Libby Buchanan: Abuse Survivor, Child Welfare Advocate, Speaker, Educator

Specializing in children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Topics and Audiences

Topics appropriate for...

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

Inside The Mind of an Abused Child

 Abuse deeply influences how a child will relate not only to other children and adults, but to new situations like foster care and group homes. Giving one, two or three hour presentations, Libby equips learners  to better translate and unravel the complexities of an abused child's behavior in order to build cooperation and a stronger rapport. 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.  Those who champion for children 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. Understanding the world of an abused child gives an advocate a strong advantage. To that end, Libby helps attendees appreciate what the child may believe is at stake. By relating her own desperate need to keep secrets, Libby helps attendees learn the lengths predators will go to in order to insure a child's 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. Regardless of religious background, many abused kids have distorted ideas about good and evil, right and wrong, guilt and shame. Here is an opportunity to gain perspective, a sense of value and significance as well as practical, concrete support and social connectedness.
  • 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


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. We had 3 young children at the time and it was a tough period for all of us. 

About two years into her 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.

It's not often I can say, "I was right." without fear of contradiction. She won't brag about herself, but she gave me this column so I can share a little bit about her accomplishments.

Keynotes typically received with standing ovations.

Her first keynote speaking engagement was in 2015 at the Illinois State CASA Conference.

That was the first of many standing ovations as people have responded not only to her content, but the courage it takes to put a story like hers into the public arena. Sadly, we have learned over the years that there are always people in the audience who can connect personally with one or more aspects of her past.

Due to the long-term nature of her complex trauma, she can speak to both secular and Christian audiences on a variety of topics. Currently, childhood PTSD is of particular interest. Since she's had PTSD since she was age four, she's an expert on the topic.

You can go to the testimonials page for more detail, but typical comments she gets back in the assessment she passes out are...

"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."