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  • OK, everyone, let's do an experiment.

  • Close your eyes and think of a happy memory.

  • One that makes you smile every time you recall it.

  • OK, got it? Now open your eyes.

  • When you search your memory banks,

  • were the events of your life a linear progression of everything,

  • from birth until right now?

  • No, of course not.

  • What you recall were moments.

  • When I ask you to think about a happy one,

  • a particular moment just popped into your head.

  • I bet you didn't even have to think about it,

  • it's just there, and you feel happy.

  • And you know what?

  • That feeling of happiness doesn't come from the actual moment,

  • but instead, how we decide to react to the moment.

  • That's called our emotional response.

  • We decide how to react, we decide what to feel.

  • You decided, consciously or unconsciously,

  • that the moment you remembered right now is a happy one.

  • So what does this tell us?

  • It's not the moments that define us,

  • but our choices and our reactions that make us who we are.

  • In those choices resides our biggest potential.

  • It's called responsibility.

  • My story today is a story of responsibility.

  • I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse.

  • I'm 15 years old,

  • and my high school choir director is sexually abusing me.

  • The abuse lasts two years until I become too old,

  • and he moves on to one of my friends.

  • But before the abuse even starts, I'm very carefully groomed.

  • Grooming is how a child's sex predator weeds out the strong kids,

  • with high self-esteem, because a predator doesn't want those kids.

  • Instead a predator targets the weaker ones, like me,

  • a sad kid, a kid who needs love.

  • Predators use manipulation, flattery, attention, gifts, and time,

  • to fill the holes in a child's weak and suffering self-esteem.

  • Let's face it, my self-esteem has a lot of holes.

  • I already have a history of depression, I've been hospitalized for being suicidal,

  • I crave time with an adult who will listen to me and validate me.

  • I want a mentor.

  • I need love.

  • But I do not need, crave, or want sexual abuse.

  • When the abuse is in full force, my predator manipulates me into thinking

  • that what is happening is not rape but love.

  • He does this to isolate me from my friends and family,

  • and make himself the center of my world.

  • That's how a child's sex predator creates a compliant victim.

  • A victim who is too scared to say no, a victim who is too scared to fight back,

  • a victim who is too scared to leave,

  • and a victim who then becomes too scared to report.

  • By the time the abuse is over, I am wounded, and I am scarred.

  • I'm 17, I'm pregnant, and I have a sexually transmitted disease.

  • And I am also utterly alone.

  • In seeing the intended effects of grooming,

  • but not understanding what's going on,

  • my friends and my peers think I wanted the abuse.

  • They think I'm happy with it.

  • They are scared of my predator, and they are disgusted with me.

  • So I am totally isolated.

  • A-ha! My abuser's grand plan has worked!

  • Because, you see, predators are cunning, and my friends and I are not.

  • Things are much better at home.

  • My parents are old school, but my mother is nuts.

  • So, when they find out about what is going on,

  • it is very easy for them to point the fingers of blame at me.

  • They tell me I should have known better.

  • So without intervention and without support,

  • my emotional development comes to a crashing halt.

  • All I know how to be is a victim.

  • And as time progresses after the abuse,

  • I find myself more and more in victim-like situations.

  • I get into bad relationships, I am self-destructive,

  • I hurt people who love me

  • because, you know, all that is just true:

  • hurt people hurt people!

  • I sabotage every chance of success I have.

  • You see, I want to hurt, because pain is a feeling I understand.

  • Pain is my friend, because you know what? Pain will never abandon me.

  • But I hate myself for it.

  • By this time, I'm a college grad, I was a straight-A student,

  • I'm supposed to be conquering the world, not conquering myself.

  • The years go on, and I still live like a victim.

  • Then, one day, I have this moment of clarity.

  • Because I'm so steeped in self-loathing,

  • moments of clarity are few and far between.

  • I realize that I'm dangling from this precipice of my own creation.

  • All I need to do is let go, and I will crash.

  • And it will all be over.

  • How the hell did I end up here?

  • My abuser didn't force me here,

  • my parents didn't force me here at the point of a gun.

  • My high school friends and peers didn't force me here

  • with torches and pitchforks.

  • I put me here, by remaining a victim.

  • That day, I realize I have a real choice here:

  • I can live or I can die.

  • I can take responsibility and I can heal,

  • or I can remain a victim and soon I will be pushing up daisies.

  • So, in that moment,

  • I decided I am going to do something that is totally against how I have existed

  • for the past 10-12 years.

  • I'm going to live. No. I'm going to thrive!

  • But the first thing that I have to do is going to be the hardest:

  • I have to take responsibility for putting myself on that precipice.

  • I have to take responsibility for my life.

  • I have to take responsibility for the fact that my abuse happened.

  • Not blame but responsibility.

  • I was an innocent child, and the abuse was not my fault.

  • But you know what? I can't change the past.

  • So I have to make peace with it.

  • And the only person who can do that for me is me.

  • I have to take responsibility for the fact that my parents were not perfect.

  • But I turned out OK.

  • They did a good job, they love me, and they are sorry.

  • My choices, and my actions,

  • and my reactions after the abuse were my doing not theirs.

  • It's time to let go over anger, it's time to forgive my parents.

  • I have to take responsibility for the fact

  • that the circumstances surrounding my abuse hurt a lot of other people.

  • Oh my God, I finally understand why my friends were so mad.

  • I realize that I can't change their opinion of me,

  • and it's a opinion that still stings,

  • but what I can do is telling them how truly sorry I am about what happened,

  • and I can do it without blaming myself.

  • When I do that, the sting starts to go away a little bit.

  • And then, as I take responsibility, it is like this veil is lifted.

  • I can see... -- like holy smokes! --

  • If I take responsibility, I can create the future that I want.

  • I can create my potential,

  • I can create a world full of happiness, joy, and engagement, and connection,

  • I can use my story to empower and inspire, instead of using it to shame myself.

  • I can be happy, and that's startling, because I don't even know how to be happy.

  • But I was a straight-A student,

  • so I'm going to buy book on how to be happy.

  • (Laughter)

  • I have to take control,

  • I have to stop letting other ideas, people, and events

  • trigger me into depression, or anger, or defensiveness.

  • I have to choose to no longer be a victim, and I have to regain the power in my life.

  • Then, another light bulb goes off. Ding!

  • If I take the power back in my life,

  • I can hold people accountable for what they did to me.

  • I can stand on equal footing when I do it.

  • I can hold my abuser accountable,

  • I can hold the people who covered up for him accountable.

  • I can fight for my own justice, I can fight for justice for other people.

  • In that moment, when I took responsibility,

  • my world transformed.

  • And I haven't stopped smiling since.

  • You know what?

  • It's not different for any of you.

  • You are sitting here saying,

  • "Well, it's almost break time, I have to go to the bathroom,

  • and I wasn't sexually abused; it's not going to work,"

  • Think about it.

  • Think about the anger we all carry,

  • and the resentment towards things that happened in those moments,

  • the times we were hurt, the times we failed,

  • the times we made really bad decisions,

  • even when the decisions were not our fault.

  • How many time have we looked back and blamed our parents

  • for our bad reactions, our bad decisions?

  • How many times have we blamed our bosses or our employers,

  • for the times we made crappy career choices?

  • How many times have we said, "Oh I can't!"

  • "They will never love me," "I will never get that job,"

  • "I'm alone, I'm marginalized,"

  • "The man is keeping me down!"

  • You don't have to be that person, you don't want to be that person.

  • You can blossom and thrive,

  • when you take responsibility for your actions and reactions.

  • You can let go of the negative self-talk,

  • and the triggers, and the self-destructive behaviors.

  • The only person who can empower you is you.

  • But if you don't take responsibility, the power within you will die.

  • Think about it.

  • You can do anything when you take responsibility.

  • Go run that 5k. Start a business.

  • If the holidays upset you, invent new holiday traditions.

  • Shocking!

  • Smile, vote, forgive, tell someone you're sorry.

  • Stand up for yourself.

  • Stop enabling.

  • Let go of anger and toxic people.

  • Find common ground with an opponent.

  • Sit up straight, it always works when everyone sits up straight.

  • Surround yourself with love.

  • But you will not be able to do that unless you take responsibility,

  • and you let go of the artificial moral high ground of victimhood,

  • and create the future that you want.

  • Because if you do that, if you take responsibility,

  • you will change your world.

  • When you take responsibility,

  • you will have the power to change the whole world.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

OK, everyone, let's do an experiment.

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B1 responsibility abuse victim predator hurt happy

【TEDx】The Power of Responsibility | Joelle Casteix | TEDxPasadenaWomen

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    Max Lin posted on 2016/02/16
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