This is the third week of National Sexual Assault Awareness month. It’s difficult these days to keep up with the scandals, allegations, declarations of past abuse, and tearful apologies. There is a lot of news and movement in this arena, and as survivors come forward with their stories of abuse and its long-term effects, there is a growing need for not just understanding but also healing practices.
People are confronting their demons and most have found that dragging the monsters from the closets has been a rewarding and restoring process. Abuse and trauma whenever suffered will have long-term effects, as my friend and publishing client Dr. Debra Warner explained in her groundbreaking book for spouses of male survivors, His History, Her Story. “The effects of abuse usually manifest in a survivor’s life, long before they are willing to confront the abuse directly. Spouses, employers and friends are more likely to notice the effects before the survivor will be willing to disclose their history” Warner said.
As survivors try to control and keep a lid on their emotions and trauma, each year it becomes more difficult to suppress the underlying pain, which continues to fester, and the effects become more noticeable. I have had many of my family law clients disclose to me their past history of being abused as children, either through alcoholism, addiction, physical, mental or emotional means as we are in the thick of their divorces or child custody battles.
Over the years I have referred many men to therapy, support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other anonymouses to address the presenting issues, even when I could see that the underlying issue was a history of abuse. For those men and women who are survivors of some form of abuse or assault, oftentimes they internalize a message about their own self-worth that is negative and holds them back from living a life of meaning, purpose and joy.
The negative self-talk and self-destructive behavior is the story of my friend and fellow Santa Monica denizen Kirsty Spraggon, but with a very happy ending. Kirsty is a motivational speaker and television host who I met last year at an awards show that was held on the grounds of the Fairmont Miramar. Kirsty has taken her life experiences and turned them into a message of hope for people who are still suffering. She speaks across the globe helping survivors open up and let out the festering pains they have been carrying. She shared her secret at TedXMalibu for the first time in a public forum, and since that day has continued to experience the freedom and healing that comes with being honest and sharing truth.
In fact Truth Telling for Trust Seekers is the name of the live event she is producing this coming Sunday the 22nd in Glendale. She has gathered eight other amazing presenters for a day of honesty, openness and healing. The http://www.truthtellingfortruthseekers.com website lists the following as presenters: 1) Ken Robert Williams an eloquent speaker, a compelling storyteller, a diligent HIV activist, a constant media presence, and the creative force behind the award-winning video blog, Ken Like Barbie, 2) AdaPia D’Errico whose mission it is to bring understanding and compassion to women who have been neglected, shunned and shamed for decades, 3) Nichole Sylvester an Awakening Mentor who liberated herself from generational patterns of crime, addiction and toxic love, and now helps men and women all of the world do the same.
In addition to the above presenters, Kirsty has brought in three powerhouse vocalists Christina Mercado Simos, Michele Vreeland, and singer and emcee Lynn Rose. I have seen Lynn Rose in action at the Lady and the Champs speaker training I attended in Las Vegas and she is AMAZING! Scheduled to appear is the incredible vibrational healing sounds from Guy Douglas The Gong Guy.
I’ll be attending this event as a participant, and am looking forward to sharing with Kirsty the following story. I’m in Johannesburg, South Africa at the moment where I’ve been speaking at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa on podcasting. My friend Maggie Georgopoulos and were just wrapping up our afternoon tea, and I said I have to go write my column this week about sexual assault awareness and my friend Kirsty who’s doing an event. “I know Kirsty Spraggon!” She screams and proceeds to tell me a story of how these two Aussies accidentally met in Tanzania at an orphanage.
I met Maggie in Auckland last month at the Global Speakers Summit where she was promoting her book, Up The Ladder In A Skirt. She writes about women climbing the corporate ladder and how she had to deal with harassment and prejudice, all while hiding her own mental health issues for fear of repercussions and her own sense of shame. Today she speaks to corporations on women and leadership, and the importance of taking care of our mental health by confronting our demons.
It’s sad how much the topic of sexual assault and shame in general effects all of us. If you have a shameful secret and are ready to face and move on with your life, tickets are still available for Truth Telling for Truth Seekers at http://www.truthtellingfortruthseekers.com (use code truth for tickets from $49). If you attend, please feel free to come find me, and say hello.