My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)

Nearly 40 years ago at ~4 years old.

[***NOTE: IF YOU ARE VISITING TIM.BLOG/TRAUMA FOR THE RESOURCE LIST, PLEASE CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN***]

[A transcript of this episode can be found at this link.]

For me, this is the most important podcast episode I’ve ever published.

In it, I describe the most life-shaping, certainly the most difficult, and certainly the most transformative journey of my 43 years on this planet. I’ve never shared it before.

My dance partner and safety net in this conversation is my friend Debbie Millman (@debbiemillman). She has been named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, and she is the host of Design Matters—a great show and one of the world’s longest running podcasts. She is also Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts and Editorial Director of Print magazine, and she has worked on design strategy for some of the world’s largest brands.

But I didn’t ask Debbie to join me because of her bio. I asked Debbie because she’s a close confidante, she’s an excellent interviewer, and she’s been an incredible support for me in the last few years, including late-night emergency phone calls. Last but not least, she and I have experienced similar trauma but have taken two very different paths to healing using very different tools. So, you get a two-for-one deal in this conversation.

#464: Tim Ferriss — My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse
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Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

The transcript for this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

***

All resources mentioned in this episode—and many more—are listed below. If you have tips, advice, or resources that have helped you, please share in the comments. We will moderate to eliminate any bad actors, snark, or other nonsense.

And if you remember only one thing, remember this: there is light on the other side. I wouldn’t have believed this even five years ago, but I now consider myself living proof that deep, lasting change is possible. Don’t give up. You are never alone, and it is never hopeless. I’m right there alongside you, as are millions of others.

Much love to you and yours, 

Tim 

P.S. Disclaimer: Debbie and I are not doctors or therapists, and we don’t play them on the internet. This episode and blog post are for informational purposes only, and nothing is intended as professional or medical advice in any capacity. Please be smart and be safe.


LIST OF RESOURCES

CLICK ANY LINK TO JUMP TO THAT SECTION, OR SCROLL DOWN FOR ALL:

DOCUMENTARIES
BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING
MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN
RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS
MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES
LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

DOCUMENTARIES

BOOKS AND SUGGESTED READING

MORE EXTENSIVE BOOK LIST FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN

Please note that there is some natural overlap with the above list.

Self-help (the books that helped me in my twenties):

Newer book about rape culture: 

Particularly good memoirs, all of which are about sexual abuse and/or rape:

Novel or Semi-Autobiographical about sexual abuse and/or rape:

RESOURCES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND TOOLS

MOST MENTIONED PODCAST EPISODES

LIST OF RELATED PODCAST EPISODES

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Debbie Millman:

Website | Design Matters Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • Despite enormous discomfort, here’s why this is a conversation better put in motion sooner rather than later. [04:42]
  • From amnesia to hypermnesia—how I began to remember what I’d long forced myself to forget. [09:45]
  • Where my first 10-day Vipassana silent retreat took me, and why I’m grateful Jack Kornfield was there to ensure I made it back. [11:54]
  • Taking note of behaviors that seemed strange and inexplicable out of context but make perfect sense when memories of the pain and trauma they’re meant to alleviate resurface. [14:23]
  • Excuses I made to put off this conversation and the realization—whether through breakdown or breakthrough—that choosing not to deal with my trauma was just dealing with it poorly. [17:10]
  • A concerning symptom of delving deeper into the trauma of sexual abuse that I hadn’t expected to experience and some wise words a fellow trauma survivor had to say about the evolutionary miracle of dissociation. [18:14]
  • How common is sexual abuse, and why has it been so difficult for victims in our society to seek the help they need to heal? [21:59]
  • Debbie shares the extent of her own trauma that was imposed upon her beginning at age nine and how she’s tried to cope with it from then to now. [24:44]
  • What is the Joyful Heart Foundation, and how is it working to eradicate the rape kit backlog that keeps victims from getting justice and allows offenders to walk free? [28:38]
  • How disclosing her experience to this show’s audience changed Debbie’s life, and what she discovered in the aftermath of telling the truth. [30:32]
  • Reiterating the importance of having a guide who can help you through the rough parts of an immersive experience that might dredge up darkness you’re not ready to face. [37:45]
  • Trauma toolkit resources I’ve found particularly helpful. [39:03]
  • How heart rate variability (HRV) training has been useful in treating my cardiac hyper-responsiveness to daily stressors. In other words, it’s allowing me to better control my physiology in order to change my psychology. [43:32]
  • While skeptical of Enneagram personality typing, I do think it may be useful in certain circumstances. [46:03]
  • Why ayahuasca might be an overkill treatment for trauma in many cases, and what might prove to be better alternatives for most—provided they’re legal where you live. [47:06]
  • What does Debbie recommend to people who are trying to work through their trauma perhaps for the very first time? Where should they begin? [50:22]
  • What did Debbie’s very first talk therapy sessions look like compared to what they look like now, and what’s the one stipulation she has for them to be truly effective—even during the COVID-19 pandemic? [54:39]
  • While antidepressants may be helpful for many people, here are some of their potential drawbacks and dangers that patients considering their use should be aware of. [59:34]
  • What we, according to Stan Grof, are really trying to kill when we contemplate suicide and how a chance delivery was instrumental in preventing my own suicide. [1:05:38]
  • Trauma toolkit resources that Debbie has found particularly helpful. [1:09:29]
  • What I discovered while seeking an answer to the one question that truly matters, as conveyed by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach: what are you unwilling to feel? [1:14:39]
  • How who we are today can be better equipped to help heal the wounds of—and nurture—who we were yesterday. [1:20:48]
  • You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. Aim for the work that will allow you to retire at the end of the day with, as Debbie says, one notch more hope than shame. [1:25:53]
  • Why the seemingly perpetual act of recovery isn’t incompleteness—it’s connection. [1:27:47]
  • How reading the stories of other trauma survivors and learning what they did to incorporate that trauma into their own lives has helped Debbie. [1:32:30]
  • Why Debbie is hopeful that trauma survivors in our society will increasingly build and adopt the tools required to shift the shame of their experiences where it belongs but also advocate creating a new vocabulary that replaces words like “victim” and “survivor” with terms that don’t paint people who have endured trauma as other. [1:33:37]
  • Debbie and I share thoughts on tracking and confronting our perpetrators—which today has become as effortless as a Google search. Is there anything to be gained from seeking such contact? Can true forgiveness prevail over our desire for vengeance—and if so, should it? [1:34:39]
  • Is forgiveness more than just letting go of anger? How do you know where the line is between useful anger and anger that just consumes you? What can you do to reexamine how you process and utilize that anger in a way that’s constructive rather than destructive? [1:44:00]
  • Beyond the expression of anger, how has childhood trauma contributed to our other signature behaviors? What have we used to keep us “safe” from what we’ve been unwilling to feel? [1:56:19]
  • Another point in favor of having other people looped in on what you’re going through to act as a support system and, in turn, being available to support others who need you to be part of that system for them. [1:59:02]
  • When nearly 75 percent of a dozen male friends I’ve talked to about this have relayed their own stories of sexual abuse, is it time for a #HeToo movement? How can we most supportively respond to women or men who choose to share their experiences with us? Here’s how Jack Kornfield responded when I told him about mine. [1:59:22]
  • How has understanding and integrating my own trauma changed me and my perspective on life to this point? [2:06:45]
  • What do I hope listeners take away from this conversation? [2:13:07]
  • Parting thoughts and much gratitude to Debbie for having this conversation—and many other late-night conversations like it—with me. [2:15:28]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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339 Replies to “My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse (Includes Extensive Resource List)”

  1. You have helped the world with your work. I have benefited so much. This is sad news. But as you have done in the past you help so many.
    Mimi

    1. Hi Tim,

      Bless you and Debbie for this podcast. The “parts work” and ” de-bugging” you described reminded me so much of the type of work done with a process called Depth Hypnosis developed by Isa Gucciardi that I felt compelled to post….It’s been described as Ayahuasca in slow motion and is changing people’s lives. Check it out here, if you like: https://www.depthhypnosis.org/depth-hypnosis/ – there was a pilot study completed with some interesting results on that site, as well.

      I am so grateful both of you are still on this planet! Thank you for your courage and for all the lives you’ve touched.

      V.

  2. You’ve done a beautiful thing Tim. I’m sorry for what you have been through.

    The silver lining is that you may save many lives through this.

    Take care.

  3. I cannot imagine the courage necessary for you and Debbie to have this conversation, but to say it moved me to the core is an understatement. As a mother with a son that I have fears that he experienced a similar experience as you, I have no idea how to approach this with him. He has exhibited many of the traits you described and was at a babysitter at a young age that I now question. How do you have the conversation, how to you find the help, he has has self-hate, suicidal tendencies, etc. and is 26. I want him to be able to live a better life and am heart-broken that he may have experienced this, as I am for every person who has experienced trauma, it is just unconscionable. You have such a heart to improve lives and make positive change. Over the years, your books and podcasts have helped me in so many areas of my life. Thank you for sharing your story with Debbie and your listeners and allowing others to heal through your vulnerability.

    1. Start with the resource center mentioned in the show notes for children and adults who have survived rape. Ask them for guidance. You’re doing the right thing, it will help so much even if it’s hard to start. You don’t have to do this alone.

    2. I was abused by a babysitter, and shortly thereafter, a friend of my mom’s asked me if that babysitter had done anything to me; his daughters had come to him with concerns and he was going to the police. (I said no, because I was uncomfortable with the idea of having to talk to the police and I believed I’d done something wrong.) But my own parents never asked, even though when I was an adult, they both told me they knew. To this day, the thing I struggle with most is that my parents let me deal with it on my own because they weren’t willing to have that uncomfortable conversation. You’re doing the right thing to try to find a way to ask those difficult questions.

  4. Tim thank you for telling your story. I only recently learned that my dad had a sexual assault in his childhood. I just felt so sad that he had to go through that. I don’t think I’ve processed how it has interacted or molded his personality but I’m sure his often present anger is a reflection in some way. People really are strange, and the more we can explore and reveal the better we will all be. Thank you, thank you, thank you

  5. Not sure where my comment went but thank you Tim. I only recently learned that my dad had sexual trauma in his childhood. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. My respect for my dad increased by so much, and certainly put his character flaws in a new light. Love and thanks to you both for your courage and honesty.

  6. Wow Tim. Brave – vulnerable – Stunning -can’t imagine the courage it took to share this and having worked deeply with many traumatized people and communities I know the incredible incredible good this will do. What a beautiful conversation and really wonderful resources you’ve shared here.

    We have a lot of mutual friends (Tony Robbins, Hugh Jackman, Marie Forleo, Brendon Burchard yada yada) and I hope our paths cross some day.

    If you haven’t explored EFT Tapping as a complimentary tool in your healing journey it might be worth a deeper look. Having personally worked with victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings (my hometown), veterans with PTSD, and many others I’m constantly stunned how such a simple and sometimes strange looking technique brings people such profound mental, emotional and physical peace.

    Here if I can serve in any way and regardless well well well done here. And incredible service to humanity. Sending you lots of love.

    1. Thank you Tim for stepping into the most difficult arena of your life – talking about the trauma of abuse in your life. Debbie, thank you for doing so as well and for holding sacred space for Tim. You have made such a positive heartfelt impact sending a message that people can heal and do not need to feel ashamed and disconnected.

      I went through childhood abuse as well and now support others to heal. What helped me the most and continues to be a magnificent tool in my praxis is the system of Resonance Repatterning. It identifies the story, the unconscious beliefs created, the stuck emotions in the body and an important key I haven’t seen often in other therapies: it deals with the suppressed image created by the Reptilian brain. And all of these are shifted and healed in the most profound and efficient way.

      The healing ripple effect that this courageous step is creating, even before the print out of your future book is incredible. Deeply grateful. Thank you for YOU.

  7. Thank you for being so courageous Tim. I am only now coming to terms with my own personal story of abuse, and I’ve been on the planet for 39 years. You are an inspiration for those who want to heal.

  8. Bravo Tim, Thank you. 2 things I would like to add. I agree the word recovery for me doesn’t work either. I really am not interested in recovering who I was. I have discovered my word that corresponds to my work. I am in revision. I just wanted to add from studying psychology the reason you survived where others might have not is that the positive factors in your life such as your parents. friends, teachers and socio economic status (even if it was middle class) outweighed the negative factors. Give an extra hug to your parents if they added on some good factors!

    1. I think this is a very valid point. In order to do the work necessary you do need some resources. Sadly mostly financial in order to access the treatment. But in addition you need to have at least someone or something that connected with you and showed love. The more experiences you had of being valued the better chance you have. It’s something that doesn’t get spoken about enough.

      1. I just want to say , at 60 newly diagnosed with ASD all the symptoms of trauma and decades of living at 6/8 alert level . I cannot look  back to my childhood and find anyone who showed me  love or even listened to me.The only resource i had was my intellect.I have finally found a therapist and reading stories like this (thank you Tim) is enormously helpful.For the first time in ten years  I want to live.

  9. Tim, I follow you since 2012, you shaped my life immensely, as for the lives of millions others.
    I read the intro.. oh goodness.. it is hard, and I am so happy your found the path for healing, and wish you endless love and peace! Sending you a warm hug.
    Going to listen it now.

    You are my hero!

    Jenn

  10. What a beautiful conversation Tim. Thank you for having the courage to share it, and Debbie too. There will be a ripple effect from this – other men and women confronting their own abuse, and no doubt for your own healing as well.
    Thank you.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. I learnt so much and this podcast will change my life forever. I my story is exactly the same except I have repeated violent trauma vs sexual trauma but the symptoms are the same. Thank you and good luck on your journey.

  12. Sharing your experience and recovery, both you and Debbie, is going to help heal thousands of people. With every brave heart that we hear of, we strengthen the ranks of those who need hope. Bless.

  13. Thank you. Truly, thank you.

    I have just begun my journey to treat my trauma. Yoga and running have helped me cope to a point, but recently I accepted that I have experienced trauma and would like to treat it with the help of a professional.

    Many resources that you mentioned have been helpful for me. One I didn’t see on the list is Darrell Hammond’s documentary, Cracked Up.

    It helped me to understand some of the patterns in my life, and understand that the unpleasant experiences I had as a kid were, in fact, trauma. It also helped me understand that I can treat my trauma!

    So that’s what I’m doing. My first appointment with my trauma informed therapist is on Wednesday.

  14. As i child therapist who specialises in working with traumatised adolescents i can not thank you enough for speaking out about this topic. The first reaction to trauma is always ignorance – for the victim, but also for society. We can make a difference by telling our stories and this is what you did. This is important and there is a lot of work to do. Thank you for starting a conversation!

  15. Massive hugs to you both. Thank you for sharing so that others may have the courage to speak up and heal.

    Landmark Education’s (now Landmark Worldwide) Curriculum for Living is what finally helped me recover after 15 years of weekly therapy made no difference in my anxiety and nightmares.

    Take care, Tim.

    1. Landmark’s courses are based in ontological phenomenology which is a fancy way of saying inquiring into being from the first person subjective.

      The Forum is a created-from-scratch methodology for learning/practicing ontological phenomenology. There’s a book containing a transcript of the Forum led back in 89 by its creator Werner Erhard called “Speaking Being.” This is the book that really brought to light the Forum’s connection to Heidegger.

      Despite the awkward name, ontological phenomenology is a field that has huge potential in terms of impacting the well being of well people. I anticipate other methodologies beyond Landmark’s gaining wider traction so it becomes more of a defined field.

  16. Thank you Tim so much for telling the world about your trauma. It will help parents to be more vigilant and therefore protects more children from trauma.
    It is rarely spoken about that other children/teenagers/young adults can also be the source of trauma for children. The “usual” persona conjured up in abuse prevention material is an adult male. We, as parents, also have the obligation to talk to our own children about the importance to respect physical boundaries no matter the age.
    Thank you for your courage in going through such an intense and life changing interview.

  17. Since I started listening/reading your content in college, you’ve changed my life for the better in so many ways.
    Thank you for sharing this Tim, you’re really helping people.
    Love you buddy, take care.

  18. Thank you Tim for sharing your story. Trauma is a very common topic which is ignored by society and even people working in the medical or therapeutical field. Speaking out is hard, but important for inducing change – on personal, but also on societal level. Thank you for being that change.

    In 2019 i stopped recommending books to people who didn’t ask for it. This is the first time i break this rule because it is too important. For everybody who wants to dig very deep into trauma and dissociation, check out “The Trinity of Trauma. Ignorance, Fragility and Control” by Ellert Nijenhuis. Definitly not an easy read with over 1000 pages spread over two books, the author who works with traumatized and dissociative patients since the 80s connects trauma, dissociation, the body, our consciousness, the brain on a neurological, therapeutical and philosophical level. It is truly mindblowing and changed my perspective on trauma forever. Working with the concepts of this books has had a tremendous positive effect on my patients and Mr. Nijenhuis is a true pioneer of trauma therapy.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this Tim. I cant imagine how difficult this has been for you. As someone whos life you have changed through your podcasts, I am so sure that this has changed the lives of those who have experienced similar circumstances. Thank you for always being an inspiration in all ways and for using everything that life has thrown you in a positive way – it affects the world more than you will ever know.

  20. You are brave and strong to put this content out there. As a victim of physical and emotional abuse as a child, I can relate to the PTSD-like trauma and anger issues I have had to work to overcome over the years. For me, the abuse broke my connection to humanity. I have not tried the psychedelics, but doing HRV work has been a huge help.

  21. Further resources:
    When abused as a child a lot of us come to the conclusion that we are somehow bad or wrong. The book that turned this around for me:

    Made For Goodness by Archbishop Desmond Tutu*

    (Note: He is an archbishop and talks about God and scripture a lot. As an atheist, I still found immense value in this book

    Brian F Martin also did some really good work. He created an organisation to help people who grew up with abuse, wrote a book (was a useful step in the process and gave talks.
    Link to his book (I am not affiliated with CDV in any way. I needed help, that book helped. that is all):
    https://cdv.org/tools-and-resources/invincible/
    And one of his talks (42min):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rMLMcFU_2s

    * This man is one of my heros. I don’t know how you go through a lifetime of apartheid and come out the other end talking about forgiveness. Tim, you often ask top performers who they think of when they hear the word successful. Well, Desmond Tutu.

    And I know you’re interested in courage and overcoming fear. Well, ADT once walked into the middle of a mob and stopped them from necklacing a man they suspected of being an informant. That’s a whole nother level of courage.

  22. Thank you Debbie, thank you Tim for voulnerability and sharing your stories and journeys – this was both depressing, hopeful and powerful – as you say, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. May you find peace and may the light only grow in your lives 🙏 love from germany

  23. Dear Tim and Debbie,

    Thanks for the great service you and Debbie make, it needs a lot of courage to go public, but you help enormously everyone who has suffered the same trauma.

    Big hug from Switzerland,

    Viktor

    Ps: My wife has experienced the same and she also went public with writing her biography. She has developed the MAT trauma release techniques she is teaching to practitioners in workshops around the globe and in 6 books. Her system is unique in that it effectively releases trauma in 1-2 sessions without reliving the trauma. I highly recommend that you reach out to her if this interest you: Evette Rose

  24. Hi Tim & Debbie,
    If you haven’t already listened to it, Silent Waves is one of the most prolific and deeply moving accounts of child sexual abuse and trauma. You can find Silent Waves thru the Casefile Podcast. I would also like to mention that California just passed a law that the sexual abuse of a child is reduced to a misdemeanor. Since I study sexual crimes of children I have been following the push to “normalize child adult relationships”. If you won’t to go down the rabbit hole which is where I live most days, I recommend looking into to PIE and NAMBLA…

    1. As a casual cultural observer, the the normalization of child adult relationships is a disturbing trend I have also noticed. Thank you for your work, in whatever capacity you serve to fight that injustice.

  25. Thank you, Debbie and Tim, for sharing so openly, what so many of us have experienced so deeply. This discussion will change the world, and most importantly survivors of trauma, more than you can possibly imagine. As a survivor of intense childhood trauma, I echo your suggestions on reconnecting with and embracing the trauma, instead of pushing it down and locking it up. 100% on the books, therapists, drugs, and other tools you both describe. I believe the most important resource we need is courage, to confront our past. Gotta go…going to relisten to this episode.

  26. Dear Tim,

    I have been following your work since the 4 hour work week, and have listened to so many of your podcast episodes that in some ways I regard you as a friend already. This episode was brutal, and I almost cried when I heard you describing what happened to you. I’m so sorry. No one should have to go through what happened to you. I have a 2 year old son now and I can’t even begin to imagine what something like that would do to someone.

    I’m deeply thankful for your work and the sharing of your journey. There are so many ways in which you have been of great help to me. I can assure that you you helped to improve at least one person’s life with your courage to keep on going. I wish I was half as brave as you.

    Love you, man.

    Paulo

  27. I’m so thankful for your courage and vulnerability Tim. Sharing your struggles with nothing to gain other than to help others. A life in service of others. No higher calling.

  28. Thank you for sharing this extremely painful and personal experience Tim…you’re a brave man for doing so and you are going to help countless others. May you stay brave and strong on the rest of this journey….Respect young man!!

  29. Thank you so much Tim, this was one of the most generous, compassionate and bravest things you’ve ever done. And I am so sorry this happened to you.

  30. Brave, brave, brave, brave man!
    Thanks for everything you have done in terms of the content you have put forward that has helped me and countless others to become better versions of our selves.
    Wishing you pure joy and happiness only.

  31. Thank you Tim for sharing this. As someone from a country where its not normal to talk about mental health resources like these help us a lot. I read a reddit post once to discover that I had anxiety disorder and that it wasn’t my fault not being able to be as productive as others.

    The relatability of this podcast hit home whether it being not having childhood memories or having my heart rate go up. I feel so much normal now. Still so much to discover. The resource list is a bliss for me. Thank you to you both. Keep sharing, not everyone has access to doctors and treatments but we have you.

  32. Thank you very so much for your courage Tim, this will be of enormous use to so many people.

    I would add to the list of resources the work of
    Richard Miller on Yoga Nidra;

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/iRest-Program-Healing-PTSD-Proven-Effective/dp/1626250243

    There is some amount of research in veteran’s and others.

    I would also add Richard Grannons YouTube channel on CTPSD;

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCU9xNc-P8GWAdafmAcNVi6g

    Also Blindboy Boatmens podcast;

    https://play.acast.com/s/blindboy/mymentalhealthphilosophysofar

    Both though do love a swear word or three so heads up in advance.

    I wish you and anyone else on their journey all the best.

  33. I just want to say thank you!!. Words do not suffice in oder to express what it meant to me to listen to your Story in this week in which I – as a trauma survivor as well – have been retraumatized and just feel I cannot cope anymore. Yesterday I thought that nobody could imagine the intensity of my suffering but listening to your podcast today I realize how wrong I am.
    But most important of all I want to tell you that I am so sorry that this happens to you. So sorry! I am looking at my niece who is 4 and cannot believe that someone could do something like this. I deeply deeply feel with you! And thank you again you are helping so many people with being so open about this. This is real strength!
    All the best to you!

  34. Tim and Debbie, thank you SO much for sharing. One thing that I wish you would have addressed is contacting law enforcement in order to prevent other sexual assaults by the same perpetrators. I love when victims share their healing journey, but these monsters don’t belong in society where they can hurt others. Have you considered that? Thank you

  35. I thought to myself after listening: How many lives will this one man save?

    &

    Quote I’m pondering:

    “Whoever said that life is suffering,
    I think they had their finger on the pulse of joy.
    Ain’t the power of transcendence
    The greatest one we can employ.”
    – Ani DiFranco

    Transcend.

    With Metta,
    Christina

    1. This. Yes, what Tim has done is brave, but how many children or adults he will help has incredible value. So selfless when you think about what it must mean to him to reveal this to everyone.

  36. Tim, thanks for sharing your story and your vulnerability. It is deeply appreciated. I have followed you since I discovered the 4-Hour Work Week at a book store in SF in 2007 and have learned so much from your books and podcasts over the years. Some have been life changing. Thanks for this and for your selfless giving. Also, thanks to Debbie for sharing her story.

  37. Aloha Tim: First I want to say that I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through and reiterate that it never ever ever should have happened. Second I want to thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. What incredible courage you’ve shown us all. Massive gratitude to Debbie too.

    I hope you realize that your courage is going to heal far and wide. Your courage will help powerfully release the unfortunate stigma around this topic. You’re going to have the most incredible healing impact and that ripple effect will be far and wide and will last for a very long time.

    The Wounded Healer is a book written by Henri Nouwen. He says that many of us that are harmed in our childhood can, with grace and healing, become just that. And that is you now Tim. I’d like to also strongly recommend to you and or your readers that are working their way through their own pain, the book, Trauma & Recover by Judith Herman. It is hard (painful) book to read, but as one of my teachers Raphael Cushnir advises, go as fast as the slowest part of you can go. This quote at the start says it all: “The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

    I read Waking the Tiger too and I am so glad you speak to it. I read it 12 years ago and it changed my life. I reached out to Dr. Peter Levin and worked with his team but in addition I’d also like to strongly recommend Raphael Cushnir’s work and books, his book, The One Thing Holding You Back is one of many. He taught me to how practice Emotional Connection which is his own version of somatic work, and this practice continues to serve me to this day. Simple but not easy.

    I’m also glad you spoke of NVC (NonViolent Communication) that work too has changed my life, specifically learning how to practice self empathy. I think learning how to practice that with myself has enriched and nourished me in ways that have facilitated the empathy I’m able to have for others now. But it all begins with our being able to extend it to ourselves and the child within our hearts.

  38. I am so saddened to hear this Tim. This should never have happened to you. Thank you so much for sharing and for everything you do. Take good care.

  39. It is one thing to listen to interesting podcast interviews. It’s another to listen to someone share their soul.

    I love what you’ve done here and the road you’ve taken.

    You may have inspired millions with your books and business advice, but it all pales in comparison to sharing your trauma and deepest wounds with honesty and clarity.

    It is your greatest work thus far.

    I’m glad you have the support you need around you.

    Thank you for your bravery.

  40. Hi Tim! I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. This episode moved me a lot. Thank you so much for sharing your story with such honesty. I’m glad to know you had a support network you could rely on and Debbie was absolutely wonderful during the whole conversation. Sending you a strong hug and lots of love.

  41. Hey Tim,
    A grandfather on one side of my family, and an uncle on the other, were child molesters. Purely by God’s grace they weren’t interested in boys. But I grew up surrounded by family and friends who had been abused by them. That messed me up in various ways that’s I’ve been slowly working through.

    I’ve found out over the years that so many of my friends have their own abuse stories. I don’t know if 1-in-3 holds up, but anecdotally it’s far, far too many.

    I’m really glad to hear that you’re in a better place. I noticed a pretty drastic change in you a few years back, I’m guessing around the time you started dealing with the trauma. To be honest, I’d stopped listening to you because the “Tim conquers the world” attitude had worn thin. For some reason I decided to dip back in and found you far more self aware and interesting, and I’ve been back on the bandwagon ever since.

    I’m not sure what my point is. Maybe it’s just to say thanks; you’re making the world a better place. And, genuinely, I wish you the best.

    Take care,

    Ben

  42. Oh Tim, I am so excited for this episode. I knew for a while you were going to address this but all the while, the guests you have welcomed, who shared about their own path, your pledge to help MAPS have helped so much already. What is more important today is that by sharing, you are modelling an important part of recovery for others, vulnerability and advocacy. In my own recovery your podcast has opened many doors to healing modalities and knowledge about self discovery and healing. It is so important to have public people talk about this, and developmental trauma is also very different than adult trauma as it changes you before you can even be a full person. Thanks for everything you have done.

  43. Thank you for sharing your story. I have PTSD from spousal abuse and then the overdose of my youngest, who I tried to breath life back into.
    I have a masters in behavior and have worked with many abused and just tormented souls for years, in various settings in Chicago.
    EMDR helped me and many others cut through so much pain in half the time it took to talk It all out. I highly suggest EMDR for trauma, anxiety and depression. All the best to your healing .

  44. What a roller coaster of an episode, and a wealth of info here on the blog as well. Thank you for all the time and energy you’ve put into this resource Tim.

  45. Tim – Thank you for having the courage to share your story with me, and your journey to healing. I’ve been on a similar path this past year, and have found many of the resources you listed incredibly healing. Childhood sexual abuse is an isolating and traumatic experience, and knowing there are others on path with me feels less lonely.

    Other readers, in addition to the wealth of resources on this site, I found the Palouse Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) free online course to be one of my greatest tools towards healing. Most of the authors Tim lists is integrated in it with articles, videos, and sound clips.

    Holding you and everyone here in loving kindness.

  46. Tim – this is the podcast I have been waiting for.

    I recovered some memories of abuse last fall and have been sifting through them since then – hearing your story (and Debbie’s) helped me to better understand myself.

    Especially the dissociative behaviors, binary in/out reactions to conflict, and massive flight/hyper vigilance all of which have been a huge patterns for me throughout my life.

    I never understood why I was the way I was, and just kept white knuckling my way through.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing so bravely and thoroughly – I plan on listening again tonight and taking notes, and will be recommending it to others wholeheartedly.

    Bless you both, and thank you again.

  47. Thank you both for sharing your truths. I echo Jack – that this should not have happened – and I am sorry. But, since it has, and it is part of your journey, there are ways we can all teach others how to live beyond. How to find our innocence and live a brighter life than we thought possible.

    You being you, will help others accept the unacceptable.

    There is a definition of forgiveness that I keep – “Believing that the past could be no different” by Martha Beck. Her book, “Leaving the Saints” is another great memoir – experiencing sexual abuse and finding self empowerment beyond.

    Another Author that has helped me is Alice Miller – The Body Never Lies

    Thanks for being you and sharing your life in order to help others.

  48. Tim, your brave sharing in this episode is going to help thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people who are living with trauma. I have worked with many people who have had childhood trauma, much of which wasn’t remembered until they were feeling safe enough to allow the old pain to surface.

    My own abuse experience in childhood was brief and I was able to put a stop to it, but I didn’t even start to heal from it until I was in my early 20s. If only I would have had something like this back then… But that’s why we do what we do, to help those who are in need and ready to do the deep healing work.

    I haven’t finished the episode, but the wealth of resources you have shared are profound, and I’m going to use this page as a resource for many clients in the future.

    Much Love,
    Cameron

  49. Abused physically and mentally as a child for many years. From age 4-5 to about 18. From sexual abuse from a father and mental cruelty and physical abuse from a mother. I watched them abuse my brothers, and many times I was taped over the mouth and locked in closets for hours, beaten with the buckle from a belt, wooden spoons and tree branches. I was called stupid and dummy most of the time for my name and made to do the house work, cleaning and laundry for everyone else. I am now 54. I hate laundry, I hate cleaning house, I hate cooking. I dont want to do any of it, not even for me. I want those things a clean house laundry and food, but I sink into deep depression every time I try to do things. Therapy? heh the problem is after failed attempts at any kind of therapy, mostly to inept DR.s (You really do need a very good one that specializes in this) I found I was better off on my own dealing with it my way. This has turned me into a non empathetic person, especially when you cant even trust your own family members, who do you trust…There are many traits I have now that I can definitely link back to the abuse, I specifically did not have children to break the cycle. I recognized in me at a very young age, that I can or could be cruel to children and why? More than likely I was jealous of their innocence, because mine was taken from me. Unfortunately I am a very logical and smart person so therapy was not and is not for me because I can tell you exactly what is wrong with me, how to fix it, but there has to be a seed to actually motivate one to try and over come. This seed I lack and am afraid no one else can plant in me but myself. All I can say and encourage is to continue to fight for the good in yourself, continue to give it a voice and remember to laugh at yourself often. People make mistakes, even offenders, It is not our fault, wrong place wrong family wrong time. Look for the light in everything surrounding you and realize no co dependencies is an answer. Look it in the face for what it is an realize, better me than someone else who would have killed themselves. Thanks to me there are people out there that I was able to rescue and save in one form or another and If I had killed myself or given into the dark side, THOSE people would not be here. God-bless, stay safe and protect yours. Thanks Tim.

  50. As an adult child of alcoholics and addicts, two great resources for me have been the entire ACA (Adult Children Of Alcoholics) 12 step process and the book ‘On The Family’ by John Bradshaw, which discusses dysfunctional families and their effects.

    1. I was hoping ACA would be brought up and am surprised that yours is the only mention. I, too, am a grateful member of this life-changing, healing program and wish more people knew about it. My only regret is that I didn’t know about it 20 years ago! Of course, I recognize that we’re ready when we’re ready. Thanks, Delilah. <3

  51. I was molested numerous times as a child in addition to other forms of sexual and emotional/ physical abuse… today I have (thankfully) developed into a profoundly successful man, father and person… of course through tons of therapy and healing… now, it wasn’t the only cause(s) of trauma in my life however, I long after (years later) realized it was more shape-forming than I gave it credit.
    This episode displays tremendous courage, selflessness and tenure from Tim and Debbie…
    Tim, you have been a great mentor to me for years now, I am grateful (so grateful for you and your efforts) – I will be sending you a gift soon… I’ll need to figure out where and how!
    With love,
    Namaste

    Rob

  52. Deepest thanks for sharing your healing journey, Tim. I hope your story will weaken the part of the guy code that commands us to always eat our pain. A couple other resources: Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE), by David Berceli — weird but effective way to release trauma stored in body tissue. You won’t want anyone to see you doing it, but it’s short and simple, and doesn’t require insight or talk therapy. The book, When the Body Says No, by Gabor Mate — I know you and Debbie mentioned Gabor in your interview, but this is an important read. Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal Theory will be talked about a lot in the coming years, though I’d skip the text and listen to him explain it on a podcast. Lastly, bodyworkers like Jill Miller have great tools and techniques for physically releasing stored trauma.

  53. I am grateful to you and Debbie for so openly, courageously and lovingly sharing your stories with us. You have made a difference to so many. You are truly living your purpose.

  54. Thank you Tim, this is obviously so difficult for you but there will no doubt be so many people helped because of you sharing your story.

    Not sure if it was mentioned in resources, but I’m finding Pete Walker work on cPTSD to be incredibly helpful and especially his new book about it.

  55. Thanks Tim for doing this! You have influenced my life big time and now at 41 I’m also working through my past… This podcast has touched my soul and I’m sure it will help many many people. People with mental illness have been suffering in silence for so long. You are truly helping to change the culture.

  56. Ham on Rye by Bukowski is also a very honest account of physical abuse and emotional distance from parents. It explores the development from that neglect to alcoholism and the various coping mechanisms used in the way.

  57. Thanks for putting this episode out. It’s perfect timing for me as well. I’m in the process of being hired as a behavioral coach for children dealing with trauma. Your podcast episode will be the perfect resource for the organization I’ll be working for.

  58. Thank you, Tim and Debbie, for this brave conversation. Most importantly, for the reminder that there’s a way through it for those of us on this journey.

  59. Thank you, Tim and Debbie, for this episode. I really appreciate you both being so open in order to help others. I haven’t experienced sexual trauma in this life, but I’m dealing with another type of trauma that’s recently resurfaced since the start of the pandemic. I didn’t even know it was still floating around in my brain. Anyway, what I got from this podcast was to get treatment, no matter how difficult it is. I have a habit of devaluing my pain and running an inner dialog that says something like “other people have it worse” or “you’re just making a big deal.” Tim, listening to you made me feel like I should stop this evil tape and get the help I need even if I feel like I don’t deserve it. Much love to you both!

  60. Thank you, Tim and Debbie.

    What a brave and beautiful offering to the world to share your stories. I am filled with awe, gratitude, and hope. Healing is possible for us all—thank you for that reminder.

    Much love,
    Dominique

  61. I started with your audible book Tools of Titans last week and then bought your book 4 Hour Work Week two days later. I find you Tim to be an amazing good kind man on so many levels. Today I got your email with this open vulnerable Podcast and as soon as I read your title I felt a connection. My sexual trauma has been such a burden to me, as a result of the deplorable unspeakable behavior my parents did unto me. I’m proud to say that almost 12 years ago I stopped the cycle of abuse by confronting my parents and tearing them out of my life. It’s been super difficult since I no longer have a family, but I am now honest, and true to myself. I have felt alone, albeit supported by the friends I have cultivated, and there is a great deal of support feeling there are others, like you, who have sat in silence and suffered. I feel less alone, safe and not so different. So thank you Tim for being so strong, so open, so vulnerable and so free to be you. I’m so grateful that I have been freed to be me.

  62. Thank you for sharing this, Tim. This will be enormously helpful for so many people. Personally, I’ve been helped by the Feldenkrais method and Steve Hoskinson’s Organic Intelligence method. Thanks to them, I’m in a much much better place now. All the best for the future.

  63. Dear Tim, thank you for this honesty and for the courage to speak up. I would so much like to share such an important resource not mentioned here as it operates from a totally different paradigm, i.e. the paradigm of differentiation (versus attachment – as Imago for example does). Please check out Dr David Schnarch and his book Brain Talk. I myself as a private person and a professional counselor was able to overcome mentally abusive backgrounds and a mentally abusive marriage. I was blind to what was going on as this was my „normal“. I wanted to raise my children differently – but I just was not able to apply all the well meant educational advices. I now know that this was due to my blind spots, to my trauma, my neurobiological problem, as David Schnarch would frame it. Learning to see what was really going on and to bear and to deal with the difficult and painful truth of who the people who claimed to love me really are, and becoming visible myself, it became a mission to me to reach out to other parents to explain to them, why they are stuck and why educational self-help books tend to make things worse – as you feel even more guilty and stupid after reading them. So two year ago together with a colleague of mine I wrote a book for those parents, who did not want to feel that anymore and who wanted to confront themselves with their story and their trauma. „Mama, nicht schreien!“ („Do not shout, mom!“) became a bestseller in the German speaking world and has been translated into eight languages so far. So I also recommended it here even though it has not been translated into English – yet. I really hope to get people interested in Dr Schnarch´s work here who says two things: „There is always another way“ – and: „When you wake up, au wake up in a nightmare.“ But: When going through hell, keep on going (was it Churchill who said that?) And this is the beginning of a new, brighter, self-empowered reality. I want to be living truth. All my best wishes from Vienna, Austria!

  64. Wow – thanks so much to both of you for sharing. What a rollercoaster. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been to talk about this & confront this chapter of your past in public. You are doing an incredible selfless service…it will provide help and give strength to so many.

    I have been following you, Tim, since over 12 years and to be honest, I always suspected something like that. You are such an over-achiever that I was sure all this energy must have come from somewhere hidden inside. For many years you kept extremely busy to run away from something. That may work for ‘a while’ – but in the long run facing your deepest inner fears and coming to terms with them is the only path to true happiness and recovery. I have also looked the ‘lion in the eye’, not because of an abuse, but I can very much relate.

    Thank you for everything you do. I have the utmost respect. I hope to run into you some day.
    Warm hugs & love to both of you.
    .

  65. Thank you so much for sharing this Tim. I can’t even imagine how tough it is to go through this, but the courage you’re showing by choosing to share this is not only bravery in itself, but inspiring that you chose to put this out there with the possibility of a ripple effect as you mentioned to Debbie about her conversation with you in the earlier podcast. You’re a light in this world Tim. I’m glad that I got to receive this message you shared.

  66. Thank you Tim and Debbie for your vulnerability and courage. I am sorry this happened to you both. This conversation has helped me to connect the dots from my own violent childhood to the feelings of self loathing I experience daily. Until now I had never linked the two. I look forward to starting my own healing journey. You have helped me and the world with your work. Kia kaha. Aroha nui.

  67. Hi Tim, thanks for doing this podcast. When I heard you say “what are you unwilling to feel?”, I was completely shaken. Thank you for saying “you’re never alone”, and “there’s light”. I’m also on the path to my healing. Thanks very much for telling your truth. You’ve helped me if not millions of people by sharing.

  68. Thank you for the podcast on such a difficult topic. I would highly recommend Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and especially Matrix Reimprinting to much more quickly and effectively deal with this trauma. Cognitive takes way too long IMHO.

  69. Tim this has taken enormous courage well done. Whilst I have yet to listen to the episode, as someone who works as a mental health practitioner I know how hard this would have been for you. I see first hand the effects of trauma daily and this resource is no doubt needed for many of your listeners.

    Looking at your resource list you are certainly sharing some of the best resources available for people not only to survive trauma but to begin to thrive. I would add that Dr Eric Gentry has one of the best courses available online on trauma and it is on udemy. Dr David Burns work is also very interesting from a CBT perspective with his feeling good podcast.

    Great work Tim this could save lives. I will be sharing with those who I think will benefit.

    1. I get your Friday newsletter, but have never listened to any podcasts. I will definitely listen to this one. I grew up in a home with abuse and as a teacher I have had many students affected by abuse. It is so important for people to know that they are not alone and they can talk about this when they are ready. Thank you!

    2. When I saw your email and topic I jumped right to it. Many wonderful familiar titles, names, and concepts in the resource list. So glad you are sharing this with the wider world. I don’t think of myself as a victim, survivor, or in recovery. As I do the work necessary to be more present in my life, to stay online instead of collapse, which I think I will do the rest of my life, I know I am becoming the person I was when I began, before the trauma.

  70. Thanks so much for sharing your story! What a big step! What helped me most in my life and how I overcame my suffering after many, many years with antidepressants at the age of 57, I share in my podcast LIVING WITHOUT FEAR. I’m grateful if I can help others to overcome fear and anxiety! Thanks for sharing! Esther Buerki.