Hope and Growth After Trauma and Abuse

Woman abuse, domestic violence, battered woman, and domestic terrorism all describe the same event: intimate partner violence, or IPV.

woman sad

Approximately 36.2 million women in the United States have experienced mild violence, including being slapped, pushed or shoved by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control, about one in four women or 29 million women  in the United States has experienced severe physical violence.

Informed Programs

During the tenth annual Social Work Conference at BYU, University of Michigan professor of psychology and psychiatry Sandra Graham-Bermann spoke about IPV and its impact on children. She described effective programs for children exposed to IPV.

According to Graham-Bermann:

IPV includes mild and severe physical violence, psychological maltreatment, stalking, as well as sexual violence and assaults with the intent to harm.

Seventeen million children are exposed to IPV each year in the United States. Graham-Bermann said community-based intervention programs (specific treatment methods used by therapists) have varying levels of success. Some of these initiatives were focused on fostering resilience in children and enhancing children’s recovery from the traumatic effects of exposure to IPV.

Coping with Trauma

Dealing with trauma is a journey that starts with how the victim defines it, typically as a controlling or defining event. This journey looks different for every affected individual. J Goodman Farr, adjunct instructor at the University of Utah, focused her presentation on growing from traumatic life experiences. “You need to now that post-traumatic growth is possible,” Farr said.

In order to handle conflict, positive emotions can undo negative emotions. For example, gratitude will undo negative emotions. Other examples include:

  • appreciation/anger
  • altruism/anxiety
  • compassion/bitterness
  • empathy/envy
  • forgiveness/frustration
  • gratitude/greed
  • humor/hatred
  • hope/hostility

Farr shared a post-traumatic growth model that advised victims to set and achieve goals as a critical process in recovering from traumatic experiences.


Stories of Post-Traumatic Growth

Goodman also shared the videos of individuals who had survived traumatic experiences:

Stacey Kramer

Amy Purdy

Fred Luskin

In addition, Farr talked about the benefits of positive psychology as it relates to trauma, or finding patterns of good instead of patterns of bad. She teaches a course entitled, “Enhancing Health and Happiness.” Students analyze and test evidence-based integrative health and positive psychology interventions to see how they affect overall health, positive emotions, and sense of well-being.

Furthermore, she closed by sharing the experience of someone who demonstrates the potential growth after a traumatic experience: Miriama Kallon Olayemi is a motivational speaker who categorizes a lists of strengths that can serve as catalysts for positive change. These are shown in the slide below.

Conference materials, including notes and handouts, can be found on the BYU Annual Social Work Conference site.

History Department Acquires Southeast Asian Specialist

Ian Lowman

Visiting professor to the College of FHSS History Department Ian Lowman commands a versatility with Southeast Asian languages, considering he spent his childhood traveling Indonesia and two formative years as a missionary in Cambodia.

“It accounts for why I gravitated towards the study of Southeast Asia specifically,” Lowman says. “I speak the Khmer language and in my research I work with French, Sanskrit, Thai, and Indonesian, all with varying levels of proficiency.”

Research Interests

Lowman’s research is focused on the political and cultural history of Angkorian Cambodia, between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. “This is the culture that produced Angkor Wat and established one of the most powerful territorial states in medieval Asia,” Lowman says. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on editing and interpreting inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Old Khmer.”

Angkor Wat
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

While earning his doctorate degree from the University of California-Berkeley, Lowman’s graduate research, funded by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, centered around the Angkor Archaeological Park. “I’ve received generous and ongoing support for my research from the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap,” Lowman says.

Before coming to BYU, Lowman worked at Kenyon College, a liberal arts school in rural Ohio, as well as at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Returning more than a decade later to his alma mater, Lowman will teach new courses on Indian Ocean and South Asian history. South Asia is the most populous region in the world and Lowman says its history is central to the chronology of world religions and the age of European imperialism.

“The Indian Ocean region brings together the diverse coastal peoples and cultures of East Africa, Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia. This was the area of the world that beckoned the European explorers, and it remains vital today as the world’s oil continues to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and as China lengthens its “string of pearls” to Africa and beyond.” – Ian Lowman

Teaching Goals

Besides imparting his substantive knowledge of South Asia, Lowman says one of his teaching goals is helping students meet personal academic and career goals. “I also want to create incentives for my students to take advantage of the extraordinary resources at this university, like the library, the museums, and the Writing Fellows Program,” Lowman says.

He has the first-hand experience to relate to students. During spring term of his freshmen year at Brigham Young University, Lowman enrolled in a course on Greek and Roman mythology with professor John Hall from the Classics department. His class involved reading books in translation, such as Ovid, Virgil, Livy, Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus. “It was my closest experience to an old-fashioned Great Works course and it convinced me that I wanted to be a pre-modern historian and/or a philologist,” Lowman explains.

After taking History 200 with associate dean at BYU Paul Kerry, whom Lowman describes as a mentor who possessed a gentle and unique knack for tearing down and rebuilding, he had an experience that has remained with him since.

“One day he pulled out a sloppy last-minute paper I had turned in and read it out loud in front of the class. It was excruciating, but he prefaced it by saying something to the effect of “even brilliant writers can turn in junk like this if they’re being careless.” – Ian Lowman

Lowman says he considers that moment of “public shaming” to be the greatest compliment he received as an undergraduate. “It’s stayed with me as a reminder to respect my audience and to not cheapen my gifts.”

Tips for College Students with ADD

If you have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), life may often feel disorganized and chaotic. As a college student balancing multiple classes and homework assignments, organization is crucial. Refocus by implementing some of these tips from FHSS below. 

1. Develop a Routine

In a Universe article from 2012, David Bowman, a former BYU student from Kansas City, Mo. who has ADD, told a reporter about the impact it had on his life as a student. “It affects pretty much every aspect of my life,” Bowman said. “I struggle with organizational things and keeping track of assignments and spacing out in class.”

If you are experiencing similar frustrations, try approaching each week with a detailed schedule. This schedule should include all of your classes, time dedicated to studying and doing homework, upcoming tests and assignments to prepare for and free time.

Upcoming assignments

Knowing that you have scheduled free time for yourself everyday may help you focus better on schoolwork during the times you have reserved for that specifically.

ADDitude Magazine suggests studying away from your apartment or dorm where there are less distractions. You may find that once you are home for the day it is difficult to get yourself to leave again just to go study. Plan accordingly. If you study productively at the library, schedule your homework time while you are still on campus. Determine what study place works best for you.

2. Make your smart phone work for you

There is a time to utilize the numberless resources on your phone, and there is a time to set it aside. Let’s face it – most of us have an ongoing love-hate relationship with our smart phones. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. According to a 2013 study, the average American unlocks their phone 110 times a day! If you have trouble with focusing on tasks and are easily distracted, you must learn how to make your phone work for you, not you for it.

Smart phones have many features that can help keep you organized. Setting alarms can remind you to turn in your paper before midnight or go to that extra credit lecture. Putting your weekly calendar into your phone is a great way to keep it accessible and set alerts. The voice recording feature can serve as a back up if you happen to zone out in class. Try recording lectures and listening to them later. You should also consider turning your phone to airplane mode while you study and attend class to minimize potential distractions.

smart phone tips

3. Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day

From a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia we can see that even just 20 minutes of exercise has a positive effect on the brain’s memory functions and it’s ability to process information. Brain chemicals are released during exercise that help increase focus.

4. Use Campus Resources

Utilize the assistance available to you. BYU’s Accessibility Center, located in 2170 Wilkinson Student Center, offers a variety of services for students with ADD including things like the accessibility lab and distraction reduced exam rooms. These services can often be overlooked by students. 

The Accessibility Center also offers evaluations for students who believe they may have problems with attention. To be evaluated by the Accessibility Center there are several steps you must take. 

What helps you stay focused when you study?

Feature Image courtesy of Canva

Celebrating 20 Years of the Family Proclamation on November 19th

Come celebrate 20 years of the The Family: A Proclamation to the World with students and faculty of the School of Family Life at a special conference on November 19th. President Kevin Worthen and Dr. Sarah M. Coyne will be guest speakers, and the objective of the conference is to energize and inspire university students and faculty about the Proclamation.

Over the last 20 years si620-the-family-proclamation-a-clear-standard-to-the-world_1nce the Proclamation was released, we have seen a shift in the world’s opinion of the purpose of marriage and family or lack thereof. As the church has stated, “A wide range of social ills has contributed to this weakening of marriage and family.”  As Latter Day Saints, it has become increasingly important to understand the doctrine of family and to live it. A quarter of students at BYU are married and many others are anxiously preparing for marriage. This anniversary celebration serves as a wonderful reminder to those in the early stages of raising families that marriage and family are central to God’s plan.

The Family Proclamation was written by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was first read by President Gordon B Hinckley on September 23, 1995 in Salt Lake City, Utah as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting.

Guest Speakers:

President Kevin J Worthen 

President Worthen is the current president of Brigham Young University. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Monterrey, Mexico. He graduated summa cum laude with both his bachelor’s and juris doctor degrees from Brigham Young University in 1982. After working as a clerk for Judge Malcolm R. Wilkey of the D.C. Circuit Court and then for Justice Byron R. White of the U.S. Supreme Court, he joined the respected law firm Jennings Strouss & Salmon in Arizona in 1984. In 1987 Worthen returned to the J.Reuben Clark Law School as a faculty member. From 2004-2008 he served as dean of the Law School before being names BYU’s advancement vice president. He has been the president of Brigham Young University since 2014.

He and his wife Peggy have three children and two granddaughters.

Dr. Sarah M. Coyne

Dr. Coyne is an associate professor of human development in the School of  Family Life at Brigham Young University. She received her BSC degree in Psychology from Utah State University, and her PhD in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England.

Her research interests involve media, aggression, gender, and child development. She will soon be starting a major longitudinal study that will examine how parents and children can use media to strengthen family bonds in this digital age. This research agenda will support and help us understand the statement, “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on … wholesome recreational activities”, as described in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. She has 4 young children and currently lives in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Family Proclamation

Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Wisconsin department of natural resources

Making Sense of Mustangs and Mushroom Clouds: Leisl Carr-Childers to Speak

While the less-populated areas of Utah may look to some like nothing but desert, they are most of them hotbeds of dispute in the ongoing public lands debate. The core of the issue is essentially whether or not they should be controlled by the federal or state government, and what they should be used for: sources of tax revenue, resource extraction, recreation, or ranch lands. There are as diverse a list of possible uses as there are people who feel strongly about any one of those uses. Leisl Carr-Childers, a professor of history who specializes in combining public history projects and academic publication on the American West and in environmental history, will tackle this tough subject at BYU on November 19th.

Leisl Childers UNI

Hosted by the Charles Redd Center at BYU, her lecture will focus on the Great Basin. “A stark and beautiful desert filled with sagebrush seas and mountain ranges,” she says, “is ground zero for public lands conflicts. Arising out of the multiple, often incompatible uses created throughout the twentieth century, these struggles reveal a tension inherent within public lands management that pits ranchers against federal officials, outdoor recreationists, and wild horse advocates.”

The lecture will take place Thursday, November 19th at 11 a.m. in B192 of the Joseph F. Smith Building (JFSB). Parking is available as follows:

  • in a large Y lot to the west of the building if you are a student, or
  • if you are a visitor, in the visitor lots north of the Museum of Art or east of the Wilkinson Center (see this map).

5 Tips to Improve Your Self-Confidence

Everyone ought to have some self-confidence. Students need it to get that A on exams and an A+ on dates. Graduates need it to land a job. And Alumni need it to raise their families and contribute to their professions and communities.

So here’s five tips from FHSS to improve your self-confidence:

1 Recognize who you are.

The Relate Institute blogged a blog that said, in order to be self-confident, you have to know yourself. A study revealed that those who know themselves well are more likely to be self-confident; and are happier in their relationships. Why? Because they are better able to find things about themselves that they love. And that, in turn, helps them to open up to their significant other.

On the other hand, knowing yourself also means knowing your faults, weaknesses, and insecurities. That can be difficult, but do not let these things overwhelm you. If you begin to lose confidence in yourself, just remember the best thing about you: you are a child of God. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf counseled: “Forget not that the Lord loves you…If you will only allow His divine love into your life, it can dress any wound, heal any hurt, and soften any sorrow.”

2 Develop your spirituality.

In former BYU psychology professor Allen Bergin‘s speech entitled: Psychology and Repentance, he encouraged all to establish a pattern of repentance and service. “When the…pattern is established…virtue then garnishes our thoughts, and our confidence becomes strong in the presence of the Spirit of the Lord (see D&C121:45).”

No matter your religion, you can benefit from living it more fully. Your efforts to increase spirituality will help you develop traits such as discipline, respect for others, sense of self, experience, and love. What great traits to find in a confident person!


3 Accept your relationship Status.

BYU students often associate their self-worth with the status of their relationship. You can read more about that here. All we have to say is: stop it BYU students. You’re better than that.

4 Extra-Curricular Activities

There are thousands of opportunities for university students to develop their self-confidence. And one big one is extra-curricular activities. Maybe you’re not into sports or the arts, but you might be interested in student leadership, or learning sign language. It’s simple mathematics: spend more time doing things and you’ll get better at doing those things. And when you’re good at something, you generally feel good about yourself. It’s kind of like this quote by Deion Sanders.

Extra-curricular activities can definitely benefit your self-confidence. BYU sociology graduate Brianne Burr even wrote her master’s thesis on it.

Just a few of her findings:

  1. Doing extra-curricular activities can help build your confidence in your capacity to make and achieve goals
  2. That will make you more confident in academics.
  3. You will benefit from meeting individuals from different backgrounds and learn from their different experiences.

Mitch Coutu, a BYU Family Life major, knows all about the extra-curricular confidence boost. Just Look at his Selfie Confidence:


Mitch is a member of the BYU Hip Hop Club. Check it:

“I wasn’t very good at first,” says Mitch, ” But people kept encouraging me, I kept coming and working on it; and then my hard work paid off.” Now he performs regularly with the club. “The best feeling ever is when you throw down with your main homies, and everyone just goes wild,” says Mitch, “That feels so good. And it honestly helps my self confidence.” Mitch now welcomes newcomers with open arms. “When I started getting to know people there, they kind of took me in, and so now I pay it forward.”

5 Consider Counseling.

This piece of advice might come as a shock to you. But counseling is incredible resource that a lot of people don’t take advantage of. BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers free individual counseling to full time students at BYU. You can even take a brief mental health screening online right now. If you’re hesitant to talk to a counselor, you might want to read some wise words from another Family Life major, Alyssa Hundley. “Before I considered being a family therapist, I thought, ‘If you go to therapy you have problems that you can’t handle on your own, and that makes you weak, or even weird.’ But after learning about therapy through my [BYU Family Life] classes I realize that therapy is good for anyone.”

Tweet some fun selfies to @byu_fhss using #SelfieConfidence

Woodstock Poland

Mapping Life: What’s New in BYU’s Geography Department

Geography is the study of places and features on the earth and the relationships between human, physical, and biological systems. Human systems include cultures, migration, politics, and economics. Physical systems include landforms, climates, and rivers. Biological systems include animal and plant species, ecosystems, and adaptations. Geography bridges the divide between the social, physical, and biological sciences, and geographers study these systems from a spatial perspective. This perspective focuses on the spatial dimension of these systems and seeks to answer questions such as “Where is it? Why did it occur here? What might happen next?” It is a big discipline, broad in its consideration of so many factors. Because it is so broad, and deals with things that seem to be relatively immutable, it may not seem like anything new ever happens in geography. But it does. Our geography department has been doing some neat new things:

Mapping Mormonism

Dr. Brandon Plewe recently completed the second edition of ‘Mapping Mormonism – an Atlas of Latter-day Saint History.’ This atlas was the result of a multi-year effort to spatially describe the church’s history since its inception in 1830. It has over 500 maps and figures that allow readers to visualize the growth and other characteristics of the church during this time. Mapping Mormonism has received the “Book of the Year Award” from the Mormon History Association and the “Best Atlas of 2012” from the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. In addition, the atlas has been positively reviewed in a number of outlets, including Cartographica, Library Journal and BYU Magazine. Further, the atlas was featured in a Deseret News article “Mapping Mormonism: Award-winning atlas tracks the LDS movement.”

Mapping Mormonism Plewe

Mapping Software

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS software, allows people to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize the world in ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. The president of a company in Florida, for example, can use the software to predict how much risk the company’s building and employees face if a hurricane approaches. Woodstock concert organizers in Poland use it to provide their attendees with interactive maps to and at the venue. Leaders in all sectors of government and across many industries use it for a variety of purposes. Faculty in BYU’s Department of Geography use it as one of a variety of classroom and research tools.

Woodstock Poland gis map
Photo courtesy of esri.com
Woodstock Poland
Photo courtesy of esri.com

Mapping Life

Geographers study human migration, the role of gender in state security, sacred places, conflicts between public and private forces in public lands, human/environment interactions, climate change, transportation networks, population change, water resources along the Wasatch Front, and many other themes.

How often do you use mapping or navigational tools? Which do you prefer?

This post was provided by Dr. Ryan Jensen, chair of the BYU Geography Department. Dr. Jensen has a BS in cartography and geographic information systems, as well an MS in geography, both from BYU, and a PhD in geography from the University of Florida. He has been a geography professor at BYU since 2005. He was served as an editorial board member of Applied Geography since 2008, and as co-editor of of the Earth Observation Section of Geography Compass since 2007. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and authored or co-authored eight books.