Tuesday 26 February 2013

Written Acts of Kindness Award: Patricia Singleton @PatriciaSinglet #writtenkindness

Recently I was the surprised recipient of a "Written Acts Of Kindness Award". This week I would like to give the same award to my friend and fellow survivor and advocate Patricia Singleton.
Patricia has been blogging at Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker since 2007 and I was blessed with her friendship eighteen months ago. Her writing is profound and enlightening and is filled with the experiences of her life.

She is a truly amazing lady. Asked once why she blogged, part of her response was;

 "I have always written down my thoughts in an effort to understand my own thought processes. I have always written as a form of self-therapy. If I can "see" my thoughts in writing, maybe I can better understand myself. Maybe others can understand me better by reading my words. Don't most of us just want to be understood?"

Her writing has helped me on many occasions and has inspired me in so many ways. Thank you Patricia, for your friendship and for the words you send out into the world that mean so much to so many.

“Patricia Singleton” please take this badge below and use it as you wish. The rules for passing this Award on are very simple:
  1. You are welcome to give it out as many times as you like, but it is only to be given to a maximum of one person per blog post. If you wish to give multiple rewards, please space the blog posts by at least a week so the sincerity is maintained.
  2. Introduce the person; say how they encourage, help or inspire you; then link to their work and/or social media profiles. There may be a specific post you wish to link to which helped you. It’s up to you.
  3. Please publicise your award post to Twitter or Google Plus using the hashtag #writtenkindness so that others can find and follow the award winners. You are also welcome to add your Award recipient/s to the Hall of Fame which is on this link.
Written Acts of Kindness Badge

Monday 25 February 2013

Why Is It So Scary To Heal? by @JodiAman #childabuse #survivors

Please welcome Jodi Lobozzo Aman to The Wounded Warrior blog. 

An author and international teacher on topics including non-dual spirituality, narrative psychology, shamanism and living with respect to the earth, Aman is a full-time counselor at the Heal Here Counseling in Rochester, New York. Combining many modalities into her healing practice, Aman is a licensed clinical social worker, certified yoga teacher, mindfulness practitioner and hands-on energy healer. She has a master’s degree from Columbia University, and a post graduate diploma in Narrative Therapy from Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, Australia, where she also served as a faculty member. She has blogged since 2008 and her professional articles have been published in The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. She writes a blog about fear called Anxiety Schmanxiety on HealthyPlace.com

Aman has received six years of one-to-one training in intuition and energy healing with Master Healer, Reverend Marcie Seidel and completed a year apprenticeship with John Perkins and Llyn Roberts, obtaining a professional certification as a Master Healer and Shapeshifter.
Most joyfully, Aman and her husband designed and built an environmentally friendly home where they live with their three children and ten chickens.

Why Is It So Scary To Heal?
Many people who have been abused are scared to heal. There are three common myths that keep fear in the way of healing.

1. Healing is “out of control”

“I’d rather have a pain that I know rather than healing because I am not sure I can handle it. I don’t know what it would feel like.” T said to me.

This was not the first or the last time I would ever hear this. The funny thing is people are “not handling” the pain very well now. This is a fake “in control.

”No matter how convincing I am at telling them that healing by definition is good, that it is impossible to be “suffering” and “healed,” that if they are still suffering they are not “healed” yet; many remain immobilized by fear. Unfortunately our ego works very hard to keep the status quo by acting as our protector, conning us that change is “out of our control” and so highly risky. The unknown is thought of as worse than suffering!

This is simply not true. While things happening to us seems out of our control, our response never out of our control. And our response makes all the different to our emotional, spiritual and physical health. Abuse has been disempowering, and finding power in our actions toward healing can change everything! You do have control, and you will only see that once you let go of the false control. 

2. I don’t deserve to heal

No survivor would say this about any other survivor, but would still hold this true for herself/himself. (For some reason, he/she believes he/she is the only one unworthy.)

Guilt is pervasive, and so damaging to the heart and soul. It can overwhelm you, often causing you to isolate yourself (because you think you are not worth of company i.e. “I bother people.”), making it even worse.

Guilt pins you to the ground, turning everything into negative, especially compliments. It makes us think we are worse than worthless. It is a prison of the worse kind. We must let guilt go.

Sometime people hold on to their pain, because they think if they felt better, the abuser would be “getting away with it.” Our pain becomes our twisted testimony that we didn’t deserve it. So we feel pervasively worthless but defend our worthiness with our pain. This inner conflict is the high walls around the prison, it keeps us confused and vulnerable.

For the record, everybody deserves to heal! Everyone is lovable, too! You deserve to let go of the effects of the abuse. It was horrific and should never have happened. It was not OK. And you kept hold of what was important to you despite it. You survived and you are here wanting to move on. Take that step. Love yourself enough to.

3. I don’t trust myself

Many people who have been abused think it is not possible for them to heal. They assume it is hard to make a change or make a decision. This is because they do not trust themselves to make it. They feel like everything is just out of their reach. That there is something everyone knows, yet they are excluded from the skills and knowledges.

They use “one old bad decision” as evidence that they are worthless in having skills. This is wrong. People who have been abused have greater skills than anyone, they survived one of the worst things that can happen to a human being. THAT is not easy. It is when they begin to trust themselves that their anxiety goes away. It is when they realize they direct their life, not by what happens but by their response to it that they can see themselves and their world differently.Healing for you. It is for everyone. Know, believe, trust. It is time. 

Jodi is hosting a Reclaiming Your Soul: Healing from Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Retreat April 12-14, 2013 in Ithaca NY. You deserve this and you can trust yourself!

Experience a structured program using movement, meditation, writing, and time with nature. Take back your life from the devastating effects of sexual abuse and assault. Re-story your life and minimize fear, doubt, and shame. Find peace of mind. Feel validated and less alone. Recover your spirituality. Empower your self. Embrace joy.

Cost $264 Program, vegetarian meals Saturday and Sunday, private rooms, and bedding are provided. 

Download registration form in PDF and mail it in or register Online.

Jodi is a practicing therapist, author, and teacher. She works primarily with people who have lived through trauma. Her workshops and retreats jump start healing by inspiring self-love.With over two decades of experience helping children, families, and individuals eliminate suffering, she has dedicated her life to assist in healing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spirituality.

Find Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R on the web...
counsels here: www.heal-here.com.

Call for an appointment 585-544-5342

Sunday 24 February 2013

Stressed? - Recuerdos De La Alhambra - Musical Interlude


Close your eyes and listen to Recuerdos De La Alhambra. It is a classical guitar piece composed in 1896 by Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

What Works For Me by Elaine Stock @ElaineStock #survivors

Last summer I was contacted by Elaine Stock with a view to submitting a guest article for her blog, Everyone's Story.  The piece I wrote, Beyond Surviving, can be found here.

Elaine is not a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but is a survivor nonetheless. It has become my profound honour to call her a friend and I will be forever grateful to her for asking me to become a small part of her amazing and insightful blog.

Please welcome Elaine to The Wounded Warrior blog.

What Works For Me by Elaine Stock

In a way, I was lucky. For the most part, my mother hid in her bedroom away from me, and my brother. Now, with a little understanding of paranoid-schizophrenia I look at those gray childhood days and doubt that she was also unable to keep holed up from her own demons.

Those unwanted and uninvited visitors robbed the woman from my mother. Hijacked and held ransom—the bounty perhaps the destruction of a family—my mother’s peace and joy vanished. In its place came sadness and fear at unexpected times. Like her crying and mourning over how her parents, when she was a girl, never bought her roller-skates (please note: this is not a verified fact or the bashing of my grandparents, but rather a reflection of my mother’s inner turmoil). Or, the time when a phantom gang of teens was on the rampage and she fetched my brother and I from a neighbor’s so we could sneak back home—running for our lives—before we were caught and killed/maimed/tortured. Or, the stray dog that would surely pounce upon us and shred us to pieces with its huge fangs.

This all took place in the 1960s and 70s, a time before mental illness leapt out of the proverbial storage cabinet, and certainly before present-day improved medications. Yet, I remember my mother’s ventures in and out of psych wards. Her tiny reassurances to me that she didn’t like who or what she was, and how she had to surrender her dreams of becoming a dancer, or even a dietician. She hated her condition and would willingly volunteer for shock-therapy treatments—if only they’d help.

Nothing did help. Family tensions piled high. My brother and I began drifting apart. My father—perhaps to overcompensate for a wife who couldn’t work or to dodge his own troubles—worked. And worked. For many years he worked seven days a week and far more than eight-hour days.

Then, my mother ran away from home to the golden promises of sunny California. I was sixteen. And actually happy—relieved—to know that I’d no longer have to worry about waking up in the morning to discover that my parents’ arguing had resulted in a murder-suicide.

Three weeks after her 46th birthday, my mother died from ovarian cancer. May she be resting in eternal peace, the peace she never enjoyed in her human life.

As a very young child I believed in God. Though my parents never demonstrated outright faith, I just knew there was a God and He loved me. In my high school years I began to follow a gentle tug toward the Christian faith. This leading wasn’t by a specific person or thing, but more like a force whispering in my ear, and heart. In my young twenties I accepted Christ as my Savior.

I’m not writing these words to preach. Nor am I condemning those who believe in other faiths—nor those who do not believe in any God—are doomed. What I am saying is that I believe I managed not to fall prey to a troubling childhood and “crack up” because I held onto God’s hand as He held onto mine.

Oh, I still have my dark times when memories surface and the anguish courses through my blood as if it’s happening all over again. But, I’m managing. And I thank God for His help.

Perhaps, unlike what I said in the beginning, surviving a dysfunctional family has nothing to do with luck, but rather, a blessing. I am forever grateful.

Elaine Stock never expected that a college major in psychology and sociology would walk her through the see-saw industries of food service and the weight-loss business; co-ownership with her husband in piano restoration; and ten years in community leadership. All great fodder for creating contemporary relationship-driven fiction. 
Presently involved in ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), she was a 2011 semi-finalist in the prestigious Genesis Contest in the contemporary fiction division. Elaine's blog, Everyone's Story, offers uplifting encouragement from weekly guests, as well as some of her own personal thoughts. Her first short story was published on Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

With her own childhood void of God, and becoming a Christian first in her twenties, she is targeting her novels to adult audiences with the central theme that God’s unconditional and always-present love is with each one of us, even during tough times.  

Find Elaine at the following links :-

Everyone's Story (blog)  http://elainestock.blogspot.com/

Friday 15 February 2013

Child Abuse - Mental Health Survival Guide #childabuse #survivors

Child Abuse

Even though you work hard to forget abuse, its effects can lurk under the surface. To protect ourselves from painful memories, we might try to escape in alcohol, substances, or try to shut down and withdraw emotionally, interfering with our functioning, our relationships and our ability to experience life's pleasures. Similar to the post-traumatic stress experienced in combat and crime, survivors of child abuse may experience a recurring sense they are reliving the trauma.

It's difficult for adults to break free of patterns that were established during repeated childhood abuse. Chaotic feelings are imprinted so deeply, we may seek chaotic feelings when we're looking for familiar ground, opening ourselves up to situations that reenact the the very thing we wish we could forget. To break through the prison of numb, disconnected feelings we might resort to stimulating ourselves through violence, crime, anger, jealousy, lying, manipulating, stimulants, starvation, cutting ourselves or other desperate, destructive acts.

While these feelings may seem like a cruel life-sentence, many people reach beyond their past, and end the cycle of pain by working hard and opening up to healing agents. In individual and group therapy we search for insights to help us rebuild the damaged parts of our psyche. And we learn skills that were denied us as children, such as asserting our needs, managing anger, improving self-esteem and soothing our anxiety. Twelve Step programs such as Adult Children of Alcoholics can help us let go of the pain as well as the addictions, break through our isolation, and build up our trust in the human community.

Trust and intimacy
Victims of child abuse learn not to trust those they love. This interferes with relationships. And while it was a trusting relationship that hurt us, it is also trusting relationships that can help the healing process. In the give and take of relationships they must learn to fulfill each other's. By extending the reach of this mutual service, each can enlist the other as a healer of our wounded heart.
While this plan sounds simple, it requires courage and hard work to overcome the deeply learned distrust of those closest to us. So we need to energetically and patiently learn how to overcome our distrust through individual and couples counseling.

Writing, art, music and movement
Trauma in early childhood occurred before we had words to interpret what was happening. Even at older ages, brutal, frightening, sorrowful experiences hit us so hard our emotions become flooded beyond our ability to explain. Without words, we can't access our memories, and so we can't apply our adult tools of understanding.
Humans use words to help explain and understand the world. Our beliefs about the world help us stay sane. To heal from trauma, we need to extend our words and our wisdom deeper into the wellsprings of our childhood experiences. By writing in a journal, soul searching dialog with trusted individuals, and participating in groups, we can find words for our pain. By using art, dreams and other visual dimensions we see and heal images of our pain. By working with music, we learn to transcend the sounds of our pain. By dancing, stretching, yoga and other movement we connect with and break through traumatic body memories. Methods such as role-playing and story-telling release us from the primitive interpretations and understandings our childhood mind first placed on these troubling events. We need to honor all the dimensions of our traumatic memories in order to move forward.

Filling in missing life skills
In our abusive household, we learned that adults got their way by anger, manipulation, violence and secrecy, and when they were overwhelmed they used substances, complained or acted out.
We had few role models to show us more artful ways of coping with life. Our caregivers didn't teach us how to assert our needs, and instead taught us that expressing needs is dangerous. Our caregivers didn't teach us how to soothe our anxiety. In fact, rather than soothing us, they often escalated the tension and stirred up the chaos.
Now, as we work to evolve into healthier, happier individuals, we need to take stock of our skill set, and develop strategies and methods that will help us become the person we want to be.

Self soothing
When we don't know how to soothe our feelings we feel pressured by our emotions, and may even feel that we have no control over them. These out-of-control feelings can drive us to drink or anger or acting out.
We can improve the quality of our lives by learning how to comfort ourselves and soothe our own agitated feelings. There are many effective methods that we can learn as adults, such as deep breathing, calming self-talk, stretching and relaxing muscles, and avoiding trigger thoughts and situations.

Introspection opens us up to othersAs adult survivors of abuse, little things can stir up memories of terrifying danger. These private memories start us down roads that separate us from others, and even make us feel detached from ourselves.
To regain our whole selves and to share ourselves with others we need to learn how to accept our emotions, to put words to them, and to communicate them. Improving our emotional awareness and grace requires a commitment to therapy, individually and in groups, Twelve Step programs, self help reading and tapes, and other healing work.

Learning to express our needs
As abused children we were not allowed to express our needs, and if wedid ask for help we were punished or humiliated. So we developed other ways to deal with our feelings. We stuffed them down, or we used magical ideas like wishing for a savior or having fantasies of punishing our abuser. Or we learned how to relieve our feelings in roundabout ways such as pouting, temper tantrums or running away.
Rather than waiting for others to read our minds, or trying to manipulate and punish them by withdrawing or acting out, we now learn to express our needs appropriately in direct statements. Asserting needs turns out to be a fundamental skill for harmoniously living and working with people in the world. If we don't know how to assert ourselves, we need to learn this skill now.

Guilt and other negative belief systems
As children, we grasped only a tiny corner of the world, and when we tried to explain the chaos and pain around us, we often blamed ourselves, convincing ourselves that somehow we were responsible for the family's pain, and if we could only be better everyone would be happy. Later our self-blame was so familiar we didn't notice or question it. These beliefs undermine our self-esteem.
We not only have negative beliefs about our own role. When we grow up in danger, we see, right from the beginning, that the universe is dangerous. (This belief is not universal. Many abused children find solace in positive fantasies of angelic, protective presence.)
As we try to adapt to a healthier life, we can work to replace negative impressions of ourselves and the universe with positive ones, through prayer, positive thinking, and therapy.
Most abusers themselves were abused or abandoned as children
How could an adult attack an innocent child, the child who has been given to them as a sacred charge? Most abusive adults are dealing with the horrific memories of their own childhood abuse. When the pain of childhood bubbles up to the surface, abusers are swept up in angry memories of their helpless, terrified state. Their child-mind cries out to somehow relieve the pressure of a lifetime of rage, longing to lash out at the abuser, but instead lashes out at helpless children, repeating the nightmare and passing the pain on to another generation.
All too often, a parent struggling with inner turmoil turns to alcohol to dull their own inner pain, but alcohol also clouds judgment and releases inhibition. In this uninhibited state the natural mandate to protect our children is swept away, overpowering our vows we would never treat our kids the way our parents treated us.

Social responsibility
A hundred years ago, child-abuse was ignored, and even now, while society has made strides in recognizing this scourge, far too many children are still being injured. Because it is so widespread and damages so many individuals so profoundly, child abuse puts a huge burden on society. While society seems powerless to stop it, we individuals must remember that society is a collection of individuals, and to the extent we can create change in our sphere, we create change in the world.
As we look beyond our individual selves we recognize that by joining together with others, we have a greater voice. We can join community organizations or contribute to them, and through voting and communication with our elected representatives, we can try to raise awareness and collective concern over these important issues that affect us all. By making more institutions responsive to the issues of abuse, and directing more energy towards healing mental health issues we can reduce the harm to children.

To raise us from infancy, our caregivers must provide food and shelter, nurturing, safety and detailed training. Their guidance and support becomes the emotional bedrock upon which we build our personality. But parents, mere mortals, struggle with their own burdens such as emotional turmoil, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, illness, and difficult work schedules. These issues impact the quality of their parenting and sometimes their care tragically drops below the minimum level of decency, into verbal, physical and sexual abuse and abandonment.
When we have grown up with abuse, we suffer the consequences, and now must do what we can to heal and rebuild the parts of ourselves that were left un-cared for and untrained. With help from counseling and soul searching we can grieve the lost joy and safety we wish we had, allowing ourselves to move beyond anger to forgiveness. Reaching out to others we can learn that we are not alone. By realizing that the trauma and horror was not our fault, we stop blaming ourselves, and compassionately revisit that vulnerable child within us to reframe our pain and rebuild our lost innocence.

Original HERE

Thursday 14 February 2013

The Glory Of Love

"This is a song I've been singing for a long time.
It's like an old friend.
But, you know, I think it,
it's only recently that I discovered what it's really about."

You've got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little,
until the clouds roll by a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

As long as there's the two of us,
we've got the world and all it's charms.
And when the world is through with us,
we've got each other's arms.

You've got to win a little, lose a little,
yes, and always have the blues a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Red Flags And Grooming Behaviours #childabuse

The following study illustrates red flags and grooming behaviors:

Berliner, L. & Conte, J.R. (1990). The Process of Victimization: The victims' perspective. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 29-40. N=23, 21 females, 2 males (10-18 years)
"Red Flags" or pre-abuse indicators reported by child victims %
  • Treated them differently from other kid 78%
  • Told them not to tell mother about things did together 74
  • "Accidentally" came into bed/bathroom when undressed 70
  • Looked at them in a funny or sexual way 65
  • Wanted to spend time alone, made excuses to do so 61
  • "Accidentally" touched their private parts 61
  • Did not respect privacy 61
  • Said they were special, only one who understands 61
  • Threatened them like an adult, he acted as a kid 61
  • "Accidentally" showed his/her body naked 61
  • Did things that involved physical contact 57
  • Gave special privileges, made feel obligated 57
  • Asked questions about sex, boyfriends 52
  • Came in bedroom at night 52
  • Said sexual things about their body/dress 48
  • Told them private things about their mother/his wife 39
  • Did not let have friends, do things like other kids 39
  • "Taught sex" with pornography or touching their body 30
  • Treated meaner than others 30
  • Talked about sexual things he had done 26
  • Put lotion or ointment on them when alone 22
"Grooming behaviors" are often done to prepare the victim to be compliant, taking small steps, gradually leading up to sexual activity. Children often respond to secrecy.
Justifications offenders give to victim children
  • 70% You like it
  • 61 Nobody will find out
  • 57 I'm not really hurting you
  • 48 You look older than you really are
  • 44 I won't do it anymore
  • 44 You are very mature for your age
  • 44 You are very mature for your age
  • 44 You want me to do this
  • 39 My wife doesn't love me
  • 35 It makes me feel better
  • 30 I need love and affection too
  • 30 I'm just going to play around
  • 30 I'm teaching you about sex
  • 30 You haven't told me to stop
  • 22 You are not my real daughter
  • 13% At least I'm not screwing you
Majority 61% 14/23 said they did not know that they were being sexually abused initially.
Others blamed themselves. "He told me I was bad, a slut, I thought I deserved it. I didn't know it was wrong but it didn't feel right. He made it sound like it was my idea and he was willing to teach me.

Coercion Used:

  • 61% experienced threats
  • He would kill me, cut off my fingers
  • Give me a Belting
  • Your mother will leave you, your family will be separated
  • Our mother will be mad at you.
  • You don't wanta get me in trouble
  • He said he would kill himself if I told
  • My family would be shamed for ever, be broken up
  • 39% Indirect, Emotional coercion, exploiting child's vulnerability, or bribery, get special privileges
  • Everyone will think I was a slut
  • I would feel rotten for the rest of my life
  • I would be a scum
  • Nobody would like me
  • Most were told to keep abuse secret- 70% 

Tuesday 12 February 2013

MORE Myths about Sexual Abuse #childabuse

Myths about Sexual Abuse

WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS? Sexual abuse is a widespread problem in our society. It is estimated that one out of three girls and one out of five boys (Whitsell-Mitchell, 1995) are sexually abused by the age of 18. Researchers believe this is only the "tip of the iceberg." Sexual abuse has many negative consequences for the child, family and all involved. There is something you can do about it. Therapy is an essential part of the healing process. With treatment, children who have been sexually abused are able to lead normal, healthy lives by learning how to better accept and cope with the abuse. Therapy is an essential part of this process. Here are some of the common myths people give as reasons not to follow through with therapy.

Myth 1 - Children who have been sexually abused will grow out of it. This is true for some children; however, there is no research or testing that can identify those children. Many children who have been sexually abused suffer both short- and long-term negative effects. These include: Short-term Effects Loss of appetite, nightmares, bedwetting, excessive fears, social or emotional withdrawal, obsessive cleanliness, change in sleep habits, inappropriate sexual behavior, difficulty in social relationships, decreased school performance Long-term Effects Depression, anxiety, isolation, poor self-esteem, difficulty trusting others, substance abuse, interpersonal problems, possibility of future abuse, eating disorders, suicide, aggressive behavior. *It is important to note that these long-term behaviors may emerge in adulthood.*

Myth 2 - Children are too young to remember being abused. Children's recollections are much better than was once believed. In the past, it was believed that young children could not remember events. Actually, they are able to remember events quite accurately. However, they simply lack the verbal skills to express themselves.

Myth 3 - How can this be bothering my child? He or she never talks about it. There are several reasons why a child may not talk about the abuse. b) The child may not have the verbal skills to express him/herself. c) The child may fear upsetting the adult by talking about the event. d) It may be too painful for the child to talk about. e) The child may fear destroying the family. f) The child may fear getting the perpetrator into legal trouble.

Myth 4 - My child was the one who was sexually abused. Why do I need treatment? There are several reasons why the non-offending parent should be part of treatment. a) It is important to have a safe place for the parent to express his or her thoughts and feelings and receive emotional support. b) It is important to learn how to help and support the child who has been sexually abused. The single most important factor in a child's recovery is the parent's reaction to the abuse (Kendall-Tackett, et al., 1993). c) Sexual abuse affects the whole family. The symptoms of the child directly impact the family. However, research shows that d) families who acknowledge and partake in treatment improve more quickly than families who do not. e) If the parent has been sexually abused, the abuse of the child may bring the adult's problems to the forefront.

Myth 5 - Treatment will be expensive, especially if it involves the whole family. This may be the case for some other programs, but not for Family Learning Program (FLP). FLP is funded so that clients may pay on a sliding scale. Clients pay what they can afford. No family will be turned away because of finances.

Myth 6 - We have no time for therapy. While it is true that therapy takes time, treatment is necessary and essential. Most parents would never sacrifice their child's medical treatment due to time constraints, so why sacrifice his/her mental health. Ignoring the need for treatment will only worsen the problem and possibly cause serious long-term consequences for both the child and family.

Myth 7 - My family's problems are private. It is no one else's business. Chances are the abuse itself involved a component of secrecy. To lessen a child's shame and guilt, the secrecy must end. It is important to speak openly about the abuse. Furthermore, group participation can offer support and information from others with similar experiences. Confidentiality is maintained by the therapists and strongly encouraged among the group members.

Myth 8 - My child stated he/she was abused and then said nothing happened. Often times a child will take back what he/she has said (recanting) as part of a reaction to the disclosure process. Children may perceive that they are blamed or not believed. They may feel pressure from family members or the perpetrator to keep the family intact. A child may be threatened by the perpetrator to recant. Finally, a child's recanting may be a reaction to a variety of circumstances, such as court testimony, police investigation, removal from the family, etc.


Monday 11 February 2013

Never Will Be #poetry #childabuse #survivors

Never Will Be

The cold cuts through me -
bloody and deep.
I want to get warm,
but all I can do is sit and weep.

you left me broken and hurt
and feeling depressed.
I said I was sorry and I love you,
but you weren't impressed.

we fought about the abuse
and you didn't believe me .
I tried to explain it all -
how else would a child know what I saw?

I felt his body on top of me,
heavy and hot
and I cried out in pain
as I fought with everything I got.

he says he does it
because he loves me,
but what kind of love is that?
the truth I just cant see.

I want to be warm
but you left me.
I want you to believe,
but it never will be
© Tabatha U.

Source: Poem About My Past Sexual Abuse, Never Will Be http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/never-will-be#ixzz2KLHNq1We

Sunday 10 February 2013

Family Secrets #childabuse #survivors

 Lack of Family Support 

One of the deepest sources of pain for sexual abuse survivors is the lack of support from family members, especially from parents. Over and over again, survivors of abuse have expressed the feeling that as destructive as sexual abuse is, it’s the abandonment and betrayal of their parents that hurt the most.

Conversely, when a child is believed and supported in childhood, the effects of the abuse are significantly diminished. Many parents don’t learn about the abuse until their child is grown, but understanding and support remain important even for adult survivors.

We asked survivors to share their stories and feelings about their abuse and the rejection of their parents. This is a collection of their thoughts, from their hearts, in their own words. For their full stories, you can read here.

Hear Me
I want more than anything for my mother to HEAR me…Just HEAR me. I was told to shut up. From that I learned that I didn’t have a voice. I was never safe in my own home, nor was I ever protected. I was stripped of MY innocence. What could I have done so bad to deserve that abuse? I still can’t get my mother to see the pain I’m in.

I’m beyond angry and hurt but if they are at least WILLING to HEAR and VALIDATE my feelings, that could be the first step to the truth and a new beginning.
I’m beyond angry and hurt but if they are at least WILLING to HEAR and VALIDATE my feelings, that could be the first step to the truth and a new beginning. My mother doesn’t love herself, nor is she willing to get past denial. After all I have been through—as I sit here and type, I bawl my eyes out—I only wish my mother could UNDERSTAND that it’s not the sexual and physical abuse I endured that causes me ALL the pain. It is her DENIAL as well. Maybe it’s the child in me wanting a mother’s love but raping and beating didn’t break my heart. Her DENIAL, LIES and BETRAYAL did.

Don’t Tell Me To Be Strong–YOU Be Strong
Dear Mom,
When I was little, you let me know that I could never go to you with a problem. You would yell at me whenever I asked, “Mom?” If I even had the courage to go on and ask you or tell you what I wanted to, you’d yell at me, “Ahh, great, just great! Don’t you think I have enough problems?” I was seven, Mom. And since I was seven, I’ve been trying not to be a problem, Mom.

I didn’t want to be bad, I didn’t want to cause you anymore problems, so when the babysitter’s friend started molesting me and forcing me to give him oral sex, I was nine, and I was confused, but I wanted to be good for you, Mom. I didn’t want to be the problem.
And when I spoke up, where were you? When I talked to that detective, that night, I didn’t cry on your shoulder, you cried on mine, you asked me to forgive you. I was exhausted, I just wanted to sleep…You never asked me if I was okay, or if I wanted to talk about it sometime, or if it was even okay for you to touch me at all, you just drenched my shoulders in your tears. I was the strong one for you. You had been devastated by the truth that your child was the victim, but instead of helping me, you asked me to make you feel better… so I did… I told you it was okay, that you were okay.
You have never let me talk to you about it because you get too emotional about it. Suck it up! It happened to ME! I WENT THROUGH IT, and YOU can’t EVEN stand to hear it? How DARE you expect ME to be STRONG when YOU can’t even LISTEN to ME!

You have never let me talk to you about it because you get too emotional about it. Suck it up! It happened to ME! I WENT THROUGH IT, and YOU can’t EVEN stand to hear it? How DARE you expect ME to be STRONG when YOU can’t even LISTEN to ME!
I will not go to you for support because you haven’t shown me I can trust you, you haven’t shown me you care about what I went through. You haven’t shown me it’s okay to talk about it. You have protected yourself from any possible damage it may cause to listen to me. You kept your distance away from me and my demons to protect yourself. You are selfish and I don’t want to be near you either. You never created a safe environment for me to show you my wounds. Why would I want a hug from you? Or for you to play with my hair? Or for you to rub my back? You have hurt me and you touching me at all makes me sick.
Heather Franklin

Believe Me
My mother used to be one of my best friends. I disclosed everything to her shortly after the memories of the abuse started resurfacing as an adult. I expected her to believe and support me. I was shocked when she didn’t.
She never blatantly accused me of lying because she had decided that there must be something mentally wrong with me. It was easier for her to believe I was crazy than to believe that my father had molested and raped me until I was twelve.
I’ve made tremendous progress with my healing in a relatively short period of time. But it feels like I’m having to heal from so much more than just the abuse. For the first time ever, I’m seeing my mother’s role in all of this. I don’t believe she knew what was happening. But she saw a depressed, withdrawn five year old who would fly into rages toward her father, only her father—a five year old who had insomnia and night terrors almost nightly—a five year old who was suicidal and hurting herself.
My mother did nothing then. But I’ve forgiven her for that. I’ve begged HER to let go of the past and make different, healthier choices right now. To be my mother now, to see, hear, believe and support me now. Her response was that she would never stop supporting him, even if he was a demon from hell. She said she made vows that she will always respect and honor, even if he did rape me for years. She said she believes that is the right choice, that God will support that decision. Really? Really? I love this woman so deeply and I mean so little to her? I’ve always meant so little to her?
What would it mean to me if my mom supported my healing? I would feel safe and protected, the way I was never able to feel as a child. I would know that I was worth being saved, even if she didn’t see it then.
Her reaction to my disclosure, her disbelief, her twisting reality around, her not caring about me has been the hardest, most devastating aspect of my healing process. At times, her rejection feels even more traumatizing than the actual abuse. I’m learning that just like my father, I lost her decades ago when she decided it was easier for her to just stop looking at me. My heart is so completely broken.
What would it mean to me if my mom supported my healing? Made an effort to understand my pain? Stopped telling me I was crazy? I would feel safe and protected, the way I was never able to feel as a child. I would know that I was worth being saved, even if she didn’t see it then. I would feel loved. My inner child, that child who endured a horrific crime would finally be able to hold her mommy’s hand and feel comfort.
Nikki Kluj

Don’t Expect Me To Make The Decisions–You’re the Adult
I had been fantasizing about my disclosure for years. I had dropped subtle hints to teachers and trusted adults, which were either ignored or which went right over their heads. What I wished for more than anything was someone to say, “I will protect you as best I can, and I am proud of you for the courage it took to say these words to me. I will be here for you if you need me, whether to talk or not talk, to cry or not cry, and to know you are safe.”
I decided to disclose everything to my mother, but I knew that my “father” was also home. I was late coming home and when I walked in the door, I was bombarded with angry faces and words, so I shouted out, “You want to know why I’m home late? I was trying to decide whether to go to the police because dad has been sexually abusing me for years!”

What I wished for more than anything was someone to say, “I will protect you as best I can, and I am proud of you for the courage it took to say these words to me. I will be here for you if you need me, whether to talk or not talk, to cry or not cry, and to know you are safe.”

After a moment of shock, he denied everything and she accused me of lying. After relaying details that I felt could not be the product of “making something up”, he finally admitted to it and she grabbed a knife and started to go after him with it. I stopped this attack by yelling, and much of what comes after is a blur.
She could not make a decision to “break up the family” on her own, and they told me that I would decide what happens next. As a seventeen year old, what I wanted was safety and validation and love. At the same time, I didn’t want my siblings or extended family to blame me for causing a family riff. I told them I just wanted to be left alone, wishing she would say that she had decided to leave him, but knowing unless I could say the words that wanted to come out so badly, “LEAVE HIM! LEAVE HIM! LEAVE HIM!” Nothing would change. I could NOT, in fact, make these words come out.
I am an orphan who went from having a huge extended family to having maybe six family members who I can trust and who expressly support me. I refuse to feel ashamed and I refuse to keep the secret although it has made others’ lives uncomfortable to have this information “out there”.
Sexual abuse of a child is an uncomfortable subject. I get that. But sexual abuse of YOUR CHILD is something that YOUR CHILD will deal with on some level for the rest of his or her life. Wishing it away does not work. Making the subject feel taboo (even in subtle ways) is something that can scar YOUR CHILD perhaps as much as the abuse itself. If you can’t find a way to open yourself up to the needs your healing child has, please find someone to help you learn how to do so. Your support or lack of support can make a huge difference in the adult your child becomes.
Alisa Whitmer-Wynn

Pay Attention to My Pain
I was sexually assaulted at age eight by a babysitter’s teenage son and molested repeatedly over several months after that. From the time that I told my mother about the sexual abuse, not only did she not ask me what had happened to me, but completely moved on, and eventually moved our family across the street from the babysitter’s family for her own convenience. I had to be in close proximity to the abuser and his family, who teased and mocked me.
My father knew I wasn’t being treated well at home, and did I nothing to help me. When I looked to him for support because of the sexual abuse, he blew me off, like I was asking him for something trivial.
My father knew I wasn’t being treated well at home, and did I nothing to help me. When I looked to him for support because of the sexual abuse, he blew me off, like I was asking him for something trivial.
Both my parents EXPECT me to keep in contact with them and GIVE the privileges other grandparents have. They mostly seem inclined to blame me for being estranged from them, or behave as if we are on some kind of two-way street. No way, not when it comes to my children. From where I’m sitting at this time in my life, that would not be wise for me or my family, especially since they have still failed to earn my trust, by making no effort to change.

Don’t Blame Me
My dad had the privilege of knowing my vulnerabilities and weaknesses and unfortunately used this sacred knowledge to his benefit when he wanted to hurt me…He accused me of being cold and unwelcoming, of shutting him out throughout my teenage years. His tone was much like a little boy who felt rejected, spitting and spewing and crying on his own offspring.
He didn’t have the capacity or maturity to see that his teenage daughter’s “coldness” was a defense mechanism to try to block out unwanted sexual behavior. “DO I HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT?!” I wanted to scream. “You are an over sexual, drunk freak unleashing all your anger and sexuality on your children. Why do I have to teach YOU what is appropriate? You are the parent. You are supposed to know better!!! You are confusing me and hurting me, dammit. Leave us alone, you damn freak!!’
Finally, finally, I got the courage to start asking my mom questions, looking for that shred of leftover childhood hope that somehow she would rescue me. My wish was that we could travel back in time and she would rescue me from him. She responded with, “I told your father not to drink so much.” And “Well, I wasn’t going to divorce Daddy.” Then in the same conversation, “Absolutely not—that never happened.”

It’s not about “getting over it” or maintaining a relationship with sick people. It’s about me putting all my energies towards healing myself whether THEY understand, support, disavow, condemn or even, still love me after the truth is spoken.
When my mind was still open and I was still vulnerable to needing comfort from my mom, she said, “You wanted it.” God. That one hit my soul. She’s my mom after all, she knows me best, maybe I really did “want it’” as a toddler…Thankfully, I have now had much time away from her to know that her statements are utterly impossible.
So, why do I have to teach THEM? Why do I have to open up my heart and mind for MORE poisonous confusion? Sexual abuse is the ultimate betrayal between a parent and a child and it cuts to the core. It’s not about “getting over it” or maintaining a relationship with sick people. It’s about me putting all my energies towards healing myself whether THEY understand, support, disavow, condemn or even, still love me after the truth is spoken.
Phoenix Rising

Sit With Me In My Pain
My experience is a little different but my needs are still the same. I was sexually abused by both parents and it was very hard to begin the healing process. I felt I was crazy and that no one would believe me.

It’s so important to have someone to say, “I believe you. It is not your fault. We will work through this together. They can’t hurt you any more.”
A lot of my memory of the abuse had been pushed back. When it started to surface, my whole world came crashing down. I had to completely leave my family and had no support system. That was when my mother’s best friend said: “I believe you and I’m here”. That was the beginning of my healing journey. She became my parent figure and it made a world of difference to know someone was on my side. It’s so important to have someone to say, “I believe you. It is not your fault. We will work through this together. They can’t hurt you any more.”
Malisia Mckinney

Tell Me I’m Worthy of Protection
All I ever wanted from my mom was love and nurturing but all I got was hate and blame. I told my mom what was happening when I was twelve. She said, “Oh well” and went to bed, never doing anything to help me at all. My Grandma told the cops. They believed me, but my mother told the detective that my grandma and grandpa put words in my mouth, so he didn’t believe me.

All I ever wanted from my mom was love and nurturing but all I got was hate and blame.
When I turned twenty-one, I moved to a YMCA self sufficiency program to get away from the abuse. I longed for that love I never had, so I moved back. Things always got better for a short time and started again. On Easter, my mom made the comment that she would never let anyone abuse her granddaughters, my brother’s kids. But it was okay that the man she is now married to and lives with hurt her own daughter?
I have no contact with father’s family now and see my mom twice a year but only when I’m with someone. It’s been hard because my real mother and father never loved me so how can anyone? Everyday, I feel like a nothing.
Angela Sorenson

Accept Responsibility For Failing To Protect Me
My mother told me at eighteen that her father had abused her. My reply was, “Then why the heck did you send me there on my own for holidays then?” My mother has never accepted any responsibility for my childhood, in fact she says that I abused her emotionally from the age of eleven months.

She knew what her father was like. And then to dismiss my words as she had been hurt more than me…
I was so angry at her. She knew what her father was like. And then to dismiss my words as she had been hurt more than me, because she married my father instead of getting me aborted like her mother wanted. It was your choice to have me, not mine, so it ain’t my fault. I was the child not the adult. I couldn’t speak to her for months without sniping at her because of her disbelief and denial of blame.
She doesn’t like the fact that I do not blame my father as much as I do her. Well sorry, Mother Dearest, but your influence hit hardest and lasted longest. You deny my facts and experiences because they do not reflect what you want it to, and then still try to control me. The time for your dominance is over and I guide my life now and it is a lot less stressful now that you are not in it very often.
Carol Anne Derry

Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It
You would never cast off a cancer survivor and tell them to get over it once it’s “stopped”, however parents not supporting their own children are leaving them to fend for themselves in a life long cancerous battle.

You would never cast off a cancer survivor and tell them to get over it once it’s “stopped”, however parents not supporting their own children are leaving them to fend for themselves in a life long cancerous battle.
It would mean the world for me to have my family support me in this struggle. It would mean Christmases and birthdays, Easters and weddings. It would mean spoilt grandchildren and life lessons and stories passed down.
I have not only lost one set of parents through this abuse. I have lost two families and all of my family history. To have my family’s support would be far more than just physical or emotional comfort and belief. It would be a gaining of the past and an opening and welcoming of the future.
Sandy Tai

Don’t Pretend That Nothing Happened
My father abused me for years. I tried to tell my mom and she got so angry and told me to shut up. Even though my father abused me, I had a better connection with him than with my mom. Even to this day, when I think about it, I get that feeling in my stomach and I hate myself.

If parents really want to help their children, they must not go on as if nothing happened!
At sixteen, I ran away, They found me after two days and when I tried to tell my mom again, she only listened for a day a two. After that, everything went back the way it was. I didn’t have friends and was doing bad at school. I squeezed a whole bottle of hand cream into my mouth and swallowed it. After that, I took a few pills at school. Still nothing came of it.
I’m 45 years old. I’m married with three children, and it took me that long to realize MY MOM DOES NOT LOVE ME. I keep that for myself and it hurts. If parents really want to help their children, they must not go on as if nothing happened! Don’t smother the child with love all of a sudden. Just show you care, and be there for them. Just maybe if I had that…

Don’t Ask Me To Have a Relationship With My Abuser
My parents have continued to show support and love to the ones who did the abusing. One was an older neighbor and the other was my deaf sister. Before I was age twenty, they had been informed twice I had been abused. Both instances left them blank faced and not one physical touch of comfort or one word of support or love.

Before I was age twenty, they had been informed twice I had been abused. Both instances left them blank faced and not one physical touch of comfort or one word of support or love.
I can’t say I expected my parents to respond immediately, but twenty plus years later, I did expect some words of acknowledgment. An apology possibly for what they didn’t see or know—any words expressing sorrow at my loss of innocence would have met my needs.
I had never asked for side taking or any act of correction be given to those people. But I remain shocked and dismayed when the end result is the old man finished his life with my parents still caring for him and his wife until passing and that my sister remains in contact with my parents while I have been removed. I have been removed due to the fact I set a boundary with my abuser and since I won’t forgive and forget I am now being punished for it. I guess forgiveness would come quicker if any had ever been sought or asked for.
I lived for forty-four years ignoring the topic and doing my best to not make any waves. After a few instances of being rejected for not loving my abuser unconditionally, I took a stand and wouldn’t allow the topic to remain silent any longer. That act sealed my fate.
Kimberly Schoolcraft

Don’t Treat My Abuser Better Than You Treat Me
My uncle came to live with us when he was ten and I was eight. He was my mom’s half-brother and he made my life a living hell. He had me do things that were forbidden by my parents, then I’d have to submit to whatever he wanted so he wouldn’t tell. Sometimes he’d still tell and I’d still get in trouble. In August of 1984, he took that a step further. That’s when he started to initiate sex with me. Initially, I didn’t think anything of it, so I submitted to it. Then it was used as a form of manipulation.
In March of 1985, my uncle wanted to go back home to his mom (my grandmother). Not long after that, I told a classmate what my uncle did. I thought it was all fun and games. That spread throughout the school and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the principal’s office telling them everything that my uncle did and that’s how my parents found out about it.
I lied and said that it only happened once because I was afraid that I’d get in trouble. My uncle was so good at manipulating me, to the point that my parents considered me a natural-born liar.
The next year, my uncle was failing at school again and my mother wanted to bring him back into the house. My sister and I protested but we lost. My mother told me that what he did wouldn’t happen again and I still had to love him. I was so angry.

The sexual abuse did stop, but he still physically and verbally abused me. I would tell my parents about the abuse, but he would say something else and I’d get in trouble for lying.

Until she can understand what she allowed me to suffer and more importantly, admit that she screwed up, we need to be apart. I’ve made it this far without her support, so she can stay out of my life.
When it comes to my father, he questions my sexuality. According to him, I need to be out there with the women getting my groove on. It hurts that my parents don’t believe me when I say that I’m not gay.
When I was twenty-two, I finally told my mom the truth of what my uncle did. She seemed so nonchalant about it. In fact, she said, all I can say is I’m sorry. Truthfully, I feel better not speaking to her. I love her, but need to keep my distance because it does not bring peace to my spirit. Until she can understand what she allowed me to suffer and more importantly, admit that she screwed up, we need to be apart. I’ve made it this far without her support, so she can stay out of my life.
Tremayne Moore

Tell Me I Didn’t Deserve It
I told my mum directly after my abuse happened. I was crying, so she asked me and I told her. She told me never to tell my father because he was mentally ill. After that, great silence—never speaking to me.

I was the one who was treated like I was bad. I wasn’t the abuser, I was the victim.
One time she faced me with my private notebook where I wrote the story of what happened to me. She grasped me by my hair, dragged me and demanded to know who the boy was. I was screaming and crying, trying to get away from her.
How dare you do that! You didn’t listen to me!! I told you when I was young!!! I was the one who was treated like I was bad.
It makes me so angry to be treated so unjustly. I wasn’t the abuser, I was the victim. I’m so alone. My mum does not respect my feelings and my dad does not even care. I have no worth and nobody can care or love me. When I’m suffering or in pain, I have to go through it alone. At the same time, they expect that they have the right to be in my life in the time they choose. Not me, I have no rights.
Martha Mouner


It might seem easier to pretend that nothing ever happened, and you might think that pretending it never happened is protecting your child from more pain, but that communicates that either you don’t believe that it happened or that you don’t care.
Questions like “Are you sure?” communicate that you don’t believe him. If you struggle with accepting this, don’t share your difficulty with your child. It’s not his or her job to help you through your denial.
Believing your child means action. It means reporting the abuse and leaving the abuser. It means your child needs nurturing attention—not just for a day or two, but for a lifetime. Sexual abuse is LIFE ALTERING. There is no going back to the way things were. With care and support there IS healing, but there is no going back.

The child needs to be told that he or she isn’t bad, the things that happened to them are. Children who are sexually abused feel dirty and shameful and “bad”. Abusers also manipulate the victim to take the blame. There is nothing a child could do to deserve for something like this to happen to him or her. No matter what a child does before or after the abuse, the child didn’t do anything to “bring it on himself.”
When something so traumatic happens, the child absorbs the trauma into his or her body and soul. The pain is stored there until the emotions are expressed. The child needs someone to “witness” the badness of what happened to them. Often, when their pain is not heard or is invalidated, they act out with undesirable behavior, which is their only means of expression. That sometimes leads to the parent labeling the child as “bad”, which causes more harm.
Your child is not bad. Your child needs to be understood and loved.

Some victims don’t feel comfortable talking about the abuse, but need to know that their parents will listen with compassion and understanding if the time comes that she does want to talk about it. Other survivors of abuse want to talk about it over and over. Both reactions are normal.
Don’t expect your child to be strong and “just forget about it”. Your child actually lived through the trauma. As difficult as it is to hear about the experience and pain, your child has the hard part and she is a child, you are an adult. YOU be the strong one and listen.

Abuse tells the child that it’s his or her job to make someone else feel better. It’s important that your words and actions don’t reinforce that lie. No matter what is going on in your life, no matter if this is difficult to hear, your child needs to know that he doesn’t have to hide or minimize his needs because “it would be too much for you.” It’s not your child’s job to take care of your needs; it’s your job to care for your child’s needs.


Children need to be kept away from their abusers—no matter who the abuser is. Part of the grooming process of abuse causes the victim to feel protective of the abuser and his or her feelings. Even if a child “misses” the abuser, it’s not safe or healthy to spend time with the abuser.
Survivors of abuse shouldn’t be manipulated or coerced into maintaining a relationship with the abuser or be pressured to forgive. They need to process their own feelings and need an environment where it’s safe to express any feelings about the abuser that he or she wants to.

Denying responsibility only contributes to your child’s pain. You may have been fooled,, you may not have known, you may have felt that the situation was out of your control, but it’s a parent’s job to be their child’s protection. Failing to protect is abandonment, whether you meant to or not and abandonment is often the most painful form of abuse. Whether your child acknowledges your role in their abuse or not, you owe your child an apology without any excuses attached to it.
As harmful as sexual abuse is, as long-lasting and as damaging its effects, having a parent’s understanding and love makes the healing process so much easier. A parent has the ability to prolong the pain or to substantially ease it.

Find More At Overcoming Sexual Abuse HERE

Saturday 9 February 2013

Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse #childabuse #survivors

Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has lifelong effects. Adults who are survivors of CSA often report a feeling of being “stuck”. Their efforts to build and manage their lives often seem fruitless, hollow, or even hopeless. There can be a persistent perception that they are somehow different from others. They commonly report feeling that they are on the outside looking in or believe that they just don’t belong.

Often, these symptoms are a mystery to the sufferers. They may not understand the connection between their childhood situation and their adult experience. Generally, the abuse has either been accepted by the survivor as “normal” or is viewed as something that is better left in the past. In some cases, the abuse may not be remembered. Consequently, the significance of symptoms and problems arising from the abuse is often not recognized.
The adult symptoms of childhood abuse can take many forms. Many adult survivors may:
  • Find it difficult to develop or maintain close personal relationships.
  • Have a strong desire to live in isolation or to “hide out” from life.
  • Endure physical ailments like neck, back, stomach and gynecological problems that persist despite efforts at good self-care.
  • Experience feelings of sadness, fear and anger that often seem unmanageable or overwhelming.
  • Undergo panics, rages, depressions, sleep disorders, or self-mutilation or have suicidal thoughts.
  • Find themselves depending on alcohol, other drugs, or may develop eating disorders to cover feelings of humiliation, shame and low self-esteem.
  • Experience problems like low self-esteem, avoidance of sex, promiscuity, or inability to experience orgasms or erections.
  • Exhibit signs of trauma like panic attacks, numbing of body areas, and feeling of being disconnected from their bodies.
Most of these symptoms are due to the disruption of a healthy psychological development. An abusive childhood situation interferes with the child’s natural movement toward growth and expansion of his or her experiences.

All children have a right to have their basic needs met. Children need to feel secure in order to learn to trust their environment. They need support for the development of dreams and wishes. They need encouragement to be separate unique individuals. They need a consistent sense of belonging, and of worth from their families and home situations. Abuse denies these very basic needs. As a result, adult survivors are often left with a deficit of emotional and practical skills for dealing with their present “grown-up” world. As a result of having limited opportunities to naturally develop these skills, survivors will frequently develop extraordinarily complex coping mechanisms in their attempts to appear “normal.” As a child, the survivor may have learned the importance of “pretending that nothing is wrong.” This coping mechanism allows them to function in society in ways that never allow anyone to guess that they struggle with such pain on the inside.

Some survivors compensate for their feelings of shame or inadequacy by becoming “over-achievers.” They frequently mask their pain or feelings of fragility so successfully that it becomes all the more important to the survivors that others around them do not discover that they are not really who they pretend to be. Having not been given appropriate levels of love, care, or attention when they were their true selves as children, they might feel that they will not be given love, care, and attention if they allow their true selves to be seen as adults.
Furthermore, the effects of childhood abuse also tend to recur at important junctions throughout survivors’ lives. Symptoms undisturbed for years may flare as they enter serious romances, consider marriage, or become the parent of a child. Adult survivors may fear the intimacy and responsibility of committed relationships. Caring for children may arouse memories of the survivors’ unmet childhood needs and lead to sadness and/or depression. They may fear that they may abuse children the way they were abused.

The death of a parent can also evoke disruptive responses for adult survivors. Buried feelings toward the parent about the abusive childhood situation can surface at the time of the parent’s death and overwhelm the survivor if she/he is unprepared to handle them. Other friends and relatives may not know how to be sensitive to the survivor’s feelings and experiences. They may disbelieve, be unsupportive, or be unresponsive if the survivor discloses. These reactions can compound the difficulties the survivor is already experiencing.

Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Because our culture regards sexual contact between children and adults as taboo, sexual abuse usually takes place in secret and is kept secret. Denial of sexual abuse is much stronger than denial of physical or emotional abuse. Because of the silence surrounding most sexual abuse, children are forced to endure the abuse and it’s effects alone. As adults, survivors often continue to feel alone and isolated. They fear exposing the shame, rage, and hurt connected to their childhood experiences. They tend to blame themselves for the abuse, especially if there was pleasure, comfort, or a sense of caring attached to the incident. They frequently feel ashamed by the fact that they could not stop they abuse. In many instances, adult survivors do not have the words to talk about the sexual abuse. They often do not remember the details but have only a vague feeling of discontent with another family member or friend of the family. Adult survivors frequently report childhood blackouts in which large chunks of time are forgotten. The denial of sexual abuse may cause total blocking of the experience, leaving only an intuitive sense that something wrong has happened.

Sexual abuse survivors commonly live with a deep sense of shame. They may blame themselves for the abuse and fear being blamed by others if they ask for help. This self-blame is often exacerbated because it is not experienced as a guilty sense of having done wrong, but as a shameful sense of being wrong. Incest survivors are particularly harsh with themselves about causing trouble within the family and believing they deserve to be hurt.

Survivors deal with the sexual abuse in a variety of ways. They may become over-responsible, believing that they are accountable for everything and must take care of others, often meeting the needs of others before their own. On the other hand, they may act out against others in manipulative or abusive ways, especially if that is the only way they have learned to get their needs met. Moreover, the survivor may have developed self-destructive behaviors (substance abuse, eating disorders, acting out sexually, self-mutilation, etc.) as ways to escape from or as attempts to gain control over the pain that stems from the abuse. Survivors who did not have the resources or opportunities to work through the trauma they experienced are frequently prone to self-hate, self-destructiveness, and feelings of hopelessness. It is important to remember that many adult survivors of CSA who have come to some sort of resolution with the trauma lead happy, healthy, fulfilled lives.

Barriers to Healing

It is often difficult for adult survivors to seek help. The following are some of the most common barriers to getting help that they face:
  • Denial that childhood abuse is a problem. Many adult survivors have difficulty connecting their current life situation with earlier childhood abuse. This denial can take many forms: rationalizing, minimizing, intellectualizing, focusing of the problems and shortcomings of others, hoping the problems will take care of itself, feelings that they can take care of their problems on their own.
  • The belief that things can never get better, there is no hope.
  • Fear that they will be consumed by the intensity of their feelings if they begin to deal with the abuse. They often fear the feelings will engulf them or that they will explode if they lose control.
  • Fear and shame about sharing family secrets. Survivors often fear that to get help is to betray and hurt their families, or that they will be punished for exposing family secrets.
  • Fear that they will not be believed because they may not be able to remember the details of their abuse.
  • Inability to blame their parents or other adults for the abuse. We are taught to love and honor our parents and to be respectful of other adults.
  • Fear of taking responsibility for looking at oneself and one’s behvior. It can be much easier for the survivor to continue to blame others for the maladaptive ways that she/he is dealing with the abuse.
  • Fear that there will be nothing left in the advanced stages of healing. This fear is sometimes overwhelming. As survivors strip away all the old negative beliefs that have been the burdensome but familiar foundation for their lives, they begin to feel that everything they’ve ever known is shifting and nothing is certain or sure.
While these barriers are strong ones, they can be overcome. Consistent, patient, and caring effort is needed by both the survivor and those who are aiding in this healing process. While it is difficult and often painful to work towards recovery from childhood abuse, healing is possible when survivors have access to a support network that can provide them with nurturance, assistance, and appropriate levels of care.

Adapted from: The National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse Publication, 1990.


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