Mrs. Universe Canada 2022, Dr. Patricia Celan, gave an inspiring speech on domestic violence in Canada during the pageant’s annual Domestic Violence Symposium. As a survivor of childhood abuse, she knows from firsthand experience that abuse can negatively impact your health. She has also studied Adverse Childhood Experiences, otherwise known as ACEs. Research on ACEs shows that the toxic stress of a difficult childhood can have lifelong impacts.
During her speech at the forum on domestic violence, she talked about the ongoing impact of being a survivor of trauma. She shared with her audience that there is a phenomenon where people who have been abused in the past are at higher risk of re-victimization later in life, and talked about examples of re-victimization for adults who survived child abuse.
Although many people who have struggled with adverse experiences can experience depression and anxiety, Dr. Celan had a message of hope for her audience. Finding purpose and meaning in difficult experiences can help people turn post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth. Dr. Celan said that her goals of helping those who have suffered trauma is what fuels her passion for psychiatry. Advocacy is also important to help current victims and survivors, and she explained how she has lobbied government officials to increase supports for some of society’s most vulnerable. She also regularly speaks in schools about the signs of domestic abuse and how to escape, and emphasized that ongoing awareness initiatives are important for bringing an end to the epidemic of domestic violence.
A history of domestic abuse can increase someone’s risk factors for a variety of physical and mental illnesses, however Dr. Celan says these dangers can be mitigated. When people are mindful and intentional about their choices, they can overcome the impact of trauma on their brains. Increasing resilience through education, purpose-filled activities, self-care, building a strong community, and choosing a healthy environment to live in can all protect people from abuse-related illnesses.
For her inspirational speech on resilience and overcoming adversity, Dr. Celan won the Mrs. Universe Diamond Heart Award. This award recognizes her for being a woman of integrity and for continuing to work on supporting her vulnerable patient population. Her story of rising from the ashes of abuse herself serves to prove that anyone can survive – and thrive – in spite of difficult times.