At 17, I was molested for almost a year by my voice teacher, then at 18, mystomach literally exploded due to an unforeseen blood clot, I was in a coma for months, and almost died. Now, I’m an artist, actress, author, playwright, “survivor-to-thriver”, newlywed, and lover of life’s beautiful detours. I’ve been through my own ordeal of sexual abuse, 27 surgeries, organ failure, six years unable to eat or drink and, of course, the PTSD that comes from ten years of trauma. (See a full bio here.)
I fell into a coma only a week after breaking silence of my abuse, so when I awoke 6 months later, I was very…confused to say the least! It has been a long road to healing, but my “beautiful detour” has inspired me to provide college students with an empowered approach to mental health.
When I realized that many students were afraid to reach out for proper help on campus or, worse, weren’t even aware of the mental health resourcesavailable, I was inspired to develop a keynote that combines Broadway theatre with sexual assault awareness and mental health advocacy, providing hope, help, and saving lives.
The Power of Our Stories
Until I was able to tell my story, at first for myself, and ultimately, to others, I was not able to fully heal.
The day I reached out, I found connection, acceptance, forgiveness, and my self. And I love who I found.
In Gutless & Grateful, participants will:
• Learn how to increase awareness of sexual assault on campus
• Dispel rape myths
• Understand bystander prevention
• Cultivate Self-Love
• Learn how to use their voice and share their story
• Create a support system
• Learn about a supportive attitude and how to help a friend
• Become aware of campus resources
• Develop coping skills
• Build leadership skills
• Begin to heal from numbness
Talk about it, express it, reach out in any way you can. And know you are not alone.
More information at this link:
Awareness without judgment: How do we help to empower survivors with their own story?
Addressing the problem: For many survivors, the complex feelings of trauma, shame and powerlessness that accompany an assault can be followed by silence.
What is PTSD? Where can PTSD come from?
Where does shame come from?
Identify responses to sexual trauma: Flight, Freeze, or Fight
Identify debilitating impacts of trauma on humans – why we develop PTSD, and our response to trauma vs. a wild animal’s response to trauma: We survivors relive their abuse. How do we break the cycle?
What are the psychological effects of trauma? Symptoms of PTSD?
How does stigma, fear and shame affect a survivor?
Define terms: Hypervigilance, Disassociation, Avoidance, Intrusive Memories, Flashbacks
How can you identify these in a survivor?
What are tools, terms and processes to address these symptoms?
Part 2: Educational session/speech: Participants will learn how to address PTSD after trauma through identifying coping skills, fostering compassionate approach to emotional well-being, developing a resiliency toolbox, tools for cultivating hope and building a supportive community
Working on a community-level: Identify tools for the community to come forward as survivors, as well as visible allies and leaders
What is the power that comes from speaking out? How do we help facilitate a dialogue?
How do we help survivors heal from numbness?
Cultivating Pride in Survivors: Freeze is Self-Defense
Re-introducing the five “superhero senses” and helping individuals "feel their bodies."
How we help integrate the past to move forward: Re-membering the pieces lives, re-constructing identities
Part 3: Q & A: Participants will learn how to provide the needed support for survivors by empowering them with knowledge: dispel rape myths, understand Title IX, address bystander prevention
A plan for guiding survivors through prompts to find comfort in using their voice, and become empowered by their own stories as well as affected by the stories of others.
How do we teach survivors how form small networks of support and seek out available resources, creating more informed and de-stigmatized world?
Help survivors develop new skills related to consent, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention.
Forming our intention as facilitators: to plant the seed for the individual feeling overwhelmed by their condition, as well as to create awareness for supporters, to start viewing it as a story they can share, connect with, and find healing in the openness and honesty of connection and shared "detours" in life.
The snowball effect How we can create activism and advocacy – helping survivors find their voice and strengthen the voices of others.
I am a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, health advocate, member of RAINN Speaker Bureau, global TEDx speaker, actress and playwright. Knowing how difficult it was for me to speak of my own abuse (especially after waking up from a coma months later), I devised a program that combines Broadway theatre with sexual assault awareness and mental health advocacy, in order to empower survivors of assault and to create a more compassionate, open community. I deliver this keynote to colleges and universities, to promote mental health, provide hope, help, and save lives. I have lead my workshop for three years in this format:
Part 1) A 70-minute one-woman autobiographical musical – Gutless & Grateful – a comedic yet poignant story on how I survived 27 stomach surgeries, organ failure and sexual abuse. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible for students to overcome physical and mental health obstacles.
Part 2) An educational session/speech where I discuss an empowered approach to mental health, how to develop a resiliency toolbox, how to cultivate hope, and how to thrive in college with a physical or mental health condition.
Part 3) A Q&A session to introduce students to staff counselors and wellness resources on campus. The program can also be followed by a more intimate, interactive workshop which allows students to connect and process the material through creative expression.
I bring an extremely strong work ethic and passion for what I do. My ideas are fueled with creativity and a strong desire to make an impact. I have strong organizational skills, plenty of life experience, and a clear focus on what I’d like to accomplish. I love collaboration and spreading valuable ideas. Most of all, I want to inspire, inform and engage my community.
Selected Articles on Sexual Assault and PTSD
Bridging the Gap: How I Used My Own Detour to Help College Students (Medium): http://bit.ly/2d3ZI9k
How Students Can Have The Biggest Role In Improving Mental Health (Uloop): http://bit.ly/2dmv2Cw
Waking the Tiger: How Do We Heal Once the Trauma is Over?: https://www.amyoes.com/2015/12/28/waking-the-tiger/
“Prevention is Possible” for Sexual Assault Awareness Month”: https://www.amyoes.com/2016/04/04/saam/
Why I Didn’t Testify Against the Man Who Abused Me Before My Coma: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/why-i-didnt-testify-against-the-man-who-abused-me-before-my-coma_b_9612506.html
Expression Sets You Free: How Playwriting Broke My Silence on Sexual Abuse & Surgeries (Huffington Post): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/expression-sets-you-free-_b_9998816.html
Discovering “The Courage To Heal” (Original Monologue) (The Writing Life): https://www.amyoes.com/2016/03/08/podcast-courage-heal/
PTSD: The Illness I Couldn’t See (Huffington Post): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/ptsd-the-illness-i-couldnt-see_b_8216634.html
What to Say (and Not to Say) to a Survivor of Sexual Assault (Huffington Post): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/healing-through-our-voice_b_9541086.html
Five Ways Everyone Can Participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (Huffington Post): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/five-ways-everyone-can-pa_b_9396870.html
To the man who molested me when I turned 17 (Role Reboot): http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2015-12-to-the-man-who-molested-me-when-i-turned-17/
Music Therapy and Sexual Abuse: https://www.amyoes.com/2015/08/27/music-therapy-and-sexual-abuse-healing-with-the-voice/
From Frozen To Free (Dropping Keys): https://www.amyoes.com/2015/06/22/from-frozen-to-free-recovering-from-sexual-abuse/
Healing From Numbness (Sammiches & Psych Meds, Manifest-Station): https://www.amyoes.com/2015/08/09/healing-from-numbess-a-sexual-assault-piece/
It’s Okay to Freeze: Healing from Sexual Assault (Huffington Post): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher/its-okay-to-freeze-healin_b_8777146.html
Are PTSD Survivors Weak? (Medium): https://medium.com/tedx-experience/the-secret-strength-of-a-ptsd-survivor-what-i-didnt-share-in-my-tedx-talk-3bf3b92f678d#.j1lm3fr73
Dealing with Depression: What I Realized After Trying to Run Away From My Life (Thought Catalog): http://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-oestreicher/2016/08/what-i-realized-after-trying-and-failing-to-run-away-from-my-life/
Art Therapy in Addiction Recovery (Psych Central): http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/08/09/art-therapy-in-addiction-recovery/
Why I’d Like to See an Accessibility Club on Every Campus (The Mighty): https://themighty.com/2016/04/able-club-at-fulton-montgomery-community-college-empowers-students-with-disabilities/
#MyNameOurVoice: Think Sexual Assault’s More Than a Talking Point: https://amyoes.com/2016/10/20/mynameourvoice/
My Speaking Information including videos, references, topics and media: https://www.amyoes.com/press-kit/
A comprehensive guide to my presentations: www.amyoes.com/ptsd
My Huffington Post Column: huffingtonpost.com/amy-oestreicher
Professional References - https://amyoes.com/references/
My upcoming book: https://www.amyoes.com/book
Badges and Publications: https://www.amyoes.com/publications/
Interviews, features and podcasts: www.amyoes.com/media
Business and leadership: https://amyoes.com/business-leadership/
Medium Blog: https://medium.com/@amyoes
TEDx Talk: www.amyoes.com/tedx
Select Business articles:
Writing portfolio: https://www.amyoes.com/writing-portfolio/
The one-woman musical about my life: https://www.amyoes.com/gutless/
My writing for The Mighty: http://themighty.com/author/amy-oestreicher/
Speaking Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GK4kpFIob8
Speaking and Performance Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvfl9x_w0bA
TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x5KtBAW2EI&feature=youtu.be
Various Speaking Engagements: www.amyoes.com/speaking-media
“From Scratch: Passion to Business” - https://vimeo.com/142517024
“It’s Not a Story You Hear Every Day” - https://amyoes.com/2016/05/10/olio-story/
Creating Your Business by Telling Your Authentic Story - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFXBqBoQhLU