I Am From: Surviving Trauma and Becoming A Phoenix

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the Success, Hopes and Dreams 2014 Nebraska Statewide Behavioral Health Conference.  As part of the advocacy I do with the Truth Leadership Council of the Domestic Violence Council, I offered the opportunity to speak on the topic of trauma and recovery.  As a survivor of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape, the ability to share one’s truth is invaluabe.  Each time a survivor speaks his or her truth, the pain has less power.  Only when a survivor speaks will social change occur.

Paulissa Kipp, Trauma Survivor, Thriver,Artist, Author, Poet and Advocate

Cornhusker Hotel, Lincoln NE May 21, 2014


Here is the video of the speech and the full transcript.


Bruised, Not Broken – A Survival Story

Good afternoon.  My name is Paulissa Kipp. I am but one of the faces of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape.  My address of 1 Paulissa Kipp Place is shared with PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder.  Yet my past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me.

How many of you have dropped a raw egg on your kitchen floor?  Is the egg the same as before you dropped it?  Of course not.  We have scrambled eggs!  A survivor will never be the same because abuse causes cracks in the veneer of the soul. A car’s backfire, a sharp word or an uninvited movement into my personal space bring about a strong response.   My lived experience permeates my emotional, mental and physical state.  The past is projected onto the present, unbidden from a place deep inside.  Trust is given and trust is taken away.

The first trauma I can remember occurred the day of my 6 year old brother’s funeral.  The sexual abuse continued throughout my childhood and was replaced by domestic violence and rape.

I had nightmares, seizures, migraines, and couldn’t concentrate. I began trying to alter my appearance hoping the abuse would stop – it didn’t.

Developing healthy relationships has been difficult. My learned behavior was that a soft place to fall meant being violated. I projected all of my pain onto healthy relationships and made people who loved me into villains the same as those who hurt me. It cost me 3 marriages.

Healing from trauma requires a courage that does not come naturally. It often requires counseling and brutal honesty. It requires faith, even when you don’t know if the wound will heal.

I have learned passionate self-care from adversity.  I’ve learned that strength is forged in vulnerability.  Music is a safe place, come what may.  I’ve discovered art journaling and the freedom of a blank page or canvas to listen. I’ve  noticed that I create the most color when I feel the most darkness.  I CAN now CREATE hope.  I’ve learned the power of a good rallying cry.  My favorite rallying ones?  I cannot fail, because it’s all learning.  This too, shall pass.  And the one that is imprinted on my heart:

            “Beware out of the ash I rise. I embody the power of courage, the endurance of strength and the beauty of survival.”






I AM FROM an unwed mother and an absent father
I AM FROM a jailed brother and a dead brother
I AM FROM Clell and Eva, golden years interrupted

I AM FROM abandonment and the land of NEVER ENOUGH.
I AM FROM high expectations, always met but NEVER ENOUGH
I AM FROM abuse and neglect, rape, survival and hate

I AM FROM music – tribal drums, ebony and ivory, harp so sweet
I AM FROM cancer at age 29
The enemy within mixed with courage and cleansed with tears
Giving what I need most

Paint and pencils, glue and gesso
Truth prospecting for gold amidst the hustle
I AM FROM the Phoenix rising from the ashes
Awakening from her slumber to own her destiny
I AM FROM Enough
I always was
I AM FROM the rolling stone, no moss to gather
I AM FROM outside the box
I AM FROM the Divine
I AM FROM you and you are within me
I AM FROM Athena, beauty and wisdom
I AM FROM creation
Peace – just listen
I AM FROM the world, connected with breath
I AM FROM mental illness – of challenge and glorious triumph
I AM FROM tears and blessings,
Boundaries and an open heart
I AM FROM together and drawn apart
I AM FROM the hairless sink and the hill to kill
I AM FROM the smokehouse in the pouring rain, old maid and the missing card
I AM FROM a twirling baton under the summer sky,
close and play record players and dancing outside.
I AM FROM Mormons, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and Wiccans
I AM FROM nature, not nurture
I AM FROM enough!
Forged by pain
I AM FROM the journey is as important as the destination
I AM FROM joy, love and self-worth
I AM going where my soul sings
The destination matters not
I AM FROM the rainbow pot.



About Paulissaisms

What Kind of Artist Am I? I am an Empress of Creative Energy, releasing truth and beauty into the universe, singed by the fires of Edana and Callayosa. The art I heal with involves color, lines and questions. Questions for which there is no right or wrong answer, only the one thàt moves the spirit and soul of those answering. I bring awareness to the need for social change with line, color, motion, words, camera lens and through strength of spirit and a voice that will not be silenced. I am a Rebel of Intention Presence & Liberator of the Light Filled Shadow ™ : Activist, Advocate, Mixed Media Artist, Author, Mental Health 1st Responder, Peer Support Specialist, Photographer, Truthteller, Whole Health Action Management and Wellness Recovery Action Plan facilitator.

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