Jan-Feb 2018 NewsletterShare on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Welcome to the first edition of Breaking Free in this New Year. I wish all readers a year of increasing contentment and comforting balance. 

Our feature story may help in providing you with some ideas about how self compassion can improve your life balance. See the winning picture from the 2017 Blue Knot Day Photograph Competition – Liz Murray provided a poetic response to the theme “united”. 

One community in Perth hosted a moving and inspiring event called the Day of Lament. We share their story about how they marked the end of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

This month’s MY STORY is a heartfelt poem by Shauni. I believe many readers will relate to her beautiful words.  “I am not broken just haunted and scarred”.

In the ‘Self Care Resources’ section we introduce you to Instagram sites that have inspired us in recent months and provide some tips around how to stay safe in that social media space.

Reading all the positive comments inspired us to share this month’s Ted Talk with you – Dr Nadine Burke speaks on of the ways childhood trauma can affect your health.

We also feature ‘Ambivalent Goddesses’, a new website which provides easily accessible information about recovery from sexual abuse.

Finally the News section provides a few stories that we have been following this month.  As always if you have comments about what you have read in this issue, contributions for the My Story section or suggestions for future issues, please contact me at newsletter@blueknot.org.au

Warm regards

Jane Macnaught


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Hope Amongst the Haunted


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Looking for Research Participants

Have you made a victim submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

You are invited to participate in a research study being conducted by Rebecca Moran, a PhD student at Western Sydney University.

The study seeks to understand people’s experiences of making a victim submission (written, verbal or both) to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

 Research Study 1

The study is focused on how you felt and feel about providing testimony, the impact of the experience on you, and the difference that you think or hope your testimony will make – on you, and on society.

 

If you are interested in being interviewed about your experience of telling your story to the Royal Commission, please contact Rebecca for more information by emailing

r.moran@westernsydney.edu.au

  • Participation is entirely voluntary and confidential
  • Your interview will take around two hours, and can be in person, or via telephone or Skype if you prefer.
  • Participating in this research project is intended to be a validating and safe experience for you, and it is hoped that you will find it meaningful to reflect on the experience of telling your story to the Royal Commission.
  • Please feel free to share this information with anyone you know who may be interested in participating.


Research study 2 

 

This study has been approved by the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee. The Approval number is H12332.


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DAY OF LAMENT

Day of Lament

A Community Event Responding To The Royal Commission

Perth Christians held a ‘Day of Lament’ in response to the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, which delivered its final report to Federal Government, Canberra on Friday 15 December.

Day of Lament committee member Helena Kadmos said that,

“Many ordinary Christians feel moved to respond to the silence surrounding the horrific child abuse in church/institutional organisations. As lay members they wanted to do something to show their compassionate support for survivors of Institutional abuse and lament the silence of both the laity and church leaders. Many, like us, believe that this critical time calls for lay-led action. We know that in the past, Christian institutions have not acted in the best interests of survivors. We want to make a stand, as the people of the church, to say we won’t let that happen again”.

In Helen’s recent article “Lay Lead the Way In Child Abuse Lament” – she writes

“A small group of lay Christians in Perth, including myself, were so worried that our institutions might not wholeheartedly embrace the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse that we decided not to wait to find out. 

On Saturday 9 December, ahead of the full release of the commission's findings, 130 people accepted our invitation to gather on the banks of the Swan River to express our gratitude to the commissioners, survivors and their families.

Day of Lament was an ecumenical picnic and liturgy organised without any clerical

input by lay people of different church backgrounds, including Catholic, Anglican and Uniting, the Salvation Army and an Independent Community Church. Our group comprised teachers, a pastoral practitioner, psychologist and community worker. We sought input and feedback from survivors and organisations representing survivors.

Planned over several months, Day of Lament grew out of a determination to express unequivocal support for authentic justice for survivors, at whatever cost.”

To read the full story please follow this link here


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FINDING CONTENTMENT

By Jane Macnaught, Breaking Free Editor

In my mind I picture my set of antique scales in perfect balance.  I add and remove small weights, patiently. My goal is to get the scales to balance comfortably in the middle; this takes focus, time and effort.

Finding contentment can be just like balancing scales – patiently noticing the moments when I feel happy with the way things are and feel some inner peacefulness. A sense of life balance: being comfortable.

We are constantly being told that with “life balance” comes contentment.

And so we strive.

Adding and removing:

  • rest more and run less
  • work less and play more
  • eat more greens, eat less bread
  • find more activities, create space in my day
  • add and subtract
  • increase and decrease
  • yin and yang, up and down, in and out

I feel exhausted. Just thinking about it.

And I am simply trying to find my “life balance”.

Is there another perspective?

 Indeed there is…

In this article we will explore an aspect of compassion-based therapy that describes the three ‘affect systems’. This work, founded in Paul Gilbert’s research, provides us with an insight into how we can use compassion to create more balance and contentment in our lives.

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) uses the healing properties of: kindness, soothing, safety, and feelings of belonging. It was developed to help people who struggle with feelings of shame or self-criticism (Gilbert 2009).

A useful, if simplified model, derived from research (Gilbert 2009) has revealed that our brains have at least three types of emotional regulation systems. These systems interact and determine our feelings and ways of relating to others and the world.  The three emotion-regulation systems are threat, drive, and contentment (explained below).

Adverse childhood experiences can unbalance these emotional regulation systems, and this means it can be common to experience distress, anxiety and overwhelm plus a wide range of other possible symptoms and issues.

The goal of CFT is to reestablish this balance by focusing on compassion to build feelings of contentment, soothing and social safeness (Gilbert 2009). Gilbert’s work encourages us to focus on creating more balance across the three interconnecting systems.

Could three be easier than two?

Three Emotional Regulation Systems

1. The ‘threat’ system is protection-focused. It quickly identifies anything that is perceived as a threat to survival and safety and reacts with feelings like anxiety or anger, emotions that trigger us to protect ourselves and seek safety. This is the affect (emotion) system that is linked to the fight, flight, or freeze responses.

Breaking Free Image

2. The ‘drive’ system is an excitement-focused and motivational system, which drives us towards things, we want and need. It motivates us to attain resources and rewards such as food, exercise, therapy, comfortable housing, status etc. This system is related to feelings of arousal, stimulation, and energetic highs. When balanced with the two other systems our drive system guides us towards important life goals.

Newsletter Image Jan-Feb 2018

3. The ‘contentment’ system is soothing-focused. It activates when there is no threat, resources are sufficient, or nothing needs to be achieved. It causes us to feel peaceful, calm, and happy, which also leads to us feeling safe and socially connected. This contentment system is the central focus of compassion training because it is vital to our sense of well being.

Blue Knot Newsletter Jan-Feb Image

 Balancing

Imagine the three systems are in balance; they could be drawn as equal sized circles on the page.  When they are out of balance one of the circles is much smaller and the others are larger. When the three systems are out of kilter, the focus is to get them back into balance.

If you find that your threat and/or drive systems are working too hard, or overactive, then the contentment and soothing system needs support to regulate the other two systems – to create balance.

Early traumatic childhood experiences can sensitize our threat system. As we grow, our brain develops ways to respond to threats and to protect ourselves.  As an adult this reaction may still be programmed within us, and our threat system stays on high, triggering us to still use the same strategy.  The strategy or behaviour that served us well as child may make it difficult to access our contentment system and so our ability to self-soothe, in our adult years.

Modern society can contribute to over-stimulation of our drive and threat systems; this can have the effect, of people focusing on status and material possessions, in order to avoid feelings of rejection, subordination and inferiority. This can lead to an imbalance of the three emotional regulation systems.

Compassion-focused therapy looks at how the three emotional regulation systems interact, and focuses on achieving balance by developing and strengthening the soothing system with COMPASSION.

Self Compassion

“With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we would offer to a good friend.”  http://self-compassion.org/

Self-compassion creates a new lens through which to see ourselves clearly, and can help us cope with negative emotions in healthy ways, and reduce self-criticism.

“Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings. In other words, even though the friendly, supportive stance of self-compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering, we can’t always control the way things are. If we use self-compassion practice to try to make our pain go away by suppressing it or fighting against it things will likely just get worse. With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. This allows us to hold ourselves in love and connection, giving ourselves the support and comfort needed to bear the pain, while providing the optimal conditions for growth and transformation.” Kristen Neff http://self-compassion.org/

 “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” - Dalai Lama

Ways to develop self compassion and compassion for others

 ·         Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend in distress – offer yourself kindness, comfort, slow down, be gentle.

·         Becoming compassionate may require you to direct your attention in new ways. For example you may go through your memories and focus on the times you were good to others and they were good to you, or learning how to focus your attention on the positive side of people and situations.

·         You might like to try ‘compassionate imagery’, such as visualizing compassion flowing out from you to others.

·         Developing compassionate behaviour can involve learning to identify some of the strategies we use to keep ourselves ‘safe’ which might not be helpful. So you might, say, start to look at the way you choose to hang around people who you’ve known a long time but don’t treat you so well. And explore new social connections with people with whom you may feel more accepted.

·         For more ideas and exercises visit  http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#exercises

It is important that you do not to push yourself too hard to learn these skills. Rather, be gentle, supportive and encouraging with yourself… and hopefully self-compassion will develop over time

References

Introducing Compassion-Focused Therapy by Paul Gilbert 2009

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/15/3/199

Training Our Minds In, With, and For Compassion by Paul Gilbert et. al. 2010

http://wtm.thebreathproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/COMPASSION-HANDOUT.pdf

http://self-compassion.org/


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LILY LAKE, A SELF PORTRAIT 

-BLUE KNOT DAY COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED

Blue Knot Day competition Winner

In the last issue of Breaking Free we highlighted events and activities held across Australia as part of Blue Knot Day celebrations, with the Blue Knot Day Photography Competition winning entry due to be announced this issue.

Our congratulations to the Blue Knot Day 2017 Photography Competition winner, Liz Murray, whose entry ‘Lily Lake – A Self Portrait’, was described by the judging panel as offering “a poetic response to the theme which is visually pleasing. The subtle symbolism of the leaves and foliage together creates a striking image of a female face, demonstrating the beauty and power of unity and togetherness”.

The Blue Knot Day 2017 Photography Competition, supported by Shine Lawyers, was promoted as part of the larger Blue Knot Day 2017 social media campaign, ‘#unitebkd2017’, which encouraged a public show of support and unity for adult survivors of childhood trauma through posting of the hashtag ‘#unitebkd2017’.

“We were delighted to see so many people get behind the #unitebkd2017 campaign and to receive entries to the photography competition from across Australia”, said Cath James, Blue Knot Foundation Fundraising Manager. “We would like to congratulate all the entrants on the high quality of their work. Not only were the photographs all of a very high standard, with each one creatively crafted, but they were so unique in their interpretations of unity and support for survivors in their recovery”.

Liz first heard about the competition through Facebook and after seeing a previous article in Breaking Free, decided she would enter, even though she never thought she would win.

“When I heard that I had won, I just cried. I feel so privileged that people would think so highly of my work”, said Liz. “I know as survivors of childhood trauma we can struggle with self-confidence, and although it was confronting for me to enter, at the same time I felt I had nothing to lose. It was important for me to enter this competition to feel validated by the experience, and perhaps offer hope for other women and men recovering from trauma in their childhoods”.

Liz found inspiration for her image on the way to her previous job, based in Windsor NSW, where she would pass a lake of floating lilies every day. “I photographed the lilies and laid this image over a self-portrait. The finished piece represents feelings of claustrophobia and repression, which can be so common in families where experience of abuse is a taboo and silenced. My aim in entering this competition was to bring awareness of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and to help women and men speak out in support of each other. The piece also represents the light of recovery shining through. Light and dark, the unity of harmony and discord”.

Our thanks to Shine Lawyers who awarded the competition’s $500 cash prize, which Liz says has already gone to good use, helping to fund some urgently needed car repairs!

“Shine Lawyers are so proud to have worked with Blue Knot on such a positive competition. Liz Murray’s artwork is a reflection on our purpose as partners of Blue Knot; to promote unity, togetherness and the power of both when used for good,” said Lisa Flynn, Shine Lawyers National Special Counsel - Abuse Law.


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SELF CARE RESOURCES

In this section, we will review self care/help resources our Blue Knot Helpline counselling team collects to share with people who call the Helpline. We are delighted to share these ideas with our Breaking Free readers. What is helpful for one person may not be right for someone else so please experiment, explore and find what suits you.

App suggestion from Blue Knot Helpline

6 INSPIRING INSTAGRAM SITES

plus… Privacy, Posts, Followers, Following and #hashtags explained

 Instagram Photo

Instagram is a photo sharing ‘app’ (application) allowing users to share pictures and videos either publicly, or privately to pre-approved followers. There are filters that can be applied to enhance your images, you can add locations, and write stories and messages.

Hashtags are sometimes added to posts.  These then link to other content on Instagram featuring the same subject or overall topic. For example if you put #northernbeaches into the search function you will be able to view hundreds of photos that people have uploaded with that hashtag or you could try #lifequote if you are looking for some inspiration.

To increase privacy and ensure that your posts/photos are only shared with a select group then its really simply to set up a private account; that way if someone wants to follow you, they’ll send you a request and you can either cancel or accept.  If you cancel is simply disappears and they do not get notified.  Or you can block someone; again this is done discretely.

If you would like to EXPLORE Instagram simply click these links and you will see 6 sites that we find inspiring.  Find the “FOLLOW” button on their pages and you can continue to enjoy their messages at your leisure. We welcome your feedback either on our social media channels or you can write to the EDITOR.

What We Find Inspiring…

Topical quotes, motivational and unique photography give this site a thumbs up: https://www.instagram.com/mindbodygreen/

The Blurt Foundation is helping those affected by depression. They reference their own book on self care and freely share useful ideas and thoughtful posts: https://www.instagram.com/theblurtfoundation/

Positive and motivational quotes with 2.3 million followers offer daily positive inspiration at https://www.instagram.com/powerofpositivity/

This artist’s site creates beautiful and thoughtful pictures that inspire us and promote wellbeing, fun and mindfulness. Find it here: https://www.instagram.com/mikemedaglia/

We previously, positively reviewed the Insight Timer app and now we want to share their Instagram page – it is beautiful! Follow this link - https://www.instagram.com/insight/

Finally we invite you to follow our very own brand new Instagram Page. It will share quotes and ideas at:

https://www.instagram.com/blueknotfoundation/

Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.


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Book Suggestion from Blue Knot Helpline

Chrissie Foster's Book

 

Hell on the Way to Heaven is a devastating story written by Chrissie Foster, together with Paul Kennedy.”

It is heartbreaking story of what happened to Chrissie and Anthony’s family at the hands of a paedophile priest. Yet it is also inspirational - a testament to Chrissie’s strength and determination, in the pursuit of some justice and a better world for children.”

With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse finished, the struggle for redress and real change within institutions, in this case the Catholic Church must continue. To buy a copy of Chrissie’s book go to our shop.

Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.


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Youtube Suggestion from Blue Knot Helpline

THE BEAR COMES HOME EVERY NIGHT

Nadine Harris TED Talk

Trigger Warning : This article may contain content that could disturb some readers. If reading this story causes you distress and you need support, please call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm AEST, 7 days). Calls that cannot be answered directly will be returned as soon as possible, so please leave a message with your phone number, and state of residence. 


Paediatrician Nadine Burke Harris agrees that childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. In this talk she explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. Health issues unfolds across the lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. This is an impassioned plea for paediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on. You can listen to the talk by following this link:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk&feature=youtu.be

Over 1000 comments that are overwhelmingly grateful, congratulatory, thankful to Dr Nadine Burke Harris and many passionate pleas to share this Ted Talk across your communities:

 “This makes a ton of sense”

“Nominating this woman for president”

“This just might be the best TED talk ever.”

“Wow...This video makes me view things so much more different.”

“Tears of gratitude. I wish this woman was my doctor. Thank you Nadine Burke Harris for your commitment”

“This is literally incredible. Best ted talk ever. And such a relief to hear”

"...And the bear comes home every night."

“Brilliant speech.”

“What a compelling speaker!!”

“Standing ovation talk”

If you are interesting in finding out more about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) and the support community that has surrounded the study participants you will find interesting articles and resources at http://www.acesconnection.com/

The link to the TED Talk is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk&feature=youtu.be

Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.


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Website Suggestion from Blue Knot Helpline

AMBIVALENT GODDESSES

Ambivalent Goddesses

 

This website is designed to “help women with histories of sexual abuse relieve suffering and self-doubt by providing clarity about the recovery process along with hope they can overcome their traumatic pasts.”

The author Laura Kerr PhD says that “even if you are working with a professional, recovery requires more time and effort than meeting with a therapist once or twice a week. I developed Ambivalent Goddesses to make information about recovery from sexual abuse available to those who need it, when they need it.”

Ambivalent Goddesses offer support via an email - You can sign up to receive weekly emails for the whole year, there are other free resources on the website.

Recovery is supported by a daily practice, and the website authors hope their messages of hope, help you to grow beyond the beliefs, emotions, and body states that keep you stuck in a traumatic past and from reaching the best version of yourself.

Laura Kerr PhD shares that she is a one of the 1 in 5 women sexually abused before age eighteen (USA).  A researcher and scholar, she has written and lectured about sexual abuse and recovering from trauma. She is a former psychotherapist and has supported women recovering from sexual abuse.

Laura says “Hopefully, I can help you avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered, as well as inspire you to soar beyond any limitations you currently hold for yourself.  Nevertheless, I understand you must also find your own way.”

https://ambivalentgoddesses.com/


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IN THE NEWS

The pope asks for forgiveness on sex abuse. But he refuses to act.

ON A RECENT trip to Chile, Pope Francis apologised once again for clerical sex abuse, expressing the “pain and shame, shame I feel over the irreparable harm caused to children by church ministers.” He then proceeded to compound that shame by dismissing credible accusations that a Chilean bishop was complicit  in hiding abuse committed by a priest who was once his mentor. Read more


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Social Sector Urges Action in Wake of Royal Commission Findings

The social sector has urged Australian institutions to commit to systemic change in wake of the findings from the child sexual abuse royal commission, as concerns are raised around the exemptions to governance standards offered to religious charities. Read More


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Redress scheme shouldn't exclude criminals psychiatrist warns

A psychiatrist and Royal Commission expert witness is urging the Federal Government to reconsider its decision to bar people who've served jail sentences of five years or more from the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sex abuse. Dr Carolyn Quadrio says a significant number of people in jail have suffered abuse as a child and excluding them from the scheme fails to acknowledge the damage caused by child sex abuse. Read More


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Father Tom Doyle says tax concessions should be on the table as church responds to Royal Commission

THE Australian Government should ignore the church/state divide and put “massive pressure” on the Catholic Church to name child sexual abuse as a crime in church law, says the American Catholic cleric who first blew the whistle on the global abuse scandal in 1984. Read more 


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Student priests believe it's time for the Catholic Church to evolve

More scrutiny than ever is upon the powerful leadership in Australia's Catholic Church, following damning findings in the Child Abuse Royal Commission.

The commission made recommendations for the church to break with centuries of tradition and remove the sanctity of confessional and make celibacy for priests voluntary.

Senior Australian church leaders have already made it clear they don't support those changes, but a new generation of priests is promising to do things differently.Read More


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Disclaimer - Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.