Nov-Dec 2018Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

In this issue we share stories from all over Australia of people and organisations that helped to raise awareness for Blue Knot Day.  Each activity helped to highlight the rights of survivors to live a life free from shame and silence. The slogan “REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE” reflects our community commitment to becoming a more compassionate nation.

You can read about the wide variety of events in which Australians nationwide participated – very heartwarming to see so much activity around Blue Knot Day events.

In My Story this month we bring you two articles. Shell is excited to share one of her first drawings as she turns to creativity in her recovery journey. Bj writes a beautifully rendered poem about the broken bridge – his life, the pain and difficulties.

We also want to let you know about Ghosthunter a recently released Australian documentary. This is reviewed and also a link to a conversation with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM and the film’s director, Ben Lawrence on ABC RN.

With the start of Summer Holiday Season Self Care can be important to prioritise. We share thoughts and ideas for you to consider.

Our feature story highlights possibilities for recovery as the writer says: 

"This is not the story of a woman at the mercy of the chaotic effects of her past. This is the story of a woman taking charge of her experience, rather than letting  it be defined by people who in the past had power over her life”. 

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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My Story by Bj

The Broken Bridge

My Story by Bj - A Survivors story



We pretend we have crossed over

And some parts of us have

Like our body – It’s grown up and is adult

Most of our social skills are on the other side too

Intelligence and work skills are there as well

What are not there though are those parts eternally damaged

The pain which never goes away

The fractured parts of the mind

The wounded pieces of the soul

The broken child

It’s depravity

Devastation

These parts are unable to cross the bridge in to normality

Into adulthood

The bridge is too public

Exposed

Expectations too demanding

Demeaning

Life on the other side of the bridge beckons

And woos

It flirts

And calls us to a better life

If only………………..



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BLUE KNOT DAY 2018

Blue Knot Day 2018

Blue Knot Foundation’s annual awareness raising event, Blue Knot Day, was held on Monday October 29, with Blue Knot Week running from Monday October 29 until Sunday 4 November.

This year’s Blue Knot Day theme, ‘REAL LIVES.REAL CHANGE’, highlighted the rights of survivors to live a life free from shame and silence, and our commitment as a nation to compassion for all adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Our thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to run events in their local communities, which this year included workplace morning teas, market and information stalls, yoga and community art projects, theatre performances, faith based services and a screening of award-winning documentary Ghosthunter, hosted by the Australian Psychological Society, in support of Blue Knot Week.

Throughout the month of October, Blue Knot Foundation worked in partnership with a range of supporters across Australia to raise awareness of the needs of adult survivors of childhood trauma. Blue Knot’s ‘REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE’ social media campaign was promoted all month, with a series of campaign images highlighting the needs of adult survivors shared online with the hashtag ‘#unitebkd’.

This year’s Blue Knot Day campaign built on the public acknowledgement of the harm done to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse recognised by the Australian government’s National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and extending to the 1 in 4, or 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma.

“At a time of recognition for 60,000 survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, we felt it was so important to acknowledge that as survivors, we are more than just statistics”, said Blue Knot Foundation President, Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM.

“We must not lose the momentum that has arisen as a result of the findings of The Royal Commission. Every victim of institutional child sexual abuse deserves to live a life without shame and silence, and as a nation it is our responsibility to ensure supports are available and accessible for all adult survivors of childhood trauma”.

Recommendations from The Royal Commission have included the establishment of a national centre of excellence to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment.

“There are an estimated 5 million adult survivors of childhood trauma in Australia today, and it is vital that as a country we respond to the needs of all survivors. Childhood trauma can impact every area of an individual’s life, particularly mental health and emotional wellbeing, and we must address the enormous gap in the provision of trauma informed support”.

The REAL LIVES.REAL CHANGE social media campaign was promoted and shared by individuals, community groups and not for profit organisations across Australia last month. Our thanks to everyone who publicly lent their support to the campaign including the following organisations:

Mental Health Australia, NSW Mental Health Commission, Office of the eSafety Commissioner, Families Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia and Lives Lived Well.







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BLUE KNOT DAY 2018

Encouraging Conversations

With New Ghosts Theatre

Yen - Blue Knot Day 2018

Our thanks to New Ghosts Theatre Company, who supported Blue Knot Foundation through the Australian premiere of Anna Jordan's Bruntwood Prize winning production ‘YEN’, which ran from 27th September - 13th October 2018 at Kings Cross Theatre, NSW.

YEN explores ‘a childhood lived without boundaries and the consequences of being forced to grow up on your own’ and the work “comes at a pertinent time in the Australian political landscape”, according to Producer, Loredana Cross.

“Within the last 12 months, the discourse surrounding women’s safety, the ramifications of sexual assault, the role of men, and the importance of teaching boys to respect women from a young age has become more prevalent”, said Loredana.

In an effort to continue the conversation and bring these issues to the fore, New Ghosts Theatre Company supported Blue Knot Foundation in offering a matinee performance for the general public on Saturday October 13, with all funds raised donated to Blue Knot Foundation.

The performance also featured a panel discussion with Associate Professor Rita Shackel of the University of Sydney; a graduate of law, psychology, science, and education. Joined by the cast and creatives of the production, the panel discussed the themes, character interactions, and its importance in today’s context.

“We were delighted to support Blue Knot Foundation and raise awareness of Blue Knot Week through the production”, said Loredana. “Blue Knot was a perfect fit as for us as we are working hard as a theatre company to encourage conversations around sometimes difficult topics. Engagement is essential so that we can better understand and therefore help each other”.

 

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BLUE KNOT DAY 2018

Serving Up Support


Grill'd Neutral Bay shows support for Blue Knot Day


Grill’d Restaurant in Neutral Bay, NSW showed their support for adult survivors of childhood trauma last month through several initiatives delivered as part of Blue Knot Week.

Staff dressed in blue and the restaurant itself was decorated with blue knots, ribbons, balloons and banners, with information and trauma-informed resources made available to all customers.

“We recently promoted Blue Knot Foundation as one of our ‘Local Matters’ charity partners and many of our customers chose to support Blue Knot”, said Dominique Kane, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Grill'd Neutral Bay.

“We believe in the great work you are doing, and so we decided to build on this initial support and get involved in Blue Knot Day this year. Many of our customers were curious about the blue themed restaurant and this sparked conversations about childhood trauma, compassion and support. Some of our customers took away Blue Knot Foundation information and materials on the day and it was great for us as a team to be able to promote such important work in the local community”.

Thank you so much to Dominique and the team at Grill’d, Neutral Bay for your ongoing support and enthusiasm!

 

 

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Holiday Season Self Care

Cover Story Breaking Free Nov-Dec 2018 

The summer holiday season can be a challenging time of the year. Expectations from family members and arrangements can cause emotions to run high and interpersonal pressures to increase. The commercialisation of the season has become more intense with non-stop advertising and extra spending encouraged.

For survivors of childhood trauma, this time of year can be especially difficult, challenges of feeling isolated and powerless, divided complex families, and the pressure of expectations imposed. As we all face pressures to meet other people’s demands it can be helpful to keep in mind that we all have the right to decide:

  • what we want to do and don’t want to do
  • who we want to see and who we don’t want to see
  • what makes us feel safe

The season will pass by once again, as it does year by year.

Self Care With 'no'

You also have the right to say ‘no’ to anything that does not feel good or helpful for you. This can be a challenge for many survivors and hard to achieve, especially when demands are coming thick and fast. At this time of the year it can be more difficult to say ‘no’, as there are more expectations and we don’t want to upset people.

It’s important to know and respect our personal limits around being with family, especially with complex families, and socialising. If we notice that we are feeling vulnerable, it is okay to not go to a particular gathering, or to go for a limited time and have an early exit strategy - create a “Plan B” and use it to break away early when needed.

Other people’s feelings are their responsibility, while self care is our own.

Saying “no” to things that are too stressful or overwhelming is healthy self care and good planning.

It can also be difficult to feel alone, knowing that other people are together.  If you can it can help to try and think about what makes you feel safe and nurtured – e.g. spending time outside, in nature or by the sea. Everyone is different. Maybe you could reach out to a trusted friend and family member – if that’s what you’d like to do. The choice is yours. 

Maintain Your Boundaries

Survivors can find maintaining safe and healthy relationships and boundaries challenging. Many of us grew up in families where healthy boundaries were not modelled and some family members may still not respect boundaries or don’t have good boundaries themselves.

If maintaining safe relationships and healthy boundaries is difficult for you, seek help from a supportive friend, family member or counsellor. Discuss boundaries with them and gain their support as you make plans for this time of the year.  Make a list of safe people you can contact if you need to debrief, and try not to let visiting relatives disturb the usual routines that support you. Or if you don’t want to visit, decide not to and choose to do something you find instead.

Self- Care for Holiday Season

Practice Grounding

The holiday season can be a period which raises anxiety for many. Some people find that grounding can help reduce their symptoms of anxiety symptoms. Feeling more grounded can help us to feel centred and more in contact with the world. 

Grounding is the act of connecting more deeply and completely to your body, strengthening the feeling of being inside the body and connected to the ground or earth.

The simplest grounding practice is to stand or sit with your two feet placed on the ground.  Looking at your feet, push your toes down gently, and then push your heels down. Notice the ground under your feet, or your shoes, socks, on the floor.  Become aware of your whole foot on the ground. Notice and sense your foot muscles, and sense the weight of your legs through to your feet.

To enhance your grounding experience you may imagine that tree roots are coming from the soles of your feet through the floor to the earth below. The roots are stabilising you and connecting you to the ground more firmly.  This sensation of being ‘fully rooted’ to the earth can bring a sense of inner strength and calm.

Exercise

Exercising reduces our stress levels and promotes a feeling of well-being. Exercise does not have to be intense. A walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day can be of real benefit. If you are able, choose any form of exercise you enjoy. Start slowly and if you are able to increase it, aim to do it 4-5 times a week. Any exercise can help, and it can be a practice you build over time.

Eat Healthy Food (at least sometimes!)

Many people enjoy chocolate, wine, cheese and special desserts during this period. It can be an important part of the holiday season for many people. Enjoy them. However it is also important to balance this with some healthy food to maintain energy and reduce stress. Make sure you are drinking enough water and regularly eating fruit and vegetables.

Be Kind To Yourself

Try to be kind and generous to yourself during the holiday season. Try to find time, if you can, to make a list of things that help you feel good. Perhaps do these once a week at first and build up slowly to do at least one of these each day, you may start to feel more nurtured. When developing your list, ask yourself what has worked in the past to help you manage stress. Add these to the list.

This does not mean that you need to spend money. You could include simple things like having a bath or a long shower, listening to music or going for a walk. It might be a time to connect with distant friends or loved ones, or thinking about who is important to you, and reaching out to them, if its possible or you’re able. Perhaps visiting the beach, going for a drive, and you might like to buy yourself a small gift.

Freebie

You can access some free gifts from Sounds True – includes meditation music, video event series on Self Acceptance and a range of guided Mindfulness practices.

Blue Knot Help Line 1300 657 380 is open EVERY DAY

over the holiday season to offer support, information, referrals and information about redress for survivors and their family and friends. As always, if your call is not answered straight away please leave a message and one of the team will return the call as soon as they can often on the same day and always within 48 hours.

Blue Knot Administration Office will close for the holiday break from 5pm Friday 21st December and reopens on Wednesday 2nd January.

 

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My Story by Shell

“Artistic expression is a well well-documented to be a helpful aid to recovery for survivors of trauma. Creative mediums like drawing, painting, colouring, clay work and sculpture may help us to process traumatic events in a new away. Art can provide an outlet when sometimes words fail. Art safely gives voice to and makes a survivor’s experience of emotions, thoughts, and memories visible when words are insufficient.” Breaking Free editor

My Story by Shell

Shell writes:

I started learning to draw last year, grasping the courage to attend some tutoring. I went to a 2-hour class with just one or two other novices. As the class progressed, I’m sure the tutor thought I was a challenge, with my busy, interactive mind and cheeky style. I became interested in all the tutor’s drawings and my surroundings but I was like a brick wall to the actual techniques shown. Nevertheless, I took it all in for later analysis and practiced what the tutor so patiently tried to share with me.

Sure enough, with the encouragement of a kind friend who loved art, and the tutor, I embarked on bringing out my inner artist.

When I took my drawing to the tutor the following week, she couldn’t’ believe what I had produced. Then I tried another lesson, I found it frustrating and hard to focus, and the tutor needed convincing that it was one and the same person who did the drawing at home.

I am still persevering and practicing art, as I realise it not only inspires me, it seems to also has a domino effect and influence on others. A friend thoughtfully shared her love of art with me. This helped me on my journey to find what type of art I could practice and learn without that feeling of ‘performance anxiety’ taking hold. I wanted to progress my interest and skill in a relaxed manner. I soon found that drawing is the most enjoyable art for me and now, I would like to share it with you.

I have drawn this picture freehand from a random internet picture, however I somehow created my own unique face as I thought about someone who was more androgynous in spirit despite the outward girly form.

And with that in mind, I dedicate this picture to those survivors who have a courageous fighter pilot sitting high on the shoulders of maybe a somewhat curly blonde parachute hammered by the challenging and changing winds of life.

Shell

Shell- A survivor's story


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Power Threat Meaning

 

PTM Framework


Join us to explore this ground-breaking new conceptual framework for psychological and emotional distress. One-day workshops presenting the Framework will be delivered in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne by UK speakers Dr. Lucy Johnstone, lead author, and one of the co-authors, Professor John Cromby. A two-day workshop is being hosted in Adelaide by ISPS Australia .


What is the Power Threat Meaning Framework?

The Power Threat Meaning Framework was published in January 2018, by the Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society. Jointly produced by a core team of psychologists and service users, it is an ambitious attempt to outline a conceptual alternative to the diagnostic model of distress and unusual experiences. It has been welcomed as a basis for a much-needed paradigm shift away from existing medical understandings and is already influential within and beyond services in the UK.

What Does The Framework Say?

The Power Threat Meaning Framework integrates evidence about the causal roles of power, responses to evolved threat responses, social norms and assumptions, and personal meanings and narratives. It supports and extends existing trauma-informed and non-diagnostic approaches. 

 

The Framework aims to restore the links between personal distress and social injustice and inequality, and can be used to help people to create more hopeful narratives about their lives and difficulties. 


It encourages respect for the many ways in which distress is experienced, expressed and healed across the globe. It applies not just to people who have been in contact with the mental health or criminal justice systems, but to all of us - individuals, families, social groups and communities.  

This framework complements and extends existing models to foster a holistic understanding of people's thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions. This evidence suggests that if we know enough about people’s relationships, social situations, life stories, and their past and current struggles, including trauma and adverse life events, then we can make sense of these experiences. And that if we also think about people’s strengths and supports, we may be able to come up with new ways forward. 

The Power Threat Meaning Framework supports the acknowledgement of prior and ongoing trauma including working towards culturally safer environments. 

Who will benefit from attending?

The Framework is intended to provide the basis for an ongoing series of developments in clinical practice, service design and commissioning, training, research, service user/carer/survivor work, and public education. It is suitable for:

  • People working clinically or in supportive role across sectors
  • Peer workers
  • Service users and members of public
  • Researchers, academics – social policy and justice, and service design

Participants will:

  • Understand the core principles of the Power Threat Meaning Framework
  • Understand the context within which the Framework has emerged, and its implications within and beyond clinical services
  • Have an opportunity to practice applying the Framework ideas
  • Be provided with access to relevant documents and resources  

Join us for a unique opportunity to learn about the Framework and help build a more hopeful future for us all. 

Workshop Locations and dates: 

  • Sydney 25 Feb 2019
  • Brisbane 28 Feb 2019
  • Melbourne 7 Mar 2019

Adelaide ** 2 day workshop is being hosted in by ISPS Australia and supported by Blue Knot Foundation**

Register here



BLUE KNOT DAY 2018

Rocky Takes A Stand Against Child Abuse

Rockhampton Blue Knot

Our thanks this month also to CQ Services Supporting Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (CQ SSASCA) for their support of adult survivors of childhood trauma and their loved ones and carers, through Rockhampton’s Blue Knot Day, which was held on Monday 29 October at the Women's Health in Rockhampton City, Queensland.

The event saw Relationships Australia, the Women’s Health Centre, Lotus Place, Youth Justice and other child protection agencies join together in support, and to connect survivors with local services. Rockhampton’s Blue Knot Day promoted recovery from childhood trauma through a community morning tea which featured the use of art, movement, mindfulness and safe guided yoga exercise as tools for recovery.

Our thanks in particular to joint event organisers Aaron Kenney from Relationships Australia Queensland, and to survivor advocate and Blue Knot Day Ambassador, Suzanne Messmer, who has been instrumental in not only organising Rockhampton’s Blue Knot Day for the past consecutive 4 years, but who also continues to passionately campaign for survivors’ voices to be heard.

This year Suzanne worked with Rockhampton Regional Council to illuminate the city’s riverbank heritage-listed buildings blue, and for council’s public digital advertising banners to display the ‘REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE.’ campaign throughout Blue Knot Week.

“The advertising and illuminations were designed to send a positive and visible message to local survivors that they are not alone, and that support is available”, said Suzanne.

“We also received some really positive coverage from the local media including The Morning Bulletin, which ran a feature article entitled ‘Rocky Stands Against Child Abuse’. There are still so many survivors in Queensland who feel isolated and alone. It is so important that we show each other support and raise awareness of the needs of adult survivors of childhood trauma”.

Suzanne was also one of the estimated 1,0000 plus survivors who attended the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse held at Parliament House, Canberra on Monday 22 October 2018.

“While I was there I took the opportunity to hand out some Blue Knot Foundation blue knots to key speakers in the house and other guests. It was important for me to do that as I believe we need to keep this message going, that all adult survivors of childhood trauma deserve a life free from shame and silence and for many of us, that means access to support right now”.

Thank you so much to Suzanne, Relationships Australia, the Women’s Health Centre, Lotus Place, Youth Justice and Rockhampton Regional Council for highlighting the rights and needs of adult survivors of childhood trauma throughout Blue Knot Week.

 

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My Story by Julia C

Story of a Woman Coping Well

I fell into deep, black water. The well is a metaphor, but I truly felt as if I were drowning. A few days later I went into terror. I felt like my mind was churning in a food blender as I frantically tried to process the scary ideas and make them safe. 

On the evening of the sixth day I emerged into sanity. Suddenly my mind was as clear as a cool, still pool. I asked myself ‘how am I feeling right now?’ and ‘what do I need right now?’


realised I wanted to sob, as if there were a girl inside me howling. I wondered, ‘What would happen if I let it out, let the emotions flow?’ I turned my music up loud so no one could hear, sat in a hot bath, with candles, and cried as long and loud as I wanted. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long.

When children feel overwhelming emotions they need someone ‘bigger, stronger, wiser and kind’ to let them know the feelings are not dangerous, and to help them return to calm. As this is repeated over and over, the child learns that it’s safe to feel emotions, and how to bring themselves out. This is called ‘emotional regulation’.

Woman coping well

Complex trauma is underlying, cumulative and interpersonal. It’s what happens when you grow up constantly anxious and afraid, when you feel unsafe with those whose job it is to protect you. There is no ‘bigger, stronger, wiser and kind’ person to rely on.

Later in life, this leaves you at the mercy of extreme emotional reactions. You feel ‘out of control’ on the inside, and look to others like a ‘drama queen’, always reacting as if everything’s a crisis. It’s humiliating and scary.

As I let myself cry in the bath, my adult self was doing for the crying girl what adults did not do for me when I was a child. 

My adult self had waited until I was feeling safe, out of the black water and the blender. She waited until my son was at his father’s, when it was safe for others as well as myself. 

This is ‘emotional regulation’ at an advanced level – the ability to acknowledge an emotion: “Hello, I know you’re there and I know you  need attention,” but set it aside to return to when it’s safe and appropriate. Even people not affected by trauma often can’t do this. They either can’t postpone the emotion, or don’t come back to it later.

Woman coping well

After I got out of the bath I danced in my living room. Dancing is a non-verbal way of connecting with how I feel, and a gentle therapy for body. The extreme emotional states resulting from complex trauma have a high toll on the body, as well as the mind. My body sighed with relief as everything stretched that needed stretching, everything loosened that needed to be released.

Then I got dressed and went out dancing. Despite crying my heart out an hour before, I had a great night. After letting all that emotion out I felt clean and clear beyond words.

This is not the story of a woman at the mercy of the chaotic effects of her past. This is the story of a woman taking charge of her experience, rather than letting it be defined by people who had power over her life in the past.

This is a story of pride. Gone are the shame and mortification of being a person affected by trauma – drama queen, crazy woman, crumbling mess. This is the triumphant story of a woman coping well.

by Julia C

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IN THE NEWS

Opinion: Now is the time to repair shattered lives 

Real Lives. Real Change. That is the message this week to all Australians about the 5 million adults who are survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

Across the country communities are acknowledging – as part of the national Blue Knot Week – the harm done to the one in four Australian adult survivors of complex childhood trauma. Feelings are being validated, stories shared and support networks strengthened. Read More

 

 


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Blue Knot welcomes legislative changes in NSW for child sexual abuse crimes

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said institutions need to join the National Redress Scheme for child sexual abuse survivors “without further delay” as a range of new laws to bring offenders to justice come into effect in NSW today. Read more here

 


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Julia Gillard's work for abuse survivors recognised

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has received an award for her role in establishing the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

On Monday, the Blue Knot Foundation – National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma gave Ms Gillard its annual Blue Knot Award in recognition of her "foresight, determination and courage". Read more

 

WA woman's compensation claim lays bare crippling impact of child sex abuse

Tarryn* was just 12 years old when she was raped by a man offering girls in his community cannabis and cigarettes in exchange for sex.

In the weeks and years that followed the assault, she was overcome by feelings of shame and emptiness and forced to leave the town she grew up in, where her abuser still lived. Read more 


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Vice-Chancellor's Award for Public Policy & Outreach

Imagine, as a child, being locked up as punishment in an adult psychiatric ward after being labelled a juvenile delinquent because you ran away from an abusive orphanage. 

For Queenslanders, sadly, this was the policy where some children were placed in Wolston Park Hospital wards with the criminally insane, right through to the 1980s. This was despite the fact that the children hadn't committed crimes and there was nothing wrong with the children themselves. Decades later, these children, now adults, have received financial redress from the Queensland Government thanks to the commitment of Dr Adele Chynoweth. 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.