Spook Chart

With today being Halloween, it seems only natural to talk about fear.  I have lots of fears, but so does every human being.  You don’t have to be a survivor of rape or genocide or a natural disaster to have fears.  My fears may look different than of someone without large amounts of trauma littering in their past, but I bet most of what scares us stems from the same areas… the lack of faith in people, the desire to be loved, the unknown of death.

Personally, there’s one fear in particular that I find immensely embarrassing because I consider myself to be a very independent person. I have an intense fear of doctors.  In my mind, there is no logical reason why I should be afraid of a medical doctor who I know is just there to help me.  Yes, in the midst of my trafficking situation, I was abused by doctors and so one might think that was the connection.  But if that was the line of thought, then by the same deduction I should also be afraid of construction workers, politicians, accountants, mechanics, lawyers, forestry workers, computer techs, stock brokers, restaurant managers, professors…

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that I can’t explain away my terror.  I simply just don’t understand it.  I would honestly rather face a rabid dog than enter an exam room.  I’d rather stand in front of a room of 1,000 to give a speech than call up a medical office to schedule an appointment.  It terrifies me like a child and I hate it and I don’t understand it and I want it to go away. I can’t give up on it.

We all have fears, I’ve already said that.  If I’ve learned anything from trying to make a new life, it’s that I can’t let fear control me.  When I got out and ran, I was plagued with thoughts of being found, killed and  humiliated if my trafficker ever found me. I was terrified that this whole new space of goodness around me would come crumbling down the day he’d inevitably arrive.  Something happened though.  Each day would pass and I would still be alive– exhausted, but alive.  I realized this fear was draining me of much opportunity to start fresh and I had to let it go.  I had to find a way to move on.

I made a “Spook Chart” and I want you to make one too. (Yes, it sounds like a 1st Grade craft project, but bare with me.) In your journal, on a napkin, on the computer, wherever, write out the 5 columns below. Under “Your Feeling” rate on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) how big this fear is.  Under “You Rationale”, rate how rational you think this fear is, and under “Friend’s Rationale” how you think a loved one would rate it.

The Fear Your Feeling Your Rationale Friend’s Rationale Date I Moved On
Being Found By My Trafficker 10 3 5 March 20th
Doctors Visit 10 2 1 not yet
Sitting with my back to people 8 4 1 not yet
Not being able to escape a building 6 2 1 not yet
Failing at my 2nd Chance at Life 10 3 1 not yet
Rejection of Loved Ones 10 5 2 not yet
Being “Found Out” 8 4 2 not yet

There are NO right or wrong answers here.  Sometimes my friend’s numbers are higher than mine, sometimes they’re the same.  Sometimes I think the fear is rational, sometimes it’s not.  What’s most important about this exercise is that you’re naming what the fear is and processing through it.  AND, if there ever comes a time when you can fill in the last column, then rejoice!  “Moving on” doesn’t mean that you’re no longer scared, it just means that you’d decide this fear is no longer going to have a hold over your life.

You or I may never have a “move on” date for some of our fears and that’s OK.  People say a certain level of fear can be healthy.  I just know that I’ve got some “healthy” still to be working towards.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

Leave a comment


  1. I’m a sexual slavery survivor and I really relate to the fear of not escaping from a building. I have a lot of nightmares of being lost in a building, usually in a basement and I try so hard to get outside, but I just keep getting lost deeper and deeper in the building. I really hate these dreams and I always wake up in a cold sweat. Just thought I’d share that I understand some of your fears.

    • So sorry for your pain Jack – I so understand the cold sweat wake up. Hang in there strong my friend… you’ve already proven yourself a survivor!

  2. Nik

     /  October 31, 2011

    My hat’s off to both you gals. Neither one of you may fully realize it but you’ve already won the war. Now you have the opportunity to see things through and collect the spoils generated from the victory.

    Taking one step at a time is slow enough to keep your thoughts in a manageable state while fast enough to keep you moving forward. You’al are doing fine and regaining the realization of your essence on a daily basis, and I know you’ll make it.

  3. I sure wish you lived closer to me. I would love to hold your hand and walk you through a doctor’s appointment – show the tools to you, explain what they do, let you color on the paper covering the exam table, read books to you while we wait for the doctor, and hold your hand while the doctor does what he/she needs to do. With four small children, I have to do it quite often, and I have a feeling that being able to be the child may help you heal from your fear a bit. Since this probably isn’t an option for you and me right now, I pray that someone else will do this for you and I’ll pray that you stay healthy until God has eliminated this fear from your life! ~Traci

    • Well Traci, God is very good and I have a couple “replacement moms” in my life today. There’s a lot of re-parenting that I can do for myself, but some of it does has to be done through community. One of those “moms” was kind enough to come with me to a recent medical visit which helped. It wasn’t as much that I needed to be a kid again, more than I needed to feel in control over the situation — her presence helped me with that for sure. It’s a work in progress… 😉 Thanks for your sweet heart Traci

  4. Steph

     /  October 31, 2011

    Wow, this is genius. I love it! This could help anyone. I especially love how it forces you to think OUTSIDE the fear because fear can be so paralyzing that we can’t see the issue from any other angle…..it is such a STUCK feeling! Can so relate to many of these fears….a few still high on the chart and others I have definitely moved on from, though I don’t know the date. I would like to add a column to mine – what it used to be and what it is now, even if I haven’t completely conquered it! 🙂 Thanks for faithfully continuing to post your story. Your words make it harder for people to shut their ears, and easier for others to speak. Would still love to connect with you. I was just reading some of the comments from an earlier post and noticed an email address for you. Would it be all right for me to use that? – Don’t want to assume. 🙂

    • I love that new column idea Steph! I was trying to think of something along those lines but couldn’t quite get there– you just nailed it – thanks! 😉

      YES, please feel free to email me at from9to20@gmail.com. I’d still love to connect with you too.


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