Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Mean I Have to Rescue MYSELF?  Eeeek!

Realizing how damaged you are after child sexual abuse can be overwhelming.  Sometimes the toxic effect of this kind of abuse is so massive even the thought of change seems impossible.  That’s when your “rescue” response kicks in.  It would be so much easier if someone could just come along and rescue you, wouldn’t it?

Hey, where is that White Knight when you need him? 

Well, he didn’t ride in on his white horse when you were sexually abused, did he?  No.  But I have good news.  There is someone who can rescue you now.


All victims of child sexual abuse are broken in one way or another.  Some are better at hiding the damage than others.  They just work twice as hard at numbing or repressing the hurt, which only makes the situation worse.  Why?  Because you can’t tackle a problem until you’ve identified it.

You’ll heal much faster if you’re committed to learning everything you can about yourself and your situation.  The process is a little like peeling an onion.  Every time you heal one area of your life another dysfunctional issue comes to light.  And that’s okay.  It’s supposed to be that way.  Healing isn’t one large victory.  It’s a chain of small ones. 

The daily practice of rescuing yourself begins with an action plan.  List not only your destination but also the steps you plan to take to get there.  Make sure this plan includes professional support.  You can’t do this on your own.  It’s just not possible.  The damage from child sexual abuse is too extensive.

Also, develop the habit of paying attention to your intuition (that still, small voice inside you).  As long as you remain true to this inner voice, you’re on the right track. 

 How about that?  After all these years you’ve finally been rescued.  And by someone you trust more than anyone.  Someone who has always had your best interest at heart.  YOU!

That’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?  Now there’s no limit to what you can achieve.  You’ve become your own White Knight.  Time to turn that horse around and gallop toward the biggest rainbow you can find.  It’s yours!  

With Love,Deborah

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Self-Care Sunday: Feeling the Love

in this moment book
I’ve been exploring the topic of self-love this whole week (see here and here). And today is no exception. In their book In This Moment: Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience psychologists Kirk D. Strosahl, Ph.D, and Patricia J. Robinson, Ph.D, include a powerful activity for feeling love within ourselves, which we can practice regularly.

They suggest remembering a time in your life when you felt completely loved and cared for. Remember what it felt like to be accepted for precisely who you are, to bask in that warmth. Immerse yourself in the details of these memories, focusing on your thoughts, emotions and any physical sensations.
According to the authors, “Some people remember being held or gently touched by a parent when they were small. Others remember moments with a partner, such as holding hands and watching a beautiful sunset. Perhaps you have a memory of being hugged by someone who was very glad to see you after a long time apart. Your favorite memories might also involve snuggling with sweet canine or feline friends.”
Make a list of moments you felt really loved. Then pick one or two to practice with. That is, remember these events in detail. Recreate the physical, emotional and mental experience of receiving love. Describe these details in your journal. Then you can recall these sensations any time you need to. When your inner critic just won’t quit. When you’re upset. When you’re anxious. Or every day, if you like.
Remember self-love is available to each of us. We might need to work on loving ourselves. We might need to see a therapist. We might need to work through a workbook on coping with emotions. We might need to better understand ourselves. We might need to own our experiences — all of them. We might need to start meditating, or to learn healthy ways to cope with our inner critic.
But we can.
As the authors write, “In the end, the choice to love or hate yourself is completely up to you, and you can choose to switch from self-loathing to loving yourself at any time, and for no reason at all!”
Make this choice. And, if it’s difficult to act on this choice, then identify what you need and how you can learn to love yourself.
Because, again, you can.


20 Questions for Exploring Unconditional Self-Love

blooms in brooklyn, april 2013
Yesterday, we explored what unconditional self-love looks like. Today, I’m sharing some questions we can ask ourselves to start (or keep) loving ourselves unconditionally. Because I personally find it helpful to divide something as big as self-love into its many parts. I find it helpful to have prompts (like questions) to dive into and think through. One word. One sentence at a time. I hope you might, too.

  • What does unconditional self-love look like for you on a daily basis?
  • Does it consist of self-care? What kind of self-care?
  • When you love yourself unconditionally, how do you wake up?
  • When you love yourself unconditionally, how do you move your body?
  • When you love yourself unconditionally, how do you speak to yourself?
  • When you love yourself unconditionally, what kind of people do you hang out with?
  • When you love yourself unconditionally, how do you eat?
  • How do you go to sleep?
  • What kinds of activities do you engage in?
  • What does your home look and feel like?
  • What beliefs underlie your self-love?
  • What is one feeling you can accept and feel?
  • What rules or conditions can you relinquish to love yourself unconditionally?
  • How do you relinquish them? What steps can you take? For instance, this might include seeing a therapist.
  • How can you tend to your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs?
  • How are you thinking and feeling right now?
  • What is your truth today?
  • How do you love your closest people unconditionally? What does this entail?
  • How can you start to love yourself in this way?
  • When you think of loving yourself unconditionally, what reactions do you have? These might be a range of reactions, even contradictory ones, which, of course, is totally OK.
I know this is a longish list of questions. So pick the first question you feel like answering. Journal your response. Then when you’re ready, explore another question. Write whatever pops into your head, even if it doesn’t make sense right now.
Let your needs, wants, wishes, big dreams, insecurities, self-doubts spill out onto the paper. Let your mind and body speak the raw, bare, unvarnished truth.
In fact, isn’t this the first step of loving ourselves unconditionally? To listen intently to our thoughts, feelings, sensations, reactions — wholeheartedly open, without judgment, welcoming whatever arises.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Self Denial

For this third week of National Child Abuse Prevention month, I’d like to talk about self-denial.  Part of surviving child sexual abuse is learning to deny the reality of what’s happening to us. 

To do that, we made up stories about our families and ourselves.  It’s how we survive.  We push away the reality that someone we love and trust would hurt us again and again in this horrible, painful way. 

One of the stories we create is that the abuse is our fault.  We must be bad kids, or we must have done something wrong to merit this kind of horrendous “punishment.”  So we try harder to do better.  Perfectionism becomes our goal.  But that doesn’t work either.  The abuse continues no matter what.   

When you deny reality, you deny yourself.  Unfortunately, this is a toxic legacy we carry from our traumatized childhood into adulthood.  It warps our core beliefs about life, the world, and everyone around us.  When we deny ourselves, we disconnect from our hearts and our needs.  We deny who we truly are.

Yet it feels like such a risk to face reality.  And it is.  When we allow the truth about our past to unfold it changes everything.  It changes what we’ve always believed about ourselves, our personal relationships, and the future. 

But this is a risk we must take.  No matter how much you’d like to resist, you must step outside your comfort zone.  I know how that feels.  It’s like someone pulled the rug out from under you.  Yet you have to do it.  It’s the only way to end the pain, fear, anxiety, and frustration that poison your life.

So keep moving forward.  Trust the process.  You are an amazing human being, and you have been gifted with the tools and talent to do this.  You have!

One day you’ll look in the mirror, and you’ll realize you truly love who you’ve become.  But to do that, you need to stop denying yourself.  You need to ask yourself this question: “Who am I?”  The answer is the place where your healing journey begins.


Were you sexually abused as a child?  Is your life stuck as an adult, and you can’t seem to move forward?  I offer private coaching sessions by phone or skype ($55.00 per hour) for child sexual abuse survivors just like you.  To set up an appointment, call 619-889-6366 or email
svava@educate4change.com today.  Take the time to invest in yourself.  You’re worth it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015



Because April is National Child Abuse Prevention month, I thought I’d tell you a little about the work I do with Darkness to Light.   

Darkness to Light Stewards of Children is an organization dedicated to empowering people to prevent child sexual abuse.  Its programs raise awareness by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly when faced with the reality of child sexual abuse. 

I’m a certified instructor for Darkness to Light, and I train facilitators.  I love this work!  Why?  Because it allows me to teach people what they need to know, so they can return to their communities and educate others about how to keep kids safe.  Darkness to Light is proven, evidence-based, and it works. 

Here’s another reason why I’m such a big fan of this program. 

Ten years ago it wasn’t easy for me to talk about myself and the painful abuse I suffered as a child.  But I was deeply committed to this mission.  It had become a goal of mine.  I knew, without a doubt, this kind of training would have made all the difference in my childhood if the adults around me had known how to respond and keep me safe.  Darkness to Light gave me the tools I needed to achieve this goal and become a confident public speaker. 

But we all need to do our part.  Join the movement, get educated, and share what you’ve learned.  You could be saving a child’s life.  Maybe a child in your family.  If you’re interested in more information about Darkness to Light, you’ll find it here: http://www.d2l.org

As long as children are being sexually abused in this country, I’ll continue to provide Darkness to Light training wherever I can.  If you’re in San Diego, my next facilitator training session is April 11th.  There’s still room if you’d like to join me.  Just check out this page on my website for more details: http://www.educate4change.com/services.html  

Remember, we are stronger together.  We really are.

Were you sexually abused as a child?  Is your life stuck as an adult, and you can’t seem to move forward?  I offer private coaching sessions by phone or skype ($55.00 per hour) for child sexual abuse survivors just like you.  To set up an appointment, call 619-889-6366 or email svava@educate4change.com today.  Take the time to invest in yourself.  You’re worth it!

Are you on my email list?  If you’d like to receive my empowering monthly newsletter and an email with a link to my weekly blog post, click here: http://www.educate4change.com/