Sunday, 30 September 2012

Stages Of Recovery #childabuse #survivors

Is recovery possible? Can I make it? Is it worth it?




All too often, we tend to spend too much time looking back on the abuse we have already survived, and instead of living our lives, we give the past too much importance over who we are now, as opposed to what and who we were when abused, namely victims of sexual abuse or rape.

Why listen to someone who has not experienced what you have and believe what they tell you? If they are fully experienced in working with male survivors, by all means listen and talk to them, but don't allow anyone else to try and convince you that you were bad, complicit, wrong, dirty, or whatever negatives that tend to throw your way, because they have no idea how you think and feel.
This confusion often occurs because we are told or ill informed that the abuse defines us, but in reality it does not, as we were victims of sexual abuse or rape, but from day one, we became survivors and thrivors of sexual abuse and rape.
So how to get beyond that and start to feel better about who you are;
  • Understand the grief process that is involved in recovery and know that it is possible to get through the trauma's that you currently feel and experience.
    Denial, shock, horror, pain, guilt, fears etc, are all common parts of the recovery process, but will diminish as time goes past.
  • Don't be afraid to say whatever is clouding your mind.
    There is not an original act of abuse that has been done to you, just your version, so it has been heard before, and there should be no guilt or shame attached to what you need to say, in order to recover.
  • If you hold back, and keep the secrets that are not yours to keep, it will prevent your healing and keep you locked in shock and denial.
    Break that barrier and you will see that hope is possible and that life is waiting. Don't buy into the bullshit version that life is just an existence, instead start to live your life!
  • Get some help and support!
    Although one to one counselling is of great benefit and allows you to build up trust and often say things you would never usually say, group therapy, listening and speaking to others, greatly enhances your recovery and allows you to see that you are really not alone, and never were.
    If therapy or counselling sounds 'new age' and not for you, remember that it is just another form of talking, and if still thinking that sounds strange, why do untold hundreds of millions of people daily go to places of worship, asking their god for help?

  • Go gentle on yourself and be aware that times and places could trigger you, so avoid those times and places by putting coping skills to work, and getting some support to help you through the bad times, until they become manageable by yourself.
    Avoid judging yourselves badly. We all make mistakes, and if you continue to blame yourself for what happened to you, and what you may have done when sexually abused, that will prevent your healing, so ease up on the hard act and be genlte with yourselves.

    Maybe those times and places will always trigger you, and if so, avoid them at all costs, even if that means losing friends or family.
    After all, what cost do you put on your happiness?, when it is you that counts, not anyone else, because until you count, no one else will either.

  • Sit and wait for the new 'normal' to arrive, which it will do, but remember that undoing all the damage that's been done, some of which was created as a coping skill at the time, needs to be worked on, and once that is done, you will start to feel normal again, but in a new way and safer way too, and eventually you will begin to accept what is instead of looking back.
  • Grieving the past is often a drawn out stage, but is one that you can come back from, so keep looking forward, not backwards, because the past could trip you up and may cause you to react in bad ways, so whilst being aware of the past, avoid the past in all ways, as it does not define who you are now.So is recovery possible and can you let go of the past?
    The answer is simple, and is YES!
    By working on all the issues, and in time, moving onwards with your life.

  • Please do not copy or use this article without permission from Steve Bevan of AMSOSA, all AMSOSA articles on this blog are copyright. 

    Friday, 28 September 2012

    Pre-Occupation With Past Guilt #childabuse #survivors




    Before you read any further down the page, please avoid getting confused by levels of GUILT, SHAME OR BLAME, because they are all inter connected and all of them lead to increased levels of BLAME, SHAME AND GUILT.
    So having read that, please consider this.......When you look back at your previous behaviours, and look at a violation of your, or societies moral standards, your basic belief has to be:



  • "I shouldn’t have done that”This leads to your thoughts being occupied with
  • “If only” 
  • “but” 
  • “I should have known better” 
  • “I should have stopped myself “ etc., etc....

    If you are still spending time thinking “Why”, “I’m a bad person, “Evil person” etc, the only answer I can give you is that you are still pre-occupied with an event that has been put in the past - purely by time.
    By that I mean that the previous events has passed into time, left behind, and often forgotten by others, yet you still dig it up and feel bad about it
    If you had the knowledge that you have now, you may have been able to prevent the guilt, the memories and the shame you feel now.

    As you did not, a possible way forward is to:
    1. Acknowledge, and accept that you acted and behaved in a way that you now consider to have been wrong.

    2. Identify, challenge, and then accept your guilt-creating demands, e.g. that you shouldn't have acted the way you did, and that you are basically a bad person.

    You're not, and never were!

    2. Realise and accept that what you may have did was based upon the situation you were in, at that time, & the knowledge you had at that time.

    You know differently now, but still feel that you should be guilty for an event that happened, and has been finished with by almost everyone else but you..

    What you are doing is living the past, and in doing so, creating more guilt that you can cope with.

    To continue inflicting pain, caused by the behaviour created by yourself, others or perhaps both, is not only harmful to your development as a person, but also to any further relationship you may be in already or looking to find in the future.

    You need, and have to forgive your actions, even though it may seem impossible to do so, otherwise the guilt you may feel now is nothing like the guilt you may have felt at the time.

    To explain that better, consider how you felt as a child, and feel now as an adult, with far more insight and knowledge of what really happened.

    With time to consider your actions, and with some recovery behind you, coupled with the questions and answers you’ve possibly received, has anything enabled you to see the reasons why you behaved the way you did.

    Is there a possible way forward, and give yourself space and time to consider that you are not as bad as you originally considered yourself to be.

    Look at why you feel guilty, is it due to something that you had control over at the time, or due to an abusive history that you had no control over?

    Were you able to handle situation differently, but chose to behave the way you did, regardless of the circumstances?

    Is there a realistic way of resolving your guilt feelings?
    e.g. can you honestly make amends, or do you have to accept that the problems caused at the time are beyond redemption, and therefore finished?

    You really need to stop feeling that guilt, otherwise you will lose the ability to think logically, and will be back where you started, perhaps even worse than before, having acknowledged the guilt you’re carrying with you!

    Having considered the issues of guilt, and having re-experienced it all again, maybe it would be a good time to explore those issues.

    I have to say that this isn't a cure for the guilt you carry, but can enable you to look at those areas of guilt in a different light, and maybe, just maybe, forgive yourself for the shit you have caused or been through

    As always, the choice is yours,and you need to decide what you do with it now, before the guilt reappears.




    NEW RULES TO LIVE BY

    NEW RULE 1.
    It's very scary for your inner child to break the old rules, especially the “no talking” rule that has been imposed upon you since being abused.
    You, and only you, must now decide to give yourself permission to feel what you want, and re-teach yourself that feelings are not right or wrong. You also need to have clear guidelines on expressing those feelings.
    It order to do so, your inner child needs to know the difference between expressing a feeling, and acting on a feeling. It will save you a lot of grief if you spend some time now, and learn how to do this in the future, when it will become second nature to you.

    NEW RULE 2.
    This new rule counteracts the "toxic shame" related to your needs and wants. Your inner child doesn't believe that he has the right to want anything, but you can reclaim him by listening carefully to what he needs and what he wants.
    You may not always be able to give him what he needs and wants, but you can learn to listen to and give him permission to want it.
    Without any form of desire or want, your inner child gets crushed. In addition, you need to teach your inner child that your feelings are part of your personal power, and is the fuel that moves you to get your needs met. They also signal danger, when you are being violated and when you have lost something of value to yourself.
    NEW RULE 3.
    This new rule counteracts delusion and lying that occurs in dysfunctional families. e.g. you heard your parents fighting, but when you asked what was wrong, you were told "nothing". Messages that convey the wrong image can cause you to doubt the validity of your parents.
    Your inner child doesn't believe he has the right to want anything, so listen carefully to what he needs and wants, but also be aware you might not be able to give him what he needs or wants.
    Messages that covey the wrong meanings can cause you to doubt what to believe, or listen to in the future, & will cause you to doubt your own feelings too.
    It can also cause you to doubt your feelings or even shut them down completely.

    NEW RULE 4.
    This one is about playing and having fun. Playing is a way of just being. Learn to take time out to play, regardless of what you're doing. Go fishing, play football, go for a swim, or just no nothing in particular. Even that helps.
    Another good form of play is sexual play. The best form is when the adult self shuts out the parent self, and allows you to let your natural child out to play. As the child, you will enjoy touch, taste, smell, and will be able to explore yourself and your needs fully. No, I'm not talking sexually, that's down to you to work out if that's what you want!
    NEW RULE 5.
    This might be the most important one so far. Early in life, your natural inner child learned to adapt in order to survive. Your inner child therefore has the ability to prevent you from growing, by thinking thoughts that violate reality and distort the truth. The delusion and denial will jump straight back into play is not watched. Your inner child is also shame based, which also needs to be confronted and corrected.
    NEW RULE 6.
    The needs of your inner child are immense. All children want what they want now. Part of growing up means learning that you have to wait sometimes, and delay gratification that sometimes helps reduce life's pains and worries, but only for a short space of time.
    Since being abused, your inner child has had a harder time to prove his worth, so maybe you, as the adult, compensated by buying things you didn't really need, maybe being intensely jealous of friends or lovers, feeling isolated, or believing you were dirty, unclean, not worthy of love or respect, etc.
    NEW RULE 7.
    The key to inner happiness!. So much human suffering comes from within, and becomes increased by the inner child's unhappiness.
    You need to face the full consequences of your child’s behaviour. By reclaiming the inner child, you will be able to see that the damage done is recoverable and that you, as the adult, is capable.
    Most of your inner child's responses are not true responses, but a conditioned response to actions previously known or suspected. A true response results from one's true feelings and a conscious decision.
    NEW RULE 8.
    How to teach your inner child a healthy sense of shame and guilt.
    Toxic shame forces you to be far more than human (perfect) or far less than human (a slob).
    Healthy shame allows you to make mistakes, which is human, and allows you to see that you can be fallible. Making mistakes allows you to also grow gently, and allows you to be more spontaneous in actions.
    An example; if your inner child is always aware of having to watch for fear of making a mistake, he is never going to be free enough to say or do what he wants, ever.
    Therefore, he may never ask you for help or say that he hurts, or loves you.
    NEW RULE 9.
    The golden rule. It asks that you teach your inner child to love, value and respect other people, and to love, value and respect yourself too. It comes back ten fold to you in the process.
    It will also allow the inner child to know hen he is violating this rule. He needs to learn accountability and healthy guilt, which is moral shame
    NEW RULE 10.
    Learn to like and then love who you are now, as opposed to whom you were then.
    Maybe, just maybe, you were unlovable, but how do you think you survived this long?
    All you’ve gone through, all that has happened to you think how much strength that took, and how well you’ve coped with the shit that life has thrown at you. That has taken considerable strength.
    You had to be what you were then, in order to become who you are now.
    A far better person by far, and no arguments either!


    DID YOU KNOW.....
    ..that in Britain alone...
    ...37 babies under 1 year old (26 male, 11 female) were murdered in 1997. The majority killed by members of their family.
    Source: Home Office (1998) Criminal Statistics, 1997. HMSO.
    "...the current cost of dealing with child abuse to statutory and voluntary agencies is in excess of £1 billion a year".
    Sadly, most of this money is spent dealing with the aftermath of abuse rather than its prevention.
    Source: Childhood Matters (1997). The Report of the National Commission of Inquiry into the Prevention of Child Abuse.
    ....some 15% of a nationally representative sample of 998 children aged 8 - 11 years said they would not talk to anyone if they had a problem.
    Source: Ghate and Daniels (1997). Talking About My Generation. NSPCC.
    ...3% of a national sample of 1,350 young people aged 12 - 15 years old (2% of boys, 5% of girls) had experienced an incident of sexual harassment that they considered to be a crime. They had not reported the majority of these incidents to the police.
    Source: Aye Maung, N. (1995). Young People, Victimisation and The Police: British Crime Survey Findings On Experiences and Attitudes of 12 to 15 Year-olds. Home Office Research Study 140, HMSO.
  • Copyright Steve Bevan. AMSOSA UK

    Thursday, 27 September 2012

    Acting Out Sexually As A Male Survivor #childabuse #survivors




    Acting out sexually with another man, or even woman, is not only a drain on your personal thoughts and feelings, but is also a drain on your emotional and physical needs. It can cause you to switch off, act out of character and often act out the sexual abuse roles that you were forced or made to do.



    That is not healthy and surely you deserve to treat yourself better than that? The answer is YES, by the way.
    All of this takes many routes, such as acting out online, using webcams or chat, meeting strangers at parks or laybys for random, abusive sex, or living a double life, but in all respects, it leaves you acting out the abuse you suffered, yet you still find it difficult to find an answer to the problems that drive you to do what you do.
    All of the above causes you more personal pain, makes you feel more isolated and makes you feel even worse, and so the abusive cycle continues!
    Although not often recognised, acting out sexually for male survivors is a common theme, and that can include having random multiple sexual partners, with either men or women, and often both. This occurs when in a relationship or marriage and often occurs when stress overcomes the survivor.
    To fit into society you have to pretend to be 'normal' yet if you have concerns or doubts about your sexuality, it could cause you to act out sexually with men, more often than not repeating some or all of what was done to you as a child, that can cause you emotional problems, sexual problems and lead you to cause more damage to yourself in the process.
    Try and avoid labelling yourself as either gay or bisexual or confused, because that won't help you come to terms with what has happened to you and what you are doing when feeling sexual. And if you do act out, please try and be gentle on yourself afterwards, as harsh judgements will make you feel even worse.
    Male survivors often say that they were to blame for what happened to them, that they went back for more, they failed so to say no, they enjoyed the touch/sensations, and yet they eventually see that no matter what, they are not to blame to what happened to them or for what was done to them, and that they can make changes and overcome the past, if they choose to do so.
    The primary cause of this confusion and acting out comes from the forms of abuse done to you, yet you grow up thinking that you are the one that is dirty, confused, maybe think you're gay, or even worse, have issues with your gender identification. (See below for more on that issue)
    It is only when survivors start to analyse their previous or current sexual behaviours, that they see there is still a form of abuse linked to their mistaken behaviours, which often leaves them feeling less part of the world and more isolated.
    Some real life scenarios for you to consider: (permission granted to share two of the stories)
    One male, acting out sexually with other men, yet defined himself as straight and 'normal', but when questioned about what types of abuse took place when he was a child, he recalled that it was the same sexual acts he was carrying with men. That was a real shock to him, as he had never seen the connection before and realised that it was not him, but the abuse that caused him to do what he did.
    The realisation made him physically sick, in that he threw up, and the whole issue repulsed him that he was acting out that way and since he started working on the issues he has remained free from the past and remains straight and 'normal'
    Another male, who masturbated 10-15 times a day, every day, in very unsafe situations and places, yet failed to see the connection between what was done to him and how that affected him as an adult. He is a married man, with a sex life that was being badly affected by his behaviours and until he addressed those issues, he was close to losing his wife, who wasn't able to understand what drove him to do these things
    Sadly another male, who acted out sexually with countless females, yet never felt complete as a male, said he never felt loved or wanted, yet never allowed anyone to get close to him so avoided relationships at all costs, until he became severely ill and died, alone. That was a tragic waste of life.



    CONFUSED BY YOUR SEXUALITY AND GENDER?


    When sexually abused as a child, there can be issues left that confuse you as to who you are and what you should be, sexually.
    Consider this, if you were raped and abused, and in the process you were told or made to act out as if you were female, that alone would leave behind thoughts and feelings that will continue to haunt you, confuse you and even make you act out sexually.
    Even more damage is done if the abuse continues over a period of time and te abuser continues to call you names and demands that you act or respond as a female.
    More often than not, this is done to equate the abuse carried and to minimise the abuse, and is just another sick way that abusers carry out the abuse, under the impression that it does no harm.
    Some, but not all men who have gone down the gender role assignment, have also suffered sexual abuse as a child or teenager, and that alone can confuse them enough more, because they are left feeling less of a man, whatever that is supposed to be, and therefore feel that they should be female, and in effect, passive in all ways.
    I have been given permission to share one man's experience, which he suffered as a young child, in the hope that it helps you understand and appreciate the complexities that sexual abuse and rape can have upon some men
    Aged just six years old, 'Tom' was raped and abused, whilst made to wear to female attire and during the abuse, was called by a female name, and told/made to act feminine. Photographs, wearing female attire, were taken of him.
    Over the years, those effects made 'Tom' question his sexuality, his sexual identify and his confusion as to what was done to him as a child.
    As he grew up, he was left thinking that as he failed to fit into what he saw as the normal world, that it meant he was female, and as he grew up, questioned his whole life. As he grew up, he questioned where he should have a sex change, whether he was gay, or that he should kill himself, which he thankfully failed at, and eventually went on to marry and have three children, yet he was still haunted by the past, and continued to use alcohol and drugs to mask the pain.
    In order to gain some control over that, he started acted out sexually using a online persona, that allowed him to gain some control over the abuse he suffered. He kept that secret for many years and in the process, became very confused as to who he was and what he was supposed to be.
    Western society states that he be a red blooded male and a sexual conqueror, but the remnants of the abuse confused and scared him enough to make him retreat in a fantasy world , where no one could hurt or abuse him, apart from the damage that he was causing himself.
    Other damage that is caused is if the abuse was done in silence, and then you were told you were bad, or dirty, and that can impact upon your daily thoughts and life and cause you to doubt who you are, which makes you struggle daily, yet all the abuse, and pain that came with it belongs to the people who hurt and abused you, so break that silence and gain the power back, as it was NOT your fault.


    Please do not copy or use this article without permission from Steve Bevan of AMSOSA, all AMSOSA articles on this blog are copyright.

    Wednesday, 26 September 2012

    Feelings Of Abandonment And Vulnerability #childabuse #survivors



    Where does the feelings of abandonment and vulnerability stem from?
    Having been sexually abused, and made to feel powerless, afraid, hurt, upset, etc. you often end up carrying the same fears into any situation you may find yourself, and still wrongly continue to feel some responsibility for what happened to you, and when let down, by friends, lovers or anyone you have build up some hope in, the feelings of abandonment and vulerability can set it fast and leave you devastated
    Those feelings can manifest in anger, low self esteem, confusion and even guilt, in that you feel bad for anything that happens to you or even those around you. You also feel bad about yourself, and who you are or seen as. (Weak, stupid, afraid, nervous,)
    Feeling vulnerable and abandoned, and allowing that feeling to dominate your thoughts makes you shy away from situations that cause you to feel that, imagining or fearing, somewhere deep inside, if you’re not careful, you may be abused and hurt again, even just your feelings.
    So, what do you do instead?
    You avoid making friendships, avoiding any potential dangers that may exist.
    You avoid letting people near you, especially partners, just in case they discover who you really are.
    You do not trust anyone, because the last time you did, look what happened.

    OR
    You build up excessive expectations in people to do, be or say something for you, and when they let you down, you end feeling lost, unloved, raging and confused as to why they would even consider treating you that way, but in reality they didn't know that the abuse you suffered would affect you in this way,so can't always be blamed for making you feel and react the way you have done.
    OR
    You avoid making mistakes, because if you do, you will be again be seen as vulnerable, and lacking in some way.
    OR
    You allow the abuse to continue to live your life, by letting the fears that has arisen since, control your thoughts, and you allow yourself to be controlled by your inactions to say, do or speak about what is really fucking you up.
    Why live that way, afraid to say or do what you want to?
    It has to be said that in order to heal fully, and to become the person you want and need to be, you have to experience that vulnerability again, in a safe place, in order to get to know the real you, which can almost as scary as being abused again, but is a necessary part of the healing to undertake, and will show that you are in fact no longer vulnerable or abandoned.
    If anyone tells you that isn't the case, then believe me when I say that unless you do so, you will never fully heal and will always have the ghosts that come back to haunt you.
    Arising from the above, there is a clear need to have an understanding about the external factors that led to the abuse occurring.
    Almost all incidents of abuse are physically isolated and acted by one person; therefore it is not surprising, that you may gravitate towards anyone who will give you some attention.
    More often than not, survivors end up in destructive relationships in early life, which pre-sets the pattern in later life.
    As this pattern becomes set, you often end up believing that it is a normal role of life, accepts what has happened, and continues to live that life, even though you may not be happy, satisfied or feel good being in that situation.
    By undertaking a process of healing, it dispels the internal belief that he did something to cause it or even that he didn't do something to prevent it.
    Everyone wants and needs to be loved, needed, respected and acknowledged, but when abuse takes place, the boundaries become confused, and any defence becomes unclear.
    They also remain bound in the memories that haunt them, so they need to find a focus on which to anchor onto.
    That can be almost anything, but should, without doubt, be something or someone who is able to support them fully, without fail.


    Feelings of Rejection and Abandonment
    All aspects of your daily life are negatively affected by what happened to you when you were abused. Confused? Read on....
    Everything that happens to you is based upon a throwback to previous events in your life, and how you react to those situations.
    It is based upon the split second response that happens when faced with an issue.
    You automatically go into the following thought process;
    MEMORY : Looking back at what happened last time, and what the outcome was, and basing your actions on that.
    THOUGHTS : On what happened last time and what could happen this time.
    FEELINGS : Based on what you felt like time, and how much it may have hurt you.
    DECISION : Based upon previous issues, even if this time it calls for a different reaction.
    ACTION/INACTION : Either you repeat the previous behaviour or run away from the issue again.


    All of which leaves you feeling like "you've been here before" and with very little results.
    Negative reactions are bad ones to develop, especially when feeling low, tired, or just a little pissed off with life in general.
    Those emotions arise for many reasons, anytime, anywhere, so try to confine them to where they belong, which is firmly in the past.
    What happens when this occurs is that you become focused on a previous event, and in doing so, allows it to re-surface again, and "dent" your recovery process, yet the best move is to not allow the past to haunt you any longer and with the right support, allow yourself to move on.

    This article copyright to Steve Bevan, AMSOSA UK.

    When a Man You Love was Abused



    Cecil Murphey

    Tuesday, 25 September 2012

    The Nature of Anger #childabuse #survivors

    It is very important that as survivors we are able to express our anger safely. I was angry at life for years. The anger did not necessarily have any rationale behind it at the time, it was generalised but aimed mostly inwards. I was angry at myself for allowing my life to messed up by others. I learnt to recognise this anger for what it was and though I still get angry today it is usually expressed in a safe manner. I stopped blaming myself for everything and also stopped making excuses for myself. I took control of my anger and turned it into a positive and constructive energy. This article by Steve Bevan of AMSOSA highlights the issues of anger very well.
    THE NATURE OF ANGER
    Quite simply, the anger that you often feel comes from frustration, and if not allowed to express itself, it comes through as depression, or even violence, against yourself, others or both.



    Anger varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense rage. Like all other emotions, it's accompanied by physiological and biological changes; so when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones and adrenaline
    Anger is either caused by external and internal events, so you can be angry at a specific person (Such as a partner, co-worker, supervisor) an event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

    EXPRESSING ANGERThe instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, although adaptive response to threats; in becoming angry, it inspires powerful, aggressive, feelings and behaviours, which allows you to fight and defend yourself when under attack. An amount of anger is therefore necessary to your survival.
    But, you can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; as laws, and common sense places limits on how far your anger can take you.
    People use a variety of approaches to show their anger:
    The three main approaches are 
    1. Expressing.
    2. Suppressing.
    3. Calming.

    (1.) Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive manner is the healthiest way to express anger. You have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive isnt about being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
    (2.) Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn't allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
    Unexpressed anger creates other problems, leading to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.
    (3.) Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
    CAUTION! When none of these three techniques work, that's when someone—or something—is going to get hurt.





    ANGER MANAGEMENT
    The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.


    EVER TOLD THAT YOU TOO ANGRY?
    There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.


    WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE ANGRIER THAN OTHERS?
    Some people really are more "hotheaded" than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don't show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don't always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.
    People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.


    WHAT MAKES THESE PEOPLE THIS WAY?
    A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.
    Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.


    IS IT GOOD TO "LET IT ALL HANG OUT?"
    This is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a licence to hurt others. Research has found that "letting rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation.
    It's best to find out what triggers off your anger, and then devise some strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.


    STRATEGIES TO KEEP ANGER AT BAY
    RELAXATION
    Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.
    SOME SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TRY:
    Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
    Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "take it easy." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
    Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
    Non strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer. Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're in a tense situation.


    COGNITIVE RESTRUCTURING
    Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colourful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow."
    Avoid using words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "This fucking machine never works," or "you're always fucking forgetting things" are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.
    Remember, getting angry won't fix anything, it won't make you feel better and may actually make you feel worse.
    Using logic defeats anger, because anger, even if justified, quickly becomes irrational. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you," you're just experiencing some of the rough spots in daily life.
    Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, it will enable you to get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we can get hurt and disappointed when we don't get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren't met, their disappointment becomes anger.
    As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to be aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, "I would like" something is healthier than saying, "I demand" or "I must have" something. When you're unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn't mean the hurt goes away.


    PROBLEM SOLVING? OR DEALING WITH A CHALLENGE?
    Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it's a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn't always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.
    Surely its better to see any problem in a positive way, by renaming it as a challenge, which makes it more achievable, and workable.
    Make a plan, and check your progress along the way. Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn't come right away. If you can approach it with a good effort, making a serious attempt to face it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.


    BETTER COMMUNICATION
    Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you're in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don't say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.
    Listen to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your "significant other" wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don't retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.
    It's natural to get defensive when you're criticized, but don't fight back. Instead, listen to what's underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don't allow your anger - or a partner's - let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.


    USING HUMOUR
    "Silly humour" can help defuse rage in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry and call someone a name or refer to them in some imaginative phrase, stop and picture what that word would literally look like. Do this whenever a name comes into your head about another person. If you can, draw a picture of what the actual thing might look like. This will take a lot of the edge off your fury; and humour can always be relied on to help unknot a tense situation.
    The underlying message of highly angry people is "things have to go my way!" Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!
    When you feel that urge, picture yourself as a god, a supreme ruler, who owns the streets and stores and office space, striding alone and having your way in all situations while others defer to you. The more detail you can get into your imaginary scenes, the more chances you have to realise that you are being unreasonable; you'll also realize how unimportant the things you're angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humour.
    First, don't try to just "laugh off" your problems; rather, use humour to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don't give in to harsh, sarcastic humour; that's just another form of unhealthy anger expression.
    What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it's often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.


    CHANGING YOUR ENVIRONMENT
    Sometimes it's our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the "trap" you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.
    Give yourself a break. Get out of the room or place or away from the persom or people that is causing you to feel angry.
    Make sure you have some "personal time" scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful.


    MORE TIPS FOR EASING UP ON YOURSELF
    Timing: If you and your partner tend to fight when you discuss things at night, perhaps you're tired, or distracted, or maybe it's just habit — try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don't turn into arguments.
    Avoidance: If someones chaotic behaviour makes you furious, dont allow them to anger to you anymore, its not your problem!. That's not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.
    Finding alternatives: If you have to commute through traffic every day and it leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project — learn or map out a different route, one that's less congested or more scenic. Or find another alternative, such as a bus or train.


    WHAT ABOUT ASSERTIVENESS TRAINING?It's true that angry people need to learn to become assertive (rather than aggressive), but most books and courses on developing assertiveness are aimed at people who don't feel enough anger. Those people are more passive and acquiescent than the average person; they tend to let others walk all over them. That isn't something that most angry people do. Still, these books can contain some useful tactics to use in frustrating situations.
    Remember, you can't eliminate anger — and it wouldnt be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can't change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.


    DO YOU ALLOW OTHER TO MAKE YOU ANGRY?
    Here is a simple and effective way of calming your anger down

    If you find yourself getting angry over what may seem to be trivial matters or allowing other people or perhaps just inanimate objects really get to you, read on, this may just work...it works for me anyway, and allows me to remain calm, in control and get even all in one easy move.
    Quite simply, I do not allow anyone or anything to make me feel or get me mad, if it did, I would end up feeling stupid for allowing it to, so heres what I do .
    If anyone does or says something that demeans me in any way, perhaps making me feel small, stupid or even says something that I disagree with, whatever it may be, I let them know, straight away! I dont get express it angrily, or shout at them, I simply tell them that while they have right to say what they think, so do I and let them know that their comments or actions has pissed me off, and I dont like being pissed off.
    I usually ask them what gave them the right to think they could treat me that way, and did they think I wouldnt answer back or give my opinion on what they said or done?
    A SCENARIO FOR YOU TO CONSIDER;
    As one of the younger members of my family, I was always treated as such, and on visits back to see them, they automatically tried to put me back in the 'baby brother' role of the family and treated me accordingly.
    Wrong move to make! I am no longer that child, and no longer willing to play the inane games that families continue to play, and made them aware that I'm not who I was, and if they want to play games, to go find another playmate!
    And thats it.. I give it (the anger) back to them, and by doing so, give them back the shit they tried to lay on me, and make it very clear that I dont like or will allow anyone to piss me off.
    People always seem to be quiet surprised that I dared to answer back, as they are used to people taking it and not having a say on the matter.
    I do all this calmly, without raising my voice, without making them look stupid, letting them know they made a mistake in thinking I would not say anything and take their issues on without question.
    They often look shocked that someone spoke back to them, and stand confused as to what to say back to me.
    They also understand not to mess with me at any time, and if they choose to do so, to expect me to have no part in taking on their games.
    I offer my time and energy to anyone who wants to sit down and talk, but if they think they can mess with me, they are sadly mistaken!
    Many years ago, I got involved in a disagreement at work, and walked away, becoming angry that I had allowed a person to make me feel angry, so I went back and let him know how his behaviour had made me feel, and in the process made him feel the same way.
    I was then able to walk away, knowing that he would never again talk to me in that way, and that I wouldnt allow anyone else in my life to give me shit that belongs to them
    All they do is try to make you play their game, so change the game, and in doing so, make sure you win.
    I use my adult logic, and refuse to allow anyone to do something I dont like, and that way, I remain in control of myself and my emotions.
    So what I'm trying to say is that if anyone tries to make you feel small, put you down, or even wind you up by they say about you or an issue you firmly believe in, give it back to them, and dont take on their stuff or react in way that you could regret later.
    p.s. 99.9% of the time, I use my Adult Logic to deal with any issues, but when I do get angry, its with just reason, and I dont allow it to remain with me, I give it back to whoever made me angry!
    This article copyright to Steve Bevan, AMSOSA UK.

    Monday, 24 September 2012

    From Victim to Victor! #childabuse #survivors


    Letting go of the pain caused by sexual abuse is difficult, painful and extremely hard to do, but it is not impossible to do!
    No matter what happened when you were sexually abused, you survived, by whatever means, and you can overcome this trauma. Nothing is impossible, not if you want it that much.

  • So, here’s my version of how to handle it, and guess what? It works too!It involves you trusting someone, and telling ALL of the secrets you have hidden away for so long.
    As you begin to tell, allow yourself to get in touch with all of the feelings, fears and emotions that arise.
    Don’t be afraid to show the real you who has been hidden for so long.
    Don’t be afraid of the emotions either, don’t be ashamed or afraid to be angry, sad, mad, or tearful.
    You have the right to show those emotions, just like everyone else.
    You don’t have to be a man, and ‘macho’ all of the time.
    You don’t have to pretend to be a MAN all of the time either.
    It doesn’t matter where you start, the beginning, middle or end is a good place to start, you can add to it as you talk.
    From just the one issue, there are many issues that arise. It could be anger that you speak about on one occasion, then perhaps fear another time, maybe sadness, or the pain it caused you then and now.
    Re-tell your story, and how it has affected you in different ways, until you know it has been exhausted. If and when it comes back, talk it through again and see it for what it is, just a memory that comes back


    Don’t worry about the language you use either.Some counsellor’s say that by using 'crude', 'rude' or plain basic language feels like they are being abused.
    Well here's some news for them. That's their problem, not yours! We need to feel comfortable with what and how we say things about our abuse history, and if that means saying things they don't feel comfortable with, they can always get another job in a supermarket!
    Above all, begin to get in touch with your feelings, thoughts and fears towards the abuse, how you felt then, and how you feel now.
    Try putting your feelings into words, other than expressing yourself with “I’m feeling like…..”
    Take your time in doing so, even if those emotions seem unreal.
    Whatever you do, don’t give up, otherwise “they” will seem to have won. THEY HAVE NOT.


    Moving on

  • To tell someone, perhaps a friend or partner, that you have been sexually abused either as a child or adult is extremely difficult.Even more so, if like many countless boys, you were told big boys don’t cry, or that you fear being seen as weak.
    The fear you will be disbelieved or thought to have taken part in it willingly, is soul destroying and can prevent you from talking about it.
    Listed below are some requirements that have to be honoured by you and the person you speak to before counselling can begin.
    1. Being listening to, and believed, even the unbelievable.
    2. Remembering the abuse in your time, not being rushed to recall everything.
    3. Understanding and accepting that you were not to blame.
    4. Letting go of the pain.
    5. Expressing repressed emotions, e.g. pain, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, etc.
    6. Identifying/reclaiming your sexuality.
    7. Increasing self-respect/esteem.
    8. Taking control of your life.
    9. Stopping self-inflicted pain, e.g. alcohol/drug misuse, crime, self-harming, etc.
    10. Looking at past relationships, forming new relationships.
    Dealing with all of the above takes incredible courage, nerve, and determination to overcome the abuse, which in many cases has been buried or hidden for many years.
    The journey you undertake is very empowering, healing, and will allow you to face up to what happened to you, acknowledge the abuse, but more importantly refuse to allow it live your life any more.
    Sadly, you will never forget what happened to you, but the pain will and does remove itself from your daily thoughts.
    If you are prepared to give yourself time to heal, you will live a life free from painful memories, and be able to move on from the painful memories that belong in the past.
    Nothing is worse than letting those who abused you in the past, continue to abuse you NOW.
    Let go of them and the memories of the abuse you suffered.
    It will never go away, but you can and will be able to live YOUR life.
    After all, you deserve more than a life full of misery and pain.


    AN EXCERCISE TO HELP YOU MOVE ON:
    If a lack of being loved, liked, respected, etc, is a problem, what could you do, in order to feel safer in yourself?
    If the loss of innocence is a problem, is it likely to prevent you from gaining a perspective that is kinder to you and to those you meet?
    If nightmares and the fears attached, are a problem, what could you do to overcome those fears?
    What fears do you have that seems to be preventing you from moving on?
    What could you do in order those fears?
    Having started to wake up to the realisation that your life has been affected by the abuse you suffered, what are going to do about it?
    What issues that you have not yet talked about do you consider to be the stumbling block to your recovery?
    What do you need to do in order to ensure you are free from the thoughts that haunt you?
    What could you do to leave behind the negative thoughts, and move forward?
    What are your immediate thoughts, and feelings, when faced with a memory of the abuse you suffered?
    How hard do you find it to be honest with yourself, and others?
    Why is that, and where does it come from?
    Why do you find it difficult to be free and honest in speech and manner?
    Do you avoid having sex, or being intimate, because it reminds you of what happened to you when abused?
    What could you do, to regain control of your sexual life? Its yours after all, and the memories that prevent you having or enjoying sex is your abusers way of stopping you live your life, but don’t allow them to control you any longer.
    So, having read the above, here are three questions for you to consider:
    1. Could you let all of this go?
    2. Would you let all of this go?
    3. WHEN would you let all of this go?
    Make sure you answer all the three questions and then make the right decision!

    Copyright Steve Bevan. AMSOSA UK

    I'll Stand By You #ChildAbuse #Survivors

    One of the most painful things I experienced as an after effect of my childhood was the feeling of alienation and "difference" I felt. I stood outside and watched the world through a window, alone. No-one should ever have to feel as isolated and freaky as I did.

    I was conditioned to believe that I was bad, in the wrong, a disaster on two legs that deserved no happiness. I believed this propaganda, I believed I was the bad one, the black sheep. I couldn't confide my innermost feelings chosing instead to act the clown, to drink myself into oblivion on the occasions where just living hurt too much.

    Often when we are made to believe we are worthless we act accordingly. I know I did.

    I was wrong however. No matter what form of abuse you may have had to endure always remember one very important thing. The person in the wrong is NOT you. It can take quite some time to undo the damage done by those that abused us. The damage is often hidden, not all scars are visible. Please believe me that the pain you will feel going from survivor to thriver IS worth it. That was blunt wasn't it? I'm not saying the road will be easy and painfree. Far from it probably. BUT it is a road we must walk in order to regain some of which was ripped from us.

    We cannot go back and change the past. What we can do is say enough is enough. Start today to change your thinking, decide that tomorrow belongs to you and not your memories. You will not be alone I promise you. The times they are a changing and it's high time that those that do evil in this world are held accounatable and the innocent victims are given the respect and the support that is sadly frequently lacking.

    Do not suffer in silence. The more of us that speak out, the more of us that decide to stop being victims, then the more of us there will be to stand tall and no longer feel that we are living outside the fire. There is strength in numbers! We need to show the world how much evil is done behind closed doors. Be you a victim of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. NOW is the time to say STOP!

    There is much more awareness regarding abuse than there was a few years ago. There are support groups online as well as a growing number in the "real" world. In the year or so that I've been blogging I have seen many more advocates and support groups than there were.

    There is no shame in being abused. The shame belongs firmly at the feet of those evil twisted perpetrators that tried to destroy us.

    OUR time is NOW!

    This is for you my fellow survivors, whoever and wherever you are. Male, female, whatever colour your skin and whatever your sexual preference. We stand together.



    Sunday, 23 September 2012

    Problems Relaxing & Sleeping? #childabuse #survivors


     



    First step is to use your bed for what its intended for, which is to go to sleep on, so if you use your bed as somewhere to lie down, or even get into bed way before you intend to sleep, change that habit now. Make sure the door is closed, or open, make sure you can see the door, as this can trigger you off and make you feel unsafe. If that feels unsafe, open the door a liitle, so you can see out the door.
    If you write or listen to music, do so at least a few hours before you decide to go to bed; otherwise your mind remains awake. Likewise, music turned on low can help aid sleep, so as long as its not heavy thumping music, which only stimulates you awake
    Inactivity before you go to bed helps you to relax so slow your mental activity down by not trying to get things ready for tomorrow, playing video games, listening to music, etc.
    Bedtime routines need to become that, a routine that becomes a habit, and that habit allows you to become accustomed to it, and prepares you for what you are about to do, which is going to sleep.
    As an exercise, try the following:
    Snuggle down under the duvet/bedclothes, relax, and take three slow deep breaths, breathing by using your lower diaphragm.
    Begin with your eyes open, and gradually close them on the third intake of breath. Feel your body sink into the bed, and begin to relax all parts of your body. Don’t hurry this, go nice and slow, feeling the tension reduce.
    Get the feelings of heaviness and relaxed muscles in your body, but if you begin to feel your thoughts stray, begin the exercise again.
    If all else fails, the key to good results when you are doing muscle relaxation exercises is not just to tense and then relax each muscle group, but to actually rest those particular muscles for a short while after you've released the tension. You'll find that they are then far more relaxed than when you started.
    Keep this going, relaxing muscles slowly and often and the result will be that you will have no option to be feel relaxed, and refreshed after some practice. HINT: Fully relaxed your facial muscles? You'll be surprised how tense your jaw, mouth and cheek muscles can be.
    IF YOU DO WAKE IN THE NIGHT:
    1. Don’t panic or get annoyed about being awake, it just winds you up.
    2. Relax by turning over, & ‘snuggling’ up before you become fully awake.
    3. Don’t get angry because you’re awake again.
    4. If you can’t get back to sleep after about twenty minutes, get up and do something different.
    5. Try a relaxation exercise. (See above)
    If you wake up, as you will, don’t panic, just turn over, and begin to relax again, slowing your breathing down.
    Also, don’t get angry that you’re awake again, just turn over, close your eyes and go back to sleep, or if it get's too much, get up, stretch, yawn, relax, and then go to bed, repeating the relaxation exercise above.
    All you’re doing is breaking a habit, and it takes time to break a bad habit, so persevere!


    DREAMS
    Some tips to help you control the dreams that may haunt you
    It can help to write down what you've dreamed, (have a pen and paper to hand, so you can write it down and then get back to sleep again.)
    A. FREE WRITING
    Write down on paper a stream of consciousness reaction to your dream. Start anywhere and just keep writing whatever comes to mind. Don't censor or edit anything out. It's like free associating but you put the thoughts down onto a piece of paper instead.
    Record everything you are thinking and feeling. If you get stuck, simply write "I'm stuck, I'm stuck..." over and over again until a new association comes up. Then keep writing.
    Or write down on a piece of paper each element of the dream, and then write a stream of consciousness for each one. Compare what your wrote for each element of the dream. Look for similarities and patterns. Hold onto these writings - and go back to them later on. Days or weeks later you may see something that you missed the first time around.
    B. FREE ASSOCIATION
    To unpack the various meanings of a dream, take each object, person, situation, etc. and free associate them, e.g. write each part down. 
    What does it remind you of? What comes to mind when you think of that element of the dream? Let your imagination go. Let your attention wander. Come up with as many associations as possible. You can also do this in your head, or talk out loud. If you let yourself go with this, something will come up - a memory, an idea, a feeling. It may not tell you "The Meaning" to the dream, but it will give you pieces to the puzzle.


    STRESSED & DREAMING ABOUT THINGS YOU'D RATHER NOT?
    If you're stressed during the day, that stress will, without doubt, emerge during your sleeping hours, as it's your body's way of dealing with stress.
    Sometimes the dreams you have can take on the form of symbols or as enactments of different scenes but are often the type which bring out the same emotions - anger, frustration, grief - whatever may be causing you distress, and making some of your dreams extremely disturbing.
    You can turn this around and learn to interpret these dreams to try to identify exactly what it is that is causing you problems.
    Keeping a dream diary is very useful to make sense of the dreams, or at least make them real, and therefore not so scary.
    If your dreams are really terrifying, (nightmares) it's a sure sign of severe stress or a deeper emotional problem.
    You might want to look at the pages on Nightmares and/or Post Traumatic Stress first for more information on the subject.
    Normal dreams are a safety valve for the mind, allowing you to work through situations that impact on you during the day.
    Don't expect your dreams to be make any sense or be coherent - they are usually a mixture of all sorts, and often fail to make sense, or become confused with reality, making you doubt what you really think, plus you can get the odd few scenes which appear to come from nowhere!


    Copyright Steve Bevan, AMSOSA UK 

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