Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute, over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don't talk about it enough. Healing from emotional abuse isn't a band-aid situation, but it doesn't have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the world have been impacted by their narcissist, yours doesn't have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and founder of the Healing from Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F Cohen.


MARISSA: Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse are so important to your mental health and to living a life filled with freedom, confidence and peace. Today, we're going to be talking to Patrick Monet, who is a Trauma Informed Therapist, EMDR Therapist, and he's just hilarious. But before we start, I want to brainstorm ways that I can help ease your healing journey. Imagine you're standing on a cliff and on the other side of a deep, deep canyon is a life that you dream of. A partner who connects with you, supports you and empowers you, someone who makes you smile and laugh a life filled with freedom, confidence and peace. I have been where you are now, standing on the edge, dreaming of that life. And I've built the bridge between where you are now and that dream that seems so far away. Let me walk you across the bridge and literally hand you the life of your dreams. It's possible! I've walked this path with 1000s of survivors before who were in your place who now live a free, confident and peaceful life. Let's walk this path together. Don't waste any more time feeling lonely, worthless or exhausted. It's not worth it and you deserve to live a happy life. Schedule a call with me today at scheduleacallwithmarissa.com.


Welcome back to healing from emotional abuse. Today we have an awesome guest and we've been vibing for the past 10 minutes just chatting about Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt and being silly. So today we have Patrick Monette. He's a licensed mental health, addiction and certified trauma counselor, located in northern New York. He's also a certified EMDR Therapist and EMDRIA Approved Consultant and trained couples counselor. He's got a great resume. His work focuses on helping people learn healthy coping skills and resourcing as part of their trauma treatment. He has taught at local universities and maintains a private practice focusing on couples work and trauma informed treatment, as well as gender issues, anger management and co-occurring disorders. He's actively engaged in a local community drug court system as a mental health consultant and educator. Patrick is fluent in English and Spanish and offers treatment in both languages. Welcome on Patrick. Jeez your work is great.


PATRICK: Thanks Marissa, I sound so fancy. So it's so nice, thank you. I'm so honored to be on your show and to connect with you. And I can't think of a better way to end a crazy week and then hanging out together. So I'm super excited to be here.


MARISSA: Thank you, I feel the exact same way. So would you mind outside of your intro just like telling us a little bit about yourself, what you do, what you enjoy...


PATRICK: So you know, as I was saying, it's like I'm pretty low key. So I'm in private practice. I'm a mental health counselor. And I love working with a variety of people. In my private practice, especially with COVID my practice is completely online. So I've been able to modify all that where I do individual therapy, group therapy. And I also started offering online couple retreats, which has been really powerful, which I really love. So EMDR is a trauma informed treatment, so I also work with that. I assistant in trainings and I also do a lot of consultation for people who are learning EMDR, which I just love as well. So it's a really nice blend of different professional experiences.


MARISSA: That's awesome. So I have heard so many positive things about EMDR therapy, and how it's helped sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Would you mind just giving us like the very basic about what EMDR is?


PATRICK: Sure. So EMDR stands for Eye Movement De-sensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, which is a mouthful. It was created in the 80s by Dr. Francine Shapiro. And the basic version that I can say is that it helps to identify targets or issues that you've been struggling with whether it's specific trauma or disturbing events or upsetting events, that gets stuck in certain parts of your brain. And with EMDR interventions, we're able to help the brain communicate more efficiently to be able to take those disturbing events and make them more adaptive, so they're not causing you so much pain and harm. So you can be, I don't want to say move on, but so they're not harming you and as painful as they once were.


MARISSA: Wow, that's really awesome. I'm still not entirely understanding of like the intricacies of that.


PATRICK: So basically what happens is, for example, when you go about your regular day, and then you go home, and you rest, and you go into your REM sleep, your deep sleep, your brain is able to process everything that's happened during that day. So when you get up in the next day, you're like, okay, I had breakfast, we did this, we chatted, and then there isn't any distress really. When something traumatic happens, the brain cannot process it, it's almost like too big. If you think of it like a conveyor belt, that memory, that event is too big to go down into the other parts. So it gets lodged. And then it gets stuck on that part of the brain, which then leads into a whole bunch of other issues of, you know, when we're talking about PTSD, flashbacks, nightmares, other anxiety, depression. That's why a lot of people when they can't, quote-unquote, move past a trauma, they either develop anxiety, depression, I see a lot of people who develop addiction related issues, because they're trying to eradicate the pain.


MARISSA: That makes a lot more sense. Honestly, thinking about it as like a survivor, I feel like the most common immediate response is if I just stopped thinking about it, it'll go away. I want this to go away...


PATRICK: If I wash it away. 


MARISSA: Time will make it go away, because that's not true. And so EMDR therapy breaks that down, and like allows your brain to process it. That is super cool.


PATRICK: So if you think of it, the trauma is like a giant iceberg in your brain, and then by doing what we call bilateral stimulation, which is a really natural intervention, it melts down that iceberg, and then it can go into the channel into your brain, where it doesn't make the event get erased, but you can move on with your life without being harpooned back to that pain anytime you might be potentially triggered or reminded of that event.


MARISSA: How long does it take generally, for somebody who has experienced severe domestic violence or sexual assault, to really be able to move forward using EMDR?


PATRICK: That's a great question. And it's really case by case because it depends on the severity of the attack, of the abuse, of the violence. Every person that I work with, when we say we're trauma informed care, that is, for me, it means we're taking this slow. Not because I want you to be in pain longer, but because safety has been bastardized in your life. We want to look at security, we want to do the safe and sound in the way of let's figure out what you are able to address, and what you actually need to work on. Because everyone needs different things. Sometimes it's guilt, anger, shame, it might be different aspects of their lives that are affected by the trauma. I just take my time to really see, build that strong therapeutic relationship with clients to see what is it that you actually want to work on? And let me see what I can do to support you on that. Now, when you get into the EMDR therapy itself, it's really a case by case scenario of everyone's individual brain processing. Of how how much EMDR they might need, how much time they need to process it. In addition to what I see is, are they still in the relationship? Are they still in a situation? Which is very different compared to if they're out, that freedom, it's all of those, if their basic needs are being met. So I kind of look at all these different components when I'm meeting with someone.


MARISSA: That makes a lot of sense. So in my mind, I saw it as a resource for after people leave, but people who are still in abusive relationships, they come and work with you too? 


PATRICK: Yes, yes. 


MARISSA: Do you know like, how it affects them? Or if doing EMDR has encouraged people to leave faster? Have you gotten that kind of response? 


PATRICK: See, I think a lot of times, and I'm sure you've seen this with your own experiences and other people is there's that expectation sometimes that people when they're in those situations of just leave, turn it off. If it was that easy, it would be. But there's that deep emotional and psychological component going on when you're in those abusive and destructive situations. A lot of times what I've noticed with my people is when we're doing EMDR it's kind of like they're going through a snowstorm and we're giving them some additional support to get clarity. So when you're doing some other trauma informed care treatments, you have to talk about the trauma and you desensitize, you decrease the trauma. But with EMDR, you don't actually have to talk about it as much. You identify what the target is, what the problem is, and it's more about this beautiful journey of what do you believe about yourself? So, for example, when someone stays in that relationship, I'd say, so when you think of this abusive relationship, what is the negative belief that you're telling yourself? And being able to look at the negative beliefs, and help the clients just sort of build a little bit more resilience and clarity into what's going on. Because when you're in those situations, there's usually such a high level of psychological damage going on, that you don't even know who you are sometimes.


MARISSA: That is so true. And that's something that I also identify in my coaching is that you lose yourself in abuse, because they program you to feel differently than you might actually feel and take away the aspects of your life and of your identity, that might be very personal to you. Wow, that's really, really cool. I'm so happy that that exists, and that that's getting more clout, and more attention now. 


So let's get off the EMDR topic, although I could talk about this with you all day, because I think it's awesome. We were having a separate conversation before we started about guilt, and how guilt in different religions plays a role in just how people interact. But specifically what I want to talk about, because you come from a Catholic upbringing, is how Christianity and how Catholicism view abuse, and the guilt of staying in an abusive situation.


PATRICK: It's so hard because most of us grew up to believe, you know, if we grew up in a belief system, that that's supposed to be our protection. That that's where we're supposed to be safe. But the more [audio break 12:02] there is, and a lot of these situations, and how that division of power is used. We're in a religious system.


MARISSA: That makes sense. And I can speak from Judaism. I'm not Hasidic or religious really, but in very Hasidic communities, which Catholicism in my opinion is like a more religious aspect of Christianity, and I could be very incorrect, so please correct me if I'm wrong. But in Hasidic communities, they don't go outside of their community at all. Everybody takes their questions and their problems to the Rabbi, to the head Rabbi, he's the person in charge. So in domestic violence in Hasidic communities, the Rabbi is the one who gets to say, well, what are you doing to anger your husband? Or what are you doing wrong? You, the wife, generally, are the peacemaker in the household and so you need to be the one fixing the problem.


PATRICK: I don't want to generalize, I can only speak to my experience in certain things. I grew up where about sinning and when you make that vow in the Catholic Church, it's forever and all these different things. But I've also seen where there's that abusive thing of, you're going to disappoint God by ending this marriage or by leaving it, or look at the damage, it's a lot of victim blaming. 


MARISSA: That's a good way to put it. 


PATRICK: And that shame, I mean, not even talking about guilt, let's latch on to that shame of you're letting God down. You put that on top of someone who's being abused in every aspect of abuse that there is, and it's such a deadly cocktail. I've also seen people, amazing advocates in the Catholic Church. It's hard because during the last few years if we're going to keep it real, the coming to light about all the abuse in the Catholic Church towards children. So it's really like a mushroom of different issues right?


MARISSA: Yeah. I mean, I definitely see your point. I mean, it's a person by person conversation. So there are some rabbis who'd be like, get out. And there are some rabbits would be like, no, you stay, this is your problem. And I'm sure it's the same thing with priests and pastors and everybody, it's a very person by person basis.


PATRICK: What I have seen in some experiences with clients is sometimes they get into those situations where they are blamed. You're not praying hard enough, you're not doing this. And I'm a person of faith, I love God. It's a huge part of my -- I don't identify as Catholic. I'm more spiritual, but there is a place for prayer and there's a place for action and therapy. 




PATRICK: And I think they can dance really well, too. I mean, in my life they have, but in other people, it's hard because there's such abuse in the spiritual world and or in the religious world. I always go to is like, if this doesn't feel right, it's probably not right for me.


MARISSA: That's a good way to look at it. And I think that a lot of religion is kind of just how you consume it and how you process it. Because there's different sects of every religion that read the same texts, but just observe differently. And so when it comes to trauma, and it comes to domestic violence, because it's a private issue, people don't really know how to handle it. So a lot of people turn to religion. I guess my biggest concern with that is because the text is susceptible to being --  like you can read it and understand it a different way.


PATRICK: The interpretation, and it's usually not in favor of women or anyone that's not  a like white male. In my experiences, I could be wrong of the view, but it's...


MARISSA: I tend to agree with that.


PATRICK: It's like come on, we got to keep it real. Things have to evolve. And one of the things is, whether it's religion or not, is that shame and the secrecy that is so damaging to people who are experiencing violence and abuse.


MARISSA: And then if you if you interpret the text in a way that in order for you to leave, your partner needs to have cheated on you or asked for a divorce. That's so limiting, because in my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I don't think God or Jesus or Allah, like anyone, I don't think that being wants you to be unhappy or in a dangerous position. And so by looking at the text and saying point blank, no, you can't leave until that person asks to leave or until that person leaves, that's so dangerous.


PATRICK: Right. And it also takes away freewill choice, which that's part of the human experience.


MARISSA: Right. But I think that the religion, like when people interpret it that way, it consumes their whole life and they're not able to act on freewill...


PATRICK: Agreed, that they're supposed to sacrifice for the greater good in a way. Even though that version of the greater good may not be accurate or really true or loving.


MARISSA: Right, absolutely. So let's go back to your professional experience, you don't just do EMDR, you also do Addiction Therapy and Trauma Informed Therapies and stuff like that. So how often do you see like an overlap in other areas that probably stemmed from abuse or sexual assault, especially with addiction?


PATRICK: I would say, if I even like made it a little bit broader, if we just put in terms of trauma in general, I would say, probably like 98% of people that come in my door have some aspect of trauma.




PATRICK: I think when we classify trauma it used to be 9-11, it used to be Vets. It used to be very specific populations. But the word trauma actually means a wound. So if you changed trauma for wound, how many people do we know that are wounded? 


MARISSA: Everybody. Everybody has experiences that shaped them.


PATRICK: From COVID, to sexual assaults, a physical assault, to addiction to a million different things, to losing a job, to losing a child, to losing a relationship. And I think when you're doing trauma informed care, you have that broad view of this person has strength, they have resilience, because they've survived but there's some injuries, there's some wounds there, and maybe I can help them find ways to mend it and to move forward in a healthier way.


MARISSA: If there was one thing like one routine change, or one small activity that people could add to their daily routines that might alleviate some of that, do you have any like recommendations? Or do you have like any ideas of maybe something that you've done with other people?


PATRICK: This is going to sound funny, but I have clients ask them what they're feeling. Because how many of us are disconnected from our emotions? And if I don't have a relationship with my emotions, I'm probably not going to get very far. 


MARISSA: That's very fair. 


PATRICK: So it's just a check in throughout the day of how am I feeling right now? How am I feeling? And not having to necessarily do anything, but to develop our awareness. Because when we don't deal with our emotions, when we don't have a healthy relationship with them, it's sort of like building a house on top of swamp land, it's probably not going to go very well.


MARISSA: That makes so much sense. Just like becoming more self aware allows us to recognize and work through something that we need to process in that moment.


PATRICK: Right. And it sounds simple, like oh, that's not really profound. But if we put it through the lens of someone who's gone through something traumatic, a lot of times people, all of their energy is to avoid all the emotions. Because it's not safe. It's painful. It's scary. Like you said, you just want to forget it. So you want me to talk about my feelings, that could be opening up a barrel of monkeys, that's really dangerous.


MARISSA: I think that that's something that's a really important thing to do is be able to check in. But what do you recommend starting doing that while in a therapy session, or with somebody who's licensed who might be able to help somebody through it? Because I know that right after my abuse, if I was trying to do a check-in, I probably would have like, launched myself off a bridge and I'm not saying that to be funny. Like I would have tried to attempt suicide.


PATRICK: Definitely! And when I'm working with someone, especially with EMDR there are very specific techniques that I teach clients, almost every client, of how to help improve their emotional regulations that -- going back to the brain function, that helped them sort of develop ways to ride those waves of emotion instead of being drowned by them. So definitely reaching out for help, someone that can be there for you that's objective that can give you specific skills to improve your emotional functioning.



If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.marisafayecohen.com/private-coaching. That's www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made for you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone and hurt and live a free, confident and peaceful life. Don't forget to subscribe to the Healing from Emotional Abuse Podcast and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen and Instagram at Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We'd love to see you there.


Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute, over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don't talk about it enough. Healing from emotional abuse isn't a band aid situation, but it doesn't have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the world have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn't have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and founder of the healing from emotional abuse philosophy, Marissa F Cohen.


MARISSA: Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse are so important to your mental health and to living a life of freedom, confidence and peace. Today, we're talking to our special guest Lorraine Patterson about self love and healing after abuse. But before we start, I want to brainstorm ways that I can help ease your healing. Imagine you're standing on a cliff. And on the other side of a deep, deep canyon is the life that you dream of. A partner who connects with you, supports you and empowers you, a partner that makes you laugh and smile, a life filled with freedom and confidence and peace. I've been where you are now, standing on the edge, dreaming of that life. And I've built the bridge between where you are now and that dream that seems so far away. Let me walk you across that bridge and literally hand you the life of your dreams. It's possible! I've walked this path with thousands of survivors who live a free, confident and peaceful life. Let's walk this path together. Don't waste any more time feeling lonely, worthless or exhausted. Schedule a call with me today at scheduleacallwithmarissa.com. 


Okay, welcome back to Healing from Emotional Abuse. My name is Marissa F. Cohen and I am joined today with Lorraine Patterson. Lorraine is an incredible survivor who's here today to share her story with us about surviving, her book - Freeing your Heart for Love, and a little bit of insight about how she healed and overcame her abuse. So Lorraine, welcome! Today I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you.


LORRAINE: Yes, thank you Marissa for having me and allowing me to share my story.


MARISSA: Of course. So introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself.


LORRAINE: Yes, so my name is Lorraine, and I am a mother of four boys. Three bonus children and three grandkids, so I'm a grandma. I have a very blessed life. I am married to the love of my life, but it hasn't always been a blessed life. As Marissa explained in my bio, I was at a really young age, I don't remember a lot because I went through a lot of abuse as a child. And so both my parents were both physically and mentally abusive. And so I grew up in that environment of not learning how to love or not even really knowing what love is. And so at the age of 16, I had my first suicidal thoughts. And I didn't know where all of that was coming from. I just knew that I was really sad and that I didn't want to be alive anymore. So I didn't know what to do with those feelings. But what I ended up doing was running away. 


So I ran away with a boyfriend of mine who ended up being my husband, he was my first husband. And I married him at the age of 17. My mom's husband at the time convinced him to marry me when I came back home. And so I ended up marrying him and leaving that chaotic household, thinking that I was going to go into my happily ever after. But what I ended up doing was just going into nine more years of mental and physical abuse. So I married him at the age of 17. I was with him for nine years. And he was, let's say mentally abusive, meaning he would always put me down. We had two beautiful boys. But he was cheating on me all the time. He was an alcoholic. He was arrested for dealing drugs, so he went to prison for three years. So I was left to take care of two small children on my own while running a family business. So that was really hard. I was so young, I was still trying to figure out my life. I was in my 20s, so I was trying to figure out my career. I somehow managed all of that while he was in prison. But it also gave me the strength to finally leave him. So when he went to prison, I felt like I was released from prison because I could never leave him. He had this control over me. And because I married him at such a young age I didn't really have the strength to speak up for anything in that marriage at all. 


And so I finally got away, we divorced but then I still was attracting controlling men. Controlling, unavailable men. I was putting myself in situations that were unloving and disrespectful to myself, my body, my soul, because I didn't know what love was. I was seeking for love outside of myself. And so I was most looking for it in men. So my whole story that I write about in my book is just about going through all of these bad relationships because I met and married a second guy, which wasn't a bad guy. 


But because I was so broken inside, I didn't realize how to be in that relationship. And he also still had that control over me, because my dad was a controlling man. And I didn't realize that until later on that I was attracting how I felt inside, I was attracting those people in my life. And so I married him for about six years, we had two boys. And so I did have two beautiful boys out of that marriage. But that marriage didn't last. And when I divorced him is when I was in my 30s. And that's when I almost took my life. So that suicidal depression never went away from the age of 16, to my 30s. And so I almost took my life, but then I stopped myself, I heard something that night, and I write about it in my book about the experience, because when you're in that dark place of you don't want to be here anymore you just feel different things, you hear different things. And I heard something that night, and I ended up not taking my life and the next day, I got therapy.


And the therapist told me if you take your life, you will break your children. And I didn't want to repeat that cycle of having broken children because I was a broken child. So I just kind of started working towards removing that feeling of being so depressed that my life wasn't worthy enough. And I discovered spirituality, I started practicing positive affirmations. And I started working on myself, but I still wasn't there with the love part. So it still took me probably another gosh, until I turned 42 is when I really woke up. 


And that was in my third marriage, which is what I call my rock bottom relationship. Because that marriage actually broke me, that broke my soul. He had this illicit fantasy where he wanted me to make love in front of him with other men. And I didn't know he had this fantasy until after we married. And so I thought this was going to be a one time thing. But he wanted it all the time, it became this regular thing. And I felt like I needed to stay and do this for him. Because if I didn't do this for him, he would leave me and I would have three failed marriages. So essentially that thought in my head essentially broke me and after six months of being married to him, I couldn't do it anymore. And I woke up one day, well it was the last time we had this encounter. And I just remember looking at myself in the mirror, and it was just a hollow person. I was seeing myself going back to that depressive state that I was in that I said I was never going to go back to. And I started slipping back to that dark place. So finally I just woke up and said, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want this for my life. I deserve a man who loves and respects me. And I just divorced him and I started working on myself. And it still took me a couple more years to learn that lesson that I needed to learn in life, to love myself and discover self love. 


And so that's when I transformed my life, was at the age of 45. And I met my husband who I'm married to now very happily married since 2019. But I couldn't have gotten to where I'm at today if I didn't discover that self love for myself. My heart basically had to break wide open to allow the love that I deserved in. And so I realized that, but it took me 29 years to get to that point in my life.


MARISSA: Thank you for sharing your story. And you brought up so many fascinating points. I just want to talk about all of them. So first and foremost, I don't think people realize, unless you experience it how much your childhood and the relationships that you grow up around, influence and impact the way that you perceive love. So, like you had said, you grew up feeling like emotional and mental abuse were normal. And so that shaped a lot of your relationships. Can you expand on that just a little?


LORRAINE: Yeah. So my parents, I don't remember them hugging me. I don't remember sitting on their lap, when kids are playing I don't remember going to the park. I don't remember a lot of the loving things that my parents used to do with me as a child. And that's all I knew. I thought chaotic life and abuse was normal, because that's what I grew up in. So when I was getting involved with these unavailable men, I kept telling myself, well, this is my life. This is who I am. And that was like my thoughts all the time. So each and every time I would meet somebody it would basically just be for sex. I ended up being just somebody that was like a sexual object. And until I realized my self worth and my value, I didn't get out of that cycle. It was one after the other, after the other, after the other. And every guy, I would just cry because I'm like, why is this happening to me, but it was what I was attracting because of how I felt about myself. I hated myself, I hated my body. I said negative things to myself all the time; that I was a horrible mother, I'm a loser, I'm an idiot. All of those thoughts were in my head. Now I don't say those at all. It's always I am loved, I am enough, I am worthy. And it's all these I can do it. It's more positive statements, instead of those negative statements that we tend to put in our head that really, really messes you up. I mean, it doesn't do you any good for your life at all?


MARISSA: Absolutely, I find that we tend to, just as survivors, we tend to mirror and repeat the negative things that people say to us. And then we do the most damage. Other people can say horrible things to us, and we can kind of let it bounce off. We can build that resilience, but when we're the ones saying it to ourselves, we're really deeply hurting ourselves. I mean, even down to our biology, we're really messing up our brains. So would you mind and I don't know if you're comfortable with this, would you mind sharing some positive affirmations that you use to help build yourself up? Was there anything specific?


LORRAINE: Yeah, so I follow Hay House. Louise Hay, that was the first person that I found with positive affirmations. And she's with Hay House, she discovered Hay House, she passed away. But I still get her calendar, which is sitting on my counter every day, it's just a calendar you can tear off. So a lot of her stuff is self love affirmations. And so I started practicing self love affirmations where I put it in my bathroom mirror so that when I go brush my teeth, I'm reading it every single day or I get like deck of cards through Gabby Bernstein who I adore. And I love Hay House. I say that Hay House saved my life, because discovering Hay House turned my life around for the good. And so you know, there's different things I read. I read unconditional love for myself type affirmations, the universe, I trust in the universe and the process. And so a lot of my affirmations are, the universe has my back, I trust the universe, I trust the process. And it's just a lot of  adding I am in front of statements for me. And I look it up on Pinterest. Pinterest is a huge resource that I love looking at positive affirmations and it's all over my house. Live, love, laugh is something that I repeat constantly. I even have it tattooed on my arm.


MARISSA: Oh I love that.


LORRAINE: I grew up in an abusive home. And so I am the kind of person that needs to remind myself, even today, I'm going to be 49 this year, 16 years old is when I was depressed. But even today, I still have to remind myself that I am worthy. And it's just something that I think is never going to go away. It's just something that I have to work on every single day of my life. Because I can be that person that goes back to that sad place, I just choose not to. 


MARISSA: Good. And I'm glad that you keep making that choice but like you said, it's work every single day. And I also have experienced abuse. And I am also constantly reminding myself. Something that I tell people all the time is to make a list of three things that you love about yourself. Even if you can't think of anything, ask somebody that you respect and love, three things about you that they love, put it on your mirror and repeat them to yourself three times a day every day. And I still do that, I've been doing that I don't even know, probably for 11 years, and it has never let me down. But what it does do is it allows me to catch my negative thoughts and say, nope, that's wrong. I'm not going to say that again. It makes you more self aware I think.


LORRAINE: Yeah, my first husband, he did a lot of damage to me. And he used to tell me that my nose was big. So for the longest time, I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I'm like, God is my nose big? I would say that to myself. And now I'm just like, I'm beautiful with my big nose, or without a big nose. I don't care.


MARISSA: Absolutely. And it's not funny, but it's funny that you say that, because I'm of Jewish heritage and we have that stereotype of having really big noses. And so growing up I also had a really big nose and that was like a bullying point for people. So I had this very similar issue. And what I did was I went in knowing that my nose was a part of my heritage and it was part of my family. And so now I can look at myself in the mirror and love myself in photos. And I'm glad that you also found a way to be able to love yourself and not that you don't deserve it. But sometimes words really stick.


LORRAINE: Oh yeah, it stuck with me for a really long time. I mean, all the way through. That was in my 20s when I was with him, but all the way through the 30s. But now I'm totally confident and comfortable in my own skin.


MARISSA: Good because you're beautiful. So tell us about your book Freeing your Heart for Love.


LORRAINE: Yes, my book. So I had talked about writing this book for over a decade with my friends. My friends would always share my story, like what I just shared a part of it with you, and they would always tell me, oh my gosh, you should write a book about your life. Consistently! Or like people would live through my life, because somehow it was so exciting. But they didn't know how sad I was. So I talked about it, I joked about it. And then in April of last year, I joined a virtual writing workshop with this healthcare company that I was working for. And it was just for fun, literally, like just to do writing prompts. But when I started doing the writing prompts, I started crying, because I was writing a lot about my past. And I don't know where this emotion was coming from. And something just told me, I think it's time to write your book. I just started typing in April of last year. And then I just dove into learning how to write a book. So I knew that I wanted to write a book, I knew my passion for writing, it was to inspire others and to help other people who are going through similar struggles. I wanted to share my experiences that way in a book. That's all I knew. And so I dove into like a 7-day writing challenge, I dove into a writer's community, I joined a book program, I got a book coach. And I just started investing my life into this book. And so I finished the manuscript in December of last year, I'm now done with everything completely, and I'm ready to print and I'm releasing in April of this year.


MARISSA: Congratulations! That's an amazing story and an amazing journey.


LORRAINE: Thank you and this is a huge accomplishment for me, because I never read books. I'm not a book reader. So to write a book was like, Oh my God, I wrote a book! I even cried tears of joy, because I can't believe I wrote a book. But it's already reaching so many people. I've been on a lot of podcasts, people are reaching out to me on Instagram that don't know me from all over the world - Iceland, New York, everywhere, London, and they're telling me how much I'm inspiring them. So I know that this book is going to take off because I was ashamed. I was like, I don't know if I want to put this out, this is like my most vulnerable experiences, especially about my third marriage. Nobody knew about this fetish that my husband had, I wasn't going to share it with anyone. But I feel like if there's a woman out there, or even a man, I think it happens to men, that if you don't want this for your life, you don't have to stay. There's a man out there or a woman that loves you unconditionally. You don't need to do this to your body to be loved.


MARISSA: That's an amazing revelation. And I think that it really impacts way more people than we know of, because like you, they're embarrassed to talk about it or felt uncomfortable talking about it. But this kind of thing, and these fetishes, and these preferences that people have that are closeted, can make you feel really bad about yourself, or make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, and then you're trapped. So I'm really glad that you were able to open up about it and maybe not feel comfortable with it having happened, but feel comfortable sharing that part of your story and your life. And I think that's what makes you so relatable, and so easy to talk to, because you're just so open and confident and willing to share. So thank you so much.


LORRAINE: Just to add on to that is that if people are in that type of relationship, and they're okay with it, then that's okay. But I feel like I wasn't okay with it but I stayed because I was so scared that this guy was going to leave me. And I thought he was the end all, this was it. I wasn't going to have anybody else. I had four kids, I'd been through two marriages, nobody's going to want me. But I got all that out of my head. And I said, you know what, I deserve to be loved completely and respected and valued, because he didn't value me. He didn't respect our marriage. And that's not okay, if that's not what you want for your life.


MARISSA: Absolutely. I was not trying to kink shame. But there's definitely a societal standard, that you get married and that's it. Even now, it's still oh, you got divorced, ooh. But getting divorced twice, there's such a stigma with that. There's nothing wrong with that. We are human and we grow and we change, and so getting divorced and remarried and dating around like, none of that is a problem. We just need to change the way that we perceive it and we need to change the way that society responds to it.


LORRAINE: Yeah, because I mean, I was ashamed to tell people I was married three times. It's like, whoa!. Now you're married four times. I'm like, but I don't care because my husband truly is the man that I'm supposed to be with. I truly truly know that now.


MARISSA: You mind if I ask how you know that? Like what is it about your relationship that makes you know that he's right?


LORRAINE: There's so much so. So a psychic told me I was going to meet him, it's all in my book. She told me, I was going to meet them by the end of 2017, or the beginning of 2018, or I was never going to meet him. And I didn't know how I was going to meet him. But I met him in October of 2017. And he is exactly the person that she said he was going to be. She said, he was going to love you unconditionally. He's going to love your kids like they're his own. I've been with many guys, even past marriages that I was in and nobody loved my kids as much as he does. And so that I knew was the number one reason because the reason why a lot of these relationships didn't work in the past is because they didn't love my children. And if you don't love my children, then you don't love me. My children come with me. I'm not going to give up my kids. And there were thoughts in the back of my head sometimes, which is crazy to even think that that I'm going to choose a guy over my kids, that's not going to work. So that was the number one reason. Number two is that he just takes care of me. I had a surgery that happened before we got married and he stayed by my side the whole time, there hasn't been any man in my life that has supported me that much, or cared for me that much. As well as my book. There's things in my book that he didn't know. And so I had to be open and honest with him and tell him, listen, there's things in my book, I need your support before I start writing this book, otherwise, the book is not going to come out. And he said, no, I support you 100%. And he didn't judge me with these past experiences. And he accepts me for who I am. And so that's how I truly know that he is the man that I'm supposed to be with. Because there hasn't been any other man in my life that has treated me the way he treats me.


MARISSA: That's incredible. Take notes guys. 


LORRAINE: True love does exist. I keep saying that. 


MARISSA: It does. It really does. And don't lower your standards, right? Aim for exactly what you want, because anything less isn't worth it.


LORRAINE: Yeah. And it doesn't matter how old you are. I met him at 45. And there's a lot of women out there, you hear it, you see it on the internet, even on TV. Oh, my clock's ticking. I'm 30, am I going to be single for the rest of my life? Those are all the wrong thoughts. And that's the thoughts I had, until I said at the age of 45. I'm like, you know what, if I don't meet anybody, I'm perfectly fine with that. And that's when my husband came into my life. But it's like, you can't force the outcome. You can dream about your dream man but the universe will bring you what you manifest. You can't force it, like say, Oh, I want that guy. And that guy is going to come to me. It's just doesn't work that way. 


MARISSA: No, I agree. I love that. Thank you. So where can we pre-order your book? Because it comes out in just a month. That's so exciting.


LORRAINE: Yeah, I know. 


MARISSA: You're to be over the moon. 


LORRAINE: I'm so like crying tears of joy. Because it's like, I saw the book cover, the back of it, I just finished the back of it and I'm like, Oh my God, I'm an author. But yeah, it's on pre-order now at freeingyourheartforlove.com, there are bonuses if you preorder it. Entered to win a Kindle, my author Q&A and my first chapter for free, and then the book comes out end of April. So yeah, you can go to my website, freeingyourheartforlove.com, and all my social media handles are on there too.


MARISSA: Awesome. Thank you so much. If you could give survivors one piece of advice, what would it be?


LORRAINE: You know, I would say forgiveness. I didn't realize how much I didn't forgive myself for things that I've done in the past until I wrote this book last year. So I would say forgive yourself, and forgive those that have hurt you in the past. Because it really is freeing to have that feeling of not holding on to that hurt anymore. So that would be the one thing that I learned about myself at the age of 49. I keep saying my age because it's crazy to think how long it took me. And that was the reason why I wrote this book, it's because I want somebody who's younger to not have to wait until their 40s to figure it out. Like you can read my experiences and know that you don't have to go through that.


MARISSA: That's a beautiful message. Thank you so much for all the work you're doing for survivors of abuse and assault and thank you so much for sharing your story with us and with the world. I think that you're going to make a huge impact. So thank you very, very much. 


LORRAINE: Thank you so much.



If you enjoyed this podcast you have to check out www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. That's www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made for you healing plant to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone and hurt and live a free, confident and peaceful life. Don't forget to subscribe to the Healing from Emotional Abuse Podcast and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen and Instagram at Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We'd love to see you there.

ROB: Alright ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to a very special edition of the BCP/Breaking Through our Silence tag team connection here as always with my partner and Marissa. We need it more than ever right now. She is Amazon award winning multiple time bestseller. My good friend Miss Marissa Cohen. Marissa, what's up over there? 


MARISSA: Hey, it's snowed in Chicago yesterday, which really sucks. 


ROB: Really?




ROB: That's crazy. Everything's been so crazy lately. There's a lot of drama in the Wrestling World. For me personally, this couldn't be a better time. Marissa, thank you as always for everything. And more importantly, we got to welcome our special guests at this time. She's a podcaster, shout out fellow podcaster. Known for the CZW Podcast also works with CZW. I'm very appreciative right now for Miss Wiggy Wigowski taking the time to talk to us about the Speaking Out Movement. Wiggy, how are you? Welcome.


WIGGY: Hey, I'm great. And I'm in Canada and it did not snow yesterday. So...


MARISSA: How did it miss you but hit me?


ROB: So you said you're a Maple Leaf's person but are you a Raptors first?


WIGGY: I'm not a big basketball fan. I cheer for the Raptors because they're Toronto's team. 


ROB: It's all about the [inaudible 01:13] up there?


WIGGY: I'm huge Jays fan. So...


ROB: Okay, I got you. Good for you. But I've been to a Blue Jays game. That's awesome. And I can't wait till the world is back to normal and we can start and we can start going to these games and things again. But we thank you so much for taking a few minutes. It's very interesting to me because as we reach out to people, we talk to people about the speaking out movement, a lot of people are either like, yeah, I'm in like, let me know. And a lot of people are like, hey, no thank you, end of conversation. Which I get from both sides, and Wiggy you, from the get go have been very, like, whatever you guys need, let me know when, I have no problem speaking out about things that had happened, speaking out about things that happened to other people. Kind of just tell us your philosophy going into this because I know a lot of people have a lot of fear talking about things or being blackballed, which I completely understand. But kind of tell us your philosophy going into this.


WIGGY: Well, early on, when all the sisters were coming out I was kind of up in the air but telling my story. I talked to DJ Hyde, my boss, my very good friend, he owns CZW. He knew I had bad experiences with Chikara and I said, listen, other people have had these things, I want to back them up. And he was like, go for it. So I told my story. I like to think I held absolutely nothing back. Because personally, for me, I realized -- I take responsibility for this, this is one thing I tried to make very clear. I take responsibility for my actions. I made a lot of stupid choices, a lot of bad decisions, but they were mine. You know, I made them, I own them. And I was embarrassed about it, for a number of different ways. But then I kind of realized like, this is not my shame. So I have nothing to be ashamed of. This is shame for being the kind of person to do the things that he did. Are we naming names here or...?


MARISSA: Only if you want to.


ROB: Up to you, whatever you're comfortable with? 


WIGGY: I mean, I already named it. It was Kobald from Chikara, Anthony Wilson. And so I kind of told my story and I realized nothing was going to happen to me. I'm much more peripherally involved in wrestling then wrestlers are and like you said, I very well understand the fear of being blackballed, or being on a show where your accuser is at, of just not being believed, which has been the case for so many years up until now. So I kind of realized, listen my involvement in wrestling, CZW they've got my back here. So nothing's going to happen to me. And I made the decision that -- I basically have the general life philosophy that if something shitty happens, you can just feel shitty about it and let it be, or you can learn from it and use it to do something good going forward. And one makes it worthwhile having happened and the other just leaves the shitty situation forever. So I decided, I'm in a position that I'm sure a lot of people wish they could be in to be able to speak up with what happened to them. So I publicly posted that anyone who has a story, but is afraid to tell it for any reason whatsoever, that I would be their voice. Send it to me, I will post it anonymously, I will make sure that people know what happened to them and they don't have to live in fear because of it. 


ROB: That's amazing. And talk about that response. You mentioned not only speaking out for yourself, but speaking out for others who felt that they couldn't, which I've seen first-hand as Marissa and I move forward. Like I mentioned, a lot of people are very just like, hey, no, thank you. I understand the hesitation. So when you put that out there, you speak out for yourself. Now you're like I'm going to speak out for everybody else. What was the response you got from that?


WIGGY: Oh, it was very positive, it was very good. I very quickly received a couple messages. I saved everything. I still talk to some of the people. I have messages on Facebook and on Twitter. I got a couple early. And I posted them exactly as they sent it to me. What I did do, and I also want to be really clear about this is, I didn't post anything about anybody who hadn't already been called out. Because the sad thing is, and this is absolutely nothing against any of the people who did reach out to me, but there are people out there who will use a movement like this vindictively. And so I wanted to be very careful that I didn't falsely accuse anybody. So if somebody had already been called out, and this was merely verifying that, and just another person saying, yes. So we were all validating each other's stories. That's what I wanted to do. I didn't post anything that involved anybody else. I did have one incident where somebody had sent me a message that I believe involved like either four or six different people. I posted it. And I absolutely want to give him his props for being so kind with the way he reached out. Eric Corvis was an Indie Wrestler from New Jersey area. 


ROB: Yeah. I played him [inaudible 07:38] the ring. 


WIGGY: Yeah. Oh, cool. Okay. He reached out and he said, I'd like to explain. And he was so awesome. He was like, the first thing he said in the message was, I'm not messaging you to attack you. Which I mean, bang on. That is a guy who knows how to handle a situation like this. And he said, I just want to let you know that the story that you're told, that my involvement in it is false. And he explained what was wrong with the story. And he gave me people the backup his version of it. And I was like, oh my God, I'm so sorry. I said, I had no idea. Four of the other people in the message had already been called out, which was the reason I posted it. Like I said, I confirmed that his involvement had been elaborated, and he was innocent. And I posted very clearly, I'm like, I am so sorry. I did not mean for him to get dragged in with these other people who had already been accused. He is entirely innocent, his story has been verified. I am so sorry. And he publicly liked it was, he was so kind with the way he did everything. And he didn't get defensive, he didn't get aggressive. And that made just all the difference in the world. He didn't come at me hot with anything. And that was that was the only instance. So other than that one, which as I said, the only reason I posted it is because four people had already been accused in it. But other than that, if somebody -- and there was a couple stories I didn't post because I couldn't verify that they were true. And I like I said, I didn't want to take somebody's word for it that I didn't know from like, the next guy. Because the only way that a movement like this works is if it's 100% honest. If there's false accusations or vindictive accusations, something like this is so fragile, because it's the first time it's happened where so many people felt comfortable coming forward with abuse allegations in various forms - physical, mental, emotional, sexual. It's such a fragile thing that it takes so little to damage the credibility. And once you damage credibility, the old school thinking comes in, like, oh nah, it's bullshit, just being made up. And I wanted very much to contribute to the good that this could do. And I wanted to make sure that I wasn't the person to accidentally bring it down. 


ROB: Wow!


MARISSA: That's awesome. And I'm glad that you took those extra steps to keep yourself and the survivors safe. And even on top of what you said, the reason for you not posting it was you didn't want the movement to be impacted. You could also having had no other accusations to that person have almost outed a survivor.


WIGGY: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And like that, I mean, obviously, that was like, the most important thing. And there were a couple of people who did reach out who wanted to be vague about their stories. They didn't want to take the chance of their story being recognized. And that's another key thing, especially if you're the only person who calls out a certain individual. And if it's true, and I mean, I have no reason to believe that it's not. Wanting to verify, doesn't mean I didn't believe them. It meant that I needed proof that it happened, it had nothing to do with not believing a victim. It had everything to do with I need somebody else to verify that this happened. I can't just post he said - she said. If you're the only person calling out calling an individual, it's going to pretty easy to guess who you are. And I mean, obviously, that would go against the entire point of what I was trying to do. If I'm trying to offer these people a little bit of protection, if I posted such a unique story, that outs them, well then, I mean, their story would get out there, but then at what cost?


MARISSA: Right, you could still be isolating that person anyways.


WIGGY: Yeah, for sure. I mean, and in some extreme cases, potentially putting them in danger.


MARISSA: Right. Would you be comfortable if I asked you to tell us your story? Or at least some of it?


WIGGY: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like I said earlier, when it came time to decide if I was going to tell my story or not, I decided that I made the bad decisions, I made the bad choices but it wasn't my shame. It was his shame for what he did. So I had no reason to not tell my story if it would help somebody else. So yeah, my story involves Anthony Wilson, Kobald from Chikara. Obviously, not anymore, I don't think either exists anymore. The character, not the person. I invited him on my show. Besides CZW, my long running shows Pantsless Radio. And that's going, not consecutively. But it started in, like, 10 years ago, which is crazy to think that I wasted so much my life doing this. Joking, I'm joking. But yeah, Rob is kind of like, but yeah, I understand what you mean. So I invited him to my show, he was great. We started talking after that, we really hit it off. Shortly after that, Chikara had a show up here just outside Toronto. I went to it, I met him. It was really good. This is all entirely in character. He never said a word outside of his character voice. But then we started talking outside of wrestling and stuff, I had offered to help promote them. He was part of the Batiri [14:45] and I'm very, very clear about this. The other two members of the Batiri [14:39]who are Chris Peaks, and Louis Valley, they were fantastic to me then. And they have been even kinder to me now. They are two absolute stand up guys, and I could not be more thrilled for the success that they've had recently. So, anything I talked about, they had absolutely no knowledge of. They were like, completely sideswiped when all these stories came out. But at the same time, they were New York guys and he was a Pennsylvania guy. So they kind of made their own way to Philly shows and Jersey shows and stuff themselves. They only traveled together when they were outside of that area. So we started talking more and more, and eventually, we started talking on Skype, just as him, as himself. We got to where we're talking twice a week, and we really hit it off. And there was a lot of flirting. And I offered to make them a website. I was building websites at the time too. So I made them a website. I was basically like going -- anything I could do to help them I would do. And this was 2012. September of 2012 was king of trios. And over the summer, him and I, honestly, it really felt like we were dating. Just the way we would talk when we talked, he would compliment me, we had all these like little inside jokes and it just felt like a relationship. Neither one of us said anything, but it just very much felt like a blossoming relationship. We decided that I was going to come down for trios, and I was going to stay for, I think, eight days. And I was so excited. We were going to spend all this time together. Basically, it was going to solidify our relationship. And it was great. And a little bit before that happened, I had made a joke. We were talking and I made a joke about being single. And he goes, Oh, I'm not single. And it was like being hit by a truck.


I was like, what? And he said, I'm not single. I'm sorry. I don't believe he actually said I should have told you, he just said I'm sorry. So I was like, oh, okay, well, you're treating me like your girlfriend and apparently you have another girlfriend. So this is great, thanks. But I decided, okay, I'm going to go for my trip anyways. Basically, I couldn't cancel because it was all prepaid. If I had to cancel I would have lost all the money. So I'm like, okay, I'm going to go, I've got other friends who are going to be there, so that's fine. I got there on a Tuesday night, he picked me up at the airport, which was the first time I saw him unmasked. He drove me to my hotel. He held my hand in the car the entire way there. We talked and we listened to music, and it was fantastic. He came into my hotel with me, he helped me get settled. And I mean, this is like after midnight, by the time this all happened. When he left, he literally tucked me into bed, told me a bedtime story, and was like I'll see you tomorrow. 


So I think you can understand why I was still confused to this situation. Like, okay, well, if you're not single, do you do this with all of your friends? Do you go to [inaudible 18:50] place at night and tuck him into bed and kiss him on the forehead? He very much kept things confusing. The next day he came over, we hung out in my room. He showed me pictures of his wife. Yeah, he had told me he wasn't single, he had not mentioned that he was married. I mean, I literally sat there as he was showing me happy pictures of him and his wife on his phone. And I thought I was going to be sick. I told him that I didn't want to see anymore because it hurt me and he got mad at me. And this is where the gas lighting started. And I didn't even know what gas lighting was, I didn't have slightest clue. He told me basically that you know, like, I shouldn't be jealous and he's so happily married, and his wife is a lovely person and basically like, how dare I not be a supportive friend to him telling me about her, and he left. Where I was staying, I was in Easton. So it was far from where all of my other friends were, plus it was through the week, so everybody's at work anyways. So he basically when he left me, I was left alone. I had no transportation, I didn't know where I was, I wasn't familiar with the town at all. And I wasn't in an area where I could just kind of go out for a walk. So he basically isolated me and he left me there for over a day with no communication. And I very much had a breakdown. I was contacting friends, I was hysterical. I was like, oh my God he's never going to speak to me again. I'm so stupid, I should have just shut up and looked at the pictures of his wife. 


And eventually, he came back about a day and a half later, he came back over at night, and acted like nothing had happened. So I was like so relieved. But I mean, the message had very clearly gotten to me. For lack of better phrasing, don't cross him or he'll just ditch me again. King of trios happened. The first night, which is great, I got to meet up with a bunch of my friends at the show. After the show, a bunch of the guys, the Chikara guys and some other people went to a bar after the show, and went drinking. I went there with a girlfriend of mine. We got there late. I started drinking. I had a few drinks in a very short period of time. Again, my decision. I was very stressed so the idea of the idea of getting a little drunk was not a bad one at that point, as far as I was concerned. I hadn't eaten because I had been so upset from everything that had been going on. So I got really drunk really quickly. And he decided to play a really fun game of let's see what the drunk girl will do. He told me to make out with my girlfriend, who I went to the bar with. I did. We were there until closing. We left. There's another girl who I casually knew, he told me I should make it with her too, on the middle of the street, which I did. And there was a guy, and he was like, you should go kiss him. And I was like, no. And he goes, come on. He's probably never had a kiss in this life, just go kiss him on the cheek. So I did. I thought I was pleasing him. He then became furious with me for my behavior. I was horrible person, I had embarrassed him, I had humiliated myself and he stormed off. And I was so wasted, I had no idea what was going on, except he was mad at me again. I had screwed up again. Because he was mad at me again. My girlfriend drove me to a hotel, I sobbed in the car the entire way. I was like, how do I fix this? How do I fix this? I was like, who can I call to fix this? Maybe if I call one of the guys they could call him and tell him how sorry I am. I got to my hotel, I slept a bit that night and we had to go. 


The following day was Saturday and there was a big like Fan Fest thing for the day. So I went there, I met my friends. I felt like just absolute garbage. Just garbage. And it was strictly emotionally from how upset he was. And I kept saying with my friend, but they wanted to go over there. And I was like, I stayed very quiet. I didn't want to make him any angrier at me than he already was. Finally, near the end of the afternoon, I was over by where they were. And my friends had walked away. And he leaned over and he said, you're lucky, I'm even speaking to you right now. And which, again, that was just another shot. You know, every time something like this came up, it was like just being punched in the face. I went to the show that night. I don't remember anything. I don't remember anything but I knew the three shows. I sat there staring and I just don't know what happened. Everybody was going back to the same bar that night. I didn't go, I hung out with three of my friends. Basically, because they knew that there was something very wrong with me and they didn't want to leave me alone. So they stayed with me. And I kind of told one of them a little bit what was going on. And he was like, I think we should go. I think we should go to the bar, and we'll all go with you. We will make sure that nothing happens. And I was like, okay, because at this point, I just wanted to go to literally beg his forgiveness. We went there, we walked in, and he was sitting at a table with his wife. And we were close enough, it was a very small place, he obviously saw me. Me and my friends, we kind of went over and he introduced me to his lovely wife. Who is, I'm sure, a very, very nice woman. She's very sweet, very smart, she was just wonderful woman. And I felt like the absolute scum of the earth. So I don't really remember how the weekend ended. But I was still there. Because I was there for another couple of days after everybody was gone. And I don't really remember a lot of what happened. It was very much a roller coaster of emotion. But things have gotten good enough again on the last day that we were there. 


Oh, the last day before I was leaving, he was going to drive me to the airport. He came over through the day. And again, was all like touchy, huggy, acting like my boyfriend again. And my room had a big jacuzzi in it. And he was like, I think we should get in the jacuzzi before you leave. So, next bad decision. I hop in the jacuzzi with him. And again, in my head, I'm like, oh, he does love me, he does want to be with me. And I mean, he was all but saying these things, you know. And I mean, it took me a long time to realize but he liked stringing me along. He liked knowing that I was there at his disposal. So I mean, I'm just like, head over heels again. And I have leave that night. And so he drives me to the airport, we have this tearful goodbye. And that was probably the only, I think that was the only time in my life that I have ever been truly suicidal. I walked through the airport, crying non-stop. I couldn't stop. I felt like I couldn't breathe. And I felt like my world was ending. I went into the bathroom and I looked in the mirror, and I didn't recognize myself. And I stood there looking at myself thinking, you know, I should just die. This is too much, I can't do this. I should kill myself. And probably the only reason I didn't at that time is because I had no means to. I walked back out, I went to my gate, I sat on the floor, and I just sat there with my knees pulled up, my face buried in my knees, and I just sat there sobbing until I got on the plane. I came home and I was an absolute basket case. All I did was live to talk to him, live to have any sort of connection to him. And, I mean, if he had me hooked before that trip, he absolutely owned me after it.


And I ended up going back between September and February the next year. I spent an obscene amount of money going back down to see him as often as I could. I went back down in November, hoping to be able to -- because again, he kept making it seem like come down and we'll hang out. He never, ever mentioned his wife, never brought her up, which to me, kept feeding into we're a real thing. I went back down in November, I was expecting to spend time with him. I spend an hour or so with him when I first got there. And I didn't see him again for the rest of the weekend, except at the shows. So basically, I spent a shit ton of money to go down there and to be left alone in isolation again. And like I said, so many of these things I didn't realize until after the fact that they were all a means to control me. I just thought it was what it appeared to be on the surface. I was back down in December for a pay-per-view. And his Christmas present to me was taking me to lunch with his wife.


So that was, basically, I sat there just being like, this is the nicest woman in the world. I want to be her friend. And I am the absolute scum of the earth for what is happening here. And to me, it was all my fault. It wasn't what he was doing. It wasn't he was cheating on his wife. It was, I was doing it all. I was back down in February and it was just like, a pattern of the same things. In between seeing each other, he was just this super sweet boyfriend type person. And how much he cared about me whenever we talked. He'd be like, you look so pretty, I miss you so much, and, etc. I was back down in April for Wrestle Mania weekend. I was at Wrestle Con. I was actually working at Wrestle Con. He came in for the weekend, and he stayed in my hotel with me. He stayed with me first night, he slept in my bed with me, cuddling me. The night after the show, he got a message from his wife that he was very concerned about, so he had to leave right away. So he left me again. I'm looking at Rob's face during this and like the expression on your face are just, yeah! It's basically the same expression that I have now once I realized, oh, this is what actually was happening.


I was back down in June. So it was September to June. I spent over 10 grand going down to see him. June I was there, a friend of mine -- I think it was Chikara's first pay-per-view or second pay-per-view. It was a show where the company got fake shut down. He was going to stay with me again then. We were in Philadelphia. I had a friend who stayed with me Friday and Anthony was going to stay with me Saturday night. So it was fine. Friday night I was hanging out with my friends. Saturday we went to the show, the stuffs shut down. 


And just for anybody who's wondering about the whole fake Chikara closing down business. They didn't know. Anthony had left the show early to take his merch and stuff back to my hotel, but the guys who were there, they didn't know that the show was going to be shut down. By the time I got back to my hotel, he was actually texting guys from the company saying, I don't know what's going on, but apparently we're shut down. So that was just kind of a fun side note. So he was very upset, I needed to be the supportive friends to help him through this. That night was the one and only time that anything physical happened between us. And again, I made that decision. I don't pretend I didn't. He didn't force me or anything. I made the decision to sleep with him. 


What had also been going on during this time, his father had passed away the previous winter. So this is like June 2013. And he was having obviously having a difficult time, which is 100% legit. He had told me that the only way he was able to cope with it was through sex. He had been seeing another woman who actually came out with her story and that was what actually spurred me to come up with mine. Because he had done the exact same things to her. He had been seeing her. She was up in New England and there were a lot of shows that he worked at through Raptor [36:32], so you would go up there for a weekend. And he would play house with her and her daughter. And he would tell me all about it. Every detail, and I had to listen because I was his best friend. And he couldn't tell anybody but me. So I had to listen to all the details of the sexual relationship that he was having with this woman. And it didn't matter how I felt hearing them. If I didn't listen, and let him tell his stories to me, then I was a bad friend. And he wouldn't be friends with me anymore. So yeah, and that actually kind of culminated with him... He told me at the time, it was absolutely an accident. But he had sent me a sexual snapshot of the woman that he was with. And I realized he wanted to make sure I knew that he didn't need me. He had somebody else. So if I stepped out of line that was it. And it's, so funny, because I mean it's so clear to me now, what he was doing. But at the time, I was just like -- I had just become such a complete and utter wreck that the only thing I thought for sure that I knew in my life was what he told me. 


So after that weekend, when I did sleep with him, his wife called me. Again, I was just watching Rob's reactions. His wife called me and accused me of sleeping with her husband, which literally up until that weekend had not been true. And I was like, no. I was here with my friends. And basically he was like, you can't let her know. So I swore up and down to this unbelievably nice, trusting, sweet woman, that no, I did not do anything with her husband. It was not true, it was not true. And this actually went on. So much of this time period is really a blur for probably a number of reasons. There were a few phone calls from her, where I would just swear, like I would swear up and down to the ends of the earth that nothing had ever happened with us. Because even at this point, we weren't talking as much and things had definitely like -- I believe he basically told me he was going back to his wife. He had gotten all this stuff out of his system so he was going back to his wife. And so of course, I mean, my job was to be happy for him. And so we didn't talk too much and stuff. But even at that point, I was like so very much under his thumb. I had to protect him. I could not let her let her know what he had done. And by that time, I was just so completely and utterly ashamed that I couldn't possibly let her know that this was the kind of person that I was. And that that's what I truly believe. I'm like, I can't believe this is the kind of person I am. And I took 100% of the responsibility of everything that had happened. 


It was still so raw after things had ended, that I didn't have the perspective yet to see what had really happened. And it's like my best friend, I had been telling him all this stuff through. And it actually got to the point that he said, and this was actually, part of the reason why I let things go with him was my best friend said to me look, he was like Wig he's literally driving you crazy. If you don't stop talking to him, I will stop talking to you. And that was like the shock that I needed to wake up enough to when he said he was going back to his wife to let it happen. I mean, it wasn't even like I would have tried to fight for him. I would have been on my like hands and knees groveling, begging for him to not cut me out of his life. And like I said, my best friend I love him to pieces. And I will always owe him for that. That woke me up enough that I could say, okay, I need to let this go. I need to let him go. And I guess for a very long time for years after that, I never said anything about it. Because at that point, I was -- once enough time and distance had gone by. I was just like, I can't believe how stupid I was. I was so ashamed of my behavior. I was so ashamed of how stupid I had been. It took a lot of years to go by before I realized, okay, you know what, they were my decisions. But to a certain extent, I was manipulated into them. That wasn't the kind of person I was before I met him. That's not the kind of person I've been since. And if that's the case, then there's really only one catalyst to what I did and who I became. And then, like I said to you guys, I kind of realized at a certain point that this is not my shame. I made terrible decisions but I'm not the one who should be ashamed of what I did; he is. 


And like I said, when I saw that this woman told a story, I was like, I was reading this story and I was like, I know this. I know all of this. And I contacted her and I was like, he did the same thing to me. And she was like, I always suspected. And we started talking, and I told her, I was like, I knew every detail of your relationship, because he would tell me every disgusting detail he could, because it would hurt me and it would control me. And it's like, we just apologized to each other and we're like, no, we have no reason to apologize to each other. I despised this woman and she probably felt the same about me. Because he put us in direct competition for his affections. And then after we spoke, and more and more stories started coming out, we found out we were not the only two women he was doing this to, all at the same time. There were several others. Another one reached out to me on Facebook, she did not want to tell her story. But she said I want to tell my story to you. She said she needed to expel it. She needed to get it out of her head. So it couldn't hurt her anymore. And it was the same story. She said I can't go public. And I was like, I won't force you to. She goes but somebody else needs to know. And it was the same thing. He was just doing this over and over and over again. And the night of Speaking Out when this all first started happening, he emailed me and all it said was I'm sorry for everything. And I was like no, you son of a bitch, you're sorry we got busted. 


ROB: Wow!


WIGGY: So that's my story. And like I said it doesn't make me look good, I don't pull any punches, I'm not trying to protect myself or make myself look like a victim. I 100% made every terrible choice I did. I wasn't necessarily in the right frame of mind when I made them but I still made them. But that also doesn't make him any less of a complete and utter scumbag, or his misbehaviour rather. 


ROB: I'm going to Zack Morris this thing. First of all, thank you for saying that, timeout real quick, virtual hug I know we're not in the same room but I'll hug Cane the big red machine for you. 


WIGGY: I'll hug my coke, which normally I would do because I really love my diet coke. 


ROB: Yeah, but like good on you though, keeping it real, I'm very [inaudible 46:02]


WIGGY: I'm very sorry that that went on for so long. I've never actually spoken it like all out loud at one time. Oh, my God, I'm sorry. I'm putting everybody to sleep. 


ROB: I apologize to Marissa every day for the same thing, please. But no, no, seriously, thank you for keeping it real. Thank you for opening up. Like what a roller coaster, I'm so glad to see you own everything, keep it real, speak out on behalf of others and really just like, I admire you for that. And it's good to see that you're doing so much better now. And you're so confident now. And the one word, and I'll throw this to Marissa because we've had a lot of talks about this, that comes to my mind is when you said everything is control. Marissa, I don't know if you want to weigh in but you know a lot about this stuff. 


MARISSA: This is my expertise. So I want to actually backtrack for a second because I agree and I disagree with Rob. So thank you for speaking your truth and talking about what you endured. I mean, everything you said was heart wrenching and I just had like a million thoughts per minute. Like, I just want to give you so many hugs. 


WIGGY: You know what's so funny, you pointed out a word that he said and I just focused on a word that you said, endured? At no point. Did it ever feel like something I was enduring? That was love. I wasn't enduring it, I was in love. And he loved me too. I just had to prove myself to him. I had to be the woman he wanted. We should probably leave this part out. But I don't know why, but his wife is in a wheelchair. She can stand, she can walk a little bit but she is in a wheelchair. And I always in the years since, I always thought he wanted -- this sounds horrible but he was trying to mold women into her, but who could physically do the things that he wanted. And he got big into BDSM. And his wife wanted no part of that. So that was what he was seeking with outside people. And it just always felt like he was trying to make me into his wife who he could do kinky shit with. And I realized that after the fact, but like I said to me during it, it was never something that I was enduring. I was in love. That's the way our relationship was. Funny, funny what perspective does to you. 


MARISSA: I was going to say that's an interesting perspective. Because as a third party outsider who hears stories like this every day, my mind went to okay, so there was a system in place. He had his routine, where he would put girls or women in various categories, and he would do all these mechanisms and these systems to keep them where he needed them. But from your perspective, it was very different. It was genuine and loving. And so do you have the same view on it now? Do you still view it as well, he loved me but this was...


WIGGY: No. No. Enough time has passed, where I can look back and see things the way they actually were, not the way I wanted to see them. I wanted to see them in a certain way because I was in love. And despite knowing his wife and meeting her on a few occasions, in my head he had he had built this little bubble with me with this life of how we could be together. And he at no point ever said like, I'm never going to leave my wife. So by virtue of the things that he never said, he kept me hoping and feeling like there was a true possibility of him and I ended up together. Which I mean in retrospect, obviously, he was just stringing me along for everything and anything that he could get from me. At the time I was so head over heels in love with him it just seemed like, oh, well, this is just the way our relationship is. And that's actually quite terrifying in the fact because like a lot of women I have always said, oh, I would never stay in an abusive relationship. If a guy if a guy ever raised his hand at me once, that'd be it. And it's very scary to realize how easily you could have your heart played on and have your strings pulled, until you're actually making excuses for him. And I mean, he never hurt me physically but it's very scary to think that, I feel like I'm a smart, strong woman, I will not tolerate that bullshit. Except I tolerated that bullshit. It's like how did that even happen?


MARISSA: A lot of people will recognize abuse as physical abuse. If you’re not getting hit, you're not being abused. And that's a story and a narrative that I aim to change. Because most relationships don't actually hit the physical abusive part, they stay in emotional, psychological, and verbal, because those are the easiest to prey upon and the easiest to hide. And I truly believe that emotional abuse of all abuse is probably one of the absolute worst, because like you said, they prey upon your emotions, they manipulate you into thinking things are okay, that aren't okay, they make you believe them and then they control your actions like a puppet. So the part that I wanted to backtrack on and say that I disagreed with Rob on, was when he said, I'm glad that you owned up to everything. And on one hand, I'm glad that you admit everything that happened and see it for that perspective, but on the other hand, doing something under coercion is still not your fault. So even if he didn't force himself on you, he coerced you over the course of a year, and he was manipulating you and changing your brain and rewiring your biology. It's insane the systematic changes that people can make, just using words and actions on you. And so, to one point, yes, like you did agree to sleep with him. Yes, you did book those tickets and go see him and be that person in his life. But on the other hand, he was basically a puppet master, puppeteering your moves and keeping you in a box so that he could play with you when he wanted. It's awful.


WIGGY: 100% 100%. And it's like he knew my weaknesses, he knew my insecurities. He made me feel like everything that I was self-conscious about didn't matter but they only didn't matter to him. Anybody else, that's all they would see and they wouldn't want me. 


MARISSA: That's such a horrible play. That's such like a low blow.


WIGGY: It really is. I've had weight issues for most of my adult life, and I fluctuated like, up and down. And at that point, I was bigger than I wanted to be. And he made it very clear, he didn't mind but everybody else would. He thought I was still beautiful, but nobody else would. 


MARISSA: You're lucky I love you because nobody else will. 


WIGGY: Exactly, and it's funny, because I will admit this really, I've never really completely understood the impact of emotional abuse up until that point in my life. And it always seemed like, well, I don't get it, how bad could it really be? But looking back, I realized it affected every single aspect of my life. It affected my friendships to the point like I said, my best friend said if you don't end things with him, I will stop talking to you. It affected my work life because I was always so stressed and worrying, and it's like, if he messaged me, I had to make sure I was available. My mom, who was my best friend she knew what was going on. Not by what I told her but what she observed in me. And I've lied to her so many times that there is nothing going on between us. And that's probably what I hated myself the most for. But it's like the perspective, from now being able to look back, his bullshit touched every single part of my life. And so I get it. I really get it now, just how deep emotional manipulation and abuse, it affects you like nothing else.


MARISSA: And it affects you to the core too. I mean, like I said it actually shifts your biology. Our brains they're a muscle, they move and they function and different parts will be stimulated and whatever. And when you are enduring or when you have endured emotional abuse, it actually changes the amount that -- your brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which will impact your happiness levels on a day to day basis. Like it really impacts your whole life. It impacts weight gain and weight loss. It impacts stress levels in cortisol, it impacts everything and we don't recognize it until it's too late. I'm happy, I'm so happy that you had that friend that kind of gave you that push, that nudge that was like, if you don't stop, I can't be a part of this. Was that like the make or break for you?


WIGGY: Oh 100%. 100%. He was my rock. He still is. I mean, at the time, he'd been my best friend for seven years. And it's 16 years now. But yeah, that was just like... The idea of losing him that was my final line in the sand. I can't do that. I cannot do that. And I mean, granted, it was kind of helped along by his decision shortly afterwards, or right around the same time, I don't even remember honestly, that he was going back to his wife. But like I said, at the same time had he not told me that I would have been begging, crawling after him trying to get him to not cut me out of his life. So it really like... He all but single-handedly pulled me out of that situation.


MARISSA: It's amazing to have a friend like that. I'm going to throw it back to Rob because I totally hijacked this interview.


ROB: Oh, no Marissa you're the best.


WIGGY: You are. 


ROB: She is legit, real deal. But I wanted to ask you this. In wrestling, taking it back to just the general world of wrestling again and kudos to you for like using your platform to speak your truth, turn a negative into a positive, give others the platform as we've seen in recent weeks. I mean, let's be real wrestling, everyone has a name and everyone has a wrestling name. Everyone has a persona and all that, I'm all about that for the entertainment value. And that's what's it's all about smiles on faces, and entertainment for the fans and people accomplishing their dreams and whatnot. But like I said, let's be real people have personas. And I've learned the hard way, people hide behind charities. Yeah, it's crazy people. There's con men and there's people who just completely -- like who I've confided in friend, mentor or whatever, and just stuff comes out. And you're just like, you never should have been here. You never should have been around people, never should have been there. If there's ego, people hide behind charities, you see it more and more. And it kills me, it kills me. Because I've been invested in wrestling over the past year when I was going through my own stuff, and the wrestlers, the talent, the promoters have all been there for me. And then I'm very appreciative of that. But you know, the more you get behind the curtain, the more the negative stuff comes along with it. And that's not everywhere. There's a lot of really, really great people that I hold in high regard and hopefully they don't break my heart. But it's been just crazy, very eye opening and I think true colors always come out. So moving forward, what can you say to speak to that about, how we can make this business better, you know, starting on the independent level, and moving forward.


WIGGY: I mean, the simplest thing which is probably the hardest, is to listen to somebody when they come forward. Listen without bias. Listen and instead of assuming right off the bat they're lying, give them the benefit of the doubt. So many people don't come forward, because -- it's got to be the number one reason pretty much across the board, they don't think they're going to be believed. And until there is, like, a consensus throughout the sport, throughout the community, that we will listen to you, we will not judge you, we will give you the opportunity to prove what you're saying is true. Until that is there, things really aren't going to change. The fact of the matter is, you can't just come forward and say, so and so did this. You do have to be able to prove it, because like I said, it's very unfortunate but it does happen, that people use things like this for vindictive means. And that's just a sad fact. But that doesn't mean we can't work around that fact. Be open, listen to people, give them the benefit of the doubt, give them the time to prove that what they're saying is true. But don't just brush away an accusation or a story, because it's a friend of yours, or because it's somebody you're a fan of, or because it's somebody you just don't want to believe that about. Because, like you said, that the fact of the matter, and I mean, this goes from WWE all the way down to Schleps like us. There's Wiggy and then there's Debbie. And you might think, you know one. You know one, that doesn't necessarily mean you know the other. There's Rob, and then there's Rob. 


ROB: Pretty much. Yea, you hit that one on the head. 


WIGGY: You know what people put out there. Like I said, right from WWE all the way down, if you know what people put out there, that doesn't necessarily mean you know who they are. And it doesn't matter what your job is. There's shitty people in all aspects of life unfortunately. And just because somebody is in a position that you like, you respect, you're a fan of, doesn't mean that it's not possible. And I mean, for so long, I think that's been part of the problem. It's like, well, you're on my TV, you couldn't possibly be a bad person. Oh, okay because it's not like a television or movie star has ever done anything back. So much of it, I think, is just listening, and being willing to believe. I mean, not believe blindly, for sure but giving people the opportunity. Letting them feel safe enough to come forward. And I very much understand why so many people don't feel safe enough for a number of different reasons. But that, I think, is the one thing that needs to change. People in positions of power need to be willing to listen when someone comes to them and says, listen, this has been going on. And it shouldn't matter if they're your friend, it shouldn't matter if they're your top draw, it shouldn't matter how big your social media following is. Any shitty person can be all of those things. We need to as a community, we need to accept that these terrible things happen. I think the first step is letting -- I don't like using the word victims because I feel like it's almost putting down. They're survivors, I like that word much better. Survivors of these things, they need to know that there will be people there who believe them, who won't judge them and who will accept them. Despite these things having happened. And I really think that's the first thing that needs to occur. 


MARISSA: Rob, are you okay? You're kind of grimacing,


ROB: No, I can't take much more. This Wrestling World so crazy, it's been so great to me. But as you see, there's a lot of...


WIGGY: Well, exactly like I feel very much the same way. 


ROB: You know it better than I do. Yeah. You know it better than me, I'm still very new to this. Like, it's a circus. It really is.


WIGGY: It is. I started Pantsless Radio doing wrestling stuff in February of 2010. My co-host at the time was One Pineapple Pea, Sugar Dunker. 


ROB: Oh, really? 


WIGGY: Yeah. Sugar and I go way back. I have so many interviews, like 10 years of interviews and stuff, and I love this. I have done this -- I have been very, very little money off of it. I do it because I have come across some really good people. Honest, genuine people. And if I can get them some publicity, if I can get people knowing them a little better, get some eyes on them, that can maybe somehow advance their career or their dream, or you know, anything. Like, I want to do it. Like, I love wrestling. I've loved it since I was a little girl. And just being able to be involved in any way, it's amazing to me, it's absolutely amazing to me, but at the same time, it's sad. It makes me really sad. But something like this, like speaking out, it makes me so happy because it gives me hope that maybe one day, this community of all of us can be a positive place. That it can be better, that we can make it better. And that gives me a lot of hope for the future. Whether it ever happens or not. 


ROB: Very well said, very well said Wiggy. It's crazy but I get what you're saying. Like I posted something yesterday, let's do better for some of these kids that want to be wrestlers. Let's be better for the people that are doing it now moving forward, I think we can all do that. I think like Marissa always says, having a conversation is a great place to start. And we know there's some organizations coming about, guys, let's get some background checks going. Let's do our homework, let's have the conversations. And Wiggy before we get out here, just last one for me. 


Let's get that shameless promo. Tell everyone where they can follow you on social, all that good stuff. And honestly, if they want to reach out to you, and they have something they want to say, and they want you to be the voice.


WIGGY: Oh, yeah. 100%, absolutely. Just because it's not still June, it doesn't mean that you can't still speak out with your stories. And if you need a voice to do that for you, well, I am a loud one with a Canadian accent. But I will happily, happily do that for you. I'm on Twitter at Wiggygator. I used to do a show with a weekly wrestling podcast and my co- host used make fun of the way I spelled my Twitter name. Because it's very sing-song like. So it's W-I-G-G-Y-G-A-T-O-R.


ROB: Yeah, it is.



WIGGY: Like Rob's head is kind of bopping along too. I'm on Instagram at the same, you can find me on Facebook Wiggy Wigowski, my 100% real name. If you have anything, I'm very happy to talk about this stuff. I think it needs to be talked about more often, for too many years people were told to shut up. And the more people talking about it now the better. And like if you have a story that you need to get off your chest, even if you don't want it to be public, if you just need to get something out of your head, so it stops having that power over you, please 100% hit me up. My email is pantslessradio@gmail.com. Pants with an S, not pant less because that's just wrong on so many levels. And just keep speaking out when you feel you're able to, find somebody who will do it for you if you can't, and let's just get rid of those people. We have managed to exile so very many of them who were some of the worst offenders but there's countless more out there. And I have a four year old little nephew who loves wrestling and I want independent wrestling to be a place where I can take him to his show. He can go crazy over everything that's happening and I don't have to worry about the people he's going to meet, the people he's going to be exposed to, to one day having to tell him why he can't see his favorite wrestler anymore. Let's think of it that way and let's just make it better.


ROB: Wow! That very well said I think that's a perfect spot to end it on. Thank you so much Wiggy for coming on, opening up, keeping it real, turning a negative into a positive, and you really are an asset to this business. Thank you so much for taking the time and stay safe out there. Continued success moving forward. Alright.


WIGGY: Thank you so much. Anytime! Anything I can, like I told you I told you in that first message, I am so in and anything I could do to help this movement you guys know where to find me? In Canada, where it's not snowing Marissa. 


ROB: Yeah, there it is. 


MARISSA: Don't remind me.


ROB: Alright, guys, but like we always say here on the DCP Breaking through our Silence Connection, I want you to stay safe. Stay positive. Take care of each other. We out, peace!

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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.


Marissa: Welcome back to the healing from emotional abuse philosophy. I'm so excited today to bring on Jennifer. She is the host of a podcast called Living With An Invisible Learning Challenge. She's also a survivor of sexual assault and abuse from Southern California. And she's here today because she wants to support other survivors of sexual abuse and be able to speak for people with learning challenges who are affected by sexual assault. Her mission is to support those who might be afraid to speak out for themselves and fear the consequences and retaliation that they may face. Thank you so much for being here. Jennifer. I'm excited to chat with you today. 


Jennifer: I'm excited to do this, too. 


Marissa: So first and foremost, would you feel comfortable telling us your story? 


Jennifer: Yes, I do. So my story is that I'm a survivor of sexual abuse. Though every survivor story and journey to healing is different. I think we'd all agree it's difficult. It's probably the hardest thing we'll ever go through. But what I know for certain is my journey has made me who I am today. The abuse began when I was about six and ended when I was 12 and disclosed. My cousin was my abuser. He was two years older than me. When it began, I was too young to understand what was happening and when I eventually disclosed, I had no idea what it would do to the rest of my family, or how my life would change. Let me stop here to provide some context first, because my growing up was different. My cousin's family and mine were very close. We lived near each other and my parents and my aunt work together. I have a brother and my cousin had just one sister then. On top of that, we were home schooled at the place where my parents and Aunt worked. Our grandmother was our primary caretaker, and my parents and Aunt would take turns teaching us our classes throughout the work day. We were super close, and were always together. And even after my cousin's family moved to the east coast, my brother and I learned to visit them nine or 10 times in those first years. One more piece of information is relevant for context. I have a learning challenge. I'm not neuro-typical, I didn't know that during the abuse. But in my sophomore year at college, I was diagnosed with NLD, which stands for nonverbal learning disability, it is something I was born with. I'll say more about that later. So about the abuse. I'm not sure if this exactly counts as sexual abuse. But the abuse began with my cousin taking me into a closet and ping me when I was about six years old. Eventually, he began to sexually abused me. I think I was about eight years old the first time, I didn't know what it was at the time. And I don't know how he knew anything about sex. I definitely didn't. But I trusted him because he was my cousin. The age difference made me feel like he had power over me and I was powerless. Because we spent our days together, regular access was easy. And even after they moved away, because we made so many frequent trips to see them the abuse continued at their house. It continued, and I got older, I started to have strong feelings that this was really wrong. The very last time it happened was when my cousin came to California to visit us. He had been giving his parents a lot of grief and my mom wanted to help my aunt out. My mom thought that maybe if he came to visit us in California, it would help. Of course, she didn't know anything at the time about the abuse. I felt scared about the idea of him coming. During that visit, He abused me three more times. His abuse had started with picking on me, and over the years went from that to intercourse, and the last time he tried to put his penis in my bottom. It hurts so badly that I stopped by yelling stop. I decided that was going to be the last time. I asked him what would happen if I told anyone, he said that we would get into trouble. But I knew he was only one that would get into trouble. I don't know why I didn't disclose to my parents sooner, probably because it took a long time before I really understood what was happening. But looking back at it, now, knowing what I know about people with NLD, I think that also influenced it. I was too naive and trusting. People with NLD are prone to being so. I always believed what I was told, and never questioned anyone older than me. Even at 24, I still sometimes struggle thinking that anyone would ever lie to me or try to deceive me. I still tend to believe whatever someone tells me. 


I remember vividly the day I disclosed to my mother. It was a Saturday morning, my cousin was still visiting us on that trip. My mom was getting ready for the day and I told her I needed to talk to her. I felt nervous about telling her. When I got up the courage to disclose, I said something like mom, he is putting his pee-pee in my pee-pee. Clearly I didn't even have the words. She was shocked. At first she couldn't believe that, because we hadn't had the talk about sex yet. So she grabbed one of those facts of life books with some very basic pictures, and asked me to describe and show her what I meant by what I said. I showed her and then she completely lost it. She broke down sobbing reassuring, that she believed me and repeatedly saying, “How could this have happened? I'm so sorry. I failed you.” She immediately called my dad and told him to come home. Right away. It was urgent. She met him in the driveway and told him what I had just disclosed. 


There was a whole cascade of events that have followed my disclosure. My aunt flew out. My grandparents got involved. A detective was called to take a report, Child Protective Services came, I had a physical exam, which was frightening and painful. There were lots of tears all around, my cousin and Aunt flew back east and we were left figuring out what to do. We decided not to press charges at that time since my cousin no longer lived near us. 

I began therapy which I continued for five years. I had triggers all through high school, but it lessened as I learned more coping skills in therapy. Therapy helped a lot. I learned several really valuable coping skills like lucid dreaming, using affirmations to make myself feel safe and journaling, to name a few. Meanwhile, things between our families were getting very bad. The other side was minimizing what happened, calling it merely show ant tell. They did not believe it had gone as far as it had. They felt my cousin and I were equally responsible. Things got very ugly with my aunt and uncle and grandfather pushing hard for us to forgive, and blaming, shaming and faulting us when we weren't ready. How could we be no acknowledgment of what happened from my cousin or his family had ever been given. I don't think it ever will. Our two families are estranged to this day. It was sometime after I had disclosed that we learned that there had been another incident of my cousin abusing another cousin. That cousin's parents decided to press charges. My family and I even flew out to the east coast to sit in the courtroom to support her. It was a difficult but powerful experience. And the judge found my cousin guilty and he was put on probation. 


He was required to go into counseling and he was forbidden to have any contact with the other family. There were more parts to his sentencing, but I don't remember them all. When I learned about the other girl and their families decisions to press charges, I decided that I want to press charges too. I told my parents and I had their full support. We began that process. We had a hearing in front of the judge. We would have been gone to trial. But in the end the outcome would not have been any different since we were both minors. Originally, I thought I wanted to go to trial because not doing so felt like the abuse would be minimized. But then I knew what that was like for my other cousin, the other girl, he abused. And I decided we'd all had gone through enough. Two traumas really, the sexual abuse and the breakup of our families. I was able to present a victim impact statement, as did several other family members who were with me. I was the last one to read mine. And in doing so I was able to describe how the abuse has affected my life and my family. 


Marissa: Thank you so much for sharing all that. I'm so sorry for what you went through. How are you feeling now, after talking about it? 


Jennifer: Well, I feel much better. Because each time I share it with somebody, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. And it gets easier to say it. So, it does get easier to share it each time. 


Marissa: Thank you. I definitely agree with that. I think that the more you talk about it, the more it just kind of flows. The less impact it has on you. So you wrote that just to be prepared. Right? So you wrote your story, which was great. Thank you so much for sharing all that. I'm so sorry for what you experienced in the actual abuse, but then even, especially the aftermath with your family. How do you feel now having gone through that process? Did it make you feel better at the time and now? 


Jennifer: Yeah, going through the process with the hearing and the judge? It did make me feel better, because it made me feel like my cousin, I guess you could say, got punished for what he did. And the judge made me feel hurt because I remember during that time when I was 12, I felt like really nobody except for my immediate family believed me and believed my story. And I remember trying to understand why is all this happening. And just trying to wrap my head around all the family drama and interactions. And just trying to understand what was going on. And it was almost like it was kinda a tornado. And just like, what is happening around me? 


Marissa: Totally understand. It's just very chaotic. Do you think having an invisible learning challenge, amplified the abuse or made the chaos of everything even worse? 


Jennifer: So yes, I do think nonverbal learning disability, the acronym is NLD and NVLD played a part, which I learned about in my sophomore year of college. That's when I was diagnosed, I think it played a part because those people tend to be like I said, in my story, they tend to be more naive and trusting of people. And that's because they tend to have less life experience. And they tend to be more trusting even strangers. And because of them trying to catch up on the life experience that usually affects their trust issues. And even with the trauma that has made my trust issues more amplified, you can say, 


Marissa: That makes a really good point, you made a really good point. I think another reason people with NLD are victimized more often because of the stigma and mental health. Right? So when when you have a mental health or a learning challenge, it's less likely that people like professionals will believe you. Or even, just anyone will believe you and you said that's kind of what you experienced. Right? 


Jennifer: Right. Exactly. Less people will believe you when you just have a story. You have really no evidence to go with your it's just a he said she said thing. And really because also with my learning challenge, I don't like the word learning disability, So I use challenge instead, is not on the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, which is a manual that helps people get accommodations. Because it's not on there People think you're making something up, which is not true. 


Marissa: And even if the diagnosis is in the DSM, right, people will still kind of think you're making it up because there's a stigma attached to mental health and learning challenges. And I think that's disgusting. That's something that I want to focus on. So thank you for bringing that up. So what coping skills aside from therapy did you use to help you heal from your abuse? 


Jennifer: So the other coping skills I used is, obviously I got a dog. That was the whole reason we got Truffles. She's a Dijon, Shishu mix. We got her, actually 10, actually going on 11 years ago. And I never had a dog growing up so this was the first animal we had our pet in the house. And they kind of proposed idea to me, and they were like, do you want to get a pet? I'm like, What kind of question is that, of course, I want to get a pet. 


Marissa: Do I have a pulse. Of course, I want a pet. 


Jennifer: Yeah. And at first, we were wanting a cat because we travel a lot. But we wanted to add like a dog, we started looking at dogs. And then with Truffles, we got the opposite. Because she does act like a cat, she can jump really high, she loves to lay on our couch cushions like cats do. My dad has a pickup truck. And if it's parked by the curb, she can jump into the passenger seat without any help. So she has springs on her legs. And other coping skills would be I got into long distance running in high school and that was kind of a way for me to just get rid of stress. And sometimes when I was running, I would imagine my cousin's face and just kind of punch at his face to let off anger. That kind of worked. And I was kind of imagining like I was running towards my freedom of being free of all the emotions and just letting them go. And travel, my family did world traveling to at least one new country during the summertime and during non school breaks. That started when I was six years old, and when my brother was 11 years old. And it was kind of an escape for me from the sexual abuse that I experienced. Because when we were away from the family, I was away from my cousin. And the other coping skill I used to use was overeating. I did that in high school and college but I don't do that anymore. I used to use that to absorb emotions. And I got over that habit by realizing what I was doing and I decided to stop doing that. And try to express my emotions more by talking about them to my friends, my close friends, and my family. 


Marissa: So I want to go back to one of the things that you said before, when you were talking about your story was that you use journaling, and that journaling really helped you. Journaling also really helped me so would you mind maybe talking about some of the things that you write about when you're journaling? 


Jennifer: Sure. So yeah, one of the things I would talk about is, I would often like journal the dreams that I would have, which kind of helped get them out of my mind, because I found if they were still, in my mind, I would keep thinking about them. And so I kind of created a dream journal that I would use. I don't use it anymore, because I found when I was able to lucid dream, As soon as I mastered it, I did it on autopilot, basically. And I didn't need to journal about the dreams anymore. 


Marissa: That's awesome. And you learned how to lucid dream from therapy? 


Jennifer: Yes, I did. Very first therapist taught me that. 


Marissa: That's awesome. That's a great technique. I wish I knew how to teach people how to do that. 


Jennifer: Yeah, I wish I did too, because it's really helpful. 


Marissa: Awesome. So tell me about what you're doing now. Tell me about your full time job. 


Jennifer: So yeah, I work with my mom, who is a minister. She's been a minister for more than 40 years. She was ordained when she was 23. So near my age. And she is a unity minister in unity. It's Christian based, but it's not very religious. It's more spiritual for people who don't know what unity is. And the church is called the Unity Center. If people want to look it up. Basically what I do there is I'm an assistant for her, but I also am the manager of the website and the app that they have and her podcast that I helped with. And that was easier to do because I have my own podcast. The tech stuff I find so easy because I'm a millennial. So that helps. Oh, and I am our COVID janitor for our small in-person services that we do virtually on Sundays, Which is just our musical band, and my mom, and the staff, which is just me and my parents. So I just clean up after us when everybody leaves so that it's sanitized. 


Marissa: So having grown up with a parent, who's a minister, do you use the scripture as any way to heal from abuse? 


Jennifer: That's a good question. Yes, I definitely do use the faith that we have to help healing with abuse, I tend to meditate and actually, I'm wearing prayer beads. So that helps with healing. And I try to meditate a little bit also and when I exercise, I find that meditative because sometimes I can't sit very still. So sometimes I use more of a moving meditation as a coping skill. 


Marissa: Awesome, guided meditation for healing and guided meditation for overcoming abuse are really really common tools. Is there any resource specifically you use for meditation? Are you just what do you do? 


Jennifer: Usually, I just use deep breathing, or I can listen to one of the meditations that my mom has come up with, she has a lot of them on YouTube. She has her own YouTube channel for the church, so I can listen to the ones that she has on there. 


Marissa: Awesome. Is there any particular part of the Scripture any passage that identifies with you or that, that you feel like has comforted you? You can say no, if you haven’t. 


Jennifer: I would say something that I do identify with would be the saying that we have many paths, that many paths meaning many religions that exist in the world. And, you know, there's many gods that those religions have. And people follow all of them differently. I'm paraphrasing it. But that's basically what it means. And I like it because it's very welcoming. And, in Unity, we were very non judgmental of the past religion that you used, you can still practice it when you come to a Unity Church, and you can be who you are. 


Marissa: That's beautiful. And I think that non judgment and that complete acceptance is really helpful for people, especially people who have endured abuse. I know that from speaking to people who are devout, devout Christians, that they see a lot of hesitation, with feeling comfortable leaving their abuser because of the way that they read and understand and comprehend the different scripture. So I think that being accepting and loving and knowing that people come from different backgrounds is really important. So thank you and your mom and Unity for doing that. Do you have a piece of advice for survivors of sexual assault with NLD? 


Jennifer: Yes, I do. I think the ones who have NLD or other invisible learning challenges like autism or ADHD, or Asperger's, that they should be willing to speak up for themselves. 

That if they've been abused sexually, or emotionally or physically in other ways that they should speak up for themselves and be able to say, “Hey, this happened to me, and it wasn't right,” and that they need to advocate for what they need. And they need to basically spread the word to others and be like, no, like the #MeToo movement. This is what I experienced, and I want to help others who are like me, 


Marissa: I love that it's forming a community within a community and the sexual assault survivor community, we need to be better at advocating for people with NLD and invisible learning challenges, because they are a part of our community, people from all walks of life who have experienced sexual assault, and we need to be more inclusive and believe survivors. So thank you so much, Jennifer, for that piece of advice and for coming on the show and speaking out for survivors of abuse with invisible learning challenges and NLD because it's so commonplace in that community. 


Jennifer: Thank you for having me. And thank you for letting me tell my story and talk about who I am. 



If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


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INTRO: How can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute. Over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don't talk about it enough. Healing from emotional abuse isn't a band-aid situation, but it doesn't have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the world have been impacted by their narcissist, yours doesn't have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life your host and founder of the Healing from Emotional Abuse Philosophy Marissa F Cohen.


MARISSA: Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse is so important to your mental health and to living the life of freedom, confidence and peace. Today, we're talking with Brittani Duvall about child abuse and how it impacts your mental health for the rest of your life. But before we start, I want to brainstorm ways that I can help ease your healing journey. Imagine that you're standing on a cliff. And on the other side of a deep canyon is the life that you dream of. A partner who connects with you, supports you and empowers you and makes you laugh and smile. A life filled with freedom, confidence and peace. I've been where you are now, standing on the edge, dreaming of that life. And I've built the bridge between where you are now and that dream that seems so far away. Let me walk you across the bridge and literally hand you the life of your dreams. It's possible! I've walked this path with thousands of other survivors who now live a free, confident and peaceful life. Let's walk this path together. Don't waste any more time feeling lonely, worthless or exhausted. Schedule a call with me today at ScheduleACallWithMarissa.com - M-A-R-I-S-S-A. 


Welcome back to Healing from Emotional Abuse. Today we have an amazing guest, Brittany Duvall. She's a spiritual truth advisor, a queen of authentic vulnerability and a visionary entrepreneur who lovingly guides and encourages women to their truth from mental health shame, through her Rooted In Truth method. She's a survivor, a mother to a beautiful toddler daughter, and the wife of an amazing husband. She's the creator of the event - Let's Talk About It Navigating to Freedom and Truth from Mental Health, Shame and Stigma for Business and Life. Welcome on Brittany! Thank you so much. I'm so happy to have you today.


BRITTANY: I'm so happy to be here. So thank you so much.


MARISSA: Of course. So before we get really started, tell us about yourself.


BRITTANY: Oh goodness, that's a heavy question. So I live in Arizona, I like she said, I'm a wife and I have a toddler daughter, her name is Annabelle. So I actually have a background in graphic design. And that was like, what I feel is my healing up until now. And so with that, I had my daughter, I struggled with postpartum depression and then I was like, okay, I can't go back into the workforce. It was just way too overwhelming for me. And so my husband supported me in that. And so I started my freelance design business, which I still do that on the side. But it's kind of like, slowly gone away in a sense, because I lost my brother about a year ago to suicide. And so with that, it really was kind of like a wake-up call for me of like, okay, we all struggle with our mental health. And we all are in our own stuckness with COVID and everything else. So I really wanted to take a stand and support people with where they're at and how they can bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. And so that's where I've been working on launching my coaching business currently.


MARISSA: Thank you for sharing that. I'm so sorry about what you went through with your family. So would you mind telling us your story of survival, like what you went through and how you got here?


BRITTANY: When I was in sixth grade, it was a lot of trauma that I experienced, where I was sexually abused, particularly molested. And so with that, it happened more than once. And it really took everything out of me. Like I felt like I died inside. I struggled a lot with that and then it wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I eventually told my family of what happened. And so I held it in for that long and during that time, I remember being in my room and literally just sobbing by myself. I would close the door and while this was going on, my parents were fighting and having their own issues. So it was just kind of like I was alone. And so my way of coping was coloring in my room, it was singing, it was dancing, it was listening to music. And every time my mom would come in, I would literally wipe my tears and pretend that everything was okay when it really wasn't. And then once I finally told my family, it was just like another layer of experiencing different emotions, because it was about them and not about me. It was like, oh well, why don't you tell me sooner? Or oh, that happened to me too. Or, oh how did I not see this or know about it? And that's, I think the initial response that a lot of people have, is they internalize it and make it about them, instead of actually listening to the survivor of what they experienced. So that was another layer of like, okay, not feeling seen and heard again, for holding it in for that long, and then having to tell and gaining the courage to tell. And then still not feeling seen and heard. And so walking through that even more, by this time, I was starting to gain into the dating world. And so in the dating world, I dated a lot of people who were addicts, who were struggling with their own stuff. And I began to see myself as naturally taking care of them because I understood what it felt like to be in that situation. And so I had my own experience, even with them, like emotional abuse because there was an addict who cheated on me and did all the other things. I've had somebody tell me that I was crazy, I had people tell me to gain a backbone. So there were lots of different experiences that I had in the dating world. And then once I got to college, just something snapped. I was just like, I can't do this anymore. I was even considering taking my own life. I had all the thoughts and that's when I went into a mental health hospital for eight days. And in there, there was just so much more coming out of me that I didn't even know because you're in a free state, so you forget everything. And so more stuff began to come up, that I didn't even know that actually happened in the initial trauma that I had. And so I had to walk through more. And then it came to gaining more courage of, okay, I want to actually do something about this now. So that's when I decided to get a restraining order on the person who molested me and then started to go through my process of court. And I basically got everything. And it was basically to the time, like ready to go to court. And I think this is so often what happens is, then you're like, oh, I have to actually see that person when I go to court. And so everything just shut down. And I was like, nope, I can't do this anymore. And so I cancelled everything out. I think over time, in my experience of mental health and all of the things, the mental health system helped me up until a certain point. And that point was when I had my daughter, and I was like, okay, I know I need more now. I'm ready for more, I need more, this isn't supporting me anymore. And so that's when I stepped into the personal development coaching world. And then like a whole other level of like, basically like a spiritual awakening. I'm sure lots of people are talking about it now that you understand what that means. But essentially, it's like a whole, like, your life in front of your eyes and you're seeing your life for what it is. And I started to pick a part of like, where things were coming from, and what my true truth was. And so that's basically where I got to really look at was this somebody telling me what I am? Or is this what I actually believe? And so I got to really dive deep into that. And that's what's really been my transformation and healing is like, pulling apart of the things that people have put on me in the outside world, and what I actually believe is true for me. So, yeah, that's where like, my whole transformation has really lied.


MARISSA: That's an incredible journey. I mean, you were so young when it started. Do you mind if I go back to that a little bit? So when you were experiencing it, was there ever any education or anything about what sexual abuse is in your past, in school and anything to give you the verbiage or to express what was happening to you?


BRITTANY: No. I just knew it wasn't okay. It felt like, I just have this gift of knowing and inside, I knew it was not okay. I didn't know how to express it, I didn't know how to walk through it. I just knew it wasn't okay. And so, it was interesting, because honestly, there's one piece that I can't remember. And it's I don't know what got me and compelled me to ask my mom to see a counselor. But something inside of me asked to see a counselor. I think, partly, my dad has his own mental health as well. So I've seen him in his own mental health. And he had seen a counselor and stuff. So it was like, I knew it was okay to see a counselor through my dad, but I just, I don't know, something compelled me to ask. And so it was through the counselor that she supported me into realizing, oh, and I think what I remember most that literally just scared the shit out of me, if you will, was when she was like, oh we need to report this. And I was like, oh wait, no, no, I don't want that. I'm just here to get support. And so I felt like everything like turning inside of me of like, wait you have to report this. And I think that's another scary piece of walking through, especially as young as I was, because I was just so confused. So it was through the counselor that I gained education, and then she was the one that really supported me in the talks that I got to have with both my mom and dad of telling them.


MARISSA: I'm glad you had that as an outlet, because a lot of people don't know that they can go to counselors or don't have that ability. So I think that that's amazing that you were able to get that much support even though it was scary, that she's a mandatory reporter. I have my own kind of yes and no support of that process. But do you mind telling us about the court process, I know that you didn't eventually go through with it. But on average sexual abuse cases take about four years to get from initial report to court?


BRITTANY: Yeah, I don't feel like... It didn't take that long, I think. I don't know if it's because of like, the person who did it admitted it very quickly, so it didn't really take that long. So it was several times of going into this facility where the detective was. And it didn't even feel good, just going, you know, your walk. And it was literally like I felt like it was amazed to get into the room. We had, I think, two different meetings in this particular room where we were on a phone call, it was like those old, well, it's not a super old fashion, but an old enough fashioned phone in the room and it's all connected to wires and listening and all this stuff. And it was just like, the things that you see on TV that you never thought you would even be in a situation that you would experience that. I felt very numb through the whole process. It was just like I numbed myself out. Because I knew that I wanted to do this for myself. But then I was also scared of all the repercussions of what could happen. I can't even remember the full timeline, but it was just literally in a matter of a few months that everything was like... The detective finally called me and he was like, well, we got everything and like, we sat down and we talked about it. And it was just like you know you're going to have to see him, you're going to have to point him out in court and you know you're going to have to do all these things. And he's like, you know, this is where a lot of people do back out. And so, I tried to be strong, and I really, really contemplated it for a while, I asked for some time to think about it. And it was going back and forth, back and forth. And it made me sick, because I was just like, I don't know if I can do this. And I think because it was still early on enough in my journey of healing that because I had just gotten out of a mental health hospital and literally went straight into it. But I was just like too soon for me. And I was like, I don't think I'm ready.


MARISSA: I feel that it is good that the perpetrator admitted it right off the bat. That alone is a one in a million situation. Did you feel a sense of closure when that happened? Or did that make you feel worse?


BRITTANY: So my reasoning, because everybody has a reasoning for why they were going through the process too. In my personal reasoning, and I know this is like, the goodness of my heart and not -- it wasn't out of anger, it wasn't out of hate or anything, which I know a lot of people have when they experience that. But for me, it was like, no, I wanted to go to court because I just wanted him to get help. Because I knew it happened to him too. And so usually, that's the cycle. And so like, for me, out of the goodness of my heart, I just wanted to go to court because I knew no matter what, on the outside world, that he wouldn't get help. So it's like wanting to go to court, so that it was kind of like a mandated thing that he would get help and get the help that he needed, so that he could not continue to create that cycle. I didn't want him to go to jail. I just wanted him to get help, and I wanted him to get better.


MARISSA: That makes a lot of sense. I mean, it was a person that you had relationship with. And so that's a person that you have emotions towards. It makes sense. This might be a dumb question, but as an adult, who was a child that went through this process, would you recommend to parents that they push for the same thing? Would you as an adult, recommend that other adults who have children who have gone through something similar, would you encourage them to pursue the legal process?


BRITTANY: I would say it depends on your intentions. That is my personal truth. Because obviously, if you're coming from a place of anger and hate, then that's on you. But if you're coming from a place of love and compassion, of understanding that it is an actual real cycle that people have experienced, then you know that there's goodness in intentions in your heart, and it's coming from a good place. Obviously, yes, it is the most horrific thing out there. And I would never wish it on anybody. Years later, I actually found out it happened to my brother too. And I literally dropped to my knees, bawling my eyes out, because I did not want that to happen to my brother too. Because when he was five years younger, so I felt responsible. And so it's like, you obviously don't wish it upon anybody. And I get that. And we're all human. And we all are experiencing very traumatic things in many different ways. So I feel like it really depends on your intentions. That's just my opinion.


MARISSA: Thank you very much. What advice would you give to survivors to help them heal?


BRITTANY: I would say the biggest thing that has really supported me is I'm constantly seeking for growth. I'm constantly seeking, how can I grow myself and continue to allow myself to get better in all areas of my life? Because clearly, once that happens, it affects every area of your life too. It affects how you show up in friendships, it affects how you show up in relationships, because there's obviously that trust factor that gets very much broken. And so for me, I've constantly been in areas of growth of like, okay, how can I heal this part of me, or this part of me, that has clearly been affected by trauma and PTSD and all that stuff? Obviously, counseling supported me in many different ways. I had literally hands full of counselors, because I constantly was, once I got to a point where I was stuck and stagnant with a counselor, I would go on to the next one. And it wasn't like, I'm going to constantly switch counselors, it was just like, I saw where I was at, I acknowledged where I was at and I was like, okay, now I want to do more. And this person isn't getting me to that next place yet. So I'm going to seek somebody else who can get me to that next place. At one point, I think I had a huge fear of seeing a male counselor. And so at one point I found myself struggling in a relationship that I was with. And I needed a male perspective. So I actually stretched myself to finally see a male counselor because I knew that I needed that male support with where I was at in that period of my life. And then, you know, like I said, once I struggled with postpartum depression, it was finally in that sense of like, okay, this has supported me thus far and I want to go more. So then I saw a Facebook Ad that stepped me into investing in a coach. And then I really spiraled into a personal development experience that took me to that next level. And again, constantly getting new coaches that can support me in different areas of my life to continue to grow. So growth is a big thing.


MARISSA: That's awesome. And I'm really glad that you sought out different counselors. I think that we get so nervous with mental health, I don't know, there's such a stigma with mental health in this society, that it's so hard to get people to even go to therapy, let alone recognize when you've learned everything you need to learn from one person, now it's time to move on to the next; or having tried one therapist or counselor, that doesn't really work for you and then assuming that every other counselor is going to be the same way. So thank you for highlighting that because I think that's so so important to hear.


BRITTANY: Yeah, definitely. I have a therapist friend, she's a friend of mine, and she's a therapist and something she prefaced, she wrote an article about this recently of like, it's not the therapist, it's the modality of which the therapist knows. And there are so many different modalities out there and that's not talked about. And so that's where it might not even be the therapists themselves. It just might be what they know, and how they teach. And so if you give yourself a chance to seek out those different therapies, you will start to realize what works and what doesn't. And it's just like anything else. But I think we get so stuck with ourselves in wanting it to be and look a certain way. And it might not always be that way, the first time around.


MARISSA: Absolutely. So tell us a little bit more about what you do and how people can get in touch with you. Because I think that your knowledge base is mental health stigma and helping people overcome that. And I think that for this particular community, that's so important. So how can people get in touch with you and work with you?


BRITTANY: So I am in the process of building out a coaching program currently. My event is happening until April 4th, currently. And so with that, you can go to Let's Talk About It. My event that I have 42 speakers, speaking on different -- and that's another thing. It's different modalities that have supported them in their transformation from mental health shame. You know, there are people speaking on yoga, there are people speaking on just their health overall, what they eat, and obviously many, many different things. I have my therapist friend on there as well. And so there are so many different perspectives. And so that's the biggest thing that's happening right now in my space. For how you can get in to my space, just follow me along on Facebook as I continue to grow and open more things because I literally just shifted into this space a few months ago. So I'm really honestly looking for feedback right now of how I can support you of where you're at. And really supporting how you can go from your shame, and really pulling apart and uncovering and getting out of the boxes of what you identify yourself as. Because I think a lot of times we put these attachments of what we are diagnosed as our identity, but they don't define us. They don't limit us. It doesn't make you incapable. It's just another label that we don't need to attach to us of who we are in our truth of who we are. And so I'm really wanting to see what are the needs right now and how I can support you to really get to the truth of who you are. And allow yourself to shine and stand in your power and know that you are worth it.


MARISSA: I love that! Thank you so much for doing such amazing, important work and for showing people that you aren't what you're diagnosed with. We get this diagnosis and then just feel like we have to fit in the stereotype of it. And I hate that. So thank you so much for doing what you're doing. And thank you for being here and chatting with me today. I really appreciate your time and your openness with us.


BRITTANY: I'm so grateful. Thank you so much.


[Outro]: If you enjoyed this podcast you have to check out www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. That's www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. Marissa would love to develop a Made for You Healing Plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck alone and hurt and live a free, confident and peaceful life. Don't forget to subscribe to the Healing from Emotional Abuse Podcast and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarissaFCohen and Instagram at Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We'd love to see you there.


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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.



Marissa: Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse. Today, I'm really excited to bring back Orsika Julia, who came on earlier last year to talk about her book 52, which is now available on Amazon and through her website. 


Orsika: Yes. 


Marissa: Perfect. And also, these brand-new courses that she has created and are in the process of creating, and her coaching program to help adults who have experienced domestic violence get through it. So welcome on. Thank you so much for being here. 


Orsika: I freaking love being here. Marissa, your energy is amazing. You are just the best. It's all I got to say. So, thank you like, yeah, just thanks. 


Marissa: Stop it. I'm so happy to have you on here. I would love to start. I know that we went over this a little bit last time you're here. But just to give a little bit of background about what you experienced, and what brought you from where you were to what you're doing now. 


Orsika: Absolutely. So, I was married to a narcissist, and I saw the red flags and chose to ignore them. Because my self-esteem was in a place where I thought that's all I deserved in life. I was a single mom, freshly single mom, with two little kids, they were I don't even know, like seven and five, somewhere in that range. And I thought that I was used goods. And I thought I only deserved this person who behaved in a way that I liked to begin with, because he bought me flowers, and he bought me jeans and jewelry in the flowers. And he worked third shift. So, he'd come home and it was like, “Oh my gosh, he loves me.” And then I bore him a son. And then it all turned. The switch got flipped and the mean, really came out. And even though I was warned by my amazing mother, she's like, this is not the person. By then I had already gotten pregnant. And it was like, Okay, I'm stuck with him. And so, I wanted to stay with him, not because I enjoyed the abuse people, but because I really wanted the family dynamic. But then I realized that it’s not worth my abuse and the abuse that the children started to receive as well. So, I packed my things up my three children, my dog, my cat, my lizard, and we drove from Oklahoma to Illinois. 


Marissa: Wow. that's a lot. And it wasn't just you that had to heal after that. Right? It was healing the whole family. What was that like? 


Orsika: Tough, it was really, really tough. Because by the time we've left, the kids were three, nine and eleven. Yeah, they were three, nine and eleven. And so especially that an 11-year-old, she's a strong-willed child and beautiful and is now a grown woman. It's been 10 years. So, she's a grown woman on her own. But she is a strong-willed child and healing her, and she and I got the brunt of the abuse. She got most of the emotional abuse, and I did my best to protect her. And there were arguments where he would say if she doesn't listen, I'm going to take care of her. To which my response was, if you lay a hand on her, I will shoot you. And I wasn't kidding. Like, don't you dare lay hands on her because I will shoot you. I didn't shoot him because he didn't lay his hands on her. I am also not ever going to shoot him. I like my freedom. I like my life and I look horrible in orange or stripes. So, I'm just saying, Yeah, healing, the oldest and myself was really very, very challenging. My middle one was always your quintessential, whatever age she was at. And she's just all fun loving and bubbly. And, she really didn't get affected by anything because everybody loves her and I didn't realize how much my son was about to endure. So, for the year that we were separated before the divorce was finalized, my son was molested by his father. And then healing that has taken many more years than anticipated. But you just pay attention to your child, and you give them what they need. And you don't give the child back to the perpetrator. 


Marissa: I think you make a really good point there. I think a lot of people a lot of parents of children, especially after this or you know, parenting after abuse is really difficult. But I think a lot of parents don't really know what to do in that situation. You know, Oh, well, it’s still their father or their mother, whoever the abusive parent is What do I do in that situation? Do you have any insight for them? 


Orsika: Well, you know, take We will action and oftentimes, the court system will say, Well, this is still the person's parent and you have to by law, hand the child over. I would say, before you leave, take necessary steps, let your local police department or Sheriff's Department know why you're leaving, so that you have that base covered. Write a statement, as soon as you get it so that you have that base covered. What I did with my son is I recorded, manually recorded not on the phone, that phone conversations, which thankfully, I never had to use in court. But I recorded the phone conversations, I took pictures of the abuse, because every time he was handed back to me, there were new bruises that were unexplained. And having been a former preschool teacher, we know, you have to know the list of signs of abuse. And let's say there's 20 things on the list and my son exhibited 17 of those. So, I'm taking pictures, right? And I'm documenting everything. So, when you're a parent, document, document, document, document, that's the best thing. And then you can go with substantial evidence and say, these are all the things that have happened, it's really important to document. And if you are feeling unsafe, then get a protective order. And believe your child, like my child was three and four years old. So, he was finishing up his third year. And then it happened in his fourth year as well. And I mean, four-year-old don't come up with stuff that was you know, he was saying to me. So believe your child, that doesn't mean jump to conclusions. Like when he told me what was going on. I am very logically, because that's the way my brain works, I was able to take a step back before I saw red took that deep breath. And I was like, let's think through this logically. So, I felt like a four-year-old. And I said, Okay, did this happen when this happened? He's like, no, this happened when this happened? And he's like, no. And so, I was able to process through it. And then he just blurted out exactly what happened; exactly where. And I was like, Okay, so then we went and took a, what is it the SAME test, sexual assault medical exam. And he talked to one of the counselors, and I had to take him to counseling because of the anger that he was exhibiting, and other behaviors. So, he was in counseling at four years old. And he spoke to the counselor of the incidents, and he was in counseling again, and nine, because I paid attention to his behavior changes. And when you see those slight behavior changes, immediately seek help, because most of us aren't counselors, and we don't have the proper tools to help our children properly. So, if you're working on fixing things at home, because of the shame and blame and guilt, you don't want other people to know, which I totally understand and totally respect at the end of the day. It's not about you, at that point. It's about healing that child, to the utmost degree, right? You can heal yourself. But other people, you'll need tools to heal the child. And I mean, honestly, I had to go to counseling, too. So why would I have taken that away from my son? Right? That's just selfish. 


Marissa: And I think to that point, children, especially children that are that young, don't have the vocabulary to express what they've dealt with, or what they're going through. And so, I think at that point, it's really important for them to have an ally, who can kind of guide them towards expressing those feelings without judgment. I think counseling can be very, very helpful when it comes to healing from abuse. I know that I say otherwise, by offering other options. But I don't think that therapy is bad. I don't you know; I think that it's a great tool for people that it works for. 


Orsika: Yeah, I think so. And, you know, I think therapy and coaching are similar, right? But it's more challenging to coach a child. That's so young, one. And two, you need the therapists to help you in the court system. So as a coach myself, if somebody came to me, with a four-year-old, I have no leg to stand on in court. Whereas the therapist does. And there are therapists who are available pro bono. Because for a while, I was like, how am I going to pay for this, and then I found my resources, and I use my resources, and there's plenty out there. So, it takes a little effort. But it's doable. 


Marissa: Yeah. Also looking. If this is a problem for anyone listening that, you know, they can't afford therapy. You can look into Sliding Scale therapy, or therapists that do sliding scale, and they'll work with you on pricing something that you can afford that isn't outrageous. 


Orsika: Yeah, that's a great point. Thank you, Marissa. 


Marissa: Of Course. So, tell me what it was like being a single mom after domestic violence. 


Orsika: It sucked. We're done. And have a good night, everybody. Yeah, I mean, that pretty much summarized it. We lived in my brother's basement for seven months with his family. I mean, it wasn't like a Harry Potter in the bottom of the closet kind of like we had, like it was good. We still lived in his basement. And I'm eternally grateful for that. It was a lot; it was a lot because I wanted to heal my children first. I didn't realize them because I hadn't really delved into personal development. I didn't realize them that you serve from your overflow. So, I should have hindsight 2020. Right, I should have healed myself first in order to heal them better. But I kept giving to them from my empty saucer. So, I was giving them like rice cakes, right? It's like empty calories, just going into my mouth and that's kind of how I was parenting. So, I wish I would have invested in myself and taken some sort of support, coaching, personal development, something. It was really, really hard. And I think I went through a lot more than necessary. Had I had somebody to hold my hand and say, you're going to make it through. I felt very alone. Lots of shame, lots of lane, lots of guilt. Lots and lots of loneliness hours on end of tears, didn't sleep more than five hours. I mean, it just sucked. It just sucked. 


Marissa: So, this feels like a really good segue to talk about your courses. So, you have gone through as a single mom, after domestic violence, you've had to heal yourself. You've had to parent after abuse, you've had to heal your whole family. 


Orsika: Yes. 


Marissa: So now you, this strong, amazing, brilliant woman who I love so much. You're a coach. And you've created courses to help other adults who have experienced domestic violence, abuse narcissism, overcome that and help heal themselves and heal the whole family. Tell me about that. 


Orsika: So, my main course is six weeks out of the quicksand. And that gets you out of the quicksand of the I mean, the quicksand that you've been living in. That, that survival mode, and then post that there's other courses as well, you can find them on my website outofthequicksand.com. But my main one is the six weeks out of the quicksand. And that's just six weeks of coaching you did to not be in that muck and grossness because you're not going to be able to soar and fly and be the person that you've been created to be if you're still stuck in the quicksand. And if you're up to here in the quicksand and not breathing, or let's say up to here and barely breathing, then how is that going to serve anybody? How are you going to be able to heal your whole family if you're not willing to heal yourself? 


Marissa: Do you have any like little tidbits of information, you can sneak to us? 


Orsika: Sneaking tidbits of information, there is something that really, really helped me and this is in the course as well. But there's something that really helped me a lot. It's called the mirror exercise. And if you're not familiar with it, it's really powerful. It's, it was the first leap that I took to honestly and truly love myself. So basically, you go to the mirror every night, and you say, hey, whatever your name is. So, for me, “Hey, Orsika, I'm really proud of you for …"and you name three things that you're really proud of you yourself for doing that day. And then you say, I love you, and you Peace out. Right. And we learned this from our mentor, Jack Canfield. And I was like, this is the dumbest thing ever. So, here's the caveat, you were to do this for 30 days straight. If you're going to do 27, he was 28. You get to start all over. And there's whole psychology about that. But we do the we do the mirror exercise. And I hated it. I hated it. Day one. I was like, “I love you for brushing your teeth getting dressed and breathing? Okay, Love you. Bye.” That was it. But the point of that is to make eye contact with yourself so that you see yourself as a real valid human. So, you see yourself, not just this, this thrown away, stupid person who fell for this narcissist, because I've been there. So, I fully understand and I fully feel what you're feeling. But to really value yourself as a human being. And it was really, really hard for me for the first five to seven days. And then well, five and six days. And then day like seven ish. I was like, hey, Orsika. You know what you did today? Yeah, you brushed your teeth. See the difference? Because the first time I was like, “You brush your teeth. I love you bye.” And by day seven, I was like, “You brushed your teeth. You walked the dog and took a shower. I love you did good kid. See you later bye.”. And so, as the time progressed by like day 21, I was able to come up with maybe it was 14. But whenever However, many days later, I was able to come up with more than three things that I loved about myself. And I was able to really have that heart to heart with myself. And I was really able to find the value in who I was. And we were actually traveling when I was doing this exercise. And I so didn't want to miss a day that I literally want to talk to myself in the phone because I didn't want to get up in the bathroom because we were traveling with somebody, I barely knew is my daughter's ex-boyfriend. And anyway, I was like sitting there looking at myself in my phone for 30 days. So, the mirror exercises. It's a big one. 


Marissa: Thank you so much for sharing that. I love that exercise.


Orsika: Though, did you in the beginning? 


Marissa: No. In the beginning, I did the same thing. I was like, I love you. Congratulations for 


Orsika: You bought groceries today. Oh, yeah. 


Marissa: You woke up. 


Orsika: You know, and the important thing is to talk to yourself, and to really be proud of waking up brushing your teeth, and showering, because there are people who go through depression that, showering is a challenge. So, I understand that it sounds really minor, but it's really pretty major. Because then once you learn how to love yourself, then you could do your little gratitude jar. Is that what we call it? Marissa? 


Marissa: Accomplishment Jar. I mean, I can speak on that. As far as the depression goes, when I was like, really, in my feelings with depression, I would go a week without showering. I mean, it's just, it's gross to like, think about now. But it was so hard to roll out of bed, let alone do something that would make me feel better. So being able to do these exercises, and Orsika is full of brilliant exercises and activities and things that you know, will help you. 


Orsika: I think one of the benefits of being a parent, possibly kind of crass, but bear with me for a second. I didn't have the luxury of being depressed. I had to get up and take my kids to school, I had to cook for them. I understand that there are parents who don't do that, because they're so depressed, that they just really physically cannot get out of bed. And I'm not minimizing that at all right? Like, I think it's very important to feel the feels. But I also am very thankful for my children for not allowing me to go there. Because I could have very, very easily gone there. And the trajectory of my life would be totally different. 


Marissa: So, let's talk about you put out a book last year congratulations. In August. Tell us a little bit about your book, and where they can find it. 


Orsika: If you just type into Amazon 52 finding gifts while sinking quicksand. It's a book about 52 different events in my life. Some of them are great childhood memories, and how I dealt with rejection as a child. Some of them are not so great. Abuse stories and healing from the abuse. So, I thought it was an easy read. But my editors like there's nothing easy about this. I'm like, I mean, apparently, it's a heavy read, but I think it's an easy read. So just read it. It's pretty quick read, don't you think Marissa? 


Marissa: I do I love it. I think it's an it's not an easy read. It's an emotional read. Yeah, definitely going to have to like put it down, take a break, pick it back up in a day, but it's so worth it. And I learned so much about you and about myself from reading it.  


Orsika: And the whole point of it, like the reason I broke it up into 52 stories, well, one per week, right? Because we have 52 weeks in a year, but so that you can pick it up, read a story, put it down. So, if you do one story a week, that's you got your year covered. So, you can see I've read something this week for those of you who are not readers, and they're not long stories, they're like what a page and a half 


Marissa: About that. And they're they really are easy reads, but I took something away from every single story. You know, you're welcome. I mean, it's a testament to your writing, you know, and your, the way you express yourself, it's really personal. It just like it hits you and you start to see similarities between you. And like our stories like our stories and how they overlap and how we're all going through something very similar. Everyone who's experienced domestic violence and everyone who's experienced abuse and narcissism. Like we're all related in that way. Right? We have a common foundation. So, where and how can people get in touch with you, when they inevitably want to join your courses and they want you to coach them and work with them and their families. 


Orsika: So outofthequicksand.com and you can get a hold of me there I'm under contact us. You can send me an email Orsika@outofthequicksand.com. Yeah, that's the easiest way email would be easiest way for sure. 


Marissa: Awesome. Thank you so much for being a human and for helping this community. And God I just I love you and I love your heart and I love your work. And I'm just so inspired by you all the time. So, thank you. 


Orsika: I feel totally the same. Thanks Marissa. 



If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


narcissist, narcissism, overcoming narcissism, toxic relationship, toxic people, ways to heal, how to heal from emotional abuse, living with a narcissist, good friends, healthy relationship, intimate partner violence, intimate partner relationship, healthy relationships, self love, confidence, self esteem, low self esteem, self esteem activities, confidence exercises, breaking through the silence, what does emotional abuse do to you, what does it mean to be narcissistic, what being with a narcissist does to you, what emotional abuse does to you, learning how to trust myself again, i trust myself, i only trust myself, in myself i trust, toxic relationship, toxic partner, toxic person, toxic people, trust myself, Can you heal from abuse, narcissistic relationships, What do I do after leaving my narcissist, What does a healthy relationship look like, narcissistic women in relationships, narcissistic personality disorder in relationships, covert narcissism in relationships, being in a relationship with a narcissist, empath narcissist relationship, narcissist in love relationships, vulnerable narcissist relationship, narcissist mind games, narcissistic mind games example, mind games narcissists play, mind games of a narcissist, covert narcissist mind games, mind games played by narcissists, mind games of narcissist, narcissist and mind games, sexual harassment, narcissist playing mind games, mind games narcissist, narcissists and relationships, toxic relationship, toxic partner, toxic person, toxic people, Reclaim Your Life, Healing Steps, You’re not alone, I’m a survivor, physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault, spiritual abuse, consent, what is consent, healing the whole family, spiritual healing, child abuse, intimate partner violence, 

Get Your FREE COPY of  my book, 3 Signs of A Toxic Relationship, Now...  



Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.


Marissa: Hi, I'm just waiting for my partner in crime Orsika to jump on here, so that we can start talking about some very important topics today. One second to try and find her. So, one of the things that Hello, 


Orsika: Hello, 


Marissa: How are you today? 


Orsika: I am great. How are you today? 


Marissa: I'm good that today. I think our topic is did you lose me, I think. 


Orsika: Nope, I have you now. 


Marissa: Okay, cool. Awesome. So, do you want to introduce yourself, and then we'll talk about the topics we're going to talk about today. 


Orsika: I think that's a great idea. So my name is Orsika Julia. And I am the owner of out of the quicksand, which is specifically designed, it's my business specifically designed for parents who have overcome domestic violence and want to just live a better life for life of healing and forgiveness. And, you know, just get out of your quicksand because living in survival mode, let's be honest, sucks. As a parent, fresh out of, you know, when you're fresh out of domestic violence as a parent, you kind of tend to forget about yourself care, because you're wanting to care for your family. So I come and guide you on how to really heal your family through healing yourself. So that's what I do. 


Marissa: Awesome. And I'm Marissa, I'm a healing coach and a bestselling author. I work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well, to help them on their healing path using my three point philosophy called the healing from emotional abuse philosophy. And so welcome. And today, oh, Orsika, and I want to talk about this, this TikTok trend, the National rape day trend that's being talked about a lot. And so do you want to start, or should you 


Orsika: You get to start with your sister? And I'll just take it right after you? Yeah, it's so because I don't TikTok. 


Marissa: So I actually barely TikTok and people kept sending it to me, which is the only way I found out about it. 


Orsika: Awesome. I'm glad they did. 


Marissa: I know me too. So if you're not familiar, the TikTok trend was it says created by six men that were saying that April 24 is National rape day and then that sexual assault and rape is legal on April 24, and encouraging people specifically encouraging men to rape as many women as they can this coming Saturday on April 24. Now, that caused a frenzy backfire from survivors and women all over the world, making videos warning their friends, warning people around them what's happening and to be aware of Saturday Night, because this group of people was basically giving advice on how to successfully sexually assault as many women as possible. According to the USA Today, they haven't actually found any evidence at that original video exists. And I don't know, but I do know that the frenzy it's caused has created a lot of fear in the survivor community and truly in the in the community of women online. So which do you have any, any insight or any quick thoughts about that? 


Orsika: Yeah, thoughts? I think that's totally disgusting. Like, what is our world coming to Right? Like? Why? Let me back up for the men to have these thoughts that this is okay. Really, really hurts me for their soul and for their life? Like, what? upstanding gentlemen which obviously, they aren't. Yeah, but what human Okay, like, let's not even give them all those condolences and caveats, but what human who is of sound, mind and spirit? think that this is okay. So they're very, very broken. And we have to understand that like, people who hurt people come from a very broken place. I'm not saying it's okay by any means. Because I was raped by my husband, ex now but by the husband. And it's nowhere near okay, but to understand that these people are very, very hurt, you know, and they're just going to continue hurting. And the more fire or more coals that we put on the fire, the more hurt people are going to hurt people and that's just not okay. That's just not okay. 


Marissa: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I definitely am fundamentally against people banding together to rape a collection of people, I think that's just a disgusting thought. And it's horrible. You're a better person than I am. Because for me, I don't even care about their condolences. I'm just like, are there anything I state? Right? I don't care about their mental state, like if you have the wherewithal to plot together to, to, to hurt as many people as possible, like, my hope is that they're trying to find actively trying to find the people that started this and all of the people that continue to, to enforce this idea, and throw them all in jail. I mean, I would love to see them all behind bars for at least a week. And the reason that I stopped at a week is because less than 2% of convicted rapists actually spent one day in jail, less than 2%. And so having people that are potentially attempted rapists who are perpetuating this awful rumor or, you know, event should all be 


Orsika: Hate crime, really hate crime? 


Marissa: Absolutely. They should all be locked up. 


Orsika: I guess my question for them is do you have a mother? We all do? And how would you feel if somebody raped your mother? As she was taking her dog for a walk? How would you feel if this was your little sister? Like? Just that? Okay. It's just an I understand, I truly do that hurt people hurt people, right? Like I said, but how would you feel? How would you feel? If it was your mother? How would you feel if it was your baby sister? Or heck better yet? Dare I say? How would you feel if it was your daughter? How would you feel if somebody came up to your daughter who was going on a walk? Just casual walk, and she got gang raped? 


Marissa: I mean, the thought of that gave me chills, and I don't even want to explore that thought, you know, having gone through it myself, and you haven't gone through it yourself. You know, I understand the toll that it takes on the victim on the survivor. And the very thought of that, like makes me itch. 


Orsika: Yeah, especially when you think of like, the 12 year old daughter, the 13 year old daughter. So if you happen to be watching our happy little video, and you think that this is okay, you have a relative who is a female? Is it okay? Think about it. Like it's stupid. And it's asinine. 


Marissa: I agree. It's never okay. It's never ever. And as, as for any survivor listening, if this did happen to you know that it wasn't your fault, and there was nothing that you could have done in that moment that you didn't do to protect yourself. So let's, I could talk about how much I hate assault. But let's move to ways for survivors are ways for people to keep themselves safe, in case, April 24, is what they're saying it's going to be a case it is basically people breaking out and assaulting as many people as possible, what are some ways that people can keep themselves safe in any scenario? 


Orsika: Well, for one living in fear is not an option, right? That's not going to keep you safe. That's just going to keep you close to it. And that's not okay, either. So, I mean, definitely don't just hide in a corner unless, unless you're raped, like, let's say, you've been through it, and it's been recent, then please stay inside and hide in a corner. Like that's okay. Like, it's totally okay. But more importantly, just be aware of your surroundings and go with people. So go out by yourself, ladies, like, just use common sense, don't you think Marissa like, don't go out by yourself. If you can avoid staying in the dark, you know, evil lurks in the dark corners, right? And just stay in, if you if you must be out at night, you know, let's say you want to go clubbing or you're at a friend's birthday party or whatever, then just be smart and go in groups. And that means travel in the car and groups. You know, they're unfortunately, you know, the evil that is out there is smart, right? And you think, Oh, I went to my car and a group and we all Park together but you don't. And I'm not saying this to put fear in you, but you don't know what's in the car. So travel in packs, 


Marissa: Traveling packs with people you trust a minute? Yeah. Because Yeah, 85 I'm sorry. 90% of sexual assaults take place by somebody who's an acquaintance of the survivor. And I think 85% of those are somebody that's in an intimate relationship. And so not only traveling paths, which is so important, and be very aware of your surroundings, but only go out with people that you trust, trust. You know, just keep yourself safe. You know, if you put a drink down, don't pick it back up. There are over 55 different drugs and things people can put in drinks, that will knock you out for at least eight hours, including but not limited to vising. If you squirt a couple drops of vising, the eye drops into somebody's drink, they're going to be in the bathroom all night. If you empty a whole bottle, which is like what that big, right that right, take two seconds to empty, that thing knocks you out for eight straight hours. So put it 


Orsika: And this doesn't let me piggyback off of that, too. This isn't just men raping women. Right? Like, you can't have a woman raping a woman. And you can't have a man raping a man. So this isn't just going out and rape all the women, you know, this is like, just be cognizant traveling packs that you trust and be aware of your surroundings. Always, not just Saturday, like always. 


Marissa: Absolutely. Another trend that I saw, I think a couple years ago, was people drugging men, so that they could take the you know, their, their partner, the female they were with away with no fight. So even if you're a man, you know, put your drink down, do not pick it back up. If it's really that much of an issue, because the drink was expensive. Then text. Hold on Twitter, text me and I'll Venmo you like, I'll buy another drink? Because I'd rather you be safe than and be out $12 then, you know, then have this happen more to people who don't deserve it? You know? Right? Right. Right, anybody deserves it. 


Orsika: Just putting that out there. 


Marissa: Nobody deserves to get paid just for choice in words. What other ways? Can people keep themselves safe? Aside from traveling in packs? And you know, not picking their drinks, surrounding themselves by just trying to get in? 


Orsika: I mean, don't say again, don't stay in from fear, but stay in, you know, 


Marissa: Make a choice to stay in a choice? 


Orsika: Absolutely, like have your gathering and somebody's apartment or house or, you know, keep it safe. I mean, that's, it's more fun that way anyway, because you don't have to deal with the idiots in the world. 


Marissa: Right? Or if you are going out or doing something during the day or at night, what about sharing your location with somebody or sharing your somebody, you know, just in case, I always have my location shared with three people. It's always my mom, and then two people who are either in the vicinity or who I have spoken to and told them where I'm going that way. If something were to God forbid, happen, knock on wood. People know where I am. 


Orsika: Yeah, and that's something so this is the generational difference, right? Like versus just a tinge younger than I am just a little bit. She's my, she's my younger sister, but from another mister. But like, I don't even think about that. Right. And your generation and younger definitely thinks about that. And I think it's great. So I have my, my son, he's, you know, I can find him wherever he goes, right? Because I have that turned on for him. But I don't really go anywhere that people don't know where I am. But I think that's an amazing recommendation, like, have your location device on. Right. That way. If you are in trouble, then the authority can find you faster as well. 


Marissa: Absolutely. There's an interesting story that I Well, a person who came to the safe house I was working out a couple years ago, the only reason she knew where she was when she woke up after a night of being drugged and sexually assaulted was because she called an Uber to her location, and then was able to look back at the location that she called Uber from, and that's how they found the perpetrator. And if she didn't have her location on that wouldn't have been an option. Right? 


Orsika: And I love that that is an option. And I understand why people don't want to have their location and all the time. Like I get that you want your private life to be private, but it could save your life. So be smart. Get over your pride and turn location on. 


Marissa: Absolutely. Can you think of anything else? Because I'm kind of I got my second vaccine today. I have my microchip in. I'm just kidding. But yeah, no, so I'm like, slightly groggy. But do you have any other ideas or tips and tricks that people could use? 


Orsika: Techniques I mean, really common sense. Take a pocket knife are allowed to take pocket knives into places you know, just a little bit each pocket knife. They're what 15 bucks or so. 


Marissa: Something like that. I think as long as it's smaller than your palm at least scans Illinois and New Jersey. You can legally have it with you. 


Orsika: Well, Michigan laws are totally different 


Marissa: In New Jersey or Illinois, but Pepper Spray pepper spray. Sure. I mean, you got 711 for like, Yeah, absolutely. 


Orsika: And this, we're not saying this folk to put fear into your brain or into your soul or anything like that we're saying this just so you use your common sense. And sometimes we forget things like, I wouldn't have remembered to turn off turn on my location, because again, I really don't go out, I definitely don't go clubbing. And when I do go out, it's, you know, to visit Marissa. So, in her nice, comfortable place. I mean, I have a firm to take care of, I don't really have the luxury of I don't give myself the luxury of going out and quote unquote, right. So, again, we're not saying this to diminish your intelligence, we're saying this to keep you protected, and maybe give your ideas that are not in the foreground of your of your mind, right. And if you have any other suggestions or thoughts of ways people can keep each other safe and themselves safe. definitely leave it in the comments we would love to hear. Because I'm sure that we didn't cover everything right. Marissa 


Marissa: Yeah, definitely. 


Orsika: Yeah. And I'm sure people will come up with amazing things, right, a skateboard and beat the crap out of somebody with a skateboard or longboard, I guess it's like, look around, be aware of your surroundings, and see what you can use to protect yourself if the need is there. I mean, if you're drinking a drink, and you need to whack somebody upside the head with the beer bottle, then by all means it's better than getting raped or sexually assaulted. 


Marissa: Absolutely. And be friendly with your server or bartender. And I don't mean like, tip them generously. You know, I mean, like, you know, let them know that you're, you're nervous, or if you need help, like they are trained generally, to take care of situations like that, or have protocols in place to take care of something like that. Sure. You can easily get you out, they can get you separated from somebody who you're afraid of. If you're starting to not feel, well get to a safe place with a safe person. Now it's all coming, you know, 


Orsika: Ask for help. It's okay to ask for help. 


Marissa: People are generally like, Oh, my gosh, programmed to want to help you, right? We all want to help each other in a way. Except people who are scumbag rapists, you know, I mean, they don't want to help you. 


Orsika: They want to help themselves. 


Marissa: Exactly. And it's not about sexual urge, either. It's about power and control. So, like Orsika said, being aware of your surroundings, knowing who's around you knowing escape routes, you know, having things in place like a longboard or pepper spray or mace, mace, whatever, whatever, knife, whatever makes you feel safe. I used to keep a foghorn in my purse, and a rape whistle. I'm not kidding. I had a friend who bought them for me because I had to cross the street to get home, like cross the highway to get home from work. And so I used to keep that in my bag. And I only ever had to pull the foghorn out once thank goodness


Orsika: Thank goodness it was there. Because if not, then, you know, who knows? 


Marissa: Exactly. So, like Orsika said, if you have any other suggestions, or thoughts or questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment box. We will be, you know, around all week, monitoring the video and monitoring the advice you guys give and just keep each other safe. You know? 


Orsika: Yeah. And if you have any, go ahead, I'm sorry Marissa 


Marissa: As you say, it really sucks that this is even like a topic of conversation we have to have, 


Orsika: It really does. And I was going to say if you all have any need for just the support, you know, if you've been through sexual assault, or rape or domestic violence that Marissa and I, that's what we do. That's our specialty. That's our gift and our passion. So, you know, aside from this video, if you are a domestic violence survivor or survivor of sexual assaulters, you know, survivor of rape, then please reach out to us whichever one you know, either one of us will be more than happy to just hold your hand and love on you. 


Marissa: Absolutely. And I have an idea that I have not run by Orsika yet but 


Orsika: It's a perfect idea. I'd love it.


Marissa: Okay, so I think what we're going to do, I'm speaking for you on Saturday, it's going to be probably a very triggering day or an emotional day for a lot of people. So we will have a zoom, maybe going all day, you know, we'll have a Zoom Room available. And if anybody feels nervous or scared or triggered or wants to talk or just you know, needs a pep talk, want some advice for coping skills. Message one of us and we'll send you the link to the zoom video. That will be all day on Saturday. We're here for you. And we're happy to help. 


Orsika: I'll take the morning shift, shift. Marissa has the right one because you know I'm old. No kidding. 


Marissa: Perfect. I'll do the midnight shift. Perfect. Yeah. Do you have anything going on that you want to talk about anything to promote your new programs.


Orsika: I do, but I'm not going to do that right now just to not take away from I don't want my gosh, these words right who got the shot? We can talk about those next week. I just personally, I just feel like this is the time to really focus on what potentially has been put out there for Saturday. I just think it's so important that I don't want to diminish that I want to be able to give my full support to that and we'll talk about what I have to offer next week. 


Marissa: Sounds good and then I'll do the same. 


Orsika: Well, thanks, friend. 


Marissa: Thank you Have a great rest of your night and if anybody needs anything message one of us okay, 


Orsika: Absolutely. Have a good night. All fine.



If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


narcissist, narcissism, overcoming narcissism, toxic relationship, toxic people, ways to heal, how to heal from emotional abuse, living with a narcissist, good friends, healthy relationship, intimate partner violence, intimate partner relationship, healthy relationships, self love, confidence, self esteem, low self esteem, self esteem activities, confidence exercises, breaking through the silence, what does emotional abuse do to you, what does it mean to be narcissistic, what being with a narcissist does to you, what emotional abuse does to you, learning how to trust myself again, i trust myself, i only trust myself, in myself i trust, toxic relationship, toxic partner, toxic person, toxic people, trust myself, Can you heal from abuse, narcissistic relationships, What do I do after leaving my narcissist, What does a healthy relationship look like, narcissistic women in relationships, narcissistic personality disorder in relationships, covert narcissism in relationships, being in a relationship with a narcissist, empath narcissist relationship, narcissist in love relationships, vulnerable narcissist relationship, narcissist mind games, narcissistic mind games example, mind games narcissists play, mind games of a narcissist, covert narcissist mind games, mind games played by narcissists, mind games of narcissist, narcissist and mind games, sexual harassment, narcissist playing mind games, mind games narcissist, narcissists and relationships, toxic relationship, toxic partner, toxic person, toxic people, Reclaim Your Life, Healing Steps, You’re not alone, I’m a survivor, physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault, spiritual abuse, consent, what is consent, national rape day, tik tok trend, trending tiktok, april 24, april 24, 2021, april 24 national day, 

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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.


Marissa: Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse. Today, I have two really awesome guests I'm really excited to chat with. The first one is Shanta Block. She's the sister of Kamisha Block, who was murdered in Iraq by someone in her chain of command, the military label the death as a friendly fire and then attempt to cover it up. And we're going to talk a lot more about that in a minute. And we also have on Jennifer Norris, who is a veteran and an active military advocate fighting for the rights of people who are unlawfully treated by the military. And I'm so excited to delve more into that because they explain this way better than I do. So welcome on, guys. 


Jen: Thank you for having me. 


Shonta: Thank you for having me. 


Marissa: Of course. So, the first thing I really want to talk about is you to have different but similar stories. So Shonta, you did not serve, correct? You just your sister Kamisha did. 


Shonta: Right. 


Marissa: So how did you two find each other? 


Shonta: Well, Jen, would you like to answer that one? 


Jen: Sure. This is kind of how it played out my life. One of my first research projects was to learn more about the non-combat deaths of our soldiers overseas. So, by non combat deaths, I mean, that's the label that the military gives it in an effort to hide what's considered non-combat, meaning suicide, homicide, or some other unknown cause of death. So, I wanted to bring light to all the non combat deaths overseas and find out what the common denominator was. And in my research, I learned about Kamisha. And learned, because of the family's efforts, that it was labelled "friendly fire,” when in fact, it was a homicide by someone in her chain of command. And so, as I moved forward in life, and in my advocacy, I was fighting for Kamisha and the rest of the soldiers that had died overseas in suspicious circumstances. And one day, I was sitting here watching, Investigation Discovery and Kamisha’s story was on a show called Forbidden: Dying For Love. Finally, we got an opportunity to see what really happened over there because the family, their advocacy efforts had reached a bigger audience, including myself. So, it reignited my fire to talk about those cases and deal with it now that we knew the truth about Kamisha. And somewhere along the line, Shonta just found me, and it was like a dream come true, actually, that I'd be working with her on behalf of her sister. Because before I even knew Shonta, I was fighting for Commission's rights and what had happened to her and everything else, and trying to find ways that we could have prevented what happened to her. So, it was an honor that her sister reached out to me, and that we're now in a partnership to stand up for those that have lost their lives. Especially since 9-11. 


Marissa: Wow, well, first of all, thank you for doing everything that you're doing. That's incredible. And so important. I mean, you're giving a voice to the literal voiceless, in a situation where they already are out of control. So, thank you so much for doing that. And I think it's so special that you guys have created a partnership out of something so horrible. So Shonta do you want to tell us a little bit about what happened to your family? 


Shonta: Yes. So, in the beginning, before my sister was murdered, I had gotten a phone call from her. And she just kept saying, “He won't leave me alone. He won't leave me alone.” And I said, “Is there anybody that you can talk to?” She said, “There's nobody. There's nobody, I can talk to you here." And I said, “Maybe there's a church there?” And she said, “No, I'm in Iraq, Shonta. There’s no church to go to.” And I was like, “Well, I mean, do I need to call the Red Cross?” You know, I didn't know how serious it was. You know, she was like, no, no. I said, Well, you know, you're coming home next month on leave, you'll be alright. You know, you'll be home next month. You know, in the very next week, it was the day before my birthday stateside, but over there it was my birthday. So, she contacts me and I talked to her on webcam for a few minutes and she tells me happy birthday and I'm like, it's not till tomorrow, and she’s, Like over here it is the 17th. And I'm like, okay, you know, and I said, you want to see your nephew. And she was like, Yeah, because she hadn't seen yet. I was pregnant when she left.  And she was he was a month and a half old, and I put him in my lab and she was crying. And I told her that I had to pack the diaper bag, because we were going to celebrate my birthday that night with my friends, and go to dinner. And so I was packing in the diaper bag. Well, I seen my sister's killer in the webcam. I seen his face, like, go right into the webcam. And I didn't pay no mind to it, though. You know, I was packing the diaper bag. And I told her I loved her and went on to mom's and dropped Hayden off, my son, and started going down the road. And there was like a really nice car going really slow. And I was like, why are these people going so slow down my parent’s road. They live on a dead end, you know? And I look and it was to service members in the vehicle. And I was like, Oh my God. And I kind of knew, you know, I was like, thinking in my mind, I was like, man, they don't come to your house tell you they're hurt. They're going to call you, you know? I'm freaking out and turn the truck around. And I get to the end of the street and I didn't even kill the vehicle And I got out. And they were facing me. And I seen that bottle behind that Chaplain’s back, and I just lost it. I mean, I just lost it. I told him just don't even tell me. Just don't even say it. And I saw my mom, mom and my dad come out on the front porch, and my mom just went to scream and she was just screaming at the top of her lungs. And, and my dad, I watched him cry for the first time. They said that my sister was shot by friendly fire, one shot to the chest. And it took five days to get her body home and they said her body was flown to Washington DC to be dressed. And then when it got here, it was sent to the funeral home first and I let my mom and my dad go in their first month. Like Come on. I said, “Why don't why don't you and Dad go in there first. You and Pop go in there first. And I'll wait right here by the door, I won't go nowhere. In just a couple minutes come get me. Just go in there first.” And so, I waited by the door. Mom come just a few minutes. And she said, “Shonta. You ready?” And I said yes, ma'am. So, I walked up, walk in there and mom and dad stepped to the back of the room. And she said go ahead and go up there Shonta.  So, I walked out there, and I looked down and my sisters got a bullet hole in her head with a putty patch on it. Just looked like putty stuck in it. And it wasn't her hair on her head. It was a bun glued on the back of her head. My sister's hair was to her chin. And I turned around I said mom, she's been shot in the head. I said this is not even her hair on her hand. And she said Shonta, I know. She said nobody comes in this room. She said, we got to get home and we got to get on the phone. And we need some answers. And what do you do when you're just a civilian? You're up against the government? What do you do? So, mom got hime and she calls the casualty assistance officer, and she says I want to know what happened to my daughter, and I want to know who killed her. I want to name. So a little while later they call back and they give a fake name. I said his name was Carl Brandon. And I got to think and I was like well, I don't think Brandon's a last name. Pretty sure that's a first name. This is not a last name. Something just don't sound right. And she said no. So, she calls back. She says I'd like to get a full name, please and then they call and they said Brandon Paul Norris. Like, Oh, my God. 


Marissa: You okay? 


Shonta: Yeah. So, you know, time goes on. And we finally get a report. You know, we had to go to the congressman's office. And actually, he told the military, they had six months to get a report on his desk in the very last day of the six months is when the report showed up, and half of it was missing. Actually, even more than half after years went by, we found out that we really only have about a quarter of it. 440 pages out of about 2200. Well, we didn't know in there, even the congressman question that you know, and you just never get nowhere because there's really not any laws set up. It's like they have immunity. They can murder your own and get away with it. And I believe I know that. 


Marissa: I would say I know for sure that they know that. And they take advantage of that. As we've heard on other episodes of Breaking Through Our Silence, and as we've heard from stories from hundreds of other families like Vanessa Guillen’s Family. And it's not okay. 


Shonta: Right. So, time went on mom fought and fought. Congress and Brady actually pulled the officers in his office, and let us question them. They would not talk about anything. Pretty much like what they were supposed to be doing, you know, like maybe what their job was. I mean, just talking around everything. They never really answered any question. And we knew that soldiers over there were placed on Gag orders, that they weren't allowed to talk to my family. There was really nothing that you could do at the time and about, I don't know, years went on and Investigation Discovery Channel did that documentary that Miss Norris mentioned earlier. And soldiers seen it and started coming forward. A lot of times, because of fear of retaliation, they don't speak about it. But it's 10 years later at this point. They're out, their stateside. They don't have that hand over them, you know. So, then they all started speaking up and said, Miss Block, this is what happened. This is what happened. I was able to get the case reopened, and it ended up being the first homicide case in the Army to ever be reopen by the Pentagon — by the DODIG — Department of Defense Investigating General. Later on, Miss Norris had found out, by the records, this is the first one. And people kept saying that, I really didn't realize what they were saying. And now I understand. What if there was never a homicide case ever reopened stateside ever? Or there was only one. This is the situation that we have going on in the military. This is what we're dealing with. It's reality. 


Marissa: I want to go back and focus on the significance of the person who killed her. And if you don't mind talking about it. So, you said that you saw her killer in the camera, in the webcam when you spoke to her earlier that day. So, do you know anything about him or who he was? 


Shonta: Yeah. I mean, she had met him in Fort Hood, in a restaurant bar thing. His friend said that he walked over to her. And later, about, I know he started abusing her at Fort Hood. I don't know that it was reported to the PSG, the platoon sergeant. He was actually friends with the killer, because he was an officer there. And so, they let him slide on everything. Well, my sister gets sent to Iraq in a few months, you know, only maybe three months of being at Fort Hood. Well, Brandon Norris is still at Fort Hood. And he's got some training to do. And my sister goes to Iraq. Well, all of a sudden Brandon shows up in Iraq. So, who placed him in Iraq, then placed him as her squad leader? Who pulled the string? Who gave him full access to her, I want to know? In another country, where you know where to turn to. No FBI, no state police, no, nothing? 


Marissa: That's disgusting.


Shonta: Nowhere to turn to. But the ones that are actually letting it happen and doing it. 


Marissa: And allowing after reports are being made of abuse, and stalking. Allowing him access. 


Shonta: So, they get in Iraq, then it goes to abusing her again. Well, a couple of soldiers go in and report it. The PST does nothing. So, then they go to the first sergeant. And they tell him and the captain sitting in there. And that soldier ends up getting moved that day, right then for telling. And this is a male, not a woman, because in the military. I mean, that kind of I mean, they look at males, and that's disgusting, too. They look at them as more than a woman, you know, a woman gets called a soul instead of a soldier, you know? And they're not, you know, they're not another body. These soldiers are men and women, gettin’ murdered by our own people. And the families are not getting answers, and they're not getting justice. 


Marissa: Since the case was reopened, have you guys received any additional assistance from the military or is this still an uphill battle? 


Shonta: No, they closed it. They closed it right when Vanessa died. That's when it got closed. 


Marissa: Interesting, 


Shonta: And they said no new findings and hurried up and closed it. And then the first sergeant that I'm after, that was recorded to he just took retirement in Fort Hood two days on the eighth before the independent investigation got there. And he Just had an IG case on him. The first ever homicide case for a cover up. That's what my papers from the Pentagon. 


Marissa: God, it's just bullshit on top of bullshit, essentially. 


Shonta: Right? 


Jen: Completely. 


Marissa: So, Jen, do you mind weighing in on this? Because this is what you do. 


Jen: Yeah. So okay, all of this was by accident. I want to start off with that. I was a victim of crime while I was in the military. And I witnessed the injustice and how they pretend that the military justice system is equal to the civilian justice system. In fact, it is not. It is set up to protect people in leadership. And that's basically the bottom line. So, I learned the hard way that although the people that I reported, and eventually pled out, in fact, what that meant was, they asked me to agree to the terms of which were, “If you agree to these terms, it all goes away.” And they don't even have to report that anything even happened to any higher authority. So, it can all be swept under the rug at the lowest level. And the Pentagon and Department of Defense, even if they did care, wouldn't even know about it. So that's what inspired me to actually get involved once I was forced out for post traumatic stress, was what an unfair system this is. You give my perpetrators full military retirement, yet you're kicking me out because I have post traumatic stress from what they did. What kind of system is this? So, the reason that I had empathy for Kamisha especially, is because I could have been Kamisha. I was in a situation where I worked as a satellite communications technician, and there were like five people on the team. If I had deployed overseas with my perpetrator, who was also in my chain of command, he was the supervisor. What would I have done? Where would I have turned. there is no 9-11 overseas. I lost my father right after 9-11. So, my new command or spared me from going overseas because he knew I wasn't doing well mental health wise because of the loss of my father. And that's what saved me from going into positions like that overseas, where there's no escape. But at the same time, Congress and everybody knows that women in combat ban have been lifted, more women are going to go overseas, yet they still haven't fixed the situation overseas as to where do you turn to if your chain of command fails you, Or they're the perpetrator themselves? Why do we have to choose death? Because their policies are messed up? 


Shonta: Yeah. 


Marissa: Absolutely. 


Jen: It's unbelievable to me that we have not had this conversation, yet they're bragging every day, about women making strides here, there and everywhere, knowing that we could all get sent overseas on a moment's notice and be a Kamisha Block. What happened to her can happen tomorrow, and it happened stateside to Vanessa Guillen to show the entire nation it can happen on a federal base too. We can't just quit our jobs. We can't just say Oh, I'm sorry. I don't want to work for my rapist anymore without a federal AWOL charge.


Shonta: And the deaths aren't getting labelled right, so we really don't even know how bad it is. I mean, look at Lavina Johnson. She was shot in the wrong side of the head. I mean, acid was poured in her mouth, you know. And they call it a suicide. They call it a suicide. 


Marissa: That's disgusting. 


Jen: So, there's no checks and balances for the military overseas. There's no one to turn to reopen an investigation. There's no one to question them about how things happen. And they're hiding behind the non-combat death label. There's a story behind each and every one of those non-combat deaths, whether it be from suicide, or homicide, it really doesn't matter at this point. Because if I’d gone overseas, with my rapist, I can see taking my life. I got to get away from him after the cases and I still wanted to take my life. So why wouldn't I want to take my life overseas, if the only alternative was him raping me every day, or beating me or whatever it is that he could do overseas, and there's no one around to stop it. It's no different than being trapped in a domestic violence relationship, you know, with a significant other. they're your family. you depend on them for your life. So, if you anyone's Wondering why the soldiers that post-traumatic stress so bad, if they do make it out alive, that's why. 


Marissa: And the worst part about it is that you are legally bound to stay. Or else you're dishonorably discharged and have the most difficult time having getting a job like doing little things, because of that dishonorable discharge, because you stuck up for yourself and did what you needed to do to survive. 


Jen: Right. And so, Congress has been giving us crumbs all along. We asked for what the Vanessa Guillen Act is asking for now, back in 2010-2011-2012 timeframe. And we asked for specifically, the Military Justice Improvement Act, which would basically start changing the military justice system to mirror the civilian justice system. So instead of it going to your boss who can hide the crime, or can choose not to do anything about it, because they're buddies with your perpetrator, or whatever it might be. They want to protect their career, there's all kinds of number of reasons that they're covering things up. They couldn't do that anymore, because then you'd report to a police department or, you know, some sort of investigative authority, who would then investigate the situation. And then present it to a prosecutor who then decides whether or not there's a case to move forward. We all we're asking for is that the military justice system, mirror the civilian justice system, and make the system so that the commander is held responsible too, because they could be the rapist. Why are they immune from being held responsible? Because really, what the military is telling the entire country is, we're going to investigate ourselves and commanders are judge, jury and executioner. And yeah, there's no checks and balances for that. If you don't like it too bad. Oh, you think that case should be reopened? There is no way to reopen it what we said goes. That’s not okay. 


Marissa: That's your right. That's not okay. So, what is it that we can do, as a country to change that? To make it fair, and to make it safe, because I don't have kids yet, but I know as a human that if my child wants to serve, I will most likely throw a tantrum until they don't, because of all these horrendous stories. And it's not because I'm anti-America, or anti-military, I think that we need protection. But I'm so scared for, for people for any service member, especially women, because we're vulnerable and put at a significant disadvantage. 


Jen: Yeah, I was the only female in my work center. And so, I was an automatic target. So, if I go overseas with this group, and one of them turns out to be the rapist, most likely I'm going to be the chosen victim. So, you're definitely put at a disadvantage in that way. So, what I want to see happen is, so Kamisha’s case woke me up to the fact that she wasn't a victim of sexual assault, she was a victim of more of an interpersonal violence. So, one of the things that we need in place is an expedited transfer. So that would be a way for the military member to escape their perpetrator, whether it be from sex assault, domestic violence, stalking, hazing, bullying, whatever it is. But unfortunately, right now, the expedited transfer policy only covers sex, assault, and rape. And I don't want to see the military member have to wait and get assaulted or raped before they can get away from their perpetrator. I'd like to see it expanded so that if they're dealing with escalating sexual harassment, or interpersonal violence, or whatever the situation might be, that they'd be given this expedited transfer to get them away from this person who's obsessed with them and won't leave them alone. Because once you're a victim of that, you figure out really quick, like, Wow, I've been targeted. And no matter what I say, or do I can't stop this. So, we literally need someone to help us escape these situations that otherwise we can't escape without getting federal charges. And where do you go in a place like Iraq? You know, even if you wanted to go AWOL? What are you going to do go run into one of the villages? Like there's nowhere to turn. You know what I mean? Like this is the reality of this situation out in the desert. All I know is why haven't we had this discussion and why haven't they fixed this? And that's going to be the number one thing is to get us to safety, because if you report, it now is a motive for homicide.

Shonta: Right. They get retaliated on. 


Jen: And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recognized that with the Military Justice Improvement Act, why we needed to change the reporting system was, because two-thirds of the people that reported to the military got retaliated against including myself. I got retaliated against so badly, that I had to change squadrons to escape the abuse, because I made him lose his job. That's why they hated my guts. Not that he was a rapist. Not that he was an assaulter or harasser, even though some of them witnessed it. I made him lose his job. No, he didn't lose crap. He got through retire was full military benefits. But as if I'm going to have this conversation with the, you know, judgmental, cruel people. 


Shonta: Here we go. Seeing that again. In Kamisha’s cases, this first sergeant is now Sergeant Major and in charge of military police at Fort Hood. And he gets out on retirement two days from the independent investigation. He sneaks out on retirement, too. 


Jen: Yep, one of the main players, in Kamisha’s case, helping cover this whole thing up overseas, that Fort Hood had the audacity to retire him in the middle of everything. And he's been at that base since at least 2007 because that's when Kamisha was there. So, of all the people in the world, this guy has institutional knowledge of what's been happening at Fort Hood for years, and they retire him. 


Shonta: Right, because he's the military police. So, when there's a crime scene, they show up, the military police show up.


Jen: But what people don't realize is that everybody reports to the commander. So, it would be like in the civilian justice system, saying everybody's got to report to the judge. So, I would have to report to the judge, the police would have to report to the judge. You know, it, basically, that's what the military justice system’s Problem is. Is this one person controls everything, including how it's investigated, what said in an investigation report, whatever. Because the bottom line is, the military does not want you to know that people have been murdered overseas because they don't want to impact their recruiting efforts to get new, young, fresh faces in that have no idea what they're getting ready to step into. So, they can just keep making the same mistakes over and over at our expense. When in fact, all they'd have to do is have a decent justice system that actually cared about things. Include all the reports that are made, so that you'd have multiple people that could you could go to court with to get the one person who was the serial offender, and give them an expedited transfer to get them to safety and let them get some help. Yet, here we are. 


Marissa: I have a difficult time even considering these mistakes. Because I have like I said, I've never served, the closest I got was to was being a contractor for the Army Reserve. And even I know that the most vulnerable population are E1-E4. And if I know that being an outside third-party person, the military definitely knows that. And I would, I would even go as far as say they exploit that because they don't protect those people. And by knowing, having that knowledge, and making no effort to protect the enlisted soldiers who are fighting for this country, who are literally like the foundation of you know, our service, our Armed service, to not protect them is ridiculous, and to not put protections in place for those people that they know are vulnerable is intentional. 


Jen: That's how it feels. That I have moral injury from knowing everything that I know, especially after doing the research and then meeting the families who are left behind with the not never getting answers. Not having a justice system that they can get the case reopened. Getting treated like crap and having to deal with all kinds of red tape and bureaucracy. Because no one knows where to turn. No one knows that the commander is in charge of everything. Like they're coming at it from you know, I've never been in the military. I don't even know where to start. And not realizing that they have to actually contact a commander, not a police officer, not a detective, or whatever. And then that person can stop that, and then it goes nowhere. So yeah, I can't believe, today, in 2020, we’re having a conversation that we can't reopen, there isn't a streamlined process for reopening cases. Federal cases that occur on federal bases or overseas. 


Marissa: And even that there’s, in 2020, no accountability. Right? Like you guys said, it's 100% of the commander's discretion. 


Jen: Right. 


Shonta: Yep. And part if the problem, when the investigators show up on the crime scene is, they have anything to do with it. Like in my sister's case, you know, they were reported to, I don't know how many times. So they didn't do anything. So then when these investigators show up, they will they didn't probably ever even get informed of that. You know? Where does it go? Right? And a fair part of the problem. When the investigators show up on the crime scene, if they have anything to do with it, like in my sister's case, you know, they were reported to, I don't know how many times so they didn't do anything. So then when these investigators show up, they will they didn't probably ever even get informed of that, you know, where does it go? And then if you find something out later, you give it to these investigators, will they tell these commanding officers, and they give them a head start on what you know, because they're running the investigation. 


Jen: They can easily sabotage any investigation to protect themselves. And you know, let me make it clear too. That we're not saying every single commander is going to do this, and they're all covering everything up. I'm saying, the opportunity to be able to cover something up is there.  There’s no checks and balances to prevent that. And the reason that we're calling it out now is that there's been too many families that have stated, I don't believe my child died by suicide, in country, A, B, or C, 


Shonta: Right? My paperworks not lining up. You know? And these soldiers have come forward, and they're saying this.


Jen: Right. So, and I'm seeing the same stories over and over, because I'm doing the military-wide research. So, it's hard to find the information in the state, because not everything goes national. But where there is a lot of valuable data for us to learn to, from as a society is overseas with all the non combat deaths If we start looking into that, to find out how we can solve the problems in the military, whether it be suicide or crime, we have to look at why they've chosen to take their life if we can determine that. And by doing that, we reach out to the Gold Star families, the people that knew them the best to find out why they did it, so that we could find ways to prevent it. Because until we actually find out why, And we start going at the root of the problem like that, you know, we're just going to keep spinning. And that's what we're seeing too is every year sweeping legislation to prevent this or that, and then nothing happens. The numbers go up, the numbers of suicides are the highest they've been. At Fort Hood alone, they've lost more soldiers to homicide in the last five years than they have overseas. And Fort Hood is symbolic of the rest of the bases. They're just more secretive. So that's why I tapped into non-combat deaths overseas, because all the press releases are on the Department of Defense website, currently, until they delete that too, and take that information away from us. But for now, it's on there. And you can clearly look through and see whether they died in combat or non-combat death. And then from there, you can google the person's name, and find out whether or not the family thought form in the media or whatever, because that's really the only place they can turn to try and hold these guys accountable. And so that you're out there. Yeah, that's how I realized it was multiple families that had fought for justice but we didn't know nationwide because it was only local. And so, once you put start putting all those families together and seeing they're all saying the same thing, that's when you start noticing a pattern, and that's where you start realizing, Okay, wow, I didn't realize there's no place to turn to reopen a case. A federal case if it was on a base or overseas. Where’s the checks and balances here? 


Marissa: Right. On the civilian side, about 40% of female homicide victims previously made reports on their abusers of abusive behavior. And those ended up being the killers. So, I would be curious to know what that number is for military. Especially because making a report doesn't necessarily grant something written, you know, right. So, I would like to know How many female homicide victims made reports of stalking, harassment, abuse, rape, before they were then murdered? 


Shonta: Absolutely, that what came out from doing the research is I'd find the non combat death I started with females, because it's a smaller population and not as overwhelming. There's a lot of males that have died from non-combat deaths, two that I care very much about and want to explore more. But I started out with the females. And I realized there was a common theme over and over from the parents that they soldier had reported rapes, the soldier had reported harassment, the soldier had reported, in Kamisha’s case, interpersonal violence over and over and over. And then that's what caught my attention was, wait a minute, these are crimes that could have been prevented. And because of military policy, these people are having to choose death, whether it be by their perpetrator, or they take their own lives. And that we can fix. And that's the mission that I'm on right now is fixing the military policy necessary to get these people to safety. So, they can live and not die because the military doesn't have the right policy in place. And where do they turn to you with the chain of command fails them? We need some sort of bug out plan and overseas locations. Especially Kamisha. She shouldn't have had to chosen death, because no one would help her. And she had nowhere to turn. And that's our current situation. That's reality right now for the US military. 


Marissa: So, what advice do you guys have for either families of people serving, or people that are serving to help keep themselves safe? And for the families to help keep their family member their service member family safe? 


Shonta: Oh, man, all I can say is mind your business, and don't do nothing extra for nobody. 


Marissa: Isn't that awful thing to think? I mean, you're right… 


Jen: Pray that you don't become a victim. Because once you do, life as you know it, it will never be the same. Because you can't just get out of the military, you have to stay in and deal with their abuse until you can get out of the military. And why should an 18-year-old or a 20-year-old or a 22-year-old die when the military is a temporary situation? Why can't we just fix our discharge policy, if you hate us that much that you're going to bully us to death? Because we had the nerve to report and inconvenience you and your job? You know, why can't you just like find some compassionate way to let them get help and then get out? Instead of them having to choose death? Why aren't we having that conversation? And as long as everything goes good in your career, you'll be good. But until you have to deal with the military justice system, in any capacity, you'll find out really quick, you're going to get sold out quicker than you know what, until we take the power out of the chain of command and put it in the hands of somebody else, like a police department where that's their only job. Just do what we do in our own communities with our police departments not have my dad being in charge of the entire town. You know? Really, that's what they're asking us to do in the military. Dad, you’re going to use your iron fist to run this town through those police departments. You know, really, that's what they're saying. So, we can until we can change that we're not going to be able to really give people hope on the military justice end. But there are laws that people can help fight for, in the meantime, to provide those safety measures so that we can prevent anything happening to their loved one should they choose to join the military. So, they can contact their congressional members and help support the Brandon Act, which would be a law that is named for Brandon Caserta. And it would allow people to get mental health treatment, as opposed to choose suicide while they're in the military. So at least that would be some measure of hope for them until they can get out, or their situation can change. Then we've been fighting for the Military Justice Improvement Act since 2013. That would remove the decision making of felony crimes out of the hands of the commander and into the police department, detectives, prosecutors’ hands to make those decisions. So more along the lines of independent investigations. And then recently they've come out with a Vanessa Guillen Act, that's tackling the sexual assault and sexual harassment issue that we’re dealing with, that lead to other crimes. So, if we take these crimes more seriously, then we can prevent the homicide. So, you know, you'll find the terms of that bill in the online in the IAmVanessaGuillen And then there's other bills too And I list everything on my website, military justice for all. Basically, I track the military legislation history as well so that I know what to share with people and they know what to ask for. So, we can make these changes. But we really need people to like take action on our behalf to get these issues addressed as quickly as possible. Because Meanwhile, people are dying in the data backs it up, like our suicides are the highest they've been active duty wise, our veteran suicide is high, we'd like to prevent them from even getting post traumatic stress to begin with, so if we tackle things on the military, and we could actually make some real change and save some lives. 


Marissa: And what about you, Shonta? Do you have any, as the sister of a of a veteran? Do you have any advice for families that might be going through this? 


Shonta: I mean, don't give up. I mean, I know it's an endless battle right now. And I know there's really, I mean, there's no laws and stuff set up for justice at the moment. But I mean, I have written a bill for accountability and justice. And hopefully family, you know, it'll get passed and families will be able to get answers and justice. And then a court system that just like, you know, there is in the state when there's a murder. Right now, there's nothing like that. So, I mean, don't give up and he could send for four years, and you can always be trying to do a DODIG report, you know, if something's wrong. It's still no hope when they're investigating themselves, because it just gets given right back to the same in the the investigation. I don't know. Just don't stop, you know, always tell your story. 


Jen: Because collectively, their voices do speak and her bill that she's talking about, is the first time that anybody's asked for a way to reopen investigations in the military. Because really, what she's saying is, if we don't reopen this, like we're letting a killer roam free, potentially. And so the family has evidence of some sort where we can bring it forward to an independent investigator and get it reopened as a homicide, potentially, then we're doing our job, which is trying to put criminals away, and why they wouldn't have anything in place to deal with that is beyond me. But it's the same organization that doesn't have one place to go to find out all the unsolved homicides that they do acknowledge, and missing cases. Nothing surprises me, it seems that the institution's reputation is more important than actually solving cases. God forbid, they put unsolved cases on and turn off a new recruit that, you know, has no idea how dangerous the military really is. So therefore, them hiding the data hurts people because we can't make informed consent on whether or not we want to join a dangerous organization or not. Do we even want to take that chance? So, the Kamisha Block Accountability And Justice Bill would be an excellent answer to help us start solving some of these unsolved cases with all these other families that have come forward and collectively said, something's wrong with this investigation. I don't think this is suicide. It's a homicide. 


Shonta: And I think the numbers would go down. I mean, if we started seeing accountability, why wouldn't the numbers go down? 


Jen: Exactly. 


Marissa: Right. If they're held accountable, the people that are doing the awful things, and will be probably kicked out of the military, are discharged. And it will scare other people from taking advantage of the vulnerable population. 


Jen: It really is important that people contact their congressional members because like the squeaky wheel does get the grease, and we really need civilians by the numbers. What it boils down to is, if the military doesn't take care of their crime issues, it's spilling out into the civilian world. And my research backs up that they've been let out under these kinds of circumstances and then turn around and kill somebody in the civilian world. So, the military, not dealing with their issues is already impacting civilian society and has been for years. And nobody says anything until after the fact when they're in court and finally can get the data that's hidden to find out, “Oh, wow, he was problematic in the military, too." So, it's coming out in these court cases, but I think collectively we need to talk about its impact on our civilians as well. Their policy is killing our civilians. 


Marissa: You're absolutely correct. I think it needs to start from the top and work its way — clean house and work its way into the foundation. Thank you so much for being here today and for chatting with me. You brought up and touched on a lot of really important topics and made some really awesome points And I'm hoping that in the next year, all of these bills will pass : The Brandon Act, The Kamisha Block Accountability and Justic Bill, The Vanessa Guillen Act. That's our job as civilians is to protect the people that are protecting us. We're now fighting for their freedom as well and for their safety.

If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.


Marissa: Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse. A couple months ago, there was a news report that hit the US for about 10 minutes about a gang rape in Israel in Eilat — a small city at the bottom tip of the country, on the Red Sea, which has been compared to Las Vegas-ish. And it didn't get a ton of media coverage. But apparently in Israel, it opened up the big to do about misogyny and the rape culture of Israel. So, I have the incredible honor of bringing on a friend of mine Tiferet Solomon. She is a bold, amazing Israeli activist who fights for the change in legislation around rape and rape culture. She'll tell you a little bit more about this. But four years ago, she had a rape attempt, and was able to get herself out of the situation. And we'll talk more about that in a minute. She has been fighting to change the legislation and policy in regards to rape drug victims in Israel. Thank you so much for being here Tiferet. I'm so excited to talk to you.


Tiferet: It's my pleasure, Marissa, thank you for inviting me,


Marissa: Of course. So, you had an experience, a rape attempt? Do you want to tell us a little bit about that, because I think that's kind of, as you said, what put you on the path to doing what you're doing today?


Tiferet: Right. So, about four years, actually, it's, it's four years ago and two months, to be exact. I was given a ride to this guy who I met through a Facebook group. I was going up north for the weekend. And I posted on a Facebook group for rides because it is a very small country. And the farthest distance you can go is about eight hours from one end to the other. So, it's very common that people will share rides, also they share with the cost and also, you know, it's nice to have company. So, I wasn't doing an eight-hour ride, I was doing a two-hour ride. But I posted it on Facebook group, I'm going up north, if anyone wants to join. And there were four people who join me, it was fine, everything was good. And then one of them said, I'd actually love to come back with you on Saturday night, back to Jerusalem. And I was more than happy to do so and we just talked the entire ride on the way back. It was just he and I. It was comfortable. I felt very safe and very listened to. Now, after the fact that I realized that I felt so safe and listened to it because he was listening intently to every single word I said and collecting as much information from me as possible. When we reached Jerusalem, it was like 12:39. I was supposed to go to a friend's birthday party. It was later so I wasn't sure if that's still there or not. And he said, would you like to come up with a bit of refreshments before you go? And I was like, you know what? Sure. 15 minutes, it's fine. As I mentioned, the car ride seemed comfortable and nice. And it seemed that we were actually really connecting. There was no sexual tension at all whatsoever. I have to like make that clear, because sometimes people go oh, maybe those mixed messages. No, not at all. I was very, very blunt and very clear about the fact that, that was not where I was at all. It was more just, we had a good time talking together. So, we went up to his house, his roommate was gone. I took with him my bottle of water, just in case I wanted to drink something. We went upstairs we were standing in the hallway outside like his bedroom / the kitchen / the bathroom. And he said, Let's go out for a smoke. And he asked me, wait do you want to drink? And I said No, I'm good. He's like water, coffee tea. And I was like, holding up the bottle in my hand with like a bit of a weird facing. Yeah, I bought with me. Thanks. I'm good. He's like, okay, I'll get the tobacco because then it's like common that people won't cigarettes as opposed to buying pre-rolled. And then he started rummaging on his table on his desk table in his bedroom, which was odd because I noticed on the corner, there was the package of tobacco just sitting there. I'm like, Okay, what am I supposed to do while he's doing this? And then I said, you know, fine, I'll go use the bathroom. And so, I said, I'm going to go excuse myself. When I came out of the bathroom, he came out from a different room with a different case of tobacco which again, you know, it's all of these things that you notice after the fact. In advance I didn't think it was weird because Chainsmokers, thank God I‘m not anymore, but tend to have a lot of tobacco is just lying randomly around the house. So, I really didn't think too much of it at the time. We went up to 12 pillows for both of us a cigarette, and like a single one, though. And who started talking. Mostly he was talking, I asked, you know what he does for a living. Tell me a little bit more about this project you're working on. And as he's talking and smoking, and I noticed, at some point that I lost train of thought he was talking about things that made sense, he was telling me about his book. And I would hand him the cigarette at times, and he would continue talking. And then each time it went down by the time he came to take a puff, and then he'd light it again. But then continue talking, and then come to take a puff. And again, it was out again. He’d light it, and then continue talking. And then he just gives it back to me, he wasn't really smoking. Again, things you don't notice in advance only after the fact. And at some point, I noticed, though, that I can't understand what he's talking about. Not because the words he's saying, aren't words that make sense, but rather, there's no logical connection between a moment ago, he was telling me about the book he's writing. And now he's throwing to me these random words from the field of Political Science and International Relations, which is the field of study that I was majoring in at the time in the university, and I told him about this during the car ride. And he's just throwing these random, like, you know, it's because of the Colonialization of the Post-Modern Economic Effects of and like, nothing made sense. But it was words that was supposedly comfortable for me. And I was trying to focus in and listen to what exactly he's saying and see, okay, maybe I'm just like, not following his train of thought. But once I listened more I realized, yeah, no, there's no logic here. I'm not even sure how long we've been sitting here. And like, everything started feeling very misty. And I said, what time is it? And he didn't answer you continue talking and was talking is very low, calm, monotonic voice. And I said, I think it's late and I should go. And he, again, didn't react, continue talking. He had his train of thought, and he was going with it. And I realized, okay, I feel like I'm losing consciousness. I feel like I'm losing grasp of reality, and like, something was really off. And I was scared that if I stood up and left, maybe he would try to stop me because something wasn't adding up. And I was starting to recognize, Okay, wait, I was the only one smoking. All of the things were slowly falling into place. So, I slowly got up. And I said, you know, I'm going to go. And he said, what we're having such a nice time. Don't want to stay? I was like, No, I'm going to head out. And I started slowly walking towards the door keeping like, half of my body turned towards him, half towards the stairs, because I was scared that if I turned around, he would grab me from behind, or try to stop me in a way that would cause me to trip over myself on the staircase. So, I was walking, consciously, out while slowly trying to create more distance between us without alarming him by running. And he's like, wait, I have to give you money for the car. I'm like, No it's really fine. It's all good. And I like open the door, and walked out. The second I left the door of his house, I ran to my car, which was parked like at the bottom of the street, right around the corner from his building. And I saw him from the corner of my eye running after me. And I ran even faster into the car. I locked the door, started the car and drove away as fast as I possibly could. While I was doing this, I called my mom. And I said, Mom, I've been drugged. I'm heading to a safe place where I'm going to call an ambulance and going to go to a hospital. Meet me there. And as I'm talking to her, I feel like I'm losing grip on reality. Like, everything is fading, and everything's blurry. And like, I can feel how I'm fighting to stay away, stay conscious. While I was really feeling like this heavy cloud coming over me and trying to like, wipe me out completely. And I had to stay with my mom on the phone actually, in order to drive because I thought like if I didn't talk out loud, I would lose it right then and then what's in the middle of the street. So, I drove to the side. It was about 500 meters away from his house, maybe a kilometer, and I called an ambulance. Now, I have EMT training in my past. I used to volunteer on an ambulance on a regular basis and, and I know how ambulances are supposed to work. And the ambulance that showed up was horrible. They didn't want to take me to the hospital. The paramedic who is the highest ranking official in the ambulance, sat down on the side lit a cigarette and started laughing and saying to his friend, Forget it. She's drunk or crazy. And I'm begging them in tears telling them you don't understand. I've been drugged, and I need to get to the hospital. And they would just, they thought I was insane. Now one of the first things that I always taught people, when I was teaching them how to volunteer and ambulance was, you are the first person that someone in need is going to meet. The most important thing you have to do is be there for them. Imagine how you would want your grandmother to be treated or your parents or you yourself and do that to the patient that you're meeting. Meaning that you are the first person who is really going to give assistance and, in a time of real dire need. But the way this team acted was so far from it, that I was sure that I concocted in my mind the fact that I actually was able to get out of his house. And I started thinking that I'm actually still at his house, and he's raping me. But in order to not feel what's going on, I am playing in my mind a safe scenario that I know from my past as an EMT, that is trying to overcome the trauma that I'm experiencing live. And it's not really happening. Now, they didn't want to take me away to the hospital, and this is going on. I ended up like trying to call another ambulance. But there's only one Ambulance Service really that people use and it's out. And I told him, I'm here with the ambulance, and they don't want to take me to the hospital. I need them to take me. And so thankfully, the person at the call center told them, okay, you're there, you're with her take her to the hospital. Now, besides this traumatic treatment that I had, from their side, they never once mentioned that there's a hospital in Jerusalem that actually has a, we call it an Acute Care Center. It's what it's used for people who are brought to the hospital with fear of sexual assault of any kind. The staff there also undergoes professional training in how to treat sexual assault victims. But also, they have legal standing, that allows the testimony and the tests and the entire process to actually be acceptable in court, which is a very important thing to note. So, they never mentioned that the hospital that takes care of that is not the one they took me to. Instead, they said, Yeah, we'll take you to [a different hospital], which is the one I told my mom to meet me at. And that's also what I was thinking. But I didn't know that there's this alternative and how important it was at the time. And again, I'll remind you, they didn't want to take me to the hospital to begin with. So, they brought me to the hospital, and the entire call light I was like, holding on for dear life to not lose consciousness. Because again, I was scared that I'm not actually being saved. But rather I'm still being attacked. And I needed to see a face I didn't recognize before I could let go. And I remember the second they brought me into the ICU, I saw a nurse walking, although I'd never seen him before in my life and that's it. Everything else went dark. That's where I lost consciousness. My mom and cousin apparently were there to meet the ambulance team. They got there already beforehand. And my mom acted as my advocate throughout the entire process because I was unconscious for about nine hours. And she told them, we think she's been drugged. We need blood tests and urine tests. And she said give me the samples, I’ll take them to a private lab. Apparently, that's not acceptable either. Because in order for it to have legal standing, it has to go through a lab that is recognized. At the beginning, the doctors were skeptical, they didn't put me in a room to take care or treat me. They rather just left me lying in the hallway with hope that my symptoms would pass because they, too, thought that I was you know, drunk or under different kinds of influence. Yeah, so that's about what really happened to me during this time, which really caused me to be much more aware of everything that's going on. There were a lot of mistakes that happened though, also in regards to the way the ambulance conducted itself. As I said, the hospital itself my mom pleaded and begged with them, please give me the test. They didn't agree. Then they said we will send them to a different hospital, which is the only Hospital in Israel that has a lab that can really check for, like drugs that has legal standing. And they said okay, we're going to send her blood test and her urine tests to that hospital and follow up with us. Now, there were policemen who came already before I woke up. The second, I gave the call really for an ambulance, the duty is to alert policemen and have them come to the hospital and collect testimony from the victims. They were standing around waiting for me to return to consciousness. My mom gave them my testimony and they said if she wants to come and open a case, then tell her that we already have the complaint filed in and it will be attached to that. And then, after I was released from the hospital, I went immediately to file a complaint, because this is a sad truth, and I think most places, but in Israel it’s know that if you don't give a complaint within the first 24 hours, the chances of it being treated as seriously go down by about 70%. There are many cases that people come in only later, because of the trauma and fear of dealing with it. And the difficulty of really coming in and giving testimony of whatever case it is. People many times don't do it immediately. But there have been a lot of cases in which when you actually come within the first 24 hours, it's treated much more seriously. And it's given a higher priority. I wouldn't say top priority, because unfortunately, sexual assault victims aren't top priority. But it's given somewhat more of a higher one. And also, that when I gave testimony, they told me, "Okay, we need to get your lab results from the hospital to be able to see which drugs were in your system. That's going to be a key part of us continuing with looking into your case, and what happened here. And we are going to let you know if there's any change or development in your case. And it has two years until it's closed automatically.” But they guaranteed me that I'd get updates. Now I have to say for the policeman's credit, the person who interrogated me, who I gave my testimony to was very, very calm; very sensitive. I was terrified, because you hear all these stories of policemen or people who take witness that accuse you. Well, how are you acting? What are you wearing? What was the interactive beforehand, and I was happily surprised that my experience was actually a positive one. And he guaranteed me that they'd be in touch with me. Two weeks later, I called the hospital to see if there was any news in regards to my test results. And I found out that they never sent my blood or urine samples to the hospital that can do the more advanced checks. Meaning the hospital that I was in does very, very basic toxin evaluation and blood and urine. They don't do the more advanced kinds. And they were supposed to send it to this hospital that has a special kind of testing, that also gives it legal standing, and also really has the ability to look for it. And they told me they never did. I call the doctor who was taking care of me and the ICU and I asked if I could have it. And he said what are you talking about? I told them to send it and he was shocked when I told him they didn't. And then he said one moment, I'm going to check something, wait on the line. And he calls me back and he says, I'm sorry, they didn't send it. And I said, “Why? You said that we need it. You said that you guys don't have the ability to at the police told me that we have to have these results in order to do that.” He said, I know. I told them to, they didn't. I'm sorry, I don't know why. So, this was heartbreaking. I mean, I was waiting these two weeks when I was already, you know, pretty much ready to give up on life and hardly getting out of bed at four o'clock in the afternoon. I was waiting for these results. And suddenly I find out that they when I was sent. That was the beginning, I guess, of what really got me involved in this. Because my tests will never send, I started looking into it and researching what usually happens. What's the status of rape drug victims in Israel, and how are they treated. And I found out that many times, the tests aren't even sent to the hospital that needs to have it. Not every hospital has an Acute Room. As I mentioned. Jerusalem specifically, we have three hospitals here. So actually, like you have a variety and you have a choice to go there if you wanted to. But there are other cities that don't have a hospital that has an acute room at all. And even the hospital that I was in who doesn't have the right room to treat me, they were supposed to send my test to the other hospital, which is the only hospital that has the lab to check for these kinds of drugs, and they didn't. And that's something that happens in many, many cases. And the more I looked into it, I found out how common unfortunately it is. There was a journalist in it, who wanted to really discuss this matter. And she reached out to me due to a Facebook post that I wrote seven months later in which I wanted to tell the world what happened to me to raise awareness to let people know that it's not just something you read about in newspapers that happens on the other side of the world, but it's happening here, and happening to people you know, and it's happening to an unassuming woman just gave a ride to a guy and thought that you know, we're talking it's all good so we can go have a smoke on his roof without anything happening. And that caused:

A) A lot of people to also reach out to tell me stories that happened to them. Not necessarily about rape drugs; about rape, about sexual assault, about the depression that came after. About trying to deal with life. About the post trauma that comes up in dates on interactions. I found that this really opened up a can of worms, where people were sharing with me, I was sharing with others and, and I really found out how, unfortunately common not an assault is because that I already know, unfortunately. But the terrible treatment that the system has towards victims of sexual assault of all kinds. So, through my Facebook posts, I started working on legislation and policy changes. And we had our first somewhat successful policy change in December 2018. Where they released a policy that dictates that the hospitals must treat all victims who show signs of a rape drug, according to a specific process, and really take the test that are relevant, and send it to the relevant labs. Go through everything that's supposed to, in theory, a wonderful policy. Unfortunately, now we're finding out that it's not being implemented as it should. And so now, two years later, I am working on getting the implementation of that policy. But I'm happy to say that in these four years, the policy was written. So that changed, and also hospitals stopped throwing out rape drug kits, which was also a huge, huge achievement that we have worked very hard on, because I couldn't stand the fact that anyone else would be treated the way I was. So, there's still a lot more to go. But it's an uphill battle. Things are changing slowly, slowly. But there's a lot to do there. And as time goes on, I just see more and more how lacking the system can be. And when it comes to this matter, which I'm sure you know, you come and you're looking for like that lifeline to save you and help you and protect you. And having the system turn their back on you is horrible. And it can be even worse than not trying to get help at all. So, I'm working to change that.


Marissa: You brought up so many good points. Thank you, first and foremost for sharing your story. Because it is heartbreaking. When your first line of defense, looks at you laughs and pulls out a cigarette because they just don't care or they don't believe you. I feel like that's even more horrifying than being told we don't believe you. Because in that person's behavior in the paramedic’s behavior, they basically shut you down and didn't even have the Kahunas right, like they didn't even have the guts to tell you, you we don't believe you. There's like, Oh, she's drunk, let's just this is break time for us now. And that's so disheartening, especially when you're going through something so traumatic, that the first person you meet that's supposed to help you just doesn't care, and then to be continuously shot down by every person you come into contact with. I mean, man, you are, you're a tough cookie, I am so inspired by you. So, thank you for doing what you're doing and changing the legislation.


Tiferet: Thank you. I appreciate that. And thank you for what you're doing. Spreading the word is definitely, without a doubt, very, very important.


Marissa: Thank you very much. But it's people like you who are doing the real changes. So, thank you. Let's talk a little bit about rape culture in Israel. So I, in the states, rape culture is a mixed bag, right? Little boys grow up being taught, you're not allowed to cry, you have to be tough. So that manifests in anger and rage and they don't know how to reach out, they act aggressively. Not all men I'm not trying to generalize, but basically, rape culture is very widely ignored for children. And it manifests in aggressive, abusive behavior later. What is Israel's rape culture Like?


Tiferet: Honestly, I think that when you look at rape culture, I wouldn't necessarily look at the fact that men aren't necessarily, sorry little boys aren't necessarily taught to connect to their feelings and express them in a way that they that they feel comfortable with. It's also the fact that men and young boys are taught the way women interact is fake or they're playing a game. When you go on a date with someone and she says no, at the beginning when you try to kiss her, that's just part of the game. Okay, so she's paying hard to get. I had a guy who told me and this was when I was, I want to say 22 or 23. He was 32, I think. Maybe 31. He told me there isn't a woman who doesn't give, there's a man doesn't know how to take. Sorry, it’s a rough translation from Hebrew. But the point was, “There's no such thing as a woman who isn't willing to sleep with you. It's a matter of are you a man doesn't know how to take it.” And I was horrified Because this was four years ago, five years ago. And that was a statement that he saw no problem in saying, and the bigger problem was that it's a sentence that he's heard from other people as well. And its other men who feel this way, as well. So, there's very much that culture of, you know, did you nail her? No, did you get in her pants? Did you play hard to get? And that's something that's still very, very present, and very, very common. And I think that's the bigger problem, where you're teaching men that they should read the signs that the women are giving in the wrong way. And honestly, I'm not disregarding women's part in this also. Women are also taught, don't give in immediately. You can't sleep with a guy on the first date — that turns you into a tramp. There's nothing wrong with sleeping with a guy on your first date if you want to, and if he wants to, and if you both are supportive and respectful and connecting and present in the moment. But like, when it comes to the interactions in between men and women, I feel like we're still teaching these 100-year-old rules of how to do things. And there's something very, very lacking in, Okay, well, much more developed and connected to our emotions and to complexities of life. And don't talk with your friends, or you’re with, especially when you see a group of male friends. Don't talk with your group of male friends about that woman's ass, or how sexy she is, or the fact that everyone has gotten a piece of him. And that's something that for some reason isn't, you know, that I like, and I don't know, if I'm generalizing here, and I don't want to, but it's something very possessive And…


Marissa: It's aggressive.


Tiferet: And unfortunately, it still is something that you hear on conversations. I think people feel less comfortable about making these comments now in the presence of women, which sometimes they used to do more. But it still might happen between a group of men. You know, in a Facebook group; in a WhatsApp group. I had a friend who told me a few, like two or three years ago that she found that there's this Facebook group that men post naked women. Have pictures of naked women that are sent to them, whether it's by their girlfriends, or by one-night stands or that they find online. And it's disgusting. Whether it's a woman who sent you a picture of her naked by choice, that's fine. But then you're taking it and sharing it with a group of other people who have absolutely no rights to it. And so, there's something very much in the culture itself, I would say that is a little more than a little problematic. A lot problematic. And then there's also and this I can't emphasize enough, the system that doesn't take care of it as they should. For example, a few days ago, there was a case of a man who attacked his wife and her beat up and stabbed her. He was horrible. And he was really taking out all of his anger and aggression on her in the worst possible way, in front of the one-and-a-half-year-old. And the judge decided that he doesn't want to release the name of the man, because he doesn't want to and these are his words, “Hurt his reputation." Now, this is a man who ruined his own reputation within a couple of hours, by beating up and stabbing his wife in front of his child. And the judge doesn't want to release his name because he's trying to protect his reputation?


Marissa: I just had a horrible, a horrible flashback to Brock Turner. Did you guys hear about that case at all?


Tiferet: Yeah, I mean things travel.


Marissa: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like Brock Turner. Oh, well, we don't want to ruin his life. He already ruined his life when he, you know, stabbed his wife. Brock Turner ruined his life when he took an unconscious girl and raped her behind the garbage can. Like that was an action that determines and defines the person's personality.


Tiferet: Exactly. But for some reason, when it comes to sexual assault, or rape, there's much more room for temporary insanity. It seems that people don't like to claim temporary insanity, except for one come to these cases. Then it’s like, “Oh, no, he wasn't thinking. He was under the influence of alcohol." Like if he was driving drunk and killed someone you wouldn't treat it that way. But when it comes to sexual assault or rape, oh, no, you know, it's understandable. It happens. Sometimes it's very dismissive. And when the system that is supposed to protect you is dismissive, you can't really expect other people to act other ways.


Marissa: I'm so glad that you brought that up. When I lived in Israel, I lived in Herzliyya. And we would go to Herzilyya Pituach and go out to, you know, clubs and bars and whatever. And I noticed that guys, like you had mentioned before, we're so much more willing to come up right behind me put their hands on my waist and pull me into them to dance on me, even if I didn't know them. And, and when I would try and get away from them or move and be kind of polite about it, there was really no change, right? They’d just pull me back in.


Tiferet: Right. Because you're playing the game, you're not supposed to give it immediately.


Marissa: Right. And I didn't, I mean, coming from America, I didn't know that. So, I learned very quickly that the only way at least in 2010, the only way to get them off you, was to elbow them really hard in the ribs. And if I didn't elbow them really hard in the ribs, they would keep pulling me back in. So, I mean, it makes so much sense now that you said it like that, that it's a game. You know, oh, I'm supposed to pull away because I really want to dance with you, when that's not truly the case. And that element of consent doesn't really matter.


Tiferet: Right, for some reason we don’t, and I think this is really a huge lacking, we don't teach enough respect for — well I think it goes both ways. Men aren't taught enough respect. When you hear a no, because they're taught, they're playing the game. And women aren't taught enough, don't play it hard to get. Be straightforward about what you want. There's nothing wrong with choosing this way or the other way. But be straightforward about it. Don't play games.


Marissa: Yes, absolutely. So, let's move on to around 2018. Right, the #MeToo movement happened here. And it spread really fast around the world, right? You guys felt the me to movement by you? Right?


Tiferet: Definitely. Yes, that was global.


Marissa: So, did anything change after 2018?


Tiferet: So actually, speaking of the system that's supposed to protect you. So, another article that I participated in was, after MeToo got really, really strong. There was this huge social movement that came from Facebook, where people started sharing their MeToo stories, which happened also in the States, I know. And then in Israel, there was also a MeToo — that I was also assaulted or attacked in whatever way once; and then there was also, MeToo — I turned to the system for help, and I was turned away. And then they did a front-page article on one of the Unwind Edits — it's one of the leading newspapers in Israel. We were a front page spread, they bought six of us to interview about, it was really because of the MeToo, you were attacked, you complained, and then you were turned away. And they did a huge bed of like four or five pages in the weekend newspaper, centerfold, about the six of us who came complained, gave testimony, and then were turned away. And how the system turned their back on us. And that was also a huge thing that MeToo did here, which was positive. And this in the sense of shedding more light on the way the police and the hospitals and the court system acts in regards to sexual assault victims. So, there was also a change in regards to sharing stories of what happened, and also a change in regards to, how was I treated by the system? How did the police treat me? How did hospitals treat me? How did the court system treat me. That started really, I would say, October 2018 and it's only been getting stronger. And specifically now due to the case in Eilat, it got much stronger? The volume in which people are crying out and sharing their side has risen immensely.


Marissa: So, let's talk about that. I'm really glad that things are getting better there. Or at least the protocols are tightening up a little bit, so that survivors feel more supported. We're still fighting that battle here, too. But I feel like we are a little bit further along than Israel might be. I don't know if that's rude to say. I didn't mean it that way.


Tiferet: No, that’s probably fair. I would say that the social awareness has gotten higher. I don't know that the actual system has gotten much better. But we're working on that as well. Definitely. We're working on that.


Marissa: Good, because that's so important. So, let's talk about what happened this year. So, this is how I heard it and I could be wrong. So please correct me if I'm wrong. But the story that we were told was that there was a girl in Eilat who was gang raped. And that was it. That's all we got. So, I don't know what happened after, as far as her healing. But then it's telling us that the rape culture in Israel was being overturned. And there was like a lot of people that were painting over misogynistic phrases, and pictures, and statues, or whatever things that were around Israel, that were misogynistic, were being taken down. Is that accurate?


Tiferet: So actually, I didn't hear this side of taking down things that have to do with Israel. I'm sorry about that. What happened was, and I have to say it was a bit of a mess, because also, here information was released in pieces. And the information at the beginning was vague, to say the least. But it started by there was a gang rape a 16-year-old girl with 30 men and that's what most people heard. Exactly. Now. That's what's going on. And for about a week, that's what was on the headlines of every single newspaper, and every single news article out there. A 16-year-old girl was raped by 30 men. And then, you know, the next day, they said, “Oh, it wasn't men, it was some men and some young boys.” And they started trying to understand exactly what's going on but for about a week, we thought it was really 30 men. And what you saw all over Facebook was people crying out. How is this possible? This is a sign of lacking for us as a people. Culturally, we did something wrong if we reached the point where a 16-year-old girl is in Eilat, and is raped by 30 men. And it was really crying of outrage from every single corner. And then about a week later, it was released, “Oh, it wasn't 30 men. It was 10 or about 10.” And then that was I mean, as I say, it's all horrible. It's all awful. When I say interesting, I don't mean in the positive way. But then there was a very interesting change, where suddenly you saw some people writing, “Oh, it's only 10 men. Not that it's good, but it's not 30.” And then you saw other people who came out with declarations of, “To you who said, the difference between 30, and the difference between 10 is meaningful, you’re part of the problem.” And that really brought up even, actually, a larger wave of awareness because they said it doesn't matter if it's 30 or if it's 10. It shouldn't be one to begin with. And, yes, if we're looking at gang rape in this sense, it's horrible no matter what. And there were so many cries of outrage. And people really started posting about it. And there were a bunch of different socialites, whether it's actors, singers, or different relevant social entities, that came up with their own videos saying it was men. This was actually, there were two of them that came out, they are very, very powerful, where they talked about, what you hear as a man in your background. “Now, what does that mean about you as a person? If you actually listen to those people who are telling you, No, did you? Did you nail her? How far did you go? She says, No, then don't listen, try harder…” Like it was it was very, it was done very, very well and very powerfully. And they said, it's our responsibility. It's my responsibility. And these men who are public figures, and very meaningful in the cultural life in Israel, and they came out and said, it's my job to change this. It's your job to change this. What's going on here is something that has to do with us as a people. And it's a horrible sign of our culture and we have to make the changes on a personal level. So, it was very, very negative and it brought out the very, very positive and fruitful results and how the board reacted to it. Unfortunately, we just had this case a few days ago, where a man stabbed his wife. So…


Marissa: I'll bet that that's not the first time that he has been aggressive or violent to her. In fact, I'd bet my life on it. Because stuff like that to pattern that grows and grows. Right? Exactly. This was just the final straw. This was the most recent explosion in a series of explosions. So, I'm looking at an article. It's from November 2019. So, it's a little bit old and it's before all of this social media hype. But it said that, 90% of rape cases in Israel are closed without indictment, and that the numbers of people turning to rape crisis centers for assistance has increased by 40% in the last five years. And it's saying that the number of calls or complaints filed to rape crisis centers in 2018 was 51,000 And it was 40,000 in 2013. So, do you think, as an Israeli, do you think that is because everything is starting to put itself together and processes and protocols are being put in place or do you think it's Because it's happening more?


Tiferet: I think it's because people feel more supported to share what happened to them. Meaning it's not necessarily things that are happening more. But rather, cases that in the past weren't necessarily brought to light, are now being brought to light. So, I have a friend who due to what happened in Eilat, decided that she's sick and tired of the way things are being dealt with when it comes to sexual assault, and rape in Israel, and she started posting her personal stories. And she said, I'm going to start with the story that most people know about me. That I was raped when I was 14, by someone who was 21 at the time, and she came to the police and complained about it. I guess, nine years later. And the police closed the case, because after researching and looking into the details, they declared that that he didn't really know that she was under age, and it wasn't done through malice. And she proves, and then this is something that you bought out through Facebook; she proves how they knew. He knew that she was 14, because she told him specifically in these messages, they met in a chat room. And he had no problem with going out with her when she was 14 and doing what he did. And so that was the first story she told. And then she started sharing other stories that happened to her. About the fact that when she was a teenager she used to babysit for this family. And after a while her parents were going through a divorce. So, she was going through a bit of a hard time personally. And she liked spending time with this couple who she would babysit their children when they were out. At some point she said they started coming home a little bit earlier. And we just started hanging out the three of us. And then at some point, the husband would invite friends over and she started hanging out with this group of our friends. I remind you, she's 15 at the time babysitting, his children, and he's around 30 years old. And she said that apparently it started becoming a thing that they would invite her to join when they would hang out as a group of friends. And then she was invited by just one of them to hang out. And they ended up sleeping together. And then she was invited by another and it became this thing that they sort of, sorry for terminology, passing her around. And none of them at any point, thought there was a problem here. That she's a 15-year-old girl. Now she, as I mentioned, her parents were going through a divorce. It was a hard time. She felt that she was getting attention, and she felt that she was loved. And she said like, on the one hand she didn't understand really why they're treating her like an adult fully. But on the other hand, she felt very grown up because they were treating her like an adult. And at some point, one of the wives found out what was going on and had a hissy fit at her husband and caused everything to blow up, thank God. And they stopped doing this. And then she started revealing though all of these other cases. And she has like these nine different stories of men who took advantage of her. One of them who came to pick up a date, and they were in the car alone, and he raped her. Another guy who was her neighbor and she had a mouse in her house and she was scared. So, she asked if she could stay there while the exterminator was supposed to come. And then when his girlfriend was in the shower, he walked over and grabbed her breast. And there's so many stories that she's just revealing because she says, I'm sick and tired of the fact that people don't tell their stories, or people behave this way. And the system keeps turning their back on us. And that's also something that you see happening more. People feeling socially comfortable to share their stories, because even if the police aren't fully doing their job, or the court system isn't fully doing its job, they are getting social support. And this way, the victim from Eilat, a different friend of mine started a fundraiser for her, for legal aid due to this. And they reached their goal of, I think, half a million within 24 hours. And then for this woman who was just stabbed by her husband, a different friend started for her also a fund for legal support, and they reach their goal of a million, I think also within like three days. So, you see social media as much more support and much more being done. And the system… It's a bureaucratic system. That's a little difficult to change, but I do, I do believe that it's slowly going to get better.


Marissa: That's incredible. Well, you're making amazing strides and the people who you're working with and your friends are also doing such incredible things. I mean, thank you guys for your hard work and I know it can't be easy. You're basically fighting the Empire. Right? You're fighting the head honchos, but you guys are doing such incredible work. So, thank you and just keep fighting, you know?


Tiferet: Thank you. Thank you as well. Marissa, you’re helping to also share, and put out the voices and the information.  Yes, we’re all doing this together. And it's our pleasure to try and make the world actually a better place.


Marissa: So, my last question for you, I ask everyone who comes on this show, what advice would you give to survivors who are going through the healing process? Who are trying to get help and break their silence after sexual assault?


Tiferet: Wow, that's a good one. So, I mean, look, it's sad to say, but Sexual assault is not a new thing. Or something that like my case of being drugged, that wasn't the first time something like that happened to me. I mean, the numerous cases throughout all of my years, starting when I was five years old, that I've been experiencing things like this. But when something comes, that really breaks you, and kills a piece of your soul, which is completely and totally what I felt, it's a small achievement, that sort of Wow, you. I remember thinking, at the time, when I was, again, completely and totally depressed, how to getting out of bed or quit my jobs, stopped University, even though I was right in the middle of doing very well. The fact that I got out of bed at four o'clock in the afternoon was like, Wow, look at that. And the fact that a Sunday would come by, oh, a new weekend would arrive, I'd be like, Whoa, I didn't think like, it's not even that I didn't think I would live but, in a way, I didn't think I would live to see another Sunday. And I really needed something to, to hold on to that was more meaningful than you know, “It's going to be okay,” because I knew it was going to be okay. And one day I was going to be passive. But I was having trouble seeing how that would ever happen. So, I needed something more feasible. And I, one night, it was like, four o'clock in the morning, which also something that happened. I would spend most of my waking hours at night when the rest of the world was asleep, because then I felt most safe and most peace, somewhat at peace, with a quiet world. So, I wonder my bedroom, and I started writing on the wall, my wish list. And it was my list of the wishes that I want to complete At some point, in order to, I guess, make myself happy. It wasn't even happy, because be happy was the first thing on the list. So, it wasn't even be happy. But it was these small goals that I was hoping I could achieve in the next, you know, foreseeable future. And that I felt could help me pull myself out of the hole that I was in. So, you know, it was the first one, as I said, was be happy. And the second one was breathing easily again. And then it also went into other things that were, whether they were they developed due to what I was going to — with eating disorders that went completely and totally out of hand; And so, I had really, as one of my wishes, eat without guilt, or stop throwing up. And I also had things like, be a positive change in society. Not let my own feelings about what people expect of me dictate who I'm going to be. So, there was some really big things there. But there were also little things like, dream Sweet dreams again. And what's amazing, and still to this day, I love looking at that one. It's still relevant. And there are times in my life that I looked at it and I said, Wow, I completed it. And there are times that I said, No, I'm not there yet. Even though last time I looked at it, I felt like I completed most of the things I put on that list. But it's interesting to see how things that were very much relevant then, meet me in a very different place now. And I want to say more positively relevant, because then it was really from a heart place of smile again, or wake up in a good mood. And now it's a much calmer and more settled place. So, I guess what I would give us as advice is set small goals and large ones, and really aim to achieve them. Whether it's in a month or in a year. But I found that setting those small goals in a timeframe that is not you know, one day I'll be happy, but rather much more current day, helps to achieve them succeed.


Marissa: I love that. Oh my gosh. I challenge anybody listening to this episode, to make your own list of things that will make you happy or things that you want to overcome and put it somewhere like on your wall next to your bed or on the mirror in your bathroom, so you can see it every day and rate where you are. Oh my gosh, Tiferet that was incredible. Thank you so much for everything you're doing and for being here, and supporting survivors all over the world.


Tiferet: Thank you My pleasure.


If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


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Can you heal from abuse?  What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day.  And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough.  Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation.  But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist.  Yours doesn’t have to.  To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.


Marissa: Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse.  Today, I have Traci Sharpe, again. Returning guest! Gosh, I’m so excited.  Traci Sharpe hosts amazing educational workshops about how to manage yourself after trauma.  It’s about looking at things in retrospect, so people can move forward and heal. She also focuses on how People of Color are less likely to be believed when reporting abuse and assault. Welcome back Traci. I’m excited to have you back.


Traci: Hi, Marissa! Thanks for having me back again.


Marissa: Of course! Oh my gosh.  Okay, so let’s dive in.  When you and I were talking last time, it came up afterwards that you work with people of color.  Or you, as a person of color, experienced a lot of backlash and a lot of disbelief and doubts when you were reporting.  So, can you tell us about that?


Traci: Yes.  And thank you, before I even begin, for having this very difficult conversation. So thank you for bringing this to the forefront.  You know, as I’ve said, my incident began in 2013. And as a woman of color, I followed the process because there are policies in place to report up the chain of command. And I was told that because I was a divorced, woman of color, a single-mom at that point,  that I would not be believed over a decorated officer.


Marissa: That’s disgusting. So because of your skin color, that had a negative affect on your report and your wellbeing.  That’s not fair


Traci: It isn’t fair. And I have found that this is something that happens.  I, in the beginning, took it personally.  I was thinking, well, why me? I’ve never had a negative review, or negative performance review of any kind. I’d like to think that I have a pretty decent portfolio.  And so, that really took me by surprise, because it wasn’t about the actual incident.  My skin color became the transgression.  And it also became the thing that negated the validity of my report.  Because of the way I looked.


Marissa: Did you experience anything like ridiculous backlash, or something that was worse specifically due to your skin color, do you think?


Traci: That was all of it.  I was, in the beginning, when I tried to come forward.  Like I said in my past episode, I tried to come forward 3 different times.  So this isn’t like a one-and-done. I tried to report 3 different time.  And each time, I was told there was an issue because of the way I looked.  One of the things that we have to be mindful of with the perpetrators and their enablers, is they use little things against you.  So, when I talked before, when we spoke, I had spoken to you about gaslighting. And so, I can remember one person saying, with everyone PTing like crazy, I need to get myself back in the gym because I’m getting fat. It’s just a matter of conversation.  And that was used against me.  So I looked, and if you see any pictures of me, or even if you know me, then you’d know that I’ve never been overweight.  But that was that one thing that they picked up.  And there would be other little things. Like, my children had to be picked up by six o’clock.  So, those were the self-limiting things. Like, I was told, “Someone else has a nanny, so why don’t you have a nanny?”  You know, typically, who has a nanny? You know what I mean? So, it was just little things like that, that added up to becoming a big problem.


Marissa: That’s disgusting. So, they did studies across colleges and had a white woman and a woman of color tell almost the exact same story of assault, and then the participants would have to decide whether or not they believed the story.  And I think across the board, 90-something percent of people believed the white woman.  And most of the people, I don’t remember the exact percentage, I think it was close to 80%, believed that the person of color was lying.  Just based on their skin color.


Traci: Absolutely.  And I think what happens with people of color… you know, when you’re hired in these organizations, there’s a honeymoon phase.  So, you feel welcomed and it’s hard to say, and I don’t want to say I was a tokenized hire because  I don’t think that would be fair, but that’s what I began to feel like afterwards.  And, I will tell you, even in presenting, because I am a platform trainer, and even getting up in front of audiences, and teaching for the military, there are times that I have been asked  not to participate in my own projects. And I hate to say this, but I was told that I wasn’t a part of the Blonde Ambitions Corp. And there were two other individuals there who were blonde haired, blue eyes, thin and I was actually asked not to participate. And it’s disgusting.  So you go from the honeymoon phase, to then reality sets in. And so, you start to point out transgressions, or the micro-aggressions.  And what’s gong on with this? I’m the one who put this entire project together, why am I not presenting? And so, I was told that it looks better to have someone that fits the mold and I didn’t fit the mold. 


Marissa: That’s disgusting. 


Traci: Yes, it really is.  And these are the things we fight.  And this is why I’m so vocal about it.  I know that there are other people who have experienced these same transgressions, and these same repetitive injuries, and people live their lives not speaking up about it.


Marissa: And that has to be so painful. Living your life feeling like everything is against you.  I mean, I can’t even imagine that.  I’m a white woman that came from a sheltered home. So I have no idea what that feels like.


Traci: Yes, it’s difficult. It is. Because then there is the denial of racism.  Once you bring it up, then there’s the denial.  And then there’s, “Wait a minute Traci, that didn’t happen that way.” And I’m saying, explain.  Because if you help me understand, then I can explain to others what going  on and we can still do really great work here.  But that’s when the targets come into play.  And then it is, “Well, we needed someone to add something else,” when we didn’t need them in the beginning.  And I want to point out that I was the purchase card holder.  The human rights protection official.  There were so many other collateral duties I had that other people didn’t have.  But they didn’t look like me.  So they were the ones that were put out in the forefront.  There have been others who weren’t even trained.  They weren’t platform trainers, who have trained in my place because of the way they looked.  And it is.  It’s really disgusting. 


Marissa: I’m so sorry that you went though that, and probably still go through that. That’s so not okay.  And I wish there were better words that weren’t just a strong of obscenities. 


Traci: No, there aren’t.  But I think we need to be honest and have the conversations, which is why I’m stepping out and talking about it.  And you know, what happens is, we go and get these educations, and we get all these certifications, and specialties, so when we present a portfolio, it looks a certain way.  And unfortunately, sometimes the view of what the person having that portfolio should look like, it doesn’t match up.


Marissa: But that’s a preconceived notion. You can’t identify what a person looks like based on their accolades.  I mean, you’d probably never think that I looked the way I look if you saw my portfolio.  You’d probably think I was like, a 40 year old woman with wrinkles and 12 kids.  I mean, you just, you can’t judge somebody like that.  And that’s the problem in our society, in my very humble opinion. We have these dumb, preconceived notions based on stereotypes.


Traci: Yes. yes. And so in addition to fighting the sexual harassment, the sexual assault, and all of the other sexual misconduct and transgressions across the board, this is an added layer. So, it isn’t just the offense.  There are so many caveats to it. So, it isn’t just one fight.


Marissa: You are a champion for continuing to fight and continuing to speak out.  Thank you.  And keep shouting this out loud, because this is the kind of dumb stuff that needs to end.  It needs to be silenced.  We need to stop assigning believability to a race or a color.  That’s garbage.


Traci: Right. I agree 100%. The thing for me is, as a mature woman, I know that there are so many others coming up behind us, and they need this.  This is a blueprint for them to be able to, just really decipher what’s going on around them.  And ask those questions. And document, document, document.  Sometimes, it helps, other times it doesn’t. But, it will definitely help that person know that they aren’t crazy in this.  A lot of times, and I speak a lot about the gaslighting and the false information, and the, “Well, you know… it wasn’t that way…” But actually it was.  And it’s okay to say that.  It’s okay that you’re failing, and then we need to challenge these beliefs.  And that’s where the issue lies.  Let’s challenge.  Let’s challenge those beliefs, and let’s say, we don’t know what the reception will be.  We don’t know whether or not someone like me can go in, and I’d like to think I’m a pretty decent trainer.  I’ve received great feedback across the board.  And I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now.  And I’ve not had one person have a complaint.  And then, to get to this position, and to have someone judge me just based on what their preference is, because I guarantee you, it wasn’t everyone else’s preference, I would have been harassed the way that I was.


Marissa: Thank you for building this blueprint.  You’re doing a huge part in changing the world and changing the way people perceive people and professionals.  I mean, it’s disgusting that this is something that we even NEED to talk about.


Traci: It is. It really is.   But we know that it is far reaching.  It isn’t unique unto me. This is the experience.  We have to change the narrative around all of it. 


Marissa: Around race. Around sexual assault. Around people of color who have been assaulted. Absolutely. 


Traci: Yes. Absolutely.


Marissa: Do you mind telling us a little bit about your workshops? I’m intrigued.


Traci: So what I do is, I limit them to 10 people.  I have a couple now that I’m doing.  One that has been really successful has been, working with women of color who have experienced sexual misconduct in the workplace.  So, I vet out the participants. I have to vet them because we really unpack some heavy stuff.  And the last thing you want to do is get into a workshop and feel like, either you’re not understood, or that someone is a spy, for lack of better words.  But that someone is in there and the intentions aren’t pure. And what I like to do is, speak to each persons experience.  Because we all have a voice, and there is nothing worse than being lost in translations, with everyone else’s story.  So, that’s why I limit it, my capacity is 10.  Personally, that’s about what I can handle.  I sometimes do 4-hour workshops, sometimes it’s 8-hours, depending on the content we’re covering. So, I cover everything from the actual experience itself, whether it's harassment or the assault.  And then we talk about how to unpack it, and how to reframe it.  And I never let anyone leave without resources.  So, one of the biggest things for me is, whoever participates in my workshops, they leave with a plan. And they can always touch back if we need to revisit it, or whatever.  But they have to leave with a plan to move forward.  Whether that is pursuing the EEO process, finding the right attorney to represent them, finding the right therapist, the right medical doctors.  Whether or not they need to follow up and do research on what medications will work for them, or whether it’s yoga or meditation.  Just making sure they have that information, understanding how it can benefit them, and having a plan.  And one of the biggest parts of the plan is not only having the resources, but having a strong, solid, support system. There are times when we say, “Oh, you know, I can call my mom. Or I can call my sister.” I really teach people how to realistically develop the support system they need.  Because someone loving you, like a parent or a friend or a significant other, it doesn’t always mean that they are able to support you in a way that you need to be supported.  So, that’s basically what I cover in all of the workshops.



Marissa: That’s amazing! Oh my gosh! So, not only are you helping them fight thought heir trauma, but you’re giving them a community, and you’re giving them a safety plan.  That’s phenomenal! Thank you for doing that.


Traci: Thank you for saying that. We have to.  One person at a time.


Marissa: I hope you understand the value of that.  People will go to therapy, leave therapy and immediately feel relieved.  Then the next day they wake up lost again.  So by, handing them, and creating with them — making them a big part of their safety plan — I think that that’s so powerful.


Traci: Yes, I think it is.  I think we teach victims how to be victims.  I like to teach victims how to be survivors. And if they are at the center of their own plan, then they are empowered to reach out and develop whatever it is they need. The resources are interchangeable. And that’s the thing.  It’s not a one-size fits all for everyone.


Marissa: Right. There’s no one right healing journey. It’s very personalized. Thank you so much.  So how can people get in touch with you about your workshops?


Traci: They can go to WhichNarrative.com.  It’s www.whichnarrative.com.  They can look over the website.  There are a few resources. I uploaded a few short videos. You know, just to let people know they aren’t alone, and some of the things they are experiencing, some of those visceral responses, are common, so people don’t feel like they’re wayyy out there by themselves.  To contact me on the website, there is a contact sheet they can fill out, and I get the information, and I respond within 24 hours.


Marissa: Thats amazing. Thank you for the service you’re doing for survivors, to help them heal. And thank you for speaking with me on this really difficult topic. 


Traci: You know, I think we have to. Because there are times when we feel like you’re experience is the only experience.  And no one will get it.  One of the things that I’ve spoken to you about, that I don’t mind sharing with the listeners is, well, my son was gung-ho and ready to join the military until all of this happened. And so, now his whole life has been impacted. He’s not comfortable, and I am not comfortable either, with his name, his last name being the same as mine. And my story being so highly publicized.  We know that there are some people out there that will hold that against him. So, he’s decided now that he’s going to go to college for two years, stay at home, and then he’ll transfer to a four year college.  But that wasn’t his plan.  And I think just letting people know that your whole life is impacted in ways that you never believe it will be. So, it isn’t just your life. It’s those that are attached to you as well.


Marissa: It’s not a one person issue.  It becomes a familial issue.  Right? Everybody that you are close to, who is impacted based on your trauma. The people who live in our home, who share you lineage. Everybody is affected.

Sure.  Even friends. Because if you think about it, when you suffer from anxiety or depression or PTSD, there are times where you turn down invitations.  I can remember a time that for months on end, not wanting to leave the house.  And so, where I was someone who was really social, and got out and did things; I hiked and I connected with friends; and just had a really great social life.  That all came to a screeching halt, because I just was incapable.  And thank god I found a wonderful therapist who let me know that it wasn’t me.  It isn’t you.  It’s what you’ve experienced, and we’ll work through this. And now, I’m able to clearly state my needs or my limitations. So, rather than saying, “I’m not going.” or ducking the phone call, I can say I’m not up to it today. I’m dealing with some things over here, and once I get through those, then sure, we can go have a glass of wine at the winery. 


Marissa: That’s amazing. And I’m glad that you’re able to set those boundaries. And for people listening, I hope you know that needing to take space and declining invitations, that’s normal and it’s okay.  Don’t ever feel guilty for needing that time and that space. And knowing how to set boundaries.


Traci: Yes, and being able to state it clearly.  Even if you can’t communicate it at that moment, being able to clear that up.  Because it’s empowering. 


Marissa: It’s like taking control of your life back. It’s one small step towards taking control.  Thank you so much, again for being here Traci.  You’re phenomenal, and you’re such a wealth of knowledge and information.  I’m so happy that we got connected.


Traci: I am too. Thank you Marissa. And don’t forget, if you need help out there, I’m at www.whichnarrative.com


If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!


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