“What? Me? An advocate for adult survivors of childhood abuse?”
Those were my thoughts last summer. I was preparing a brief biography for a writing project and searching for terms to describe myself.
As I sat and thought about what to write, the word ‘advocate‘ dropped into my mind. Having never considered that descriptor before, I looked it up. I knew it fit.
Advocate: A person who supports or speaks in favor; a person who pleads for another. – The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 8th ed., 1990.
I didn’t use that bio just then. It would be a few more months until I launched a website, began regular blogging, and connected with online adult childhood abuse survivor groups. It would be a while until I called myself an advocate.
My Background: Definitely Not an Advocate
If you knew me way back, the word ‘advocate’ would not come to mind. If anything, I grew up as quiet, compliant, and not given to sharing my opinion. Standing up to people–NOT.
Although I always held a strong internal belief that people deserved just and fair treatment, my family-of-origin did not welcome different opinions. From an early age, I learned not to speak up even if there was a wrong. (hello, adverse childhood experiences score of 5!)
It wasn’t until my late thirties, after a long struggle with depression that I began to explore the impact of my childhood and my inability to speak up. It was definitely linked to the early loss of my dad and unprocessed grief. I sought out resources, learned about the connection between unprocessed grief and depression and began to heal. And the more I healed, the more I found myself speaking up.
Then, my husband, Derek, the survivor got sick. You can read more about this in my free ebook For the Partners of Childhood Abuse Survivors, but he experienced the return of blocked (dissociated) childhood memories and could not cope. He left work and we began the long road of looking for resources and ways to help him heal.
It’s a good thing I found my voice because he lost his.
My Advocacy Journey
In hindsight, I realize that I was an advocate long before I associated myself with the term. I sought out resources to help me heal from my childhood trauma. Then, when our daughter, Claire was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, I kept at it to get her the academic and medical supports she needed.
When Derek got sick, I did the same things that I had done before. I call this process the 4-Rs of Advocacy.
- I Researched.
- I Read.
- I Reached out.
- I kept doing it until I got Results.*
Research. Read. Reach out. Results.
What is Advocacy?
“Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
- Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.
- Defend and safeguard their rights.
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views and concerns.
- Access information and services.
- Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.
- Explore choices and options.”
Source: SEAP Advocacy, UK.
Today, I am an advocate for more than my family–although I certainly do this when required.
Today, I advocate for childhood trauma survivors and supporters through writing, speaking, and participating in survivor groups. It is my greatest joy to do so!
In recent months, I have had the opportunity to appear as a guest on a number of podcasts. I am introduced as an advocate. And it is a great privilege to call myself one.
One more thing, I want to tell you about an amazing FREE opportunity to learn about a specific type of abuse called narcissism. This type of severe psychological abuse often goes along with other forms of childhood abuse.
The one-day summit takes place on June 1, World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and features an array of professionals in the field of narcissism and trauma. Sign up for free access here.
I am a featured guest at the summit speaking on–you guessed it: Advocacy.
I hope to see you there!
*Results does not mean things always turned out the way I wanted. It does mean a change, often for better, in the situation.