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Deborah Tuerkheimer

How To Heal & Move Forward After Trauma & Abuse


In recent years, there’s been a big push to help victims of various forms of abuse — whether sexual, physical, emotional, or all three — feel more comfortable opening up about their trauma. But we still have a TON of work to do. As you’ll discover in today’s episode, the current legal system we operate under often does the exact opposite by not believing accusers and letting abusers walk free. 

Because of this unfortunate reality, along with the stigma that still exists around sexual abuse, there are so many survivors out there who don’t feel comfortable opening up about what happened to them. Without the unconditional love and support from others, these people feel even more alone and ashamed of something they had no control over. I know this was one of the reasons I waited so long to open up about the sexual abuse I experienced. 

So what can we do to change it — not only when it comes to how we perceive things on the topic, but from a policy standpoint too? How can we help abuse victims know they’re supported and feel comfortable enough to open up? My guest today has dedicated her career to answering this question. Her name is Deborah Tuerkheimer and she’s going to explain how we can all help create a safer space for people to openly discuss their trauma and abuse.

Also, I wanted to give you a heads up that this episode gets a little heavy. If you or a loved one you know has endured sexual or any other form of abuse, I want you to know you’re loved, you matter, and you can get through this. There are people who have your back and resources to help you navigate the healing process. And now, please help me welcome the one-and-only, Deborah Tuerkheimer, to The School of Greatness!

“Anger can be channeled toward change.” - Deborah Tuerkheimer  

Today’s guest is Deborah Tuerkheimer. She is a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her law degree from Yale Law School. Tuerkheimer served for five years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in domestic violence and child abuse prosecution. She’s now written a new book called Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers And Protect Abusers.

If you want to learn how we can all better support survivors of abuse and trauma, then I encourage you to listen to this episode. Deborah also covers the immediate steps she recommends a survivor should take after experiencing abuse, and how you can receive the professional help you need. And now, please join me for Episode 1,186 of The School of Greatness.

“People are complicated and imperfect, we have to find shared humanity.” - Deborah Tuerkheimer  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What are the signs of someone dealing with abuse who might not want to talk about it?
  • What is the best approach for someone who was sexually abused to come out and make sure they’re believed?
  • What can a victim do to gain credibility?
  • Why does it take so long for high profile people to be brought to justice?
  • How do we not blame victims?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How to create a safe space for people to openly talk about their trauma and abuse.
  • What Deborah calls the credibility complex and how to work around it.
  • What to do if you’re a victim who hasn’t shared your story yet.
  • Why abusers have traditionally been protected and what we need to change in our society.
  • The immediate steps you should take after being abused.
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

  • Her book –
Deborah Tuerkheimer & Lewis Howes
Connect with
Deborah Tuerkheimer

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:


Kaibu by Killercats

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