Archive for June 2010
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June 24, 2010

Building Resilience

3-years old

Over the past few months I've been asked what helped me survive when I was growing up. In the book that I've been writing I've been capturing the things people did and also the internal coping mechanism I developed. Yesterday at a luncheon in Madison, WI for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) Program I laid that out as simply as I could. So I thought I'd share that with you. I had people who came into my life that made me feel capable, special, creative and smart. They did it in a whole host of ways. My next store neighbor gave me little jobs to do that when I accomplished them I felt good about myself; capable. She also told me she loved me and gave me big hugs that I still feel today. So I felt special to her. She taught me to hide when I was scared and to pray the rosary. She taught me to solve problems and that I could be creative in doing so. 

The woman who ran the community center behind our house taught me to tell time, when I had gotten a new watch but didn't know how to read it. She threw me a surprise birthday party, which was no surprise, but made me feel special. She paid a lot of attention to me.

I have countless examples of how coaches, teachers, neighbors and others helped me to feel that I wasn't alone; and that I was smart, creative, capable and special. I carried this all through my life and share it with others when I can. 

 There was a recent article published where I talked about my neighbor. Here's the link:

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June 09, 2010

Trauma Training for Multidisciplinary Audiences

 In Idaho 300 plus participants attended their annual 2 Days in June training Sponsored and Organized by the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Services. The audience included law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, medical professionals, sexual assault advocates, domestic violence advocates, child abuse professionals, court personnel, mental health clinicians and probation. It was the most diverse audience I've presented to in the past 6 months. 

It was an amazing day. The afternoon sessions brought up some interesting questions around the ability to successfully prosecute cases when victims have coped through dissociation. We explored the balance of moving a case forward while not traumatizing the victim. We discussed how to work with people with Dissociative Disorders in a mental health setting, a domestic violence shelter, a rape crisis program and child welfare.

We talked about how prosecutors around the country are becoming more successful in convicting sex crimes cases when they introduce trauma experts who know about trauma, dissociation and sexual assault/abuse. These experts can normalize the behavior of victims for judges and juries. One common challenge is when the victim presents with flat affect and no emotion at all. Credibility becomes a problem in those cases and knowing that this is a normal sign of trauma is important for the success of the case. We discussed that inconsistent statements about sexual violence is a norm and needs to be normalized for judges and juries as well.

It was a great day in Idaho.

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June 09, 2010

Immigration Training for Advocates

 I was in Reno, NV on the 27th of May conducting an all day training on immigration and human trafficking. The audience varied in experience and came from all professions. We abandoned the power point and based the day on a case study and worked in small groups around how they would reach immigrant families, communicate with them, figure out what they wanted and then refer them to the best resources. We also explored in these case studies which form of immigration relief would be best. We analyzed the benefits and eligibility requirements of the Violence Against Women Act Battered Immigrant Women Provisions (commonly referred to as VAWA). We examined the benefits and eligibility requirements of the U visa, which covers victims of most violent crimes. And we discussed the T visa which falls under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The participants really made the training. They fully engaged in their discussions. Actively participated in the interactive format of the larger group. It was really a fun training to do. How often does that happen.

The training was sponsored and organized by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. I'll be following up with Judy Henderson the Training Director there on how to respond to requests from the participants for additional training on these and other issues.

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June 01, 2010

Tips based on My Healing Process

My psychiatrist and I have worked well together because of the safe and respectful relationship he set up with me. He was strict with boundaries but only with respect to what we talked about and in never doing any work outside the therapy work together. But he was and still is available outside of session times and I've needed it over the years. So if I was having a hard time I could call and page him and he said he would call within an hour - he always did. 
That was critical to building trust. That he did what he said.

When I got upset with things I perceived him doing, he never got defensive. He listened and was thoughtful about it. Sometimes I was right and he would admit it and apologize and sometimes I was wrong and I would see my stuff coming up and sometimes we were both right. 

For my trust issues what always helped was that he could see and would say that he could see how I might feel the way I would be feeling. That always helped me to refocus and reframe my thinking. I would easily go from not trusting him to realizing who he was in my life, which was and sometimes still is, a lifeline.

Another thing that was important was that he never talked directly to parts without saying to me something acknowledging the presence of parts. So instead of what could feel like reaching right in, he would say something like, it seems that there are some parts or a part present is that true. Or he'd say could you let everyone inside know that this is 2010 and you live in Wisconsin and you are safe. and then if a part wanted to talk to him, there was an opening and the choice stayed mine and my parts...

There's tons more to say. But these were the most important and you'll see when I finish the book I writing that this will be a big focus in there.

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