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Because Oprah Said It

I admit it, I was a little miffed when Oprah came on 60 minutes to uncover a “Life changing story”—her discovery of the ACE report and the strong evidence of childhood trauma contributing to many later- in- life health and social problems issues. This is not news to me. In May of 2009 I began my research into women and trauma and came upon the ACE report. I recall thinking to myself how did I not know about this? And then how does everybody not know about this?!  When I found the ACE report, originally published in 1998 it had spawned an additional report called the Origins of Addiction (2003). The findings were mind blowing: • Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) are surprisingly common, al

Lift Our Voices

It was my first real job. I was 16 years old and working as a check-out clerk at a local grocery store. I loved the independence of making my own money, and I had a cool boss as a bonus. He was probably in early 40s, but he acted like a teenager. He cracked jokes, stuck around to play Pac Man after the place closed, and didn’t let much ruffle his feathers. He made work fun—for a while. After some time, he began making inappropriate comments, cloaked as a joke. Comments like, “If I told you you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?” They left me feeling uncomfortable and sometimes frozen. I played stupid, pretending not to understand his question, and hoped he’d get the hint. One day

Healing The Silent Survivors

Several years back I was sitting around a kitchen table chatting with two friends with whom I am very close. One of them was Paula (name changed for privacy).  We were reminiscing about our college days and we got to talking about various regrets, mostly involving alcohol.  Paula began telling us of an experience she had that involved excessive drinking and a boat. Through a bit of uncomfortable laughter she described an evening during which she got more intoxicated than she had planned and then climbed into a boat for a ride on a lake with a young man (who was also drinking). She then stated blankly: “He had sex with me on the boat.” Full stop. I asked her what she meant by “he had sex with

Redefining Trauma

Years ago I identified myself as the problem in my marriage.  I felt that the only explanation for being so repulsed by intimacy was that I must have had some long ago traumatic experience that damaged me; I just needed to fix myself. Back then I also thought I needed to remember what had happened to me in order to “get better”. This was during the early 90’s, a time when the subject of “false memories” was a hot topic and clinicians were under fire for planting “memories” in their clients so they would have something to work with. I spent so many tormented hours of my life thinking to myself, “If only I could remember what happened to me I could heal.” What I didn’t know then was that the e

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