About Me

I’m an Adult Survivor of Child Abuse

Heather Durling
Founder of The Phoenix Gathering



I came from what my father always called a “bad deck of cards” growing up. My parents divorced when I was between 1-2 years old, and my biological mother took me out of state without my father’s permission. He fought with everything he had, and at that time, the court systems firmly believed that the child always belonged with the mother. What the courts didn’t realize is that my biological mother is a clinically diagnosed bipolar paranoid schizophrenic. My father knew this, but my biological mother’s family hid my whereabouts from him until I turned 15 and a tragic event occurred.

I was sexually abused by close family members when I was 3 years old, and I grew up in an extremely abusive environment with physical, mental, and emotional abuse from my bio mother. She never re-married, so there was no one else for me to go to for help. The only family member I had that seemed to care about my mental and physical well-being was my great aunt, and I will always be grateful to her for her love and compassion. I remained silent and kept my painful daily life a secret, for fear of exposure, and uncertainty of what would happen to me.

I went into a severe depression when I was 15 years old, and attempted suicide because I couldn’t handle the thought of another day of existing as things were. This was the catalyst for me to change my life, and also for my great aunt to reveal my location to my father. Because of my great aunt, my father, my step-mom, and my brother and sister, I was able to begin the long journey to not only recovering but also becoming the healed, strong woman and mother that I am today. I am also extremely grateful to all of the people that were in my life growing up that did try to help, once they discovered the truth.

I have tried everything to resolve the damage of the different levels of abuse. I tried conventional counseling and psychiatric help, which involved medications, and ended with me feeling more like a failure than when I began because I couldn’t seem to get better. I used smoking as a coping mechanism to handle my daily stress as an adult. I had two failed marriages, and four children that I loved dearly that counted on me to be good for them. They were my inspiration and my strength to keep searching for ways to get better. I found two things that resolved ALL of it. I went through a modality called EMDR with a great counselor, which effectively healed me from all of the physical, emotional, and mental abuse I suffered growing up. My tripping point was the sexual abuse. I couldn’t talk about it because then I would re-live it. I dealt with all of the triggers and issues that became a part of myself, and I didn’t see any other way to get past them.

Then, in late November of 2013, I found a modality called Thought Field Therapy (TFT). I was so impressed by how quickly and effectively it handled my anxiety and stress levels that were generally through the roof, as well as other issues, I decided to take a certification class with Kevin Laye, a master Progressive TFT therapist, based out of the UK. During the first day of class, he brought me up to the front of the class, and in less than 8 minutes – he completely freed me from all of the issues that were associated with sexual abuse. I never even had to discuss it, all I had to do was think about how it impacted me in the present. It was incredible, and I chose to become certified in this particular modality so that I can now help other survivors. During Kevin’s class, he said that if we can just help one person at a time, that’s all that matters, and I agree fully with his philosophy.

My goal is to share my years of studies, learning, and research of conventional and alternative healing methods with my fellow survivors. I have created an online resource directory for you where you can find an abundance of information, support, and encouragement, and I strive to inspire you in my blog.

I have achieved the steps in moving from victim to survivor to thriver, and I want to help give you the tools, inspiration, and encouragement YOU need to thrive as well. I hope that you are able to find what you need on The Phoenix Gathering to rise above the ashes of your past, and be who you were MEANT to be, and not who you were told to be!

Blessings to you,
Heather Durling
“One Star Fish At a Time”