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, February 27, 2009

Katrina's Story

There was something wrong with me, I was sure. Simple things, like going alone into a new place, terrified me. I was afraid of men. I had an overactive caution meter that made certain situations unbearable, everything within me screaming, "GET OUT NOW!" I cried at the drop of a hat with people I trusted. I was seldom happy and never contented, never safe, even at home. After a disastrous dating relationship with an abusive guy, I married a wonderful man with whom making love was uncomfortable at best and at worst, I wasn’t even there for it. I had this uncanny ability to disappear, leave my body and come back at a later point. Sometimes I went into the wallpaper, sometimes into the rest of my day and sometimes into nowhere. This wasn’t normal, was it?

Then, one evening, sitting with my legs drawn up on the floor in a friend’s living room with the lamp light behind my left shoulder, I remembered. I remembered episodes of "special games" that a 17-year-old male babysitter would play with 6 year old me. I went home that evening and told everything to my husband, and it felt as though I had never forgotten. I felt relieved, at some level, to understand that I was wounded; I wasn’t "normal." Then I slid into deep depression.

Mercifully, love and support surrounded me. At this point in our lives, my husband was in graduate school and there was a counselor on staff whom I could see free of charge. She was experienced in dealing with abuse survivors and we worked together for two full years on a weekly basis. There is no way that I can ever repay the gift that she gave to me of her time, her energy, her love. She mothered me toward health and healing and was the midwife to my most difficult birth. My husband was a rock, staunchly loyal, protective and patient. He even sought counseling himself as he tried to deal with my depression. He held me or didn’t as I needed, coached me, comforted me, cooked for me and prayed for me. And I had a doula too, a brave survivor herself, further along her healing path, who held my hand, raged with me, wept with me and believed in me.

After two years, my counselor moved on and I continued for one year with someone new. Two months into that time, I discovered that I was pregnant with our first child. We had stopped using birth control four months earlier and I had wept through each of my periods since then, sure that despite all my work, the abuse was going to interfere with my life one more time and prevent my pregnancy. But here I was, pregnant. What a miracle! I had an easy pregnancy and slid into prenatal care by the OB group who had a female nurse practitioner whom I had found for well woman care.

Part of the work of my healing involved exploring "normality." What did it mean to be "normal"? I confused health and wholeness with "normality." I so badly wanted to have a normal pregnancy and a normal birth and a normal baby, having felt so abnormal all of my life. I have no sisters and none of my women friends were pregnant at the time that I was. The only stories that I had to go on were of the women in the office where I worked and they were all at least 15 years older than I was. I knew I wanted a natural birth, though. My mother had two natural births and taught Lamaze when I was young. She talked all of my life about the beauty of her births and her joy at the end of pain. My friend, my doula, also steered me in the direction of childbirth classes as a way to prepare for a natural birth.

In my sixth month I read a book that said that for survivors of abuse, birth in a hospital into the hands of doctors could entail elements of re-victimization. I toyed with the idea of a home birth but only knew about lay midwives locally and knew that where I live the practice of lay midwifery is illegal. I did not have the resources to break the law. I was trying to be normal.

Three weeks before my due date, I lost my mucous plug and began having contractions. For three days, I labored off and on, mostly at home, punctuated by trips to the hospital to be checked, and made no "progress." I began to doubt that labor led to birth; it only led to more labor. On my final trip to the hospital they surmised that I had a urinary tract infection (a phone diagnosis by the doctor) they put me on antibiotics and sent me home. So hard. I felt supported by my husband and doula but not by my doctors. For several more days I had contractions off and on, which I knew were more intense than Braxton-Hicks. Meanwhile, the baby grew.

At my weekly appointment a few days before my due date, the doctor expressed concern at the size of the baby. I already measured 44cm. She suggested that we schedule an induction after the weekend or (as I hesitated) I could come in for a non-stress test. No patience, no sympathy, no trust in my body. We went in for the induction on Monday. And thus followed a cascade of interventions: amniotomy, pitocin, premature pushing (I pushed before I had an urge to) and CPD. After 20 hours of labor I had an epidural and a c-section. Bruce was 10 lbs, 5 oz.

As I look back, I marvel at my capacity for pain: enduring a Pit induced labor with no medication and no bag of waters cushion. I had terrific support from both my husband and doula and the nurse assigned to us. She said later that she had never seen a couple work together so well. I am also amazed that I stayed present for all of my labor. At no point did I disappear into the wood- work even as the male OB tried to turn an already stuck baby. Still, I felt that my body and I had not worked together. I had not trusted.

Immediately following my surgery I was given medication to make me sleep. I was not consulted about this. I was out of it for many hours and Bruce and I nursed for the first time six hours after his birth. In the meantime they had given him a bottle of glucose water because his glucose level dropped. Thus ensued a troubled and trying nursing relationship. Bruce lost weight and then gained only slowly. I finally was convinced to supplement with formula and wore a supplemental nursing system for the next year. My consultation with lactation consultants and La Leche League leaders has suggested that the Pitocin (which artificially swells breast tissue causing poor latch on), the delay in our nursing and the initial bottle were all causes of my low milk supply.

During the next weeks and months I held and nursed and wore a high need Bruce and struggled with depression. When Bruce was 9 months old I began studying to be a natural childbirth educator. The process of learning unleashed my anger and I agonized over feeling unsupported and voiceless and re-victimized. This anger gave me energy to study, to begin teaching and to promise myself to make different choices the next time.

I became pregnant again when Bruce was 16 months old. By then I had more knowledge of the birth community locally due to my association with other childbirth teachers and midwives. I explored the possibility of a home birth with a Certified Nurse Midwife and birth at the most natural childbirth friendly hospital. I found a wonderful midwife who wanted a record of my surgical incision but otherwise treated me as a healthy pregnant woman.

Mary’s office was in the back of an old Bed and Breakfast almost 25 miles from my home. Behind the building there was a farmyard with horses, a stream, and a beautiful weeping willow tree. Each of my prenatal visits was profoundly healing for me. Mary spent at least an hour each visit with me, talking about me, my hopes, fears, my previous birth, and my dreams. She was attentive to two-year-old Bruce. She had me check my own urine and weigh myself and gave me copies of all of my records. I felt empowered and cared for and strong. Then after our check ups, Bruce and I would go to the local general store, buy peanuts and juice and sit under the willow tree watching the stream.

I decided early on that I wanted to labor in water this time and rented a birthing tub from another local childbirth educator. We picked it up three weeks before my due date and set it up in a back bedroom of our house. We filled it once to be sure it didn’t leak and my husband, Peter, and I tried it out for fun.

What a different birth this was! My husband called the midwife at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and said that we thought this was it. He asked me how far dilated I thought I was, "Six,” I said. He told her not to hurry that we would be fine until she got there. At 6:00 a.m. Bruce woke up and I instinctively went in to him to put him back to sleep. He dozed until I had to move onto my hands and knees for a contraction. That upset him, "Mommy no have contraptions," he cried. My mother said she would take him to the other grandparent’s house and Peter put him in the car screaming. I cried. After they left, I looked at my belly and said, "Ok baby, time for you to come. I need to take care of my other baby." Then I went into transition. I got in the shower and moaned and moaned. I felt the moment the contractions begin to change and felt the powerful pushing at the peaks begin. “ I feel pushy,” I called to Peter outside the curtain. "Don’t push,” he said. “ Mary isn’t here yet." He ran back and forth to the door looking for her.

Mary arrived just as I was getting out of the shower and wondering why the next contraction wasn’t there yet. She checked me and I was complete with a bulging bag. So we called all the friends we’d invited to be at the birth, sent my father off with the car so my mother could come back and settled down to wait. I had an hour break during which I had three contractions. We listened to music; I ate banana bread and a popsicle and smiled at my friends as they came through the door. They were amazed to see me up and smiling and completely dilated. Then I began to feel pressure: all these lovely people here are waiting for me to produce the baby. I told Peter I needed to be alone with him in the bathroom. Mary said to call her if I felt the baby move. Fifteen minutes later I was squatting and pushing and I felt the baby slip under the pubic bone. Mary came in and with the next contraction I soaked her by popping the amniotic sac. This was all new now and I began to panic. “The baby is too big,” I thought. “No way is something that feels that big getting out.” I called for honey and I clung to Peter saying, "I can’t do it." “You are doing it,” he replied. Then I said I wanted to get back in the water.

A few contractions later the head emerged and then a good push or two and out came the shoulders and Peter yelled, "You did it, Katrina!" There he was, wet, wiggly and precious and I held him just moments after he was born. I was a queen!

I look back on Nate’s birth as both the result of and a vehicle for healing from the abuse. Choosing to birth at home with a midwife who trusted the process of birth and the ability of my body to birth were crucial. By choosing to be at home I put myself at the center of the birthing process: I took responsibility for the possible risks of being at home and gave myself permission to say and do what I needed and wanted. I gave myself a voice. I also declared myself valuable enough to have friends around me to support me and share in the miracle. In choosing Mary to be my midwife I learned what "normal" pregnancy and birth is all about. I drew on her trust of birth and my body to learn to do the same for myself. I not only stayed in my body during Nate’s birth; I also learned to trust.

Since beginning to write this narrative, I have become pregnant with our third child. We are planning another homebirth, with the midwife who served as Mary’s assistant at Nate’s birth. This pregnancy has been one of joy and celebration for me. I feel the freedom to speak as I need to about my needs and wishes. I trust my body’s ability to grow a baby and to birth it. My dreams for this birth are the healing of two more shards still broken from the abuse. I would like this to be a sexy birth, a birth that highlights the intimacy of the creation of the baby and my connection to Peter even as I push the baby out. I want to rewrite the synapses in my neural net that prevent me from fully surrendering to sexual pleasure even as I surrender to the powerful forces of birth. We have talked about Peter catching the baby so that I can look at him as I push the baby out, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, wonder-to-wonder. I also want to experience greater healing in breastfeeding. Nate, like Bruce, lost weight and put it back on slowly. I grew anxious before the doctor did and wore the SNS for several months. I would like to not have to do that again. I would like to trust my body to nourish the baby outside the womb as it did so beautifully inside.

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Deborah's Story

I was born in the early 1950’s into a conservative, Christian home. I was well cared for and felt secure. I don’t believe my mother knew how to bond very well with her children, and didn’t know how to relate very personally with her friends either. I did not feel close to my older brother, or even my only (older) sister, although we were only 15 months apart. I played with my two younger brothers and tried to give them the attention I felt was lacking from my mother. My dad was better at relations, and tried to spend time with us children, but was very busy with work and organizations. I was a good, compliant and reserved child. I took a very responsible view of life, including commitments to God.

When I was 13 and starting to mature, my older brother (by three years) started interacting more with me. He asked personal questions about the developing bodies of my girlfriend and I when she spent the night. Another time he wanted to demonstrate wrestling moves on me, and gained sexual arousal, as he had planned, I’m sure. I did not like any of this; was shocked and unassertive. However, I never participated again. I had not had any sex education besides the fifth grade health film at school.

One night my sister had a friend overnight, so I slept in my brother’s room. He slept in the family room, separated by sliding glass doors. He came over several times to touch my breasts and bottom, even making comments. I was scared stiff, literally, wanting to escape, yet frozen. Finally I managed to say stop, when his hands reached my vaginal area. He left. Again I waited in suspense, and he did not return. My mind and emotions were buzzing. In the morning I acted as normal as I could. I don’t remember even thinking of telling my parents or sister. It was just too unbelievable and shameful.

A few weeks later, I told my girlfriend. I don’t remember her response, other than it was short. A month or so later, my girlfriend and I spent the night with another girl. My friend threatened to tell her the story if I didn’t. So I felt forced to tell it myself, to keep it short and quick. I felt I had been betrayed and that I had betrayed myself. I always felt like that betrayal affected my life more than the abuse itself. It cut me off from deeper friendships that could have allowed me to share inner thoughts and feelings, perhaps even the pain of my abuse. I decided women couldn’t be trusted, and only my husband would be worthy of that trust. I don’t remember thinking about it again and, in fact, treated my brother with love and respect.

In high school, I was more quiet and withdrawn, and sometimes sensitive to the point of tears, without knowing why. Since I could not share or even articulate my problem (I didn’t connect it to my brother), I couldn’t get help, and had some depression.

I went away to a small college, and decided it was my big chance to change. I was more outgoing and friendly, especially toward those I thought needed a friend. I had an easier time making friends with guys, and actually had some fun and happiness. I enjoyed these platonic friendships. I did date, but did not enjoy the kissing, and never allowed anything further. The dating relationships were short. I got depressed and restless, wondering what was wrong with me. I just couldn’t relate closely with girls, and felt different from them, left out but not wanting to be “like them” (foolish and too talkative). I was rigid about eating only healthy foods. When I strayed I would regurgitate, although I never binged. I avoided going home by volunteering at a mental hospital for the summer. I was very depressed, thought of asking for help, but did not.

My second year at college, I dated a guy my intuition told me to beware of. I was so “nice” I thought I should give him a chance. Outdoors on one date, he leaned against me and made me feel his erection. I believe I spaced out after that. I remember being naked on my bed, digital penetration, and his saying I was beautiful as he walked out the door. I don’t know what I did immediately afterward. I told no one. I saw him once more when he told me he was leaving campus for good. (He wasn’t a student.)

I told God I’d quit dating until I got help, but I didn’t know where to get help. Soon after, I met a guy who was different. He talked about God and didn’t make a lot of physical moves toward me. He seemed to really care about me. I knew he was the one I’d marry. I told him very brief accounts about my brother and the date incident, releasing some emotion. We had a lot of fun together. We married and were part of a close-knit home church. I still did not connect with women in a deep way. I was quiet, yet nice. I still felt something was wrong with me, and sometimes felt depressed. I never thought about the abuse. Our sex life was fine. I didn’t initiate, but could go along and even receive some pleasure.

At first I did not want children because I knew childhood as a time of pain and isolation; being in the midst of a family, yet unable to connect and share. Marriage created a desire for children, and I had no career to distract me. I thought I’d be better at parenting boys, since I didn’t feel very feminine and could not connect with girls.

Once I was pregnant, I only wanted a healthy baby. Perhaps God has a sense of humor. We have five girls and one boy. Maybe he wanted me to learn that girls are all innately different, some more “feminine” than others, yet all normal. We had a home birth with a midwife to help. I’d never felt so close to another human being. I was a natural at birthing and nursing. I was able to do what my mother had been unable to do for me. Mothering has been a nurturing experience for me and, therefore, a healing experience. I finally felt more connected, not only to my babies but also to a group of women called mothers.

Sexual abuse affected me as a mother. A side effect has been a desire to be in control or at least know what to expect of situations and people. So when I wanted children, I did a lot of reading and chose to give birth in my own home with my husband and a midwife. I like to raise my children following my own instincts. I nursed with baby-led weaning and natural family planning. I avoided the need for routine doctor visits by obtaining exemptions from immunization, which I also researched. I learned about natural remedies, nutrition, homeopathy, and herbs. I also did some home schooling. I really enjoyed the children as infants and toddlers, and missed being as close as they grew older.

Mothering adolescent girls was especially hard for me. I read some books to them about the physical and emotional changes of puberty. I did not add personal comments. I’d often think of things to share about love and sex and how wonderful it could be, but could never say them. I knew the right words but I feared my feelings would betray my ambivalence. I relied on church youth group leaders to cover it for me. I very briefly told them of my abuse after I wrote this account.

In general, I was a good mother, but I know I lacked some emotional dimensions and spontaneity. I also suffered from migraines, so the older girls learned to help care for the younger ones as needed. After my fifth child, the only boy, I was really run down and began the slow descent into a major depression (three years later). I could not relax, and he was fussy for a year. Initially, he lost weight, but slowly regained it. I was home-schooling two children, we were under financial strain, the oldest girl reached puberty, and I could tolerate sex less than ever. I was just doing what I had to do, but I was dying inside.

I met a loving couple, and she shared about her childhood sexual abuse. I obsessed and agonized about whether to tell my story for months. When I told it, they assured me that I needed to get help. With their love and support and that of my husband, and with no more babies needing me, I let myself get help from a Christian psychotherapist. This actually made life harder, as I had to deal with emerging emotions. I didn’t have much patience with my kids, or time. I was gone biking, walking, and to therapy. As therapy progressed, a lot of anger and pain came up, but I didn’t know how to express it. It was very hard to pull myself together and return to my responsibilities at home. I’d often cut myself to shut down the bad emotions and anxiety. There was too much to handle all at once.

I signed myself into a Christian mental hospital for 22 days. This was very hard for me to do. I had rarely left my children, and it was especially hard for some of them. Although they came to see me a few times, when they left it was “out of sight, out of mind.” I couldn’t bear to think of the pain of separation. I was still very depressed, in therapy, and on medication for the next year.

All of my children were neglected, at least emotionally, during this time. My last child was born in the midst of it all, but was probably not neglected as much, because I was good at and enjoyed meeting a baby’s needs. She was a ray of sunshine in the storm. At first she had considerable weight loss, probably due to my depression and stress. Mother’s Milk Herbal Tea solved the problem. I took about a six-month break from therapy after the birth, and then resumed it for about two years.

I’m not sure why therapy took so long for me. I was distracted with so many responsibilities. I had such a block in my emotions. I took so long to trust, to accept love and acceptance. I thought too much, intellectualizing myself out of feeling emotions. It’s hard for a nice, good girl to feel such bad emotions.

I also have a biochemical imbalance of the brain. I still take a low dose of medication. Now I feel pretty stable. My family sees a fuller range of emotions and hears more laughter. Laughter is the easiest way to gauge how I’m doing. When I get down about my failures as a mother, especially when they imitate my own childhood, I remind myself that I have improved on it. I do the best I can with what was given me, my motive is love, and I’m human. I hope my children will improve on what I’ve given them.

I have shared my story with two women who were also abused, and have formed the closest friendships I’ve ever had. The more I talk or journal, getting it out of my head, the more healing and proper perspective takes place. God’s word and scripture songs help replace my own negative thoughts. I hope to pass on God’s love and truth by co-leading a support group at my church and sharing one-on-one. Only by sharing the story with a loving and accepting person can the shame be lifted and love be felt. God can bring good out of evil, as we accept His healing love and extend it to other hurting people.

When I was two and one-half, my mother noticed vaginal bleeding and took me to our doctor. He wrote on my chart, “vaginal bleeding secondary to trauma.” I found this on my chart when my mom gave it to me as part of my health records. I asked her if she knew what had happened. She has a bad memory, and could offer no plausible explanation. I was in therapy at this time, and I shared this with my therapist, whose immediate gut reaction was that this was probably sexual trauma and explained what he had seen as “developmental problems originating at age 2-3, especially the issue of trust.”

I also asked my medical doctor what these words would mean to a doctor. He said quite definitely something was pushed with some force against the vagina, and today would have been reported as possible abuse.

This incident is frustrating to me. If it were sexual abuse, it certainly would explain my difficulty in therapy, especially with trust and sexual issues. I could say, “See, this is why I have such a hard time.” It would explain why I froze with my brother and spaced out with the date in college. I wasn’t weak and stupid, but previously traumatized, and “split off” for safety. Thankfully, I don’t have to know. I can still deal with symptoms, poor ways of relating, negative thoughts, and automatic reactions to certain stimuli.

Abuse effects how I relate to others with trust and vulnerability, and how I see myself. I can always look to Christ and loving friends, and risk relating in a new way. Healing comes through relationships, not new intellectual knowledge alone.

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Laura's Story

I was raised in a family of ten children, eight girls in the middle and brothers on each end. Many people have romantic notions about what it would be like to grow up in a large family, but our household was full of chaos. My mother suffered from depression, and was largely unavailable to us. Both of my parents were consumed with caring for my older sister, who was hospitalized for a large portion of her childhood and died at the age of 12 from cystic fibrosis. Often they would put my oldest teenage brother in charge of the rest of the children while they went to the hospital. He was resentful and angry about this responsibility and took his anger out on us, first by physically abusing us and later sexually abusing us. I did not know till I was older that 3 of my other sisters had also endured his abuse over the years. The abuse began around the time I was 5 and ended when he moved out of the house around the time I was 7. When I tried to tell my mother about the abuse, she said I was dreaming.

I am not sure I would have ever dealt with the emotional scars of my abuse had I not had children. I never would have expected the changes in me that occurred after the birth of my first child, a boy. His birth was difficult and long and I was extremely tense as soon as we arrived at the hospital. Though I liked the midwives who helped deliver him there, I did not feel as if I had any control over the birth process and it brought a lot of emotions to surface. Nursing my son was incredibly difficult and painful for me, and without much support at home, I gave up after a few weeks and began bottle-feeding. I still regret this lost opportunity to bond with my son. He became a very colicky baby and it seemed that I could not comfort him in any way, and because of my frustration and feelings of inadequacy, I pulled away emotionally. I slipped in to a deep depression that went undiagnosed for a year and a half, because I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to seek help. I reluctantly began therapy, and through the help of the therapist, was able to finally make some connections between my childhood and what I was experiencing as a young mother.

I continued therapy through the pregnancy and birth of my second child, a girl. The circumstances around her birth were very different, as I chose to have a homebirth with 2 incredible midwives, whom I spent many hours with in the months leading up to her birth. When I envisioned a water birth as the most soothing and peaceful way for me to give birth, they supported my instincts. Her birth was gentler and easier than my first, and I felt in control and supported during the whole process. Nursing my daughter was again very painful and difficult for me at first, but I had a lot of support this time around to help me stick with it. I ended up nursing her for 2 years and having no problems with depression after her birth.

When my third child, a girl, was born 3 years later, we had moved to a new city, and since a homebirth was not possible, I birthed at a local hospital. Though I prepared myself as best I could, my fear and anxiety returned with this birth and I had my longest labor yet. I nursed my daughter through the painful period, but weaned her after a year, when my depression became so severe that I needed to begin taking medication. I also began therapy again and in conjunction with the medication, I was able to make a lot of progress in dealing with the ongoing pain of my abuse. I had many dreams during this time that were incredibly insightful, and I also did a breath-work session, which I would highly recommend to other survivors. It allowed me to reach a part of myself that I never could through regular therapy.

I don't think that I could have anticipated the enormous changes that came about for me after the birth of my first child. But in retrospect, the journey would have been a much healthier one if I had been sure to surround myself with nurturing, familiar caregivers in a non-stressful environment during his birth. I also wish that I had been better prepared for the difficulties I would encounter through breastfeeding, perhaps by having a familiar support system set up beforehand, rather than talking to strangers about my difficulties when my frustration level was so high.

But most importantly, I believe it has been a strong faith that has carried me through these difficult years. Prayer and meditation give me calm and a sense of peace that I can find nowhere else. My belief in God has helped me see that in spite of what has happened, I can love and I can forgive and I can grow from my past experiences. As difficult as the journey has been, I am thankful that the pain has not been buried but has been freed, for it allows me to open myself up and be free as well.

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