Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Trauma Training Notes

Out of Darkness Trauma 186930690Training

These notes are from a seminar I attended last summer on trauma. It is part of the on-going education I receive because I volunteer at Solomon House, a short-term recovery center for women who have been trafficked or prostituted. Bethany Blanco of Manna Treatment was the presenter. Just thought I’d share in case anyone else finds it helpful.

PERPETRATOR STRATEGY

  • Emotional and mental strategies make the most sense because they can’t be seen.
  • Exploitation of a victim’s vulnerabilities: take them out of their environment, isolation, fear law enforcement, insult, question them/raise questions, lies, hone in and emphasize vulnerabilities
  • Threats: violence, threat of harm is just as strong as harm, threats of harm to family or things/people they love, surrounding them with other scared women
  • Reward/punishment: showing some kindness to keep them coming back, the possibility of better, relationships form, fear keeps a dutiful slave, occasional violence
  • Praying on commitment: contract, commitment to family (as in they are providing for the victim), providing or caring for the victim’s children

VICTIM RESPONSE

  • Acceptance or dependence
  • Believe they aren’t good enough for anything else, undeserving
  • A lot of eating disorder victims have sexual abuse history
  • The chains are mental.
  • Learned helplessness
  • Reactive stance (How can I minimize the pain best, knowing this will be my situation?)
  • Identify with perpetrators and sympathize (gives them a weird sense of responsibility and control), genuine feelings of guilt, responsibility makes them feel like they could’ve prevented it, integrates into sense of self (Guilt is I did something wrong. Shame says I am wrong.)
  • Semblance of honor by fulfilling commitment
  • Destroys sense of self

RELATIONAL LESSONS

  • Am I worth loving? Are people safe? – These two questions give people a working model for relationships, starting when they are young. Mothers provide first model for this idea. Can be altered based on healthy or unhealthy relationships. This all forms how we relate to others. Social and biological components. Failure to thrive.
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog—book
  • Parts of the brain: reptilian (flight/flight, survival, instinct), mammalian (emotional center), human (logic, last to develop) — Trauma makes you live in reptilian center. It’s only based on response.
  • Be careful with touch until you have a trusting relationship because touch has not been positive for victims.
  • Be safe and consistent.
  • Logic is not very useful in the beginning because they can’t process it.
  • The person of the therapist brings the most success.
  • Being a safe person: know yourself, evaluate motives, examine your own story and find acceptance, learn to be nonreactive, allow them to be who they are without judging, understand that everything makes sense given the circumstance/history/experience/etc, trust the process and give it the time needed
  • After someone shares trauma, ask them how they’re feeling about it. Stay calm to keep them calm.
  • Be careful asking questions before they’re ready to share, and don’t let them share too much too fast.
  • “Grounding” helps people with severe flashbacks focus on the present.
  • Give them a vision for the future. Give them small tasks to build their self worth. Help them see new options. Add life skills.
  • Show them what healthy weakness looks like.


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2013 As An Abolitionist

photoIt was a big year to be an abolitionist. I really wish I’d been ready for it! There were milestones and celebrations and remembrances—some worldwide, some national and some just for me. Over and over, I was given opportunities to honor the work that has been done, rejoice in the part I’ve played, and prepare for the fight still ahead.

Here’s a look back:

  • 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
  • 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address
  • 50th anniversary of the March on Washington
  • 50th anniversary of the death of JFK
  • Passing of Nelson Mandela
  • Got more involved with Not For Sale Georgia.
  • Took Out of Darkness training, and began volunteering for Solomon House.
  • Attended Lobby Day.
  • I heard Jason Russell speak for the first time.
  • I heard Mary Francis Bowley speak for the first time.
  • I heard Rebecca Stevens and John Richmond speak, both new to me.
  • Gave $25 to Kiva to help lift someone out of poverty, a factor in those at risk for slavery.
  • Saw Lincoln in the theater
  • Release of the movie, The Butler
  • Release of the movie, 12 Years a Slave
  • I read a lot of great books on the movement.

Overall, it was a good year to be an abolitionist. I feel really confirmed in playing a role to end slavery.

Looking forward to see what 2014 has in store.


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Happy Birthday Doesn’t Even Come Close

131630375Happy 100th post to me! While that is a celebration in itself, I wanted to tell you about something even more special that I was able to be a part of recently. It’s really something worth honoring.

A few weeks ago I attended a birthday party. While at first that may not sound all that exciting, it was unlike any birthday party I’ve ever attended.

It was for a survivor of sex trafficking. And it was her first birthday party ever.

She’s older than I am (I’m a very young 36.), and I’ve never seen such joy at a birthday party. Sure, there’s the six year-old who is super excited to open his new Angry Birds t-shirt, or the teenage girl who squeals while waving around her first iPhone, or the twenty-something who over-shares on Facebook about her birthday cruise. But this experience was pure, unfiltered, full-on thrill. It was one of the greatest days of her life. And it was pretty darn amazing for the rest of us too.

We had the usual—streamers, balloons, flowers, party hats, cake and gifts. But to her, we hosted the Oscars. Everything we did during the party or gave her was like an answer to prayer. There was gratefulness displayed like I’ve rarely seen over such simple things most of us take for grated like a cute watch or a pretty handbag or sweet-smelling lotion or a nice pair of jeans. But for someone who went from having nothing, to personally owning a few lovely things, it was a milestone. She held up her new clothes excitedly saying she would wear them to her very first church service in the morning. Nothing was taken for granted, and everything opened a new conversation full of hope and a different future.

Funny enough, one of her favorite things was the balloons. She said she loved balloons and always wanted one of her own, so she was excited to take them to her room afterward along with her gifts. And she didn’t open our cards in public, but instead tucked them neatly inside her pretty little purse and told us she would read them when she was feeling lost or scared or alone. She said they would comfort her in desperate times when her past would creep back into her thoughts. Our words would communicate love when our arms couldn’t be there to embrace her. It was so ordinary and so extraordinary all at the same time.

We laughed with her and cried with her, and drank in every second of her. She couldn’t believe we would do anything like this for her. She’s been used and abused her whole life, and in many ways still showed the scars.  She animatedly talked about her brand new faith, and asked questions and shed tears when she remembered God would always be there to listen to her. She said if she’d only known that before, she would’ve started talking to him long ago.

Before we all left, we prayed with her because this was a birthday in so many ways. It was a landmark occasion. It was a symbol of a new future. It was a party for leaving “the life” behind and entering a new one. It was a day just for her.

“Happy” birthday just didn’t do it justice, and I’m not sure any words ever would. But I know I’ll never quite look at birthdays the same way again, and I certainly hope I get to attend a few more like that. I also hope I can make mine more meaningful. I plan to make my birthday as much of a happy day for me as those around me, and those I can help like her. And that would certainly be worth celebrating.


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My 2013-2014 Conference Schedule

162056140I love conferences. I mean it. I LOVE conferences. I must, right? I work on one year-round.

I would never have the patience or determination to go back to school like many of my friends have done, but to me, conferences are like little crash courses without the tuition. And there are no electives or basic courses to waste your time on. Just focused attention to whatever I’m most interested in. Best of all, optional homework.

I can also attended conferences on a variety of topics. I mean, who just has one interest? There are many subjects I want to know more about, and luckily, there’s a conference for every one of them. And I should know—I’ve attended quite a few!

My upcoming conference schedule is mostly centered around 1) my day job in PR/marketing for Orange, 2) personal growth, and 3) my passion for the abolitionist movement and volunteer work with Not For Sale Georgia and Solomon House/Out of Darkness.

Locked in:

Fingers crossed:

Based on my company’s marketing budget, ONE of these may happen.

That’s a lot of learnin’—I’m excited! It’s going to be a fun and educational few months.

What about you? What’s on your schedule? And please let me know if there’s something I should put on my schedule.


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We sit.

113723895Today was my first time volunteering over at Solomon House. What did I do? I sat. I watched a movie with the newest resident, a sweet girl in need of love, care and a fresh start. I’m really good at watching movies, so I fit right in. And turns out we both like Will Smith.

It wasn’t glamorous or full of deep life-changing conversation. We exchanged a few words, but not much. After a little time passes, she might not even remember I was the one there with her. And all that’s ok. She is beginning her time of restoration, and it’s a slow process. She needs to take baby steps, and if that means sleeping in and getting up to a movie, that’s totally fine. It sounds a lot like my Saturday mornings, in fact, so I highly recommend. For her, it’s a move toward normalcy and there’s a lot to be said for that, especially coming out of prostitution.

As we were sitting there, a scene from the movie Lars and the Real Girl came to mind. If you’ve never seen it, you must do so immediately. It’s a darling of a movie, and more people should know about it. There are probably easily 100 lessons that could be learned from that film, but this one has popped into my head on a number of occasions.

In the scene, it’s a time of mourning for Lars. A few women from his church come over to bring him some food and be of comfort to him. To be honest, it’s not a big part of the movie. Most people probably wouldn’t remember it. It’s this tiny, little conversation before and after bigger incidents. but it’s the one that stuck with me the most for some reason.

Sally: We brought casseroles.

Lars: Thank you.

Lars: [Lars looks around the sewing circle. The three ladies are knitting and doing needlepoint] Um, is there something I should be doing right now?

Mrs. Gruner: No, dear. You eat.

Sally: We came over to sit.

Hazel: That’s what people do when tragedy strikes.

Sally: They come over, and sit.

On the way over to the house this morning, I prayed that God would give me the words to speak that would encourage and comfort her. It turns out, all I needed to do was sit. I wasn’t at a loss for words, they just weren’t needed. I only needed to be present. She’s been lonely, and needs to know people care about her and believe she can make it through this difficult transition. I think sometimes we try too hard to come up with the right things to say when people are hurting, but mostly, the best thing we can do is be there for them. Sometimes our intentions can make the most difference.

Other women will be visiting her throughout the upcoming week. I imagine every visit will be a little different. Some of those may very well be the deep, life-changing conversations. They may be encounters that she remembers for the rest of her life. They may be done by women who will stay in her life for years to come. But this morning she wanted to watch a movie, so that’s what I did.

I was there. I was present. I was there if she wanted to talk, and I was there if she didn’t. And I’m really looking forward to going back and doing it all over again. If needed, I’ll sit again.

(By the way, if you care to donate to Solomon House, the items most needed at the moment are: PJs, bras, Celebrate Recovery Bibles, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, His Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd, and gift cards to things like grocery stores, movies, restaurants, etc.)