Conversations With Elizabeth is a podcast series discussing issues pertaining to childhood sexual trauma, mental health, healing, and wellness. This program is produced by EmpowerSurvivors. EmpowerSurvivors is a nonprofit that serves that supports survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide on their healing journeys.
In this episode Elizabeth has a candid conversation with Mel Langston, PhD., LPC. who is the mother of a sexually abused child and founder of the organization, Mothers of Sexually Abused Children.
Mel Langston, Ph.D., is motivated by personal experience with child sexual abuse and is a licensed therapist in Astoria, Oregon, with over 30 years of professional experience working with mothers and sexually abused children. Mel is the author of What Do I Do Now? A Survival Guide for Mothers Of Sexually Abused Children and also the CEO of MOSAC https://www.mosac.net/
Elizabeth is the founder of EmpowerSurvivors, a nonprofit organization located in Stillwater, MN.
Elizabeth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse that now uses her own experience of abuse, healing, and education, to help others. Elizabeth's organization started in 2014 at a time when little help was afforded to survivors of this horrible crime. It is her belief that survivors deserve healing and she believes the peer support model can be very beneficial for those looking to add to their mental health team. No survivor should ever have to live in silence. Elizabeth welcomes you to join our many Facebook groups as well as the other offerings at EmpowerSurvivors.
EmpowerSurvivors is a 501(C)(3). All Rights Reserved. © 2023
Conversations With Elizabeth is a podcast and video series discussing issues pertaining to childhood sexual trauma, healing, and wellness.
Many survivors of childhood sexual trauma and abuse remain silent about their abuse. Some will never break their silence and will continue to suffer alone. Hanging on to the blame and shame that are not theirs to hold. For those that do tell, there will be survivors that are supported by family and friends and unfortunately, many survivors will not be supported. Survivors instead may be blamed, asked why they don’t just get over it or asked why they continue to let something bother them that happened decades before.
As survivors, we may have pushed the memories aside or disassociated and then in midlife find ourselves suddenly being triggered and having the floodgates open up which can completely turn our lives upside down. We may at this time feel gutted, and suffer from flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, anxiety, and more. Suddenly we may find ourselves questioning our own sanity. We may have fears that if we were to tell anyone they would know how horrible of a person we really are. We may start to believe these negative thoughts and lies we tell ourselves. We may hate ourselves so much that we spend an unbelievable amount of time punishing ourselves, hating ourselves for not stopping the abuse, for struggling in healing, for not “ having it together”, drowning ourselves in alcohol and drugs, and feeling shame, dirty and unworthy.
When healing from childhood sexual trauma and abuse we need to go back and challenge the negative thought patterns that we may have stemming from abuse. Abuse and perpetrators lie and unfortunately, we can believe these lies.
In healing, we must learn to break our silences, not an easy task. To discuss the things we have experienced and have a trusted person reflect back the truth that we may have lost.
We must learn that childhood sexual abuse is a trauma and injury that can not be forgotten but rather needs to be processed.
We must learn that we are loveable and deserving of much and we must learn how to love ourselves, and all our parts, and see our own worth that we sometimes may fail to see.
We must reach out to the inner child that suffered so much and had no one, look at them, hold them, love them and say they did not deserve the crimes done to them. The adult part of us will need to care for this child and teach them that they are no longer alone, that we ourselves are our own heroes and we will be the ones to save this child that was not protected.
Healing is hard but not unattainable. Healing may look different from survivor to survivor so we must trust the process and not compare. Not beating ourselves up for not healing quickly enough and learning a new way of thinking and operating. Undoing the trauma both in mind and body takes time. We may not feel whole or connected. Healing may look like taking 3 steps forward and six steps back and then doing it all over again. We must not get discouraged but rather accept ourselves for where we are at.
At first, the memories may be constant, and we may think we will never return to normal but what is normal?
For us, normal after-abuse may mean living in a state of hypervigilance, anxiety, distortions, disassociation, and separated identities.
Healing means giving ourselves grace, the permission to ask questions, to learn, to gather support, and not have all the answers. Healing means cutting ourselves some slack for not knowing the things that we believe we should. Healing means accepting ourselves, asking for help, and developing a love for ourselves that may seem selfish.
Healing takes place when we incorporate both the mind and body. What our minds don’t remember our bodies do so healing means healing the whole person. We can do this by processing our trauma and learning to appreciate our body's fat rolls and all. Healing is learning to feel safe again in our own skin, taking care of ourselves, and finding ways to feel fully present in our mind, body, and soul. Trauma therapy, peer group meetings, good nutrition, exercise, meditation, yoga, and learning to be a part of a community can help with this.
If you are just beginning your healing journey please remember you are not alone. It may feel like we are but there are many of us out here. You will not stay where you are today if you put in the work. Again, this path is not easy. You will always remember the abuse but as you find healing and do the work you will work toward acceptance, and healing. The pain from abuse will lessen. You may find yourself looking back and saying wow, I’m not where I was 3 weeks ago, 6 months ago, a year ago, or five years ago. You will begin to find joy in things again, find authenticity, learn to be transparent, and care for yourself. You may find yourself expanding, growing, and seeing the pleasures in life again.
If you are just beginning your healing or have been on this journey for years you matter. Your story matters. You can find healing, it will not be overnight but there can be improvements, new opportunities, and understanding. Someday you may even find yourself looking in the mirror and realizing that all along you have been strong, you have worth, and the fact that the child you went through so much and are still here to talk about it took grit, took courage, perseverance, and that at the end of the day when this could have crushed you completely, you are looking at a person that truly survived and that's worth celebrating.
Keep up the good work. You can do this. You survived something that not all survive. You are here walking this journey one day at a time and we are all here rooting for you. You will become your own hero and in the end, you will see your inner child just as I do. A magnificent individual that went through hell and lived to tell about it. You are your own hero, a special gift, and worthy of much.
Founder of EmpowerSurvivors
EmpowerSurvivors is a 501c3 nonprofit organization offerring peer support for those
who experienced childhood sexual trauma and abuse.
Survivors helping survivors. This is what we do!
Staying Sane During The Holidays
EmpowerSurvivors is a 501(C)(3). All Rights Reserved. © 2022
****Trigger Warning *****
Holidays can be a hard time for survivors of childhood sexual trauma and abuse. For many, it may mean reminders of past childhood abuse or knowing that the person that perpetrated them will be gathered alongside family members. This may leave you feeling a sense of loss and thoughts of why, why would my family still include the person that hurt me, took my innocence, and caused so much pain.
Many survivors feel forced to attend holiday events simply because the people asking are “family”. Survivors may be asked by family members why they are still holding on to something that happened years ago or guilt-tripped and told “ you need to forgive, let it go” or other statements that only make the survivor feel betrayed, abandoned, unloved, and unsupported.
As survivors, we know that sexual trauma and abuse are not something you just “ get over” but rather something that needs to be processed in a loving and supportive environment. Each survivor is unique so healing can look different depending on the situation. All survivors deserve support and that includes everyone reading this.
How To Stay Sane:
1) Love yourself
Give yourself the grace and love that you truly deserve. Go easy on yourself and know that whatever you are feeling is okay. You matter and so do your feelings and experiences. Take time to rest, buy yourself a present, and invest in yourself.
2) Surround yourself with positive and healthy supporters
Building a strong support system around yourself is very important.
This could include trauma therapists, fellow survivors, peer groups, or those in your life that have supported you on your healing journey. Have a code word for your partner that gives your partner the notice that it may be time to leave a situation or get together that is toxic.
3) Get enough rest, drink water, and watch what you are eating.
Sleep is an important factor in life. Without adequate rest, our systems tend to break down. Getting enough sleep can help you handle the stresses of the holidays easier. Stress wears us thin, so healthy eating habits and drinking water can help us regulate our systems and stay healthy. Good nutrition can lead to less depression and an overall healthier lifestyle.
4) Learn or enforce healthy boundaries
Think of boundaries as your property line. Boundaries help you to stay safe, is a form of self-care, create realistic expectations, and create safety. If someone crosses your boundary let them know what your expectations are, how they broke your boundaries, and help you advocate for yourself.
5) Know you are not obligated to attend functions simply because they're family.
How many times have you been to a gathering that you felt obligated to
attend simply because of “ family”? Give yourself permission to decline invitations where your perpetrator is attending or those that have not been supportive.
6) Learn that saying No is okay
Many people struggle with saying, "No." Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to say “yes” when they're asked to do someone a favor. Keep in mind, you are never required to say "Yes." It's actually okay to say "No" sometimes. Accept this as you prepare to say "No" to someone. This will help you say "No" with ease. When saying “yes” make sure you are not saying no to yourself.
7) Fight the negative messages
Watch your stinkin thinkin! So many times we have negative messages telling ourselves we are being selfish, not worthy, not deserving of love, etc. These are all lies and many times have been put there by our perpetrators or those in our family unit or well-intended friends. Every time you get a negative thought, notice it but kick it out quickly with a positive affirmation. Instead of saying “I am not worthy” replace it with “ I am fearfully and wonderfully made and worthy of much”. Become the person you needed as a child.
8) Create New Traditions
Sometimes the abuse we suffered at the hands of others has found us all alone. Creating new traditions can help bring joy back into your life. Have your own party, celebration, or holiday tradition that is only attended by healthy individuals and those that support your healing journey. Volunteer at a food shelf, local school, or soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a nursing home, aid in others' healing, and get creative. You have the power within you to begin new traditions.
No matter your situation please know you are not alone, there are many of us out here that celebrate you and your healing. If you are in need of more support please feel free to join one of our Facebook groups that support those that were sexually traumatized and abused in childhood. Together we can find healing and once again find joy. If in immediate danger please call 911 or your local crisis center.
Written by: Elizabeth Sullivan, Founder & CEO of the EmpowerSurvivors 501c3 nonprofit.
EmpowerSurvivors wishes you and your families much peace and love during this holiday season.
If you would like to support EmpowerSurvivors, the survivors we support, our programs, groups, and classes please consider a donation this holiday season. We look forward to serving you in 2023 and will be announcing new classes and groups soon! Donate today through PayPal, through AmazonSmiles, Facebook fundraisers, or by simply sending a check. We appreciate all who donated in 2022!!
Without YOU we could not serve those we hold so dearly.
Donations Through Paypal:
Select a one-time donation or support us monthly for more impact!
Shop at https://smile.amazon.com/ and Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit organization—no fees, no extra cost. Simply choose EmpowerSurvivors as your charity!
Go to https://www.facebook.com/EmpowerSurvivors/fundraisers and click on raise money. 100% of the donations will go to supporting EmpowerSurvivors!
Mail Check To:
815 Oak Street West
Stillwater, MN 55082
Greetings from Elizabeth and the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit!
I want to thank all of you who understood my taking the time for some much-needed self-care.
I apologize that I could not return e-mails and private messages as promptly over this time and there are many I have still not replied to due to needing to avoid eye strain.
As many of you know I have been dealing with some medical issues over the last couple of months due to ongoing vertigo and eye issues. Because of this, I needed to stay off of the computer, take time to recoup, and attend medical appointments, physical therapy, etc. Our fears for a bit were that I may have a brain tumor which was stressful, added to depression, made life full of anxiety, and not having any feelings of control. I am happy to finally say that I do not have a brain tumor and my symptoms have greatly improved although I do have some lingering issues that I have learned to live with and may just take time to improve. If anything I have found attitude, fighting the negative thoughts, and faith has helped me sustain hope. It also led me to look inward, get perspective, and decide I want more for our nonprofit and those who have become part of the EmpowerSurvivors family.
I founded EmpowerSurvivors in 2014.
Since 2014 I only accepted a wage for roughly a year and a half and since that time have not had a wage and strictly volunteer my time. I wanted to create a safe place where survivors of childhood sexual trauma and abuse could gather together to support each other on our healing journeys, learn and grow. I have learned much over the past years, taken many classes, took part in a 7-month Traumatic Studies program, attended countless trauma conventions, and spoken at events, and my hope is to grow our nonprofit, expand our groups and offer even better content that can aid in the recovery process. While away I have thought much about the survivors and thrivers that have come to learn and grow with EmpowerSurvivors.
Never did I imagine, when I started this venture, that I would meet the number of great people I have come to know and care about. Every day I feel blessed to be on this journey with all of you.
Thank you to each and every one of you!
EmpowerSurvivors has grown, evolved, and made changes over the years.
My hope is to always have our organization a safe place for survivors no matter where they live. To date most of our offerings have been donation-based, meaning individuals pay what they are able. Most do not donate. We have never received a state or federal grant.
Through the years I have tried to make EmpowerSurvivors accessible to all and I think we have done a pretty good job with that.
We have had many ups and downs and one of the hardest challenges has been how to aid in recovery while dealing with a worldwide pandemic and lack of regular donations.
Covid not only changed how we offer services but forced us to find other ways to re-invent ourselves, hence Zoom became our new way of life.
Due to a lack of donations, we were forced to close our main office where we had in-person meetings, retreats, classes, and more. My hope is to regain a space again that we can use to offer in-person services along with Zoom programs once again. Till that time we will continue with Zoom classes and meetings.
If you could help our organization with a tax-deductible donation any help would be greatly appreciated.
There are many ways to donate.
Currently, individuals can make a tax deductible donation through:
Shop at smile.amazon.com and they’ll donate to our charitable organization, at no cost to you. Start shopping PiCoose EmpowerSurvivors as your charity! Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases.
Create your own fundraiser for EmpowerSurvivors on Facebook! 100 percent goes to our organization and is super easy to do!
815 Oak Street West
Stillwater, MN 55082
In the next couple of months, I look forward to beginning groups and classes again as well as looking for new and improved trauma-informed formats of learning.
In the meantime, I will be looking for those that would like to come alongside our organization to offer their talents in facilitation, grant writing, classes, workshops, fundraising, event planning, increasing the number of board members, advertising, etc.
If you or someone you know is interested in sharing their talents please have them email Elizabeth at EmpowerSurvivors@gmail.com
Thank you again for all the support you have given through the years, for walking this journey of healing together, and for being a part of our EmpowerSurvivors family!
Stay tuned for upcoming starting dates! I look forward to seeing all of you again.
Survivors helping survivors- THIS is what we do!
Thank you to Doreen Knefelkamp Chapin and Jeff Chapin who kindly opened up their home to hold a fundraising garage sale for EmpowerSurvivors!
Holding a sale takes a lot of time, work, sweat, and energy.
Doreen and Jeff both worked tirelessly and I am very thankful for all they did to pull this off!!!
Thank you also to all of our great donors who contributed merchandise to this sale ( including the Chapins) and to all who gave cash donations. You helped to make this garage sale a success.
I also want to thank all who stopped and purchased items. Without you, we wouldn't have raised as much as we did.
EmpowerSurvivors was hit hard by the Covid Pandemic. Charitable donations plummeted and with the economy being the way it is we suspect this will be the case for a while. We know we are not alone as we see many nonprofits struggling, hardly hanging on, and many closing their doors.
Thanks to the Chapin family, our donors, and everyone who stopped by, the Chapins were able to raise $1006.00 for the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit. This truly is a gift and we are very fortunate to have those in our community that has such a big heart for survivors of child sex abuse & trauma survivors.
Thank you from all of us here at EmpowerSurvivors!
Learn more about the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit and ways you can help:
Join us, via Zoom, for the EmpowerSurvivors program, Conversations With Elizabeth!
Date: Monday, June 13, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm Central Time
7:00 pm Eastern Time
5:00 pm Mountain Time
4:00 pm Pacific Time
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Cost: Donation to EmpowerSurvivors
This week we welcome a special guest: Mackenzie Grove
More about Mackenzie:
Mackenzie Grove-Hager is an experienced foster parent of sexually abused children and teenagers. After finding her calling as an advocate of sexual abuse survivors and sexually abused children within the foster care system; Mackenzie offers insight, training, and support to foster parents finding themselves in the role of parenting sexually abused foster child(ren)/teen(s).
Discussion points for this event include:
- “A victim does not a perpetrator make”
- Disclosure: Do's and Dont's
- Resources: You are not alone
- Integration into the Community/Schools
- Advocating for a Sexually Abused Child
- The importance of believing in a survivor of sexual abuse
While this educational episode will focus on foster care, Mackenzie hopes that everyone who watches will take away her most important message...
Sexual Assault/Abuse does not and should not ever define a survivor...
More about the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit:
Join Doreen Chapin and Elizabeth Sullivan for our EmpowerSurvivors garage sale fundraiser!
100 percent of the proceeds will go to supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse, programs, classes, and operating costs!
Enjoy the day and stop in and shop knowing you are supporting a great nonprofit located right here in the St. Croix Valley!!!
Learn more about EmpowerSurvivors at: www.EmpowerSurvivors.net
Garage Sale Dates:
Thursday, June 9, 2022, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday, June 10, 2022, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday, June 11, 2022, 9:00 am-noon
Location: 604 Michaelson Street North Hudson, WI 54016
Contact Person: Doreen Chapin (715)245-9001
Do you have gently used items that you would like to donate toward the garage sale?
We will be accepting your awesome garage sale items from Sunday, June 5, 2022 - to Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Please text Doreen at the cell phone number above to let her know you would like to donate items, what they are, and when you will be dropping them off. YOU can help us make this a great sale with your items of donations!!
We hope to see you at what is sure to be a great sale!
Can't make the sale but want to support survivors and the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit? No problem! You can help by dropping off your new to gently used items!
Thank you to all of you who continue to support those affected by the heinous crime of childhood sexual trauma and the EmpowerSurvivors nonprofit!!!!!
More ways to donate: https://www.empowersurvivors.net/give.html
EmpowerSurvivors is currently booking guests for our upcoming EmpowerSurvivor Zooom program, Conversations With Elizabeth.
Conversations With Elizabeth is a 90-minute program held on Monday evenings, via Zoom, that supports survivors of childhood sexual trauma, promotes mental health, and covers topics of healing, wellness, recovery, etc.
If you are a professional, mental health therapist, holistic health practitioner, attorney for survivors of child abuse, etc. we would love to have you!
Topics we are especially interested in are:
* Internal Family Systems
* Nutritional Health to help with depression
* Healing from sexual trauma
* Family Law & Legal Rights for survivors
* System Regulation
* How to deal with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, etc.
* Different modalities of healing
* Healthy Boundaries
* Toxic relationships
* Borderline Personality Disorder
* Dissociative identity disorder ( DID)
* Sexual health and relationships after rape
EmpowerSurvivors is a Minnesota nonprofit that serves those affected by childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Find out more by visiting our website at www.EmpowerSurvivors.net
Interested individuals can email Elizabeth at EmpowerSurvivors@gmail.com
Please supply your bio, the topic of interest, and why you would make a great guest!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with a foster mom out of Kentucky who is fostering several teens with childhood sexual abuse histories. We had a great discussion on why she became a foster parent, her decision to take in children that were sexually abused, and how we need systematic change. It was wonderful to hear her heart and the passion she has for children that are now in the foster care system, specifically children that were sexually abused.
I was so glad to have a conversation on our current foster care programs here in the United States and can say in our short discussion I learned a lot.
I have known for years our foster care programs needed real education when it came to early childhood traumas but learned yesterday that many foster parents fear taking a child that has been sexually abused and raped. Many children that are sexually abused will not go to good foster homes due to foster parents worrying about the child offending another child and maybe leary of all the issues that may come up in a child's life when abuse is where they came from.
It is true fostering a child with an abuse history is challenging but I think it is worth noting that these kids need help more than ever. As I listened to this foster mom my heart was warmed knowing that there are wonderful foster moms like herself that are willing to take on the challenge and provide safe, loving homes to kids that have suffered so much. At the same time, my heart dropped knowing that a lot of these kids will be passed over simply for being sexually abused by people they may have loved and trusted.
As a child being abused many will suffer the effects of the abuse for years to come. Most children however will not go on to sexually abuse others although it is true that many perpetrators had abuse in their childhoods. Most of us that have sexual abuse in our past go on to be great individuals with loving hearts. This is one reason why some survivors stay silent. This thought that those who were abused will be predators creates more shame and will silence many which only perpetuates the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse.
I am looking forward to having this foster mom as our guest and having a discussion on the Conversations with Elizabeth program in June 2022. If you are a foster parent or thinking of becoming a foster parent this may be one program you want to tune in to so you can be more informed and join in the conversation.
Thank you to all the great foster care parents that are providing safe spaces for children and facing all the battles that go along with taking in a foster child. These kids are worth it and with your love and support, they can go on to live the lives they deserve.
There are more than 424,000 children and teens in the Foster Care System nationwide, and every single one deserves a chance at happiness, belonging, safety and love. ( IFoster Blog)
The median age of children in foster care is 6 ½ years old. ( IFoster Blog)
20,000 youth age out of the foster care system between the ages of 18 – 21 annually without having found a forever family, leaving them to fend for themselves. ( IFoster Blog)
The foster care system underinvests in foster children, contributing less than 50% of what it costs an average American family to raise a child from 0 to 17 years of age.
( IFoster Blog)
Within four years of aging out, 50% have no earnings, and those who do make an average annual income of $7,500.After a foster youth age out, homelessness and unemployment become a huge issue. Despite there being more than 34 million entry-level jobs nationwide, many foster youths aren’t prepared to be independent and don’t have the skills or resources needed to access the opportunities that could launch them into employment. ( Family Preservation Foundation)
22% of children had three or more placements during a length of 20 months in foster care. ( Family Preservation Foundation)
A Foster youth is less likely to graduate from high school. ( What To Become)
At least 40% of foster children have learning difficulties. Which makes sense as they are dealing with trauma. ( What To Become)
Foster kids get suspended and expelled from school three times more often than other children. According to foster youth education statistics, children in foster care have different needs and backgrounds than their peers. Many of these children come from abusive households, making them prone to erratic behavior that ultimately leads to suspension or more severe disciplinary measures. ( Partners For Our Children)
One out of four foster care kids shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, also known as a post-traumatic stress disorder, is a huge issue when talking about foster children. Research has shown that at least 25% of the overall number of foster youth in the US suffer from this mental health condition.
( Partners For Children)
EmpowerSurvivors is a 501c3 nonprofit that supports survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Find out more at: