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Surviving Abuse with Karen Whelan
Episode 1425th March 2022 • Radical Resilience • Blair Kaplan Venables
00:00:00 00:29:49

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Karen Whelan is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse. This is her story and she is resilient.

You can read stories of resilience and share your story at: www.iamresilient.info

Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised. 

About the Guest:

Karen Whelan is an Accredited Psychotherapist, Author, Tantric Teacher, Energy Rising Star  Healer, Workshop Facilitator, Speaker, NLP Coach & Transformational therapist. With extensive experience in therapy and coaching and a vast history of client success, her individualized approach will help you heal and transform your life, awakening to the truth of your authentic self.

Karen's work brought her to sit with world experts such as Dr. Joe Dizpenzia workshops, Gabor Mate training in Living Inquiries & incredible spiritual teacher - Humanitarian and wellness expert - Derek O' Neill 

https://soulutiontherapist.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/the-soulution-therapist-732b4817

Instagram @the.soulution.therapist


About the Host: 

Blair Kaplan Venables is an expert in social media marketing and the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a British Columbia-based PR agency. She brings fifteen years of experience to her clients which include global wellness, entertainment, and lifestyle brands. As a pioneer in the industry, she has helped her customers grow their followers into the tens of thousands in just one month, win integrative marketing awards, launch their businesses, and more. Yahoo! listed Blair as a top ten social media expert to watch in 2021. She has spoken on national stages and her expertise has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur and Thrive Global. Blair is also the #1 bestselling author of Pulsing Through My Veins: Raw and Real Stories from an Entrepreneur and co-host of the Dissecting Success podcast. When she’s not working on the board for her local chamber of commerce, you can find Blair growing the “The Resilience Project,” an online community where users share their stories of overcoming life’s most difficult moments.


Learn more about Blair: https://www.blairkaplan.ca/

Submit your story: https://www.iamresilient.info 



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Transcripts

Blair Kaplan Venables:

trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real. Here we are.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I'm Blair Kaplan Venables, and I'm back with another episode of radical resilience. I'm here today with Karen Whelan all the way from Ireland. She's an accredited accredited psychotherapist, author, tantric teacher, energy rising star healer, workshop facilitator, speaker, NLP coach and transformational therapist who, with extensive experience in therapy and coaching, and a vast history of client success, her individualized approach will help you heal and transform your life awakening to the truth of your authentic self. I'm really excited I met Karen through Rhonda Swan a couple episodes ago, we talked to Barbie and Barbie is part of our little crew. And I am so excited today to talk to Karen because Karen and I connected over zoom just we felt a connection. And she started sharing her story with me and I knew that her story would be really important for you listeners out there. So hello, Karen.

Karen Whelan:

Oh, hello, darlin, thank you, thank you for having me on. And hello to all the listeners out there. It's just, it's wonderful. It's wonderful to sit in this space that you've now created, what an incredible podcast and to, you know, allow ourselves just to go straight into the depths of the truth of the truths, which is resilience as well and itself, you know, when you can absolutely go and share aspects of yourself that you might want to keep hidden, because of your own story on to that your own story of shame on Twitch, you know, so yeah, I look forward to on Viola, myself more with you in this conversation.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Yeah. And I think, you know, we connected and, you know, you have, you've had some stuff happened to you. And, you know, I'm, I'm open to you sharing whatever you're comfortable with. But you know, you've had a bit of a history with abuse.

Karen Whelan:

I did, I did player I had, I was born into an environment where there was, you know, an environment of abuse. My father would use cork a punishment as a way to control us and, and you know, that I suffered from that I suffered from great anxiety, fear of my body, not knowing if I was going to be with a loved or harsh on the day. And then I also experienced sexual abuse in my home. And unfortunately, what does that do to a person that tells the person that there's something wrong with them, I grew up feeling that there's something wrong with current, current is the problem. I've created all of this, because that's what my little tiny little mind and my tiny little heart learn to believe. And unfortunately, then what that does is that sent me down the path of self hate. I hated myself so much I did not want to be here. I struggled, wanting to stay here at the age of 40. And I had attempted suicide. And I just hated my life. I hit me, I hit me. So I hit my life. And I was so overwhelmed with pain, with suffering. With trauma, my whole body was overwhelmed, my mind was overwhelmed. My emotions were overwhelmed. It became such a struggle to be a person, it was so hard for me to be a person. And that then unfortunately, saw me become homeless and be on the streets and taken drugs as a way to cope. And I'm out the pain and I objectified my own body, I taught to be alive and to feel love. I had to give my body over to a new guy that showed a bit of interest. You know, and that was, that was my story from a very young age until I was 1415. And then I became pregnant at a young age because I've no boundaries. I fell in love quite easily. And I got pregnant at 18 and had my son all on my own when I was my dad. So my trauma saw me try to survive and try to create a new The life of my son, you know, which is, you know, my story, you know, I had to do that for myself. And that's kind of my my early introduction to trauma, unfortunately, unfortunately, you know, and I can say, fortunately, today, Blair, because, you know, when you've come through such a process, and you've really healed it for yourself in a real way, you can look back at it with a new perspective with a new consciousness with a new understanding. And you can apply a new mate may or may pan out of that I now am not the victim of that story. I don't look at it and go, Kern was the problem. I am the problem. I and I look back at that story. And I go, Wow, what an incredible young woman who came in as a soul to have the soul contract with her father, who, despite being so pained by the man, her first love in her life, who would have been my father, who had all of this pain with this man, I chose forgiveness as a way to heal myself from the age of 90, and I came home from France. And I sat with my father and I had incredible conversations with him. And I learned from him his own childhood brokenness. So I recognize in that moment, it was another solos recognition of the soul. And I recognized you know, all I can hold on to this pain, I can hold on to the self hatred of myself, or I can choose now to let it go. And my way to let it go was, I forgive him, I could forgive this man. And I did, I really did forget him. And that allowed me then to have a new space inside of myself, which probably is what I would say resilience now is, it's where we have enough space inside to hold our own pain and our own suffering, where we can objectively step back from it and look at it with a newer, as I said, new new pair of eyes. And I got to do that I began to look at myself in a real way. And that then allowed me then to make the choice to go to college and be in college for 10 years and become a psychotherapist. So brought me on a wonderful path as well, you know? Wow. Yeah. Wow, what

Blair Kaplan Venables:

a story. Thank you so much for sharing. There's a lot to unpack there. Listen, I know, let's go back to you. When you're a kid. You suffered physical and sexual abuse? What was the catalyst in you leaving home? Like, was there a straw that broke the camel's back where it took you from being in your father's home to being on the

Karen Whelan:

street? Hmm. So what happened was, I became more aware that what that what was happening to me was not okay. It was not okay. And I became aware, and I remember it, I was in school, I was never in school, you know, I was supposed to be in school. But for me, because I was holding so much trauma and pain and pain, and I could never make a good healthy choice for parents, because I wasn't in a relationship where I felt I cared or I mattered. So that affected the friends I ended up in which so one of my friends at the time, you know, she too, would not go into school would pretend we're going to school, and then we would meet up somewhere else, and we'd hang out for the day. And we'd actually, we used to smoke weed and get stoned. And I remember talking with her, and, you know, she said it to me, she said it very strongly, you know, you can stop this is what she said to me. And I, I was like what? And she said, but you could stop what's happening to you. And Blair, I never had consciously consider that I was so so controlled, and so subjected to so much pain, I never considered the possibility that I had a choice in so much pain. And that my choice was that I could choose for card that it could end. I did not think about that. And I looked at her and I was like, wow. And she's like, Yeah, we can go. I know the social worker, I can take you to my social worker. And she said, you can tell her. And that was a very terrifying moment for me at 14 to decide to stand up for Karen because nobody had parents back. Nobody took care of Karen. And here I am required to do something for myself that I did not know how to do and I was terrified to say yes to that, to accept that. I went home that day with that knowing of it and I remembered walking into my home. And I looked at my father completely differently. I was no longer afraid of him. I felt a power inside of myself this capacity that I could. I'm going to stop this I remember looking at and going I'm gonna stop you from May I anymore. And within a few days I did. I walked into the social workers office and I made my report. And it all stopped on that day that I spoke up. And I spoke out. And I said no more, no more to this life no more to this pain. Yeah.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Oh my gosh, that's so powerful. And I'm so grateful for your friend who said that to you. Because, you know, it's hard when you're new. When you're in a situation, it's hard to see that because you're so used to that, or it's, it's part of your life that you know, you don't know what you don't know. Huh. And yeah, you know, the fact that you you know, we're connected to a social worker, and you went and made that report. Now I want to fast forward. So you talked about, you're able to forgive him. And I obviously, if anyone's been following along, I really believe in the power of forgiveness. My father lived with addiction. And we definitely had our challenges. And in my 20s, I forgave him for being a terrible father and developed a beautiful relationship with him. My story, obviously, is not at all to be compared to yours, Karen. But I understand the power of forgiveness, but I can't understand it with the depth of trauma that was given to you. So I want to I want you to walk us through like, if you're open to it, like, what was that moment where you decided it was time to forgive your dad? And like, how did that conversation go? And like what we said, what made you forgive him? Like, what was the catalyst? How did that conversation go? And then where did your relationship go from there?

Karen Whelan:

Wonderful. And it's a very big question. And I suppose to help bring in how and why I forgive is I need to go to a place of honesty, which is, from a very young age, when I come in here, I always had a sense of being deeply connected to God, my sense of it was God, because I'm born in Ireland, therefore, I'm born in what we call the religion as Catholic. So God was the language that was always around me, we go to church, and it's God. So my sense of it was, there's this spectacular miracle man up up in the sky. You know, from a very young age. However, I felt very connected to God in my life, I felt so connected to him, I would spend hours praying, when I was very little, I would lie out on my back, looking up at the sky and talking to him. So my relationship with God felt so loved. And I felt so protected. And I always felt like God was watching me. And maybe people understand that as the word inspiration and a calling a soul's calling, even in school, I would sit at my desk by the window, and I would look out onto the horizon. And I would go, I know you're out there, I would say to God, I'm common and common home to you. So there was a power to make the had this knowing that I was very much taken care of, and I was deeply loved. So there were profound moments when I spoke up and I spoke out about my father. You know, the culture in Ireland was to stay quiet and keep things hidden amongst the family unit. Now luckily for me, I'm like a firecracker. I'm too loud, you cannot silence me. Once I found my voice. That was it. I told everybody. So but it was very much exposed anyway, as well. So for me, and I ended up working in a hotel cleaning rooms at the age of 16. Because I had no money and I want to get off the streets and I don't want to be living a very chaotic life. Again, I would feel God call me it was the sense of there is more to me than this, I am deserving of so much more. I am here for more, I always could feel that in my heart of hearts. So when I cleaned the rooms in the hotel, there was a conference down in the lobby of being an au pair in America. And this wonderful fantasy came up of I'm going to go and be an au pair in America and live in a house with a white picket fence and never come home. I did get offered the job, I could not drive, therefore I could not take the job. And then I ended up a month later on a plane flying to France at 17 with no French. Now the woman I ended up working for was an incredible woman. She had a profound gift of healing, but not in the way that we understand energy heal, and I crashed on my school shirt and cracked my ribs and broke my fingers. And this woman put her hands on me like a cranial therapist, and my bones heal themselves. This was the power of this woman and she's such a faith in herself. She would go away to a church and she would sit with a priest to really honor honor her gift. You know, when she worked on my body, she said to me, you have a lot of anger and rage inside of yourself and you're going to get very, very sick. You have to learn to let go of this rage and she was right. I could not look at my own reflection in the mirror without hating everything about my physical self, everything

Karen Whelan:

I just hated myself I suffered with trichotillomania as the child which is pulling your hair, I would pull out my eyelashes, because people used to say to me, your son, any of Elizabeth Taylor eyes, and I did not want to be seen by anybody. So I attacked my own beauty and my own, you know, wonderful little self in so many ways. It's self harm, you could call it. And she was raised. So we went to the Caribbean, she would take her family away when it was very cold in France after Christmas for two months, and we went and we had a house in St. Lucia. And I remember just sitting on the beach contemplating her words, you have so much rage inside of your body. And she was right. And I began then asking God, I started to call God in. And I was like, I don't want to hold on to this, and I got it very strongly write a letter to your father. And every time I would ride it, it didn't feel right. And I would throw it away. And then I'd come back to the little beach again, and I'd sit there again. So I did write a letter, and they sent it home. My mother then disclose to me very, about seven months on that every night, my dad would take out this letter when he told my mother was asleep, and he would cry, written the letter, because in the letter, I told him, I will always probably hurt from this, it will probably stay with me the impact, but I don't want the anger, I can't hold that anger in my body anymore. When I got pregnant, and I came home, I, my son's father, three weeks before I gave birth, he was meant to come to Ireland and be with me, and we're meant to go back to France were relevant together. But he wrote me an end of the relationship. So I was alone with a very big belly. Through three weeks before I was to give birth. I gave birth, and I lived with my beautiful son all on my own. And my dad started calling up on a Friday, and he noticed there was something not okay for, for me, the house was unclear and I wasn't in a good place. And he began to ask me was I Okay? That was the moment we began to open up to each other about my pain and feeling helpless as a single mother and not knowing how to do this. And my dad started to share about depression in his life. And then that led to me asking him the golden questions. Why would you do what you did to me like, Why me? And who cried and his, who said to me, so honestly, and it was the honesty, it was the fact that somebody would sit in a space and talk about the worst parts of themselves. With me, I was taken aback by it and avoided hidden Ryan, he actually showed up, sat in the chair and allowed me to not interrogate him, but allow me to poke at this part of him. And who cried, and he said, You know, I never knew how to start, but never wanted to do it. I've hated myself, I'm a coward. And there was a real honesty to him. And then he started to open up about his own childhood. And clear in that moment, I saw beyond the monster, you can call it I wish I saw beyond the horribleness, I actually saw into the broken herself, a person who was actually in themselves, fathered me in a way that he only knew how and that's not a fragment, that is not a permission to what happened to me. This is, this is a real understanding of how we all at some point would do something that we wish we never done. So when I told him, I forgave him, he said to me, the day that you said that you would forgive me is that I felt I could become a better human being. Because you've said those words to me. And I will say, from that moment onwards, this man has gone on an incredible journey himself. He's not even the same person of who he was back then, where I had to listen to a lot of people project onto me go, oh, my god of us Shock Syndrome. You know, is there something wrong with you, nobody could understand that. I had the capacity at a very young age, to hold a redemptive heart to sit with something so painful, but to work with it. It's for my benefit. It wasn't for my dad's benefit. It was actually for my benefit. I deserve the healing. I deserve I am the person who went through this so I deserve to be with this in the way that's bright for my soul. evolvement It wasn't even about my dad. It was about current suffering, and how can I stop it? So the minute I applied love to it, that's what stopped my pain was love. And that's all I know how to do is to love the parts of other people and myself now.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I love that that's so beautiful and so powerful because I know I can definitely relate to living in a place of pain and anger and darkness and sadness versus after the forgiveness and living in a place of lightheartedness. And not having, you know, such rage, basically shooting through my veins. You know what, where you are today in life, you know, now you have this practice and, you know, psychotherapy and all these other modalities. Yeah, if someone's listening to this podcast, and maybe they're in a situation where they're the parent and they punish their kids in a similar way, or they're a kid whose parents punish them like this, like, what do you wish that you knew back then? That you know now with your training, like what can we do to help those people in the situation? So those two things, what would you tell the parents? And what would you tell the kids?

Karen Whelan:

Okay, I love it, I have goosebumps when you're asked that it's such a beautiful, fit a real heartfelt question. You know, my honest response would be to say to the child, okay, don't personalize this, this has got nothing to do with you, it's not personal to you. That something in you that you do not know about right now, because you're not old enough, very, are not grown up enough to know. But you are this incredible warrior, you're in a formidable force. And you're holding a space for someone who is unfortunately, act and our trauma onto you. But what happens is, don't personalize it, don't take it into your body and tell yourself, it's about you. Because it's not darling, it's got nothing to do with you. This has got to do with an adult who has not gotten the healing for themselves. But it's not you, you are precious, you are so beautiful, you're so important, this has got nothing to do with you. That's what I would tell the child to the parent, I would say to the parent, you know, you're in a very important position right now, you are the person who so idealized by the innocence of the child looking up at you, that you are going to be the very reason behind the story that they tell themselves inside of themselves about themselves. Do you want that story that your child will inherit to be a loving story? Or do you want them to blame themselves, because you're struggling inside of yourself? That's what I would say to the parent. And that's what I would say to the child.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Wow. You know, you're such a gift, Karen, your knowledge in your experience. And you showing up today with your story. And your words of advice is just I feel very grateful for you. Because, you know, I don't know the statistics, but with the world the way it is, you know, there is higher levels of depression and substance use. And I don't know the statistics Exactly. But I know there is a lot more kids who are home and some home environments are a bit more toxic, and it's not safe for everyone to be at home. And so it's a it's a scary place to be. And we never know who's going to find this podcast, we don't know who's going to stumble upon it on their podcast player. But you know, someone might find this episode next week, or in a few months from now or a few years from now and need to hear what you have to say. And your vulnerability. And your bravery, which I think are two of the same is important because you are helping people get out of their situations, you're helping change people's lives. So you know, I know you're in Ireland, but I'm assuming you're you have some virtual ness to your business. How like if someone wants to work with you, or talk to you further or dive into your world, like how can people find you?

Karen Whelan:

Yeah, I'll go into that. But I just want to come back to what you said. Because that was such an important thing that you just said, you know, some kids at the moment may find being at home and nightmare, a hellish place. And what I would like to say to that, as a psychotherapist is, you know, to that child, I would say or to the personal nurse, and I would love you to close down your eyes and put a collar on your heart and see your heart, Beast and flash and see their heart getting bigger and bigger and bigger and expand and beyond your physical body and into the room that you're in. And that is your protection of mind in yourself and feeling safe in your own body. Because trauma makes us feel very unsafe to be in our physical body. It becomes uncomfortable being in that body and something visual, that changes the sensation in the body is a very quick way of getting the body to feel good again. So I want to respond to that brilliant and description that you brought in of Patreon, what it is, might be like out there for people in relation to people connecting with me, I, you know, my website is absolutely there, people can reach out to me send me a little email, I do lots of work over zoom, you know, I do the wound healing for women, which is gorgeous, you know, women go in, it's regression, a meditation, but we ended up back in our mother's womb when we do heal and on the programs we've taken on and healing on our mother. And we go back into our warm as well to know our own environment of our own womb, because women, all of our wisdom is in our physical womb space. And for the man, it's the hara, which is an energy center outside of the womb. So I'm all about going back into that place and finding your own wisdom within yourself. So I do lots, you know, I do one on ones. I do little workshops. I do self love classes virtually as well. So people can but I'm open Blair, I think my biggest truces, it doesn't matter. Even if you don't want to have a therapy session with me. I'm not just there for therapy, I am there because I want people to feel loved. And if I am that voice of love, and a moment where they're in a, you know, a very troubling time or then wonderful, send me a question, ask me something, and I will absolutely respond.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

You're such a gift to us. And you know, all of your contact details will be in our show notes. So, you know, as we wrap things up, I would love for you to you know, it's it's not very often we have kids listening to this show. What advice do you have for people who grew up in a similar situation to you that haven't really done that healing yet? Like, what is one piece of advice for someone who has a similar story to you?

Karen Whelan:

Sure. You know, you're gonna hate yourself, you're going to look at your reflection in the mirror, and all you're going to see is the ugly parts of what you think that to her. And that's the truth of what you are, that is wounds, looking back at you, you're looking at yourself through a wounded place. i You can't see yourself yet. But the truth is, what you are is an extraordinary, an extraordinary person who is so beautiful, who is so loving, who is so brave, who is so real was amazing and awesome. But unfortunately, right now you have felt that you need to shrink down your fat, you need to withdraw, you feel and believe that you are the problem. You're not the problem. You're actually the answer to your own. Your own answer, you are your own answer. And it's hard to know that when you're feeling all of that pain, so breathe through the pain, and I want to tell you, I've gone through it. I've been there. I know the way out. And you can find the way out too. And if you don't know the way out, that's okay, too. That is okay. It'll come to you. You will be taken care of. And I love you. And I'm sorry that you feel this and you're hurting right now.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Oh my gosh, how was it? I really like I really do. Like, I really do think that what you're saying is going to change so many people's lives. And, you know, a lot of times in my life, I look back at things that happened as a kid and I think Well, that wasn't okay. And as I get older, maybe more things are gonna appear. And I think that's similar to a lot of people. Because you only know what you know. And, you know, you hear that out there that you know you saying like, you know you guys are beautiful. You folks are lovely. Like you're loved. We love you. And it's okay to not be okay. And you will get through this. You are worth something. You're important. And I just want to thank you so much for coming on radical resilience, Karen. And thank you for everyone who tuned in to another episode. We look forward to sharing more stories with you and remember, you are resilient. You got this. Thank you.

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