Breaking Free – April 2023

Celebrating Survival, Healing And Resilience

woman looking out window

Healing is not just about recovering what has been lost or repairing what has been broken. It is about embracing our life force to create a new and vibrant fabric that keeps us grounded and connected … keeps us strong and gentle … gives us balance and harmony, a place of triumph and sanctuary for evermore’. (Milroy, 2013)

The human ability to survive and adapt is amazing. People who have experienced trauma, especially interpersonal trauma (between people) have had things happen to them that should not happen to anyone.

Each person who has experienced trauma has coped in the best way they can. However ongoing and repeated trauma, especially experienced as a child or young person, can overwhelm a person’s capacity to cope. Such trauma forces a person to be able to adapt to be able to survive and these adaptations are known as coping strategies. People adopt coping strategies to help them manage the strong feelings and changes in arousal that trauma causes. A person’s coping strategies become familiar and in fact, often become that person’s default or automatic responses during more stress and trauma. These coping strategies enable a person to survive their trauma and can be seen as strengths that have protected the person as much as possible.

However, some coping strategies do not stay helpful long-term. While the strategies may have been protective before, they often become risks or have negative health impacts. For example, some people cope by using alcohol or drugs, by engaging in self-harm or having suicidal thoughts. Some struggle with rage and aggression. Other people might withdraw and avoid a range of activities and social events. Others shut down and dissociate. All of these coping strategies make sense when people have had experiences of trauma. It is important to understand coping strategies and their role, including in communicating the person’s needs.

When coping strategies that are no longer protective are identified, it is important to have the right support to find other ways to cope. It is critical to not try to remove prior coping strategies until you have strengthened your other resources. Your coping strategies helped you to stay safe in a dangerous world. You used them for a reason. But there are other ways that you can use to manage your pain and distress. But it can take time, patience and good support. It is critical to not be too hard on yourself because we can all go back to old patterns under stress or trauma.

Many survivors have been harmed in relationships and this can make it hard to trust people and to reach out and find help. This can leave you feeling isolated and alone, and as if you have only a few people you can trust, if any, to talk to or ask for help. It can be hard to feel and be safe but feeling safe is important wherever you are. Because complex trauma happened within relationships, healing also happens within relationships.

Learning to trust others, to feel safe and to turn to them for support is a crucial step in recovery. Doing so challenges the belief survivors often adopt that people are dangerous.

Trust your feelings. Choose people who are available for you, connected to you and who can engage with you and your experience. This can include a counsellor or therapist who is experienced in working with adult survivors.

It can be helpful to keep a list of your support people and phone numbers including the Blue Knot Helpline and Redress Support Service number – 1300 657 380 (operates between 9am and 5 pm AEST/AEDT 7 days/week), Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support, friends who understand, or your counsellor, or service. It might also remind you to do some activities that nurture you like remembering to breathe, having a cup of tea, going outside and being in nature, connecting with your pets, having a shower, listening to music, drawing, colouring in. Whatever it is that you find helps you to feel calm, grounded and connected. Keep your list on the fridge, on your phone, or anywhere you can easily find it. To find out more go to:

Many people can and do recover from trauma but recovery is a process which depends on a lot of different factors. A key factor is good support to help you process the trauma of hurt and betrayal to help build healthy relationships over time.

Our brain can develop and change in structure and function because of our experiences. This means that our brains can also help us recover from trauma. We call this neuroplasticity. The brain responds to social experiences and social experiences shape the brain. The good news is that neural growth and change can continue through life as a result of positive experiences. Positive interactions support the person to build healthy connections between the nerves in the brain and to recover. This can foster healthy development, functioning and secure relationships.

Many survivors go on to tell stories of recovery and of resilience beyond survival. Resilience means the capacity to sustain and respond to life stress, setback and difficulty. Many survivors process their trauma and come to terms with it. They ‘work through’ their traumatic experience so that it is no longer overwhelming. In fact, it is possible to grow beyond recovery.

Post-traumatic growth is the positive change experienced as a result of a person’s journey through trauma. The capacity to survive and negotiate the challenges of significant adversity can promote inner strength and growth (Wilson, 2006). This process can transform a person’s reactions, world view and response to adversity.

Many people who have experienced trauma can also grow beyond their trauma. The ability to grow through the experience of trauma is sometimes called post-traumatic growth.

Tedeschi and Calhoun (2013) identified five main areas of post-traumatic growth:

  1. Better ability to relate to others;
  2. Seeing new opportunities, priorities or pathways in life;
  3. Developing a greater appreciation for life;
  4. Better understanding of the considerable personal strengths and abilities that enabled survival; and
  5. Creating meaning about the purpose of life and survival (e.g. spiritual or existential meaning).

Building Awareness and Connection with the Body (Webinar)

If you would like to learn foundational information about complex trauma and its relationship with the body,  this webinar can help. It is suitable for the wider community including professionals, people with lived and living experience, family members or loved ones.

The webinar explores the ways we can start to safely connect to our bodies after the disconnection that occurs as a result of the lived experience of trauma. It is important to acknowledge that each person has agency over their own well-being and can develop, build and draw on their internal resources. Understanding our body and the impacts of trauma can support our capacity to manage our strong emotions and arousal levels (regulate) and co-regulate with others.

Learn More and Register Here

In Conversation: the National Centre with Detective Inspector Jon Rouse APM and Associate Professor Dr Michael Slater

Detective Inspector Jon Rouse APM and Associate Professor Dr Michael Salter will talk about breaking down language associated with technology-facilitated child sexual abuse, including terms such as ‘sextortion’. They’ll also explore how to effectively communicate with children and young people about technology use.

This important conversation is for parents, workers, community members, government, policy makers and researchers. It will explore the risks of technology for children and young people and what parents and workers can do to protect them from the harm it causes.

The discussion will include how to mitigate the risks and create a safe online space for children and young people.

Moderated by National Centre CEO Dr Leanne Beagley PhD, there will also be a live Q&A session.

Join In Conversation at 1pm AEST on Thursday 11 May.  All are welcome.

Register Here

In Conversation: the National Centre and Dr Cathy Kezelman AM and Paul Klotz

Join the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse as they host their In Conversation series with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM and Paul Klotz.

The National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse (NCACSA) are holding their third In Conversation event with Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM, Deputy Chair and President of the Blue Knot Foundation, and Paul Klotz, Lived and Living Experience Member of the National Centre’s Adult-Led Survivor College.

Cathy and Paul will speak with NCACSA CEO Dr Leanne Beagley PhD about the links between child sexual abuse and complex trauma through their own personal stories and life experience.

Featuring a Q&A, they’ll provide tips on how people can respond and support victims and survivors to maintain hope and possibilities for healing — regardless of their role as a support person or professional.

Join In Conversation at 1pm AEST on Thursday 25 May. All are welcome.

Register Here

New Training Calendar for July to December 2023

Blue Knot is excited to launch our final six-month calendar for 2023. Our virtual classrooms, webinars and face-to-face trainings offer flexibility for our community as well as different ways to connect.

This calendar includes – Trauma Sensitive Practice: Working with Complex Trauma which blends foundational information with safety and stabilisation practices. This is an alternative to the foundational training for those who have some awareness but want to refresh and build on their understanding of the importance of relationship and regulation.

Those wishing to start their journey by first building awareness should attend our Foundations in Building Trauma Awareness training. This leads on to Trauma Awareness in Practice in which the trauma-informed principles are explored more practically.

The Leadership stream now offers two days in which you can dive into self both as a Leader and as a Leader within an organisation. It explores how we can manage change and support the path towards being trauma-informed and safe, as both an individual and within the wider context of an organisation.

There is training for every level whether starting off or building on your learning all providing best practice when working with complex trauma.

Book now to secure your training and we look forward to connecting with you.

See our Training Calendar here

Safewill Partnership - Write your Will Online

We are excited to announce that Blue Knot Foundation is partnering with Safewill to help you protect your loved ones and leave a precious legacy for organisations that you care about.

Safewill provides an easy option for the 60% of Australians who don’t have a valid Will to protect the people and organisations that mean the most to them. While making a Will online may not be for everyone, particularly those with complex estates, thousands more Australians have been able to write a valid Will within the comfort of their own home, in just a few clicks.

Through this partnership, Blue Knot Foundation supporters have the opportunity to write their Will online for $80 (normally $160).

We hope you’ll take advantage of this offer, to safeguard your personal legacy and the people you love.

You may feel it is important to include a gift towards causes you care about. As one of our supporters, we hope you’ll also consider leaving a gift in your Will to support our work in helping survivors heal. After you’ve taken care of your loved ones, simply include the amount that feels right to you. We sincerely thank you for your kind support.

Click here to write your will with a 50% discount

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