Fearless Friday: Heidi Schaeffer, MD

Heidi is a mover and shaker in the world of medicine and activism. She is a medical practitioner, university lecturer, and an activist for the prevention of human sex trafficking. In our first #FearlessFriday, she shares her story and how she defines courage.

How would you explain courage to your children?

“Courage is going outside of your comfort zone. It is speaking up and speaking out despite fear of judgment."

Who in your personal life do you revere as being courageous & why?

I revere the survivors who have come before me and bravely spoke their truths to help others in need. I definitely admire Laura and Karen (Co-Founders of Wren & Roch) for their brutal honesty about what they’ve endured- it was a huge catalyst to share my own experiences.

When do you recall being the most courageous point in your life? What motivated you to tap into that courage?

One courageous moment came at the point when I admitted to myself--despite believing it could never happen to me- that I was a domestic violence survivor. I thank God and the support of good friends for helping me face that demon. Over time, I learned to not tolerate abuse and to love myself.

How do you bring courage into your daily life?

I bring in courage by trying to advocate for others every day. I do this in presentations to the community, leading and/or participating on several nonprofit boards, and lobbying for legislation at the state and federal levels. As I’ve gained my “voice” back, I use it to make sure those still suffering in silence can be “heard”.

If you could give one tip as advice to anyone listening right now (or to your younger self) about anything, what would it be?

My advice: “Don’t quit. Don’t give up. What happened to you is not ok, and it’s not your fault. You will rise above and not be defined by the people who hurt you. It is ok to be vulnerable and share your story to create positive change. You are a warrior!”