Suffering in Silence

Silence is isolating. Silence is suffocating. Silence prevents healing. Yet, sometimes silence and isolation are desired by survivors of trauma and secondary trauma. Many people never discuss or disclose trauma they’ve experienced or are silent for years, even though the need for disclosing and emotional healing is so great.

Why Do So Many People Suffer in Silence?

Finding the words to ask for help can be so difficult. There are a variety of emotions involved, including shame, panic, and fear of the unknown. Children may fear being removed from their family’s care, worry about getting someone in trouble or arrested, or believe they will be viewed as bad. Adults may fear losing their jobs or losing custody of their children, or being viewed as weak or incapable. These are common fears with both trauma or secondary trauma. If the trauma is ongoing, there is often a fear that speaking up will cause violence to worsen, and this may be true.

People may fear being shunned or not believed. Self-blame is often present in the lives of survivors and they may believe they caused the trauma or that they are at fault. This can lead to a feeling or belief that others will blame them. Secret keeping is often a part of trauma and secondary trauma (think confidentiality with secondary trauma), so it may seem wrong to break silence sometimes rather than the right thing to do. It also may be difficult to believe anyone can help the situation or that anything will change; there is an element of hopelessness. 

Breaking The Silence

Ending stigma and victim blaming as a society starts with every individual. There is a need for community and to be connected to others who understand. I worked in domestic and sexual violence services for years, and later as a case manager with families experiencing addiction and trauma. Besides having my own personal trauma during that time, I was also experiencing secondary trauma. Bonding with co-workers became a priority, as we all understood each other and built a sense of community based on the trauma we had witnessed and heard. Having this support helped me immensely as did having a safe place to express emotions that I couldn’t have explained to anyone else. I cannot stress enough the power of breaking silence and discussing difficult topics, and how valuable this is for survivors.

The Power of One Voice

By speaking up about my personal experiences, I have been able to help others, and this can help you too. When I became a Christian and started to heal I prayed that I would never be stagnant in my healing, and asked that Jesus would give me opportunities to use everything I learned through my own healing process to help others. This has been a way to let go of my past, because I stopped reliving my past and instead use bits and pieces of my past over and over again to help others. There is power in my story, and there is power in yours. Every person can use what they went through for the good of others, and strengthen themselves in the process. You do not need to be a professional to impact others with your story; there is always someone in need. If you ask God to use you He will.  In the next blog, I will be discussing more on how to be empowered and break the silence in your own situation.

I’d love to hear more about your story. Please contact me with any comments or questions at

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing

The Secrets We Keep

Child sexual abuse is much more common than people realize. According to National Centers for Victims on Crime 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. These are just the reported cases so it is believed that the actual numbers are much higher. Some possible effects of sexual abuse include fear, panic, shame, anger, possible PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome), anger, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse is often correlated with sexual abuse. There is a need for more available services, services better suited for survivors that provide emotional healing, more communication, and less stigma.  It is difficult to discuss the abuse and it’s often kept hidden, which is difficult on survivors, and especially on helping professionals who have been sexually abused and are now exposed to secondary trauma.  If you fit this category you may ask yourself “Why am I reliving my past”? Or “How do I let go of my past?”  It is never too late to seek help from a therapist or open up to others you can trust about your feelings and experiences.  

My friend, author Marvel Katz, wrote a book on how adults (parents, teachers, therapists, helping professionals) can help child survivors of sexual abuse. This is a book geared toward children that adults can use as a tool to aid discussions about sexual abuse. You can read more about her and her book, Tiny Finds His Whisper, and her story below:

Can I tell you a secret? I have kept it for most of my life…

I have been hearing stories over the past several months, from adults who have kept secrets, buried in shame and fear, about childhood sexual abuse. This topic is difficult to navigate, and it bears much pain for so many. 

We all have questions. We all know someone who has suffered life-long pain stemming from childhood trauma, and sexual abuse is one of the worst kinds of trauma, because it is clouded in secrecy. The secrecy is usually perceived to be done with good intention by the victim, such as protecting loved ones, or protecting family reputation, but the victim often suffers life-long shame and prolonged psychological damage. In some circumstances the perpetrator appears to carry on with life, often masking their hidden shame- which is a prison in itself, while the victim carries much of the shame in secret silence. 

What happens when a child is protecting an older sibling or parent; maybe a relative that everyone seems to love or adore? Does the child hold onto this terrible secret because they are afraid of what may happen to them? Unfortunately, according to statistics, most sexual abuse happens in the home/family, not outside the home/family as many want to believe. As a parent, how do we approach this topic? Can we engage in conversation with our children, without implying that we think there is an issue or a concern? Can we empower our children to stand up for themselves without causing them to become suspicious of everyone?

Are there signs we should watch for? 

Our daughter was the joy of our heart. She was full of energy, happiness and life. We cherished the memories we were creating with her and her brothers; we wanted the best for our children. We were concerned about our daughter because she suffered with anxiety, every time it was stormy outside, or if we went to a restaurant or even to the movies, she would have an anxiety attack. The school would call me often, to say that she was feeling sick or anxious. I didn’t understand. I tried to talk to her, so she could tell me what was happening. I didn’t know the secret she was carrying.

I was in the kitchen one day, working with my daughter, who was now 16 years old, and we were casually chatting. She told me how she had been keeping a secret, that she had been sexually abused as a child. My heart fell, and my mind went blank; I didn’t know how to respond to this revelation.

Several years have gone by since this time, and we have grieved, but also learned and grown in wisdom as a family. I have been especially inspired by the courage and strength of our daughter. We are so proud of her.

Sexual abuse affects everyone in the family. Every member is robbed of something. Fear, shame, secrets, pain, emotional, mental, physical consequences of sexual abuse. As a mom, I never thought it could happen to my child. I thought I was educated and experienced enough to see the signs. I grappled with not knowing; how could I not have known?

My daughter and I decided together to write and illustrate a children’s story that would empower and give a voice to the youngest child. We have worked together to create a story of a little mouse,Tiny,  who only has a whisper, but that has the courage to speak up about his secret that hurts him a lot. This children’s story is a way for us to pay it forward; to create a safe place for a child to reach out for help. Adults and children will find that this story creates breakthroughs for those too afraid to use their voice, and to know that someone cares about them.

This story is a gift that I wish I had for my daughter when she was young. We have partnered up with several organizations that offer practical help and support to families going through crisis and pain cause by sexual abuse. We have incorporated direct links in the book to our website, where you will find opportunities for training, support and practical help. This book is appropriate for children as young as 2 up to 7 years, and is a practical resource for teachers, counsellors, parents and anyone who works with children.

To learn more about Tiny Finds His Whisper and available resources go to Marvel’s website at . You can purchase the book on Amazon. You can also contact if you’d like to share your story or have any questions or comments. Know that you are not alone and if you have experienced sexual abuse, or you know someone who has, there are people who can help.

Marvel grew up playing in the forests and fields of British Columbia. Like Tiny, Marvel has a sense of adventure, and loves to explore the world around her. With her background in Early Childhood Education, Marvel has a compassionate heart for hurting children, and her home has been a safe haven for many little ones over the years. Marvel felt inspired to write Tiny’s story after learning about her own daughter’s journey; she felt lost trying to find support and resources suitable for parents and children who have been affected by sexual abuse. Now finding strength in her daughter’s healing, as well as from her own past, Marvel wants Tiny to be a vessel of hope for children, teenagers, and adults.

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing

Overcoming Powerlessness

Trauma and secondary trauma often lead to feeling powerless. Think back to trauma you endured or witnessed at any point in your life and you will most likely remember not being able to stop what occurred. This may be because you were too afraid, too surprised to react in time, or not physically powerful enough to stop the event. You may even have been threatened. As far as secondary trauma, the event may have been over before you knew it occurred, you were too far away to stop it, or you didn’t realize it was occurring.

Roots of Powerlessness

Powerlessness leads to anger, fear, a loss of self, feeling unworthy of setting boundaries and allowing others to control areas of your life that you do not want them to control. There is an underlying belief of helplessness. It is difficult to believe you have power over yourself when someone else repeatedly controls or harms your body and mind and breaks your spirit through repetitive abuse or trauma. This starts a pattern of a false belief of being powerless and there is a deep emotional healing that needs to occur. 

My Struggles with Powerlessness

The best I can do to explain it is share some of my own life. I felt like powerlessness was a running theme throughout my life. I was not able to stand up for myself or set boundaries with others emotionally or physically, and this led to spending a lot of my time depressed, unhappy with myself and believing a lie that I was unable to control my life.  I actually believed that I did not have the right to set boundaries with others.  As I entered into addiction, I also came to a point where I believed I was powerless over my addiction. I remember having a thought that I wish something would happen to me where I had no choice but to take control of my life, or someone would tell me what to do to fix my life and I would just do it. Not surprisingly, there was no counselor, church, friend, or rehab that could tell me what to do and make me do it. I finally realized that I was powerless over my addiction if I CONTINUED to use alcohol and drugs, but I had the power to STOP and that was totally in my control. 

Becoming Empowered

I went from believing I was powerless to slowly becoming empowered. Once I established that I had the power to quit drugs and alcohol, I realized that I had the power to end unhealthy relationships and set boundaries in relationships I wanted to keep. This was definitely not an overnight process, and it is a continuous process. Gradually the steps I took to control my life increased and my confidence grew. 

I believe that my relationship with Jesus was the catalyst to becoming more empowered. I finally was able to get sober after praying and asking God to help me and I would do whatever He wanted to get help. The day after praying this I finally admitted my addiction to others and took all the help that was offered, believing it was God intervening, and went to an inpatient facility. This started my walk of faith, sobriety, and empowerment. Through my relationship with Jesus, studying the Bible and applying the Bible to my life, I learned the difference between power, empowerment, and how in certain circumstances making a choice to submit, especially to Jesus, can be very empowering

Seeking Empowerment for Yourself

The truth is that my story is not unique: we are all powerless over many life circumstances. For example ,being hurt by someone, unexpected medical issues, trauma experienced as a child or adult, and other people’s negative and/or hurtful behaviors. We ALL have power over our thoughts, actions and behaviors, and how we choose to move forward after trauma or secondary trauma. I learned that I did not have to keep reliving my past and instead could let go of my past, and you can too.  If you’d like to share your story or have any questions or comments contact me at


This blog on boundaries is actually an excerpt from Choose Well, a book written by Margaret Marie. She is counselor, speaker, author, and advocate, who is very knowledgeable on trauma. Boundaries are an important part of emotional healing for anyone that has experienced PTSD or secondary trauma. The question “How do I stop reliving my past?” comes up often, and one solution to this would be to set appropriate boundaries. Read this segment from Choose Well (p. 59 – p.60) below.

Boundaries as Walls

We need to build healthy walls around thoughts that we allow to stay in our minds. How much garbage are we going to allow into our thought life? Are there attitudes and belief systems that we hold onto that cause us to set unhealthy boundaries around our thoughts? As we already discussed, it takes a person years to develop abstract thinking, variety of perception, and even simple notions of safety and comfort: by the same token we need to allow ourselves time to practice new principles of healthy thought processes. It may take diligent practice to master, but with God all things are possible.

Which attitudes and beliefs are you holding onto that are determining what choices you make about a healthy thought life and actions?


It is important to remember that attitudes and beliefs are driven by emotions.

There are many feelings that we are able to learn to deal with in a healthier manner through boundaries on our thinking patterns. How do we do that? Through persistence, and resistance! When thoughts flood into your mind that bring you back to a place you do not want to be anymore…you have to say “STOP” to the thoughts and choose not to dwell on it or to believe it.

To learn more about how to set needed boundaries go to Margaret Mare’s website at and buy Choose Well and buy her books at

Margaret received her masters in science degree in psychiatric rehabilitation counseling from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Margaret is a credentialed counselor with an extensive clinical background working with individuals with various kinds of mental and emotional disabilities and who have come from abusive families. Margaret spent many clinical hours counseling people with substance and alcohol abuse issues. She is a survivor of 47 years of living with abuse and violence. She is an avid speaker in schools, churches and other community agencies. She speaks against violence in our homes and lives. Her message is simple. “Your life has a divine purpose whether you are aware of that purpose or not. You can make choices for your life that will fulfill that divine purpose. I encourage you to choose to forgive, heal, and move forward with your life. Overcome your circumstances; do not let your circumstances overcome you!”

Learning to Trust Again

Trust as a Belief

Trust is often broken when trauma occurs, and many people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and secondary trauma struggle with trust issues. Trust is actually a belief in a person or thing; whether or not you trust in the person or thing depends on if you believe he/she/it is truthful, reliable and has the ability and strengths that they are perceived to have. Trauma can often lead to a lack of trust in yourself, others, and/or the environment and needs to be repaired for emotional healing to take place. 

Impact of Fear on Trust

Lack of trust is often based on various fears, which can include but is not limited to:

  • Fear of abuse or injury
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of being exposed
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Fear of not having control
  • Fear of the unexpected 

There are so many situations and hurtful and damaging actions that can lead to these situations, but the bottom line is once your trust is broken there is a lot of repairing that needs to be done.

Repairing the Damage

The first step is to stop treating life as if it’s the past. Reliving my past never helped me, and reliving your past will never help you. I had to learn to let go of my past, and if you truly want emotional healing you will need to be willing to let go of yours. Holding on to the past actually means holding on to hurts and resentments, which leads to being filled with distrust of others, things, and even yourself and your own actions and choices. 

My Personal Story

I was in total spiritual and emotional darkness at one point in my life and I had no idea how to get out of it on my own. I had one terrible relationship after another, was addicted to drugs and alcohol and had years of trauma and secondary trauma that I had never dealt with. I was a caseworker at the time, and it is probably not surprising that I didn’t trust anyone to help me. I ended up praying out of desperation, and begged God to help me. 

After that prayer I decided to talk about my need for help with my boss and a co-worker who I knew was in recovery. To my surprise, I was not judged or shamed and opening up to others was exactly what I needed to do in order to begin trusting again. I know that the strength to do this came through prayer and reaching out to God. I started getting counseling, entered a recovery program, began attending a church, got connected to a recovery program, and allowed others to pray for me. Most importantly, I developed a relationship with Jesus as my savior and my relationship with him changed my outlook on people, life, and how to trust and live. My trust in others gradually increased as God’s mercy, grace and love filled my life. I relied on prayer and reading the bible as my lifeline for growing, changing, and opening up to people, situations, and relationships. I realized that God wants us to live a full life, free of bondage or baggage that keeps us from being in relationship with God.

Restoring Trust

I did not trust, know or understand God for years, and saw him as distant and not involved in everyday life but I was proven wrong when God answered one prayer after another to show me He was near and leading my healing. Trusting God and others can still be difficult at times, especially when new hurts are experienced. Despite the hurts, I choose to move forward in life and not look backwards and continue to trust and you can too! If I can help you with this at all or you would like to tell me your story, contact me at

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing

Reliving My Past


Fear can be positive, as it serves as a warning that something is not right with a situation or shows you that something is causing you to be uncomfortable. However, fear can lead to panic, which quickly affects thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

Fear and Trauma

 Past or current trauma and fear and panic are intertwined. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) include hypervigilance and a heightened startle response. This means that anyone that has been diagnosed with PTSD is likely to be overly alert to their surroundings and easily startled or jumpy. Fear is often a catalyst. Your brain, specifically the hypothalamus, can trigger a fight, flight or freeze response. This is important to know, because even if there is no actual threat, your body and mind are responding as if there is.

Actions and Behaviors

You may feel as if someone is walking behind you, even if they are not. You might be afraid to go to a specific place that you once were comfortable with . You may develop a fear of certain people, places or things that remind you of the trauma. For example, if you were abused, even as a child, a certain voice, smell or look of a person may cause fear, hypervigilance and a feeling of fight, flight or freeze. This occurs when panic becomes so real, that even if the person himself/herself is not the cause of the trauma, you want to flee immediately, physically fight to get  away or feel unable to move or shut down, Your thoughts at this point will be supporting the idea that there is danger, even if that is not the reality, and you may be surprised by your own fight, flight or freeze actions and long term behaviors that develop.

Fear-filled beliefs are often extreme. For example beliefs may sound like this;

  • If I drive I will always get in a car accident
  • All men are abusive
  • All dogs are violent
  • I can never trust anyone
  • I’ll never be safe in school
  • I’ll always be bullied by everyone I meet

Even if you have experienced any trauma related to the beliefs above, the above beliefs are still irrational because they are black and white, with no gray. But, the world is full of gray. The beliefs above and so many others like them are lies that are created from fear of repeating the trauma. These beliefs cause isolating and limiting behaviors, such as remaining single even if you want to be in a relationship, avoiding anywhere that has dogs around, not allowing yourself to connect with others, missing school, etc, because of the all or nothing beliefs you are holding on to. 

If you have read to this point you probably have your own limiting beliefs that you can add. These cognitive distortions, or lies, were put in place at one time so you felt more in control and able to protect yourself, but they now control you and prevent you from growing, healing and living a FREED life, or full life. These beliefs steal from you, attack your joy and your relationships with others, and worst of all destroy hope.

Emotional Healing

I want to tell you that if this has happened to you, you are not “crazy”! I have worked with so many individuals who have experienced these reactions and feel they are “crazy” and there is no hope for them. This is NOT the case at all. Fear, panic, hypervigilance, a heightened startle response, and fight, flight or freeze response happen to so many, even if you’ve never been diagnosed with PTSD. The importance is not in the diagnosis, it is learning how to control this fear response when it has gotten to a point where the fear is controlling YOU. 

It is possible to gain control of fear responses and fear-filled thoughts! This is not an easy process, and it involves making a choice to commit to emotional healing even when it is difficult. It is deciding to move forward, despite fear, even when you are still experiencing fear physically and emotionally. Actively moving forward despite fear will cause empowerment and hope, which will help you to heal from the actual trauma itself..

There is so much hope restored when you are able to focus on truth and not fear. I would love to talk more with you if you have any questions,want to know more about the FREED Life concept, or want to share your story. Please contact me at

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing

Let Go of The Past


Everyone has experienced trauma. Trauma and secondary trauma knows no boundaries and leaves its mark on everyone it touches. It impacts the senses, mind-body connection, and creates negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.  It shapes and molds us, and creates a new way of understanding the world around us, usually in a negative way. Trauma can be acute (a one-time incident, for example being a victim of a crime), chronic (prolonged exposure to trauma, such as neglect or abuse) or complex (having multiple or many different traumatic situations occur over time).

Secondary trauma often occurs to helping professionals who are exposed to trauma in the workplace through others; hearing stories of trauma over and over again, working directly with trauma survivors, or witnessing traumatic events.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is defined as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, n.d).”

It seems there is a lot lacking in the definitions above.  The clinical definition cannot define the EMOTION of trauma.  Our lives become saturated in emotion after a traumatic experience. Definitions also leave out the EXPERIENCE of trauma. What is the impact of trauma on our mind and body, and how does it effect our senses? What does trauma look like, feel like, and sound like? What is its effect for the coming days and years?  What is the story of trauma in your life and in mine?

Trauma creates memories in the mind and body. A person, place, situation, smell, sound or feeling can lead to a flashback of the situation where the trauma is relived.  This triggers the body and mind to respond as if the trauma is occurring again. The effect may be very obvious like total panic, freezing in place, or disassociating.  Or it can be slight, such as a clenched jaw or tensing of upper body, feeling dread or angry without any provocation.

You may ask yourself, “What do I do when I am feeling this way, feeling panicked, feeling scared, reliving the past?”

What do I do?

You may ask yourself, “what do I do when I am feeling this way, feeling panicked, feeling scared, reliving the past?”  If this situation occurs to you, remember to breathe.  It is calming to do so.  You may also find that you’re holding your breath. Focus on your senses in the current environment.  Practice mindfulness and stay in the present. Listen for sounds around you, smell the air and focus on scents. Hold on to something close to you or clasp and unclasp your hands in order to create more body awareness.  Scan the area you’re in and remind yourself that you are safe. If you need to physically remove yourself from where you are, then leave. Don’t let guilt, shame, or fear get in your way. 

Once you leave and feel more like yourself again, process what happened. Think of the situation and what caused you to be triggered.  What thoughts came to mind?  What were you believing in that situation?  What was the resulting behavior?

 Let’s say you are in a grocery store.  Someone is standing very close to you in line. You move away and that person moves closer again, crowding your space. This results in you becoming angry, having a racing heart, and feeling like you have to run as far away as possible from the person. 

Once you are out of the store and are calm, the first question you should ask yourself is “what did that person being close to me cause me to believe?”  The second question would be “what feelings and behaviors did that lead to?”  Then “what was another possible scenario/reality of what was occurring and how can I use the truth to perceive my environment differently?”

How to Heal

One key to healing (there are many) is going through the above process over and over again, by identifying triggers, and understanding the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that develop as a result of the trauma. Repeat the process until it becomes second nature. This is to provide clarity to you.  

Over time, you can prepare yourself mentally in order to stop the situation from occurring again, or minimize the trigger and negative mind- body reaction. It is not easy to do on your own, and the process is often filled with negative emotions.  Many negative emotions are brought up and past memories can continue to resurface as you are identifying, processing and reframing, so I recommend that you do this work with a therapist.  

If you’re interested in learning more, or want to share your story please contact me at my confidential email at

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing