The woman in this photo was once abducted and gang raped by nearly 100 men. She was 16 at the time. Does she look like someone who survived what must be every woman’s worst nightmare – and worst fear for a mother if you have a daughter? To some extent, we are all survivors. Trauma comes in many shapes and sizes. What matters is what we do with that experience of deep and intense pain, whether it’s emotional, physical, mental or all three.
The woman in the picture is Sally Anderson and you can read her story at www.sally-anderson.com. We will be speaking to her on next Tuesday’s “The Way of the Toddler Hour” on TogiNet Radio (www.toginet.com) at 2pm Pacific/5pm Eastern/10 pm GMT. I suppose Sally is typical of many trauma survivors in that she spent the next 2o years after her abduction and rape in a downward spiral of destructive behavior. And who could blame her? How would you “get over” being kidnapped and raped by 100 different men?
Today Sally is a household name in Australia and New Zealand, where she lives and works as a leadership trainer and inspirational speaker. She writes about how she turned her life around in her book Freefall, due out in the U.S. in September of this year. Her story of total life transformation answers the question: “Is there anything too awful to overcome?” No. There is not.
Sally has left behind the label of victim to embrace her life AND her past. She isn’t bitter. She isn’t angry. She isn’t even sorry that it happened. I’ve met Sally and I can honestly say she has one of the most captivating personalities of anyone I have ever met. She exudes a joy and love of life that is magnetic. You feel better just being in the same room with her.
There are some people in the world that you look at and think, “I want what they have.” Sally is one of those people for me. Would I trade her past for mine? No way. But that’s not really the point. The point is that we can all overcome debilitating pain and sorrow to enter a state of consciousness that is authentically joyful. We all have a choice about how we live our lives – either as victims or as champions of our destiny.
As a busy mom to my three little boys, some mishap or other can often throw me into that “victim” mentality. I can easily throw my hands up in the air and cry, “Why me?” It’s not about what happens to me, but rather my choices about how I react and think about those events. I know for every “uh-oh” or “oh-no” there are at least 10 things in my immediate surroundings for which I can be grateful. And I am looking forward to speaking to Sally next Tuesday and asking her personally for some of her tools and techniques for embracing life as a champion instead of a victim.
Every one of can probably look back on our lives and think of something that was awful for us. Are we still carrying around that experience with us? When Sally shares with us how she let go of her “too awful to overcome” story, we will all learn something about how we too can be free from the things that haunt us.