The Ten Books That Changed My Life – Healing ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Building Resilience

After struggling with severe panic attacks for over twenty-five years, following horrific trauma during my first twenty-two years of life, I finally found my way onto the healing path in 2013. I began EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) along with reading everything I could on trauma-recovery. I began practicing mindfulness exercises, meditation, yoga, tapping (or EFT), and many other healing modalities in order to “fill my coping skills tool box.”

Following is a list of those books that had a profound impact on my life and have helped me create a life filled with tranquility and joy. While I may not have agreed with every word written, I did find powerful answers, delicious little tidbits, and inspirational guidance within each book.

I am always amazed when my podcast guests refer to these same books during our interviews. I would love to know if you have read any of these empowering books and their impact on your healing journey: https://teriwellbrock.com/contact-us/ .

I wish you continued healing and success in finding the tools that best help you along your path to recovery.

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

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You are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. A new science is emerging that empowers all human beings to create the reality they choose. In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, renowned author, speaker, researcher, and chiropractor Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible. Not only will you be given the necessary knowledge to change any aspect of yourself, but you will be taught the step-by-step tools to apply what you learn in order to make measurable changes in any area of your life. Dr. Joe demystifies ancient understandings and bridges the gap between science and spirituality. Through his powerful workshops and lectures, thousands of people in 24 different countries have used these principles to change from the inside out. Once you break the habit of being yourself and truly change your mind, your life will never be the same!

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In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness–being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.

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A totally accessible user’s guide from the creator of a scientifically proven form of psychotherapy that has successfully treated millions of people worldwide.

Whether we’ve experienced small setbacks or major traumas, we are all influenced by memories and experiences we may not remember or don’t fully understand. Getting Past Your Past offers practical procedures that demystify the human condition and empower readers looking to achieve real change.

Shapiro, the creator of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), explains how our personalities develop and why we become trapped into feeling, believing and acting in ways that don’t serve us. Through detailed examples and exercises readers will learn to understand themselves, and why the people in their lives act the way they do. Most importantly, readers will also learn techniques to improve their relationships, break through emotional barriers, overcome limitations and excel in ways taught to Olympic athletes, successful executives and performers.

An easy conversational style, humor and fascinating real life stories make it simple to understand the brain science, why we get stuck in various ways and what to do about it. Don’t let yourself be run by unconscious and automatic reactions. Read the reviews below from award winners, researchers, academics and best selling authors to learn how to take control of your life.

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How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.

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Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.

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An astonishing new science called “neuroplasticity” is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they’ve transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

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The fear of abandonment is one of our most primal fears, and deservedly so. Its pain is often overwhelming, and can leave its mark on the rest of your life. In the midst of the hurt, it’s hard to see an end to your feelings of rejection, shame, and betrayal.
 
In this updated edition of the groundbreaking book, Susan Anderson, a therapist who has specialized in helping people with loss, heartbreak, and abandonment for more than thirty years, shares recent discoveries in neuroscience that help put your pain in perspective. It is designed to help all victims of emotional breakups—whether you are suffering from a recent loss, or a lingering wound from the past; whether you are caught up in patterns that sabotage your own relationships, or you’re in a relationship in which you no longer feel loved. From the first stunning blow to starting over, it provides a complete program for abandonment recovery.
 
Going beyond comforting words to promote real change, this healing process will help you work through the five universal stages of abandonment—shattering, withdrawal, internalizing, rage, lifting—by understanding their biochemical and behavioral origins and implications. New hands-on exercises for improving your life will teach you how to manage the inevitable pain, then go on to build a whole new concept of self, increase your capacity for love, and find new love on a deeper and richer level than ever before.

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A leading neuroplasticity researcher and the coauthor of the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain, Jeffrey M. Schwartz has spent his career studying the human brain. He pioneered the first mindfulness-based treatment program for people suffering from OCD, teaching patients how to achieve long-term relief from their compulsions.

Schwartz works with psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding to refine a program that successfully explains how the brain works and why we often feel besieged by overactive brain circuits (i.e. bad habits, social anxieties, etc.) the key to making life changes that you want—to make your brain work for you—is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention, thereby decreasing their influence and strength.

You Are Not Your Brain carefully outlines their program, showing readers how to identify negative impulses, channel them through the power of focused attention, and ultimately lead more fulfilling and empowered lives.

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The Healing Place Podcast: Ingrid Cockhren & Sue Fort White – Our Kids Center

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Ingrid Cockhren, ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator, and Sue Fort White, Executive Director of Our Kids, Inc. Thank you, Ingrid and Sue, for the incredible work you are both doing to help create a more trauma-informed world and helping those who are on the healing journey.

Bios:

Sue Fort White, Ed.D.

Our Kids Executive Director

For more than 30 years, Sue Fort White has mobilized resources for underserved populations, including victims of domestic violence, teens and families in crisis, children in foster care and families affected by child sexual abuse. Sue’s work at Our Kids starting in 2006 was a natural progression of her deep commitment to social justice and her desire to connect children and families with the services they need.

Sue is an experienced nonprofit and community leader with specialized skills in:

  • Fund development
  • Advocacy and ambassadorship
  • Program development and promotion
  • Coalition building
  • Strategic planning
  • Board development
  • Community outreach
  • Leadership development

Education and certifications

Awards

Ingrid Cockhren

ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Ingrid Cockhren knows first-hand how impactful trauma and toxic stress can be on children, families and communities. Subsequently, she has dedicated her professional life to investigating and educating the public about the link between early trauma, early adversity, Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs) and possible negative outcomes across the lifespan.

Mrs. Cockhren graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Psychology and from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a M.Ed. in Child Studies specializing in early interventions for children from minority and low-income families. Her research areas are African American parenting styles, Adverse Childhood Experiences, historical trauma and intergenerational transmission, brain development, developmental psychology and epigenetics. She is currently an adjunct professor specializing in developmental psychology at Tennessee State University and the TN & Midwest Regional Community Facilitator for ACEs Connection.

Mrs. Cockhren is also a member of leadership with ACE Nashville, a collective impact in Nashville, TN dedicated to the mitigation of ACEs in the Greater Nashville area. She is currently Chair of ACE Nashville’s Parent & Community Education Committee and serves as an advisor on both Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s Community Engaged Research Core Advisory Council and the Lloyd. C. Elam Mental Health Center’s Advisory Board. In addition, she is the creator and
moderator of The State of the Black Woman-Nashville. Ingrid’s experience and affiliations also include Metro Nashville’s Public Schools, Tennessee’s Dept. of Children’s Services, Tennessee’s Office of Child Safety, Meharry, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute & Special Education Dept. and Youth Villages, Inc.

Ingrid Cockhren is a Clarksville, TN native who currently resides in Nashville, TN with husband Jurnell Cockhren, founder of Civic Hacker, a software development consulting agency. Ingrid loves painting, cooking and spending time with daughter Yves.

Find out more about these amazing women and their inspirational work at whatifitoldyou.com, ourkidscenter.com, and acesconnection.com.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Coping Strategy: Write Letters of Forgiveness

I want to share one coping strategy a month. These are strategies I use (or have used) in my own life as I travel the healing journey. I hope they bring you tranquility, as well!


 WRITE LETTERS OF FORGIVENESS


Write letters of forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Then burn them. Set them free. Not for their sake, but for your own. Write a letter to God. To the universe. To fate. Whatever you feel has burdened you with something unbearable. Be honest in your letter. Release the emotions and, just like with the journaling, do not edit yourself. Let it flow. Free it! Free yourself!

The Healing Place Podcast Interview: Joyelle Brandt – Parenting with PTSD

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I am grateful to have had the chance to sit down with Joyelle Brandt to discuss her mission of helping those who are parenting with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Thank you, Joyelle, for sharing your personal story and the beautiful work you are doing helping others along their parenting and healing journey. What a gift for those families and the children who will benefit from the steps their parents are taking to heal.

Bio:

“Joyelle Brandt is a self care coach for moms. She specializes in working with mothers who are survivors of abuse, to help them develop a personalized self soothing toolkit for stress management. As aspeakermothering coach, and multi-media creator, Joyelle works to dismantle the stigma that keeps childhood abuse survivors stuck in shame and self-hatred.  She is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z and co-editor of Parenting with PTSD, the groundbreaking anthology that breaks the silence about the long-term impact of childhood trauma so that parents can break the cycle of abuse.

When she is not busy raising two rambunctious boys, she is most often found playing her guitar or covered in paint at her art desk. You can keep up with Joyelle at www.joyellebrandt.com

Parenting Coach to survivor mamas, Healing trauma through creativity.Buy your copy of Parenting with PTSDon AmazonSign up for Joyelle’s newsletter to get the first chapter free!

From Joyelle’s website:

“As a speaker, mothering coach, and multi-media creator, I work to break the silence that keeps childhood abuse survivors stuck in shame and self-hatred. I believe that our stories possess the power to transform our greatest pain into beautiful works of art.

Find out more about Joyelle’s mission and works of art at www.joyellebrandt.com.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

The Healing Place Podcast Interview: Suzie Gruber – NARM & Somatic Experiencing

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful conversation with Suzie Gruber regarding the utilization of NARM (Neuroaffective Relational Model) and Somatic Experiencing, both non-intrusive approaches to healing traumatic events and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), her personal history with these approaches on both personal and professional levels, along with some joyous laughter throughout.

Bio: Suzie Gruber, M.A., SEP., holds advanced degrees in chemistry & psychology. She spent 15 years in biotechnology before returning to her first love: inspiring people to transform their lives.  A Somatic Experiencing and a Neuroaffective Relational Model (NARM) Practitioner in private practice in Ashland, OR Suzie also leads seminars that teach people about complex trauma and the imprints it leaves behind. Additionally, Suzie is the Research Director for the NARM Training Institute and assists NARM practitioner trainings.

From Suzie’s website:

“My deepest passion lies in helping you improve your life today. You have an innate drive towards connection, aliveness, and success, a primal urge that gives you the strength and courage to change, regardless of what you face along the way. I’m here to help you do that.

I came to this place in a kind of circuitous way. After earning undergraduate and graduate degree in Chemistry (Harvey Mudd College and then Princeton University), I spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry working in Operations for start-up companies. Although I was quite successful in my career and I enjoyed the never ending, high energy challenges of start-ups, my first career never quite fit the deeper me. I had to honor my own primal urge to do what I love, help you come alive.

When I learned about peak oil, environmental issues, and the instabilities in our economic system, I knew I had to listen to my own deeper voice. I decided to completely rebuild my professional life from the ground up, first getting a Master’s Degree in Psychology and then becoming a Somatic Experiencing® (SE) practitioner and most recently training in the Neuroaffective Relational ModelTM. I offer a combination of these two modalities because they changed my life. I moved away from feeling crisis-driven on a daily basis, to instead experiencing each day with greater aliveness and success and enjoying more satisfying relationships.”

Find out more about Suzie’s healing work at https://suziegruber.com/

Be sure to download her FREE Stress First Aid Kit ebook, too! https://suziegruber.com/getyourfreebook/

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

What is Present-Centered Therapy?

What is Present-Centered Therapy?


Present-Centered Therapy is a non-trauma focused treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This therapy modality is called “present centered” as the goal is to focus on the client’s current/present life while recognizing the connection between PTSD symptoms and current struggles. All the while doing this without focusing on past traumatic events.

There are a host of therapy options when it comes to treating PTSD and C-PTSD symptoms and they reside under different treatment umbrellas: medication treatment, trauma-focused therapy, and non-trauma focused therapy.

I have utilized all three! When I was first experiencing severe panic attacks (but, not yet given a C-PTSD diagnosis), I was prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. I eventually requested to be weaned off of all medications and challenged myself to learn coping strategies while continuing “talk therapy”. I began psychotherapy with a licensed practitioner in 2013 and we started the process of shining a light on my trauma history. This counselor suggested EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) as an alternative and I moved into that therapy practice. It was there that I started the deep-dive back into my trauma history, reliving traumatic events throughout my sessions. I participated in ninety-eight EMDR and brainspotting sessions which spanned a four-year period.

The goal for YOU (or anyone in your life seeking therapeutic support), is to find what works best for you and your needs. You know YOU best. The key is to research your therapy options, then research therapists who specialize in the treatment you have chosen for yourself. Continue your self-care journey by reading the latest research on brain plasticity (the brain’s ability to change) and evolving therapies. 

The Positivities of Persistence Series

Positivities of Persistence


Introduction

This series will focus on the benefits of being persistent along your healing quest. I will, again, be speaking from experience. Some practical advice mixed with sprinklings of raw truth (those “This sucks and I really want to give up” moments).

This will work best if you have a journal, pad of paper, or Word doc dedicated to this exercise as I will be asking you to keep notes which you will need to refer back to as we progress.

Subtopics will include:

  1. What does persistence really mean? 
  2. How do we define positivities?
  3. A checklist of positive outcomes. 
  4. Habits and hurdles.
  5. Accountability. 
  6. Celebrating goals.
  7. Encouraging one another. 
  8. Final checklist.

I look forward to embarking on a Positivities of Persistence journey with you!

Join me on this Positivities of Persistence journey by subscribing to my Hope for Healing Newsletter.

The Healing Place Podcast Interview: Greg Williams – Shattered by the Darkness

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I was honored to have Dr. Greg Williams join me for a powerful conversation about his upcoming book release “Shattered by the Darkness: Putting the Pieces Back Together After Child Abuse”, his mission, personal story of triumph, and more!

Per Greg’s website: “Dr. Gregory Williams has written a new book that chronicles his lifelong journey of child abuse and its aftermath. It has taken Dr. Gregory more than 30 years to begin unveiling the horrors of what happened to him throughout his entire childhood. His book recounts the sexual exploitation he endured at the hands of his own father for 12 years.” https://shatteredbythedarkness.com/

Be sure to check out these articles, highlighting Greg’s story, posted in the ACEs Connection community:

Baylor Employee Shares Story of Childhood Trauma in Hopes of Helping Others

Shattered By The Darkness: Powerful book by a humble man on a mission to prevent what happened to him from happening to other children

Baylor College of Medicine students introduced to ACEs science

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Broken Trophies & Nature Hearts

I want to share a story of hope. And love. And forgiveness. But, before I share the happy part, I want to tell you about my dad and our history. For those needing it, *trigger warning for physical abuse*.

My dad hit me, quite violently at times, using a belt most days (the jingle of a belt buckle used to make those little hairs on my neck take notice). I was the oldest of two girls and, fortunate for me, but not my younger sister, I could scurry behind a locked bathroom door before being caught. I would spend my moments of terror, counting dingy white tiles in our tiny apartment bathroom, trying to tune out the sounds coming from outside my temporary safe space.

However, sometimes I was caught. Dad was six foot six, two-hundred and eighty pounds, and angry. At life. At his circumstances. At his alcoholic wife screaming for him to silence the children. At financial woes. At his boss. Whatever it was, he was angry about it. And we were easy prey, my little sister and me.

Sometimes he would throw something. Once he beheaded a statue of Jesus. My sister glued it back on. Another time, he broke my soccer trophy in half. I taped it back together with masking tape. The soccer player looked like she was playing with a cast on. Symbolic really. Keep on striving, even when broken.

When I was ten years old, my dad called me into his bedroom (my parents slept in separate rooms). He sat me on his lap and told me the following: “Teri, I’ve been seeing a doctor. A counselor. And I now realize I never should have hit you. I’m sorry. I promise to never hit you again. From now on you get to decide your discipline.” There was more, but that’s all I can remember.

And he never hit me again. My first lesson in forgiveness. And what a beautifully powerful one it was.

You see, my dad was also my saving grace. He was the one who took us to Burger Chef for a Fun Meal after our soccer games on Saturday mornings. Mom was at work and rarely came to our games. Dad tucked us in with stories of dragons and spaceships and talking dogs. He was the one who taught me how to count with raisins. And sat me on his lap when he would draw. He ran alongside my purple bike with the flowered banana seat as I wobbled around the school playground until he felt safe enough to let go, cheering me on with an exuberant, “You’re doing it!”

He was a good dad. Who was hurt as a child and didn’t know the impact of his violent actions on his own children until someone came along to show him the error of his ways. I thank God he had the compassion to listen. And apologize.

My dad died in January, 2009, of complications resulting from his diabetes.

This morning I went for my morning hike and said, “Dad, you should join me” (he loved his ‘exercise walks’ as he called them). I truly believe his spirit tagged along.

I was walking along a path strewn with hundreds of leaves when I sensed an excited energy urging me to “look down!” Sure enough. There in that mix of decaying brown, yellow, red, and orange tints was a tiny heart.

This continued throughout my hike. I would smile and send out an “I see it! Thanks!”

As I was headed to my car, the last of the sun on a blue-sky morning, now turning grey, was peering through a yellow-leafed tree. I felt a “Look up!” energy. I did and couldn’t help but laugh. There it was 💛

#thanksDad

#WhyIDidntReport

Teri Wellbrock – age 5

I found the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag a few hours ago. I’m normally not much of a Twitter user, more of a Facebook and LinkedIn fan. But, this one struck a chord. So, I sent off a tweet. This blog post is an extended version of that tweet.

I was five years old.

Let that sink in for just one moment.

Look at that photo up above. That’s me at five years old. Study my eyes. Do you see the sadness? He was a sixteen year old neighbor. He lived next door to my kindergarten best friend. I’ll spare the disgusting details. It was the first time STOP! screamed inside my soul, but could not find its way out of my mouth.

He threatened to hurt my mom if I told anyone.

I was nine years old.

Again, I will give you just a moment to ponder that.

My mom had sent me for a can of soup from our apartment neighbor. His mother was not home, yet he invited me inside. I was hesitant, but he insisted. If I wanted the can of soup, I’d have to come in. So, I did. He led me to a back room, pantry shelves lined the wall, filled with boxes and cans. He dangled the soup can over my head with strict instructions, “You’ll have to earn it.”

He told me he would kill my mom if I ever told a soul. STOP! could not find its way out of my terrified body.

Mom never did ask what took me so long to retrieve the can of soup.

I was ten years old.

Ten. Years. Old. As in fifth grade.

He was my school choir director and our church organist. He told me I had a pretty voice. But, I needed private lessons if I wanted a solo. I believed him when he told me I was special. Private lessons quickly turned to “privates” lessons.  I begged my dad to let me quit choir. He didn’t insist on knowing why, but allowed it. Mom was disappointed in me. I mean, how would it look? The choir director was her church friend.

STOP! stayed frozen inside.

I was fourteen years old. 

An awkward freshman in a Catholic school, working in the evenings for our parish priests in the rectory, answering phones and stuffing Sunday’s church bulletin with announcements about picnics and fundraisers.

He was the religious education director. I would giggle and blush at his suggestive comments, so unsure of how to scream STOP! even though that was, yet again, screaming in my soul. He followed me to the basement one evening, as I descended to fill the basement fridge with sodas as instructed by the pastor. This time I pushed back, but not before he made one of his suggestions come to life.

I was sixteen years old.

I would tell all the boys, “I’m as pure as the driven snow.” Code for: “I’m a virgin and proud of it.” He was my boyfriend. We were at a party on his grandparents farm. I was drinking. Heavily. He had tried before. Repeatedly. I had warded off his attempts. This night, I was less guarded thanks to beer and shots. He asked me if I wanted to see the family’s race car in the barn. I complied. Knowing in my soul I should not. He took me instead to the other barn. The one filled with cats and a loft. A loft with a rickety old bed. I repeatedly told him, “No” and “STOP!“, but . . . he didn’t.

Upon our walk back to the party, with a soft snow falling like tears from heaven, he turned to me and said, “I guess now only the snow is pure and driven.”

I was seventeen years old. 

I had been jumped by a gang of youth while downtown and sexually accosted. That doesn’t belong under this hashtag because it WAS reported. I spent much of my junior year of high school testifying at trials in juvenile court. And having lunch with a detective involved in the investigation. His friends threw around the words “jail bait” quite a bit as they gave their fellow officer a congratulatory slap on the back.

He asked my parents to take me to dinner downtown to celebrate the final conviction case. They obliged. He was a police officer, right?

On the drive toward the city, a Knight Ranger song played on the radio and he turned to tell me, “This is our song.” My stomach flipped and STOP! silently screamed . . . yet again.

We never made it downtown for dinner. Instead he took me to his apartment. I resisted and eventually convinced this naked police officer to take me home. His children’s photos hanging on the wall helped me win that battle.

He instructed me not to speak of it. To anyone.

#WhyIDidntReport