Date posted: 16 August, 2022

One woman’s story of battling addiction and trauma to help others through healing will be the focus of a special film screening next month in aid of Extern.

The Magic is Within You tells the incredible story of Vivian McKinnon, who overcame a traumatic childhood of abuse and addiction to become a successful businesswoman and motivational speaker. As a therapist Vivian also helps many people manage the legacy of trauma which they may be facing in their lives.

The short film is being screened at The MAC theatre in Belfast on Thursday, September 1st, with all profits going towards supporting Extern’s life-changing work with people facing poor mental health and wellbeing.

The film charts Vivian’s story from her traumatic upbringing in Scotland in the 1970’s where she faced physical, sexual and emotional abuse, before turning to drugs and alcohol while still a child, then her escape from domestic abuse as a young woman.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with host DJ Cate Conway at which audience members will have the opportunity find out more about Vivian’s story and how they can access supports and advice on coping with lifelong trauma.

Vivian said: “I welcome the opportunity to share my story in the hope that it gives other people the confidence to do the same. Trauma and related addictions are often accompanied by deep shame so opening up about it is one of the first steps towards healing. I say this often, you are not your story."

"Each of us has the magic within us to change the narrative, choose a different path, reinvent ourselves and live a better life. I look forward to sharing my own personal experiences and the insights I have gained from them as well as working with some of the world’s leading trauma experts.”

Grace O’Neill, Fundraising Manager for Extern, said: “We are delighted that Vivian has chosen Extern to benefit from the proceeds of this special event. As one of the leading organisations supporting people with mental health and addictions in Northern Ireland, we in Extern know only too well the challenges that Vivian and so many like her have faced in their lives.

“One of Extern’s key beliefs is that everybody deserves another chance, no matter what their background, and Vivian’s story is a prime example of how someone can make a positive transformation in their lives. By sharing her story so publicly Vivian is helping to ensure that future generations are able to challenge the impact of trauma and abuse.

“This special event at The MAC promises to be a thought-provoking and insightful look at how trauma can affect many people without realising. Tickets are selling fast, so make sure you get yours as soon as possible!”

To book tickets and find out more about this event, visit