How Oprah Winfrey Tackled Abuse


Being holistic in health care means attending to the physical symptom and taking the time to work with any underlying and related emotional issues.

When Oprah Winfrey learned that students boarding at the South African school she built were being sexually abused by the some of the staff she employed, she responded by ridding the school of the abusers. At the same time, she attended to the emotional health of the students who had suffered from the abuse.

Oprah flew to South Africa herself to comfort the girls, she brought in counselors so that they could talk to someone about their ordeal, she attempted to provide future safety by giving each one her personal cell phone number allowing any student to phone her should they be traumatized in any way again.

While working towards ridding the school of the symptom – the abusers – Oprah also attended to the trauma beneath the symptom.

A holistic approach to our health is one where we attend to the whole system.

From a physical level this involves treating our bodies as the temples they deserve to be:

  • Becoming conscious of nutritional intake and feeding ourselves foods that contribute to our health rather than work against it.
  • Exercising to encourage the body to move and remain agile.
  • Sufficient sleep and rest for restoration and re-vitalization.
  • Becoming health-educated and being a participant in our physical health needs, rather than putting ourselves solely in the hands of someone else to take care of them.

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Becoming a Participant in Your Health-Care

We are fortunate to live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips. If the doctor gives a diagnosis, we can easily read up on it in a book, or look up the facts and meanings of the symptom or disease on the internet. Being a participant in your physical health-care is taking the time to research the drugs you are given, or asking the pharmacist for a print out of the drug’s side effects.

For some, it is seeking the services of a practitioner, such as a nutritionist, naturopath, or herbalist, who is able to impart advice as to whether natural nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and other supplements can also support recovery alongside medical treatment, or recovery after medical treatment.

Rather than walk into the office of such a provider and just assume that they have the skill and experience to assist you, check them out:

  • Interview them
  • Ask questions pertaining to their experience on treating your health concern
  • Learn about their training
  • Of the approach they would use in your treatment
  • Ask what they would do if they were stymied, or were not having the success they hoped in treating your issue: Would they refer you? Would they seek advice themselves? Would they let you know they are running into problems rather than keep you on as a patient to earn money?

Becoming involved in your physical healing sometimes means making choices for yourself rather than being totally dependent on someone else making, what can often be, life changing decisions for you:

  • Become educated and informed.
  • Assess the advice you are given and discuss the roads you are considering going down in your treatment with the relevant professionals.

This is being a participant in your physical health care, rather than a dependent.

Participants walk alongside the person they depend upon, constantly assessing, asking questions, and being curious about the directions in which they are heading.

There may be times when we may have very little energy, or we may be incapacitated and therefore have no choice but to be dependent on others. In those situations, look forward toward the time when your health and energy will hopefully allow you to become an informed participant.

 Become a Participant in Your Health-Care!

For further reading on this topic go to Do Unexpressed Emotions Contribute to Illness and Pain?


Would you class yourself as dependent on your health provider or a participant?

Are you in charge of your health?

If you class yourself as a dependent, is there some history attached to that role for you? For example, did your parents or caregivers model dependency on health care professionals? Is your relationship with health-care professionals influenced by your history with authority – are you uncomfortable with people in positions of authority?

Is there value for you becoming a participant in your health-care?

How would that change your approach to your health?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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5 thoughts on “How Oprah Winfrey Tackled Abuse

  1. Very good article Pietro. I am a healer/holistic consultant and have encouraged colleagues to refer to others in their field if they are stymied. This is such a good point I just wanted to say thank you. I will do my best to come to your events in the Court Yard Cafe. Victoria Fabling at

  2. I was moved to know how compassionately Oprah responded to these girls who had experienced abuse. To be heard and seen, to be believed and to know that there is someone there who will help and support you is healing in itself.

    My experience was very different. When I divulged to a much loved auntie that her mother, my grandmother, was abusing me she pinched me hard on the arm and told me I was a “little liar” and I was forced to repeat to her that I was a liar before she would let me go. I was horribly shocked to discover that I could NEVER disclose to anyone again what was happening to me if that was the outcome from telling a trusted aunt. I wonder now if my aunt had also been abused by her mother and could not deal with it becoming public knowledge that her mom was an abuser…and very likely a vicitim of abuse herself. In any case, I effectively “forgot” what had happened to me and only remembered many years later, in my thirties, that my childhood had been filled with these times of shame and abuse. After years of therapy I grew to understand that I was not to blame and need not feel any shame. What relief! I began to see the beauty of who I am once again.
    We are fortunate to live in a time when help is available and I have learned the importance of caring for my health on many different levels. It is a long journey but one that I welcome.
    I hope all those who read this blog can seek help if they need it. We are NOT just a body but have many layers of knowing and being. It is wise to honour them all. Thanks for the reminders!

    • Thank you for your comment, Donna, and all of your comments on past blog posts.

      I agree, Oprah Winfrey’s support of her girls is inspiring and a model to uphold. She believed them then acted on it. A lot of people suffering abuse, especially sexual abuse, suffer the consequences of not being believed. For children especially this is so, so confusing. It is unlikely that children will oppose the disbeliever. More likely they will cast shame upon themselves, or pretend it never happened and relegate the memory into the nether reaches of their memories.

      For you, Donna, to tell your story to us – publically – informs us of your journey. However, your ability to objectively move past the shame born from other people also puts you in the role of a model for others.

      Thank you for your courage and your care, Donna. May those who are on their journey of recovery, or have yet to enter their journey, read your words and be served by your example and encouragement.

  3. Thank you for writing on this topic Pietro. Many years ago I was in a work situation where my body said “No!”…. I thought I was having a stroke as I went paralyzed and was carried out of the building and taken to a doctor. I thought that my life was ending when in fact I was told I was having a panic attack. Thus began my “long and winding road” to health and well-being. I had no idea what was wrong with me at the time and why I would be having such an intense panic attack. My body let me know in no uncertain terms that whatever I was doing was no longer tolerable.

    My journey to wellness was about dealing with emotional trauma and pent up energy that had been closeted away for decades. So, yes, it is absolutely vital to deal with the emotional aspects of ourselves as all as the physical.

    I became a very willing participant in my own healing working with medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, Pietro and ARC work, psychotherapists, Healing Touch, reflexology, nutritionists, exercise programs, journalling, courses, and many other methodologies over the years. The most difficult yet rewarding part was doing my personal work which helped reveal the emotional aspects affecting me.

    My life has changed dramatically and I’m very grateful that there is so much available to help someone willing to do whatever it takes to restore their health and well being. I’m grateful to be here thanks to many incredible practitioners and thanks to my authentic self that was unearthed and which guided me to self-care.

    With much gratitude for your contribution to my well-being Pietro,

  4. my own personal story with holistic healing began when 17 years ago i reunited with my adoptive daughter. i was overwhelmed with my emotional response to this reunion. i had heard about petro and the work he had done so i started on a plan to see him on a regular basis. it was very helpful but i became so aware of emotional well being and physical self. with his help , lifestyle adjustments ,support from friends and family i have mustered through a tough process. i do have a relationship with my medical practioner but see her very rarely as she is my last resort.yes, the holistic approach is the way to go.

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