Road to healing

PORT Elizabeth rape and hijacking survivor Cayly Warner last week spoke out strongly for women to take back their power after painful experiences in their lives.

The 24-year-old drama teacher's talk last week during a series of three Women with Drive seminars, titled Dandelions in the Whirlwind, centred on how to get through the dangerous, tough times in life.

"We all have had a blow of some kind, whether it is a divorce, death of someone you love, cancer. I went through a hijacking and rape, four years ago, when I was 20, and it is a sheer miracle that I can stand here today," she said.

She asked her audience if they chose to let the seeds of the dandelion scatter in the wind, never settling to rest, or if they chose to let them fall to the ground, to germinate and grow in a new, more positive direction.

"You can choose to forgive – I expect some of you women will want to throw shoes at me! – but it is a choice. Pain is inevitable. Bad things happen but, what you choose to do after that, with your seeds, is a choice," she said.

Warner said she was "far from perfect" and the trauma of her attack was not something to shrug off: "Some days there is a trigger and I still have flashbacks – but lift your head up and keep on keeping on."

Her road to recovery has come at least partly from her experience that "forgiveness is a choice that can heal", she said.

And, just as a car needed a safety check to keep its passengers safe, so too did people need a 10-point checklist to keep their hearts safe. Along with the support and love of family, she found this helped her through her darker days:

1. Get enough rest. Pajama days are allowed during your period of recovery.

2. Get enough exercise. If you are not a gym bunny then fresh air and a brisk walk are good energisers especially when in nature.

3. Surround yourself with beauty. Beauty touches the heart like nothing else can especially when it is a heart that has experienced pain and suffering. That is why flowers are a blessings at a time of trauma. Re-decorate your bedroom or office. Have a place of sanctuary.

4. Have a hobby. Do something creative, she suggested.

"I love baking not only because I love cupcakes but also because it's very therapeutic to rapidly whisk eggs or beat sugar and butter!"

5. Get out and about – for her, it is coffee shops and antique shops.

6. Learn to say "yes" to things that you know will bring you joy and satisfaction, that you have been putting off because of busyness.

7. Learn to say "no" – you can still do so, politely – to people and situations that drain you. It is recovery time not people pleasing time.

8. Celebrate each day as a gift of life. Use your best tea cups, wear your special jewellery, light candles at each meal, have bubbles galore in the bathtub.

9. Dare to overcome – whether it be fears, prejudices, insecurities: "I dared to drive at night again. I dared to keep my heart open to love. I dared to believe that I would recover."

10. Count your blessings, it immediately lifts the heart.

ýRead more from Warner in her blog: