Are you ready to truly move beyond a difficult childhood, destructive relationship or experiences with institutional bullying and abuse?

Are You A Survivor Of Emotional Abuse?
Do Life And Healing Feel Overwhelming?

Between processing your experience, managing your relationships, considering cutting contact, coping with triggers and keeping your entire life from blowing up in your face… It’s a lot!

We know, because the SwanWaters team members are all survivors, and we have been through the highs and lows of healing. We have created The Healing Academy to help you navigate your healing journey. We share the skills we learned while coming to terms with our dysfunctional past, and share how we took our own lives from permanent survival mode to life-affirming tranquillity.

We have improved our relationships, built strong bonds of friendship, found careers we love, feel healthier… the transformation that healing has brought to every area of our lives is amazing!

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“I absolutely love this. As I am reading over it, I keep having aha moments, which of course means that it’s spot on! I love the positivity and the practical tools when life gets complicated.”

Crystal – Georgia, USA

Let’s Take The Overwhelm Out Of Your Journey!

They say we repeat what we do not heal, and they are right. If we keep following the same patterns, having the same thoughts, we will end up in different versions of the same situation. Doing the work required to move beyond toxic, traumatic and abusive relationships is hard. But doing this work will prevent you from repeating the same patterns over and over again.

In The Healing Academy, we talk about all the aspects of your healing and give you practical tools and handholds to deal with everything that’s coming at you just now. From no contact to personal boundaries and from co-parenting to handling grief. We’ve been through it, and we want to help you navigate things more easily.

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Curious What We’ll Be Teaching You?

The Healing Academy is made up out of 4 sections, each containing a number of modules. We have included articles, practical examples, podcasts, video resources and downloadable workbooks to help you practice your new skills.

Below is an overview of the various modules, call it our prospectus.

You can click on the title of the module to find out what it is about, and what we talk about.

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  • The Healing Mindset

    Healing from abuse really is a journey. At times, it can be hard work, and often brings up a variety of painful emotions: frustration, fear, catharsis, ecstasy, rage, and panic. But it also brings with it the beautiful feelings of release, joy, lightness, connection, and empowerment. As Liz Smith of The Connected Life says, “You can’t let the good in without the bad.” Essentially, to be fully-rounded people, we’ve got to be open to feeling everything. Not just pleasant things. But no matter what you’re feeling just remember that making a commitment to healing from abuse is absolutely worth your while.

    Whoever tells you that abuse ends when the relationship ends is either lying or ignorant. But so is anyone who says that there’s no hope. Healing and recovery after abuse is a long and winding road—it can even feel like a never-ending one. But long-term effort leads to long-term results, which is something I know to be true from my own personal healing journey, and from having the honour of working with other survivors for the last 5 years as the director of SwanWaters.

    Healing myself after experiencing psychological abuse in my Family of Origin—as well as surviving an abusive boss—has shown me that this journey isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. I’d say it’s butterflies, rainbows, spiders, and hurricanes. I get frustrated, I rage at the injustice and the pain of yet another anxiety attack, I despair at finding yet another trigger and weep over yet another newly recovered memory. These instances become less frequent, but they never seem to truly disappear. The pain of abuse has changed us forever. But change can lead to good things if we let it!

    For example, owning my journey and meeting the SwanWaters CEO Wanda Goodman led me to be where I am today. I’m now married to the man I’ve loved for the best part of 15 years, am the proud mama of two fur babies, and am the director of an organization that supports people to heal! Accepting that both bad and good feelings must be a part of this process is a huge part of having The Healing Mindset.

    We mustn’t get bogged down in negativity, but we also need to make sure we’re not buying into some sugar-coated idea of positivity. It’s about being realistic with a healthy dose of optimism. If you believe that you’re forever broken, then chances are that’s what will happen. Yet if you keep reminding yourself that you have what it takes to build a life you love, you’ll be unstoppable!

    The contents of this module about The Healing Mindset are

    • Healing is a Verb
    • Four Big Truths about Healing From Abuse
    • What Is Holding You Back?
    • Positivity Without Repression
    • Stay Positive By Embracing the Negative
    • Define Your Healing Mindset (download)
    • Can Resilience Be Learned? You Betcha! (Bonus)

      Find The Module Here
  • Journaling for Emotional Healing

    One of the skills I’ve found most helpful on my healing path has been journaling. I’ve found it so useful, in fact, that I wrote Finding Your Wings: A Journaling Journey Of Abuse Recovery. In this module for The Healing Academy, I’ll be sharing about why writing truly is medicine for the soul, and how you can make the most of your journal.

    This module includes:

    • Getting Started With Journaling – Tools And Methods
    • Why Aren’t You Journaling? What’s Holding You Back?
    • Emotional Status Check
    • Different Journaling Styles
    • Using Your Journal For Goal And Intention Setting
    • Wacky, Out of the Box, And Creative Journaling
    • Write Your Happiness Journaling Pages (Download)

      Find The Module Here
  • How Self-Care Helps You Heal

    As survivors of abuse, we think that embracing anything that could make us feel better is selfish and wrong. Mostly because our abusers communicated to us—in some way, shape, or form—that we are undeserving of self-care, compassion, kindness, or even having our basic needs met. Whether through words or actions, the toxic and abusive people in our lives have convinced us that we aren’t worth any of these things. So when we do engage in self-care, it feels as if we’re over-indulging. But of course, we’re not! What’s more likely the case is that we’re barely doing the minimum requirement of self-care because of how we were trained to prioritize our abusers while we were in a relationship with them.

    In this space, we are looking at the ins and outs of self-care.  I will be giving you lots of ideas on how to build it into your daily life. This module’s contents include:

    • What Self-Care Is, And What It Isn’t
    • Different Aspects Of Self-Care
    • The Importance Of Self-Care
    • Why Self-Care Isn’t Woo Woo (Video)
    • Self-Care When You Do Not Feel You Can (Podcast)
    • Self-Care When It Seems Unnecessary
    • 30 Tips For Creative Self-care
    • Creating New Self-Care Habits (Download)

      Find The Module Here
  • Healing Tools (Coming Soon)
  • Personal Identity (Coming Soon)

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  • Preparing Your Escape from Abuse (Free To Access)

    Escaping an abusive situation is difficult—if not full-on dangerous. Preparing your escape will make you more likely to get out and stay out. In this module, I’ll share some advice for you to consider as you equip yourself to make the first move; a series of starting points to help you remove yourself from an abusive situation.

    Please always realize that abusers often escalate when their targets are trying to get out. For this part of your journey over-preparing is better than under-preparing!

    There are many charities worldwide that can help you assess your personal situation and give you support. I’ve put some information below to help you find one in your local area.

    UK | US | AUS (there are some more resources here)

    In this module, we will look at the following topics
    • Identifying Abuse
    • Document, Document, Document
    • Beginning to Create Boundaries
    • What to Consider Before You Make Your Move
    • What to Say, and to Whom
    • Be Prepared to Lose Some People
    • Get Some Legal Advice
    • Finding the Money to Leave
    • The Abuse Will Not Stop When You Leave
    • Self-Care is Essential!
    • Most Importantly: ASK FOR HELP!
    • Why Leaving is So Hard

      Access The Module Here
  • Understanding Abuse

    Abusers, whatever their relationship to you, use various methods of control and manipulation. Understanding these tactics of abuse may help you better understand what’s happened in the past, what may be happening now, how to set boundaries, and eventually heal from the abuse you’ve been through.

    Did you know that, even when they’re on opposite sides of the planet, all abusers use the same weapons to hurt their targets—the only difference being the way they wield those weapons. Or as I always say, “Abuse isn’t personal, but it is personalized.”

    In this module, I talk about the strategies abusers use, the relational dynamic they create, and how these things affect you. This unit of learning is full of examples and personal stories from each of the SwanWaters team members. I’ve put them here in one place to demonstrate that abuse works the same way across the board—even if the situation or relational context is different. Abuse is all about exercising power over another person, this is achieved by influencing how a person feels and thinks about themselves. The more authority a person has over your life and your identity, the greater their ability to abuse that power. The influence a parent, romantic partner or spiritual leader has on our ideas of the world and our part in it, is enormous as is their ability to manipulate and control us through that influence. Still, less intense relationships, like friends, co-workers, and neighbours, can still have disastrous effects on our health and well-being.

    This module includes:

    • What Makes a Person Toxic?
    • Healthy Versus Unhealthy Relationships
    • What Are Some of the Red Flags?
    • The Abuse Dynamic
    • Weapons of Abuse
    • The Effects of Abuse

      Find The Module Here
  • Practical Strategies to Deal With PTSD

    When you start responding to trauma triggers—for example, overreacting to an everyday situation—do you begin to think you’re crazy? I know I do sometimes. But you and I have to remember that our sanity isn’t compromised when we get triggered. It’s quite literally a matter of biology and psychology—our brains on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    PTSD is a normal response to trauma,
    just as bleeding is a normal response to being stabbed.

    Isn’t this a great analogy? So often we feel like we’re insane. And many of us experience a deep sense of shame because we’ve developed PTSD. A psychological wound needs to be treated with the same level seriousness and compassion that a physical wound would. Would you feel ashamed for crying if you were bleeding all over the place? Probably not. You’d see it as a natural reaction to pain. Well, our brain’s response to trauma deserves the same response of kindness and understanding.

    Now before we get into the nitty-gritty of PTSD, I want to reflect on some of the misinformation that floats around about it.

    In this module we will look at:

    • PTSD and Survivors of Abuse
    • PTSD and Your Brain
    • PTSD Triggers and Emotional Flashbacks
    • Life with PTSD
    • Rewriting PTSD Triggers

      Find The Module Here
  • How to Establish and Maintain No Contact

    “Going No Contact” is the process of cutting contact with an abuser or toxic person in order to protect yourself from their influence. This is not punishment for the abuser, but an act of self-defence. The act of taking away the abuser’s ability to contact you is often the only option to really move on and heal from the abusive relationship. No Contact creates a safe space for you to heal and create a life you love.

    Cutting contact is often a complex decision, in part because it is so greatly misunderstood by outsiders. They often see the decision as a form of revenge, which makes it even more difficult and complicated to implement this ultimate act of self-care.

    That is why we decided to dedicate an entire module to this process. This module contains the following:

    • What Is No Contact, and How Does It Come Into Abuse Recovery?
    • How Does No Contact Work?
    • Use Technology To Your Advantage
    • What to Expect From No Contact
    • Why No Contact Is Hard
    • How to Respond To People Who Just Don’t Understand

      Find The Module Here
  • How to Have Happy Holidays (Free To Access)

    Christmas can bring out stress in even the most peaceful people. There are gifts to buy and overcrowded shops. An elaborate meal must be cooked for family and friends. The house is to be made to look festive. The list goes on and on. Add a toxic family dynamic to the mix and the stress can be overwhelming. So let’s talk about some ideas for how to survive the holidays without losing your mind.

    In this module, we discuss how you can prepare for the craziness of Christmas. I have picked Christmas because it is such a big deal in many parts of the world. Yet, what we discuss here can also be applied to other holidays or personal milestones. So, if that’s what you are dealing with, just keep reading, you will still get lots out of this module!

    In this module we will cover the following:

    • Anticipation Of A Date
    • Keeping Your Emotional Balance
    • Dealing With The Holiday Post No-Contact
    • Dealing With Toxic Family Members
    • Stress Reducing Exercises – by Guest Lecturer Michael Ballard

    Additionally, members of The Healing Academy have access to:

    • Aubrey’s Tips For Dealing With Parental Visitation
    • Journaling Through Christmas With Carrie and Mags (downloadable ebook)
    • The Midwinter Mindset Webinar Replay

      Access The Module Here
  • Emotional Wellness (Coming Soon)
  • Mindfulness (Coming Soon)
  • Grief (Coming Soon)

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  • Maintaining Healthy Boundaries to Survive, Heal, and Thrive

    When we are targeted by an abuser, personal boundaries become blurred. We become a part of the person hurting us because they expertly crush our sense of self. Any perimeters we place around our lives are either not acknowledged or completely forbidden. Why? Because they limit the toxic person’s attempts at playing games with us. So in order to avoid their targets standing up for themselves, abusers trample upon our boundaries. On top of this, they make us feel that even entertaining the desire to have any is selfish, rude, and wrong.

    Once we have escaped the minefield of abuse, we are often left with no sense of healthy boundaries. We don’t know how to set and maintain them, and still feel overwhelming guilt for even wanting to. In addition to this, we often have no idea how they work—let alone how we can even begin to make them a part of our lives. But as you will come to see, having boundaries is vital if we want to have healthy relationships and a happy existence. They create the outline of our experience of life and define who we are; creating a distinction between where the world ends and we begin.

    “Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.”
    — Anonymous

    In this space, we are looking at the ins and outs of personal boundaries—what they are, why they are important, and some healthy ways to set and maintain them. This module’s contents include

    • The Many Faces of Boundaries
    • 4 Important Things to Keep in Mind
    • When Your Boundaries Are Challenged
    • Download – 17 Hacks for Healthy Boundary Setting

      Find The Module Here
  • How to Prepare for Difficult Conversations

    I have often heard survivors stress out at the prospect of having to meet with—and talk to—their abuser. Or maybe some Flying Monkeys. This often happens when a target first tries to put up some personal boundaries. But it can also even happen once we’ve left an abusive relationship. In fact, every single survivor I’ve ever met has had to deal with further abuse and confrontations after the fact. Whether through the courts, ambushes, or letters the abuser always tries to find ways to continue their reign of terror.

    This module contains the following sections

    • The Basics: Peace, Power, Strategy
    • 10 Things to Keep in Mind While Preparing
    • Communicating From Your Zone of Genius (Download)
    • How to Talk to Normies
    • Can I Save My Fellow Targets?

      Find The Module Here
  • (Co-)Parenting After Abuse (Coming Soon)
  • Learning To Trust Again (Coming Soon)
  • Forgiveness (Coming Soon)

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  • How to Build Confidence and Self-Esteem

    When I would tell people about my abusive boss, who would slap me across the head for making mistakes, they would often respond: why did you not just leave the job? It seems to be the most popular question when it comes to abusive situations: why did you not just leave?

    Well, by the time that a toxic relationship escalates to abuse, the target is already so enmeshed, so far stripped of their power and individuality that they can’t. This is what abuse is and does. It strips a person of their identity, and it takes away their power. It leaves a shell of a person without a real sense of self, without self-confidence, without self-esteem.

    That’s why we are going to talk about confidence and self-esteem, and teach you real strategies to help you feel better about yourself.

    In this module, we will look at the following topics
    • Self-Empowerment
    • Perfectionism
    • Shame and Blame
    • Self-Reflection
    • Victim Behaviour
    • Internal and External Validation
    • How to Build Confidence and Self-Esteem
    • Happiness

      Access The Module Here
  • Body Image (Coming Soon)
  • Budget and Money (Coming Soon)
  • Getting Back Into The Job Market (Coming Soon)
  • Healing Intimacy (Coming Soon)

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Here Are Three Freely Accessible Modules To Get You Started

Who Will Be Teaching You? That Would Be Us

Most of the modules in the Healing Academy are the work of the SwanWaters team, but we also invite guest lecturers to share their expertise to aid your healing.

The team is entirely made up of survivors. We began our healing journey together years ago, and wish to share the experience, support, and relationships we have found through that process.

Mags Thomson - SwanWaters Team Member
Aubrey Cole - SwanWaters Team Member
Wanda Goodman - SwanWaters Team Member

We are not counsellors or lawyers. We are not here to sell you on one particular path to healing. We share practical advice and learning based on our experiences. These will help you develop skills to create a better life for yourself. We are here to listen to your story, and to share our own.

  More About The SwanWaters Team

The Healing Academy will work as your road map to make navigating your healing journey much easier
“I wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for your support. At first, when I started to share the news about my mother’s passing I wasn’t sure that the site could help me but boy was I wrong and happy to admit it too…

I realise now I have been missing out on love, support and resources that to be honest are now helping me spread my wings, perhaps I was meant to go through all this to see that now!”

Jane – New Zealand

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Stop feeling alone on your healing journey.

Empower yourself and become your own strongest advocate.

Start healing the past and get ready for a beautiful future.

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