Healing isn’t just about pain. It’s about learning to love yourself. As you move from feeling like a victim to being a proud survivor, you will have glimmers of hope, pride and satisfaction. Those are natural by-products of healing.
Along with the trust issues, one of the hardest parts to deal with is the feeling of not being believed or supported, especially by your own grandparents and extended family. When I have been through so much pain and hurt and have to live with the scars every day, I get angry knowing that others think it is all made up or they brush it off because my cousin was a teenager. I was ten when I was first sexually abused by my cousin, and a majority of my relatives have taken the perpetrator's side. I have cried many times about everything and how my relatives gave no support or love to me as a kid when this all came out. Not one relative ever came up to that innocent little girl I was and said I am sorry for what you went through or I am here for you. Instead they said hurtful things: Oh he was young. That is what kids do. It is not like he was some older man you didn't know. Why does age make a difference? It is a sick way of thinking. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. What is wrong with this picture? It brings tears to my eyes the way my relatives have reacted to this and cannot accept the truth. Denial is where they would rather stay.
Power is confusing for us, perhaps even terrifying, because our relationship with it had an unfortunate beginning. Someone in a position of power over us used and abused us…It seems as if power were something to be wielded, always at someone’s expense, usually our own.
When we first begin to take power more directly, after long having kept our relationship to it underground...it is natural that we experience anxiety, even guilt, at putting ourselves first. These feeling let us know we are taking action; they do not need to stop us.
Rikki looked over at me.“Why now? she asked, looking back at Arly. “Why is this happening now?Hard to say. Arly [therapist] replied. DID usually gets diagnosed in adulthood. Something happens that triggers the alters to come out. When Cam's father died and he came in to help his brother run the family business he was in close contact with his mother again. Maybe it was seeing Kyle around the same age when some of the abuse happened. Cam was sick for a long time and finally got better. Maybe he wasn't strong enough until now to handle this. It's probably a combination of things. But it sure looks like some of the abuse Cam experienced involved his mother. And sexual abuse by the mother is considered to he one of the most traumatic forms of abuse. In some ways it's the ultimate betrayal.
As I faced each tragedy in my life, I learned to reach into the depth of my soul for strength and determination. Through this healing process, I discovered perseverance and resilience. I could not go into the past and use White-Out to erase any events; instead, I had to find a way to use my pain to help me heal and grow. I had to stare darkness in the face and accept that I could not change the past, but I could build a better future.
When there is inconsistency in belief and action (such as being violated by someone who is supposed to love you) our mind has to make an adjustment so that thought and action are aligned. So sometimes the adjustment that the mind makes is for the victim to bring her or his behavior in line with the violator, since the violator cannot be controlled by the victim. Our greatest source of survival is to adapt to our environment. So increasing emotional intimacy with a person who is forcing physical intimacy makes sense in our minds. It resolves cognitive dissonance.
In order to survive our youth, many of us became sensitized to which conditions we had to play to, to receive attention. No wonder we mistook this attention for love. We thought love came in finite quantities—it had to be competed for among siblings, or it had to be paid for with exacting dues.
Our need to be greater than or less than has been a defense against toxic shame. A shameful act was committed upon us. The perpetrator walked away, leaving us with the shame. We absorbed the notion that we are somehow defective. To cover for this we constructed a false self, a masked self. And it is this self that is the overachiever or the dunce, the tramp or the puritan, the powermonger or the pathetic loser.
When we are ready to let go of our old controls, we admit that we were powerless over the incest or abuse...We have often thought, 'If only I could have stopped it,' but we could not have stopped it. We let go of the 'if only' now and sit still with our stark powerlessness…In our surrender to powerlessness, we touch ourselves with the gift of truth.
Even if our survival skills have become impediments we would like to let go of because they have ceased to serve us, we can still love ourselves with them. In appreciation of our survival, we can be awed at how our resources brought us through, even when these resources were things like indifference, a wall of rage, a cold heart…We learn to embrace ourselves as humans with faults and problems.
At the time I was being molested, I thought I was the only one. My father controlled everything in our house and he always said that what was happening to me was natural and that I should accommodate him. Even though I have to look back sometimes, I am moving forward. And even though it's painful for me to face my mother's complacency, doing so has helped me understand that it wasn't my fault. If I could have read something at the time about sex abuse, if people had talked openly about, I could have been saved so many years of guilt and shame and secrecy. Each time I talk about my incest, I get rid of some of that shame and guilt. Each person I share with, no matter what their response, takes another piece of the pain away.
All emotions, even those that are suppressed and unexpressed, have physical effects. Unexpressed emotions tend to stay in the body like small ticking time bombs—they are illnesses in incubation.
Imagine the message that sent to my sister and me. A cousin violates us, confesses, and walks away with barely a slap on the wrist. I learned at a young age that if I was ever going to see justice for the wrongs done to me, I had to find it myself.
Slowly, I'm beginning to realise that what happened to me wasn't my fault, that I was taken advantage of by a group of vile, twisted men.
As survivors, we’ve been conditioned to be victims sexually. Many of us have never learned to say no or to set limits on our sexual activities...To heal, it’s important that we take control, that we make active choices concerning if, when, and how we want to explore sexuality. Especially in the beginning, you need to put your own needs about sex ahead of anyone else’s.
In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.
Dissociation gets you through a brutal experience, letting your basic survival skills operate unimpeded…Your ability to survive is enhanced as the ability to feel is diminished…All feeling are blocked; you ‘go away.’ You are disconnected from the act, the perpetrator & yourself…Viewing the scene from up above or some other out-of-body perspective is common among sexual abuse survivors.
Sadly, psychiatric training still includes far too little on the very serious psychiatric sequelae of childhood trauma, especially CSA [child sexual abuse]. There is inadequate recognition within mental health services of the prevalence and importance of Dissociative Disorders, sufferers of which are frequently misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or, in the cases of DID, schizophrenia.This is to some extent understandable as some of the features of DID appear superficially to mimic those of schizophrenia and/or Borderline Personality Disorder.
... sexual abuse by the mother is considered to he one of the most traumatic forms of abuse. In some ways it's the ultimate betrayal.
The fear of abandonment forced me to comply as a child, but I’m not forced to comply anymore. The key people in my life did reject me for telling the truth about my abuse, but I’m not alone. Even if the consequence for telling the truth is rejection from everyone I know, that’s not the same death threat that it was when I was a child. I’m a self-sufficient adult and abandonment no longer means the end of my life.
At times I am flabbergasted that my memory is considered false and my alcoholic father's memory is considered rational and sane. Am I not believed because I am a woman? If Peter Freyd were a man who lived in my neighborhood during my childhood instead of my father, would he and his wife be so believable? If not, what is it about his status as my father that makes him more credible?
She was so upset about a blog that maybe a total of six people read yet had no compassion for her granddaughters who had suffered the physical and emotional pains of sexual abuse and whose lives were changed forever. The two cannot even be compared, yet when someone is in denial about what happened, they cannot perceive what is true. It seemed too hard for her to let her mind go there and believe her grandson could do such terrible things.
To heal from child sexual abuse you must believe that you were a victim, that the abuse really did take place. This is often difficult for survivors. When you’ve spent your life denying the reality of your abuse, when you don’t want it to be true, or when your family repeatedly calls you crazy or a liar, it can be hard to remain firm in the knowledge that you were abused.
My mom called Grandma today and told her we would no longer be attending family parties. My mom told her we have had enough of being blamed for something Brian did and everyone brushing it off like it was no big deal.
One of the reasons a survivor finds it so difficult to see herself as a victim is that she has been blamed repeatedly for the abuse: If you weren't such a whore, this wouldn't have to happen. Each time she is used and trashed, she becomes further convinced of her innate badness. She sees herself participating in forbidden sexual activity and may often get some sense of gratification from it even if she doesn't want to (it is, after all, a form of touch, and our bodies respond without the consent of our wills). This is seen as further proof that the abuse is her fault and well deserved. In her mind, she has become responsible for the actions of her abusers. She believes she is not a victim; she is a loathsome, despicable, worthless human being—if indeed she even qualifies as human. When the abuse has been sadistic in nature...these beliefs are futher entrenched.
I was becoming a product of society, a hardened juvenile! Now I was becoming rebellious and hateful.
Just as much as the media portray child sexual exploitation as being a 'hidden' crime, then that is no less of a case with child physical abuse.
A lot of attention has been given over to the Catholic Churches sexual abuse of children in their care, but this attention seems to have been hijacked by the media and has overshadowed the many thousands of victims that endured physical abuse.
You might think the Bangkok Hilton (the nickname of a fictional prison in Bangkok) was tough, well that was paradise compared to this place!
From a young boy’s viewpoint this could not get any worse, especially when you were told that you belonged to the devil, and this bullying of me went on for a long time.
I have beaten people into the ground and the more they cry the more of a beating I gave them. If they don’t cry, I come off, if they cry then I will beat them and beat them and beat them.
From spending ten years in hell and coming to this regime of kindness was a shock. It was so much of a shock, it was unbelievable. I was like an untamed animal, I couldn’t accept it and I just wouldn’t accept it.
I dived out of the office and I was gone … hitting these fields like a mad March hare. This wasn’t Born Free, it was RUN FREE!
All these do-gooders make it sound like you just have to repent and off you go to heaven, but what about all the atrocities the Catholic religion did to us? Who pays for that! They just took over our lives!!
Religion to me was only something to be used and abused, as it had done nothing for me other than give me pain. Religion for me was a method used to gain an extra bottle of wine or a nice meal.