As part of the 16 Days of Activism in 2010 we wrote a post about 16 female role models, “the bravest and most formidable women activists working to end violence against women around the world.” We are pleased today to share part one of our interview with the founder of Project Empowerment, Kathleen M. Schmidt.
About Kathleen M. Schmidt
Kathleen M. Schmidt leads by example and helps victims of domestic violence to move on from their past by becoming strong, independent and empowered. Kathleen is the founder of “Project Empowerment,” a blog radio talk show that has a global audience of thousands. Kathleen inspires people from all walks of life and backgrounds to get empowered, move on, and make a success of their lives. Her debut novel “Escaping the Glass Cage” documents her suffering at the hands of an abusive husband, and then goes on to share her inspirational journey of freedom, healing and beyond. With infectious energy, and a refreshing “tell it like it is” manner, Kathleen’s projects for empowerment are essential for anyone who wants to put the past behind them and start again.
“All healing and empowerment always begins from within.” This is one of the affirmations on your website. When did your journey of healing and empowerment begin?
It began the night I fled for my life. I knew the abuse I was living with wasn’t right. I knew I had to become strong.
I started to go to the library and I began reading - mostly books about empowerment. The very first book I read was “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain. This book helped to see there were possibilities for me. There was a future out there. I needed to make a plan to change my life.
What gave you the courage to finally escape the situation you were in?
Reading books and empowering myself.
I was so traumatised that I thought this man could read my mind. I was terrified of him. But I knew, deep down, I had to get out. I had to find the strength in me to leave.
Step by step I built up my strength and I decided that I just wouldn’t let him break me. I would not let this man break my spirit!
Reading the empowering books gave me the tools and the methods I needed to begin to believe in myself again. To find the strength to go. I did visualization exercises daily. I asked the questions and slowly but surely the answers came.
You clearly embrace the future, and leave the past behind. What advice would you give to a survivor of domestic abuse who is finding it hard to let go of their past?
They need to talk to their past.
It’s important to find your own method for talking to the past. I wrote everything down. I let my pen flow. I purged myself of the ugly, bad things. I wrote some letters and burnt them after. I got them out and I let them go.
I found the help I needed in books. Reading them, and then eventually writing one. At the time I wrote in my journal, it wasn’t to share with the world, it was for me, my own private release.
Every victim of domestic violence needs to find their own method. If you need to get help from a professional- then please do that! Re-living the trauma over and over in your head when you are on your own is very detrimental. You need to talk about it in a safe environment- get it out there, purge yourself of those memories. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Another method is “talking to the chair.” You shout, scream, get angry with the invisible person sitting in that chair. You let them have it! The bottom line is that with whatever method you use- you have to get it out of you, and then you can move on.
Another important point is to not get stuck in the “victim mindset”. Don’t be held back by negativity and repetitious behaviours. You need to break that cycle. Many women go from one abusive relationship to the next. That woman needs to look in the mirror – however difficult it is – and realise that change from within needs to happen in order to break that cycle.
Your “Embracelets of Hope” give a very powerful message. Can you tell us more about it.
After I found the courage to leave I would always wear an agate stone necklace. It was in the shape of a heart. It was the healing colour of green. It was always close to me and it was a daily symbolic reminder of my healing process.
I found that domestic violence always has such a negative, heavy connotation. I wanted to create something that had a powerful healing message. So I created the “Embracelets.” I wanted to give others a positive, empowering, motivating touchstone, the way my necklace was for me. Something to wear on you, reminding you of your journey and of how far you have come and will go every day.
Part 2 of our interview with Kathleen M. Schmidt will be published tomorrow, Monday February 14.