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”

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”

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”

Strout’s Disturbing Portrayal of a Child Sex Predator

CONTENT WARNING Literature has a long history of sexualizing children, especially girls. Often, it centers the adult gaze, exploring pedophilia from different angles. “Death in Venice” and Lolita are two of the most famous examples, but it’s difficult to play literature jeopardy without an explosion of examples where old men fancy young women or even children, whetherContinue reading “Strout’s Disturbing Portrayal of a Child Sex Predator”

Life Goes On: Trauma Revisited

TRIGGER WARNING So I don’t talk much about trauma on this blog anymore. And you know what? It’s a relief. I started to face the abuse and assaults I survived when I was 25. Last month I turned 39. I’ve been at this 14 years. And I don’t expect it’s a journey that’s ever reallyContinue reading “Life Goes On: Trauma Revisited”

How LITTLE WOMEN Saved Me

On my tenth Christmas, I peeled back the wrapping paper to find a book about the size of a dictionary. The cover was printed with the image of a living room. Around a piano, five white women stood singing in the light of a hurricane lamp. Their dresses could easily be mistaken for curtains. TheContinue reading “How LITTLE WOMEN Saved Me”

The Four Stages of Migraine

At the age of 31, I learned that the body is irrevocably tied to others. After violence from two young men, my health rapidly deteriorated. Migraines became more frequent and eventually chronic. Within three years, I had become too disabled to work. Our culture tells us that health and weight signal personal virtue. That “willContinue reading “The Four Stages of Migraine”