If you have experienced childhood trauma, you can speak with a Blue Knot Helpline trauma counsellor including for support and applications around national redress

1300 657 380
Monday - Sunday
between 9am - 5pm AEST
or via email helpline@blueknot.org.au


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For support for Disability Royal Commission or general support contact our National Counselling & Referral Service

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Jan/Feb 2019Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

In this combined January/February issue we reflect on the pressure we often feel to set goals and New Year resolutions... And we speak about self-care, nurture, mindfulness and gentle goals. 

In our Self Care section we share some free online resources that give you an opportunity to try out yoga in the privacy of your own home, or find a teacher who is trauma sensitive

We publish a guest article by UK psychologist Lucy Johnstone, one of the lead authors of the Power Threat Meaning Framework, being presented by Lucy and Prof John Cromby in workshops in Australia later this month and early March. 

You may like to contribute to the research that the University of NSW is conducting.  They want to talk with survivors who have experienced shame or related emotions. Their aim is to increase understanding of the ways people manage shame. You can read all the details inside this issue. 

In My Story this month Cameron shares his insightful story of emotional abuse and its long lasting impacts on his wellbeing. 

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 the editor at newsletter@blueknot.org.au

This will be my last edition of Breaking Free. After this issue I will be handing over to the new editor. 

It has been a pleasure being the editor of Breaking Free and I wish you all the very best.


Warm regards

Jane Macnaught


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My Story by Cameron R

My Story Jan-Feb 2019 by Cameron

The Sad Poem

My Family From My Perspective 

My Family was a catastrophe

And too many are to say

My Mum’s first love was a Sicilian, but

Marry a wog in the fifties? No way


So she sought out a chap at the bank where she worked

A guy everyone wanted to know

The life of the party, good at all sports

But he turned out a right so-and-so


My Father you see was a weak man

Who his bad side he never overcame.

You know the things you think you might do

On your worst days? Well that was him.


His new wife soon discovered that a thief

And a liar she’d invited into her life.

Defrauding insurance. Kicked out of his golf club,

For stealing a bottle of their wine.


Now these are not assets if you work in a bank.

They may be petty but they are still a crime.

Mum knew that if a bank managers role he secured

He’d end up doing time


But just like a teacher, a bank manager’s first post

Would be a small place way out in the sticks

So to the country she steadfastly refused to move,

To not be a homeless mum with kids


So my father took out his frustrations on her

And his three oldest kids – ‘specially me.

His first born son, perhaps he thought I might

Get somewhere.  Well not if he


could help it.  He needed some people

on whom he could look down.

Three people whose lives he would try to destroy

So us he constantly put down:


“You’re stupid. You’re useless, You’re hopeless.

You’re no good at anything. You’re nothing.”

And the crown of them all, the one he really meant:

“You’ll never amount to anything”


 I was a happy and placid child, so good

My grandmother thought it perverse.

And I followed a rebellious sister, so

I tried not to make things worse


A peace making role I took for myself,

I felt I could do no other.

This was a mistake. To my father I should have

Stood up, not silently suffered


Yet for nearly ten years I sat there in silence

Enduring his verbal abuse

Nearly two thousand time he said that to me.

So my siblings attest.


I have no memory.  I’ve repressed it completely

But my subconscious remembers full well

And it had little choice but to agree with dad,

 So useless and worthless I feel


My father was handed some chances to

Repent from his crimes against our family

My brother got somewhere. My sister didn’t care.

But because I had no memory,


I was just perplexed when they spoke about it, I

Couldn’t relate it to them or to me.

‘Till my father was given just six months to live

then some of the fear he engendered could leave


So before he died I got to tell him

I knew what it was that he’d done.

Not remembered. Oh no. That’s too much to bear:

Likewise the imploring of his son.


And now he is dead.  But not gone,

He’s inside my head, destroying my life

from within. But I’m inching out, little by little

Before I die I hope to be free.


And as I live I take strength from my lovely mum,

 A good woman who made a bad choice

Who, before Murphy’s other law, was pretty stuck

where she was since her husband refused divorce


She got rid of him after twenty seven years

 His second wife took half that time.

He died as he lived, alone and unloved

And I hope not to do the same


My goal in life now is to be the adult that

That happy child would have become

Free from the stain of unforgivable abuse

From a foolish and self centred man


So if I’m sometime aloof, or say something a bit odd

It’s not you, it’s my dad in my head.

So please be patient, and please let me know

I’m trying not to be ruled by my head


By Cameron R


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Blue Knot Helpline

The Blue Knot Helpline is staffed with experienced trauma-informed counsellors who provide:

  • Professional short-term telephone counselling support
  • Information
  • Referrals for ongoing support
  • Support and guidance for engaging with the Royal Commission

If you are need of information or counselling support during this time, call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 between 9am to 5pm ADST 7 days or email helpline@blueknot.org.au

If the counsellors are unable to take your call, please leave a message including a telephone number with an area code, and a counsellor will call you back within 48hrs.

Blue Knot Helpline

Eating Elephants

Desmond Tutu profoundly stated, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time”. This has inspired us all to try to take small meaningful steps towards an achievable purpose. 

This is something that is important to remember at this time of the year when we reflect on the year past and try to set goals for the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions can be daunting and overwhelming if you put pressure on yourself to do things differently. But maybe it’s not about doing them so differently, but doing them gently. 

Eating Elephants - Blue Knot's Cover Story

Caring for yourself can often be challenging for people who have experienced child abuse or childhood trauma, so try to think of yourself as someone who deserves care. And think about what care you can find for yourself. 

Be gentle with yourself. There is no need to try to eat the elephant all at once. If setting goals is something that works for you, just remember to set small goals which are realistic and which are gentle. Goals that don’t leave you feeling like you have stretched yourself thin or pushed yourself too far. Have a day off if you need it, and then get back onto the path to your small goals again if and when you are ready. 

Setting goals can be helpful but it can also be daunting.  Approach your goals in a way which practices self-love and self-care. If you decide to set some goals this year, why not make some that are self-compassionate so that no matter the result, you feel satisfied with the path you are on? Ensure they are created by you and for you. Take everything at your own pace. . 

You might want to use the SMART guidelines for setting goals if you’d like - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Or if not, see how you can care for yourself along a pathway that provides comfort for you, and does not add anxiety to your life. 

Many survivors find it hard to manage the distress they often feel. It can be helpful to practice self-soothing tactics such as wrapping yourself up in a soft blanket, cuddling something soft, hugging someone or having a bath and these too can be goals that you set yourself. These targets of self-care and self-love can help ground you and help you regain control over difficult emotions, such as anger, shame or distress. 

Coping with mental distress can feel lonely, so see if you can reach out, to someone you trust, someone who can be there alongside you. Reaching out can be hard but finding support when you do, can mean that you aren’t doing it all alone. Some goals benefit from support from others, whether it is with a counsellor, friend, colleague of family member.  Find the care you need – maybe working towards that can be a goal for this year.

Eating Elephants Jan/Feb 2019 Cover Story

There will be times in the year that will be tough as they can bring up feelings of grief and loss. Days such as Valentine’s Day and Easter can be overwhelming for survivors as many survivors have been hurt in intimate relationships, in families, and in institutions. Past betrayals can come to the surface showing why it can be so hard to trust, and to feel safe again. In these times if you can reach deep inside to find that strength that has sustained you and look outside to see what can help nurture you. It might be cuddling up to your pet, taking a walk outside, feeling the sun on your back – whatever you have found helps carry you through the tough times.  

Perhaps you don’t want to set goals - perhaps you have refused to create any, as they don’t work for you. Perhaps you like to practice mindfulness and try to live in the present instead. 

Mindfulness might help you to look beyond goals as they say, ‘There is no goal, no place to get to’. This requires accepting that what you have and what you are is enough so you are not looking to improve, change or fix yourself. 

If you want to set goals but can’t think of any, don’t worry - they will develop and evolve over time. Trust that you will find the path with or without goals by being kind to yourself. In the words of prolific author Joseph Campbell  “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” 

If you decide to set goals, aim to set goals that are gentle and manageable, and take small steps. Try to balance being mindful, present, and self-caring. And if you decide not to make any goals - that’s great too! 

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Power Threat Meaning Framework Workshops

The Alternative To Diagnosis Is Listening To People’s Stories

Workshops - Power Threat Meaning

The Power Threat Meaning Framework is a radically new approach to understanding distress and unusual experiences without using psychiatric diagnosis. Very few people are offered this information, or encouraged to make a choice about how they understand their distress.

They are not told that the dominant explanation — in other words, that they are suffering from ‘mental illnesses’ which need to be diagnosed and medicated — is only one viewpoint, which not all professionals agree with. 

The Framework was produced jointly with users of services who have decided to leave the medical viewpoint behind, and as a result, have been able to take up lives that are fulfilling and meaningful, even if they still have difficulties.

One of the main aims of the Framework is to offer everyone a way of creating new, more hopeful narratives or stories about their lives and the problems they may have faced or still be facing, instead of seeing themselves as blameworthy, weak, flawed, or ‘mentally ill’.  

This can suggest new ways forward, sometimes working alongside professionals and sometimes through self help or peer support.   

**This article was written by guest author, Dr. Lucy Johnstone, lead author of the Power Threat Meaning Framework and has been republished here. The observations made are those of the author.**   

Blue Knot Foundation is hosting workshops that will explain how the key questions in the Framework can be used to explore these stories. Attendees from all backgrounds are welcome.   

This is a unique opportunity to attend workshops in Australia delivered by the authors of the framework - Dr.Lucy Johnstone and Prof. John Cromby. 


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

Register now. Less than 2 weeks to go till the first workshop! 

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. 



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.

Yoga for Self Care

By Jane Macnaught, Breaking Free Editor

Yoga Self Care

Are you one of the many people who has thought about learning yoga? Maybe you have been to a class and left feeling discouraged or felt you didn’t fit in.  In this article we offer a few resources that may make it more possible for you to try out yoga.

After many stop-start yoga experiences I found a six week beginners course that allowed me to attend a class every day if I could.  The course taught the foundations of yoga SLOWLY, and as I learnt the poses I noticed what felt stiff and awkward in my body. Some poses were impossible until the teacher explained an adjustment, or a different technique. I learnt that it was okay to move towards comfort and away from pain. Now I feel more confident in my abilities and I am able to attend a variety of classes.

Bessel van der Kolk in his research found that yoga may be very beneficial for survivors of childhood abuse and trauma.

Van der Kolk found yoga a safe and gentle means of becoming reacquainted with the body. "Yoga re-establishes the sense of time," he says. "You notice how things change and flow inside your body." Learning relaxation and breathing techniques can help people who have experienced trauma calm themselves when they sense a flashback or panic attack starting. Adapted from source

However the yoga teacher needs to be attuned to a trauma sensitive therapeutic practice. The idea of teaching gentle yoga is expanding as are the number of yoga therapists, slow yoga, and restorative yoga classes. You can find lists of local practitioners and yoga teachers that have trained in trauma sensitive yoga here.

I have also found a series of FREE yoga videos by a teacher called Adriene: she is playful, encouraging and prolific.  If you are curious to have a go in the privacy of your own home then you could make your way through foundation poses – here are some of the ones that may be easy to start with which can be calming.

Legs up the wall pose. Can be calming and help with getting to sleep


Bridge Pose, can help reduce anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia


Warrior two pose – increases stamina, centering and helps develop a sense of strength.


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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Invitation to Participate in Research


Surfacing Shame: the lived experiences of shame reported by adults who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood 

Researchers at UNSW Sydney (The University of New South Wales) are seeking volunteer research participants to help us learn about the meanings, perceptions, and experiences of shame for adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. 

Adult survivors of child sexual abuse frequently report experiencing shame or related emotions. The researchers would like to hear from survivors who identify as having experienced shame or related emotions. Your contribution to the research will help us understand survivors’ journeys in managing shame. The research findings will inform better responses and support for survivors of child sexual abuse. 

Would the research study be a good fit for me? 

The study might be a good fit for you if you: 

• Are over 18 years of age and are in NSW/ACT.

• Experienced sexual abuse in childhood.

• Identify as having experienced shame or related emotions (e.g. guilt, embarrassment).

• Would like to share your meanings, perceptions and experiences of shame and related emotions and how you have managed them at different points in your life.

• Have disclosed the abuse and received support at least 1 year ago.

Currently have a safe place to live free of violence and abuse.

• Have access to support from friends, family, a community group, or counsellor.

• Are not experiencing current severe distress, crisis or current danger. 

What would happen if I took part in the research study? 

If you decide to take part you would: 

• Take part in one interview of about 90 minutes either face-to-face, by phone or skype, whichever suits you.

• Have the option to review the typed transcript of the interview, edit and make corrections

• Have the option to get feedback about the findings sent to you from the research team.

• Get the choice to stop participating in the study whenever you choose. 

Will I be paid to take part in the research study?

The study is voluntary. There are no costs to participate in this study, nor will you be paid. 

Who do I contact if I want more information or want to take part in the study?

If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study, please contact: 

Name: Maureen MacGinley Doctoral Research Candidate

Email: maureen.macginley@unsw.edu.au

Phone: 02 9385 8998

Ethics Approval Number: HC 180550 Version 2 dated: 11/09/2018 



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Chrissie Foster, Peter McClellan awarded top human rights medal

Chrissie Foster and Justice Peter McClellan were awarded the 2018 Human Rights Medal on Friday for their "enormous contribution" to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Read More

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Peter Dutton is pushing the states to sign up to a national child-sex offender register

Families would be safer if Australian child sex offenders were publicly listed online, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says. Read More


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Children are the forgotten victims of domestic violence

As the world grapples with the need to eliminate violence against women, there are oft-forgotten victims whose needs must also be addressed – the children, including girls, who are caught in the middle and are, at times, directly targeted. Read More

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Download a PDF version of the newsletter here

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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.


Health Direct


Head to Health


“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”


“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”


"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”


Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
PO Box 597 Milsons Point NSW 1565
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST

Blue Knot Helpline
Phone: 1300 657 380
Email: helpline@blueknot.org.au 
Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-5pm AEST

For media comment, please contact:
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+61 2 8920 3611
or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au

For media enquiries, please contact: 
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