Healing from PTSD and creating a space to support survivors with Janine Wirth
A conversation with Janine Wirth about transforming a traumatic experience into a purpose and support for survivors.
Ruam Chuay’s interview series, Sparking Conversations, shines a spotlight on advocates and changemakers in our community who to work to create a safer world. We hope to inspire and share ways you can make a difference in your community.
We’re happy to share this inspiring and honest interview with Janine Wirth. She shares her experience living through a traumatic event. Then, how she took that pain and turned into her purpose.
Now, Janine is a PTSD and Trauma specialist focused on working with women who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse and assault. In speaking with her, it’s clear she genuinely cares about supporting women and helping them heal and find freedom after experiencing trauma.
Here’s her story!
Trauma Expert and Clinical Hypnotherapist
Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about your background and work.
I experienced a very traumatic and abusive childhood and then survived a hijacking, kidnapping and attempted rape at gunpoint at age 18. This experience left me with all the classic PTSD symptoms. One day about a week after the hijacking I was sitting in my parked car and a friend came up and hit his hand against my window (he didn’t know what I had just been through) and I almost jumped out of my skin. Feelings of panic and fear flooded through my body and I knew I had to seek professional help, which I did.
After over a decade in corporate sales and management, I had the opportunity to study further and I decided to completely change direction and become a therapist. The process was long and hard but I certified in Psychotherapy, clinical hypnotherapy, advanced Rapid Transformational Therapy and life coaching. I immediately knew I wanted to specialise in Trauma and PTSD and work with women who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse and assault. My own experiences gave me invaluable insights and empathy for my clients, as I had walked their path myself and I finally found a way to turn pain into purpose.
Why did you choose to pursue a career that helps people the way you do? What motivated you?
My experience with trauma and PTSD left me feeling angry, alone and as if nobody really understood what I had been through and how it had changed me as a person. I knew I wanted to work with women, as we’re the last ones to ask for help. We’ve been taught all our lives to suffer in silence, to grin and bear it. Society shames women that come forward and speak out, and with my free private online support group on Facebook called ‘Freedom from Trauma & PTSD‘ I wanted to create a safe, non-judgemental space where women can tell their stories without fear and find the support they need.
I help women heal from their trauma and then coach them to live their best lives and reach the goals they set themselves. I want them to be who they were always meant to be and to reach their full potential.
Were there any challenges you faced while addressing social issues in your line of work?
Yes. When I first decided to go public with my work, it meant that I had to share my own story. This wasn’t easy as I was scared that people I’ve known my entire life, but who had no idea what I had been through might judge me. Before my first podcast interview, I was nervous as I had never shared my story in public before. I had people who were very close to me call me up and ask why I felt the need to tell ‘the entire internet’ about the abuse I experienced in my childhood and why couldn’t I just ‘get over it?’. Although this hurt me, because, like most, I wanted the unconditional support of my nearest and dearest, it also made it crystal clear to me exactly why I had to speak out: I wasn’t just speaking out for myself, but setting an example for my clients and women in general.
What is one thing that you think is important for people to recognize when it comes to interpersonal and gender-based violence?
It is very difficult to speak out, because the media very often shames and blames victims, specifically women. Historically, we have spent our time and resources on teaching girls how to keep safe, but my personal belief is that if we really want to change behaviour we should focus our efforts on teaching gender equality and teaching boys about consent from as early an age as possible.
What is one thing you think people can do to have healthier relationships?
Mutual respect and communication is key, especially in intimate relationships. Traditionally the older generations believe that within a marriage women can’t be raped or don’t have the right to say no, but this simply isn’t true. Women ALWAYS have the right to say no, regardless of whether they are married, in long-term relationships or on a date. Buying someone dinner doesn’t automatically entitle you to anything more than food and conversation.
If you are looking for support and healing, join her free support group for women, Freedom from Trauma & PTSD here.
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