Breaking Free - January/February 2024

Exploring Self-Compassion

A Woman in Bathing Suit Sitting on the Poolside

For survivors of complex trauma, self-compassion can be challenging but possible to cultivate and develop. When those who are supposed to care or be supportive of us aren’t or haven’t been psychologically, emotionally, and/or physically safe, we may internalise negative beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. This can result in negative self-talk and internal dialogue, and we can have a hard time feeling worthwhile, good about ourselves, and gentle with ourselves when we face challenges, make mistakes, or are learning.

The elements of self-compassion

Learning how to extend compassion to ourselves can improve our internal dialogue or negative judgements about ourselves, soothe our nervous system and emotions, and aid in our well-being. Essentially, self-compassion means noticing that we are in pain and/or having a challenging time, and asking ourselves; ‘How can I comfort and care for myself?’

The key elements of self-compassion as identified by Neff (2024) are:

Self-kindness: Warmth and understanding towards ourselves over self-criticism, and taking pressure off ourselves to be perfect.

Common humanity: Understanding that all humans suffer and that our suffering and shortcomings are a part of the human experience. Remembering this is something we all experience at some point can soothe thoughts that there is something ‘wrong’ with us.

Mindfulness: This means taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so they are neither denied or exaggerated It means observing ourselves with openness and curiosity, without over-identifying with our thoughts and feelings. (Neff, 2024).

Together, these elements support us to take pressure off ourselves to be perfect and allow us to sit with our emotions and experiences, permit ourselves to be flawed, and understand that mistakes – and learning from them – are a part of the human experience.

Dr Neff (2024) notes that sometimes when people begin to practice self-compassion, their emotional pain may increase at first. This is because “when we open the door of our hearts – love goes in and old pain comes out” (Neff, 2024). The key to managing this is practising mindfulness and self-compassion if safe to do so. However, the most self-compassionate response to ourselves is always to prioritise our safety if we are overwhelmed, which can mean pulling back for a time, focusing on our breathing, and engaging in ordinary day-to-day activities until we feel safe to practice again.

Ways to Practice Self-Compassion

Remembering that we are all human, make mistakes, and face challenges.

These are shared human experiences; remembering this can be soothing to our negative self-talk or harsh judgements about ourselves.

Practising being present: This means that we are paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations with curiosity. Allowing ourselves to become curious towards these parts of us develops our self-understanding, as well as the opportunity for us to practice kindness towards ourselves through our varied experiences.

Noticing our thoughts and inner dialogue. Learning to listen to ourselves is a part of self-compassion. When we can identify our inner dialogue, the language we use, and/or the judgements we make about ourselves, we can gently begin to reframe these, and practice new ways of responding and talking to ourselves.

Learning and practicing self-compassion can provide us with the psychological balm of kindness, patience, and understanding – that we likely did not receive or learn from our childhood or later experiences. Taking the time and doing what feel safe, learning what works for you and pacing your own recovery is key.

Neff, K. Retrieved Feb 7, 2024 from
Neff, K. Retrieved Feb 7, 2024 from

Survivor and Supporter Workshops

Girl Sitting On A Couch Using A Laptop

Blue Knot Foundation is pleased to announce we have scheduled our community workshops for survivors and their supporters (friends, families, partners and loved ones).

These free educational workshops for survivors and their supporters have been developed to help build knowledge about Complex Trauma and strategies for support in their day-to-day lives.

You can find information about our workshops for survivors, including how to register, here:

You can find information about our workshop for supporters (friends, families, partners and loved ones), including how to register, here:

Please be mindful that these workshops are not professional development trainings. Professionals can find information about what we offer in this space here:

Call for Research Participants -
Survivor Perspectives on Institutional use of CSAM

Victim and survivor participants who are over 18 years of age and living in Australia are invited to share their thoughts and experiences on how institutions use material that depicts the abuse and exploitation of children. The project will collect perspectives from adult victims and survivors regarding the retaining, sharing, and use of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) by institutions such as law enforcement, the courts, researchers, and private-sector research & development organisations. The objective is to produce survivor-centred and trauma-informed guidelines to inform future policy and practice.

Rarely is the survivor voice considered or acknowledged regarding how this material is used and the subsequent effects for victims and survivors.

Researchers from the AiLECS Lab, Monash University, Assoc. Prof. Campbell Wilson, Dr. Nina Lewis and Dr. Greg Rolan, Mrs. Kelly Humphries, along with Bravehearts Director of Research Ms. Carol Ronken are conducting research funded through the National Centre for Action Against Child Sexual Abuse to understand survivors’ perspectives on the use of this material by institutions i.e. criminal investigations, prosecutions, crime prevention efforts and/or research.

We need your voices to help impact change. You can participate in an online survey and/or personal interview. Your perspective will help increase understanding of how to balance the benefits from institutional uses of this material, against the impacts which may arise for victims and survivors, and create a more victim-centric and trauma-informed approach for organisations combating this abusive crime.

You can access this survey or find more information by heading to

This project has Monash University Human Research Ethics Approval (project ID: #38448)

Supporting Our Capacity to Regulate

This month the focus has been on providing a framework of support to start the New Year. One of these activities was our webinar on working safely with the body to regulate and build the capacity for noticing our thoughts and feelings.

To further support the information in this webinar we have provided three exercises that you can do when you are expanding your optimal zone, working with hyperarousal and/or hypoarousal. As shown in the diagram below when unwelcome thoughts and feelings trigger a response we can move outside of our optimal zone or our window of tolerance.

These videos are a series, you can watch them individually or in sequence:

Video One – This video supports building a resilient nervous system. Watch here

Video Two – Is bringing the self back to calm, so encompasses strategies to downregulate the nervous system. Watch here

Video Three – Is waking up the nervous system, so strategies to upregulate the nervous system. Watch here

To explore this concept further see our resources page on the website for further information

Interview Call Out - ‘I found support that worked’

About the campaign

Following the success of ‘I found support that worked’ campaign, Doing It Tough is looking to interview five men for a series of blogs that share their stories of how and when they sought support.

The ‘I found support that worked’ campaign was designed to inspire men who may be struggling to reach out for support by sharing John, Dave, Harry and Russ’s stories via video during Men’s Health Week and International Men’s Day (watch here). In continuing this theme Doing it Tough want to highlight men’s stories of lived experience. These interviews will then be shared on the Doing It Tough website and across Suicide Prevention Australia’s social media channels in bite sized pieces.

Doing it Tough are looking for four to five men in NSW, who have unique stories about a time in their life when they reached out for support, that they feel comfortable sharing. Challenges spoken about may include abuse or violence, addiction, financial difficulties, job related challenges, mental health challenges or relationships.

Involvement in the campaign would be paid, at $50 an hour. You would have to participate in an introductory phone call (roughly 15 minutes) and an informal online interview (30 minute) with Suicide Prevention Australia.

Get in touch

If you are interested, please reach out to Georgina Beasley, Communications Manager at Suicide Prevention Australia with the following information:

Phone number
Town and postcode
A brief description of a time in your life you reached out for support

Email: [email protected]
Subject heading: Doing It Tough – Interview Call Out

Download the information leaflet here

Write your Will for Free - March 18 - 24

From March 18-24, our partner Safewill, Australia’s leading online Will writing platform is offering the Blue Knot community the opportunity to write a bespoke Will for free. It takes as little as 20 minutes to complete, is reviewed by their affiliate law firm, Safewill Legal, to ensure it has been filled out correctly, and comes with a year of free and unlimited updates.

Having a Will in place is important to protect your loved ones. After family and friends, please consider including Blue Knot in your Will. Your gift, no matter how large or small, will make a real difference in helping survivors heal.

We will send a separate email during Free Wills Week March 18 – 24, so you can directly access the free offer via a special link.

In Conversation: Understanding and responding to disclosures of child sexual abuse from children and young people

Challenge 2 and 3 in Here for Change, the National Centre’s Five Year Strategy, highlight that children and young people with experiences of child sexual abuse are often not identified, protected or well supported when they raise concerns or disclose, and when they do they experience disbelief and stigma.

Moderated by National Centre CEO Dr Leanne Beagley, this In Conversation webinar brings together lived experience with insights from research and practice experts to explore how disclosures of child sexual abuse occur for children and young people. The panel will discuss the importance of trauma-informed responses so that victims and survivors are believed and supported to heal and recover.

The conversation will unpack:

how disclosures occur – what they look like for children and young people including what factors shape the process of disclosure
what some of the barriers are that exist to children and young people telling their story
what children and young people need from adults when they disclose
Guest speakers include:

Noel MacNamara, Deputy Director of the Centre for Excellence, and Executive Manager of Policy, Research, and advocacy at the Australian Childhood Foundation

Amanda Morgan, child sexual abuse advocate, activist, speaker and writer. Member of Survivor-led Adult College, National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse.

Professor Patrick O’Leary, researcher on domestic violence, gender-based violence and child protection.

Toni Cash, Principal Advisor Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Yourtown.


Time: 1pm-2.30pm AEST (2pm-3.30pm AEDT)
Where: Online

Please note this webinar will be recorded.

Register here