, birdsong, your smile, your heart beat, anything.

I am grateful, joyously grateful, for life herself and all that inhabits her.

Much Love to ALL.




Friday, December 28, 2007

Resources updated - WSO

(Wo)Men Speak Out has updated the list of resources on our main page as well as added a resource list specific to mental health.
Please feel free to email us your suggestion or comment on this page for us to review.

Art as Therapy

The purpose of art therapy is much the same as in any other psychotherapeutic modality: to improve or maintain mental health and emotional well-being. Art therapy generally utilizes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and other forms of visual art expression.

As children, drawing and art in general is something that is fun and creative, carefree. As child victims of abuse, many of us were unable to express ourselves honestly out of fear of ridicule or sharing our inner world with those who may harm us. As adult survivors of trauma, we can now reclaim the gift of art to help us work through memories or as a release from the everyday world into a safe place we create for ourselves.

One doesn't have to be an artist to draw. You simply have to be open to whatever comes out and replace negative language with positive, loving and learning as you go. For me, drawing was an a positive outlet as a child. I haven't drawn in years and don't consider myself an artist, but that doesn't mean I can't still draw whenever I want to! The truth is I love to color and will be purchasing a pile of coloring books because I'm starting to love my inner child and giving her the things she asks for that are safe and fun for both of us. In listening to her, I am respecting myself.

Respecting yourself means taking care of yourself. Perhaps drawing can be part of your routine, an outlet for creativity. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. You never know what you may find and who knows, just might like it!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tending the Wound

For anyone experiencing Holiday Fallout, I wanted to encourage you (and myself )to tend the wound left by the sword if it hurts. My wound was infected for a long time, self abuse through drugs, smoking 2 packs a day, acting out, you name it. When it hurt then I ran to one of those standby behaviors. I just did not know what else to do and my early environment laid that track down for me. Everyone around me acted out sexually, used drugs, had awful self esteem, and the plague of denial which is still in effect to this day. So now, when the wound hurts, even though I am on the healing path, I have to accept that it will hurt from time to time. Which it does. Even my PHYSICAL cesarean scars still twinge and hurt if I push on them a certain way, like doing the rocking horse in yoga, BUT.....

I think mine feels better today because I refuse to pour salt in it by not resting, by yelling at myself in my head about my family of origin (Why can't they change, Why do I not inspire in them the change I want, Why this, why that..), or by being generally critical toward myself. Today I woke up and took the bambinos for a walk. I do not feel like running today. I am going to allow myself to not run.
My intention today was for them to get some fresh air and let them get their ya-yas out, and for me to inhale some of mother nature. Mama Earth is my elixir for all things. I just feel naturally pulled outside when upset, unbalanced, sick, whatever the case may be. I feel so much better after going out with my little ones in the woods. I had dreams about my horses all night, riding them and one was very upset(symbolic), and my Uncle and Aunt made an appearance as well. This is my father's brother and his wife and children. I loved and adored those babies when I was a teenager-the oldest was born when I was 15. In cutting ties, I lost those girls. And my horses. In my dreams I am fighting with Aunt Denial and Uncle Minimizer. I see the oldest girl under some kind of saran wrap. I think I was trying to remove her. My dreams are always taking place on that damn farm. Parts of me feel like they are still there. In the form of my equine counterparts. I woke up feeling like the dream was actually happening, on some level it is, but anyhow, I had to really rein myself in this morning. (That shit is like a vortex sometimes.) Deep breaths, easy on the coffee, good veggies, long walk with beautiful children, lay down and read while the boys play a new game, and allow the feelings to float around while I rearrange my head and plant myself firmly in NOW. When I was a little girl I took such comfort in the woods and in animals. No matter where you live, try to have animals and nature in your life.

Today I am saying more affirmations than usual, drinking Yogi Detox tea with the intention of cleansing my emotional field(my emotional field is full of lavender blossoming, by the way) and when I get that heady feeling or anxiety feeling, I stop what I am doing, lie down, and breathe. Right now my kids are getting ready for their lavender oil sea salt bath. So to decompress from the holidays, do your affirmations, detox with tea and salt baths, set your intention to "heal", and get a healthy dose of nature! This is tending the wound.

Love, SES

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

D.I.D. Blogs

Today, I have been doing a lot of research on line to follow up with survivors who inquired to resources for D.I.D.

Connecting with other survivors is so important in healing process as it helps in coming to terms with and flourishing in, what I call, "ones creative processes."

So, to all of our readers and friends who have emailed, let me say "You are not alone!" and there are a lot of very cool, creative and awesome bloggers out there, to share with and learn from.

Below is a list of blogs and sites that I think are good places to start.

Jigsaw Analogy
An Infinite Mind
A Safe Place
Multiple Reflections
John Michael's Blog
Keepers Corner
Beautiful Dreamer
It Takes A Village
Shadow Monsters and Fairy Gifts
D.I.D. Blog
Living with MP
Pilgrim's Journey
Roses On The Moon
My Dissonance
Life Spacings

For all the newbies, welcome! Here's our D.I.D. Youtube video for recap.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Buddhist Magazine Publishes on Retreat Discrimination

Freedom To Sit: Welcoming People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities at Buddhist Retreats
by Will Hall

Turning Wheel: A Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism, Publication of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship Summer 2007

For complete article, click HERE

Do something: Click HERE

Sunday, December 23, 2007

WSO Podcast - Self care and the holidays!

WSO Podcast - Self care and the holidays!

CLICK HERE for our first podcast. We wanted to test the waters, before the radioshow so we did! Have a listen. Share your thoughts. Let us know what you think!


WSO Advocacy Radio

What is WSO Advocacy Radio?

(Wo)Men Speak out has been approached by an internet radio broadcaster to start our own WSO radio. As you all know, we have both a video series on youtube (WSOtv) and a Monthly Minizine that touches upon issues of rape, sexual assault and gender violence in the community.

This particular opportunity will be listener based in that we will touch upon issues directly related to what they listeners want to hear. In other words, you have a voice in the content.

The subscription fee for listeners is 99cents per month, to tune into a 24hour loop. We will update the station pod casts weekly and feature musical artists who directly support anti-violence initiatives in their communities.

So, why pay to be able to listen to WSO Advocacy Radio?

- You, the listener have 24 hour access to our podcasts.
- You, the listener have direct input in the content.
- We will feature advice, survivor-experience, guest pod-casts. musical admissions, live broadcasts as well as events, community input and more.
- The radio broadcast is exclusive to subscribers as the numbers are limited.

So, how do I subscribe?

Through paypal!

Pay $11.88 for the entire year.

Our larger objective is to reach a point where WSO Advocacy Radio is free to all listeners and this will become possible with sponsorship in the future. For now however, we feel that the message is important that there are enough advocates to support an independent station. This is an excellent opportunity to gain a larger community involvement which will eventually allow the issue of rape, sexual assault and gender violence to get noticed.

WSO Radio will begin as soon as we have confirmed the first 50 listeners.

So, please support us.

Place your subscription today for the new year, for yourself or a loved one. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am a Survivor montage

This was an especially difficult montage to create as it holds many images that are triggering for me. Be forewarned that survivors may be affected by the pictures used in this montage. Despite it's affect, I feel it is important to add these personal pictures and elements to allow the viewer into part of my world. I hope you can appreciate it and take something positive away from it's viewing. Please visit our website for more:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Musings from the Psyche of Sarah Elise

JOY is alive and well in the here and now. The above shot is moi and my husband the delicious human being that he is.

First picture is of me with my youngest son. The second is of me with my first born son, who opened me up in so many ways. Fritz pictured above. My horse. I am unaware of how he is doing these days as I do not speak to the incest family. In the here and now, joy is doing a dance.

Oh boy, here come the holidays...In years past the PTSD would be stirred up like a sandstorm. It gets easier as the years go by, thankfully mainly due to the healing effect of my family, my kids and husband. We have a clean slate with which to begin our nouveau familial style. I love my boys and husband so much. I feel that they inspire me and bless me...not just in the usual ways, but when I feel lost in the past, they bring me to center and keep me going just by being themselves. This is one of the ways motherhood and partnership heals me.

When one of them has a need, or a want, as they do a zillion times a day, I am snapped back into here and now. The here and now, this has been my focus. I tend to criticize myself and tend toward perfectionism in myself that I would never expect of anyone else. Perfectionism is a synonym for masochism, and self sadism. I feel so grateful for my family, and for surviving the trauma of my mother abandoning me, and my father raping me all those years, not just sexually but emotionally and spiritually. When I met my husband, I was in an unhealthy place, still tied to the blood family on my father's side. I was self destructive. The sight of him was like a reflection, and the image was of safety, goodness, love, and family. As the horses once did, Troy reflected my innate goodness back to me and I him. Wow. What a gift.

It was a momentous milestone for me to break away, ignoring the drone of bad advice and misguided emotional "support", telling me to come home and live there and be close. Be close. The incest web. I said no thanks to that and stayed with the man I would marry and become a mother with. It was very hard as the family, as most dysfunctional families do, knew how to manipulate me. I really left home in 99, I just kept going forward, years passing, rising like a phoenix. Very daring for me. The one thing they really had to wield were the horses. I began riding when I was 3. My horses gave me a sanctuary, they loved me unconditionally. They were magical. As I grew my grandmother, my father's mother, was "grooming" (interesting choice of words, huh?)me as she put it, to take over the family business. I elected a very different path and the shit hit the fan. Both my grandmother and grandfather tried making me feel so guilty if I ever desired anything outside of the horses. This was sacrelige! Of course I did desire other things, especially my own interests as most teenagers do, but their guilt worked.

I miss those horses. In 2004 I had to walk away from them, and one special one in particular. I chose my baby, my husband, their lives and mine over the horses. Over the family, over the pull of the incest web. In 2004 I even cut ties with my grandparents for good, filed a rape report against my father, received flowers from Eve Ensler, and began examining my relationship with my mother. The year of emancipation. My breaking away from them and thus the genesis of my breaking the cycles really began years earlier, in my mind. I was digging out of prison, misguided at first, in that I tried escaping through drugs and unhealthy relationships. I guided myself into the realm of true escape after I grew tired of hurting myself for things someone else did to me. I put myself first. My own mother never put me first, she left me with my father. My heart felt like it was being mutilated when I thought of my child ever feeling that. Over the years I have stayed in touch with that pain, and the pain of my father's abuse. It has kept me more empathic. Somehow she, my mother, lacked that fierce maternal bond. I was attached to both of my parents deeply, as children are. I am also incredibly bonded to my kids. My husband thinks I am more bonded to them and in touch intuitively with them than anyone else on earth. I love that he thinks that and am proud that I am!! Not apologizing for my goodness folks. Not gonna play it down either, I am a pretty great mama!

I give them what I never had. I feel the enormous ache and grief over my own losses as a child, I vow every second of every day that not only will I NOT repeat things, I think of what I WILL do. What can I add? Asset based thinking here, what can I give, not just what can I avoid doing. I can make a conscious effort to show my love and manage my anger and model healthy things for them. I add cafe dates, volunteering at my son's school, I teach them to be aware of mother earth and all her creatures, I honor their innocence and vow to protect it no matter what, I watch them grow and learn and try to appreciate the challenges they present me, like being more patient. Watching them safely develop and explore their bodies and express their emotions so freely is amazing and challenging. I was never allowed to feel my anger or even my joy fully. Especially not anger. Oh hell no, no anger for Sarah. And joy stifled by the always present threat of things falling apart as they so often did with my dad. He could never deliver a promise, hold down a job, keep a stable home for me. I remember when toys had to be brought back because he could not afford them. I still struggle with letting my hubs go out and shop for me at the holidays. I freeze up and feel like I am 7 again, walking through K&B, trailing my dad as he walked up to return gifts. John Lennon played in the background, singing about so this is Christmas, and what have you done? He promised a house and a dog, a job that he would keep, a mom for me, he promised to not touch me there anymore. All broken, all broken. I chose my husband because I knew that he would never do such things, although the sick little girl inside of me wanted a jerk to replay trauma with.

As for the past, the holidays I think of them. All of them, horses, people, red velvets ribbons. Are they ghosts? I don't know. William Faulkner said "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past. " Interpret as you will, but it's all about tending the wounds and simultaneously living in the here and now. We used to decorate their stalls with stockings and wreaths and we had parties for all the clients. People came and brought gifts and food, we even had a costume contest for the HORSES!! I miss so much their soft faces, their whinnies, their cantering up to me, the smell of the barn, like cedar and shavings... and I miss being so good at something. (I won all kinds of awards all of my life, equestrian success was a huge part of my having any self worth.) I love Angela's metaphor, though it is more literal than metaphorical for those of us who have experinced abuse, of the sword of trauma piercing us. I remember thinking to myself about five years ago, this is like an iron maiden. I feel like I am in one of those iron maidens, knives coming from every direction. Horrifyingly accurate. It is like a sword, all of it, not just being raped. Not being protected, no armor. The armor should have been my mother, my grandparents. My uncle and aunt who chose denial. The sword is out and now we tend the wound. I am tending the wound. Part of tending the wound so it does not get infected is acceptance of what was and cultivation of hope for what NOW can be. NOW, the reality is that as a parent I must accept that I AM good. I must accept that goodness. It is so hard to accept our own goodness at times. I can not explain why my mother and father, grandparents and uncle did not see my goodness and honor it as I do my children. Blinded by their own unhealed wounds, enormous gaping wounds infected with drug addiction, emotional numbness, denial, inability to protect the vulnerable ones, and fear. Infected and blinded. It was what it was. I am who I am today and though a part of me still needs to cry, rage, and ask questions, thats part of what helps me walk solidly on my healing path.

In the meantime, in the now, I am creating, with my husband and family, joyous, grateful, creative and impassioned energy for our new family tree. I know the reverberations will be felt into the next generations, and the little girl I was will feel the ripples too. I invite her to be here now, now and always.

Let's all invite our parts, our little ones inside, to come and be here with us now. They are waiting for our love and safety so they can leave the dark rooms, where they have been alone and crying, and come into the light where they belong. We can parent them now. If you are not a parent, you actually are a parent, because we all have inner children who need love, they are all the children we once were at certain times. The traumatized ones need us. And we will rise up like the phoenixes, and be here for them now.

Namaste and Love to All~S

Monday, December 17, 2007


I needed a pep-talk today. The holidays are always difficult and I refuse to let them get me down. So, I am sharing with you my pep-talk, just in case you need one as well.


Stop and take a look around you. Most people in this world are content to stay right where they are with their relationships, careers, and happiness. Not you – you are out there finding inspiration. You are reading, and researching ways to make you and your life better. That is so impressive and confirms that you will excel in life. People admire people like you.

Acknowledge how far you have come. There are so many others that have been abused that never had the strength to move on and search for happiness. (We continue to hope and pray for them.) You have found your strength inside of you! One bad day, or month, doesn’t mean a thing. A lifetime of fighting and winning the battle is the true testament to your resiliency.

And lastly, you are beautiful. Yes, you really are! Your belief in life and in yourself shines through the clouds that haze our vision. You continue to grow yourself because deep down, you know you are worth the fight.


Stay Strong!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What is Normal

Recent events in my life have led to one word being brought up quite a lot; normal. There was an issue I needed to make a decision on but I was feeling confused. I didn’t feel like I could make a decision until I knew one thing; are my thoughts, feelings, and ideas about my situation normal or do they stem from the cynical survivor part of my brain? How do I trust what I am feeling when I can’t decipher the origin? I asked close friends and my therapist this question. My therapist told me I was acting normal for a survivor. That didn’t make me feel better. My best friend brought up the question, “what is normal anyway?”

What is normal and why do we strive so hard to become it? It’s the feeling of not being normal that drives us to therapy. It’s the feeling of not being normal that makes us hate our bodies, damages our self esteem, and causes us to settle for less than we deserve.

The definition of the word means “conforming to the standard or common type.” Who decided what the common type was? Many different groups have their own idea of what their common type is, what is their normal. Some religious groups think people who don’t believe as they do are abnormal. Some cultures think a woman working is abnormal. Some people think having only one wife abnormal. Your childhood experiences can impact your idea of normal.

I realized this quest of mine to make a normal decision was fruitless. I needed to first figure out what my idea of normal was. The normal that works best for my life within my belief system. I also needed to learn to accept that my definition of normal and how it relates to my life will be ever changing as I progress through the healing process and journey though life. I must be willing to accept this change and the new normal, and not fight against it.

I have also realized, no matter what, I will always be abnormal to someone. That is okay too because being abnormal isn’t all that bad. After all, the world has been changed by the non-comformists, the abnormals. Think about where we would be if we never challenged the norm. It is how growth happens.

Ask the question.

Something that we hear a lot from loved ones of survivors is that there is a large variety of resources for survivors to reference, but fewer that help loved ones to get a handle on what has happened and what they can do to help.

There are a number of ways in which family and friends can support an adult survivor of rape, sexual assault and gender violence:

* Listen in a way that supports and validates the survivors’ feelings.
* Let them know that you believe what they are telling you.
* Make yourself available for the survivor.
* Encourage survivors to seek help.
* Let survivors disclose details of the abuse at their own pace.
* Ask survivors what they need from you to feel safe and supported.
* Take care of yourself and get help if needed.
* Educate yourself on recovery issues. See suggested reading for a list of literature to assist you.

Admittedly, there are a lot of questions that arise when someone in your life is trying to work through their trauma. Sometimes, the things you say or do, though well intentioned, may not be appropriate or helpful to the survivor.

I have read a number of books as a survivor and as an advocate in the field. Some of which we recommend on our site.

For more information, please visit our resource page:

If you have additional resources, not yet listed please let us know. We will do our best to review them and if appropriate, add them to the list.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Days like this...

There are days when what we are doing seems like baby steps in a world owned by giants.

Sometimes, not hearing from people or seeing their reactions can leave you feeling like maybe you just aren't reaching people. It can be disheartening, overwhelming. It can leave you feeling hopeless. Then there are days like today.

We received an email from an Advocate all the way from Bangalore, India named Nazu.

Nazu came across our blog and took the time to write us and let us know that our site is one that will be added to the "Askios" network to refer people to. Nazu is a survivor-advocate who created the site in order to provide resources for survivors of childhood abuse, and also network and connect with activists in India and other Asian countries, who work in the field of child sexual abuse.

We also received an email from a survivor who has yet to break their silence publicly. Someone who just doesn't feel that he is ready to speak out for fear of not being believed, for being blamed for his abuse. The social and familial stigma is just too great right now, but knowing that WSO existed was enough to reach out, in an email and let us know that there is comfort in knowing that he is not alone. Thank you for that email.

When I read these emails, I felt like the world got a little smaller and that we really are making a mark, reaching each other, across all barriers.

Today is a small reminder, that you must never lose sight of your goals. That there will be days when you feel like it's too big a feat, too difficult a task. It's in these moments that you must ask yourself "If not you, who? If not now, when?"

Never. Stop. Talking.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Race to Stop the Silence, April 08

A few years ago, I found myself in Washington, DC for the 2rd Annual National Race to Stop the Silence. The whole trip was an awesome adventure and I was able to meet up with some amazing, like-minded survivor-advocates, activists and community members who truly wanted to put an end to the pandemic of abuse. It was here, that I had the privilege of meeting Pamela Pine, the woman behind the organization and in charge of planning next year's 5th Annual Race at ANACOSTIA PARK. For those of you in the D.C. area, or for those who want to fly out, I would encourage you to participate. Stop the Silence does great things, one of which is providing a place where silence is broken. For more information on this event, please visit:

For further information, e-mail: - tell (Wo)Men Speak Out says hello!

Cafepress Sale!

Free shipping on all CafePress stuff for a limited time!

Go buy your WSO merchandise before the deal ends and SEND US YOUR PICTURE! We'll put it in the Minizine!!

A portion of your purchase goes back to WSO initiatives.

Click here for store!

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a humanitarian catastrophe

The epidemic of rape and sexual violence in the war-torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a humanitarian catastrophe.

The urgency of the crisis cannot be overstated. Take Action >>

The physical and emotional harm these women and girls face is staggering, and they rarely find the medical and psychological care they so desperately need. While the perpetrators of these horrific crimes move with impunity to their next victims, whole communities live in constant fear of the next wave of violence.

The International Violence Against Women Act (S.2279) would significantly increase U.S. commitment to ending gender-based violence in the DRC and around the world. By passing the IVAWA, we will take a significant step toward addressing this type of violence in the DRC and other crisis regions around the world.

Tell the Senate to pass this legislation immediately! >>

Thank you from my heart for responding to this humanitarian catastrophe.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A crime is a crime

I want to take a moment to say thanks for having me here. I hope you find my blogs worth your reading. Comments are always accepted and appreciated. Thanks so much and now on to the business at hand.

I live in Orlando and there is a story here causing quite a debate. When I first heard it on the radio, I thought I must be misunderstanding something because it didn’t make sense to me, some parts actually infuriated me. I was in the middle of writing a post on the paper’s site when I thought this would the perfect entry for my new blog. I have included the link if you want to read it the full article.

A woman was arrested on capital rape charges after a tape of her raping a five year old boy was found by a garbage collector. She was immediately charged and confessed to the crime. She was found guilty by a jury and went on to sentencing. Sounds like an open and shut case, right? Well, wrong!

On the day of sentencing, the judge, not the defense attorney, threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial because in Florida, the mandatory sentence is life without parole. The judge released a statement which in part said:

“The fact that the defendant faces a Draconian punishment for a crime where the victim is alive and apparently living a normal life some eleven years after the criminal act, when criminals who have killed people are released from prison almost daily, makes it even more imperative that the defendant receive a fair and impartial trial "

What the judge is implying and the article is summarizing is that since the child doesn’t seem to remember the rape or suffer ill effects from it, is it really a crime. What kind of rationale is this? Is this the precedent we really want to set? How can anyone say if he will remember the rape down the road, or if he remembers now but is too ashamed to admit it. When I was 16, you would of thought I lived a normal life too. I hid my pain well and the last thing I wanted to do at that age was talk about being raped. Regardless, the little boy in the video deserves justice. Whether he remembers or not, a crime is a crime.

Let's take a moment to examine this thinking a little further. How far can this be taken? If I am drugged or beaten before I am raped and I can't remember the details, does that mean I wasn't raped? If I am in a car accident and the impact erased my memory of the event, does my insurance company not have to pay for the repairs. If I am asleep during a surgery, did the surgery not happen? It is basically the modern day version of, “If the tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound.” I say yes and if the child doesn’t remember, it is still a crime. However, unlike the tree, someone was around to hear it. They are called jurors and they saw the video. Now I want to hear the sound of justice.

One last point to ponder, if this child was a 5 year old girl, and the rapist was a 21 one year old male, would there be a discussion at all?

Mike Lew

I had the privilege of meeting Mike Lew several years ago at a conference in O.H.I.O. He is an amazing author and advocate and one of our favorite authorities on the topic of Male Sexual Violence .

Mike wrote our Sept 07 BOOK OF THE MONTH pick: VICTIMS NO LONGER The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse.

Mike appeared on Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence back in February and we wanted to share this archive with you on the topic of male abuse.

This is a three-part interview:

Secton 1: Mike shared why he prefers to use the term "sexual child abuse" and how he happened to get into working with victims of sexual abuse. We talked about why men don't disclose as readily as women. Click:

Section 2: They discussed the impact of sexual abuse on men, including the issue of male stereotypes and images of masculinity, shame and the assumption that abused boys will become perpetrators. Click:

Section 3: Mike discussed the recovery process for men, including the importance of finding safety, giving up isolation, feeling the pain, making allies and having fun. He stressed that counselors who work with this issue have respect for the client, since that is a major wound for abused people.Click:

Funding cuts have disallowed this amazing radioshow: Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence, to no longer exists. Archives are still available, but our hope is that sponsors will be found in order to get this resource up and running again. If you or someone you know can help, please email Kathleen and let her know that you heard about it from WSO. We love Kathleen!!

Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence is now accepting sponsors and advertisers for the Internet radio show, Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence. For more information and rates contact:

Downsize Your Impact

I'm not sure about all of you, but our passions don't end with abuse advocacy. We believe that everyone and everything on this planet is interconnected and as such we are concerned with all faces of advocacy around the globe.

In an attempt to shed some positive energy and connect with like-minded people, we have created a blog called: Downsize Your Impact. Click HERE to view it and learn more.

Consciousness gives us the ability to see that the suffering of any impacts us all. It's the realization that we are not alone, but interconnected. Downsize Your Impact is dedicated to lessening suffering on earth, through advocacy in all areas of sustainability, to include agriculture, industry, forestry, fisheries, and human communities.

Our objective is to create a positive space where we share healthy ways of connecting with ourselves and others. It is a forum where we can come together and help one another find ways of feeling better about ourselves and moving forward in our healing.

For me personally, being able to help the planet as a whole, in all her facets brings me a greater piece of mind.

We hope that "Downsize Your Impact" is yet another resource on the growing list of resources that will allow you to change the world, one step at a time.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Emotional Heirlooms

Howdy, ya'll. Holiday time is upon us, and I want to remind everyone to look for positive triggers, perhaps even consciously create new traditions that are totally yours and yours alone.

My husband and I are doing the tree farm thing with our kids this year. He was raised in a religion that did not observe any holidays, no birthdays, no Christmas, etc. (LAME)

My mother left me when I was 26 moths old. She wanted to pursue her own interests which at the time were a rock band. I was raised by a father who never held a job down, mooched off his parents, who enabled him in every way. He began molesting me as a baby, about one and a half. He eventually kidnapped and raped me in a motel room in New Orleans.

My mother was supposed to come to meet us there, she never came. His family chose denial and I chose emancipation, so I waved bye bye to that freak show for good in 2004. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. We likes to get down in Nola. Naturally, I have always loved holidays. Just inherently love celebratory energy. Any opportunity to shake what I got, I shall! Like right now, James Brown is playing, he's singing about his soulful Christmas tree and grooving at Christmas time, and I can barely sit here to type because my ass just wants to shake itself....but I digress.

Troy, my hubs, and the kids and moi were driving the other day, discussing ornaments, the passing of legacies to our children, what if any legacy we have yet to obliterate from our respective childhoods. Most were in need of total annihilation! As we were talking, I said,
"you know, what about emotional heirlooms?" He said, "Oh my god, write about it!"
That's what it's like...we pass down the ornaments, silver, the plates, even the the dysfunction because it seems easier than actually changing things, we pass down habits, idiosyncrasies.

But, I think of what we are leaving our children as more than a legacy. Legacies are a little intangible. What emotional heirlooms will we pass to them? Literally, for each moment in life, what are we passing? What crystallized moments, whether joyous or painful, will we give them to hold? Will we remember that those very heirlooms are going directly to our grandchildren as well? My parents and grandparents on both sides never thought past themselves. Ever.
This has to be done very deliberately. This year, our positive triggers are the tree farm, side-of-the-road apple cider, and lots of groovy Christmas music. Now, the tree farm thing is essential, as I have much trauma surrounding the holidays.

I am creating future triggers, or memories, that will eventually pass into being emotional heirlooms for us and our babies, and their babies too..Screw Santa's list, I have made a list from my childhood, what was good, what was not. When I was little, Christmas was pretty good considering the context, at my dad's folks. I always missed my mother terribly and felt lonesome for that maternal love. I always feared my father's mercurial moods at Christmas. I feared his father for the same reason. Even at my grandparents, it was often like walking on glass. It was up to me to push for the tree, the lights, the merriment. If I had not been so determined to celebrate, I am quite sure no one would have done it. Many of the traditions once held dear in my family unraveled with the years of escalating abuse. It was not very safe to feel merry, for I always knew any merriment was a precursor to violence. Still, I stayed up all night decorating that tree, giving my soul room to be expressed.Yet in the midst of it all I stayed up all night decorating the tree. I loved doing it, me awake with all the animals.

I look at my babes today, and they have a brand new world, a mother who would rather die a slow painful death than abandon them, a father who is healthy, kind, sensitive, a love like no love I ever knew on Christmas and every other day. I am giving myself all things new as well. New heirlooms. New feelings, letting the joy in, relishing it, allowing my heart to be porous so that I may soak it all in. The joy that my children feel becomes my own. . When I see my children happy, free, and safe, I celebrate that with a deep smile, taking the moment home into my heart, and thanking the universe for this life. As we do this in our new family, we heal the children we once were as well, so everyone benefits. Instead of being angry or bitter because we were cheated, we choose to celebrate, and the taste is ever sweeter because of our respective histories.

Here's to new and healthy emotional heirlooms. We may not be able to hang those from a tree, or place them upon a mantle to look at, but they will live forever in the hearts of our children.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Welcome Sarah!

WSO welcomes Sarah Elise to our growing list of contributors for the (Wo)Men Speak Out Blog.

Sarah and I met on the Angela Shelton survivor forum on the days before Angela even knew who I was! Over 5 years later, we are still working our butts off sharing our stories, through out own organizations now, with all who will listen. Some of you may know Sarah as our featured Artist of the Month in the Oct 07 Minizine.

Sarah is truly a bright light. It is with great admiration that we welcome Sarah to our circle of survivor-advocates and look forward to her future posts.

Namaste Sarah and thank you for being here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

December 07 Minizine

The December 07 Minizine is now online and ready to download.
We hope you love it and welcome your comments:


Chris & Ophelia
and Aleks (our magical design fairy)

Issue 4 - Dec 07

Our Strength as Boys & Men - Christopher de Serres
What's In A Name - Ophelia de Serres
Advocate of the Month - Forence Holway

Stifle It - Diann Diaz

Keeping the Promise, Part 2 - Karen A. Duncan

Dental Tips for Survivors - Dr. Kate F. Hays
We Can Hear You - Survivor Emails
Question & Answer - Therapy for the male survivor
I, Anonymous - Dissociative Identity Disorder
Featured Artist - Hugo
Featured Book - Separated From The Light
WSOtv - Video showcase
Classifieds & Events

D.I.D. Awareness Ribbon - Your vote counts

There's an awesome new ribbon that is being created in an effort to bring awareness to Dissociative Identity Disorder. There is currently no ribbon for D.I.D. and as per the survivor manual, this info is being distributed to gain votes and get the best ribbon for the cause.

Take a look and make your vote count.

For those who haven't seen it, check out the
D.I.D. video blog

Introductions are in order!

Dear Friends,

In an effort to to create a broader platform for community action we have expanded our list of authors, writing in collaboration with Chris and myself on the WSO blog

Our first entry is a friend and fellow advocate of mine, Angela Rakis. I met Angela years ago at her annual conference for V.O.I.C.E.S. in Ohio. She is an amazing spokesperson and survivor-advocate and someone that we feel is a wonderful addition to our WSO team.

Jaime, is also a friend and advocate in the field. With a vast array of experience, Jaime brings a wealth of knowledge in rape, sexual assault and gender violence awareness. We look forward to seeing her posts, in the coming weeks.

Our newest team member is well known amongst the male-survivor community here on myspace. His name is Hugo, a.k.a. Male survivor.
He is an established artist and writer and we are honored to have him on the team. Thank you for being here.

Our list of writers is expanding and as more posts are made, we will introduce each, respectively.

We encourage you all to subscribe to our blog, to stay updated on the latest in WSO news.

THANK YOU! for all that you do.


Ophelia & Chris

Girls Fight Back!

There have been a series of assaults on women in the Seattle area. The attacker is still at large.

These attacks are random. This could be you.

Stay safe. Stay alert! Buy GIRLS FIGHT BACK today. Invest in yourself. You're worth it.

Pass it on.

Girls Fight Back!: The College Girl's Guide to Protecting Herself

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let me introduce myself

Hello everyone. My name is Angela Rakis and I have been invited by Ophelia and Chris to participate on the WSO blog. It is truly an honor. Thank you both!!

I am also an abuse survivor and now an advocate for survivors of all types of abuse. I personally understand the seriousness of the long term effects abuse has on a person. Those who have not been abuse, or choose to ignore their own situation, often express disbelief that an event that occurred so long ago can have daily effects on an adult. We know better. This is the number one reason why I am an advocate and speak out on the subject. There are an incredible number of adults suffering without any support and I believe that is unacceptable. We all need support and love if we are to move forward to create a healthy and happy life for ourselves.

I am committed to supporting survivors in as many ways as possible and welcome this opportunity to communicate with so many people that are dealing with the same issues I am. Although I went through several years of serious work on myself, and made great progress in my self-acceptance and healing, there will always be an internal struggle with the subject of abuse.

In my future posts I will share with you my thoughts on these issues and I welcome your feedback.

~ Angela

Reinventing Family

Today has been one filled with much mixed emotion. There are quite a few friends out there who are going through an extremely difficult time right now and with the holidays just around the corner, I was called to make this video to vent some of my thoughts. I hope it serves you well and gives some light in the darkness. Be well.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Manifest it!

We have been receiving video blog requests from quite a few readers, asking questions about how to deal with their individual experiences. We will be posting some new videos shortly and are currently compiling a list for future entries.

Again, if you are interested in having WSO focus on a particular topic, please email us your suggestion to and we will do our best to facilitate a discussion.

We will expanding our blog this month, to include several other survivor-advocates, authors and artists in the field who we feel encompass the vision of (Wo)Men Speak Out. In time, this list will grow to allow for a more diverse experience for our readers, both male and female. Our mission is to share our experiences, in order to create a broader platform for community action.

We look forward to your feedback and continued support.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November 25th & 16 Days of Activism

WSO asks: What will your 16 days of activism consist of?

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence — an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991, when participants chose the dates November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically emphasize that violence against women is a human rights violation. The 16 Days Campaign has been embraced as an organizing strategy by a broad spectrum of individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women through activities ranging from media programmes to demonstrations, conferences, exhibitions and performances.

The overarching theme of this year’s campaign — Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles — indicates that while there has been much progress made, challenges persist that hinder the effectiveness of efforts by activists and organizations to prevent and respond to the violence women suffer everywhere around the globe.

The 16 Days Campaign seeks to help dismantle obstacles and overcome challenges posed by social attitudes and policies that condone and perpetuate gender-based violence.

Its starting date, November 25th, was chosen in honour of the Mirabal sisters, political activists from the Dominican Republic who were assassinated on the same day in 1961. The three sisters were murdered for their efforts to oppose dictatorship in their country, and their legacy of bravery and compassion has made them national and international heroines.

It was in 1999 that the United Nations officially joined the campaign by designating 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (resolution 54/134). This followed on from a 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, in which the UN General Assembly resolved “that violence against women constitutes a violation of the rights and freedoms of women” & identified “a need for ... commitment by the international community at large to the elimination of violence against women.” UN agencies have since partnered with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments to conduct regional campaigns to raise awareness and mobilize community action. UNIFEM, as part of its deep involvement in the global fight to eradicate violence against women, has taken the
lead in coordinating several UN inter-agency campaigns in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the CEE/CIS region, to foster and promote innovative strategies to address the issue.

Retrieved from
Copyright © 2007 United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Article submissions for the Minizine

There have been quite a few people emailing us about information for the Minizine. We have decided that it would be best to post here so that people have it down in writing to refer to and forward on.

In keeping with the aims of the Minizine, we are always looking for high quality writing and journalism –survivors, advocates and community members who wish to contribute their stories are encouraged to submit an article for consideration using the following guidelines:

We prefer simple text based submissions, in Microsoft Word or a similar.

One space after each period, colon, or semi-colon.
Periods should be inside of quotes.
Please do not indent.

MUST BE AN ORIGINAL ARTICLE THAT YOU WROTE. If you work for an author as an employee or contractor and are submitting the article, please submit the article as if it was from the original author including his or her email address and name.

Please include your name, title, organization and contact details at the bottom of your article as you would like them printed.

All submissions must represent themes that align with our organization's mission, working from an anti-oppressive framework.

(Wo)Men Speak Out is an organization dedicated to eradicating male/female violence against both genders. We seek to educate both men and women, cultivating healthy relationships and gender equity.

Word count

One page of Minizine is approximately 600 words. Articles longer than 2 pages are generally not suitable for The Minizine with the exception by regular contributors.

We recommend 1 page for a standard length article, but welcome longer articles. If you would like to contribute a longer article, please feel free to email us the details of the article to confirm placement availability.

Photos to submit with your article should be high quality. Colored head shots are preferred.


We have rigorous quality control and production procedures to follow and therefore our deadlines are important. We ask all contributors to observe them. Deadlines for 2007 Editions are the 20th day of each month. These dates may be revised in 2008.

Please email your article to:

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Rape of Mr. Smith

The Rape of Mr. Smith
— Author Unknown

The law discriminates against rape victims in a manner which would not be tolerated by victims of any other crime. In the following example, a holdup victim is asked questions similar in form to those usually asked a victim of rape.

"Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of 16th and Locust?"
"Did you struggle with the robber?"
"Why not?"
"He was armed."
"Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than to resist?"
"Did you scream? Cry out?"
"No. I was afraid."
"I see. Have you ever been held up before?"
"Have you ever given money away?"
"Yes, of course —"
"And did you do so willingly?"
"What are you getting at?"
"Well, let's put it like this, Mr. Smith. You've given away money in the past — in fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren't contriving to have your money taken from you by force?"
"Listen, if I wanted —"
"Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?"
"About 11 p.m."
"You were out on the streets at 11 p.m.? Doing what?"
"Just walking."
"Just walking? You know it's dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren't you aware that you could have been held up?"
"I hadn't thought about it."
"What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?"
"Let's see. A suit. Yes, a suit."
"An expensive suit?"
"Well — yes."
"In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be a good target for some easy money, isn't that so? I mean, if we didn't know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think you were asking for this to happen, mightn't we?"
"Look, can't we talk about the past history of the guy who did this to me?"
"I'm afraid not, Mr. Smith. I don't think you would want to violate his rights, now, would you?"

Friday, November 9, 2007

Points with Purpose

From thousands of tragic events, a beautiful drawing is born.

David Ilan, a celebrity artist has created a project named Points with Purpose. Through his specialized technique he gives dots a greater meaning by associating each dot with a real person who has been raped or sexually abused.

I love this project not only because it is a beautiful and empowering tribute to the female survivor but more personally, the woman who is sketched in the drawing looks very much like my sister Maggie, who passed away in 2001. Maggie was not only my sister but also a survivor of incest and domestic violence, and very much the reason for my advocacy today. The likeness is actually quite amazing and though coincidental, I believe that everything happens for a reason and I was meant to stumble upon this amazing project.

If you have been raped or sexually abused you can join the project on his site (It's free), giving your real name or an alias, and have the option of sharing your story. David will add one dot for every person who joins until the drawing is complete.

The final drawing will be of a woman looking confident, proud and beautiful. By joining the project, thousands of people with a shared tragic experience will work together to form a work of art meant to show others who go through similar experiences that they too can feel confident, proud and beautiful again.

Make a point of telling your story today:

Erin Weed - AM 760

Fellow Advocate and friend, Erin Weed is now hosting a radio show on AM 760 in Denver called Women on Top. If you missed her show this Sunday, check it out here

GFB was born in 2001 in response to the murder of a gorgeous, talented and much-loved college student named Shannon McNamara. Shannon's friend and Alpha Phi sorority sister, Erin Weed, founded GFB shortly after the murder when she realized safety and self-defense resources were simply hard to come by. Six years after the creation of GFB, Erin still travels the nation speaking to 100,000 women per year. She also writes books and magazine articles on women's safety and has contributed to our very own (Wo)Men Speak Out Minizine.

Erin is an amazing Advocate and we all need to support such an amazing talk-radio show!
Tune in to AM 760 Sundays at 2pm MST for another hour of Erin. If you don't live near Colorado, listen streaming live on the internet at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Everyday Together Campaign

The Everyday Together Campaign
Deadline: December 6, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Let's talk D.I.D.

There has been a lot of inaccurate information circulating on the internet that has been causing a lot of confusion on the survivor/mental health side of things. In an attempt to clear up some of the confusion, I have created this short 7min youtube video. Take a look and let us know of any additional resources that you would like to share.

Additionally, mentioned here are the links to the literature in this video.
Multiple Personality Disorder from the Inside Out
Separated From the Light (A Path Back from Psychological Trauma)

I also received an email from P.O.S of myspace who recommends the following site for partners of DID survivors. Please take a look:

Please feel free to post comments with additional resources for people to reference.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Mother's Choice

Often, we hear of men who molest young girls and women and receive too little jail time or often, no penalty at all for their crimes. Tonight, on television was a story of a mother who was the co-abuser to her daughter of 7 years old. The reason for her decision, she wanted to "prove her love" to her husband. The ultimate sacrifice, in her mind would surely win over his commitment and perhaps allow some sense of normalcy to their lives. Normalcy stemmed from incest, an interesting and obviously distorted reasoning, an excuse to commitment the ultimate betrayal.

These stories are not new to me, having read hundreds of thousands of emails over the years depicting torturous and unbelievable acts of abuse. However, it always takes a moment longer for me to come to terms with mothers who turn on their own children, in order to gain the "love" of a man in their life. They themselves, abuse victims in the hell that is intimate partner violence. Part of me feels torn by the understanding that they face their own fear and pain and yet, I cannot condone the line that is crossed from victim to abuser.

There were so many levels to this particular case, but what I was struck by was an issue that screams true for so many women; needing a man in order to feel validated, worthy, loved. Often, women (and men) who are survivors of abuse will do find themselves doing things and allowing things to be done without questioning the impact of their decision. There is a laundry list of reason why such things happen, but one very important factor is conditioning.

If you are told that you are useless and unworthy each and every day of your life, parts of you, if not all of you will begin to believe it. There is truth behind the saying "thoughts are things" in that what you believe you become. If you are a vulnerable child your choice and sense of reality outside of your caregivers is drastically reduced and the name and expectations placed upon you will be your burden until you are old enough or fortunate enough to learn otherwise. For all of us, I believe this means being our own teachers.

A few years ago, I found myself in a relationship with a man who was quite older than me. I didn't realize at that time, that a large part of my connection to him was based on my relationship with my father. An odd and somewhat disconcerting realization, however one that looking back and being a survivor of incest, makes a lot of sense to me now. To make a long story short, I allowed myself to stay in this relationship and undergo behavior that I now see as abusive on many levels.

I fell in love with a man, and allowed him to control me in order to gain his affection and approval, much like I did with my father. The difference here is that I am no longer the abused child of 4 years old, but instead a grown woman making adult choices. The catch? On many levels, in the decisions that I made in that relationship (and others like it), my inner child, the one who learned what love was from her father, was still seeking love in the same way from men who could not give her what she needed. Self-worth, validation, self-respect, a true sense of self are all things that we must find in ourselves and that cannot be resolved by others.

I see myself as fortunate to have gotten out of that relationship before marriage or children. I can only imagine how much more complicated life would have been had my life changed even slightly to the left or where it is today. I see my mother and sister in my own experience, yet they were not as fortunate. My sister, passed and my mother having spent 30 years with an abusive husband. I see that choices that she made. I try not to judge her and yet, sometimes I do, still. I wish that all women and men will see their worth and never make the choices that will endanger themselves or their children. We must break the cycle now before it is too late.


Every so often we have to remind ourselves what we are living for. What gets our juices REALLY flowing. It can be so easy to just float out to sea, in the busy-ness of work, of the day-to-day, in the midst of depression. There are so many things overpowering our time and attention. We all just lose track.

So I found a tree with a nice green lawn below it. I laid down, watched busy people, at all rates of speed, walk, run, jog right by me. Then I looked straight up at the leaves and branches, with the strong rays of the Sun shining through them, making them almost transparent.

I had my IPod with me. So I fired up a song I hadn't shuffled out in quite some time. Music always helps me focus on me, my life. If I was going to focus, then I had to let go completely. Why the hell not? So I extended my arms out to my side, spread my legs, kind of like if I were to make angels in the snow.

What makes me excited? I mean, really brings a solid knot in my stomach, sends water barely peeking out of the tear ducts in preparation for the flood. I think of when I was a child, and my mother bought me my first He-Man action figure. I could remember it was a hot day like this, we were baking in the car. My mom rushed to roll down the windows, but I was oblivious. I pulled out the plastic packaging. It was He-Man, with a jagged double-edged axe, and bulging muscles all over his body. I couldn't believe the moment was here, so I took my time, ran my hand across the clear plastic, read every word on the package. Then I tore it open, grabbed the muscle bound toy with authority, and proclaimed myself the "Master of Grayskull!"

I wanted to find that again. To be that full of excitement and anticipation. I missed that about childhood. I miss that feeling terribly. We don't let ourselves feel that committed to something. Where we risk the ridicule, the judgments of others, because we are so consumed by emotion, by our clarity of purpose, by that which is best in us.

So there I sat, in the grass. I saw Monkey Face. In the plains of Eastern Oregon sits a large tower of rock, with a distinct rounded top. Just below the top sits a small cave, shaped very much like a mouth, and just above that sat the 'eye'. People climb that monolith, straight up it's side. I had been in that area almost 20 times, and had talked about climbing it for the past two years. I even had the balls to go out there with the INTENTION of getting to it's top. But it wasn't my time yet.

I could see myself working like Spiderman up it's side, climbing into the mouth, and pulling my body to it's top. Then I clutched both hands into fists, raise them above my head, and my entire body shook, like some kinetic lightning bolt fed into me.

As I saw this picture, I made it brighter, I brought it closer, so I could make out the expression on my face. In that moment I FELT like the Master of Grayskull.
But it hasn't happened...yet.

I know that there are more important things in life than climbing a piece of rock. But what can be more important than what that represents to me? That's real power.
The power to forget yourself and find yourself.


Reflection in an instant

I have a friend who lives her life in goodness. Like many of us, she is a caregiver. She spends her days helping others. She also lives her life in fear, each day looking over her shoulder and doing the best she can to stay safe. Her life, one of unbelievable turmoil and incredible strength. She fights for the rights of so many but like many of us, forgets or is sometimes unable to see how worthy she is of love, how much she is already loved or simply that she is not alone.

This road is long and tiresome sometimes. Many of us have lived experiences that are unspeakable, or at least unbelievable to utter. We compare our wounds and work incredibly hard to lift ourselves up to a place where we can recognize our strength. We are not defined by our past but it can be unclear just how much of it has contributed to our struggle to simply, "get through" the day.

So, I write this short blog in response to the pain I shared in a moment of disclosure. A moment where the world came crashing down and the realization that what was normal, can no longer be that again, but that we must redefine what normal is and rebuild foundations. I speak to all of those that have experienced pain, confusion and fear.

To those who have been granted second, third and forth chances, that we should know that even in the darkest of hours; there is light. That there is love and friendship.

That there is hope. We all need hope.