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Libby Buchanan

Abuse Survivor, Child Welfare Advocate, Speaker, Educator

Topics

Topics appropriate for...

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • Child Advocates
  • Foster care programs
  • School Counselors
  • Therapists working with kids
  • Human Trafficking Organizations
  • Any organization working with abused, at-risk children

Inside The Mind of an Abused Child

 The consequences of abuse can make it difficult for adults to understand, let alone relate to the child they are going to advocate for or foster. Breaking down some of those consequences into manageable components can help adults build cooperation and even rapport faster and better. Here are some of the topics Libby addresses:

  • Displays of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. What do you say to kids who have been abused? What are they thinking? Why do they act the way they do? How can one effectively champion for the child? Discovering how to practically interpret a child's behavior by looking for clues is emphasized during this discussion. Defenses, symptoms and triggers are covered as well as displays that can be mistaken for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
  • Trust.  Trainees are often dismayed to learn that they may be viewed as threatening or even traumatizing by the child. This unit emphasizes the importance of not taking mistrust personally. Practical steps and guidelines that build cooperation and rapport are discussed as well as how to handle that all important first meeting.
  • Normalizing. Abused children often see and experience the world through very unique filters that can surprise and startle advocates as well as foster parents and their families. Attendees will gain an understanding how simple matters like compliments, gift giving, sarcasm and playful threats can easily be misinterpreted by the child being represented.
  • The Parent--Child Bond.  It can be beyond baffling why a child would want to return to a home that is abusive, violent or corrosive. Libby uses her own experience to address the unconscious reasons and excuses children have for doing so. An examination of the phenomenon of "trauma-bonding" has proven helpful for advocates to understand how powerful this bond can be.
  • Secret Keeping. Both advocates and foster parents are appalled, horrified and even disillusioned when it's revealed that a child has been suffering alone and in silence. By relating her own desperate need to keep secrets, Libby helps attendees learn the lengths predators will go to in order to insure that silence. The use of threats, punishments and gifts are explained and discussed.
  • The Role of Therapy. Children are often reluctant to take advantage of therapy, which can frustrate those of us who appreciate its value. When they do go, they are rarely willing to talk about the trauma that is sending them there. But that's okay. There is more to therapy than revisiting abuse.
  • The Spiritual Component. Many abused kids have distorted ideas about good and evil, right and wrong, guilt and shame. Here is an opportunity to gain perspective and a sense of value and significance.
  • Forgiveness. This is a highly personal, profound topic that is not grounded in glib, easy answers and children are rarely in a position to take it on. In fact, advocates can lose ground with the child they're standing for should they even broach the subject. Still, with wisdom and finesse, they can be pointed in the right direction.
  • Wrap-up. Because of Libby's background, she has no qualms calling all of those who advocate for children "heroes". Relying on a powerful childhood experience, she explains the value and significance each advocate brings to bear on a child's life. By helping attendees understand what it feels like to actually be advocated for, Libby helps those who champion for children to see that what they do is truly life changing.

For more information, see this preview video for her CASA class

Other Topics for Christian Audiences

Forgiveness

Libby has spoken on forgiveness on numerous occasions. Starting with the context of her own life which included sexual abuse in the extreme, gross neglect, parental mental illness and alcoholism and physical abuse, she speaks on the need, the why, and the how of forgiveness. Her teaching is based on Scripture and her personal experiences.This has never failed to have a powerful impact on the audience regardless of their backgrounds - the issue of forgiveness is universal.

The Character of God

Libby's belief and faith in a good God  was tested when He dragged her kicking and screaming to a place of healing, joy and discovery. She found this magnificent Person to be incredibly faithful even when she was not and is able to relate from experience, just how powerful a journey one can have with the Savior.

The Letter from Assyria

What does one do when he or she has received catastrophic news? With humor and insight, Libby gives practical step-by-step ways to "calm down, wise up and press on."

Raising Children while Carrying Baggage

Giving context with some of her background, Libby focuses on the morning when previously repressed memories came rushing back pissed off and wanting to bite her in the butt. Fifteen years of intense therapy and multiple visits to psych wards followed, right in the midst of her kid's childhoods.

The Kingdom

Using the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5~7, Libby explores the gospel Jesus taught. 

Bible Studies

Libby has taught Bible studies for almost thirty years, composing her own curriculums. Her students have consistantly appreciated her humor, contagious enthuiasm and unique insights into scripture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill's Corner

As her husband, a few words...

Roughly 20 years into our marriage, and about 2 years after her primary abuser's death, Libby's memories flooded back and led to 15 years of intensive therapy, hospitalizations and psych wards. About two years into the process, I told her that someday she would be standing in front of hundreds sharing her insights to help others. She said I was crazy.

This has turned out to be the one time I can say without fear of contradiction, "I was right." So, she gave me this column so I can share a little bit about her accomplishments.

Keynote Speaker, 2015 Illinois State CASA Conference

Recently Libby spoke to around 200 CASA advocates and other attendees at the state conference. It was a 45 minute presentation that was, in the words of one of the attendees, "very powerful and a perfect choice to inspire!"

Or, as another attendee wrote in their evaluation, "She brings such a powerful message. Her life is a miracle. Her message affirms how critical it is to stand up and speak for those who have no power & no voice."

I'm proud to tell you she got a standing ovation

 

State Conference Breakout 

More than half of the attendees came to hear Libby describe the Inner World of a Child with Posttraumatic Stress.

Here are a few of their comments:

"Again, phenomenal speaker! Learned a lot, made me able to think things through. Thanks!"

"Incredible and worth the whole day"

"Personal experience adds a great deal of credibility to information presented."

"She has great insights and, by sharing, helps us understand our kids better."