Tonight's special guest is Emily Samuelson, Ph.D., from Baltimore, Maryland, a returning NAASCA family member and the Director of the 'Soaring Project.' A psychologist who specializes in treating trauma, she's also a survivor of incest in her childhood and has written a book about her experience, "Soaring Above the Ashes: Thriving After Childhood Sexual Abuse." Emily was sexually abused in childhood by her father, whom she adored. She tells me, "Somewhere in my childhood, I boxed up the memories and lost my connection to the truth of what happened to me. It wasn't until I was 39 years old that my memories broke through. This was after a betrayal when my daughter was 5 weeks old, and separation and eventual divorce 6 months later; a breast cancer scare; a job where I was a scapegoat; and news that my mother had two different kinds of cancer. That's what it took to break me open." She goes on, "I got PTSD and lived in a nightmare of flashbacks for many months. I worked on healing for the next 20 years." Her book, "Soaring Above the Ashes," has stories of survivors based on face-to-face interviews from all over the country. Each story is accompanied by a black and white portrait. "The story of my healing journey is woven between the chapters, Emily explains. "Although I am now thriving, I continue to work on becoming more whole, my deepest wish." She's a passionate activist on behalf of sexually abused children and adult survivors, based on her experience as a psychologist and a survivor. Emily knows it is possible to heal.
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