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Monika Sudakov

The Deep End: Why Teal Swan's Cult Is Dangerous to Survivors of Abuse

When I first began watching “The Deep End” on Hulu, I had no clue who Teal Swan was or why this documentary had been made. Within five minutes of the first episode beginning, I was yelling at my phone in horror, “That’s not OK.” As the episode unfolded, it felt as though I was witnessing a real-life version of the series “Nine Perfect Strangers” on steroids and I needed to know more. Who exactly was Teal Swan? Where did she come from? And how did she become as infamous as she has? That’s exactly what I have spent the past three weeks discovering. Who is Teal Swan? Teal Swan is a spiritual teacher who has amassed millions of followers by producing hypnotic videos on topics ranging from healing from trauma to reincarnation to cryptocurrency. Her message of healing those who are suffering through her Completion Process has made her an almost Christ-like figure to her devotees, who worship her in a way that appears to verge on obsession. Members of the Teal Tribe swear that she has powers, abilities, and knowledge beyond those of anyone else on this planet and they resonate with her honesty and willingness to tackle difficult subjects like suicide and satanic abuse. Individuals spend hours watching her videos, studying her books, and will spend thousands of dollars to attend one of her retreats in Utah or her healing center in Costa Rica. Her critics, however, are alarmed by her questionable techniques and manipulation of those who are the most vulnerable by using very sophisticated content curation acutely honed in on finding algorithms that attract individuals to her when she knows they can be easily swayed. For example, one of her most watched videos on suicide targets those who might type in a search for “I want to kill myself.” This has led many of her detractors to dub her the “Suicide Catalyst” and to create counter content trying to expose her as a fraud and cult leader. On the surface, Teal is strikingly beautiful. Piercing aqua eyes, long brunette hair, and a lilting voice that has a trance-inducing quality to it make her an imposing charismatic presence to be sure. Some of her spiritual teachings are twists on teachings from other more mainstream philosophies repackaged in a way that is perhaps more accessible to those who aren’t well versed in various spiritual dogmas. And she is brutally honest about her own traumatic past, which engenders a high level of trust quickly among those seeking solace from their own suffering. Swan also claims to possess supernatural abilities including ESP, the ability to read minds, the ability to see inside people’s bodies and diagnose them with illness, the ability to see sounds, and a complete understanding of the Akashic Records — a compendium of every word, thought, and action of every being past, present, and future. She presents herself as an almost godlike all-knowing all-seeing being who, she purports, is part human and part extraterrestrial — a member of the panel of Arcturian beings who exist in a sixth dimensional, non-physical plane. She asserts that if there is anyone who is superior to her on this planet, she hasn’t met them and therefore nobody should question her authority. Her mission in her own words… to be more spiritually influential than the pope. Teal states that she discovered her special abilities as a child and that her behavior not only scared her parents, but isolated her from other children who were restricted from playing with her. She was taken to all kinds of specialists who diagnosed her with every possible psychiatric condition under the sun ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder to borderline personality disorder. She states that no treatment or medication helped her, at which point, in their desperation, her parents entrusted an alternative medicine veterinarian who insisted he could mentor her. According to Teal, this man sexually assaulted her, drugged her, and made her participate in satanic rituals. She had numerous suicide attempts and hospitalizations until she was able to escape and begin her healing process. Here is where there has been a lot of curiosity and skepticism. Swan’s therapist during this era was Barbara Snow, a central figure in what became known as the Satanic Panic of the late 1980s and early 1990s and who has been accused of utilizing questionable therapeutic techniques leading to what has come to be known as false memory syndrome.  The basis of many of Swan’s allegations of abuse fit the exact narrative that many survivors of this era were essentially brainwashed to believe, creating some controversy about the legitimacy of her claims. What is the Completion Process? At the center of the world of Teal Swan is her “expertise in human suffering.” The anecdote to this suffering is the Completion Process. Her basic philosophy is that if people can identify their trauma and work with it to process it, they can heal their suffering. In and of itself this sounds like a not entirely problematic idea. However, Teal is not a trained professional, and while she consistently demonizes traditional psychology, she utilizes language and even some techniques that are adopted from traditional psychological modalities. It’s a mishmash that reminds me a bit of the Nexium cult ESP protocol and the Scientology Auditing process. The irony of all of this is that Teal’s ultimate desire is for her Completion Process to be adopted by mainstream psychology and become the gold standard for the treatment of trauma. The whole thing is perplexing. There are numerous red flags within this process, the first one being “Channeling” those who are both living and dead to determine the source of a person’s pain using other participants who act out narratives involving possible abuse or other trauma that the individual may or may not have any recollection of. It’s very much akin to the ways in which a therapist can make suggestions to a vulnerable client, thereby convincing them of abuse that never occurred, which is manipulative and emotionally abusive and can cause a deleterious ripple effect in terms of that person’s relationships. A second red flag is the insistence on re-experiencing traumatic experiences to heal them without the containment of a highly trained mental health professional. There is some controversy even within the trauma therapy world as to whether or not this kind of treatment is necessary or if it does more harm than good by re-traumatizing an individual over and over again. But doing so within the context of a retreat setting and with other members of the group is extremely dangerous to both the person experiencing the memory and the individual holding space for them. A history of trauma does not an expert in healing make. Training in how to keep someone safe and grounded in reality is crucial for this kind of work to be done without potentially harming them. The third red flag is the fixation on her followers recognizing that their own families are the enemy and that estrangement is necessary to heal. This might sound rich coming from someone who has written extensively about her own estrangement from her parents, however, it’s not clear to me that in every instance this is necessary or healthy for those seeking Teal’s guidance. Several of the participants shown appear to be very conflicted about what they are being told about their families of origin versus what they recall to be the truth. Again, there’s likely a percentage of those who did experience abuse and neglect warranting some disconnection, but this is more the rule rather than the exception, which warrants some skepticism. And finally, the incorporation of ritualistic practices involving toxic substances like frog poison or forcing people underwater over and over again until they feel like they are drowning to get them to submit seems extremely dangerous, potentially deadly if not carefully administered, and even tortuous. Inducing a trauma response in someone under duress seems like an abusive way to get them to submit to manipulation and capitulation. As an aside… let me state that for something called the Completion Process, the process appears to be remarkably incomplete. The goal seems to be consistent work, not some kind of resolution or closure, and it’s one of the chief complaints of many who have left the tribe. They felt like they were stuck in some kind of trauma loop, feeling their mental health deteriorate rather than feeling like addressing their trauma was helping them in any meaningful way. Is Teal Swan dangerous? Here’s the weird part of this documentary series. Teal is very aware of the allegations against her that she is somehow encouraging and perhaps culpable in the suicide of several of her followers and that she is operating a cult. She adamantly denies these allegations and is quite concerned with how this negative PR is affecting her “business.” So as part of the documentary, she hires a private investigator to act as a third-party independent analyst to determine if she is indeed in any way guilty of any of the allegations against her. And I’m not sure she was prepared for the ultimate outcome. After conducting numerous interviews and poring through extensive documentation, this investigator determines that while Teal’s approach to talking about suicide, which involves encouraging followers to actively envision their death, is dangerous, there isn’t legally a way that a direct line can be drawn between someone following through on their suicidal thoughts and her videos or teachings, however irresponsible they might be. A number of suicide experts acknowledge being horrified by the flippant way she speaks about death without acknowledging the mental state of the person on the other end of the screen. But that isn’t enough to warrant the removal of the content from YouTube. And several followers do state that having somewhere to turn where they didn’t feel alone actually saved their lives. As to whether or not Teal is operating a cult? The investigator says… maybe. Most of her reasoning behind this has to do with how she treats her inner circle. These are the volunteers who have given up their lives to live with Teal, committing themselves to her mission and doing so without any compensation. The inner circle are expected to swear to a contract of “Non-Negotiables,” many of which the private investigator deems illegal. These include: “You can’t put your own family first.” “Teal comes first.” “If Teal wants you there, she gets you.” “The priority of the entire community is whatever is in the best interest of Teal.” “You can’t have personal boundaries that in any way can affect Teal.” And more… Basically, if you want to have a normal life, don’t join the inner circle. If you say you aren’t in alignment with any of this, you will be kicked out. This is what happens when Teal’s business partner Blake’s wife has a falling-out with Teal. She says that she’s afraid of Teal and doesn’t believe that Teal is doing what’s best for the people seeking out her help. It’s all about protecting Teal’s image. In the final scene of the last episode, we see Teal dealing with the fallout of losing her right-hand man. Her solution? More rules. She comes to the conclusion that her inner circle cannot have partners unless those partners agree to the non-negotiables and that having children within her inner circle would be incompatible with her work. The bottom line? It is my opinion that Teal Swan is a self-aggrandizing, power-hungry, fame-seeking bully hiding behind the veil of an enlightened spiritual teacher. Contrary to her belief, I’m not questioning her because she’s a woman, strong, or pretty. I’m questioning her because witnessing the ways in which she antagonizes and patronizes anyone who dares to question her authority is deeply disturbing to me. She’s mean-spirited and belittling and she has zero capacity for self-reflection. This is a recipe for disaster for those that get sucked into her inner circle. As for her followers? I see a lot of desperate people who are hurting and seeking out something that will put them out of their pain. You can’t fault them for believing that this woman has the answers they are looking for. Community is a powerful incentive for those who feel isolated in their suffering. The Teal Tribe of followers offers a sense of belonging, even if you are skeptical of the woman who leads it. It’s a cautionary tale for all of us to be much more discriminating about the content we consume on social media. As we have seen far too often of late, fear and desperation can make someone incredibly vulnerable to exploitation, misinformation, and indoctrination by power-hungry predators who are savvy enough to manipulate the algorithms in place across social media platforms.

Community Voices

Over sexual due to past trauma?

Recently I have had a huge realization about myself. I wouldn’t say I am an extremely over sexual person, just in relationships really. And I realized this is because of the previous sexual abuse I endured in relationships when I would say no. When you think of r*pe survivors some may never want to have sex after, but my therapist told me the opposite may happen as well. I am very enthusiastic to have sex in a relationship because im scared what would happen when I say no. It’s a way to protect myself because if I’m not sexual enough or say no I will get r*ped. Does anyone else struggle with this? I don’t want to be this way anymore #SexualAssault #PTSD #SexualTrauma

5 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I went to the police today to report one of the incidents of rape that happened to me, and I’m not sure if I should take this to the court.

So, I have limited evidence, and there’s always the chance that the Dubin police department will reject my case and it won’t go any further. But even in that case my rapist will still be arrested and questioned and given a serious warning. But if it does go through I’m going to have to publicly speak about my experience of being raped, my family will most likely find out and most importantly there’s always the chance that he won’t be convicted. Is going to the court to try and get justice and get this creep behind bars, worth the risk of messing up my mental health even more at a time of high stress?
If anyone has been through this process or has any advice I would really appreciate it. ❤️ #Rape #SexualAssault #RapeSurvivors #Irish

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Community Voices

First The Mighty Article Published!

My first The Mighty article has been published and I feel so grateful to be publishing articles on this platform. Thank you everyone for the support.

Check out my page to read “why I couldn’t talk about my sexual assault until now.” #PTSD #SexualAssault #Trauma #Depression #Anxiety

4 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Last spring, I was 23, and I was diagnosed with osteoporosis due to years of not prioritizing my mental or physical health. I was accepted into the doctorate program I am currently finishing my first year of, around this time. That june, I graduated with my masters. a good friend of mine offered to drive me home from the masters graduation party our cohort was throwing. that night someone I considered a dear friend of mine, who had met my family, who I trusted with vuneral parts of myself, sexually assaulted me.

That summer I was diagnosed with bipolar, and have cycled through highs and lows the past year. i’ve been managing really well, and it’s been really hard. sometimes I feel like no one knows that i’m having such a hard time, and other times I feel like everyone is watching me struggle.

As June approaches, a lot of memories are coming up. it’s been really hard. and i’ve been really sad. trying to be compassionate with myself on the journey. #BipolarDisorder #SexualAssault

2 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Survivor & advocate here 💜

Just wanted to introduce myself to the group. My name is Jen. I struggle with my mental health daily. My most recent trauma has me self isolated and scared to even leave my house to start working again. I’m trying to get better every day and I’m struggling. I’m finding support on apps like this and I would appreciate any advice from the community. I’m also here for anyone who needs a friend. 💚💜⚓️ #PTSD #sasurvivor #SexualAssault #MentalHealth #mentalhealthadvocate #Nurse #Therapy #Healing #ProjectSemicolon

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Monika Sudakov

How Gynecologists Can Support Sexual Abuse Survivors

Dear Gynecologist, My name is Monika and I am a child sexual abuse survivor with endometriosis. I’m writing to you today to voice my concerns with those in your profession about your proficiency in interacting with patients like me within your practice. I understand that there isn’t much emphasis on what is called “trauma-informed care” in your training and frankly, it shows. I have been to numerous gynecologists throughout my life and each experience was worse than the previous one. Pelvic exams are uncomfortable at best for all women, but for women with a trauma history and a chronic illness requiring more frequent visits to a gynecologist, the experience can be downright traumatizing. My sincere wish in writing to you is not to demonize you or your profession, but rather to offer some words of advice on how you could make your patients more comfortable and less triggered when they come to see you. First, your intake paperwork should inquire about any history of trauma. A patient may not divulge this information verbally because they may feel ashamed, but if there was a box to check on a new patient form, they might be more likely to at least indicate that there is something to look out for. Additionally, all staff from reception to nurses should be on the lookout for any indication of trauma including, but not limited to extreme anxiety, reluctance to enter the exam room, or any physical or verbal cues that a patient is experiencing dissociation or otherwise checking out and not able to consent to treatment. Next, I understand that insurance companies require you to get patients in and out quickly, but it behooves you to spend at least some time talking to a patient. Ask them if they are scared or concerned about what to expect. Offer detailed explanations of what you will be doing and why. And ask for consent at each stage of the exam. The patient needs to feel as though they are in control of their own body while they are laying there in such a vulnerable position. Have the nurse offer to hold the patient’s hand for comfort and please verbally announce every step of the exam so that the patient knows what is happening. And if at any point a patient requests that you cease, don’t pressure them by saying “We’re almost done.” Just stop. All of these steps can create an environment where a patient feels as though they have bodily autonomy and that they will not be violated. Third, make it a point to incorporate questions about a patient’s overall health and wellness, including asking about relationships, whether or not they are sexually active, if sex is painful, and if sex is satisfactory. Sexual dysfunction can be a huge red flag when it comes to many reproductive illnesses like endometriosis, but it’s not something we are socialized to talk about openly, so most of us won’t bring it up unless prompted. You should also ask about urinary tract health, bowel movements, and digestion. Concerns surrounding any of these might also be a clue as to the presence of a condition you should be investigating. Basically, I’m saying that reproductive health involves more than just a patient’s vagina, uterus, and ovaries. It is a holistic thing that can extend to many other parts of a patient’s body and your awareness of this is critical to your patients receiving the comprehensive care that they deserve. And finally, if a patient tells you that something feels off… believe them. We are pretty perceptive about our bodies and what we know to be our own “normal.” If we say our periods are disproportionately painful, don’t insist that all periods are painful. If we say our menstrual flow is excessive or that there are weird clots, don’t dismiss this. And above all, never insinuate that our concerns are purely psychological in nature. Women generally have a very high pain tolerance and a very low level of comfort with expressing their needs to others. We’ve been socialized to not be a bother and to put on a happy face. The container of a doctor’s office should be the one place where we don’t have to don a mask of perfection and we can be fully ourselves without judgment. All of these things are just good practice in general, but they are particularly necessary for those with vulnerabilities like mine. It is well documented that survivors of sexual violence are less likely to seek routine gynecological care because of their trauma, so when they do finally muster the courage to come see you, give them every opportunity to express their concerns. Otherwise, they will likely become one of the many who will suffer in silence unnecessarily with conditions like endometriosis. One final note. As a woman who has chosen not to procreate, don’t ever interject your opinion about my choice during an exam. Comments about my changing my mind or it being a shame or how being a parent is the greatest thing in life are completely out of line. The only questions regarding pregnancy that belong in an exam room involve contraception options. Your expertise about the pros and cons of each is welcome. Your personal biases or religious views on my sexual activity are not. Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns. I do hope that you will take them to heart and implement them in your practice. Doing so will ensure a much more tolerable experience for your patients and will arm you with better tools and knowledge to treat them effectively and respectfully.

Community Voices

What is this thing called "Hope"? #seekingknowledge

What is this thing called hope? Yes, this is a serious question. What frame of reference do you use to explain something to someone who has never know or seen hope? We liken the situation to finding a single Waldo in a swarm of people who all look slightly like Waldo. But none ARE Waldo.

We are, at this point, 47 days into our 2 new Antidepressants, 21 days into our Antipsychotic and no change other than we sleep an added 1 to 2 hours a night. We are grateful for that. Our meds are increased every 2 weeks. I, since none of the other want to attend at this time, do video chat with at least 3 Doctors every week. The all tell me that hope will help us in this wait and see pattern we currently find ourselves stuck within.

We believe that everything in our universe has a counter balance. Night has Day. These are concrete, provable, repeatable facts available to establish what distinguishes Night from Day. Where "Hope" along with, it's 1st cousins the other emotions and "feeling" are all abstract concepts not grounded by facts.

What reference points does one use when trying to describe abstract concept of "hope" to one who has never seen or experienced it in their lifetime. How would you describe colours to a person who has never seen them? We have as little insight into what "hope" or any of the "emotions" are, at this point. What is this thing called "Hope" and where do we find it?

#SexualAbuse #SexualAssault #Childhoodneglect #DomesticAbuse #DID #raynauds #Fibromyalgia #MyalgicEncephalomyelitis #RheumatoidArthritis #DegenerativeDiscDisease #Hypertension #Trichiasis #irritableboweldisease #GeneralizedAnxietyDisorder #AnxietyDisorders #PanicAttacks #Agoraphobia #Insomnia #Rosacea #Claustrophobia #heartmurmur #ComplexPosttraumaticStressDisorder #Allergies #Dyslexia #OCD #Trichotillomania #cleithrophobia , #IntrusiveThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #haphephobia #EatingDisorder #MajorDepressiveDisorder #SocialPhobia #Acrophobia #Psychosis #DissociativeDisorder #audiohallucinations #visualhallucinations #intervert #raynauds

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Kaden M (he/they)

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: 5 Ways to Support Survivors

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence, and contrary to what some may realize, it affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and racial identities. I’ve never written about my experience as a survivor before. I’ve always been hesitant to share, often thinking, “what could I possibly have to add to this conversation?” I’ve also thought that my pain wasn’t great enough, large enough to be worthy of attention from others. None of these things are true. It is up to the survivor whether or not they want to disclose their story. I want to share a few things that one can do to support someone in their life who is a sexual assault survivor — and you’re bound to know someone, and even if you don’t realize it. We all know someone, and sometimes this includes ourselves. Here are five ways you can support sexual assault survivors, not just during the month of April but any time someone comes to you in search of support: 1. Ask the person what they need. This is pretty self-explanatory; oftentimes, survivors of trauma know what they would like from a friend or trusted family member when they disclose what happened, while other times they aren’t so sure. Asking the person is a good place to start. 2. Offer them a warm beverage. This might sound silly, but I had a friend in college who offered me a warm drink (typically hot tea) every time I came to her upset or triggered by my traumas. I found this to be not only thoughtful and sweet as a gesture, but that the warm drink regulated my fight-or-flight response system somewhat. 3. Listen and validate rather than jumping to advice-giving. Validation and a kind, a listening ear is often, at least in my case, what helps the most. 4. Don’t ask the survivor details, including who the perpetrator is, if it is not disclosed. It may be hard enough for the survivor to open up, and rehashing certain details, regardless of how long ago the assault happened, can be triggering. 5. If the survivor seems particularly distressed, ask if they would like some coping strategies to do together. Some possible coping strategies include but are not limited to: watching a funny show or movie together, squeezing an ice cube, splashing cold water on one’s face, yoga or meditation, exercise, spending time in nature… these are just some of a few that I’ve used in the past. Another important thing to note is that sometimes, survivors go to other survivors for help. It is important that if you have a history of sexual trauma, to also do self-care during or after helping others. It is also OK to set boundaries if you need to in order to maintain your own well-being. There are crisis lines (such as RAINN) that are available too. I have been engaging in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for a couple of months and it’s really helped me with my traumas, including my sexual trauma. That said, I am grateful to the friends, family, and therapists I have gone to in the past about this subject. I hope that we can be more understanding toward each other and gain awareness of how much sexual assault can rewire someone’s nervous system in a negative way. That being said, therapy can rewire that same nervous system back to a healthier way. I am more than my traumas, as are you. For more stories on sexual violence, check out our list of 24 Mighty stories you need to read if you’ve experienced sexual violence .

Matt Sloan

Important Stories You Need to Read If You Experienced Sexual Violence

I’m a victim of childhood sexual abuse. At least, I think I am — I can’t verify it, though I know the same man also abused others, and I have visceral memories that tell an incomplete but frightening story. I wish I could say I was the only one I knew who experienced sexual violence, but the horrifying reality is that, according to, an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. Every nine minutes, that victim is a child. Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve either experienced sexual violence yourself or you know somebody who has. When it comes to understanding sexual violence, there are a lot of ways it impacts people at every stage of the journey. And, while it’s hardly as clear and linear as “before, during, and after trauma recovery,” we thought it would be helpful to compile some of our best articles walking you through every stage of trauma due to sexual violence. So, if you’re looking for information on types of sexual violence, trauma therapy, doubting the validity of your experience, exploring intimacy after sexual violence, or just looking for some hope that recovery is possible, I hope you can find what you need here. Types of Sexual Violence “Rape is not sex. Sex is not a trigger for me because what my rapist did to me was not sex.” — Ashley Zaccaro Childhood Sexual Abuse “How Old You Were When You Experienced Trauma Matters – Here’s Why” by Sarah Schuster — If you experienced childhood sexual abuse, you might wonder why it seems to impact every little thing that you do. In this explainer, Mighty editor Sarah Schuster explains why the age you experienced trauma affects how you are able to cope and recover. “20 Things You Do as an Adult When You’ve Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Juliette V. — Speaking of which, we asked our community for the ways childhood sexual abuse affected them into adulthood. Hopefully, this will help you to feel a little less alone. “Let’s Talk Trauma: Why Do Some People Doubt Their Own Experience of Childhood Trauma?” by Vicki Peterson — Uncovering memories of sexual abuse can be terrifying. If you’re experiencing this right now, then we hope this story from trauma coach Vicki Peterson will help you understand the confusion and self-doubt that can arise. “Am I a Victim or a Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse?” by Erin Konrad — It can be hard to decide if you’re a “victim” or a “survivor” of sexual abuse. Ultimately, it’s personal choice. You may not feel like a survivor until you start to heal, and that’s OK. No matter what, though, you’re strong and you will survive this, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re a survivor right now. Sexual Assault “I Didn’t Know I Was Sexually Assaulted” by Serene Helton — Often, sexual assault survivors don’t immediately realize that they were assaulted due to societal expectations, misconceptions, or even not trusting their own memory. If you aren’t sure or weren’t sure about your assault, then this piece is for you. “17 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You Were Sexually Assaulted” by Juliette V. — You might be surprised by the little things you do because you were sexually assaulted. Sexual assault affects people mentally and physically. We asked our community how it affects them, and they answered. “12 Reminders for Sexual Assault Survivors” by Elizabeth Pidgeon — If you experienced sexual assault, there are a number of core things to remember about who you are and what it means for you. Read this list, memorize it, and read it again any time that doubt begins to creep in. “The Truths I’ve Come to Notice in the Aftermath of Rape” by Summer Collins — After experiencing sexual assault, you might find it hard to navigate the changes to your life. In this piece, Summer Collins describes the little truths she has noticed from the inability to trust to becoming possessive over her things. Healing From Sexual Violence Can Be Messy “Sometimes, I come to terms with thinking I was raped, but then I wonder: ‘what if maybe I did give some indication that I was OK with sex?'” — Clare McKenna Doubting Your Experience Is Valid “Your Sexual Assault Still ‘Counts’ Even If You Weren’t Physically Forced” by Haley West — Society often believes sexual assault to look a certain way, but sexual violence is still violence even if it doesn’t look that way. If you don’t believe your sexual assault experience “counts,” then this article is for you. “After My Sexual Assault, I Learned the ‘Fight or Flight’ Response Had a Third Option” by Caitlin W. — Trauma responses go beyond the “fight” and “flight” we often hear about. If you froze during your sexual assault, then you aren’t alone; it’s another way your mind tried to protect you. This story from Caitlin W. explains what this means. “It’s Not Your Place to Decide If My Sexual Assault Was ‘Anything Big’” by Caitlin Collins — Do you find yourself minimizing your experience, or find that others do? Sexual assault is about a lack of consent, and no matter what that means, it’s important to remember that it still “counts” as sexual assault if it was unwanted, no matter what happened. If this sounds familiar, then this is for you. “Why I Struggle to Think of My ‘Nonconsensual Sexual Experience’ as Rape” by Clare McKenna — If you’re in a “gray area” of understanding if your experience counts as rape just like contributor Clare McKenna, then you’re not alone. Trauma Therapy “A Therapist’s Guide to Understanding Trauma Therapy” by Antonieta Contreras — This guide from trauma therapist Antonieta Contreras tells you everything you need to know about trauma therapy as a whole. “What to Expect From EMDR Therapy for Processing Trauma” by Sarah Grayson — EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of trauma therapy that has seen much success. It might sound a little bit like magic, but quite often, it just works. Here, Sarah Grayson breaks it down a little. “You Might Not Connect With the ‘Most Successful’ Type of Trauma Therapy, and That’s OK” by Amelia Blackwater — However, as with any type of therapy, sometimes it might just not be for you, and that’s OK. Even the most successful trauma therapy like EMDR doesn’t always fit the person. If that sounds like you, or if you’re worried about it, then this article is for you. “10 Tools for Trauma Survivors Asking ‘How Do I Get Help?’” by Vicki Peterson — If you feel ready to get help for your sexual trauma but don’t know where to start, then this article from trauma coach Vicki Peterson breaks everything down into easy-to-digest pieces. Healing Is Possible After Sexual Violence “Acknowledging that trauma as valid is often the first step on a long but ultimately liberating journey of recovery.” — Vicki Peterson Intimacy After Sexual Violence “What to Know About Intimacy After Experiencing Sexual Assault” by Sarah VanHouten — Sarah VanHouten shares her experience with intimacy after two sexual assaults, explaining how an understanding partner goes a long way. “How I Learned to Have Sex After Losing My Virginity to Rape” by Ashley Zaccaro — In this story, Ashley Zaccaro shares everything she did to learn to have sex after losing her virginity to rape, including the self-help book she used to work through it with her partner. She takes us through every step of her experience to, eventually, the state of being able to have an intimate relationship. “5 Things That Can Make Sex Better (Or at Least More Tolerable) For Sexual Assault Survivors” by Monika Sudakov — Here, Monika Sudakov offers some practical ways she and her husband navigate sexual intimacy while she is in recovery from childhood sexual abuse. “How PTSD Can Affect Sex (And What to Do About It)” by Max Harvey, Ph.D. — It’s a fact that your trauma might affect your reaction to intimate moments, so it’s important to know what to do if it happens. Here, Max Harvey explains their own experience with PTSD affecting sex and what to do about it. Reminders That Healing Is Possible “How Pole Dancing Lessons Helped Me Heal From Sexual Assault” by Sarah Ross — We can find healing in all sorts of unexpected ways. In this article, Sarah Ross explains how pole dancing lessons helped her rediscover her self-confidence and helped her love her body again. “3 Truths I Had to Believe Before I Could Recover From Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Mr. Antares — After experiencing childhood sexual abuse, Antares shares the three truths he had to believe before he could truly recover from his trauma. “Holding Broken Glass to Light: How EMDR Helped Me Face My Trauma” by LKR — In an EMDR success story, this Mighty contributor shares how this type of trauma therapy gave them hope for recovery and understanding. “6 Reminders That Healing After Sexual Violence Is Possible (and 6 More Messages of Support)” by The Mighty Community — In our newest collection of reminders, we asked the Mighty community for the messages of hope they want others living with sexual trauma to know. Their messages are beautiful and affirming. No matter where you are in your trauma recovery journey, we at The Mighty want you to know that you deserve to live a fulfilling, happy life after experiencing sexual violence. We hope you’ll find these articles helpful, and we hope you’ll share your story with us if you feel comfortable doing so.