TRUTH Program Progress Report

Hi Readers:

I know it’s been a long time since I lasted posted. My sincere apologies. It’s been a busy summer with the new TRUTH Program. Currently, we have four participants who are going through the 8-week program. The weeks have been filled with enlightenment and courage. I so honor the women who seek to improve their lives by telling their stories. TRUTH Program is so healing to have others hear your trauma story, listen to your suffering, and watch you improve your mind, body, and spirit.

If you’d like more information on the TRUTH Program, please go to my home page, or better yet, call me and I’ll send you a fact sheet on this unique program.

We will be offering this program again in early 2018. If you are interested in taking back your life, please email me at 651-341-6688, and I’ll get you registered for the next class. It looks like we’ll be holding TRUTH Program at EmpowerSurvivors again in Stillwater, MN. We intend to move this program around the Twin Cities so that more people can participate. Stay tuned for future updates.

U are the center of TRUTH!

 

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September Issue

CREATING A SACRED CIRCLE
by Alexis Acker-Halbur

Sacred circles are not new. Creating a sacred circle was performed in ancient times when my ancestors wanted to honor their deity and to be protected from wild animals and fierce tribes. Evidence reveals that these circles appeared as early as 300,000 years ago. The sacred circle has grown more acceptable in many cultures. When I am in a sacred circle, I am open to all my emotions and beliefs. I can take an honest look at my own fears and blocks, seek protection and healing, and focus on being safe and centered. Every night when I create a sacred circle around myself, I ask the Divine Spirit and the four directions to help me create a circle so strong that I feel safe from past threats and daily world bombardments.

In my childhood I did not have the benefit of a sacred circle to tell the truth, even though the first lesson I learned as a child was to always tell the truth. For children, like me, who were physically and sexually, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically abused and traumatized, this lesson becomes a dire challenge. Frequently threatened and told to lie, I found myself ebbing further and further away from the truth. The result was a life filled with trauma and untruths.

Within a sacred circle I do not forget my memories, I feel safe to express my feelings including anger and fear. I can tell the truth without repercussions. In my past, I consulted medical resources on trauma that caused stress and pain in my body. I wanted a prescription to take this stress and pain away, so I would not have to suffer, but I was not given a pill to take away the horrible flashbacks and terror that would haunt me both day and night. A sacred circle is not a pill, but an opportunity to touch and heal those memories and flashbacks in a safe environment.

I mindfully create my sacred circle for the healing of my mind, body, and spirit; and for the freedom and safety I am given to live in a world with so much uncertainty. I wish I knew about the power of a sacred circle when I was growing up because I believe this powerful tool would have kept me from being so traumatized. As an adult, I am grateful that I can create a sacred circle where I can tell the truth and not be afraid of being harmed or threatened. I can live in this world, which is full of adversity and chaos, and still find a place where peace, love, and hope reside in my world.

Just like my ancestors, I consciously celebrate my life in a meaningful, joyous, creative, and empowering way. When I tell the truth in my sacred circle, I can touch the stars and hear the heartbeat of humanity. I treasure this beauty in my life and in my sacred circle.

Let me know what you think about this article by adding your comment.

Never give up!!!

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Writing Your Way Through Trauma Workshop

If you’ve experienced trauma and want a positive way to express your feelings, please join us for our “Writing Through Trauma Workshop.” You’ll learn how trauma can compromise your health and wellness, and learn ways to heal. Workshop 1.0 is for beginners who are exploring healing through writing. Workshop 2.0 is for writers who have taken Workshop 1.0 and want to pursue other creative forms.

These writing workshops are held at a safe and comfortable location. Please review the attached poster for details.

I hope you’ll join us.

Alexis Acker-Halbur
Workshop Co-Facilitator

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New Program Coming Soon!

One of the first lessons we learn as children is to tell the truth. For children who are physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused and traumatized, this lesson becomes a dire challenge. Frequently threatened and told to lie these children — now adults — grow further and further from the truth.

That is until now. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing with you a new program to help resolve trauma issues to achieve a healthy mind, body, and spirit. If trauma is making you sick, check out the T.R.U.T.H Program and find out how you can live a life of possibilities and promise.

T.R.U.T.H Program =
The Road to Unresolved Trauma Healing

Coming soon . . .

 

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Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

I received the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) about ten years ago, after my daughter was involved in a serious accident while walking to school. Before the accident, I worked hard to keep my life, my family and their world so protected that the instant she got hit, my controlled snow globe world instantly cracked, hit the ground, and shattered. In fact, when my son and I were talking the day of the accident, he looked at me and innocently said, “Things will never be the same again.”  Extremely prophetic words that at the time neither myself nor my family had any idea what they would come to mean.

During the year following my daughter’s accident, I was busy with tending to her health, taking her to appointments, trying to work full time, and keeping our household running as normally as possible. Simultaneously, I kept having strange experiences that were making me feel like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t stop and think about what was happening, nor did I have the words to describe it to anyone. It was just an overwhelming sense of fear, and general feeling that I was going slowly going mad.

I was becoming anxious. I started losing all sense of time; finding myself wondering where I had been the last few hours and feeling incredibly disconnected from my body and the world. I was called into meetings at work because my performance was terribly erratic. I felt physically sick all the time. And I kept having these bizarre explosive memories leaving me feeling out of control and disoriented.  I knew something was seriously wrong with me, so I made a call to a psychologist who agreed to see me the next day.

When I started working with my first therapist, I was anxious to tell her everything all at once. I thought if I could word-vomit everything that was coming to my mind, that would be enough to feel better and get back to work.

I didn’t understand that I was having flashbacks, and that I was living in a constant state of crisis. I was writing my therapist letters from a dissociated state which made no sense but felt vaguely familiar as she would read them aloud. I would lock myself in my room for hours fearing that I was going to hurt myself, and I didn’t want to be around my family. I felt out of control, thinking I was losing my mind, feeling like I had failed my myself, my family, and I began spiraling down a very slippery slope.

One of the most important practices to have in place when beginning trauma therapy is to have a safety plan. I needed to develop tools for many things, including distress tolerance. Once a plan was in place, we could begin the process of working on and processing my trauma.

Not only was my therapy about processing the memories, but I also had to start accepting that there were some intense effects of the trauma, and they influenced how I saw and reacted to the world.

I also had to face how my trauma affected my relationships with my family, friends, parenting style, and career. While dealing, and coping with the trauma, there were a lot of “aha” moments. I saw how my behavior and ways of coping with life, were a direct result of my trauma and not because I was a bad person.

Some of my PTSD symptoms still have a good choke-hold on me. As with many illnesses, PTSD can be invisible on the outside. My symptoms include (not limited too) flashbacks, concentration issues, becoming overwhelmed which leads to feeling like my brain is shutting down, difficulty making choices, anxiety/depression, and a sensitivity to triggers. I sometimes use the phrase, “triggers, triggers everywhere.” The wind can blow a certain way, or fireworks, or a car backfiring, even the moon can sometimes bring on flashbacks.

Once I was able to name and accept my symptoms, I needed to learn to work within my deficits. This wasn’t easy or comfortable for me. And honestly, there are still times I find myself becoming frustrated and angry at my PTSD. When that happens, I stop, and use my grounding tools to rest and reset.

Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. Often, I would write and send what I wrote off to my therapist. I started to find that I could write what I couldn’t say aloud.  At first, it provided distance from having to use my voice, but then I found writing gave me a voice.

Learning to recognize and acknowledge each step on my path towards health and understanding is a long and never linear process that helps keep me in a resilient mindset. I also try to remember to notice the perfect moments. I made myself understand that are 24-hours in a day, and within those hours are some spectacular moments.

I was not going to let the effects of what happened to me keep me from trying to have the life I wanted. I never lose sight of my goals. They are to live with my past, live in the truth, and recognize and relish in the feelings of internal contentment. Some days those goals seem as far away as the furthest star, and other days I understand that, I am living in my truth, I am content and understand that I’m not just a survivor of trauma, but that I am thriving despite my trauma.

Thank you, Alexis and the Never Give Up Institute for inviting me to be a guest writer on your blog. The work you do is truly inspiring!

Alexis Rose
Author, Speaker
https://atribeuntangled.com/blog/
atribeuntangled@gmail.com

Thank you, Alexis Rose, for your enlightening blog on PTSD. I know my readers will appreciate your insights, vulnerability, and power to survive. Thanks a million for being a guest blogger on my website.

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April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

How the Effects of Child Abuse Have Become the Biggest Public Health Issue in America

www.psychotherapynetworker.org
Mary Sykes Wylie

Since the publication of DSM-IV in 1994, a massive body of neurobiological research has accumulated revealing how protracted childhood abuse and neglect can cause pervasive, devastating, and lasting biological and psychological harm, not unlike patients with a PTSD diagnosis.

Researchers in developmental psychopathology have shown that childhood maltreatment and neglect are associated with structural and functional abnormalities in different brain areas, including the:

  • Pre-frontal cortex (logic and reasoning)
  • Corpus callosum (integrating the right and left hemisphere)
  • Amygdala (fear and facial recognition)
  • Temporal lobe (hearing, verbal memory, language function)
  • Hippocampus (memory)

These effects of child abuse may help explain why abused children are quicker to recognize and stare at angry faces than non-abused kids, and why they pick up anger even in faces with ambiguous expressions, while missing other emotions.

Abuse also disrupts the neuroendocrine system, altering the production of the stress-regulating hormone cortisol and neurotransmitters like epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin—chemicals affecting mood and behavior.

Chronic trauma weakens the immune system and sets up children for illness far down the road. For example, the Centers for Disease Control reported that one of the effects of child abuse is that trauma’s disruption of cortisol levels leaves abused children vulnerable to chronic fatigue syndrome later in life.

Some of the most astonishing and far-reaching evidence for the lifelong and malign repercussions of childhood trauma has come not from the mental health field, but from the study of epidemiology. In 1995, internist Vincent Felitti, a preventative medicine specialist with California-based HMO Kaiser Permanente, and Robert Anda, and epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, began the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study to track the relationship between childhood maltreatment, neglect, and other family loss or dysfunction and adult mental and physical health.

This unprecedented study found that a majority of the participants surveyed had experienced some form of serious family dysfunction, neglect, and emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Not only that, but the studies showed direct correlations with these “adverse experiences” and a remarkably large proportion of all the physical, mental, and social ills that beset society.

It’s by now glaringly obvious to mental health professionals that some of the effects of child abuse are the significantly increased risk for mental and emotional disorders—and associated risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking—though the ACE Studies nail the case beyond denial.

But who knew that childhood adversity was a major risk factor for many of society’s most prevalent biomedical illnesses and causes of death—for example, heart and lung disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, some cancers, sexually transmitted diseases, and autoimmune diseases? Or that being abused or neglected as a child increased the likelihood of being arrested as a juvenile by 59%, as an adult by 28%, and for committing violent crime by 30%?

In conservative estimates, the total direct and indirect costs of the effects of child abuse amounted to $103 billion in 2007. These costs include:

  • Hospitalization and mental health care for children
  • Increased health care costs for adults who were abused as children
  • Child welfare services
  • Law enforcement
  • Special education
  • Juvenile justice system
  • Criminal justice system
  • Lost productivity

In light of all this, it’s been asserted that child abuse is the largest single public health issue in America.

This article is reprinted with permission from the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC) and the author.

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Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

I received this article from DrugRehab.com today about childhood trauma and substance abuse. I thought my readers who were abused as children would find this information helpful. Please remember that the connection between trauma and illness is a vicious cycle. It becomes even more deadly if you use alcohol or drugs to cope with your unresolved trauma issues. Get help immediately.

I want to thank Trey Dyer for writing this enlightening article.

Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse

Adults aren’t the only group that lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children also experience trauma at high rates. Many adolescents suffering from PTSD turn to drugs to numb the physical, emotional and psychological pain of trauma.

Childhood PTSD

Anywhere from 15 to 43 percent of girls and 14 to 43 percent of boys in the United States experience a traumatic event, per the National Center for PTSD. Among this group, up to 15 percent of girls and up to 6 percent of boys have PTSD. Children who experience traumatic events grapple with a swirl of emotions. For example, sexually abused children often exhibit fear, worry, sadness and anger. They may also feel isolated or as though people are looking down on them. This can cause low self-esteem and an inability to trust others.

Risk Factors for PTSD in Children

RISK FACTORS FOR PTSD IN CHILDREN

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects children in different ways. The more traumas a child experiences, the more likely he or she is to develop PTSD. Children and teens who go through intense traumas have the highest levels of PTSD symptoms.

Children ages 5–12 often do not have flashbacks or difficulties remembering their traumatic experience. Instead, they think there were signs that foretold the trauma and believe these signs may show up again. As a result, they stay cognizant of their surroundings to avoid future trauma.

Young children may also show signs of trauma in their play. For example, children who survive a school shooting may gravitate toward video games that involve shooting. They may even carry a gun to school themselves.

A teen may endure traumatic events, such as physical abuse, sexual assault, vehicular accidents or cyberbullying. Symptoms of PTSD among children ages 12–18 are similar to those found in many adults: aggressive behaviors, mood swings and isolation. Teens with PTSD may also self-harm or exhibit promiscuous behavior.

Substance Abuse as a Coping Mechanism

Looking for an outlet, many adolescents with PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol.

Overall, 25 percent of physically assaulted or abused teens reported lifetime substance abuse or dependence, per the survey.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Justice, 17 percent of boys who witnessed violence reported substance abuse or dependency. This statistic was similar to that of girls who witnessed violence.

The survey also found that 27.5 percent of sexually assaulted girls reported substance abuse or dependence in their lifetime. Among sexually assaulted boys, the number was 34.4 percent. Many of these children went on to commit delinquent acts, such as robbery or aggravated assault.

Overall, 25 percent of physically assaulted or abused teens reported lifetime substance abuse or dependence, per the survey.

A 2010 study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors found that PTSD contributes to the development of marijuana abuse or dependence among adolescents.

Another study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, found that PTSD led to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana use. The study found that levels of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in children were strongly associated with cocaine use later in life.

Remember to “never give up” on your journey to be healed from unresolved trauma.

Alex Acker-Halbur

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Resources for Trauma Healing

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two authors who have written books about how they survived trauma. Their books are “true story memoirs” that beautifully illustrate the resilience of how to cope with trauma and survive. These are amazing stories written by amazing women. I encourage you to read their books to gain healing tips on how to resolve unresolved trauma.

Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child
by Meg Blaine Corrigan

Meg Blaine Corrigan has overcome longstanding emotional and physical pain. Her distress deepened after she was raped when she was in her 20s . . . and advised to just “forget” the experience. This story is an insightful, humorous, and courageous look at the life of one girl growing up in a profoundly volatile family — an alcoholic mother, codependent father, and over-conscientious sister — as they live in the shadow of the bottle.

 

Untangled: A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph
by Alexis Rose

This is the story of facing the truth and risking the consequences of breaking the silence of inter-generational ritualistic abuse and mind control programming. Through years of self-exploration, Alexis Rose learned to accept the effects of the trauma that echoes through her daily life as PTSD. Ultimately, this book is about resilience; hope for victims who have suffered trauma and for the people who support them.

 

If I Could Tell You How It Feels: My Life Journey with PTSD
by Alexis Rose, Art by Janet Rosauer

This book is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Alexis Rose takes us on a journey into the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. Rose writes with intimate vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

 

These books are “must reads” and I encourage you to hear how difficult, yet enlightening, true healing can feel.

Never Give Up!

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Time’s Up!

The recent plea for Oprah Winfrey to run for president in 2020 is an insightful look into how we, as Americans, are so hungry for a president who can communicate clearly and without blame or shame. Someone who will raise us up in difficult times and voice our current state of dismay. Oprah’s words at the Golden Globes last Sunday night were more than inspiring — they need to be shared across our country. We NEED to hear that “Time’s Up” on sexual assault and harassment. No more secrecy, let’s bring those who prey on women, girls, and boys to justice!

But it takes more than words to eliminate the crimes of powerful people. It takes a movement where we join our hands together in solidarity and shout out that it’s not okay to hurt others. It’s time for us to vote for politicians who are outraged by the disarray of our country. Politicians who believe in women’s stories and a justice system who punishes criminals and not victims. The #metoo movement has started but we need to keep it going. We need to be LOUD to make our voices heard. And we must stop electing politicians who have dark and evil private lives.

I HATE listening to the news, I HATE reading the newspaper, and I HATE watching TV where women are called “ineffective,” “liars,” and “whores.” It’s time for men to stop hating women for the gifts we bring to our country and our world. Name calling and sexual harassment are not ways to achieve respect and dignity. They are only ways to lose it.

I say this to power-hungry men: you don’t own me, you can’t tell me how to dress or how to act, you can’t say I must be silent, you can’t touch my body anytime you want, you have no control over my life, you have no right to spit in my face, you have no authority to tell me who I can marry, and, most of all, YOU ARE NOT GOD!

I just had to say this because “it’s time!”

Never, ever give up.

Alexis Acker-Halbur

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Emotional Trauma’s Root: The Lie or Misbelief

When I was a child my parents said they loved me and would protect me — it’s what all parents should tell and show their children. Unfortunately, the statistics show a different story: Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15193530

I believe that at the root of emotional trauma there’s a lie or misbelief. Either the parents lie, or children are led to believe something that isn’t the truth. Saying one thing and doing another is a critical mistake in the human psyche. How many of us have heard the adage: “actions speak louder than words?” If you tell a child that he/she will be protected, yet turn around and physically or sexually abuse them, this psychological trauma becomes part of who they are. Time doesn’t heal emotional abuse on its own.

“People tend to have the most difficulty healing from trauma deliberately caused by others. The most serious and difficult to treat trauma occurs when violence or emotional wounds are inflicted by a person on whom the victim is dependent (i.e., a parent-child relationship).” To cope with the trauma, many people turn to substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and PTSD, or develop a personality disorder. http://www.activebeat.com/your-health/8-distressing-facts-on-emotional-trauma/8/

Wikipedia defines a lie as “a statement that is known or intended by its source to be misleading, inaccurate, or false.” We’ve all told “little white lies” in our lives, but to tell a child that you love her/him and then physically harm them is nothing but cruel and damaging.

We’ve called out the Catholic Church for it’s lying about priests abusing boys; we’re now calling out powerful men in the media, entertainment field, work place, and politics to stop lying about sexually harassing and assaulting women. NOW is the time to stop the lying about abusing our children and make it a criminal offense to emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually harm children. It’s not a secret anymore!

“We must learn to recognize early signs of abuse in order to help save the 5 children that die every day from child abuse and neglect.” https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/ Don’t lie to your children. Show them what true love is all about.

NEVER GIVE UP!

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