Justine here: Today…What can I say about today? Today, emotionally draining as it has been, has only reinforced my commitment to helping survivors in the perinatal period. Today, I spoke to medical care providers and other perinatal professionals about my experience giving birth as a survivor of rape. Today, I broke down some of the barriers of shame and of self-doubt and of silence. This was my parting message to those attending the conference:


“Please, understand that trauma is so ubiquitous – but not everyone can say “Me too” on social media or to you. And recent events have only reinforced the sense that silence is safer than speech. So, don’t take silence for consent, explicitly ask for it, and by doing so facilitate a birthing experience grounded in the safety of the present moment. 

Yes, despite your best efforts to barricade against them, the ghosts of the past may still return. But even then, you have the power to act as a life rope to the present moment. By respecting the autonomy of this person's body, by being an empathic witness to her journey even when that journey takes her into the darkness, by helping to cultivate a space of difference between the trauma she previously experienced and the now of her birth, you can hold for her this fact even if she cannot hold it for herself, by herself: that here in the now of this moment is something so unlike her prior trauma – her baby’s journey into the light."


I am honored to be called to this work – to share my story and to influence how those working with birthing people interact and understand them. Watch out…I am out to change the world.

@leach.justine #resilientbirth #healingbirth #birthtrauma #traumainformed #informedconsent #breakingthesilence #whensurvivorsgivebirth