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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
“From the outside looking in, you can never understand
From the inside looking out, you can never explain
Sometimes I feel I am not enough
But other times I feel we are too much”
*Name withheld on request
SELF CARE RESOURCES
This Fact Sheet has been designed for people who have experienced childhood trauma including abuse. If you were abused or traumatised as a child this Fact Sheet can help you understand more about what happened to you, how it might have affected you and some options for what you can do now.
Based on the latest research, it includes information about childhood trauma and abuse, its different forms, and how it can affect people. It also describes the ways people respond to stress and the coping strategies some survivors use.
The Fact Sheet is one of a suite of resources to support survivors on their healing journey.
We hope that you find the information useful yourself or can share it with someone you think may benefit from it. Should you wish to speak to a counsellor please call our Blue Knot Helpline to speak with one of our Helpline counsellors on 1300 657 380 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Our 10th annual national Blue Knot Day, a day on which Blue Knot Foundation asks all Australians to unite in support of adult survivors of complex trauma is fast approaching.
If you'd like to donate your time to volunteer to help coordinate a Blue Knot Day event in your community, please email email@example.com for more information.
The following article explores the impacts of growing up in a domestic violence situation, and its effects on children and on the adults they become. Told through the voices of survivors who courageously speak out, it acknowledges that children are often the silent victims of family violence but offers the possibility of hope and healing. Read more here.
The article reveals some of the reasons why it can be so hard to talk about the abuse one experiences as a child. Again, through the honesty of survivors, speaking out to highlight the issues, this article speaks to the importance of being heard and reaching out for support. Read more here.
If you are in need of support and would like to speak to a counsellor at Blue Knot please call our Helpline between 9am and 5pm AEST seven days a week on 1300 657 380 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabor, in his book In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction defines addiction as “any behaviour that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up.” The story of Elton John shows his struggle with many addictions.
While the ACE study focusses on 10 different categories of childhood trauma, including abuse, neglect, family violence and growing up with a parent with a mental illness or their own addictions, it is now apparent that the situation is still more complex. This includes the compounding impacts of adverse community experiences such as poverty, discrimination, lack of opportunity, community disruption, violence (Ellis and Dietz, 2017). Adverse childhood experiences and adverse social and community environments can interact to exacerbate trauma and affect resilience.
In Gabor Maté's article, he speaks personally about his own trauma, not one of which were ACEs but which impacted him all the same and were passed onto him across the generations.
Recent research “has not only chronicled the existence of intergenerational trauma but has demonstrated some of the epigenetic, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms responsible for such transmission” (Levine, 2015: 161)
Trauma can be transferred from the generation who directly experienced or witnessed the trauma to the next. This is intergenerational trauma. Trauma can also be transferred not only to the next generation but to subsequent generations (Atkinson et al. 2010) and is known as transgenerational trauma (Atkinson, 2002).
For example, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, transgenerational trauma extends well beyond the person and their family and includes the historical and ongoing effects of colonialism, dispossession, racism and the Stolen Generation.
As Gabor Maté highlights, whole groups of people (e.g. holocaust survivors, refugees and asylum seekers) also experience collective and transgenerational trauma. Collective trauma is trauma which happens to large groups and which can cross generations and communities.
Regardless of the origin of the trauma it is possible to find a path to healing and building resilience is paramount. This involves finding a sense of safety - both for each individual and for parents and their children, communities and groups. This can be fostered through safe healthy relationships and making sense of one’s experience over time so each person, and each family and community, can build a story which captures their experience and their path to recovery.
Judy Atkinson captures this well speaking in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: ‘‘the creation of safe places for sharing where the unspeakable can be given voice, where feelings can be felt, and where sense can be made out of what seemed previously senseless’’ (Atkinson J, 2002). As relationships grow a sense of connection and belonging can follow, and so too a sense of agency and empowerment – for each person and their communities. And always holding onto the hope that it can and will be better for you, and for those you care about… and when you can’t hold the hope to reach out and connect with someone who can support you along the way.
To find support and possible referrals call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 between 9am and 5pm AEST seven days or email email@example.com
It’s not too late to donate to our annual Survivor Educational Workshop appeal, if you haven’t already. Many of the people who Blue Knot Foundation supports have experienced complex trauma in childhood – abuse, neglect and the impact of growing up with other adverse childhood experiences. In fact, 1 in 4 adult Australians have experienced childhood trauma, abuse and neglect.
Blue Knot Foundation provides these workshops around the country at no cost to attendees. We hope to raise enough funds to deliver 8 full-day workshops for up to 30 attendees each, for adults who have experienced childhood trauma, abuse and neglect – one in each state and territory.
If funding permits, we will also extend 4 workshops, free of charge to family, friends and loved ones. Because those supporting survivors on their journey also need their own information and support. If you are supporting a loved one on their healing journey you might find the information here useful.
If you’re in a position to make a contribution to this appeal please see details here. Thank you for your support for fellow Australians in need.
For this reason, we have developed the following suggestions for you to gently explore. As we are all unique and have different needs, we also all find different techniques useful. We hope that some of the following exercises will help support you to feel calmer and more present.
‘Grounding’ is the act of connecting more deeply and completely to the body, strengthening the feeling of being inside the body and connected to the ground or earth.
Being grounded is important for feeling centred and connected with your world. Some people find that grounding can help them feel less anxious or more present. The following exercises can help foster connection between the mind and body. You might find one or two that work for you, or you may choose to come back to them later on, if now is not a good time for you to focus on them.
As you explore the grounding exercises suggested here, remember, only to use the exercises with which you feel comfortable.
• Stop and listen to the world around you. Notice and silently name what you can hear nearby and in the distance.
• Stamp your feet. Notice the sensation and the sound as you connect with the ground.
• If you are sitting, feel the chair under you and the weight of your body and legs pressing down onto it.
• Focus on your breath - notice your in-breath - count as you exhale, and repeat. Be aware of your body relaxing.
• Look around the room and notice familiar objects and name them.
• Have a special object on your bedside table - something soothing. Perhaps a photograph, memento from a holiday, a piece of nature…something that has a special meaning to you that is soothing. Look for this when you wake up and recall why you selected this object and how it makes you feel.
• Lying down, feel the contact between your head, your body and your legs. Notice where they touch the surface on which you are lying. Starting with your head, notice how each muscle feels, all the way down to your feet, on the soft or hard surface.
• Hold a mug of tea or hot drink in both hands and feel its warmth. Don’t rush, take small sips and take your time tasting each mouthful mindfully. Notice how you swallow and enjoy each sip.
• Get up, walk around and take your time to notice each step as you take one then another.
• Clap and rub your hands together, hear the noise and feel the sensation in your hands and arms.
• Step outside, notice the temperature of the air and contrast this with inside. Feel the surface on which you’re walking, is it soft (grass, sand) or firm (concrete, pavers or bitumen)?
You might find it useful to record the sensations that you notice. If you engage in an activity it might help to reflect on that activity and notice how you feel. Do you feel calmer or more connected with your body? If you don’t or if you feel more stressed, leave this activity, for now.
This activity has no right or wrong answers. Keeping a record or a journal writing down your observations may be useful and provide you with some activities you can revisit and also some observations that might assist you with understanding what works for you and what doesn’t.
What do you use to help ground you?
What do you find helpful?
What did you notice about yourself when you did these activities?
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