Almost two years after the tragic and heart-breaking death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg has launched is a non-profit initiative to help people face adversity, build resilience, and find joy. The web site,, is full of incredible resources and inspirational stories to help each of us find our Option B in the face of adversity.

I hope my story, and that of others featured on, helps you, a loved one, or a colleague overcome adversity, build resilience, and find joy. You can see my video story here, and explore inspirational stories of others.

I grew up in Australia in a middle-class home in a suburb in Sydney. I was adopted as a young infant. My earliest memory was around three. I was having a bath. And my father came into the bathroom and got into the bath with me.

Sexual abuse messes up your whole sense of right and wrong, guilt and shame. My overall sense of my childhood was one of being constantly on the watch.

When you’re in that situation, it becomes just about surviving and getting through the next day. You aren’t able to say anything to anyone because you’re afraid. That really leads to a downward spiral. For me, it led to wanting to end my life. I tried that a few times.

My father ruined so much of my life and made me so unhappy, but I wasn’t going to let him beat me. I’ve got nothing to lose in trying to live the biggest life I can.

After years of climbing the corporate ladder, I left Australia to travel the world. Being out in nature and being moved by something that was so alive — I’d never felt that before. I discovered that there’s something more to life. There’s another option for me.

I realized that if I really wanted to give the most back, I could do that by helping girls who had been victims of sexual abuse. I settled in Miami, where I started a support group for survivors of sex trafficking.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

I first met Jay in the group. She was pregnant at the time. She told me that before she joined the group, she never wanted to share her story because she didn’t want others to judge her. But when she was with the group of women who had been through similar things, it was easier to relate to other people and to open up.

When bad things happen, especially when it’s around abuse, if you can’t share or find a way to tell people what’s happening, then you can’t break through. You’re keeping yourself in that prison of silence. And the thing that I could have done differently was the thing that was most terrifying: to tell my mother.

When I told her, she was obviously horribly upset and disturbed, but it was a relief. It opened the door to a real relationship for us.

Even though my choices were taken away from me when I was a child, I can now as an adult make choices for myself. We can dig deep and we can find that magic. And we can find that sense of “Oh, this is what life is.” We can also say, “I’m just going to live it.”


Learn more about Kathy’s story in her book, Change Your Shoes.

Originally published at

Originally published at


  • Kathy Andersen

    Award-Winning & Best-Selling Author; Speaker; MPA, Harvard University.

    Kathy Andersen is an award-winning author and internationally recognized for helping people, communities, and organizations achieve happiness, purpose, and impact. Kathy's award-winning book, Change Your Shoes, Live Your Greatest Life, and accompanying workbook, Change Your Shoes, 365 Life Resolutions, have helped readers internationally to overcome difficult circumstances and step into happiness. In Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B, (2017), Kathy’s story is shared to help others face adversity, build resilience, and find joy.  Kathy offers a pragmatic and personal, yet deeply insightful and thought-provoking path to overcoming hardship and embracing happiness with purpose and impact by combining western research and practice on leadership and positive psychology with teachings and practices of mindfulness and well-being from Kathy's work and training with Buddhist monks in India, along with Kathy’s own life experience of overcoming a childhood of sexual abuse.