her upcoming book, The Path of the EveryDay Heroine, speaker,
consultant and coach Kathryn Tull addresses the difficult
task of attaining balance in our personal and professional
lives, and shines a light on how the behavior of those
around us impacts our priorities and quality of life.
Recently emerged from a critical life situation as a survivor
of long term domestic violence, Kathryn has developed
a heartfelt, yet pragmatic and effective approach to gaining
perspective, setting limits, and creating boundaries that
build a solid foundation for self-empowerment. In this
article, Kathryn will share some her insights and tips
for identifying situations in the world around us that
may impose limits on our growth and our goals.
The Path of the EveryDay Heroine
The path of the everyday heroine is
the path that every woman born walks - at one time of
her life or another. It is the path of the juggler,
the magician, the psychic, the nurse. It is the path
of bearing the crown of glory of womanhood and the yoke
of servitude. It is the path of the savior and the path
of the victim. The giver and the taker; the do-er and
the done-to. Life-giver and life-sustainer. The path
of the everyday heroine is the path of joy and the path
of sorrowful confusion. It is the path of the state
of being a modern day woman. And it can be the path
of learning to create your own empowerment in every
step along the way.
Life as a woman today is vastly more
complex and demanding than ever before in history. We
must play the parts of many different characters. We
must dance in step to many different drummers, each
representing different factions in our lives that require
equal attention. We must preserve our looks, our health,
our psyche, our soul, our relationships, our families,
our mates, our partners, our friends, our children,
our parents, our schools, our communities, our jobs,
our bosses, our boss's bosses, our boards of directors,
our neighborhood community groups
You can probably fill in many more
The path of the everyday heroine is
the path that each one of us can learn to walk so that
we don't get lost in the shuffle.
try to navigate our way through the maze of roles and
relationships, needs and demands, expectations and desires,
that color and shape our every thought and action. We
try to be so many things to so many people. And in the
process, the person that usually loses out the most
is - that's right -the "Me" in each of us.
--Some of the behaviors and situations women may encounter
in their every day lives at home, at work, at school,
in the community, and in the world at large are actually
abusive or may lead to an abusive situation.
--By being able to recognize early warning signs and
identify potentially volatile situations, we can protect
ourselves from people and behaviors that can cause us
harm and impose limitation on our growth and success.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Living authentically, in self-respect
first, enables us to do our work, live our purpose,
accomplish our desired outcomes, and lead the life of
our dreams without losing anything.
Have you ever had the experience of being treated by
someone - whether in a relationship, at home, or even
at work - in such a manner that you feel very uncomfortable
about the interaction? Maybe your head began to ache
afterward, or your stomach started to hurt suddenly,
or your heart started to pound, or your palms went clammy?
These are some of the internally- launched physical
warning signs, like an alarm, that you have just been
treated abusively. Your body is signaling you even if
you don't recognize it overtly.
Many years ago, in the earlier stages
of the seventeen year relationship I had with my abuser,
we were still dating (we hadn't gotten married yet.)
There were times he spoke to or about other people in
such a vicious or foul manner that I would be nearly
sick to my stomach. But I always found a way to excuse
his behavior, never believing he would one day turn
that behavior toward me. I became very adept at rationalizing
his behavior, making excuses for it, not holding him
responsible for being the perpetrator of abuse. I was
so good at it, that when he was verbally abusive to
me, which came not much longer into our relationship,
I continued to ignore every single cue my body gave
me - including trembling and rashes - that I was being
If you find yourself in a situation
where your body responds this way, even though your
mind my not acknowledge or recognize that you are being
abused, pay attention to these physical cues. This is
a very clear sign from your deeper, instinctive self
that you are in danger and need to take protective action.
Techniques for Immediate Intervention:
1. Breathe! As ridiculous as that may sound, in a fear-provoking
or threatening situation, our breath becomes more shallow
and rapid. We may even hold our breath. Consciously
make yourself pause, and take a few deep breaths, in
through the nose and out through the mouth. This will
accomplish several very important things in just a few
--it will replenish your brain with oxygen so that you
can think more clearly
--it will allow you to take a step or two away and get
some physical distance from the other party, even if
it's almost unnoticeable to them
--it will give you a moment to assess your immediate
2. Create an immediate boundary. Tell
the other party that you need to take a "restroom
break". This will buy you some time apart from
--determine your next best step,
--enable you to breathe a little more,
--immediately exit the situation if necessary for your
3. Remove yourself from the presence and reach of the
other party as soon as possible. Abusive people are
instinctively and purposefully very manipulative. They
are often charming, even seductive, and are very successful
at turning the tables to make the victim believe that
it is their fault, not the abuser's. Don't allow room
for this exchange. Remove yourself as soon as possible.
Given the opportunity, the abuser will attempt to manipulate
you back into a situation in which they are in control.
Techniques for later preventive and
Years later, after I married my abuser
( not knowing his behavior was abusive and believing
he just needed someone to love him enough ) the emotional
and verbal abuse became physical. I was completely shocked
that he would hit me.
I wanted to believe he would never do it again. I was
sure that if I loved him enough, if I was strong enough,
I could help him change. I was so ashamed that I had
been hit, and that I didn't leave him immediately, that
I didn't tell anyone. What would they think of me?
1. Tell someone. Confide in someone.
You don't have to face this alone.
Don't keep it to yourself, or hide in shame, or fear.
Don't believe someone else's bad behavior is somehow
something you deserve. There is no excuse for violence
2. Honestly review the behavior that felt fear-provoking
or hurtful, and ask yourself these questions:
--Has this happened before with this person?
--Was there alcohol or substance use at the time of
--Have similar situations occurred with this or other
people in your life?
--What are the pros and cons of exiting from the situation
( like a job) or the relationship?
Get someone you trust to review this list with you,
for objectivity, support and encouragement. Assess and
measure your real-life priorities, both personal and
Change can feel far scarier than staying in the familiar,
even when staying means being hurt or abused again.
Let others support you.
3. Beware the apology, if one follows.
There is a very predictable pattern of behavior to most
abusive situations. The actual abusive episode is usually
followed by a period of remorse from the abuser. They
will appear to feel very contrite, and will be very
convincing. Don't buy it.
Get support for yourself to stay strong.
4. Take very good care of yourself
physically. When we are facing crisis, our body uses
up its stores at a much faster rate than normal. Nutrition,
rest and hydration become more important than ever.
Drink lots and lots of water. Rest. And even though
I may sound like your mother ( and I am a mother - to
three!) : eat something!
These simple steps will help you begin
to take back your power and regain control. Abuse is
insidious, and hides effectively in many situations,
like at work, or at school. Bosses may be inappropriately
demeaning in the workplace, or teachers in the classroom.
Family members may be extremely critical. Intimate partners
may be demanding, invasive, possessive.
Listen to your gut. When something
someone says or does creates one of the responses mentioned
earlier, or a similar reaction that appears " for
no reason," - don't ignore it. Abuse doesn't go
away. Abusers don't change in a heartbeat - and sometimes
they never will change.
Don't take responsibility for someone
else's behavior, or for their problems. Their behavior
is their business and their responsibility. You don't
have to fix them, or heal them, or help them. Fix yourself.
Heal yourself. Help yourself.
When you walk the path of everyday
heroine, the person you have to be a hero for is You!