Welcome to the survivor moms speak out blog!

While practicing full-time as a community-based midwife, I had the opportunity to work with many women who were survivors, either of childhood sexual trauma, rape, or both. The experience of being their midwife, and witnessing their challenges and triumphs encouraged me to learn more about the effects of trauma on the body, and on the experience of childbearing specifically. So just as I felt "called" to practice midwifery, I felt "called" to shed light on issues that survivor moms face during the process of becoming a mother. That calling led me to begin the "Survivor Moms Speak Out" project. We surveyed many women who were both moms and survivors; and 81 of those women completed a narrative or contributed a poem for the book "Survivor Moms: Women's Stories of Birthing, Mothering, and Healing after Sexual Abuse."
Read more about the book, or order a copy, at http://www.midwiferytoday.com/books/survivormoms.asp.

Because of space constraints, not all of the narratives that women contributed to the book project were able to appear in full in the final version of the book. So I would like to take the opportunity to share some of the whole narratives in this blog, featuring a narrative at a time.
About reading survivor stories:
Although the stories are encouraging because they represent survivors’ triumphs over adversity, they can also to be hard to read, because of the intensity of the issues and events. I encourage you to check in with yourself while reading survivor stories, especially if you are a survivor of past trauma, and limit your exposure if you become “triggered”. Feeling triggered might take several different forms. You might start re-experiencing a past trauma you have had before, by not being able to stop thinking about it, or dreaming about, or just feeling like it is happening all over again. You may feel distress or have physical symptoms like feeling your heart race or sweating. If you start to experience these things, you may benefit from talking to someone who understands how trauma works and how to help you with post-traumatic symptoms.

To read more about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder you can check out the National Center for PTSD website: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/.

The Sidran Foundation offers an information and a referral resource on-line: http://www.sidran.org/

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mary J.'s poems


Daddy loves me.
He wouldn’t hurt me.
I made him do it – I’m bad.
Shame on me.

Mommy looks away.
It must be OK.
I wish she would open her eyes – I’m bad.
Shame on me.

Daddy touches me and teaches me.
He says it’s OK.
I don’t like it – I’m bad.
Shame on me.

Mommy doesn’t want to know.
She pretends.
I must be wrong – I’m bad.
Shame on me.

Daddies don’t lie.
Daddies don’t hurt their little girls.
Mine did – I’m bad.
Shame on me.

Mommies love their children.
Mommies protect their children.
Mince didn’t – I’m bad.
Shame on me.


Today I watched Gretchen become a woman.
Time after time overpowering her attacker.
Using and practicing life-saving self defense techniques.
I was proud, amazed, and in awe of her strength – her voice.
I was doing what my mother didn’t do – protecting my daughter.

Keep breathing! Keep breathing!
I told myself.

Surrounded by strong female voices
I sounded weak and small.
Shouts of “NO!” and “STOP HIM!”
Drowned out my whispered “No.”
My father didn’t hear me either.

Keep breathing! Keep breathing!
I told myself.

I wanted him to stop.
I wanted to scream at him.
I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me.
But I couldn’t – I was too small.
I had no voice.

Keep breathing! Keep breathing!
I told myself.

Gretchen has a voice – I had none.
Gretchen has ways to defend herself – I had none.
Gretchen has power – I had none.
Gretchen has a father – I had none.
Gretchen has a mother – I had none.

Keep breathing! Keep breathing!
I told myself.


Mom, Dad is doing things to me.
I don’t like it.
I’m scared.
Tell him to stop.
Please help me.

Well, dear, what do you want me to do?
You know how angry he gets.
Maybe you shouldn’t go into the bedroom.
Oh, and close the door to your bedroom, too.
I think you’re too old to wear those kind of pajamas.
Sitting on his lap probably isn’t a good idea either.
I suppose I could say something to him but…

To learn more, order Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse

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