Feb. 1, 2023

The Power of Speaking Your Truth with Katie Koestner

In this episode, I sit with my friend Katie Koestner has been the architect of sexual misconduct response systems, model policies, and education and training.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/the-power-of-speaking-your-truth-with-katie-koestner/#show-notes

In this episode, I sit with my friend Katie Koestner has been the architect of sexual misconduct response systems, model policies, and education and training. She is the creator of the National Gender and Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey.

Discover the transformative power of speaking your truth with Katie Koestner. Learn how to find your voice, build confidence, and overcome fear and self-doubt. Katie's inspiring talks and workshops will empower you to live authentically and make a positive impact in the world.

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Learn how to heal and overcome childhood trauma, narcissistic abuse, ptsd, cptsd, higher ACE scores, anxiety, depression, and mental health issues and illness. Learn tools that therapists, trauma coaches, mindset leaders, neuroscientists, and researchers use to help people heal and recover from mental health problems. Discover real and practical advice and guidance for how to understand and overcome childhood trauma, abuse, and narc abuse mental trauma. Heal your body and mind, stop limiting beliefs, end self-sabotage, and become the HERO of your own story. 

Download the first three chapters of the Award-Winning Book Think Unbroken: Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma: https://book.thinkunbroken.com/ 

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Katie Koestner. Katie, my friend, how are you? What is happening in your world today?

Katie: Oh, great question, Michael. Every single day feels like a whirlwind of unpredicted, somewhat predicted and always unknown, but always cause oriented, and I think focused on the finish line of, you know, what good can I do in the world today. So, that's about my life story every single day.

Michael: I love that. I actually resonate with that a lot and I have these moments where I'm looking at my life and I'm like, huh, really interesting to be in this place today. But before we jump in, for those who do not know you, tell us a little bit about you and how you got to where you are today.

Katie: I'm happy to do that, Michael, for sure. And you know, I think, you know, there have been many movies kind of with that theme line of the door that you opened unexpectedly and walked through, or the sliding door of the choices we make and how they unfold and how all of the things, you know, bring us to a series of choices and circumstances. Growing up from zero to 18, half in the south, outside of Atlanta, and half in the north in central Pennsylvania. And going off to college at 18 to a college in Virginia and planning to double major in chemistry and Japanese. I wanted to be a chemical engineer and speak Japanese really well. And then the third weekend I'm at college, I am out on a date with Mr. Tall, dark, handsome, perfect in my fairytale princess world. And that single night changed my life in the sense that I had no idea at age 18 that someone could be so deeply and intimately violated by another human who was someone you thought worthy of possibly love and definitely trust. And so, I became at age 18, the first woman in the world to speak out nationally and publicly, perhaps even internationally, as the victim of what was coined Date Rape by Time Magazine. Before my story only victims of stranger rape had really spoken out and very few victims of sex crimes had ever revealed their names and the media never printed them.

And so, I was the rogue 18-year-old, a long time ago who signed my name to a release to have it printed and not it was never, I will say one thing. You know the journey that has brought me to this microphone, it was never my intent to be on Oprah or meet, you know, all the people stand in front of a quarter of a million people in the mall in DC when Nicole Brown Simpson's murder was being protested or go to the United Nations and speak there or speak at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford in 5,000 schools and Stand on Capitol Hill and testify for federal legislation it was never a plan, but it was a decision that I made at 18 to formally report what happened to me as being wrong. And the word report, I think is one that the current context everyone says, oh, report, all kinds of stuff, report bullying, report hazing report, report all the stuff. But when I used the word report, Michael, at age 18, it was tell a story, meaning tell what happened because report almost is a word, a verb that I implies that you think it's a crime. And I didn't know if what happened to me was a crime, but I knew in my heart, my soul, it was wrong. And the only reason I came forward was I didn't want anyone to experience what happened to me. So, I told what happened, and they hope that not just, he would be held accountable, but that other people would know that this should never happen to anyone. So, I hope that gives some context to who I am and why I'm here.

Michael: Yeah, it definitely does. And I think at such a young age, it's incredibly admirable to be willing to go and stand up for yourself, right? Which is really what I hear you saying happen in that moment and in that, I think by proxy, and this was kind of my experience as well, in us doing what we need for us, it actually helps so many other people and vice versa, right? What I'm curious about is as you look at your life now, and you reflect on this now, having been a long time ago, you know, one of the things people ask me all the time, and I've actually never asked anyone this on this show before because I never felt it pertinent, but I'm curious, do you feel like things happen for a reason because people ask me this all the time and they're like, Oh man, you know, I know that your childhood was really bad, but it must have happened for a reason ‘cuz look at all these people you could help. And I always think to myself, yeah, but I really would've rathered it didn't. And so, I'm really curious if you ever have any thoughts around that.

Katie: I think the most akin question I get asked on the stage, Michael, to what you just posed is someone will say, excuse me, Katie, don't you wish that you weren't raped so that you weren't on the cover of Time Magazine? And I'll say, you know what? I would've hoped that I was gonna be such a rockstar, chemical engineer, Japanese savant, and come up with something no one had ever thought of that. I still would've been on the cover of Time Magazine because I would've still been that committed and strong and visionary. However, to your point, I do think everything happens for reasons, and we're wired and gifted with experience and we're wired our biology wires us, and I think we're all uniquely wired to be able to accomplish different things, and it's our destiny to figure out what it is that we were wired to do. And I think my ability to navigate harassment and all the things that I went through when I spoke out and being the first, and subsequently pushed myself to go into nooks and crannies to share a story that a lot of people didn't wanna hear that made people uncomfortable or question whether I too, me too, I am also in your shoes for the first time acknowledging their own victimization in so many ways. Like I think, you know, I was gifted with experiences up until 18 that were also very challenging and forged in me commitment to a sense of justice, if that makes sense. It was like a sense of self, Michael, it was a sense of do what is just no matter the cost.

Michael: Yeah. I resonate with that and I often think to myself, this really interesting space we live in today where I think we've over corrected to an extent.

Katie: I totally agree. I think way overcorrected; I think things are way too easy. And I think easy toughen up like you and I Michael, we are tough through fire and everything else Hot Kohl's, we'll walk on 'em, you know, walk through, breathe that fire thing, we gotcha ‘cause we had to. I was loving our interview, but literally, I didn't care if I had to sleep in the car to get to through the snowstorm and pull over to get to the speech or I didn't care if I had to study on the plane to still get the A's to get through college because I didn't know if my parents were gonna pay. And you know, I just did what it took and the harder it was, the more I thrived.

Michael: Yeah. And I think that a lot of people need more resiliency, especially right now. And it's hard because it's a conversation I don't think people really want to hear and hone into. We live in such a different world. Like, I actually got canceled over the pandemic at the beginning of it because I was very clear, I was like, I'm not slowing my life down. I'm not doing anything that doesn't continue to project me forward. And people were like, yeah, but you know, the world is ending. I'm like, the world has always been ending. Like, I don't know if you know this or not, this isn't the first that thing to happen. And I wanna think about going back, I wanna rewind a little bit, and the reason why I wanna do that is because I think about my journey in creating and building Think Unbroken as we're heading into six years of this. When I started this even six years ago, nobody was talking about childhood trauma and abuse. Right. Nobody was talking about it, especially in the way that I do. And I fought the slings and arrows of many of friends, of peers, of some family members of people being like, don't you share that? And me being like, Fuck you. I'm gonna do what I want. It's my life. And going through now where it's like, it's almost like if you're not crying off the internet, like is anyone even taking you seriously? And so, I'm curious if you rewind, you go look back at the beginning of this journey and this decision you made to not only report, but to tell your story. People are so terrified to share their truth because of shame, because of guilt, because of a lot of the ramifications that I've experienced that you have experienced. And so, I'm wondering if you can talk me through the thought process you had around going public with this and what that has done for you, just in terms of being able to reconcile, if that's even the right word, the experience?

Katie: Nah, let's not talk about reconciliation yet. I wanna go to what you've started with Michael. I like thinking about this first, if I had to even, you know, when we have to make a decision about what to do today or what to do with information that comes our way, let's just roll back to me being 18 and navigating, yes, I had a hearing. Yes, he was found responsible. He was told, the dean called me into his office and said, yes, I found him responsible because he admitted in my hearing that I had told him no more than 12 times in one night that night, and then he had said in the hearing, eventually Katie stopped saying no. So, I knew I changed her mind. So, he was found responsible by his own pretty much admission, Michael. But then the outcome was, I found him guilty and he will not be allowed in your residence hall for the remainder of the semester. But I met with him earlier this morning and he really likes you a lot and you can make such a nice couple. I think if you can just work through the tiff you're having now and get back together by the spring semester, it's gonna be great, so, I got a fire in my belly. And so, let's think, what's a fire in one's belly for each and every broken human? When is rock bottom or when is the fire ignited? And sometimes I think, Michael, it's not when the injustice is experienced in our body, our mind in present tense, in current moment, sometimes it needs to sink in and someone needs to slap another layer of injustice upon injustice for us to get it in our head that, Whoa, this is gonna be wrong,

And so, I almost think sometimes I'll go back and say, I think sometimes if the dean had been like, wow, that was so awful. I cannot even imagine what research; they didn't have any conversation back then. Like, oh my gosh, you should never have a, I'm so sorry we even let him into our college. You know, apologies on every friend how can we help you? No. So, I then got even more angry, which was good because whenever we have to make choices for some of those, it's existence or non-existence, it's almost close to like hurting oneself so much and falling into the depths of despair. But for some of us, we're on the margins where we have enough privilege or power or money or opportunity where it feels like you know, do I really wanna mess up my life to save a lot of other people's lives ‘cause I'm kind of okay and the weirdness about me, Michael, was this, it started with, nope. I decided to run off the cliff and take it all on. I was so fiercely determined around one experience of my life so then let's go through it. So, how do I make choices every day? I'll just give you two examples and then roll it back to you. Here are things I chose to do because information came my way. So once upon a time, I'm still a student, I have to decide what do I do with my Friday night. Okay. Friday night rolls around and I've been volunteering as and trained as a rape crisis hotline runner like because I couldn't sleep anyway, I was always awake cuz I'd already been traumatized from 11 to seven, I run the hotline, I answer all the calls in all of my college and surrounding community and help survivors all night long. So, I kind of started taking track of keeping track of the ones that were reported for various locations, i.e., where I went to school, fraternity houses. And so many had come in from one particular house, that for my Friday night, I decided to print with 10 a dime a print like this is before, like I used a paper tree, I was environmentally conscientious, went to the library, made my own hand drawn flyer, and it said, do you really want to party at this house tonight when at least three women reported having been sexually assaulted here in the last week. And I just wore my usual, I stood outside the fraternity house and handed them out to anyone, I was like the flyer pusher, the annoying person who was like, take this flyer and it was so fascinating. And I did it by myself, Michael, I used, like, I had no money because I didn't have any support anymore. But I was so fiercely determined, like I was so practical that what if I could save one woman from getting raped tonight by spending dimes at the library on the printer. I was like, okay, operation flyer. And so, I'm handing them out for about an hour, so imagine this like classic fraternity Southern College Friday night party scene, the girls are dressed to the nines with short skirt, it’s still like going in to the houses and I keep handing them out and I'm curious, like they come in doubles, there's never one woman who shows up by herself at that time, like think they're always in duos, trios and quadruples of girls going in.

So, I either have to like, ready, got four, ready, hand them all and it's interesting, the queen bee, if there were four, would look at the handout and she would tell, basically with a nod of her head or like a crumble it up and throw it away, whatever her reaction was, the rest of the girls would do the same and follow her or not. So, within an hour, I got shut down, the campus police showed up, Michael to arrest me because I didn't have a flyer permit and so, what happened was some of the girls who still went into the houses were like, okay, this girl is sending out false information to try and deter women from going to this fraternity house. So, they sent the only female police officer on the staff at the time to come and talk to me ‘cuz remember this is after I've already had a few conversations and been on the cover of Time Magazine and HBO made a movie about me, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera like I'm already like Rogan Renegade most hated person ever and was voted such, I was voted the most hated man on campus, which is a whole nother story. But anyway, I'll finish the story quickly. So, here's what happens. I say, well, what does one, the police said, you're gonna have to stop doing this and get a permit. So, what do you think I did, Michael?

Michael: I would imagine you got a permit.

Katie: Oh, for sure. I said, what does one need to do to get a permit to hand out flyers of public notices on school property? And I got a permit the next weekend, I kept handing them out. But then you know, that's me like, so my whole life, Michael, I have not really been very respectful of the rules, other than I definitely try not to get arrested because that was stye me, my effectiveness if I'm in jail. It was just like cut down my effectiveness a little bit, but you know, I think when you started the question with what does it mean to kind of be fearless and make these choices around survivorship or overcoming abuse. And sometimes, you know, you don't have to be as crazy as I am or have them and continue to be, but I do think we're so complacent so many times, and especially now that we're all so saturated with social media that we think the only way to make a difference is to make a post and like something or follow something. And I say go rogue, an old school and be a physical, being in a physical world with a physical handout, you know, people still walk around the planet and go in and out of buildings and you'll catch a lot more and someone will show up and start being a photograph you and put you on Instagram, but that's more all the staged crap. To me, like go really authentic self to make change and to be authentic and have pride in yourself.

Michael: You know, I think about that a lot and you know, starting the movements through this space for me has been sitting and looking at it, being like, all right, if I can do this, knowing my background and how absolutely crazy it was then maybe there are some tools here that other people can use. And I think to myself that it really starts with the willingness to face reality, you know, one of the things that I did very well in my late teens and twenties was to just dismantle reality through drugs, through alcohol, through sex, through all these coping mechanisms. And in this sense of sobriety, which I'm using in literal term, like I went sober from everything but me and life and in doing so, that's really where I started to gain the most healing for me. I know that there are people listening right now who have been through sexual assaults and molestations and rapes, and a lot of the terrible things that happen in interactions. And I shared this as a guest on your show, like I was molested by a woman and so, I'm in a very small minority of people in which that happens to, but I'm wondering what has healing looked like for you and what are the tools that you've executed that have worked really well for you and what hasn't worked for you?

Katie: You know, Michael, I'm glad you asked that because, you know, luckily you and I are doing our interviews with each other, kind of back-to-back. And I loved that you quantified and maybe you have explained this to your own audience, your own quantification of number of hours and dollars spent and therapy and groups and committing in that way to your journey. And in some ways, I was listening to that part and thinking I have been a nomad, a solo operation, a woman on the moon, if you will. And I'm thinking that you may have forged much better a sense of you're not alone in a real-world way. So, my healing journey looked a lot different from what you described for yours. Here's what I did try. I did try going to a counselor. I tried a lot of them. I tried when I was at Cornell, I tried Cornell the caliber of the counselor, their degrees, their genders. I tried a lot of one-on-one therapy, and I'm not saying it can't work, but for me, I think my own experience sometimes was not one that clicked or resonated or I'm searching for why they all failed. Therapy one-on-one did not work for me. Here's what did work. Saturating my brain with every scrap I've research that existed in the nineties, which was not that much about sexual violence, about laws, about policies, like understanding the landscape intellectually through which my body and mind and heart were navigating my own abuse helped because I was thinking bigger, Michael, like in my healing process, I was thinking what are the institutions with which I'm interacting, I didn't think about so much the people, although, you know, but to me, I'll go back to the frat story, it's not that I hated all for turning men, it's just that there was like, how can I affect change with that representation of a location of abuse? So, my brain wrapped around my healing brain, my thriving brain, my survivor brain, wrapped around how big is this problem, how much of it can I understand on how many levels? And when I say levels, you know, it's almost like the renaissance person. How is this being expressed or manifest or addressed through law, through government, through policy, through culture, through diversity, through international? How do other cultures and countries look at this? Who's not being heard? Who is being heard? I searched up, you know, what are the word choices? I loved language. I was like, why are you using unwanted versus uncomfortable. What's the difference between unwanted and uncomfortable? What's the difference between seduction and coercion? What's the difference between force and forceable? You know, I wanted to get that detailed and so it's satisfied my soul and my journey to feel like I was affecting change. And where I thought the larger operating forces, institutions, cultures could be moved, changed, challenged. And I pause, I wish you could see me, but I'm so shy you can't see me and I always got myself in a half bit of trouble, Michael, because I was just a bit too fearless. Like I was always on the slightly good side of trouble, but if I had just been one tick or two to the other side, I would've gotten arrested or in trouble a lot more.

And so, I tried to affect change and that was my healing process and I would tell you on everyday basis. Do you ask the question like, how was my day? If I was on the road and I saw something, you know, at the hotel where I was saying, when I was checking in, I'm the jerk who's gonna interrupt your evening to say, wait, did you just call that woman a blank? Or did you just say what I thought you said? Or I'm on the plane. One time I was diagonal from a man who was I had to look at his screen and his screen was full of naked women. You know, a kind of an objectified pornographic, and I said to him, I just don't wanna look up because I can't just face down the whole, I'm on this plane and watch what you're watching like I just don't wanna look at naked women the whole flight for the next three hours. And I got into a brawl and you know, the flight attendant finally said to the guy like, do you have some sort of screen thing? But I'm like an everyday, I think my healing is an everyday process of knowing that I stood up for justice I said that word before, but I don't know, I think some of your listeners and some people will find healing through knowing they made a difference. But I think sometimes we're not ready to be that bold or we don't think we're ready but I would challenge everybody just on one occasion, do something you've never done or said before in front of strangers, and you'll be shocked if it's the right thing to do you might thwarted, protested, told no. But here's the cool thing about people is even if they're immediate responses, rejection, rebuke, harassment, you know, pushback, abuse. I think most of us have a conscious, and we're born probably good. And so, I think even in the moment when people are awful, you just have to sit with knowing that I bet they're gonna rethink, just give yourself the benefit and the blessing and the hug to say, you know what? I know they didn't like what I said or did, but it was the right thing in my heart to do. And I bet they're gonna rethink if it's not today, it might be tomorrow, it might be a year or 20 years when they have their own kid, you just have to sit. Doing the right thing. Yeah. Next question. What else should we talk about?

Michael: Yeah. You know, one of the things that happens also is, you know, for me, I do not care if people like me or not, and I don't mean that in this nuance sense of the people in my life, my friends, my relationships, my team, but you know, people on social media, people in the world because if I feel injustice, if I feel like something needs to be said, everyone who knows me knows I'm one of the most honest people that I can possibly ever be because I don't want to wonder, what if I would've said something? What if I would've done something? What if this would've occurred? Because I think that's a life and lived, but we face so much fear. Right. And we get encompassed by it and we get scared of really, I guess the word I would use is the ramification of the actions even in good. Right. You know, you hear that old adage, no good deed goes unpunished and I'm like, yes and I think that a lot of the good deeds that we do start to change and shape the world. And the thing that I often sit in is looking at the truth of the reality that if you want to change the world, then you can, but you have to actually do thing.

Katie: Michael, I like going back to what you just said, which is so cool. You said, I don't care if people like me and that is the crux of your success. I mean, I'm sure getting to know you better, there's a zillion reasons why you're successful. But the crux of being, I think, bold, being really comfortable with where we're going is saying, I have nothing to lose because I don't care about whether people like me or not. And I'll give you a specific example.

A lot of people, including my own partner, will say things like, but everyone else is, but everyone does or when we get comfortable with where we are, it's our own demise, right? When we get comfortable enough to say, the sacrifice is just too much if we tell ourselves the sacrifice of loss of income or liking or comfort, or whatever it is, if we think that it's too much, the thing I'm saying, we're talking about things that aren't quantifiable most of the time, and the impact is unknown to the goodness. Like how much good could come from and I'm not saying that we can't learn from tragedy and error and mistakes, and I hope that we'll always look back as a humanity, like what have we done wrong? But I will say to my partner, which, you know, when he says, but everyone else's, I always do this, Michael. I'm like, remember the part where I was on the cover of Time Magazine as the first, the only, and no one had done before when I said, No, I don't care, and I signed my name to a public release absconding with every sort of support system I may have been entitled to. I'm the original. I don't care what anyone thinks. I'm the original one who said like, nope, I just don't care. It's either jump off the cliff, I'm all in, and that's always kind of been me.

Michael: Yeah. I love that and that can be scary, right? But I think that you have to face that fear because as we're sitting here now, obviously it's a hypothetical, but I just go, Hmm, if she would've kept this inside and never shared it, and never went to the dean, and never went to the school authorities, and never had the conversations, and never did the thing, not only is it the, the tens of thousands if not millions of people that you've helped and empowered, but more importantly it's like where are you at in life? Are you on the streets? Right? Are you doing drugs to cope? Are you now in, you know, whatever that thing is in the chaos of life that happens when you carry this deep, dark secret with you forever. And I think that's one of the things that I hope people will hear from this is the willingness to face the fear of knowing that I hate to use this old cliche ass phrase, but the truth will set you free.

Katie: And I also think, Michael, if we're successful with our discussion today for your listeners and whomever else we can empower. You said it also, well, it's setting a vision and taking in all, you also said you studied, I wanted to learn, I wanted to understand it's taking in the scope of any issue to the best and today I think, you know, you and I are older and the next generation of incredible activists and who will help us get to another level of understanding of care for planet, care for humans, care for how do we create this new vision of science and technology. You know, I kind of think the place where we sit right now is it sometimes it feels more overwhelming than even when it was for you and I. And I think one thing we can gift hopefully is say it's not as overwhelming as you think the plethora of data. At least we can sift through it faster and find more authentic, accurate sources and perhaps better connectivity with others around the entire planet, the global impact of technology to find others who are struggling and looking for and two brilliant minds are always better than one. Like it's just such a pleasure to think deeply and thoroughly with someone who can ask great questions and challenge us and say, here's what I've done with these, this narrative and these set of facts. And so, I think one thing I would ask your listeners to do, you know, don't think small, think big, but don't think big is over unachievable. You don't need 15 minutes of fame. You just need to try. You don't need to be on the stage at American Got Talent, you just start trying and if you're not on the stage, you still made a difference. And not everyone can be on the stage, but everyone can make a difference.

Michael: I agree. And I don't think you need the stage. I don't think you need the social media. You don't need the podcast. You don't need the speaking. You don't need any of it. Like, I think the most important thing is like, are you living in your truth? Like, are you being the authentic version of yourself? Are you saying and doing the things that you say that you're going to say and do? Right. And I think that's really the key. And anyone who listens a show for any period of time now, almost to five years, like they know, I want you to push yourself into discomfort. I want you to grow through struggle. I want you to empower yourself, to stand up on your own two feet, to stand up for yourself and to say, this is my truth. But I think people are often, again, coming back to that idea, terrified of it. And so, what I'm curious about and, and knowing this in your life and this story, this conversation, so much media around you, so many things that you've done. If you were to give anybody one piece of advice, call it one, two, or three things, if they've suffered through sexual abuse, if they suffered through any abuse, if they're just absolutely stuck in their lives because of the experiences that they've had. If you were to framework, it in something tangible that they could take away, what is it that they could do right now to start changing their life?

Katie: I think that's such an important question. I would start with just the basics, you know, eating, exercise. You have to start with square one. Square one is me; you know, I'll tell you square one for me when I was in college, even though I was still working really hard, I was so scared of seeing my perpetrator at the cafeteria, the only thing I did to eat was go across the street and buy a pin of Ben and Jerry for dinner, I think once upon a time. You said your favorite food for dinner was chocolate cake. I was eating a pint of cookie dough, Bena Jerrys for dinner, you know, that's terrible. So, step one is find some balance, and sometimes that's gonna require a hiatus from the things that are too much right now. A hiatus like, Oh, I need a week break, just take, even if you can only do a three day break to get your life, like what's sit down and analyze your everyday patterns, that's step one. And I say your sleep, your exercise, and your nutrition, that's like first step. Like, what am I doing wrong there? Or what am I doing not wrong, but what am I doing to cope with my pain that's hurting those three basic needs.

Step two is I might need to make some changes and what are they and how do I operationalize them? But then let's go to the next sphere of self, right? Beyond the basics then we need to interact with humans. We start with I; the second sphere is we, you know, you and me. So, who are the people around me that are also causing me harm, bringing me down, telling me I'm wrong, telling me I'm to blame, hurting me, and I need to extricate myself from harm from humans, it could be my boss like all of it. It's all mutable. It's all changeable, and that's really important. You're not gonna thrive if you surround yourselves, even if it's your own family. You know, you have to make those hard choices, if it's hurting you and they won't change, or it's out of their control, then you have to make that hard choice. Then when we get that sphere fixed, the third step is, now I'm in a healthier way, what do I need to sustain and expand where I want to go? Sustain me what I need to do every day, every week and then set those longer-term goals and what will help me feel fulfilled, sustained, and healed. You know, and it might be also the therapy or the counselor or the groups or communities I can join, change of job, like I think you have to start like those three things, Michael, to get where you want.

Michael: Yeah, I love those and I totally agree. And I think a lot of that is about introspection and reflection and getting vastly honest with yourself. Katie, this conversation's been absolutely incredible before I ask you my last question, can you please tell everyone where they can find you?

Katie: Of course, I've several things to offer, you know, for survivors and supporters of any form of sexual abuse, trauma, violence. I am the executive director of the Take Back The Night Foundation we are an international organization, the oldest and longest running caused and sexual violence in the world. And we have all kinds of ways to either participate in our events that are free, we have a global virtual on the last Thursday of October, it's a one-hour empowering, amazing experience. So that's one thing if you wanna volunteer, help the foundation, go to takebackthenight.org peruse the site, grab a t-shirt if you wanna be like wearables, whatever you want to feel like, you know, this is helping me. Of course, speak everywhere if you belong to an organization and my story experience would be helpful, you can go to katiekoestner.com and read about my journey and fill out a form. And finally, also, I run the Dear Katie Survivor Stories Podcast, and you can listen in as myself and my co-host usually are speaking with all kinds of incredibly, powerful people, authors, experts, survivors from all around the world who share their journeys and experiences and tips, and how they found strength and healing. So, thank you Michael, for having me, and hopefully those are helpful.

Michael: Yeah, of course. And we'll put those links in the show notes for the audience. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Katie: Great question always, Michael. I think being unbroken is to me that theme that we've been talking about is resiliency, and it's a commitment to a self and a vision and when you see it happening in an everyday moment, that you know that you are capable of being the eye pronoun, the action, the superhero, the you're capable of affecting positive change for yourself and others, every single moment. And all of us have that innately inside ourselves, so, no matter what is done to us or happens around us or the trauma or pandemic, you know, a whirlwind of bad things is always either happening or around the corner. And I think unbroken means like I want to live, we only get so many days on the planet and use every single hour and minute to your best. So that's unbroken to me.

Michael: Brilliantly said, my friend. Thank you so much for being here. Unbroken Nation. Thank you for listening.

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My friends, Be Unbroken.

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Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Katie KoestnerProfile Photo

Katie Koestner

CEO, Speaker, Founder of Take Back the Night, Author, Policy Expert, Activist

Ms. Koestner is an internationally recognized author, activist, and educator around technology, safety and healthy relationships. She has appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Nightly News, CNBC Talk Live, CNN, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Later Today, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight and other national television programs. Katie is the subject of an HBO movie and has lectured at over 5000 schools and universities around the world. Ms. Koestner is the founder of the Take Back the Night Foundation, which is an international organization working to end sexual violence, support survivors and raise awareness.

Ms. Koestner has assisted the US Department of Education in developing and providing programs to women in high risk communities. Her testimony on Capitol Hill was instrumental in the passage of federal student safety legislation. She has presented to the Division 1 Basketball Coaches at the Final Four, to the top 200 officers of the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, and to Chinese Delegates at the UN. In 2007, Coe College awarded her an honorary doctorate for her extensive work on student safety and public service. In 2022, Ms. Koestner received the Edith Surgan Victim Activist Award from the National Organization for Victim Advocacy.