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From Silenced to Disruptor: You Always have a Choice

My name is Kat Polsinelli and I am here today to share with you not only my story, but to also share with you, how you can move through things that you've been through, and you can make it to the other side. I want you to know we still have a choice to choose where it is that we want to go. And with that I would like to start with a question. I know that all of us have heard about domestic violence and sexual assault, or we've heard the word abuse. I want you to hold on to the word abuse for me, I want you to think on that word. And I want you to think about what abuse means to you. My question to you is, when you think of the word abuse, do you immediately go to physical violence or do you think that abuse could potentially be emotional, psychological, sexual, and or physical abuse? 

I ask you this question because you see in our society, and even in our judicial system, physical and sexual abuse, are very easy to understand. They're very easy to see, right? Because we can see the scars, we can see the physicalities of that. But the issue with that is emotional and psychological abuse, those scars aren't seen. And for a lot of people, they are holding on to them for decades. Nobody realizes that they have seen that unless they point the scars out to us.

woman crying
Did you know that you have a choice?

What I'd like to do though, is take you back just a little bit, and give you a little bit of my background so that you can understand where it is that I come from, and understand how the choices that I made, changed the trajectory of how my life went. So let’s go back to when I was a teenager. When I was a teenager, I was very ambitious. I was very outgoing, and sometimes a little outspoken. But I was always the one to stand up for others and that is who I am at my absolute core. I played softball for 15 yrs and was in choir for just as many. I had dreams, goals and ambitions as a teenager. But at the age of 16 I decided to do what everybody else was doing. Get a boyfriend. In getting that boyfriend, I ended up pregnant at the age of 16. My dreams, goals and ambitions were crushed. My family and I both devastated. 

When you think of the word abuse, do you immediately go to physical violence or do you think that abuse could potentially be emotional, psychological, sexual, and or physical abuse?

Now I had a wonderful upbringing. I'm the oldest of three girls and my family is still together. My parents have been married for 40 plus years. I had a wonderful upbringing. But this was something that none of us saw coming. It's the first time in my life that I truly felt like I had completely and utterly disappointed and let down my entire family. So I had a choice to make. That choice was either I decided to be a teenager, let go of my son or I decided to step into being a mother. I chose to be a mom. I left all my dreams, goals and ambitions behind, all of my friends. I found an alternative school that I could take my son with. I graduated my junior year with honors, second in my class, and president of Student Council. I was determined to make it right.

At the end of my high school year, I went one direction and my son's father went another. So I did what everybody said you were supposed to do, I got a job and I went to college. I worked a full time job during the day at a daycare center where I could take my son with me and I went to college at night. Now by time, I'm feeling really good about myself. I've gotten through some things, I've made it further than what a lot of people had, and I'm feeling pretty good about myself. Unfortunately, during that time, I forgot that I was still a teenager, and teenagers can make irrational decisions. My family and I ended up butting heads, and at the age of 18, I moved out. 

Shortly after moving out, I met another boy, but this one was different. Oh, he was so different. You see, he got to do what he wanted to do. He told his family No. And he still got his way. Mind blowing, right? Something I had never seen before. And so because of that, I was magnetized to that situation. Quickly after getting into that relationship, I started having more arguments with my family, he started having issues with them, and so began the trickle of isolation and control. Something I wasn't aware of at the time. 

At the age of 19, I had my second son, and the control had started to pick up. Again, I didn't realize it, because I had never seen it. It was so bad that my family wasn't even allowed to come to the hospital to see my son when he was born. But I was to support him, that was my job. You see, abuse comes in many forms. And abuse at its core means to cause duress or harm, and if we break it down even further, it is anything that is meant to manipulate, to terrorize, to intimidate or to frighten someone. And in all of that lies control. 

During this relationship, I became the person that did everything. I held two to three jobs the entire time, as he could never work, there was always a reason or excuse. I was a mother of two children, I was required to cook seven days a week, do the laundry, clean the house, anything you could think of. And most importantly, make sure he was happy. 

You see in my relationship, while there were some physicalities in my relationship, for me the majority of it was emotional and psychological. So it wasn't like I got beat when I wanted to go to bed. No, it was the mind games, the crying that you don't love me, that you don't appreciate me, look what I do for you. The things that really tug at our heartstrings, that make us want to do for another person. There is that control again. There is that manipulation. I can't tell you how many times in my situation that I began to start taking responsibility for things that weren't mine. You see what's interesting about psychological and emotional abuse is it happens in a cycle and then it happens on repeat. Generally when you're in a rational state, you can think about whether or not you agree with someone, you can recall situations and you can state your facts but I can guarantee, that when you have someone daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, telling you different, you begin to question yourself, “maybe I am responsible,” “maybe I didn't remember that right,” “maybe I am the bad person.” That is one of the reasons why I stayed. 

During the last two and a half years of my abuse, I managed to get a really good job. I worked in a medical facility, I started doing therapy on patients, and I made sure to put a mask on so that nobody knew what was going on. We're really good at that. I'd love to tell you that during this period, those last two and a half years, I made the decision, and I put my foot down and I decided to get out but that's not what happened. 

I actually had a patient that used to come in very regularly, usually in the evenings, and we would always talk. I found out that he was actually getting his law degree, and so I would ask questions here and there just to kind of poke around. But this one morning in particular, after I dropped my children off from school, my abuser and I got into a fight. This is the first time in a really long time that he put immediate bruises on me. I had bruises on my back, on my arm, and my lip was busted. I gathered myself together, he drove me to work, I went to the bathroom, and wiped off my face, and to work I went. 

What's interesting about that day is that the same patient that usually came in the evenings happened to come in that morning. I remember doing therapy with him and I just kind of started asking questions. I didn't want to give away too much information. I do not remember the conversation, but I do remember is this……When I got done talking with this gentleman, he said, “you have two choices, you either call the police or I call them for you. I work in the domestic violence center.”  That was my saving grace! That is what helped me make the decision to leave. 

I'd love to tell you that immediately after getting out I started figuring things out and I worked on myself, but it's not what happened. I did exactly what a lot of us do. We've all been through trauma. I stuffed it down in a little box, and I moved on about my life. I had two children to take care of, had a full time job and I needed to rebuild my life at the age of 28. In doing so, what happened was that those emotions continued to come back up. I was later diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and I was told that I was brainwashed. I can't tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep, how many times I cried on my way home just to wipe the tears away so that nobody had to see it. Because I didn't have time. 

I'd love to tell you that immediately after getting out I started figuring things out and I worked on myself, but it's not what happened.

I bring this to you because all of us have done this. All of us have stuffed emotions down, have pretended that they don't exist and gone on about our way. Have you ever lost your temper on your child or your spouse in the car, and then realized later it had nothing to do with them? That's called a trigger. It's an emotion that you haven't dealt with, that's been sitting there dormant and when a similar situation comes up, it comes out whether you want it to or not. And that is what prompted me five years ago to start my journey of healing myself. Because I needed to heal not only my own emotions and triggers, but I needed to be able to be a better mom. And I couldn't be a better mom, unless I dealt with my own crap. And so that's what I did. And that's what I focus on today. 

70% of Americans have been through some form of trauma. That could be domestic violence, childhood abuse, war, the loss of a loved one. We all have traumas. And within those traumas that we decide not to deal with come those emotional triggers. If I can give you one thing to walk away with today, it is that you have the ability to decide how to deal with things, you just have to make space for it. You have the ability to choose how you want to deal with things and how you want to change your life. You just have to make the decision. And that was the decision that I made.

 I am now an entrepreneur. I am now the owner of The Lotus Effect, which is very close to my heart, because you see the Lotus grows in the dirtiest of mud, yet as it rises to the surface it is absolutely beautiful and untainted. And that is what I feel like every single one of us has the ability to do and to be and so I have a passion and a mission to not only share my story, and bring that story to light, but to also share that every single one of us that have not dealt with our own traumas…..we still have the ability to deal with them, regardless of your age, regardless of what you've been through. But you have to choose to step out of victimhood and step into empowerment, start owning what you've been through. 

You see, our stories are just a part of us but they are not who we are. We all have the ability to redefine who it is we want to choose to be, not what other people have told us that we are. Had I listened to my ex, I would not be standing here in front of you. Had I believed that I was a monster, I would not be writing this. Had I listened to everything inside of my head, that I was a horrible mother, that I was a bad person, that my children didn't deserve me, I wouldn't be sharing this with you today. 

I made the decision that it was time to change. I decided to stop writing one book and I chose to write a brand new one. And you have the ability to do that as well. I cannot thank you enough for reading this and listening to my story. If you want to learn more about how I learned how to redefine my parenting with my children. And how stepping into a space of leadership and open communication changed the trajectory of how I now handle not only my teenagers today, but my family, spouse, and business, reach out or read my chapter in the co-author book “Rattled Awake Vol. 6”. It changed the way that I run my business and my personal life. 

I want to leave you with this: I challenge you to choose to do one thing positive for someone each and every day and see the difference that it makes in yours.


Kat Polsinelli with Her Nation Magazine
Kat Polsinelli | The Lotus Effect

Meet the expert:

Kat is an inspiring entrepreneur, coach, speaker, and podcaster. As the founder of The Lotus Effect, Kat believes true success transcends strategies and tactics. She empowers individuals to cultivate a powerful mindset and creates personalized business operations that align with her client’s authentic selves. From time management and productivity to leadership and mindset, she equips individuals with the tools to thrive in both business and personal life.

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