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Talking about trauma for services

Finding Care and Support

Everyone can benefit from a network of supportive people around them to optimise psychological and emotional health. Many adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse find it challenging to identify a network: they may not be able to rely on their families, and they may find it difficult to establish and maintain friendships and relationships.

An increasing number of health professionals are becoming trained to work with adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse acknowledge in a range of contexts, from general practice, to mental health services, to alcohol and drug services, and beyond. When seeking help it is important to establish the expertise and experience of any practitioner in working with adult survivors.

This section of our website provides a comprehensive overview of your options for care and support. Blue Knot Foundation's Blue Knot Helpline - 1300 657 380 operates 9-5 Mon-Sun AEST. You can call and speak to one of our counsellors who can also assist you with options for additional help and support from a referral to its expanding national database of practitioners and agencies with expertise and experience in working with adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

What is the benefit of disclosing my story?

At times, there are big hurdles and sometimes you don’t feel like dredging up any more crap. You get tired of the gut churning feelings, but the pain is just below the surface at all times anyway and facing it has really helped it to lose its powerful hold over me. Sometimes it is hard to talk about things. I just allow the emotions and pain to come up and I try to ride with it. Then when I feel comfortable enough I speak of why I am feeling the way I am… (study participant in van Loon & Kralik, 2005c).

Some professionals  feel that little is to be gained by going back over past experiences and delving into them. Others believe that telling your story relieves the burden of carrying your history around, as though it is the sum total of who you are. Your abuse is not your whole story. Talking externalises those past experiences, and disentangles the issues they invoke from who you are, making it possible to separate yourself from the experiences (van Loon & Kralik, 2005c). In relation to exploring the past, some survivors conclude that they do not need to dig too deep because the process of exploring may become re-traumatising (van Loon & Kralik, 2005b). Some survivors explain that it is important to acknowledge that the abuse happened and speak about the aspects of the abuse story that relate to the impacts of the abuse, rather than the details of what happened (van Loon & Kralik, 2005b).

It is important only to share your story when and if you feel ready to do so, and only within a safe environment, with a person you can trust. If you don’t want to talk about your abuse experiences, you may not be ready to do, in which case it might be preferable not to.

Many survivors feel that they have few people to whom they can talk, or from whom they can seek and receive support. However, it is important not to try to recover in a vacuum. Learning to trust others and to turn to them for support is a crucial step in recovery. Doing so challenges one of the basic notions arising from a history of interpersonal trauma and abuse: namely, that people are dangerous. Trust your own feelings. Choose people who are available, interested in you and who can engage with your situation.

Professional help can be of tremendous value to survivors attempting to overcome the negative impacts of their abuse. Recovery usually proceeds more quickly and more safely if you are working with a skilled professional. In a relationship with an ethical and clinically appropriate therapist, the client experiences safety, respect for boundaries, sensitivity to needs and validation of both the abuse that occurred and the role of recovery in creating a happy and meaningful life.

Disclosing your experiences can help rob the trauma or abuse of its potency. Even though the effects cannot be completely erased, they can certainly be diminished, and coped with in a healthier way.

Shopping for a therapist

Calling Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 and accessing our referral database can help you identify suitably qualified therapists and agencies in your area. It is recommended that you choose a therapist who holds a recognized qualification in counselling, psychology or a similarly skilled area. In addition, particular experience and expertise in working with survivors of childhood abuse is vital. Make sure you feel safe in the consulting rooms of the health care professional you choose and that they are sensitive and encouraging. Your chosen therapist would ideally answer any questions you have about their experience, models of working, professional memberships and qualifications. So, feel free to ask!

Once you have entered into a therapeutic relationship with a professional, if you feel yourself being pushed too hard, or you are uncomfortable with suggested therapeutic methods, try to discuss your concerns with your therapist. If the therapist’s suggestions aren't compatible with your feelings or beliefs about your abuse, then try to discuss this as well. You should be comfortable with the pace of your therapy and be able to discuss your progress openly with your therapist. If you are not comfortable after discussing your concerns consider choosing a different therapist.

Even though you may need support to reclaim your capacity to make decisions, a good therapist will allow you to keep control of your life and encourage you to join in decisions about your care. You may want your therapist to make a decision for you while you are in a state of crisis, and doing so may be necessary at times, but it is still important that you are offered that choice (van Loon & Kralik, 2005c).

Choosing a therapist can be intimidating, confusing and time-consuming. It is often advisable to ‘shop around’ before you make your choice.

The following advice might help you:

  • Seek personal recommendations from other survivors.
  • Seek recommendations from Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380, 9-5 Mon-Sun AEST.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the therapist you have chosen, eg. What is his/her experience in working with survivors (particularly with issues that are relevant to you)?
  • What approach(es) does he/she use in therapy?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Is there any possibility of a concessional rate?
  • What are the options for payment?
  • How available is he/she?
  • What form do the sessions take?
  • How long are the sessions?
  • What are the rules about cancelling a session?
  • Is there any facility for contact between sessions?
  • What are the arrangements for holidays?
  • What process is followed when therapy finishes?
  • Will you be given the option of returning?
  • Will you be involved in the decision-making process?
  • Beware of therapists who stress a particular approach or technique, or who are dogmatic about issues such as forgiveness, confrontation, etc.
  • Beware of therapists who give hugs, shake hands too readily, or sit too close without invitation. If you do feel uncomfortable when interviewing a therapist, trust your instincts.
  • Beware if your therapist seems overly interested in your sexual history and questions you in detail, especially when the questioning appears irrelevant.
  • Beware if your therapist avoids sensitive issues and talks in generalities. Is your therapist able to handle the feelings and content that you bring to therapy?

Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I feel intimidated by this therapist?
  • Does he/she listen to me?
  • Do I believe that I can disagree with him/her?

The therapist you choose should be a good listener, who is both empathetic and non-judgmental. Your therapist needs to be a trusted partner in your process.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the umbrella term for a set of interpersonal healing techniques that support people to develop understanding about themselves and to make changes in their lives. Psychotherapy may be practiced by accredited psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.

A limited number of psychotherapy sessions are accessible through Medicare via referral from your GP and through some private health care funds. A therapeutic alliance with a well trained and sensitive psychotherapist is an important resource for adult survivors of childhood trauma and  abuse.

Ideally, a psychotherapist working with adult survivors should have a basic understanding of abuse and trauma, or else be open to further education and training such as is provided by Blue Knot Foundation nationally. Unfortunately, many therapists complete their training without a basic understanding of the dynamics of childhood trauma and abuse. That's why it's important to access a therapist with expertise and experience in how to work effectively with adult survivors.

The strongest predictor of good outcomes in psychotherapy is not the type of therapy, but rather the ability of the psychotherapist to establish a strong rapport with their clients. The nature of the relationship is critical. At times any therapeutic process may be uncomfortable due to the nature of the issues being explored. However, it is crucial that you feel comfortable and safe with your psychotherapist, and that they are working with you to build on your strengths, and providing you with new tools to cope with day-to-day life.

Counselling

Counselling is a broader term than "psychotherapy" and refers to any professional guidance in resolving personal conflicts and emotional problems. There are many different counselling approaches, and they often draw on psychological theory and techniques. Many counsellors have related qualifications and accreditations. 

Counselling and psychotherapy have both recently taken steps towards becoming a regulated field of care. Before establishing an ongoing professional relationship and in order to better understand the type and quality of the counselling approach Blue Knot Foundation recommends you check the qualifications, expertise, approach, experience and registration status (with a recognised professional body) of any counsellor or psychotherapist with whom you may be interested in engaging.  

Sexual assault services

Sexual assault services exist in all states and territories of Australia. While their main focus is on recent sexual assault victims, adult survivors of child abuse comprise approximately a quarter of clients seen by these services.

Sexual assault services are excellent resources for adult survivors of child abuse. Many such services provide phone counselling, one-on-one counselling, online counselling, as well as group programs and referral options for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. It is worth noting, however, that these services are chronically underfunded, and are often forced to prioritise services to recent victims of sexual assault.

Complementary therapy

Complementary therapies, or alternative therapies, refer to a range of practices and techniques outside of those usually practiced by accredited psychotherapists and counsellors. Complementary therapies have become increasingly popular in many different areas of health over the last thirty years, and mental health is no exception. Examples of complementary therapies in mental health include practices based on yoga, reiki and other meditative traditions, as well as techniques that incorporate dance, massage or other physical activities. Some or other of these approaches can be of substantial benefit to survivors at different times in their journey.

When investigating complementary therapies, it is important to note that practitioners are not necessarily bound by the same standards of conduct and care as psychotherapists and other accredited mental health care professionals. Psychotherapeutic techniques are regularly evaluated and tested for their effectiveness, whereas complementary therapies are often not. It is often preferable to maintain a therapeutic relationship with a qualified and experienced mental health professional whilst exploring complementary and alternative therapies.

My Story – by Lindy

My Story By Lindy


My Story - May 2018 Newsletter Blue Knot

Just So You Know

 

Just so you know
I'm doing OK
Though not so much in the usual way.
There are things that I do
That help me keep calm
Like counting my steps as I walk round the farm.


Just so you know
I'm doing just fine
If I hang out the washing just so on the line.
It's important to use the right coloured pegs
When I hang out the shirt with the blue
Round the edge. 

Just so you know
I'm doing just great
If I always leave early
And don't arrive late.
The car must start
The lights must be green
And my clothes must be pressed. 
With a really straight seam.

Just so you know
I'm doing quite well
Though the story of you 
Will take courage to tell.
I will tell a little
And see how I go
Though I'm fairly certain
It will be quite slow.

Just so you know
I'm living my life
Despite what you did
Despite all that strife.
It's not been easy
At times it's been tough
There's much that I do
That is bluster and bluff.

Just so you know
There are times that I laugh
It's when I forget
That you're in my past.
I throw back my head
And I let it all rip
I don't even stop
When my nose starts to drip.

Just so you know
I oft' times feel good
Though it's taken awhile
I'm not out of the woods.
But if I don't try
If I give up the fight
I'll have let you win
And that doesn't feel right.

 

By Lindy

 


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Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time

Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time

Fundraising

In Australia, 5 million adults (1 in 4) are living with the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and abuse. One such man is Ballarat child abuse survivor and advocate Peter Blenkiron, who has described himself as a damaged man, working full time to find healing from the abuse suffered at the hands of a St Patrick’s College Christian Brother when he was 11 years old.


Following two hugely successful runs in 2016 and 2017, including at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’ exhibition, with support from Creative Victoria, will open in Melbourne on 30 June, and run until 21 July at The Dax Centre.


Curated by Blenkiron’s childhood friend and fellow advocate Vanessa Beetham, the exhibition serves to raise awareness of the impacts of childhood trauma, including mental health issues, suicide and premature death.


“Capturing his journey of healing through the lens of a smartphone, Peter’s photographic diary ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’ offers a rare insight into the inner world of a child abuse survivor as he slowly learns to re-inhabit his body and mind’, said Vanessa.


The story of one, is the story of many. Included in the exhibition is a monumental artwork by Archibald Prize finalist 2016, Daniel Butterworth, featuring 30 portraits of child abuse survivors and advocates. It is a symbolic representation of the countless numbers of children abused in the Ballarat district. The participants share a vision of societies working effectively together to reverse the destructive ripple effect linked to childhood trauma.


On Friday 6 July , a fundraising event will also be held as part of the exhibition, which will be opened by Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries, Minister for Mental Health with guest speakers including Dr Judy Courtin, author of ‘Sexual Assault and the Catholic Church: Are Victims Finding Justice?’.


The fundraising event is open to the public and complimentary tickets can be booked online here.

All funds raised on the evening will help support Blue Knot Foundation and The Dax Centre, which works closely with artists and communities to increase understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma.


 ‘Putting the Pieces of the Self Together One Moment at a Time’, 30 June - 21 July 2018, The Dax Centre, 30 Royal Parade, Melbourne. Tel: 03 9035 6258 

Email: info@daxcentre.org


A short film by film maker Andrew Sully and curator/producer Vanessa Beetham recount's Peter's personal story can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/239158731


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My Story - by Christina

Someday The Sun Will Shine Through

My Story by Christine - May 2018 Blue Knot Newsletter

 

One of my brothers died last year.

Prior to his death, he had been one of those people who chose to have no contact with his family. His life ended in a bare room in one of those miserable supported accommodation facilities.

Given his long absence and then death, I can only presume his reasons for making the choices he did. What I do know is that we grew up in a house that overflowed with anger, resentment, violence, and scant encouragement.

As a child, I was a scared little thing who discovered the (false) protection of withdrawing within myself and physically hiding. The oft-used comforter of food also became part of my limited repertoire for coping.

As a teenager, I was socially inept, struggled to connect with others and punished myself for my alleged awfulness by hitting myself on the head repeatedly. I still wear long-sleeved shirts to cover a few small scars wrought by a razor blade that paradoxically gave relief.

My brother was introverted and lacked confidence, and I really did not get the chance to know him at all.

Ours was a home in which you could be dragged out of bed and beaten with a thong, picked up while you were walking to school and taken back home to be punched and told how useless you were, have doors banged against you, and be smacked in the face in front of others and then beaten when they left.

You would await another brother’s homecoming from the pub to see if he would fall sleep or create havoc. This drunken brother has never been held to account for his many infractions, including trying to push our mother out of a window.

When I think of the claim that children are resilient – a platitude surely invented to excuse a multitude of sins – I think of unwell and lonely adults in places such as homeless shelters, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I also think of all those people who do their best to function but who still struggle. My heightened flight response, fear of people in positions of authority, and anxiety sometimes still causes me difficulties.

My brother’s passing certainly reignited old hurts.

I have found some peace in recent years, however, courtesy of a private psychologist, yoga, meditation, a naturopath (seen due to gastrointestinal issues), and a wish to not let my whole life be dictated by the direness of its first decades.

When I think of my brother I think of the lyrics of a song by the band Free, from their Heartbreaker Album, 1972:

Throw down your gun, you might shoot yourself
Or is that what you're tryin' to do?
Put up a fight you believe to be right
And someday the sun will shine through

You've always got something to hide
Something you just can't tell
And the only time that you're satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well

But I know what you're wishing for
Love in a peaceful world.

When I think of adult survivors of childhood trauma in general, I think of this quote from The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by the psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk:

We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization (sic) of the way mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think.

 


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Save the Date - Blue Knot Day 2018

Save the date!


Blue Knot Day – Monday 29 October 2018

Blue Knot Day 2018Blue Knot Foundation’s annual awareness event, Blue Knot Day, will be held on Monday 29 October 2018, with events and activities happening throughout Blue Knot Week, Monday 29 October – Sunday 4 November.

Blue Knot Day is Blue Knot Foundation's national awareness day celebrated in October every year. On this day, we ask all Australians to unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

If you would like to organise a Blue Knot Day event in your community, volunteer your time or find out more about Blue Knot Day, please contact Fundraising Manager, Cath James on cjames@blueknot.org.au or 0466 788 371 or visit https://www.blueknot.org.au/BlueKnotDay for further information.

Grill'd restaurant supporting survivors

This month Blue Knot Foundation was selected as a charity recipient in Grill’d restaurant’s Local Matters community program, raising funds and awareness for local community services.

Each month Grill’d restaurants select three local community groups to support, with information about each group displayed on three separate jars in the restaurant.

“We are delighted to support Blue Knot Foundation through the Grill’d Local Matters program”, said Rebecca, Store Manager, Grill’d Neutral Bay. “The work of Blue Knot Foundation has obviously hit a chord with our customers, with the organisation receiving so much support throughout the month”.

Thank you so much to Grill’d, Neutral Bay and all the customers who supported Blue Knot Foundation.

Beyond the Blue Hair…

Blue Knot Foundation supporter Kirsty Pratt has been dying her hair blue for years in support of survivors, during her campaign to remove the Civil Litigation Limitations Period in Western Australia. Now that the legislation has passed, Kirsty is fundraising to support more survivors through the ‘BEYOND THE BLUE HAIR’ fundraiser, where she will be dying her hair back to its natural colour!

To support ‘BEYOND THE BLUE HAIR’, visit Kirsty’s fundraising page at:

 https://give.everydayhero.com/au/beyond-the-blue-hair-1

Our congratulations and thanks to you Kirsty.

 

 


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Partners

Health Direct

 

Head to Health

Testimonials

“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.”

ANONYMOUS

“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.”

STEVEN

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

TAMARA

Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
Email: admin@blueknot.org.au
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:
Dr Cathy Kezelman AM
0425 812 197 or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au

For media enquiries, please contact: 
Jo Scard
0457 725 953 or jo@fiftyacres.com