6 Red Flags a Parent Might Be an Abuser

A POST FOR ADULT CHILDREN AND THOSE CONCERNED AN ADULT THEY KNOW MIGHT BE ABUSIVE* For child abuse survivors, it takes years—sometimes decades—to recognize, name, and understand the harm they suffered. There are many reasons for this. For one, many survivors apply the term “trauma bond” to their parent-child dynamic. This term was coined forContinue reading “6 Red Flags a Parent Might Be an Abuser”

The First Steps of Exposure Therapy

The men who attacked me were trying to make me small. They wanted to keep me quiet. I was a reminder to them that strength knows no gender, and neither does intelligence. Regardless of their race, orientation, age, and class, they all shared a contempt for women. They resented any woman they perceived as “withholding”Continue reading “The First Steps of Exposure Therapy”

Exposure Therapy

I was an exposure therapy skeptic. What I knew of exposure therapy came from abusers. More than one had justified their abuse by claiming it was helping me “face my fears” or “making me tougher.” This is nonsense. Such inhumane behavior will only make someone’s fear less manageable, even potentially debilitating. Research shows fear andContinue reading “Exposure Therapy”

Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy

Impact statements have revealed the many self-defeating, destructive lessons that sexual assault taught me. In the ten years between 16 and 26, I survived four sexual assaults. The assailants were a high school classmate, a man ten years older than I was who hired me as his English tutor, and my own father. At 20,Continue reading “Sexual Assault and the Slow Erosion of Self-Efficacy”

Trauma Stuck Points

Between my twelfth and thirteenth birthdays, I became a different person. At 12, I was still skipping down the corridors at school, shouting jokes to friends. I was the kid who helped new students adjust. Who tutored classmates when they fell behind in spelling. I was generous, boisterous, and fun-loving. I was also boastful, cocksure.Continue reading “Trauma Stuck Points”

Writing the Impact Statement

Pine needles drop from branches out my window. First, they grow brittle, fading from green to ochre. Then, all it takes is a breeze, and they let go. They swirl up into the air and settle into gutters. They pepper the shingles with orange. I used to think the only way to heal from theContinue reading “Writing the Impact Statement”

My Thoughts Are Mostly Nonsense

This year a study found that we have around 6,000 thoughts each day. That’s a whole lot of self-talk. Most of us enter into a conversation with ourselves from the moment we acquire language. And this conversation holds the power to shape our beliefs and moods. But the truth is most of us are drivingContinue reading “My Thoughts Are Mostly Nonsense”

What Are You So Afraid of?

If I’m being honest? Well, everything. Let’s start with coconuts. If you’ve never spared a thought for what can fall out of trees and kill you, maybe you should. In 1777, a woman in the Cook Islands was killed by a falling coconut. In 1952, a coconut murdered an infant. In 1966, a perfectly innocentContinue reading “What Are You So Afraid of?”

Taking That First Step

You don’t want to go in there. You know something’s waiting for you in those woods, but you’d rather not find out what. The trailhead is always there. But you walk right by it, again and again. And again. You don’t want to go in there. You don’t know if there’s even another side forContinue reading “Taking That First Step”

Why I’m Loving the Enneagram

Personality psychology, several of my college professors asserted, is the least scientific branch of psychology. And I get it. There are about as many models for personality as there are models of cars. It’s also a field where, like the study of intelligence, it can be hard to come up with reliable evidence. Results tendContinue reading “Why I’m Loving the Enneagram”