16 Truths: Claudia Burger
Our brain is not made for the modern society with all the new inventions such as social media.
I am Claudia Burger, born on 24 May 1966, from Citrusdal in the Western Cape. I am the youngest of three sisters. I qualified as a social worker from the University of Stellenbosch in December 1988. I worked in a variety of settings already such as the South African National Defence Force, Cape Town Child Welfare Society, Pollsmoor Prison, managed a Child and Youth Care Centre for Abused Girls for 9 years and am currently the programme director at Anex (Activists networking against the exploitation of children) a children’s rights organisation of which the aim is to combat all forms of exploitation of children such as human trafficking. I am the mother of two beautiful daughters – Hanneke, 24 years and Simone, 22 years. They are my blessings.
I believe in the potential of every human being and that we need to spend more time on what is going right than what is going wrong. I believe as Bruce Perry, well know child psychiatrist is saying “that our biggest biological gift is the ability to form relationships” and that we are currently living in relational poverty as we are neglecting this gift of ours as humans. Our brain is not made for the modern society with all the new inventions such as social media. I also believe that we are all created for love and that all humans have a need to belong and feel special and significant. We all need that secure attachment from our primary caregiver. If you do not receive the secure attachment you experience the world as a dangerous place from being a baby and will ultimately stay searching your whole life for the attachment you did not receive.
Having come from an abused childhood myself, I spent most of my life searching for the “missing link” and spent years in cognitive psychotherapy with very little change happening in my life. When I was director of a Child and Youth Care Centre for abused girls for 9 years, I realised that punitive behaviour towards these fragile girls when they were angry and had rage attacks or found themselves in dangerous situations with the potential of being exploited, will not improve their lives and their view of themselves. So my research on trauma started. I have spent the past 5 years researching trauma and have extensively studied the work of most of the world renowned researchers and experts on Trauma, such as Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Babbette Rothschild, Peter Porges, Bruce Perry and others. The biggest discovery I have made is the effect Trauma has on the brain and how that impacts on our life long development. I have also discovered why trauma victims cannot relate to “talk therapy” and that as a therapist, educator, trauma counsellor you need to access the lower parts of the brain first before you can bring the sophisticated part of the brain, the neo cortex, on line again as the neo cortex actually “goes off line” during trauma. Trauma is stored in the nervous system of our bodies and as a result we react instinctively on triggers.
I have developed my own Trauma Informed training manual as a result of my research and the feedback on the training so far, has been extremely positive and for the benefit of the service providers who attended the training – not only in their professional capacity but also on a personal level.
I am passionate about all people and believe that we do have the ability to create safe environments for all to reach their full potential as life is ultimately about relationships.
My real true healing started when God, whom I always had a relationship with, positioned people in my life since September 2015. Through words of knowledge, prophetic words, I realised that I was gripped in the terror of fear and that fear and love do not co exist. I was invited to visit Journey of Grace congregation in Bellville in December 2015 and that is where my healing really happened – the true me was seen and acknowledged and loved – that is all what God wants us to do for others. Since then, at Journey of Grace, at their Cape Town School of Supernatural Ministry, and in my own time, I had many encounters with God in which He showed me the lies I was fed to believe about myself. I now understand and feel His immense love for me and that is the only solution to the trauma we experience. His love is unfailing and always the same. This gave me the courage to leave a very destructive, abusive marriage, in which I was caught up in cycles of fear and abuse. I stayed in this marriage due to my belief that the person was the attachment I was searching for. I stayed due to the commitment I made. I stayed because I am in essence a positive, hopeful person and always believed that tomorrow would be better than yesterday. I stayed as I did not want to fail. I started dying piece by piece inside. I stayed due to shame as I allowed the person to do things to me and take my dignity and self-respect but I allowed it. I stayed till the idea of staying more, felt like hell and drift sand. I realised that this is not the life my God wants me to live. I realised my life was in danger. I did not want my daughters’ to think that this is how life is meant to be. I got a protection order and divorce. It has now been 4 months and I have embraced my true freedom in God. In Him there is no fear – only love and freedom. True love casts out all fear.
I am the Programme Director at Anex and as mentioned before, its a children’s rights non profit organisation which combats all forms of exploitation of children such as human trafficking. I do the training on Human Trafficking and Trauma and my main message is the following – we are born to be connected to others; the architecture of our brain is to develop in connection with other humans. Therefore we are made to be in relationships with others. We all need attachment – that is how children learn to connect and self regulate. If they do not receive that they will always search for that attachment somewhere else and be vulnerable. We need to get back to the basics of relationships and stop letting our children be soothed and comforted by social media. That is where the traffickers are waiting for their next victims.