Communication senior Julianna Blain stood in front of a room full of students and professors at this year’s Say It In 6 event and told her story. She spoke about growing up in a religious cult environment and conforming to a belief system in which speaking out was not a part of the lifestyle. She explained how she’s actively using her education in communication to overcome years of emotional abuse. And then, she won the competition.
“[My presentation] was the most thought-provoking, I think because it was so different,” said Blain. “Everybody else was presenting this amazing stuff, and I wondered if I was in the right place. I was just tying how I applied all of the communication classes to my practical life.”
Living in Isolation
Blain was homeschooled with her five brothers and sisters, under the constant watch of their father. Their world revolved around going to the grocery store, the library and attending church once a week with five families ideologically identical to theirs. Blain was prohibited from wearing makeup and had no unsupervised access to radio or television. Her father’s fear of outside influence limited her friendships and eliminated any possibility of freedom.
“It’s crazy because explaining it, I feel like people would say, ‘Well, why didn’t you just go?’ but there’s such a level of oppression and fear and it just held you there,” said Blain. “It’s really hard to explain if you haven’t experienced the emotional abuse.”
Luckily, Blain, her mother and siblings were able to escape the oppressive household when her father went out of town on a business trip. But the patterns of abuse weren’t over. Blain married a very assertive man at the age of 20 and again felt unable to express herself.
“In growing up with my dad, and my marriage, I was very isolated in my own mind,” said Blain. “What was happening in my head was so different than what was going on on the outside. What I wanted to happen wasn’t happening, because I didn’t know how to speak to it.”
Three years into her marriage, Blain realized how unhappy both she and her husband were. They decided to end their relationship due to a lack of communication among many other problems, and Blain went back to school after enrolling in the Communication program at ComArtSci.
Growing Through Communication
Now, Blain is working toward her undergraduate degree and is making the most of every class. She’s studying persuasion tactics, social thought structure and interpersonal communication. She credits professors like Maria Lapinski, Amanda Holmstrom and Amy Wisner for her personal growth in being able to analyze her past in order to move forward with her future.
“I was able to put myself into each concept I was learning,” said Blain. “It was like a puzzle. I started getting a lot stronger on the communication side of things and learning how to be stronger, speak my mind and reframe my brain.”
Thanks to her education, Blain has been able to overcome many of the communication hang-ups she’s had in the past, and has transformed into an outgoing and outspoken young woman. She hopes to help others do the same by launching into a career in the self-help world.
“For now, I’m on the health and wellness train,” said Blain. “I’m just following what I feel is right, following what I’m interested in and what helps me.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets