In 1976 I was 23 years old when just 3 months after our wedding, my husband and I were awakened at 3:00 AM by men with guns who took us from our home. Kidnapping for ransom was a common occurrence in Brazil. We believed these were common kidnappers. We soon discovered they were corrupt police who wanted to be paid. We were imprisoned, beaten, raped and tortured for 45 days. We were released on July 4th, 1976 after our family paid a US $400K bribe.
- Corruption: I learned corruption as a child. Corruption is systemic in Brazil. JEITINHO (pronounced Jayteenio) is a way of life.
- Mental Health: This is still a huge stigma and needs to be addressed. My PTSD was never addressed. Suicide, drug abuse and acting out became coping mechanisms for me. Speaking about our issues is critical.
- Telling Your Story: It took 40 years, but Yoga helped me find a way to speak out. I am one of the lucky ones. Writing and talking helped me. I discovered that writing was cathartic. Every time I speak about my pain it helps me heal more. But more importantly, I discovered it helped others speak out as well.
- Human Rights Abuses In Brazil: The 1979 Law provides amnesty from prosecution to Brazilian officials who use torture to this day. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have repeatedly demanded that law be overturned to no avail. In Brazil, the rule of law is GUILTY Until Proven Innocent unlike the US where you are INNOCENT Until Proven Guilty. We are very blessed to live here and must continue to fight to keep corruption from taking over.
- Immigration: I have no solution to our immigration issues and understand it is very divisive. But I will say this. When I see mothers and fathers and children, risking everything including their own lives by walking thousands of miles to take a chance that they might find a better life for themselves and their families, I cannot help but wonder why we can’t do something. No one leaves their country, their home and way of life on a whim. They leave because they believe that if they stay, they will not survive. They leave only to search for a better life. For a CHANCE at a better life. Something Must be done to help them.
All trauma can be overcome. It can be overcome as long as we do not give up. Trauma will always change the person who experiences it. But we can make it a change that will shape us at any age. It’s our choice if it shapes us for better or worse. One of my most influential and inspirational yoga teachers coined the term “personal tsunami” to describe those events that turn our lives upside down. We ALL experience trauma at some point in our lives. Your trauma will pass. Fortunately, I finally learned that it’s not about the storm; it’s not about the tsunami, it’s about how we clear the debris and rebuild. I hope that hearing about my journey might help you navigate your own trauma.
Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a dual American/Brazilian citizen, Karen Keilt is an accomplished author, screenwriter and equestrienne. Karen studied at the University of Sao Paulo. Karen is bilingual in Portuguese and English, and fluent in Spanish; her facility for language one benefit of being exposed to multiple cultures from an early age. Keilt has had an eclectic career including: Newspaper Columnist; YMCA Riding Master; first female General Manager of Pro Men’s Hockey Team, The Florida Hammerheads; VP Franchise Sales for Frannet New England and Executive Director of the Lake Wylie SC Chamber of Commerce.
An avid amateur photographer and yoga practitioner, Karen enjoys horseback riding, writing, hiking, travel, surfing and scuba diving.