This site is dedicated to sharing resources to help all victims go from Powerless Victims into Empowered Victors!
Here are some stories of other survivors who are healing their lives.
Hope and Healing:
“My year had not started off in the right direction at all. I had severe pain in my low back, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and headaches. I had many diagnostic tests, lots of pain medications, and many treatments from chiropractic to massage. Nothing was helping! I had to take a leave my manager position and was placed on short term disability by my doctor. I was in constant pain for more than 11 weeks, not working and laying in my bed 95% of the time. Being in all that pain started to affect my whole body. I was having trouble sleeping, my body was always tense and I had no way of feeling relaxed. That was when I was referred to a woman who showed me how to do acupressure techniques to heal and overcome trauma.
I was skeptical, because I has already seen massage therapists, including my mother who has been licensed for over 20 years, and sadly it only gave me a day or two of relief. This massage therapist was different, she showed me points to work on for myself and sent me home with a care sheet to work the points whenever I needed to help calm and heal myself.
Plus I didn’t have to take my clothes off! Why would that be an issue? Well, I was physically, mentally and sexually abused until the age of 5, when I came to live with my aunt and uncle who eventually adopted me. I had a lot of issues while growing up feeling pain, hurt, lost and confused. I ended up seeing a counselor and a shrink, to help me cope with the nightmares, and all the feelings I had. I felt like I was a victim, but I felt I was the one to blame for everything that had happened. I felt ashamed and dirty. How do you begin to talk about what you feel? I don’t even know how to put words to it. I was 12 years old and feeling like I wanted to die, and so lost in the world. To make things even “better” all the shrinks and counselors all told me “they understand and know how I feel.” I would ask them if they went through anything like this and they said “No”. I then would say, ‘then how do you know how I feel?” They would look at me in shock– and that would be the last time I would see them!
As someone who has been hurt—and fine, we can say even “broken, or worthless”, I buried those feelings and wouldn’t talk about it, and placed a smile on my face for 13 years.
That brings me back to the first visit with Phoenix. Her spirit and happiness just radiates off her right within the first 30 seconds of saying “hello”. She explains step by step what she will be doing and what you might feel. As she started working, I began to feel and overwhelming sense of calmness, and a flood of emotions took over my body, and I just cried, and cried. I felt embarrassed for showing emotion, but Phoenix reassured me and I felt SAFE. During all of this from the waist down I had continuous shaking for about 5 minutes. After that, I felt so tired and relaxed that I could fall asleep standing up. I had been having a really hard time sleeping at all because of the pain I’d had for weeks.
That night, once I had gotten home I had uncontrollable tears. I couldn’t stop, I ended up crying myself to sleep, which I had not done in a while because….. I don’t cry because I feel it’s a weakness. That night I had a vivid dream about the time when my birth mom tried to kill me.
I woke up to a text message from the massage therapist asking how I was. Honestly I was a wreck. I couldn’t stop crying. I was feeling lost, sad, hurt, angry, confused and feeling like my life just didn’t matter.
Phoenix called me and helped me understand that my mind and body were finally letting go of the trauma and the memories were working their way up to the surface. I didn’t have to be afraid of the process. Nothing would come up that I couldn’t handle and that it was going to help me heal to just let it come out. Then over the phone she took me through the list of acupressure points that she had given me at our first visit, to help calm me down and to balance and heal my emotions. She walked me through the different points to calm myself. The ones that can send peace through my body are ‘Sea of Tranquility and Sea of Energy”.
As she is taking me through the acupressure points, the day my birth mom tried to kill me kept playing in my head. Phoenix told me I didn’t need to share the thought with her, but face it and make a change. When I faced it (she calls it re-framing), I just ran away. I let that little girl flee and not let it scare her no more! My whole bottom half started shaking and the memory disappeared. Now I can talk and think about the memory without the hurt, pain and emotion that comes along with it. When I think about it, it’s like it never happened to me! And relief has come through my whole body with just one memory being worked through.
When I had to go for an MRI and put in a tiny tube I used the calming acupressure points to keep me from feeling anxious. It helped so much!
Through this process, I truly believe your body is an amazing work of art! By simple placements of your hands on your body you have the power and the control to bring peace, balance, calmness, tranquility and work through painful issues, with spoken words and (your mind imagining a better outcome).
When the body is ready to face the fear, let it happen. It truly knows you and when you are ready!”–Andrea
Escape from Captivity
I know a man who was kidnapped and taken prisoner of war. He was extensively tortured for months. Obviously he is a trauma survivor. Yet this man is very functional. I marvel at his coping skills and asked if he would share with me how he survived this horrific ordeal and what advice he might give other trauma survivors. I want you to hear it straight from him so I’m going to read exactly what he said.
“It’s really difficult to actually tell people what happened-even friends. When a survivor thinks or talks about their experiences it brings them down and makes them feel sad. But it is helpful to be able to talk with some people who can understand the situation and help you feel good about yourself again. It’s easiest for survivors to relate to other people who have gone through something similar. It gives you more hope to see someone else who has gotten through it okay. There is a debate that goes on inside about what you want to do with your life after the problem and you doubt whether you can actually do it.”
“Survivors remember all their trauma. It’s really important to remember that it is over! It’s not happening anymore. It’s also really important to talk care of yourself. Remember that you can’t change the past. It is what it is. Try to focus on the good and positive things you have in your life now. Think about what you want for yourself in the future.”
“It’s really important to face the trauma. You can ignore it, but that doesn’t work. But when you face it you’re going to feel really sad. You wonder” Why am I here? How did this happen? Why did this happen? When you have flashbacks and go back to the hell you endured you feel hurt and angry. You ask yourself “Why am I damaged?”
“You can fight this trauma the way you fought the enemy but the difference is , you’re not going to use bullets, you’ve got to use your brain! And if you think you changed 1% in the war field, you can change 50% here. You’re not going to be fully successful in completely changing, but you can change yourself maybe 50%.”
“One of the things I did to heal was to really feel the pain when it came up. I would make myself a cup of tea or coffee—and just sip it slowly and let the memories come up. I liked to be alone at night and sit watch the moon, especially a full moon, and sip the tea. I put on really sad songs that helped me just feel the sadness. I felt like “if my heart could cry, it would cry.” Then I let myself cry all I want and just let it out.”
‘I would just go down into the memories of the horrors of the war and my torture, and then think about the people who died. I’d go down as far as I can into those memories. Then I’d say to myself ,’Well, I’m alive and I can make changes. I can be with people I love. I can make new friends. I can share feelings with people I care about.
He has this advice for others: “This is life. It’s easy to think about wanting to die, but it’s not worth it! “You can’t ignore the sadness in your body eating you inside out. Beat the sadness and be stronger than it. “Eat it before it eats you.” Everybody can make changes to make their life better. As long as you have a heart, brain and spirit, you can do anything to leave the past and create a future of happiness. Learn from where you lived and create the future. Be proud of yourself! Others will be proud of you too. If you think you cant’ do it, it really means you can! You are thinking about it so you can. You can do anything you think about! You feel like you want to fix everything at once, live better, quit drinking or whatever addiction you have, but you have to do one thing at a time. Thinking about how to make everything better at once will make you crazy. Work out a system to work on one thing at a time like finances, happy relationships, no drinking or pills etc. Progress a little at a time and make incremental changes.
“You have to think about consequences. He says,” In the war I worked as a translator and often 2 people in a dangerous situation were angry and frustrated and yelling at each other. It was my job to tell each of them what the other was saying. It was hard not to get into the same feelings. I wanted to support each side. It was like two rams butting heads.( Sometimes I didn’t want to tell them exactly what the other said because I knew it wouldn’t help.)
I had to learn to stop and be quiet—Not to think. I just stopped and let my mind go and be still for a few seconds. When I am the calm person between them I have ideas come and I can give advice that works. Calmness gives me ideas and they accept it. . I think this technique can help people when you’re flooded with emotions or flashbacks– just stop! Let your mind go. Wait for a few seconds and let ideas come. It changes everything 360 degrees to pause and be still.”
“When you get to the worst place emotionally, you can’t make it better right then. Go calm down, try one thing at a time. It does get better! If the people you care about are unsupportive or seem demanding, when they see your progress they will change with you.”–A POW’s Story
His victory is: that he is a helpful, compassionate man who makes the lives of the people he cares about much better. He works a full-time job, he helps his friends and family-a lot. He is happy most of the time, he has meaningful loving relationships with others.
He could be an angry, violent, bitter person because of the experiences of his kidnapping and torture, but he is not. It is a choice! He helped to train soldiers how to survive interrogations and how to escape if taken captive. He made his horror into a way to help others.
No matter what you have been through, you can take steps to make your life better. Start now.
Essential Healing Resources for Trauma Survivors & Veterans