We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anne, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
A huge lesson I have learned is to not give up. I longed to be a writer for years but I lacked confidence in myself. When I was in my mid-thirties (1998), I dreamed of being a travel writer. My uncle was a retired travel writer and he gave me all kinds of tips. So my family and I set off for Yosemite. I wrote an article, along with pictures, of various sites to see and adventures to take. I sent it to many magazines and waited for their reply. Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. So I quit. Fast forward to 2019. A dear nun I know gave me a copy of Human Development Magazine and encouraged me to submit an article about my passion now which is accompanying survivors of trauma. I felt those feelings of rejection from the past well up inside me but somehow I got the courage to try again. Okay, let’s pause here for an important side story. When I was in my twenties, I went to the Louvre in Paris. I fell in love with the artwork by Georges de la Tour. My favorite painting was Saint Joseph, the Carpenter (1642). Here Joseph is gazing at the young boy, Jesus, who is holding a candle. La Tour had a way of capturing the reflection of candle light on their faces. So I bought a print and hung it on my wall for years until after several moves, it became ruined and had to toss it away. Back to 2019. My first article: “Accompany Survivors of Trauma” was published in Human Development Magazine in the summer of 2019. And on the cover was Georges de la Tour’s Joseph, the Carpenter! Nobody knew about my love for La Tour except God, my husband and I. Words can’t express how validated and loved I felt by God. Now I want to say to all of you: “Whatever your dream is or your call is, keep going. Don’t give up!”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an author, spiritual director, and leader of trauma groups for women. A spiritual director is more about accompanying rather than directing someone on their spiritual journey with God. After retiring as an Audiologist, I went through a two year training program and obtained certification in spiritual direction. I moved from helping people hear their outer world to listening to their inner world.
In mid-life, a pivotal crisis happened that triggered my childhood wounds. Entering therapy, I learned how childhood molestation affected me, such as believing a lie that “I am not enough.” Although therapy was necessary and insightful, deeper healing, over the years, has come from God. Now I know in my heart that I am deeply loved by God and have a purpose to share my story. As I started sharing, other women started sharing their stories with me. With their permission, I put these true stories and healing spiritual practices into a workbook and started leading small groups for women.
When the first trauma group ended, several participants told me I should publish my workbook. Both fear and excitement stirred in me. After several years of leading groups, reshaping materials, and wisdom from God, I published two books: Not Alone: A Christ-Centered Recovery Process for Women who have experienced Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Trauma (2019) and Not Alone: Transforming Trauma and Accompanying Survivors (2020). This latter book has a Part II for family, friends, spiritual directors, and clergy on how to come alongside a survivor. With reports of sexual abuse all over the news, more people stepping out and sharing their stories. Many survivors have told me the hurtful things people have said and done, even in the church. Although not intentional, many people do not know what to do or say and sexual abuse is an uncomfortable topic. I provide helpful suggestions for those who accompany survivors in the book and offer workshops on this topic to various churches and organizations.
My passion is share this with trauma survivors:
- You are not alone. One is three women and one in six men will experience some kind of sexual trauma in their life.
- You can be empowered to take your life back.
- You don’t need to stay in a victim mentality.
- Share your story with a safe person. Find a good therapist. Surround yourself with supportive people.
- Don’t believe the lie that something is wrong with you or the abuse was your fault. Many victims blame themselves. ABUSE HAS NO EXCUSE.
- Although healing is a lifelong process, you can live in more of the abundant life: internal freedom, peace, joy, love, hope, kindness, patience, self-control and courage. This kind of life is open to all.
- Spend time with God. He does not cause trauma. People do. He loves you more than you know!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in San Diego. We have gorgeous beaches here. I would take my friend to La Jolla Cove and walk along the paths overlooking the rugged rock formations and deep blue sea. On the top of Cabrillo point, are stunning views overlooking San Diego Bay, Coronado Island and the endless Pacific Ocean. Another beautiful site is Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach. Walking up high along the path, you can look down into the clear ocean waters, listen to waves crashing against the rocks or even watch those brave (or crazy) young people dive off the cliffs into the ocean! Another favorite is Old Town which has something for everyone. Historic buildings, dating back to the 1800’s, including a haunted house! Many shops and delicious Mexican restaurants allow for a fun filled day. There is the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari park. I love watching the gorillas play and chase each other. The silverback glares at us with the same curiosity as we stare at him. The best is taking a tour in a flatbed truck out into the safari park to see rhinos, deer, gazelles, and many more wild animals. We can even feed the giraffes! Another favorite is Sea World. With many different kinds of sea creatures, variety of shows, and exhibits to see, this is an amazing place to visit. The Gaslamp district in downtown San Diego comes alive at night with a variety of bars, restaurants, and entertainment to choose from. Or we can go to Little Italy and savor authentic Italian food. There is so much to see and experience in our beautiful city. Sadly, many of these places are closed now due to COVID 19. But I hope you will come visit when our city opens back up again!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
For my personal healing journey, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, a competent psychologist, an encouraging spiritual director, and my soul group who listened to all my stuff and prayed with me along the way. But most of all, I am grateful to Jesus, the Wounded Healer.
As for becoming an author, a friend, who is a therapist, endorsed my materials, and co-led the first group with me. She helped me gain the confidence I have now. My husband was a huge support, especially with technology and formatting my books. I appreciated and learned so much from both of my professional editors. My critique group, helps me to improve my writing skills and is priceless. But most of all, I am grateful for all the survivors of trauma who have shared their precious stories with me and allowed me to publish them in my book so we can help others find freedom. I dedicated my book to them.
Other: My blog: https://www.annemarierichardson.com/easy-blog
My Books: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Alone-Transforming-Accompanying-Survivors/dp/1732954429/