Update: 12.10.18 This training is now finished. Complete the box below to be added to early notification list for the December 2019 session in Durham NC.

Take your practical knowledge, support skills and client advocacy to the next level...


WHEN SURVIVORS GIVE BIRTH is a full day trauma sensitive training. Participants learn how a history of sexual abuse can impact pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period while also building skills, understanding triggers and practicing best responses in an interactive learning environment. This is a continuing education program for professionals, not for a general audience.


Hi, I'm Elizabeth Johnson...

(This is me, in 2012 when I was a new first time mom.)

One day when I was breastfeeding my daughter, it occurred to me that although I had worked with abuse survivors for years and identity as a survivor myself, I had never come across any information, nor had any training on, how sexual abuse might impact later health, especially at the vulnerable time I was in: the postpartum period. 

Why was there so little information on how sexual abuse affects sexual and repro health? 

I did find breastfeeding triggering but it had never occurred to me that it might be! I started digging. Some academic articles and research existed (mostly inaccessible, behind academic-only paywalls) but very little else. 


But with 20 years in training and education and a specialized knowledge of abuse, I knew I could make a difference.

Professionals like you who deal with anxious families-to-be and new parents should know how past trauma can affect survivors in their everyday life...days or even decades later.

In 2013 I took a Train-The-Trainer program with Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus, co-authors of When Survivors Give Birth and was certified to use that name. I have been offering specialized programming like When Survivors Give Birth for private clients ever since.

Who This Program Is For*: 

This session of WSGB is for professionals only, including:

  • Midwives*
  • Birth and Post-partum Doulas  
  • Childbirth educators  
  • Lactation consultants  
  • Breastfeeding counselors
  • New parent educators 

This program has been approved for: 6.5 CAPPA & DONA contact hours; 0.6 CEUs for MEAC professionals*. 

*Because NCACPM sponsored the MEAC credits, professionals who would like MEAC credits will need to pay $25 for their credits for the day. Checks are payable on the day of the program to NCACPM.

“As a doula my ability to communicate effectively with my clients is an essential component of my service. Attending Elizabeth's "When Survivors Give Birth" training enhanced my capacity to serve women who are survivors of sexual assault. In addition, I will be more open to the influence of past history on the current situation for all of my clients, and will be listening with even greater care during every interview, home visit and birth I attend. Thanks Elizabeth!"  

-Joanne Dahill CD (DONA), LMBT

About Me:

Elizabeth M. Johnson, MA is a trauma educator and peer support advocate in private practice based in Durham, North Carolina. She specializes in helping people understand how sexual abuse affects sexual and reproductive health. Elizabeth is the only educator in the world specializing in training and consulting on this topic.  

Elizabeth is 1 of 6 trainers worldwide certified (2014) to deliver content based on the book, When Survivors Give Birth: How Child Sexual Abuse Affects Women in Pregnancy, Childbirth and Postpartum co-authored by DONA International co-founder Penny Simkin. 

In addition to training, speaking and consulting, Elizabeth facilitates a free, weekly peer support group for sexual abuse survivors. Elizabeth also has training as a professional coach, postpartum doula and childbirth educator. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Womens Studies from Southern Connecticut State University. S

Elizabeth identifies as a rape survivor and has worked with survivors since 2005.

“I was abused by my grandfather and I could feel myself holding my breath during your talk. I was just about to take a break when you suggested one. Your timing was perfect and made me feel like you know the impact of which you speak."  

- Anonymous IBCLC, RN


Q. "What if I am a survivor?"

A. I have been in training and education for 20+ years. I have been training healthcare professionals on this specific content for 5+ years. Every time I have delivered a training there has been at least one participant who shares their history as a survivor with me. All of them have told me that because the training was delivered in a sensitive, intentional manner that they not only felt comfortable but also felt renewed confidence in their ablilty to deal effectively with survivor patients/clients. 

Q. "Can I get contact hours or CEUs for this course?"

A. CAPPA & DONA International professionals can get 6.5 Contact Hours for this program. MEAC professionals can get .6 CEUs This program has been certified by DONA International for contact hours since 2014. 

Q. "What is the cancellation policy?"  

A. Individuals who need to cancel attendance at least 30 days prior to any public trainings have 2 options:  

1) request in writing a full refund (minus a $45 fee)  

2) request in writing to transfer to a future session. There is no fee to transfer and your paid registration remains the same whether or not the price of the training increases the next time it is offered.  

I cannot accommodate cancellations inside the 30-day window.  

Birth doulas who are called to a birth before 8:00 am on the day of the public training may request to be transferred at no cost to them to a later training of their choice or request a full refund less a $45 cancellation fee.  

In the case that the class minimum of 10 paid participants is not met, monies collected will be held for a rescheduled date. 

Q. "How is your WSGB program different from the one that Penny facilitates?"

A. Here's how my version is unique-

1) Structurally, my sessions are very different! First off, my sessions of WSGB are small. Trainings are not held in an auditorium or even a large classroom. My programs are intentionally created to be survivor sensitive and trauma-informed. I also model trauma-informed practices (no unexpected dimmed lights, scary stories or videos, etc) and behaviors (inclusive language, trigger warnings, intentional breaks, etc.) as a way for participants to learn practical strategies that they can adopt in their own work.

2) Penny and Phyllis' book centers on how child sexual abuse affects pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Sexual abuse suffered as an adult, however, can be no less challenging. My version of WSGB is not limited to child sexual abuse. I include information on how sexual abuse suffered as an adult can also impact sexual and reproductive health.  

3) My sessions are intended to impart very relevant, specific knowledge and practical skills that participants can use in their work immediately. Information in my sessions is highly curated for my audience, with quality as the focus, not quantity. I use a few specific case studies from real survivors I have known, interviewed or worked with. But there are no "general" survivor stories. 

4) My sessions have an intersectional component. I don't believe we can look at the issue of sexual abuse without considering how race, for example, impacts rates of abuse, services survivors receive and medical care.

5) My offering of WSGB is not intended for a general audience as some sessions are. While there is no space for "processing", sexual abuse survivor participants (professionals in their field) who have attended my programs report feeling safe, respected and heard in my programs. They also report feeling empowered by their new knowledge.

"I've been working to support new families as a childbirth educator, birth doula and American Red Cross LTP for 12 years and have been to a considerable number of trainings in an effort to expand my ability to serve women during their childbearing years. Elizabeth's session of "When Survivors Give Birth" was excellent. I took away much that has since helped me to better support my own clients. Elizabeth has a wonderful way. She makes all of her participants feel comfortable and at ease even when educating on such sensitive subject matter. I highly recommend Elizabeth's training opportunities to anyone who works with new families."  

-Susan Rotman AAHCC, CD (DONA)

With more and more sexual abuse survivors coming forward everyday, the need has never been more important for a training like When Survivors Give Birth.

This upcoming session of "When Survivors Give Birth" is offered is a public program only once annually.... 

which means there's no time like the present to join me and a small group of like-minded professionals for an unforgettable day.  

I'm excited to meet you in Durham in December!  

With gratitude for your good work,