Liz Mullinar’s story captures the very essence of the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors series. She walked away from a prominent career to put in motion a plan to use her traumatic experiences, and the knowledge gained because of it, to help fellow survivors heal. The result is the Heal for Life foundation, which is providing compassionate, empathic and scientifically backed approaches to help survivors get to the root of their traumas, and move forward in their healing journey.
After years of struggling and feeling no one understood us survivors, I determined that the only way to create change was to start our own organization. So, I announced at a particularly irritating health professionals meeting that I would start our own organization which would truly present the survivors view of what we need in order to heal and if anyone wanted to join me, to phone me.
Wonderfully, a few people did and we started Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse(ASCA), and opened survivors groups throughout Australia. Within two years, we had 55 groups running despite a complete lack of funds!!
However, the more we met, the more we began to see the need for more than the validation and support being offered in the groups. We needed a safe place where we could go and unburden our pain. A place where we could heal without judgment; a place where we could feel safe enough to release our fear and be able to move on in our lives, freed from the burden of our child abuse.
In 1997, my husband and I sold our home and business (Liz Mullinar casting) and built Mayumarri; a safe place for survivors of abuse.
My original concept was that we would charge nothing and anyone could come for as long as they liked. That idea evolved because of a wonderful counselor, Margaret Williams, who devised and implemented a 5 day program. At first we charged nothing to attend, but we found the less people paid the less likely they were to turn up (still the same today), so sadly we started charging $50 for the week.
The program has gone from strength to strength and has now been running for 16 years. Over 6,500 people of all ages have been helped on their healing journey.
I know now both anecdotally and through our independent research that everyone can heal from mental illness and the symptoms we suffer from as a result of our abuse, by releasing the emotions connected with our childhood trauma.
Everything we do here is informed by our own innate knowledge of what we need as survivors of child abuse to do in order to heal and consistently backed up by the latest neuroscience.
In our model we have 5 steps.
- Recall the traumatic moment in time via the right hemisphere of the brain (visualizations, music creative work.)
- Feel, and with physical effort release the emotions that were not safe to feel at the time. Encourage the ‘Inner Child’ to talk, and prompt them to stay in her/his emotions.
- Verbalize the feeling and whatever needs to be said about what happened.
- Re-empower the child.
- Nurture the child
Our program is run almost entirely by volunteers, people who have healed through the program and want to help others to do the same. Our facilitators are paid. These are mainly people who came first to Heal For Life with no purpose in life; however, after discovering that they could heal and how amazing that is, they have become such passionate advocates. Some have gone on to train as therapists, psychologists or other related professions and have returned to heal For Life to help others, giving them hope and assurance that they can heal.
Our office and property are also run by survivors of child abuse, usually people who want to stay for a longer period to heal and help.
We also run camps for kids from 8 years upwards. These are immensely rewarding and worthwhile to change their lives around while they are still so young.
Heal For Life succeeds because it is run by survivors of abuse and we know what we need to do and create in order to feel safe. We know only a non authoritarian, non hierarchical structure works. We know all of us innately know what we need to do in order to heal; we just have to be asked. We know we all can heal. We know no one is beyond help, and that life is a choice. We can choose to heal or we can stay stuck in victimhood.
We now have centres run by volunteers in the Philippines and England and hopefully one day people from other countries will choose to join us.
Come and join us wherever in the world you live, and help us to change the way survivors are healed and help us to create more happiness and hope in this world which we believe can be found by healing from our childhood abuse.
LIZ MULLINAR is a survivor of incest, satanic ritual abuse and sexual abuse. She is the founder of Heal For Life Healing Centres for survivors of child abuse & trauma. She co-founded and subsequently ran the first national charity for people who had suffered childhood trauma – Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA).
In 1997 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the community, and in 2000 she was awarded the inaugural Australian Humanitarian of the Year award. She was also honoured on “This is your life” in 2001 and in 2003 received a centenary medal. In 2006 she was a finalist in the Charity CEO of the year award. 2009 she was honoured with an achievement award on Australia day as well as being named as New South Wales volunteer of the year. She was a finalist for Australian of the year in 2010.
Liz is now very involved in helping Indigenous people use the model in remote communities & in training heath professionals in Trauma Informed Care so that what she has learned over the last 17 years can help far more people than the actual guests on programs.
Click here to become a guardian angel and help someone heal from their childhood trauma.Liz Mullinar AM, BTh, M. Couns | CEO & Founder | 380 Coney Creek Lane Quorrobolong NSW 2325 | PO Box 361 Cessnock NSW 2325 Australia | (+61 2 49986003 | Fax +61 2 49986041;mobile: 0409714372