Ep.15- Why Telling Your Truth is so Important

In this episode, I am joined by the courageous Michealene Cristini Risley. She shares with us just how important it is to tell your truth to heal your trauma. By not speaking your truth, it is like skipping steps and making yourself invisible. Part of the healing journey is to become visible in speaking your truth. Listen in as she describes her journey to owning her truth as a tool to heal her trauma in mind, body, and soul. Michealene bravely discusses her own traumas and the negative coping mechanisms she developed, and how she turned them into positive avenues such as self-care, mediation, therapy and so much more. Join us as we work towards bringing trauma from the shadows and into the light to quicken the healing journey.

About our guest:

 Michealene Cristini Risley is a prolific writer, director, and human rights, activist. Her published, non-fiction book, This is Not the Life I Ordered was an N.Y. Times Bestseller. She is an award-winning documentarian for Tapestries of Hope (Best Film Louisville film Festival, Monaco Film Festival, The Directors Guild of America, Director Finder Series,  WIFTS Best Documentary) which premiered on SHOWTIME. Her first film, Flashcards (Cannes Film Festival, made the nomination list for academy award consideration) aired on American Public Television.

Michealene has a highly successful career as an executive. While at SEGA she created two “Sonic the Hedgehog” animated series simultaneously, both #1 in their time slots on ABC and in syndication. After starting her own company, Nike asked her to help build a video game division so she developed their gaming concept. She went out to the open market for video game and application technologies with talents including Ronaldo and Tiger Woods. which created his billion-dollar gaming franchise. She holds the record for the largest deal in the history of the video game space. 

She recently created a new TV series, completed her first fictional book, and has been approached to tell the story of her activism work.

She is creative, collaborative, and a courageous storyteller. 

http://www.michealene.com/

 

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Transcript
Anna Maydonova:

I know you, you’re afraid to speak up.

Anna Maydonova:

You’re scared of what other people think of you. And you

Anna Maydonova:

blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels.

Anna Maydonova:

Because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you

Anna Maydonova:

are here. This podcast will give you hope. And I’m your host in a

Anna Maydonova:

made ANOVA. And I’m going to hold your hand and provide the

Anna Maydonova:

guidance. It’s time for you to find your why. And turn your

Anna Maydonova:

experience into your biggest power. This is your time now. So

Anna Maydonova:

lock your door, put your headphones in and enjoy Michael

Anna Maydonova:

in Risley, welcome to the world’s best Trauma Recovery

Anna Maydonova:

podcast.

Michealene Risle:

I am honored to be here. Thank you.

Anna Maydonova:

Michael Lin, I would love to start off with a

Anna Maydonova:

question why telling your truth is so important.

Michealene Risle:

It’s a great question. Telling your truth is

Michealene Risle:

is critical for healing. It’s it’s actually taking your

Michealene Risle:

experience your trauma out of the shadow and bringing it to

Michealene Risle:

the light. For me, I found that without speaking your truth,

Michealene Risle:

it’s almost like skipping steps. And then it’s it’s critical to

Michealene Risle:

the healing of the mind the body, the soul.

Anna Maydonova:

But isn’t working just, you know, shut it

Anna Maydonova:

down and forget and move on.

Michealene Risle:

Oh, no, no, I tell you an interesting story.

Michealene Risle:

Because when you shut it down, you’re closing off a very big

Michealene Risle:

part of who you are. And that that it’s an interesting

Michealene Risle:

situation because I do find those who experienced trauma

Michealene Risle:

have very high pain tolerance is very because they shut down so

Michealene Risle:

much of their body. Part of when I realized that I needed to

Michealene Risle:

start speaking up and explore this and get to the bottom of my

Michealene Risle:

trauma. I was out west with some friends. And we were up playing

Michealene Risle:

at the Hollywood sign. And we all got back in the car and I

Michealene Risle:

did jump on someone’s lap in the front and my hand got stuck in

Michealene Risle:

the corridor. And it shut and I couldn’t feel it. So like I said

Michealene Risle:

to one of the guys please open the door open the door and they

Michealene Risle:

started teasing me Daviess name. Why why do you want to open the

Michealene Risle:

door and I’m I just said just open the door Davey. And when

Michealene Risle:

they opened the door, they could all see how crushed my hand was.

Michealene Risle:

And everyone started screaming. But me. I said, Oh, this is

Michealene Risle:

interesting. I’m not feeling it. And this is to me. That was an

Michealene Risle:

incredible moment where I said okay, this is this is you

Michealene Risle:

shutting it down. This is you saying okay, it happened. Forget

Michealene Risle:

about it. Move on. And you won’t survive. If you do this.

Anna Maydonova:

My Colleen I resonate with you so much. I

Anna Maydonova:

have a story about pain. Tell me play in 2018 I’m me and Laban I

Anna Maydonova:

got pregnant with my with my fiancee. Unfortunately, it

Anna Maydonova:

turned into ectopic pregnancy. The first one. And we tried

Anna Maydonova:

methotrexate. We tried it once we tried it second time, and it

Anna Maydonova:

didn’t work. And we will come into the hospital in and out in

Anna Maydonova:

and out in and out. You know they are saying if you have a

Anna Maydonova:

bit of pain come but for me, this pain wasn’t so painful when

Anna Maydonova:

they were asking me. So what is your pain out of 10 I was like

Anna Maydonova:

to be like, Okay, go home. It wasn’t too. So I remember I was

Anna Maydonova:

coming home and I felt a bit of pain and I was like whatever, as

Anna Maydonova:

usual. And then they came home and if pain was rising and

Anna Maydonova:

rising and rising. And I just lie down on the on the bed in a

Anna Maydonova:

fetus position. And I could feel that something was happening but

Anna Maydonova:

you know what? For me it wasn’t a big deal. And I just remember

Anna Maydonova:

I lead lie down and it was started to be painful. When I

Anna Maydonova:

every time I would breathe. I felt like 1000 knives in my

Anna Maydonova:

stomach. Like going deeper and deeper and deeper. So I was

Anna Maydonova:

breathing maybe once in two minutes. And then I took I

Anna Maydonova:

remember they gave me in Don, this very strong point

Anna Maydonova:

painkiller. You’re supposed to be take one tablet every six

Anna Maydonova:

hours. But I remember I took one didn’t help. I took a second one

Anna Maydonova:

didn’t help in maybe 20 minutes. I don’t know how much time was

Anna Maydonova:

it? I took third. didn’t help. And then I took three tablets.

Anna Maydonova:

And then I bust bust out my bed. In the morning I woke up. I

Anna Maydonova:

called my work. I was late already I woke up. I said, I

Anna Maydonova:

can’t come to work. I don’t feel well. So I spent a day at home

Anna Maydonova:

and under those painkillers I was, you know, I was fine. So

Anna Maydonova:

what was happening? I was bleeding internally because my

Anna Maydonova:

tube ruptured. And it is painful experience, but it wasn’t so

Anna Maydonova:

painful. Seven days later, I just felt that something’s

Anna Maydonova:

happening with me because I was pale like a wall. white wall. I

Anna Maydonova:

slow. I was so slow. I was still going to work. And then I passed

Anna Maydonova:

out at work. And they were like, No, you need to check yourself

Anna Maydonova:

out. They didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t tell anyone

Anna Maydonova:

about ectopic pregnancy. When I came to the hospital, they

Anna Maydonova:

checked my blood blood pressure. It was a K. They did ultrasound

Anna Maydonova:

in back in Melbourne. He said I can’t see anything. I was like,

Anna Maydonova:

that is definitely something is happening to me. Next morning, I

Anna Maydonova:

went to do the ultrasound with a pro with a doctor. She looked at

Anna Maydonova:

me. She looked at the screen. She said on my godness girl. How

Anna Maydonova:

are you still alive? I had nearly six milliliters of blood

Anna Maydonova:

in my tummy. And 10 by 10 centimeters blood cloth which is

Anna Maydonova:

like this.

Michealene Risle:

Oh, my God. Oh my god, and it didn’t affect

Michealene Risle:

your blood pressure in either. Wow.

Anna Maydonova:

I think maybe doctor made a mistake because

Anna Maydonova:

when they checked my blood pressure, it was very low. Next

Anna Maydonova:

morning. Anyway, I can resonate with us. When you don’t feel

Anna Maydonova:

pain at all. I was like whatever.

Michealene Risle:

Yeah, it is definitely a trait of those who

Michealene Risle:

suffer from trauma. Particularly women.

Anna Maydonova:

And I realized it’s not a good thing. Because I

Anna Maydonova:

got scared. I really got scared they told me a bit more and you

Anna Maydonova:

would die from losing the blood. Anyway, Mike Alene What is your

Anna Maydonova:

trauma is coming from

Michealene Risle:

for I’ve had a lot in my life. I was sexually

Michealene Risle:

abused as a child. Father, brother, cousin. And then I

Michealene Risle:

spent years working through that to forgiveness and healing. And

Michealene Risle:

then I use that as a to fuel my activism. I’ve worked for

Michealene Risle:

decades on rape, abuse and human trafficking. And so I had a

Michealene Risle:

nonprofit in a for profit where we used video to create social

Michealene Risle:

change. I’ve done two documentaries. My first was set

Michealene Risle:

up as a short film on child sexual abuse in America. We did

Michealene Risle:

the first national curriculum viewing guide on child sexual

Michealene Risle:

abuse. And then my last film where I went over to Zimbabwe

Michealene Risle:

and I profiled remarkable, a remarkably courageous woman,

Michealene Risle:

Betty McCone, who, in many parts of the world, men are counseled,

Michealene Risle:

if they rape a virgin, they’ll cure their AIDS. And so

Michealene Risle:

obviously, not only is that false, that Betty was actually

Michealene Risle:

rescuing these kids. And so when I was over there, the dictator

Michealene Risle:

at that time Robert Mugabe, Robert Mugabe threw me in

Michealene Risle:

prison. And I was lucky enough my husband had hired human

Michealene Risle:

rights lawyers to get me out and I there was a guy who helped as

Michealene Risle:

well, who I met on Facebook who had a friend at the CIA, so I

Michealene Risle:

did get out. And then Mugabe sent a couple of his thugs to

Michealene Risle:

try to hurt me in the US a couple of times. And then I got

Michealene Risle:

chased by human traffickers. So, you know, those are traumas. Is

Michealene Risle:

that enough?

Anna Maydonova:

It’s more than enough, Michael, I mean, it’s

Anna Maydonova:

Wow. Well, with all the work you you are doing, there are still

Anna Maydonova:

people who don’t want this message to be passed on. And

Anna Maydonova:

unfortunately, sexual abuse is the only abuse is the only story

Anna Maydonova:

we’re not allowed to talk in a society.

Michealene Risle:

I would agree. And it’s also sexual abuse is

Michealene Risle:

the leading indicator that you will be trafficked. So it’s, we

Michealene Risle:

look at these as very separate things, but they’re not. It’s a

Michealene Risle:

linear line. It’s, you know, sexual abuse, date rape, human

Michealene Risle:

trafficking, they’re all on a continuum.

Anna Maydonova:

I want to talk about this a bit more. But I

Anna Maydonova:

want to go back to your story. When you were sexually abused.

Anna Maydonova:

Michael, in what was your first experience, when memories

Anna Maydonova:

started to come up?

Michealene Risle:

Come back, oh, I have memories over the years.

Michealene Risle:

But I had like connected to them so that I could, I could know

Michealene Risle:

them intellectually. But I did not connect heart and head until

Michealene Risle:

I experimented with MDMA. In layman’s terms, that’s ecstasy.

Michealene Risle:

But basically, in the United States, MDMA was used for family

Michealene Risle:

therapy, because it would take down the nerve receptors in the

Michealene Risle:

brain, and you would have your memory. So I did not do it an

Michealene Risle:

uncontrolled environment. And so I came out of an experience with

Michealene Risle:

MDMA, with suddenly a whole bucket full of memories,

Michealene Risle:

connecting to my heart, and I didn’t know what to do with

Michealene Risle:

that. So that’s when I was I found a good therapist. Because

Michealene Risle:

I was in I was in a tough situation.

Anna Maydonova:

Think finding a good therapist is very

Anna Maydonova:

important. Because when my my memories started to come back,

Anna Maydonova:

and I couldn’t remember what was happening to me. So I sort of

Anna Maydonova:

knew, but I wasn’t thinking about it. Until two years ago,

Anna Maydonova:

three years ago, when I started to do my public speaking,

Anna Maydonova:

training, because I couldn’t understand why I can’t say a

Anna Maydonova:

word, why I’m so quiet, why I’m so shy. And my trainer was also

Anna Maydonova:

sexually abused. And she told about your story on the first

Anna Maydonova:

meeting, and it triggered my memory.

Michealene Risle:

I was like, oh, geez, yeah.

Anna Maydonova:

Wow. And then it just opened up a Pandora’s box.

Anna Maydonova:

For me. I was like, This is me. And I remember all those

Anna Maydonova:

memories started coming back. All this pain and shame are like

Anna Maydonova:

a huge tsunami. I didn’t know how to deal with it. What was

Anna Maydonova:

your way of dealing? What helped you to go through this?

Michealene Risle:

Well, the coping mechanisms not

Michealene Risle:

necessarily good for you. So I had a lot of coping mechanisms,

Michealene Risle:

I would eat to fill that hole. I was, you know, I had body

Michealene Risle:

dysmorphia, I had extreme anxiety. But I think looking at

Michealene Risle:

it now from an aerial perspective, having spent so

Michealene Risle:

many years in this, I think that coping mechanisms now would be

Michealene Risle:

meditation, exercise, self care, those who are critical. But it

Michealene Risle:

took me a long time to get there. And and I would also say

Michealene Risle:

that I look back at my years in therapy, with a little bit of a

Michealene Risle:

different perspective, than I do believe that you can get through

Michealene Risle:

trauma without years of therapy. And I think sometimes therapy

Michealene Risle:

can also re traumatize you. So I think there’s lots of new

Michealene Risle:

techniques and methods to help you get there faster.

Anna Maydonova:

But you gave us an example of one techniques,

Anna Maydonova:

what people can do.

Michealene Risle:

Yes. So I think somatics is one really

Michealene Risle:

worth it is really, it’s the psychotherapy or counseling,

Michealene Risle:

those kinds of therapies are in the mind. You have to the trauma

Michealene Risle:

and the memory or at the cellular level. And so somatic

Michealene Risle:

healing EMDR there’s so many things out there, and I think it

Michealene Risle:

really depends on For your individual desires

Anna Maydonova:

you have to you have to want to heal as well as

Michealene Risle:

wanting to heal, because you know, there’s

Michealene Risle:

work. That’s that, I mean, it’s work and it’s painful. But I

Michealene Risle:

also think it can be very confusing out there as to what

Michealene Risle:

path to take. So you have to really take your time and value

Michealene Risle:

your own thinking and feeling about it. That’s, that’s, you

Michealene Risle:

know, as you and I both probably know, that’s not an easy task.

Michealene Risle:

Especially as we tend to as survivors become pleasers. And

Michealene Risle:

it’s always the external perspective versus our so I

Michealene Risle:

think, probably the most critical lesson I learned is to

Michealene Risle:

stop looking for external validation, or stop looking for

Michealene Risle:

external solutions, and and begin to recognize my own gifts.

Michealene Risle:

Does that make sense?

Anna Maydonova:

100%. That’s what I that’s what I was, was

Anna Maydonova:

doing. trust myself. Yeah, all the answers within us,

Anna Maydonova:

everything, our subconscious, our heart knows what we need.

Anna Maydonova:

You just, you just need to. Yeah, like you said, stop

Anna Maydonova:

distracting ourselves by external words. And just

Michealene Risle:

tapping, I’ll give you an example. And I hope

Michealene Risle:

this helps with your listeners too. So when I, after I had

Michealene Risle:

gotten after my Lyft vehicle had been hijacked by human

Michealene Risle:

traffickers. And I, I didn’t really know what happened. I

Michealene Risle:

sort of, they picked me up on a Sunday, I went home and I told

Michealene Risle:

my husband, I just saw a man with the most evil eyes I’ve

Michealene Risle:

ever seen. And I didn’t, I couldn’t really frame it. By the

Michealene Risle:

next day, I went into shock. Because I, I realized I was sort

Michealene Risle:

of putting all the pieces together. And then, of course,

Michealene Risle:

by the time I went to the police, which is probably the

Michealene Risle:

worst thing you can do, because they re traumatize you, right?

Michealene Risle:

And so there were all these things happening. I I did not

Michealene Risle:

know what to do. And so what were we talking about? What was

Michealene Risle:

your?

Anna Maydonova:

The example of why you need to tap into

Anna Maydonova:

yourself?

Michealene Risle:

Yes. So interesting enough. Now watch Do

Michealene Risle:

you see on my brain when I got so nervous about that, that I

Michealene Risle:

blanked out. And as survivors, that happens a lot. So I didn’t

Michealene Risle:

know what to do. Of course, I went to Stanford University with

Michealene Risle:

the top institutions to say, I need some help. And my bodies

Michealene Risle:

started tremoring. And thank God for my husband, like, the tremor

Michealene Risle:

was so severe. I was laying next to my husband in bed one night,

Michealene Risle:

and I said, Honey, can you feel the tremoring? And he put his

Michealene Risle:

hand on me? And he said, Mike, the tremor is not on the

Michealene Risle:

outside. It’s on the inside. So I said, Ah, so when I went to

Michealene Risle:

Stanford, they wanted to medicate. They just wanted to

Michealene Risle:

plow me with drugs. And I kept saying, Well, wait a minute. I’m

Michealene Risle:

happy to take what you need. But is that solving the underlying

Michealene Risle:

issue? All they wanted to do is suppress it suppress it. And I

Michealene Risle:

grew up with that suppression. So why would I ever want to do

Michealene Risle:

it again. And so, for me, I had to learn to rely on myself. So I

Michealene Risle:

said, here are all these doctors and expert facilities. And it

Michealene Risle:

didn’t feel right in my gut. I knew this was not the way to

Michealene Risle:

healing. So I had to find my own path. And that’s when I started

Michealene Risle:

looking at meditation and exercise and how I ate. And it’s

Michealene Risle:

a it’s a challenging road.

Anna Maydonova:

It’s it’s a challenging, challenging road,

Anna Maydonova:

but it’s worth it. 100% I had a bit of different experience with

Anna Maydonova:

my therapist. I tried all sorts of psychologists, psychiatrists,

Anna Maydonova:

psyche, professionals, NLP, shamans, everyone, you name it.

Anna Maydonova:

But the hypnotherapy really helped me. She did hypnotherapy,

Anna Maydonova:

hypnotherapy. She took me she took me back. And I’ve learned

Anna Maydonova:

so many lessons from every single moment what was happening

Anna Maydonova:

to me, and I came up much stronger after my hypnotherapy,

Anna Maydonova:

and I became a certified hypnotherapist

Michealene Risle:

because I know how it works. Wow, that’s

Michealene Risle:

amazing.

Anna Maydonova:

It’s really made a huge impact. on me, didn’t do

Anna Maydonova:

25

Michealene Risle:

years of therapy. It was pretty quick,

Michealene Risle:

right? It was

Anna Maydonova:

pretty quick. But it was to the point. He was

Anna Maydonova:

facing your trauma. I face it. And my hypnotherapist helped me

Anna Maydonova:

to heal it. Not just open it up, but really heal it. And off the

Anna Maydonova:

back of my hypnotherapy, I was able to tell my mom, what was

Anna Maydonova:

happening for the very first time. And I know not everyone is

Anna Maydonova:

lucky, like I was, but she took it so beautifully. I got my mom

Anna Maydonova:

back. My Killeen and bear in mind, she was so codependent on

Anna Maydonova:

my stepfather, she would never, ever tell him anything against,

Anna Maydonova:

she was so in love with you madly. And she just turned into

Anna Maydonova:

a mama bear. She got so protective over me. She nearly

Anna Maydonova:

killed him with your own hands. And that’s how she started. The

Anna Maydonova:

She pressed the criminal charges against him. And I had to go to

Anna Maydonova:

back to Russia. I was living in Australia at the time to testify

Anna Maydonova:

against my perpetrator and confront everyone.

Michealene Risle:

Wow, wow.

Anna Maydonova:

And then I’ve realized that we don’t have any

Anna Maydonova:

supporting facilities in my hometown, Sakhalin Island, just

Anna Maydonova:

north of Japan, for childhood sexual abuse survivors. All we

Anna Maydonova:

can do is go to police. But we know police is not the best

Anna Maydonova:

place to go. And so I was thinking, What can I do? And I

Anna Maydonova:

called the biggest magazine in my town. And they said, Would

Anna Maydonova:

you be interested to publish my story? Mike Alene, it went

Anna Maydonova:

viral. And I left my email address in the article. I said,

Anna Maydonova:

you’re also if you are experiencing something similar,

Anna Maydonova:

send me an email, hundreds and hundreds of emails. And I’ve

Anna Maydonova:

just realized how many of us out there that are still so afraid

Anna Maydonova:

to talk about it. And I know parents will probably be not the

Anna Maydonova:

best people to talk with because it can be very shocking and hard

Anna Maydonova:

to tell how to how to take. But how was your experience when you

Anna Maydonova:

first opened up to the world? Well,

Michealene Risle:

I first opened up to, you know, as I was, in

Michealene Risle:

the process of therapy, I did talk to my parents about my

Michealene Risle:

brother. And my mother actually flew out and went down. So I

Michealene Risle:

could confront my brother. I think it varies. I think it

Michealene Risle:

varies on, you know, there’s when you talk about a support

Michealene Risle:

structure, there’s no support structure for the process we go

Michealene Risle:

through. So for example, my mother could have used some

Michealene Risle:

support my family members, there’s no, there’s no system

Michealene Risle:

that helps support and understand the process. Because

Michealene Risle:

it doesn’t exist, or if you know, in America, in American

Michealene Risle:

judicial system, if you’re abused in your family, and it’s

Michealene Risle:

reported, you are pulled from your family, right? So that in

Michealene Risle:

itself is another trauma. Because many times the people

Michealene Risle:

who abuse you you love deeply. It’s not just you know,

Anna Maydonova:

black 95%.

Michealene Risle:

Yes. And the thing is, though, when you are

Michealene Risle:

put into foster care, your chances of being molested are

Michealene Risle:

three times as likely. So you’re going out of the frying pan and

Michealene Risle:

into the fire. And it is, you know, I don’t think we really

Michealene Risle:

truly understand that. Sexual abuse is a learned behavior.

Michealene Risle:

it’s generational. So if you don’t break the chain, it

Michealene Risle:

continues. And the only way to break the chain is to build a

Michealene Risle:

system for people to understand. So for example, those that

Michealene Risle:

molested me were molested. Right? And so it’s really

Michealene Risle:

important that you get to the point where you can have

Michealene Risle:

compassion and forgiveness but you can’t skip over that stage

Michealene Risle:

of anger. And going through it as women do again, it’s like,

Michealene Risle:

okay, well let me get to compassion and forgiveness

Michealene Risle:

because this is the way you heal but you can’t skip a step. You

Michealene Risle:

can’t skip that step because then you’re making yourself

Michealene Risle:

invisible. In part of the process is learning how to be

Michealene Risle:

visible and speak your truth

Anna Maydonova:

which is the hardest one you Yes, yes.

Michealene Risle:

So So I think it really dependent. I ended up

Michealene Risle:

confronting to my abusers one I didn’t, and I didn’t feel the

Michealene Risle:

need to. But again, I think it goes back to what you feel. No

Michealene Risle:

one can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do on the process.

Anna Maydonova:

It’s a game coming to trust yourself very

Anna Maydonova:

much, you will know what to do. That’s I’m so proud of you,

Anna Maydonova:

honestly. And I was reading your book, The French fry kids,

Anna Maydonova:

french fries, kids, kid,

Unknown:

kid, kid.

Anna Maydonova:

Where you literally transcribed the whole

Anna Maydonova:

process, what you’ve gone through from the beginning to

Anna Maydonova:

the end, which can be a system would you? Would you tell us

Anna Maydonova:

more about your upcoming book?

Michealene Risle:

Sure, sure. So the French fry kid a warrior and

Michealene Risle:

training, what I did is when I was going through therapy, I

Michealene Risle:

typed into a tape recorder. And so when I was healed enough, I’d

Michealene Risle:

laid that tape recorder down as any young woman’s journal with

Michealene Risle:

the idea that is, so let me back up for a second. When I got

Michealene Risle:

through the trauma of my child abuse. I used to speak around

Michealene Risle:

the country because I had to books out previously and I’d

Michealene Risle:

speak to groups. In fact, I would have a line out the door

Michealene Risle:

of people who didn’t care about the signature. And they were

Michealene Risle:

sharing their abuse story for the first time. Like they

Michealene Risle:

actually felt after they heard me speak that they had the

Michealene Risle:

courage enough to speak their truth. And I remember one time

Michealene Risle:

one of my co authors like Hurry up. And I’m like I can’t these

Michealene Risle:

are this is the first time they’re telling their stories

Michealene Risle:

and speaking their truth, right. But so I felt when I did this

Michealene Risle:

book that I had a responsibility, because I saw so

Michealene Risle:

many walking wounded who didn’t get on the other side. And so

Michealene Risle:

when I laid this journal down my goal, then and now is to find a

Michealene Risle:

way for survivors and their family to understand what you go

Michealene Risle:

through. And to give you hope that you’ll get out on the other

Michealene Risle:

side that it’s totally possible. That’s my goal. So I laid down

Michealene Risle:

the journal. And then I hired a clinical psychologist to do

Michealene Risle:

progress notes, so that you as a reader can say, Oh, here’s where

Michealene Risle:

I am. And here’s how I get to heal. So that’s sort of the crux

Michealene Risle:

of the book is helping those who’ve had this experience and

Michealene Risle:

those who have, who have loved ones who’ve had this experience

Michealene Risle:

so they can understand the process.

Anna Maydonova:

This is so important when people do

Anna Maydonova:

understand what the victim of sexual abuse is going through.

Anna Maydonova:

Because this is where the hardest part, it’s so much blame

Anna Maydonova:

on the victim. It’s your fault for me it was I was 15 years

Anna Maydonova:

old. Couldn’t you understand what was happening? Couldn’t you

Anna Maydonova:

just jump and scream and yell and fight? Now I just got

Anna Maydonova:

frozen. And I was blaming myself 20 years. Why couldn’t Why

Anna Maydonova:

couldn’t I do anything? It’s not so simple. It’s it’s a

Anna Maydonova:

protection mechanism.

Michealene Risle:

Oh, yes. Well, two things I want to share one.

Michealene Risle:

I mean, I the earliest memory I have is as a is eight, seven or

Michealene Risle:

eight roughly. And it was a cousin to actually had me pinned

Michealene Risle:

down on a bed. While he was a jack elating in my mouth, and my

Michealene Risle:

brother was in the corner watching. I was terrified. I

Michealene Risle:

didn’t know what was happening. Like, in I still blame myself

Michealene Risle:

like, Oh my God, I didn’t even know like, you know what a penis

Michealene Risle:

was. I just know that the action that happened to me, was very

Michealene Risle:

violent in for years. I if I was near semen, I would gag and I

Michealene Risle:

couldn’t for the life of me figure out why until I went into

Michealene Risle:

those therapy sessions. And there was a whole set of

Michealene Risle:

memories that came out because I had no recollection of that

Michealene Risle:

experience until we dug deep into my into my aversion to

Michealene Risle:

SEMA. And then it was like, suddenly, like, the memory came

Michealene Risle:

out and you could remember everything the smell the sights

Michealene Risle:

and the sounds and it’s just your mind is so protective of

Michealene Risle:

you. Right? So I think that blaming is it is what we go to

Michealene Risle:

as human beings. And it’s also, you know, we also end up taking

Michealene Risle:

on the abuse. So blaming ourselves as a way to continue

Michealene Risle:

to beat ourselves down. It’s we’ve also we’ve taken on what

Michealene Risle:

they’ve given us. Does that does that make sense?

Anna Maydonova:

And taking 100%? Taking everything on my Colleen

Anna Maydonova:

Have you forgiven your perpetrators?

Michealene Risle:

That’s a really good question. Yes, yes.

Anna Maydonova:

How did you think this? What helped you?

Michealene Risle:

I think it I confronted my brother, which was

Michealene Risle:

really important to me. It’s not like I wanted any big thing to

Michealene Risle:

happen. I just wanted to acknowledge it and say he was

Michealene Risle:

sorry. And when he did, I could feel this relief come out of me.

Michealene Risle:

But then, probably about, I don’t know, three weeks later,

Michealene Risle:

he called me up. And he said, you know, you weren’t the only

Michealene Risle:

one abused. And so my confronting him actually gave

Michealene Risle:

enough space to him, for him to start speaking up about what

Michealene Risle:

happened to him.

Anna Maydonova:

Was he also abused? Yes.

Michealene Risle:

And I asked him who abused you? And he said,

Michealene Risle:

I don’t want to say, but that was the opening when he said,

Michealene Risle:

you know, you weren’t the only one abused. And I said, were you

Michealene Risle:

abused? And he said, Yes. And I said, who abused you? And he

Michealene Risle:

said, I don’t want to say, and so again, that secrecy is part

Michealene Risle:

of the challenge. And so I forgave him, I forgave my

Michealene Risle:

father. I had a brief conversation with my cousin, a

Michealene Risle:

few years back. And he asked me, we were literally sitting

Michealene Risle:

outside in the SP, no, why, what did I do to you? Right? And I

Michealene Risle:

said, I remember an incident when I was eight. And I left it

Michealene Risle:

there. He didn’t say anything. He just sat in the chair for a

Michealene Risle:

while. And I, I’ve known for many years that forgiveness is a

Michealene Risle:

critical part of your own healing. And if you don’t

Michealene Risle:

forgive, you’re gonna get stuck. I think the harder part of the

Michealene Risle:

forgiveness for me was forgiving myself. And again, we’re our

Michealene Risle:

worst critic. We’re our harshest judge. And I heard that voice

Michealene Risle:

when you even said, it’s like, Well, why didn’t you do

Michealene Risle:

something about it? Or why didn’t you know, as a little

Michealene Risle:

kid, you know, and you were too and we don’t have the

Michealene Risle:

wherewithal we do is we are adults. And we’re in a family

Michealene Risle:

dynamic. That, you know, I remember thinking, Oh, my God,

Michealene Risle:

if I say something, am I going to break up my family? You know,

Michealene Risle:

and so it’s so many responsibilities lie? Yes. Yes.

Michealene Risle:

Yes. And, you know, even, you know, I’ve had situations a

Michealene Risle:

couple of years ago, I went to a facility that I, I had gone to,

Michealene Risle:

went to when I need to get healthy, right. And I didn’t

Michealene Risle:

know this at the time, but two of the massage therapists there

Michealene Risle:

had been, basically molesting young women as they slept, and

Michealene Risle:

then the woman would wake up stimulated and blame themselves.

Michealene Risle:

So there was this, there was this discussion that oh, well,

Michealene Risle:

if you go to this therapist, you can get you know, you can get

Michealene Risle:

stimulated. And it was again, the way that it was presented by

Michealene Risle:

different people. So I went to the miss this Mazouz not

Michealene Risle:

thinking about any of this. I just went to misuse there. And I

Michealene Risle:

woke up with him inappropriately touching. And so I left told the

Michealene Risle:

staff, and he got fired. But then I started hearing about all

Michealene Risle:

these people who knew this was going on for so long. In the

Michealene Risle:

guests got very angry at me. He’s a single dad of two young

Michealene Risle:

daughters. How could you do this to him? Seriously, Oh, yeah.

Michealene Risle:

Seriously. It’s I think that’s part of the challenge we have is

Michealene Risle:

like, people were upset at me for speaking the truth, by the

Michealene Risle:

way, protecting these kids. Imagine being a young girl

Michealene Risle:

you’re going in and that happens. You know how much blame

Michealene Risle:

you put on yourself? And just the ignorance the pure ignorance

Michealene Risle:

of the situation. So yeah, we have a long way to go.

Anna Maydonova:

You know what? The trauma keeps this core and

Anna Maydonova:

you need seven generations before and seven generations

Anna Maydonova:

after for trauma to disappear. If you’re not doing anything at

Anna Maydonova:

this point. How do you think healing your trauma impacts your

Anna Maydonova:

kid’s life?

Michealene Risle:

My singular goal when having kids was to

Michealene Risle:

break the chain. I wanted to make sure that they didn’t have

Michealene Risle:

that experience. And thank God that I’m aware of none of them

Michealene Risle:

did.

Michealene Risle:

However, I will tell you that I think trauma and this magnitude,

Michealene Risle:

we can’t afford seven generations. We have to figure

Michealene Risle:

out ways because I think there’s a systemic suppression that

Michealene Risle:

happens from this abuse.

Michealene Risle:

And it is affects women. No, I’ll say it affects women, far

Michealene Risle:

more numbers than men. But I will say that male numbers are

Michealene Risle:

much higher than what we record. Because there’s even a double

Michealene Risle:

standard where, you know, oh, well, you’re a guy, you’re

Michealene Risle:

supposed to enjoy it. And that’s just not how it’s experienced.

Michealene Risle:

So I think we have a lot of work to do. And I don’t think there’s

Michealene Risle:

a I often think about, I often think about people like I won’t

Michealene Risle:

say his name, he owns a major NFL team. And he’s gotten busted

Michealene Risle:

for a number of things in this area. And because of his money

Michealene Risle:

and his power, he’s always bought his way out of it. And

Michealene Risle:

because our laws protect children under 18, those same

Michealene Risle:

laws protect perpetrators. So when he got in trouble when

Michealene Risle:

let’s say he got in trouble with underage girls. Those details

Michealene Risle:

weren’t released. Even though if you’re on the ground like lots

Michealene Risle:

of activists you know, the real stories, so many of us knew when

Michealene Risle:

he got in trouble with underage what do they call it? He was at

Michealene Risle:

a what do they call it? Basically, he was caught having

Michealene Risle:

sex with someone most of us knew that he’d been caught having sex

Michealene Risle:

with an underage girl who didn’t speak English in thought she was

Michealene Risle:

getting food on believable in literally what I want to do is

Michealene Risle:

my hope is people like this will start saying, oh my god, I have

Michealene Risle:

got to start speaking up. I’ve got to start changing so that I

Michealene Risle:

can model a different behavior. That’s my fantasy. But do I want

Michealene Risle:

to wring his neck? Do I want to call him out? Yeah. And he’s

Michealene Risle:

going to have a you know, a line of lawyers coming after me

Anna Maydonova:

and it’s so devastating because

Anna Maydonova:

lost my mind because for some reason it’s not only this this

Anna Maydonova:

story,

Michealene Risle:

what are you thinking? Are you proud?

Anna Maydonova:

I yeah, I was frozen a little bit. As usual,

Anna Maydonova:

Mike, my internet connection got a bit funny. Can you hear me

Anna Maydonova:

now?

Michealene Risle:

I can hear you. I can hear you. What are

Michealene Risle:

you thinking?

Anna Maydonova:

This is my, my dream. My Killeen when every

Anna Maydonova:

single child will start speaking up every single woman, every

Anna Maydonova:

single victim will start speaking up when they stop being

Anna Maydonova:

afraid of anything. Imagine the perpetrators they would think

Anna Maydonova:

twice, three times 10 times. If they knew they will be

Anna Maydonova:

uncovered. At some point. I bet you the number of sexual abuse

Anna Maydonova:

will decrease any say any abuse, physical and emotional and

Anna Maydonova:

mental as well. And it’s happening every every time even

Anna Maydonova:

in Zimbabwe when you are recording a wonderful movie

Anna Maydonova:

fresh water heaven.

Michealene Risle:

The movie from Zimbabwe is called tapestries of

Michealene Risle:

hope to tapestries of Hope freshwater Haven was a not for

Michealene Risle:

profit. Yes, biologists. No, no, it’s okay.

Anna Maydonova:

Even then, they throw you in. They lock you down

Anna Maydonova:

for revealing this information. uh what was happening? What were

Anna Maydonova:

you going through? was how I

Michealene Risle:

remember. And this struck a nerve when you

Michealene Risle:

were talking about trauma in seventh generation. So when I

Michealene Risle:

was thrown in prison there, I was there with my assistant, her

Michealene Risle:

and I, we were the only white women in a coed overcrowded

Michealene Risle:

prison. And they you never quite know. I mean, you know, this

Michealene Risle:

was, you know, feces laden floor I got urinated on I saw someone

Michealene Risle:

raped, I mean, you know, it was a pretty horrific experience.

Michealene Risle:

And I was trying to protect my assistant to because she was

Michealene Risle:

much younger, and I felt incredible guilt, like, I didn’t

Michealene Risle:

want her in this situation. But I remember, we were in this,

Michealene Risle:

about the size of a bathroom like a five by eight cell. And

Michealene Risle:

they had allowed me to bribe them enough so that we could

Michealene Risle:

have a closed area. And there was a group of women in there

Michealene Risle:

with us. And I remember thinking that I thought I’d been doing

Michealene Risle:

such good work. But here I was in a cell in Zimbabwe, and I

Michealene Risle:

could leave my kids without their mother. And I remember

Michealene Risle:

thinking, Oh, wow, how incredibly selfish of me. And

Michealene Risle:

interesting, too, when, when we got out and we were deported to

Michealene Risle:

South Africa, I remember getting on the phone with my family. We

Michealene Risle:

had not told the boys about what had happened until we got we got

Michealene Risle:

out. And my oldest boy was like, Mom, mom, I hear you can’t go to

Michealene Risle:

Africa anymore. He thought it was very cool. said well, no

Michealene Risle:

honey, just Zimbabwe, and maybe South Africa. And the one that

Michealene Risle:

we didn’t think it affected was like two and a half year old.

Michealene Risle:

Right. So fast forward a few years. When he was in

Michealene Risle:

kindergarten, he went through severe separation anxiety. So we

Michealene Risle:

brought him to a therapist, and we started working through it.

Michealene Risle:

And at the culmination of that therapy, he drew a picture of

Michealene Risle:

his mom in prison. And he said, I don’t want her to go back to

Michealene Risle:

jail.

Unknown:

Wow,

Michealene Risle:

two and a half. And so. So there are lots

Michealene Risle:

of traumas that we experience in life. And so I think we’ve got

Michealene Risle:

to find a better way, whether it’s sexual abuse, or, you know,

Michealene Risle:

even within my own work, I think I’ve impacted my kids. We’ve got

Michealene Risle:

to find a quicker way to get through some of these crazy

Anna Maydonova:

it’s like, one thing comes after another, after

Anna Maydonova:

another after another. And you know what? My clean there will

Anna Maydonova:

be always challenging situations that can be a traumatic for us,

Anna Maydonova:

I think most important is to learn how to deal with them, how

Anna Maydonova:

to process them. Most important to be brave, and courageous. And

Anna Maydonova:

now, what I’ve gone through six years of systematic rep, raped

Anna Maydonova:

two forced abortions, 15 consecutive miscarriages,

Anna Maydonova:

including three exotic pregnancies, one nearly twice in

Anna Maydonova:

my life. I’m like, You know what? Bring it on. I don’t

Anna Maydonova:

afraid of anything right now. I went through the hell. So

Anna Maydonova:

nothing can kill me right now. And I think this is the most

Anna Maydonova:

important mindset. When you stop being a victim, and start being

Anna Maydonova:

a victory, and what I’m saying, I’m turning my trauma into my

Anna Maydonova:

superpower. Yes, it can destroy our life. Yes, it can take our

Anna Maydonova:

power away. Yes, it can do a lot of damage. But now I realize it

Anna Maydonova:

doesn’t have to be this way. Our trauma can be a really great

Anna Maydonova:

source of inspiration for transformation, for self care,

Anna Maydonova:

healing. And that’s what I’m trying to. This is my message.

Anna Maydonova:

Take your trauma and make it your biggest superpower.

Michealene Risle:

I think what you’re saying too, is so

Michealene Risle:

critical, because I think that that was my own journey is that

Michealene Risle:

take those traumas and develop a resiliency and that superpower

Michealene Risle:

is learning how to take care of yourself first. That is the

Michealene Risle:

single most critical thing is, it’s like part of abuse. Part of

Michealene Risle:

the challenge with abuse is you become so marginalized, so

Michealene Risle:

victimized, and so invisible, the healing, the healing is

Michealene Risle:

becoming visible and using to be invisible anymore.

Anna Maydonova:

That’s a really wonderful advice. Because you’re

Anna Maydonova:

also threatened in Zimbabwe, that if you won’t leave the

Anna Maydonova:

country, you will be killed, or you will be robbed. Yes, that’s

Anna Maydonova:

and then, and when you came back to America, you were

Anna Maydonova:

experiencing some challenges to get this movie out to the world.

Anna Maydonova:

And how Hillary Clinton helped you in this journey?

Michealene Risle:

So I think that how did Hillary Clinton

Michealene Risle:

help me in this journey? I think that I had been, I had been

Michealene Risle:

exposed her by an event locally. And literally, I shared with her

Michealene Risle:

what was happening in Zimbabwe. And we are standing in line for

Michealene Risle:

something and she pulled me out of the line. And she said, Come,

Michealene Risle:

I need to talk to you. And so she pulled me out of the line

Michealene Risle:

and brought me to Huma Abedin. And she said, Please take her

Michealene Risle:

information. I want to know what’s happening in Zimbabwe,

Michealene Risle:

and I want to help she gets a bad reputation. And you know,

Michealene Risle:

truthfully, I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I will tell

Michealene Risle:

you, from my experience, she’s probably one of the single best

Michealene Risle:

public servants we’ve ever had, is because and I say that, from

Michealene Risle:

watching her. Like, I’d be at an event and someone would ask a

Michealene Risle:

question about something. And when she’d be done talking,

Michealene Risle:

she’d immediately make a beeline for them to find out what the

Michealene Risle:

situation was and how she could help. And so that that was my

Michealene Risle:

experience with her. I do know that when there were issues

Michealene Risle:

involving Zimbabwe, when she was her staff would reach out to me

Michealene Risle:

to get to see if I had current information. But, you know, it

Michealene Risle:

was really interesting. When I came back from Zimbabwe. I went

Michealene Risle:

and watched Capitol Hill to talk about the rape of virgins to

Michealene Risle:

cure AIDS. And I went door to door senator, the senator and

Michealene Risle:

I’m like, Okay, look at their raping babies. We’ve got to do

Michealene Risle:

something. And it was so fascinating to realize that

Michealene Risle:

complete disconnect with our government, truly, because,

Michealene Risle:

again, I was going and I was a little naive. And I go to a

Michealene Risle:

senator’s office. And they’d say, okay, that’s horrible. But

Michealene Risle:

did you see China there? And I’d go to the next senator. And

Michealene Risle:

they’d be like, Oh, that’s horrible. You’re right. But did

Michealene Risle:

you see China there? And after about the fifth office, I went

Michealene Risle:

through, and I’m like, why is everyone asking me about China?

Michealene Risle:

And I realized that China was in Zimbabwe. And in fact, most of

Michealene Risle:

the military equipment and guns and machinery were Chinese. And

Michealene Risle:

were helmed by many Chinese. And of course, I wasn’t involved in

Michealene Risle:

the politics to know enough. This was a strategic question on

Michealene Risle:

China in in their investment in Africa. But I was, you know, I

Michealene Risle:

wasn’t up here talking about, you know, long term politics. I

Michealene Risle:

was down here, seeing all these little babies who’ve been raped

Michealene Risle:

to cure AIDS. And so it was, it was a remarkable lesson. In

Michealene Risle:

fact, part of that is I even gone to another senator who

Michealene Risle:

insisted that I basically give up Eddie McCone, who’s the

Michealene Risle:

activists, they said, Look, we need to tell the story. And I

Michealene Risle:

said, we have to tell it in a certain way so that she doesn’t

Michealene Risle:

get hurt. And they said, well, sometimes you have to sacrifice

Michealene Risle:

one for all. And I’m like, no, there are very few activists. I

Michealene Risle:

literally was on my way CNN had asked me to come interview with

Michealene Risle:

them. And they sent a car to come with me and I was going to

Michealene Risle:

talk about the movie. And on the way I got a call from one of

Michealene Risle:

Betty’s people who said, You can’t do this interview, Betty

Michealene Risle:

will die. And so I turned around and went out. Now that’s me. I

Michealene Risle:

couldn’t have lived with myself. If anything happened to Betty or

Michealene Risle:

someone like that, who’s on the front lines

Anna Maydonova:

why people can watch this movie.

Michealene Risle:

You know, it’s not showing anymore If I can

Michealene Risle:

give you the link to put into the podcast, if that will help.

Michealene Risle:

I’m happy to share them.

Anna Maydonova:

If we can do this, that would be amazing.

Anna Maydonova:

That would be amazing. I watched this movie. It’s it’s nice to

Anna Maydonova:

watch. You’ve done such an amazing job.

Unknown:

Thank you. Thank you,

Anna Maydonova:

Michael. And I’m aware of the time even though it

Anna Maydonova:

goes so fast. Where people can find you.

Michealene Risle:

I think it’d be easier once a new book is

Michealene Risle:

out. There and our new series is out. But I think you can they

Michealene Risle:

can go to Michael lean.com. And if they want to write me a note

Michealene Risle:

or something, I’ll respond.

Anna Maydonova:

Amazing. And do you have any concluding thoughts

Anna Maydonova:

before we go?

Michealene Risle:

Well, I want to thank you for your own

Michealene Risle:

courage. I think every one of us standing up, it’s like, every

Michealene Risle:

one of us standing up, we’ll get get us there faster. And I’m,

Michealene Risle:

you know, I think my my imagination and my fantasies

Michealene Risle:

like yours is I want to see all of us stand up and our strength

Michealene Risle:

and our power and say no, say no, I’m not going to keep silent

Michealene Risle:

anymore. No, this is not okay to happen anymore. So I thank you.

Anna Maydonova:

Because of people like you my claim, I have

Anna Maydonova:

this energy. And I have this courage to keep going. Thank you

Anna Maydonova:

so much for all your support. I appreciate you and I love you so

Anna Maydonova:

much. You’re welcome. Thank you. Ladies and gentleman, Michael in

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grizzly. Thank you for being here. I know it’s not easy. But

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there is a part of you who is ready to take this journey all

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the way. And I can help reach out to me directly at Elena at

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nma the nova.com to get work. You can also connect with me on

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Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, for more healing stories and

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magic. This journey is impossible to do on your own. So

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make sure to like, subscribe, and review the podcast so we can

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help more people like you. If you have someone in your life

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who is struggling to overcome their trauma, this is something

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you can give them that truly can change the course of their life

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forever. We’ll see you next time for another episode of the

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world’s best Trauma Recovery podcast. And just remember, you

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are able to help yourself and you can do it right now.

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