From Victim to Survivor: Find Your X…but First, Find Your (Wh)Y? | Lauren Book | TEDxOxford

From Victim to Survivor: Find Your X…but First, Find Your (Wh)Y? | Lauren Book | TEDxOxford

Translator: Oksana Rotko
Reviewer: Mirjana Čutura (Air horn beep) They say when you’re in a moment
of crisis or trauma, you’re likely to develop
one of three reactions: fight, flight or freeze. For which of these three Fs are you fated,
which way will the pendulum swing, there is simply no way to predict until you find yourself
faced with the unthinkable. During acts of terror,
some have the natural instinct to fight. Adrenaline kicks in,
clarity is found in chaos, thoughts connect to action, and well, you simply fight
like hell to survive. Others have a natural urge and instinct
tending toward flight to literary remove themselves
from the traumatic situation by any means possible to get the f out. The third F – freeze. You tune out, black out. Your mind leaves your body behind, or sometimes, the experience,
the thoughts, the feelings and the senses become heightened, but you are stuck, paralyzed, unable to react, frozen, waiting for the pain to end. That was the case for me. Let me take you back nearly two decades
to the place where it all began. Picture me then: a sassy
and eager-to-please, 11-year-old girl, young-looking for my age, fine blond hair in a wispy ponytail
tied back with a velvet scrunchy, working late in my mom’s chocolate shop
to help with the holiday rush. I was, as usual, chewing, popping
and snapping my gum as I worked away in the shop alongside a trusted
and well-loved caretaker, my nanny, who we called Waldy. While I’d come to love Waldy
in the months since she entered our home, it certainly didn’t start out that way. Quite the opposite, in fact. She was a big hulking lady, not the Mary Poppins type nanny
I dreamed of – nowhere near it. I didn’t like her,
not at all, not one bit. And I made it quite clear
I did not want her to join our household. But being 10 at the time,
I was completely overruled. And like I said, it didn’t take long
for those things to change. Begrudgingly at first,
I started to like having Waldy around. She made me feel safe,
loved and cared for. And by that December,
she’d begun to fill a real void for me. A mix of a mother, friend and big sister, always giving me the front seat – something very coveted
in a family with three kids – letting me stay up later than my siblings and giving me extra dessert
without even having to ask. My parents trusted Waldy too. She made our somewhat
dysfunctional family work. Now back to that day
in the chocolate shop. We were working side by side
when Waldy asked me to stop chewing my gum
like a cow and act like a lady. “Oh yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”
I replied, hands on my hips as always, in my oversized denim overalls, my favorite ones
with the shiny silver buttons and velvet detailing to match my scrunchy. From the moment Waldy stepped toward me,
I knew something had shifted. The way she was looking at me
with a gleam in her eye that made my stomach turn. And my gut told me something awful
was about to happen. But I loved Waldy, and my parents did too. She was my family. Still, I knew something was wrong. Having no guidance on how to react
when I felt unsafe, I froze. What couldn’t have been
more than three seconds, Waldy’s approach felt like an eternity. I remember every drawn-out moment. I remember the sickness in my stomach. I remember the beating of my heart
so loud, so hard and so fast like it was going to jump
right out of my chest. I remember the screaming in my head,
the silence in my throat and the taste of our shared saliva. But most of all, I remember
the lead in my feet. By the time she reached me,
standing far too close for comfort – a lion in front of a lamb – I was completely frozen, paralyzed. And then it happened. She proceeded to take the gum
out of my mouth with her tongue. My abyss, my abuse,
my assault, it had all begun. This was the first moment,
the first time, the first day that would come to define
me for far too long. I will never forget
the clink, thud of my gum hitting the bottom of the metal trash can as Waldy spit it out and walked away. On the car ride back to my house,
I was unable to speak, unable to think, unable to move, unable to comprehend
what had just happened or what in the world,
what in the universe, I, an 11-year-old little girl,
was going to do next. All I did know was
that I couldn’t tell anyone. Fight, flight or freeze. I had frozen, and then
I felt the most sinister F of all: that this was all somehow my fault. Now, it’s important to understand that survivors of trauma usually have
no conscious choice of how they’ll react, but that does not stop the conscious mind
from feeling shock, shame, blame or guilt about these responses. This is one of the reasons
I knew I couldn’t tell anyone about what had happened and what continued to happen
for six very long years: physical, sexual, emotional abuse,
which occurred every day before school, after school, often times
when my parents were in the very next room or while my brother
was in the very same bed. It happened on family vacations
and in store dressing rooms. There was no escape. I felt ashamed of and trapped
by my initial normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Every day that went by
without my disclosure, the more trapped, isolated
and hopeless I felt and the deeper into
the abyss of abuse I fell. Like Alice in Wonderland,
but the rabbit hole I’d fallen down didn’t lead to a world of wonder –
quite the opposite, in fact. Waldy was a skilled predator and would say things to feed into
these feelings of guilt and self-doubt, ensuring my silence, my submission
and her complete control. “If you tell, no one will believe you,”
she’d say, “they’ll send you away, they would be so ashamed of you. You don’t want that, baby, do you?” Today, I know these things to be false, statements made by a predator looking to keep her pray
in and under her control. But I was a child. I felt trapped. I thought I was the only one
in a whole world in a situation like this. And that F loomed above me
every morning, noon and night. Fault. Now I want to put my experience
into perspective. You may be looking at me: a blond-haired,
green-eyed, upper-class girl who’s private gated neighborhood
couldn’t keep out a monster living in my own home. I am one of 42 million survivors
of childhood sexual abuse living in the United States today. The World Health Organization estimates that 150 million girls and 73 million boys are victims of child
sexual abuse worldwide. Right now, about one in three girls
and one in five boys will become victims of sexual abuse
before their 18th birthday. Let that sink in. 223 million children. A silent epidemic. Millions of children worldwide
suffering right now and millions of adults living with
unresolved effects of childhood trauma. I am part of that statistic,
one of the millions. And chances are very, very good that you know someone, love someone,
share a life with someone who has also experienced
childhood sexual abuse, someone who is or was fighting
for their life, for control of their body, for survival because true surviving is
more than just living through something. That’s only the beginning
of a long and painful healing journey. After six long years, I found my voice
and disclosed the abuse I had been suffering at the hands
of a monster that we all knew. There’s a lot that I remember
from that time: my parents asking if they should hug me
or if they shouldn’t touch me, the tearful frighten look
in my siblings’ eyes and the hateful and hurtful whispers
of cruel former friends. But there’s a lot
that shifts in and out of focus like the drip, drip, drip of the IV while I was hospitalized,
battling anorexia and self-harm; sleepless days and nights
delusional with fatigue but too terrified to close my eyes
for even a second for fear I would see Waldy
staring back at me; battling PTSD – something
I still struggle with to this day. Recovery, survival is often three steps forward
and 10 steps back. But with the help of trauma counselors
and the support of family and friends, I fought my way back from victim
to survivor and then thriver. I got past my abuse. I was finally able to let go
of that insidery F. I knew the abuse I suffered
had become my X, but was still struggling
to figure out the Y. I continued on my path. I went to school to become a teacher because I wanted to protect children
in ways I was unable to be kept safe. I looked closely at my students and tried to figure out
the root causes of their challenges. I began digging a little deeper
and asking why for them and for me. One day, after a lesson
that began with reading readiness had naturally evolved into a discussion
about body boundaries and safety, one of my students, a little girl,
bounded towards me, excited to tell me about a game
she and her daddy like to play. It’s Chucky. At the end of a very long day,
I thought, “Okay, great, her father is engaged in her development
and is playing with her at home. How wonderful.” I went home feeling warm and fuzzy. Later that evening, I did
what I’ve been training myself to do not only as an educator
or protector of children but also as an advocate: to think twice, to think a little deeper and analyze things one step beyond, to ask why. The next day, I asked the little girl to show or tell me
how she and her daddy played Chucky. She began to explain: “We only play Chucky
when Mommy isn’t home. It doesn’t even hurt me anymore. Daddy says that means
I’m getting better at it.” But then a look of panic
crossed the little girl’s face, and she started shifting
from one foot to the next, nervously wringing her hands
as she disclosed a secret. She knew she wasn’t supposed
to tell their little secret. “Please don’t tell, Ms. Lauren. Daddy will be so mad.” My heart broke in that moment, and it has for every child
who has disclosed to me since. I wish that I could say cases like this
were unique, that they never happen, but the reality is they happen every day,
every hour, every minute to a child somewhere in the world. In that moment and all moments forward, I realized A no longer stood for abuse
but rather advocacy. My own abuse had become my X
and caused me to continue to ask why. I’d realized my life’s purpose,
my life’s work. That’s why I founded Lauren’s Kids, a foundation dedicated to the protection
of childhood and prevention of abuse, because what comes naturally to most – a visit to the dentist,
a hug, kiss or caress – can send me down a path where I, the 31-year-old thriving survivor
you see in front of you is simply not recognizable. If I’m walking down the street, one simple smell,
a single smell out of the blue can trigger a flashback,
a movie I cannot turn off or escape. I have to remind myself, talk to myself to stop me from spiraling
back to that place when I was a powerless child,
in way over my head, too afraid to use my voice and remind myself that today
I’m 31, whole and safe. Why do I continually
and consistently reveal these scars, the ones that may not be
physically visible but are very, very real? Because I’m unsure I’m able
to create life or carry a child to term. Though my husband and I are trying hard,
that choice may have been taken from me, from us. And the trying, even though it
may be fun, is also a challenge. It can be triggering. During something so special, so sacred, Waldy’s face sometimes swims into focus. Because of the things I’ve experienced,
I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, screaming and clawing my way
out of the darkness, fighting to stay alive,
fighting to stay safe and to escape her, but then I’m pulled from the darkness, awakened by my husband and reminded and reassured
I am safe in our bed next to a man who loves me more than all the stars in the sky
and fish in the sea, that I’m okay, I’m having
another night terror, one of many before and many I am unfortunately
certain are yet to come. So, I ask myself
and I’ll let you ask me again, Why do I do what I do? Because I want to be a part
of a worldwide systemic change in which we can and do teach
our children how to be safe. Because if it means
saving one child like me, letting them know that it’s okay to tell
and that it’s okay to heal, then it’s worth it, that’s my Y. This advocate will fight
until she has no breath left in her body to make things different for kids like me
and millions living across the globe, because I know each and every one of us
in this room and beyond would agree it shouldn’t hurt
to be a child, and all too often it does. Maya Angelou, who is also
a survivor, said, “We delight in the beauty of a butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone
through to achieve that beauty.” Some of the most incredible
and impactful people I know have also survived some sort of trauma
and lived to tell about it. For many, it’s this place
of unthinkable pain that’s become the X, that’s driven them to create some sort of
pivotal and incredibly meaningful change. They’ve had to dig deep asking, seeking,
questioning and discovering the Y to be as effective as possible and true agents
of positive sustainable change. So, before I leave you, I have some
final thoughts on finding your X and Y, lessons for current and future
world changers in this room and beyond. Face your dark;
don’t run from dark places. Don’t be afraid to dig into the painful
and uncomfortable things you’ve experienced and to ask why. That just could be where you find
your power, your X. Remember your story
is unlike anyone else’s. Embrace it, let it empower you,
be authentic even with vulnerabilities. Not everyone will get you;
not everyone will like you. Accept that. It does not matter. Use your power to change the world
in ways that are meaningful to you. Decide what is unacceptable in your world
or your life that you can change and change that because you can find your X, recruit a team to make
your vision a reality, get other people excited
and ask why with you. If you would have asked that 11-year-old
little girl in oversized overalls and fear in her heart if she’d be standing in front of you – a crowd of academics and professionals,
of learners, leaders, and doers and probably more survivors
than any of us would care to realize – I’m not sure that she’d believe
it to be possible. But she had no idea her abuse
would become her X, her driving force or that it would transform
into something new – advocacy rooted in a continued
need to find the Y. So, what’s my Z? Stay tuned. We’ve covered A, F, I,
V, P, T, S, D and X. So, for now, let’s all
stick to digging a little deeper and challenging ourselves to ask why. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “From Victim to Survivor: Find Your X…but First, Find Your (Wh)Y? | Lauren Book | TEDxOxford”

  1. I can't believe some of the comments; I guess pedophiles come into this type of videos trying to dismiss them, trying to make sexual abuse seen less important. All those who sexually abuse a child should get life in prison without possibility of parole.
    Sexual abuse is the worst crime because it puts lifes in hell.

  2. Wow, there are a lot of child molester types in the comments section. Lauren, I believe you 100% and think it's so wonderful and brave of you to put yourself out there to benefit children. Good for you for becoming a teacher and protecting children.

  3. Wtf is wrong with people saying it was her own fault if you had ever bin trew abuse you wouldn't be saying that shit the damage stays with you for life I died twice after sueided attemp things are better now but I'm still haunted by the hell I went trew😡

  4. I came here for child abuse symptoms in adults and how to deal with it, instead I got a good time. This chick wouldn't survive a day in my childhood. I'd trade mine with hers in a heartbeat.

  5. Thanks for sharing and being so brave. It doesn't matter male or female, if one is a sex predator, you deserve to burn in the hottest of hell.

  6. thank you. i recently started my own chanel and i will be to discussing this. my life of hell, but not just the horrid story, but how i survived and bow how i am going to tell my story. the story my family believes i am betraying my family by speaking of this. i lived in shame for 44 years, i am only 44. i am going to free myself. i fought, i feared, and i froze. i told my mother whom i know she knew tge whole time, but told her when i was 29. and again the betrayal of no support. i have a great story and i am ready to tell. please follow me i will tell it all. i will give advise. i became a cop and i work in a high school now. i truly thank you. please follow me. story time starts tomorrow. i will update often you can also fine me on facebook or instagram


    I want to say it is IMPOSSIBLE FOR A CHILD TO CONSENT TO ANY SEXUAL ACT. PAEDOPHILES LOOK FOR EXCUSES TO VIOLATE; AND TRAIN VICTIMS thusly. IT IS DISGUSTING, but victims grow to instinctively think this girl behaved in a way making her susceptible to abuse. I felt that @1st & realized it was an old trigger; brainwashing. If you felt it was her fault, either you're a victim or a menacing, terrifying, demon who stole someone's entire life. You're not taking advantage of an opportunity alone; you're murdering a child's adolescence, adulthood & abilty to ever be a healthy, happy adult. This is why children should never be touched/looked at sexually; no matter what they say or do; you're placing a self-sabotage/suicide program within them the moment you do. Their lifelong pain will always have your face on it; long after your bestial impulses have faded.

  8. ohmusicsweetmusic

    interesting look…. the over-sized cock-eyed glasses make her look stupid. Also interesting that she did this in Oxford. Book is known in the States to be a professional victim, using pity to make millions. She also uses her story to inflict revenge on those convicted of sex crimes, which in the states is prostitution, peeing on a bush or kids playing doctor. Millions suffer needlessly because of her greed.. Just remember miss lauren. Abusers are past victims. You're conveniently forgetting that it's a cycle.

  9. Marik D. Hammerhead Red

    I am 31 too. And I am still in my longterm abusive family environment. I can not get away. I have no money , no friends, no future. This is HELL, created for punishing me.

  10. Sweet Vegan Samantha

    Thank you beautiful soul for breaking your silence and sharing your truth. much love and many blessings, xxx

  11. Mom was a predator. of emotional psychological and spiritual abuse. an acomplice to soul and heart abuse. predator of the soul and heart.

  12. mshomefire mom mondays


    I just signed the petition "We call on the National Union of Teachers to withdraw its motion promoting LGBT+ issues to toddlers" on CitizenGO.

    It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:


  13. I drive a school bus for special needs children. I had a young girl on my bus of around seven or eight years of age. Cute little thing with big brown eyes. I noticed that when I would drop her at home, if her Mother received her she would be very happy, BUT if her Father received her she would be either scared or unhappy. I informed my boss at the time of the situation. She in turn made inquiries with the appropriate people. I hope and pray that I was wrong, but I don't know What ever happened I have no way of knowing, I'm not allowed to inquire into the outcome. But I hope and pray that I was wrong or that she received the help she needed. You just never know

  14. we need to somehow teach children about these Predators. We need to let them know that if they are forced to do things that they feel are wrong, if anyone touches their private parts, that they should tell us. We need to let them know that these kind of people, the Predators, are liars. I don't know somehow we need to stop these creeps.

  15. Sincere Waves ASMR

    Yoooo I don't know if she's in politics or why people are hating on her but chill, she's opening up here. Stop being cunts.

  16. As a survivor I beg of you please tell your children that it is not right. Even if you dont think it is happening to them please tell them its not there fault

  17. Wanderer OftheWorld

    She came out on top! May she continue to remain strong. There shluld be some filter that stops all hate/negative comments. Sick.

  18. I’ll never forget seeking hugs from my elementary teachers!! I’d give anything for my memories back then. I do remember feeling constant terror behind those closed doors at the hands of my mother.

  19. Wow she calms down so much when she talks about her husband comforting her.
    I have to admit I struggle with understanding how other people find supportive relationships after abuse. I don't know too many people who want to stick around. (Which is crazy when you think about how many people have been abused themselves.) I keep hearing people talking about surrounding yourself with supportive people, but no advice or support on actually doing that.

  20. Beautifully done! Thank you SO much for speaking on this. You speak so clearly and well on a difficult topic. Well done and THANK YOU!

  21. I’m so confused. I watched, paid careful attention, and enjoyed learning everything she had to say. But I feel like this story and everything she said about ptsd is everything I can learn about ptsd. And these are things i’ve already known. I’m trying to learn more because my wife has ptsd. And i try to understand her with all of my strength, I really do try to learn, but it just isn’t working and our marriage is falling even more apart because of it… I don’t understand why..

  22. SehunIsAGoldenFrenchFry

    i have never in my life found relief like i found through this video. thank you so much ms. Lauren. i wish to get through this mental disaster with you and all the fellow heroes.

  23. This is one of the most powerful, moving and enlighten talk I have ever heard. I salute you for sharing your story and taking the stand you now take.

  24. I mean 6 years? The parents should be arrested too specially the mother who was too busy shopping and socializing

  25. This was incredibly uncomfortable to listen to. But I can’t entirely express how grateful I am to now be more aware. May God bless us all.

  26. What a drama queen !!! Why do I do what I do – for the Money, Honey. We have all had trauma – but this rich daddy's daughter get millions from the State of Florida – and the taxpayers do not know !!!

  27. Thank you for speaking out. I hope that monster was finally put away. You are so right so many people look at white, blonde and green eyed, beautiful woman, as having no reason to have trauma. You are an awesome thriver!

  28. She knew instinctively when she met her abuser and didn’t want to have anything to do with her…Adults need to learn to honor and respect children’s wishes and feelings .. It’s part of our culture to dismiss children’s feelings & that needs to change

  29. know it's hard to let go the past but you have to I've sufferd from PTSD for years but i rose i fought my way through and turned my life to better and buried the past and started new i'm not gonna let people and the past to put me down i'm not give them what they want i'm gonna be confident and look to fear anxiety and this people in their eyes and put all fear on them the best revenge is success in the end you only live once so live it you're way

  30. Can we talk about you drunk dad Ron and his DUI. It puts children at predatory risk when you get in a car drunk you have no respect for a child's welfare. Your father is a predator to children. Keep Ron Book away from kids!

  31. Adult's listen to your kids… Don't ignore them. Don't slap them for telling you. I waited till I was 31 years old to get help. If only mom would have known when I was 5… Im sure she would have taken care of it. I was scared, confused, and lonely. Too afraid to open my mouth. Even when I did. I still felt like I've let them down.

  32. This is plan BS. Read your dialogue on your two two screens with your fake glasses.

    Only question is, are you supporting the thousands of children that are actually disappearing?

  33. I was assaulted by someone. Iv felt guilty for a long time. I never ran just sat there saying no. I was suicidal tried to kill my self.

  34. I admire her I wish I had the confidence to talk about my asalt but I don't don't no if I ever will but I'm glad that she didn't let her assault ruin her life like I let mine much respect to her😊

  35. I’m so sad and sorry she had to go through this awful abuse at the hands of a monster! But I’m glad she is fighting on behalf of other children
    god bless her efforts ,I pray she has a good life and future with her lovely husband xx

  36. Yeah we are a survivor not a victim 🍻🤘 I fought for it so many years I'm ok now …be cause I have a power 💜💙🧡❤💚💛

  37. Пьетро Беретта

    ,, Victim's country''…men are opressed by feminists. Men are turning pussies. Feministic propaganda humiliates any masculinity and men… Oh, dear, God bless america))

  38. The whole thing is really good, but it was really meaningful to everyone on Earth from 18:03 on. We all need to find our challenges and face them. What courage to tell her amazing and terrifying story. I have nothing but gratitude.

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