Monday, January 26, 2015

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "The Monster's Game"

The Monster’s Game is written by Littlegirl413, who chooses to remain anonymous. Such is the shame of being sexually abused from the ages of 4 to 16. To write about these traumatic experiences of abuse is often the method to reduce the shame, and place it back where it rightfully belongs, on the perpetrator. Littlegirl413 does that for herself, and other survivors, in her book of poetry and illustrations.

Statistics show** that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. As a child victim, the author of The Monster’s Game is revealing her innermost thoughts and emotions, using her creative writing as a path on her healing journey. She also serves to shed light upon the prevalence of child abuse.

Littlegirl413’s poetry is relatable to the reader. (I found myself holding my breath in resonance.) The prose is clear, not “masked” by metaphor; this concise, unclouded style may be part of her healing process, as the subject of “masks” surfaced throughout the book. Nor are there graphic scenarios that might frighten a vulnerable reader. Hers is a powerful story of incest and betrayal, told in the form of lyrical poetry and art illustrations.

Art is a healing medium for many survivors of childhood trauma. Littlegirl413 combined her talents for words and pictures to create a book that is little's book of poetry that is Big on Healing.

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

**Thank you to the National Association of Adult Survivor's of Child Abuse for providing a concise resource page for statistics.

You can hear the author Littlegirl413 talk about her experiences on Blog Talk Radio on SCAN: Stop Child Abuse Now, hosted by Bill Murray  (see episode embedded below).

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Bill Murray on BlogTalkRadio

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tolson 4 TEARS* Cheers Svava Brooks, Advocate

Bravo to Svava Brooks for her devotion to prevention of child abuse and advocacy for survivors! Ms Brooks is a survivor of child sexual abuse and speaks openly about her experience in the hopes that it will help others know they are not alone. She leads by example in breaking the silence on this devastating and pervasive problem of incest. She has dedicated her life to ending the cycle of abuse through education and awareness, as well as by supporting survivors. Svava also reaches out by offering online peer support for adult survivors of child sexual abuse at one,  which provides personalized support for survivors of childhood sexual trauma. 

Svava Brooks has developed a program to help survivors, which includes FREE tools for starting your healing journey after sexual trauma. She says, "You CAN heal yourself. You CAN take charge of your life again! Here are the steps & resources that were essential in my healing, that put me on the path to empowerment - they CAN do the same for you."

I have watched the videos of the program Svava offers, and followed the accompanying PDF materials. She has offered her personal experience and extensive education to support survivors in a gentle yet effective manner. You can begin here Tools to Heal Your Life with the Roadmap to Healing.

Svava is a Certified Instructor and Facilitator for Darkness to Light Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention program. She provides evidence-based training throughout California.  In addition, Svava has developed programs for adults and teens to learn about the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Svava Brooks efforts are global. She is the co-founder of a child sexual abuse prevention and education organization in Iceland, Blátt áfram

Svava also maintains a web site at Educate4change, which is dedicated to ending the cycle of child sexual abuse. The blog at Speak4change offers information on how survivors can get the help they need, as well as providing education for ending child sexual abuse. Svava says, "You are not alone, together we can stop the cycle, together we can heal via awareness, education, and support." Svava knows that "we are stronger together." Facebook page here

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted.
Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir"

Sue William Silverman was my role model for memoir because she had dared to write about issues usually silenced in our society. She wrote Because I Remember Terror, Father I Remember You and Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction. Then, I had the pleasure of meeting her at Vermont College of Fine Arts, post-graduate writer’s conference, where she was faculty/advisor. She taught the group metaphor, voice, and technique, and encouraged expression from the writer within each individual. Sue urged us toward Fearless Confessions, an apt title for the Writer’s Guide to Memoir. Despite my notes from the conference, and hand-outs from Sue, I wished I had a “go-to” guide at my fingertips. Sue has made such a guide available in Fearless Confessions.
The book contains chapters that have writing exercises and inserts with tips. Sue also arranged for appropriate articles by other authors, which exemplify what Sue is conveying in the body of the chapter. Sue generously offers examples of her own. I was especially moved by her revealing essay The Pat Boone Fan Club. That is what a memoirist does: revealing life matter that one thinks is individual, yet the emotions are universal. Some confessional memoirs put into words what others are thinking, but are afraid to say aloud. Sue dares us to dig deep and write down, such as with an exercise that asks the reader to “Write a short paragraph about a secret you’ve never told anyone, except maybe a therapist.”
Sue explains the craft of writing, and elements such as “the voice of innocence” and “the voice of experience” She leads us to websites, books, marketing opportunities, and publishing options. (note of disclosure: Sue used my essay From Process to Product: Using Print-on-Demand to Publish in Appendix two).
I eagerly awaited Fearless Confessions because I wanted to hold Sue Silverman’s knowledge and ability in the palm of my hand. Sue packs more in 237 pages than I ever expected. If you want to write a memoir, let Sue’s “go-to” guide you to write it right.

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story
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Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir
by Sue William Silverman

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on "How Are You Feeling?"

In therapy, clients talk about their feelings. Therapists ask, "How are you feeling today?" 

Conversations with my therapist(s) frequently sounded like this:

“Lynn, what are you feeling?”
“I don’t know.”
“You must be feeling something.”
“No, nothing.”
“Please, tell me what it feels like.”
“I don’t know.”

I shrugged my shoulders, which was not an acceptable answer to the question of “how are you feeling.” How should I know? I had no clue, no compass, and no map to lead me through the hot and sweaty tropical jungle of twisted emotional thorny vines that lay strangled with family secrets and lies.

My step-father had taught me to deny my feelings at seven years old. He said, “Whenever someone asks you how you are doing, you say, ‘Fine, thank you,’ no matter what.” He added, “Speak only when you are spoken to.” He raised me under his spell of “children should be seen and not heard.” These powerful childrearing dictates led to the cold, calculating climate of control that froze all feelings into a block of ice that could only be released when talk-therapy chipped at the surface decades later.

What I felt was numb, which is a suppression of real feelings. Talking about my experiences and emotions in therapy years later did not feel good. If/when I felt, I felt crappy. Even in the company of a therapist I sensed I was safe with, one whom I trusted and developed rapport with, I dared not enter the realm of emotion. I was afraid to unlock my heart and uncover emotions. If I felt a bona fide feeling, I would surely go insane.

I felt all alone. Loneliness envelopes my being, seals me in a tomb lacking air. I am trapped in the darkness of my heart, all alone, Choking and grasping to find tender loving care.
With that admission of feeling in the form of prose, my therapist taught me that putting words to experiences and the emotions they carry can dispel the hold they had on me. She said, “As your fears recede, courage will emerge. Love was locked inside, shielded by fear. When the darkness of fear disappears, the light of love appears. You built walls around yourself to block out bad feelings, so you also blocked out any good that could come your way. You perpetuate pain by locking up feelings.”

My therapist explained that the depression used to cover up emotions can become a permanent part of the personality. She said, “The symptoms of anxiety and depression you experience are not personality flaws but the consequence of childhood wounds. When you excavate and explore emotions, you allow the fear to fade.” Digging deep like this may alleviate the depression, and allow room for expansion of joyful feelings.

I also had to accept that emotions are transitory, universal, and can co-exist. I had to trust that feeling would not drive me crazy. I learned that feeling could lead to positive emotions, especially L-O-V-E. I understood that in my head, but I needed to feel it in my heart.

Transformation from fear to love requires more than rationalization and intellectualization. Healing transpires from fully feeling emotions, and then taking necessary action, like this: determine the cause of an emotion, identify the feeling, and acknowledge its presence. Honor an emotion in the moment; just be with it, and that is more like going sane.

My therapist and I started with where I was at: scared to death of the world at large. There was a pervasive apprehension that cast an ominous shadow on my world. Slowly, we examined the fear to make it manageable. With each exhale of fear, I could inhale the courage to face my fears, feeling compassion for myself and others. As Eleanor Roosevelt says, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. . . You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” That is how we learn how to feel.

Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivors Story
*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "It Happens Every Day"

Robin Sax is an expert on sex crimes against children. She was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted offenders for the child sexual assault division. As an attorney and advocate for victims’ rights, she appears to be as passionate as she is knowledgable.

Sax says she wrote the book to illustrate what transpires when a district attorney prosecutes a child sexual assault case. Using a no-nonsense style of writing, Sax shows the reader how the criminal justice system works, or does not work, for its victims. She incorporates case studies as well as descriptions of crime scenes and victim statements to get her main point across: “child sexual assault has become a social epidemic.”
The book is divided into two parts, “Behind the One-Way Mirror” and “Behind Counsel Table.” Sax shows ways in which cases are investigated, how children are treated through the process, and what happens when a perpetrator is convicted. The reader learns about the justice system without the sensationalism of TV court drama. Sax provides an extensive appendix, separates fact from fiction, and offers her expert opinions.
Whether or not a victim pursues a criminal charge against a perpetrator, this is what Robin Sax knows for sure: sex crimes “will affect the victim’s outlook on life, decisions, and relationships for the rest of his or her life.”
Any advocate, expert, and concerned citizen should read this book to help protect children and raise awareness because 93% of victims know their attackers. @robinsax

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* on the Beatles + Your Vote

I wasn't always eager to vote because I was brought up to believe my opinion did not matter. My stepfather trained me to deny my interests early on by repeating: "Children should be seen and not heard." He disparaged my fondness for reading, art, and the Beatles. When I was 8 years old, Beatlemania swept the country. The girls at school swooned over John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We traded Beatles’ cards the way boys traded baseball cards. I waited with anticipation to see The Fab Four on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, my stepfather forbade me to watch the show; he said,  "The whole world has gone bloody hysterical over a group of mop-haired, no-talent freaks. Those hooligans are out to ruin American youth and embarrass Great Britain. You call that music? I call it crap!" I learned that my voice had no power and my values were insignificant.

When I was 18, I got my voter's registration only so that I had an ID for bars. Why should I vote? What difference would my vote make? Who cares what I think? How can I make a decision without my parents telling me what to think and how to feel (or not feel)? These questions are not unique to me; they are common amongst people who have been abused, devalued, and disregarded.

Fast forward: My therapist told me that my inner messages were stifled by the opinions of others. Through her I learned that my interests and opinions do indeed matter. At least, they matter to me now. And I have a responsibility to acknowledge them and take action.

Go ahead, form an opinion and exercise your rights! You matter! Your opinion is important! Your vote is essential! If you need inspiration to get out there and vote, watch the movie Iron Jawed Angels. The story illustrates all that women pioneers had to go through to ensure that we have the right to make our voices heard!

*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted.
Post completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story