The past 3 days I spoke to high school classes where I work about PTSD and coping skills. Fashion I discussed the dark side of fashion…anorexia, eating disorders, plastic surgery addiction, and other out of control behaviors trying to compete in a high stress, slave labor industry. I shared the coping skills I list here. Then I talked to the preschool and education students that are planning to go into education. For the last several weeks they were discussing and researching abuse and how to report it. I tell the life after abuse story. There is a way to change and learn to thrive. Coping skills are learned. Many of them can be taught to children. Grounding and art are two skills that children are great at. There are web pages and more information about how to help kids cope with hard knocks in life. Sadly, a couple of the students needed to leave the room because I was telling there story without knowing who they were. I talked about rule #1 – Stop lying, especially to yourself. Abuse continues based on lies and more lies. A child will lie to protect their abuser. It is a mixed up world. Gas lighting is a purposeful set of lies to convince the other person they are the ones that are incompetent or crazy. Recognizing abusive behavior is difficult when that was all I knew. It seemed ‘normal’ to me. I share the importance of writing your own bill of rights….a few of mine, I have the right to decide if someone is yelling at me. I have the right to take bathroom breaks. I have the right to eat food that doesn’t make me sick. I finally ended up with about 20 rights. I have the responsibility to defend those write. Then I went through a list of coping skills and descriptions of each one. I was astounded to find out that most students did not know what validation meant. I saw some head nodding as I shared examples and ideas. Sadly, one of the students started crying. She is on the pathway to recovery and not ready to hear abuse discussed in class. I felt sad when the student left and missed the part about thriving. I reminded myself that each person is ready at their own time and not by my say so. I keep sharing, hoping someone will hear something that helps them. I hope they get the message that they are not alone. The validation that they are not alone in this struggle called abuse. All this talking about surviving abuse leaves me tired. Good night.