Great book to read about CSA

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It takes a long time to read books about Childhood Sexual Abuse, even longer to recover between those readings.  Each one has a emotional cost. Some I have read are not so great, leaving me worse off than when I started reading, others have been pretty good. Even rarer has been a great book and this is one of them.

Written by Christina Enevoldsen and named The Rescued Soul: A writing journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal.

As you know, we aren’t born with a sense of who and what we are to be. Psychologist call this a sense of self.  Ideally, we grow up and develop it through our interactions with others. Our warm and loving families help us to become a person who has physical, emotional, mental and spiritual maturity. But when we grow up in a family where childhood sexual abuse is going one, we don’t have good boundaries.  (I didn’t even know what boundaries were until a kind therapist told me.)  We are considered sexual objects with little value outside our roles as sexual victims.  This book is about recognizing how we can recreate a person who can be mature in all those ways mentioned earlier with a sense of strength and clarity.  We, through examining our past and present, gain freedom from the lies we were told.  She writes about a way to focus on developing a clear sense of ones self. Writing prompts included in the book help us to move through the muddy waters of unexamined feelings and emotional wounding that childhood sexual abuse has brought into our lives.

I can’t recommend it enough as a starting place for gathering information in how you can proceed to reclaim what was taken from you or if you were very young when the abuse happened, what never developed in the first place. Replacing the blanket of misconceptions, lies and shame with clear boundaries is a worthy starting point in healing our lives. Make you way through the book at your pace and have a voice of someone who is making her way through it too. Discover how you can find out what you want and choose to live now.

If you would like to know more you can find her work at overcomingsexualabuse.com

 

 

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Reasons its important to tell

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So it won’t eat up your emotional life. Are you holding back to protect the abuser or some other family member?

So you don’t miss the opportunity to love another person and have them love you for who you are, if you want to.  Really, really know you, who you are,  wounds and all. 

The general public has no idea how many people are sexually abused as children.  Making it personal makes it real.

The general public has no idea what childhood sexual abuse does to us, the children.. Help them know  

By telling others, it will dispel the ignorance.  People treat us ignorantly when they are not educated about childhood sexual abuse.

So we don’t hide our history of abuse.  Were not safe just cause we don’t tell. It doesn’t protect us  

So we don’t  protect criminals. We may love them because they are our parents or siblings but they have to be stopped.

So we can get clean, clear honesty into our lives.Its the one thing that will help us stay sane.

 So we start to know that we matter (are important) and worthy again. (or maybe for the first time if you were very young when it happened). They taught us what we wanted and needed didn’t matter, but thats not true. 

By telling we develop self esteem.  We learn we are valuable, capable and able to be effective in protecting ourselves.

We learn to increase our Self approval.   Are you learning to approve of yourself instead of wanting the approval of your abuser (by not telling what happened)?

So we acknowledge just how much it hurts. Telling will put us on the right track to emotional maturity, instead of being buried at the age of our violation.

So we can become fully alive. Instead of staying our young wounded self. 

By telling people, we are no longer isolated as we were when we were being assaulted. Being emotionally free we can choose to be alone, which is different than being alone frozen in our past. 

Freedom will come when you take the risk of telling.Telling another person about our experiences, the truth of our experiences is a big turning point in our healing.Take your time, take it slow but do it. Speak up and out. Their sickness can only exist in the secretive darkness perpetrators rely on to keep violating children.

 

Can you think of more?

 

Because we shield the abusers, we make it possible for them to continue their behavior. Exposed facts will educate others to the seriousness of the problem

 

We have to show them the ugliness we have been exposed to.

How do you know what is lying is when your a Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor

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Since I grew up in the company of dishonest, evasive and lying people, I have an ongoing fascination with honesty. When you’re a incest survivor it’s hard to know what is real and what is not. We often become suspicious, distrustful or gullible. Our shit detector becomes clouded. I am looking for better ways to stay honest in my dealings with others. So when I run across a blog entry that talks about the reasons why and how to stay honest I perk up. #5 in the following article is a doozy.

25 Things People in Healthy Relationships Don’t Do  by Mark and Angel Hack Life

http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/06/25/25-things-people-in-healthy-relationships-dont-do/

They don’t keep secrets. – Trust is the foundation of a relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people involved to repair it and heal.  All too often, I’ll hear a coaching client say something like, “I didn’t tell her but I didn’t lie about it, either.”  This statement is a contradiction, as omissions are lies.  If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.  Speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.  Being honest is the only way to be at peace with yourself and others.

Even though Mark and Angel write their blog for the average reader, I find their advice and comments to be true for Childhood sexual abuse survivors too. Especially when it comes to areas such as truthfulness, honesty, being in healthy relationships and communication. All areas where we need clarity and open communication.

When I was a child, I believed my life depended on keeping Jacks secrets.  I thought he would kill me, or leave my mom, or my mom would leave me with him.  He depended on me to keep his secrets. Things he didn’t want to admit to anyone or for anyone to know. They were horrible and hurtful. And he lied to everyone either by denying, evading, hiding or lying to someones face. All are forms of dishonesty.

After living my life hiding the truth of my experiences from the people who I wanted to love, I have seen how it inhibits what goes on in my own relationships. Once I hold something back it’s not long before everything gets stopped up. Emotional constipation. Then it’s just a matter of time before the relationship goes bad. I can’t live in an intimate relationship when I evade being known to the other person. But I didn’t have any role models to show what a loving relationship was like. I never saw anyone who really talked to each other.  I learned how to do it. I learned just like plenty of other people do, I watched others ho were in loving relationships. I practiced and made mistakes with the people I love and loved. I kept trying.

 

The first time I told someone about the sexual abuse,

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Technically, I didn’t tell as much as I admitted it to another human being. I think there is a difference. I told later on in the evening, right after I admitted it, but here is how it all came out one night. 

 I had  just turned 17, and met  Tony at  The Freewill Baptist Church in Vandalia. He was nice, a little bit older than me by two or three years, he played guitar, lived at home and drove his mother’s car.  Basically he was at a stage where he looking for his place in life.  Our dating consisted of being at church, eating dinner after church at his parents, visiting other churches and once I remember we went to the North Star Drive In.

One night after church, he was dropping me at my house. We were sitting in the car, when he asked me if there was something going on between my dad and me. He said” Your  Dad doesn’t  act like other Dad’s of girls I have dated in the past, he acts like he is  jealous, like he’s your  boyfriend. He’s not like any Dad I have ever met before. Is there something going on?”

I froze. I stopped breathing briefly.

I nodded and admitted “Yes, there was something going on.”   We both digested what I had admitted.  The first thought I had, what seeped into my frozen brain, was the question “What have I done? I am going to get in so much trouble. “I wanted to tell him more but nothing would come out.  

 “Does your Mom know?” Tony asked.

 “No”, I didn’t think she did. (Cause, Jack was adamant about making sure I didn’t tell, that’s how I knew for sure).

 He told me “You have to tell your Mom, she needs to know. You have to tell her tonight.”

What I wanted was to die, but based on past experience, that wasn’t going to happen. Next best would be Tony would tell her, but I felt sure he wasn’t going to do that for me. I remember hearing him say, something about me needing to find someone who would help me.  I got out of the car, went inside to face the telling. I thought I would die. My guts were twisting all around. There was this sense of doom, just on the edge of happening. That sick feeling as you realize your about to fall. Hard, and there was nothing to do but go with it.  Even though  I thought I had experienced  the worst life had to offer to children, things could surprise me by showing me something else was  possible.  I had to face something I would regret.

 Mom was gone, probably at work.  Jack, no where to be seen. I sat down on the couch trying to figure out how I was going to tell Mom, when Jack came in the front door.  He had been out drinking with his friends while he was supposed to be home watching his children. But he really just wanted to go back out and was relieved that I was there so he could leave again. He didn’t want to look too eager for it, so he yelled at us for not being in bed. Actually we were all okay with him leaving again; it was easier with him gone.  Told me to get the rest of the kids in bed, while he was going to go out cause he couldn’t stand it being in such a noisy, messy house. When he got back, we had all better be in the bed, asleep.  Or we would all pay for it. He stomped out of the house, leaving me to get everyone settled in. My youngest sister was only a few months old so she was the easiest. Later, Connie and Scott followed suit, and then Jackie, who usually fought the hardest about doing anything. Then I went back to the couch.

I couldn’t understand what happened in Tony’s car.  How was this going to happen? Me telling Mom what had been going on for years.

 It didn’t seem that long before Mom came home bringing unclaimed pizza from work.

I waited until she settled in then said I needed to talk to her. She got a drink and headed outdoors to the back yard. She was probably glad for the cooler breeze after being in front of pizza ovens all night. Truth is, it was probably fitting that we sat in the back yard, in lawn chairs only partially lit up from the kitchen light shining out the back door. I worried about her seeing my face.

After I sat down, I waited a moment, and blurted out,  ”Dad and I have been sleeping together”  as if I had been a consenting adult. I looked at my feet, since it was the only thing I could clearly see.  After a bit, she asked did anyone know what had happened. Nothing else, no details, no “oh no’s”, nothing remarkable. Just “Does anyone else know? I want to make sure your not lying”.

“Yes, Uncle Brian, Uncle Barry”, I left out Uncle Vic, thinking he wouldn’t have told her the truth anyhow.  She got up and left the chair, left me sitting in the back yard, wondering what I should do.  After a while, I just went to bed.

The truth of my life

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telling the truth about my incestuous childhood is difficult.  For one thing, I never heard anyone say it was wrong for him to do what he was doing until I was 16. So for years I didn’t even know it was wrong .  I knew I didn’t like it.  But as a child there are many things not to like.  And then I didn’t have the words to express what had happened or how it made me feel. Most six-year olds  can say ” I like it when my daddy kisses me and hugs me.”  How would a six-year-old know that daddy sticking his tongue in a child’s mouth crosses a line of behavior.

Add to this the difficulty of trying to find a vocabulary to describe what is happening. When I first told my Mom, I said we were sleeping together, as if I had been an adult and chose to engage in sexual activity. I didn’t call what he did to me  rape until I was in my 30’s. 

 Years of his training taught me to think this was my fault.  Add to this he told many times he would just go get one of the other kids if I didn’t let him do what he wanted. I ended up a confused mess of misplaced responsibilities that took a lot  of therapy to sort out. 

Telling secrets is difficult. I suppose telling the truth is difficult for everyone at some time in their lives. What  helped me was to know there are differences between levels of secrecy, privacy and intimacy. Damaged parts I don’t share are becoming increasingly difficult to keep submerged in my life. I help myself  by telling others of my memories, thoughts and feelings about these horrific experiences.  I know the danger of denying wounds.  The infection spreads and pollutes what it can touch.

  When I was growing up, telling myself I have to do this or he was going to leave my Mom,  it’s better that it’s  me than my little sister and that when I grow up he isn’t going to do this to me anymore,  is how I made it through the  attacks. There were times when he didn’t hurt me for over a year and I thought maybe he would leave me alone forever. Then for no apparent reason he would sodomize and rape me  again, or tell me he was going to give me to his friends or I was just too beautiful to leave alone. I learned it didn’t matter what I did or thought or how I  behaved, he was going to hurt me because he wanted to. There was no one to stop him, I certainly couldn’t.  For years I twisted my mind in all kinds of directions trying to make sense of what he did and why he did it. Once I realized I had been powerless to stop him, I quit trying to make the world right and me wrong. As soon as I faced this the better my mental health became.

Now I try to be more honest with the people around me when I am unhappy, or see things that upset me and sometimes I don’t know when I am upset until it is brought to my attention.  But I am telling more and more people who are in my everyday life that I have been sexually abused as a child. It’s hard to say I was raped repeatedly throughout my childhood but I have said it more often in the last year than I have in my whole life. I think my therapy is paying off.  Thank you,  Dr. Beinhacker. And I keep growing and healing and learning more about good love.

My Grandma told me how much

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she admired me. Well, actually she said to  me, You have more  balls than anyone else I know. And these were  strong  words for her because she grew  up in an era when women didn’t talk in a vulgar way. She felt  proud of me for trying to find my  biological father.  I was a young woman in my mid twenties, just trying to find out the circumstances of my birth.  Old enough to bear the  truth. Here is how this came to be.

It  all started with the bombing of Iran.   My husband and I, who were living in Heidelberg, Germany at the time were  scared for my son’s safety. It was an uncertain time, when American’s were a likely  target. We lived in military housing not too far from  downtown on Kirschgartenstrasse.  Very close to the military headquarters. Russ was in elementary school, third grade and I was scared. Russ and I flew home to stay with Billy’s parents in Arkansas. Just until it was safer in Germany. 

Staying in Arkansas was uneventful. 6 weeks after arriving, Russ finished out the school year and we were both getting pretty restless, we headed up to Ohio to visit some of my family. Things were settling down overseas. Soon we would be returning to Heidelberg, but a change of scenery would be nice.

Once my son and I were  in Ohio,  I decided to take advantage of the timing and situation. I looked up any information I could about my biological father who I had never met. He had never acknowledged my existence. Keeping things simple I looked up his name in the phone book.  Even  though I couldn’t find him in the phone book, I did find a similar name of someone who could have been my Uncle.  Turns out he worked  right up the street from where I was staying with my Grandma on Deeds Ave. and it was within easy walking distance. 

Walking up to his place of business, I concentrated on getting one foot in front of the other. Listening to my breathing and my mind screaming, Got nothing, might not get anything but I will know something for sure. This place was just a small business located on Stanley Ave. not too far from I-75.  Wow, what a moment when I realized where the business was located. The very same place that when I was in high school,  my boyfriend and I had parked and necked, a lot in the very spot  Dave’s business had been for years.  

I walked in the front door, asked for Dave and was pointed in the right direction.  I might have introduced myself and I asked him, could it be possible that we might be related. And more to the point, I asked if he thought I might have looked like his brother Robert, who (I hoped) was my  father.  I do know that I was breathing really shallow and was starting to get dizzy, numb for a few minutes. Sitting at the side chair of the desk, I realized here was the man who might be standing between my father and I, so I asked him  if he could talk to his brother, to be a go between, maybe even  arrange a meeting between the two of us.  

He wouldn’t confirm anything for me. He tried  to protect his brother. He was definitely reserved about the whole issue.  But he did confide that  he wasn’t even sure if they Dave and Bob were full brothers. Their mother had just died recently. After going through the paperwork from her death there was evidence of a previous marriage, but things had not been sorted out.

After leaving his business, I went home to meet Grandma. To tell her what had happened. She was pacing outside her duplex, waiting for me. She was anxious, pacing up and down the sidewalk.   She knew, in part , what I went through in my childhood.  That’s  when she said “Kim you have more balls than anyone else I know”and she gathered me up into her arms and squeezed me tight to her. My grandma, she loved me like no one else. Her love made me feel strong.  Her love encouraged me to do brave things. Not just because it was brave, but because my heart lead me to do brave things. To  speak the truth.  No matter what others said or thought,  at the end of the day I shouldn’t  do things  just because society said I ought to, nor should I dothings just to protect other people, especially when they were being dishonest and it was at my expense. 

 Even though there was not a successful ending to the attempted reconnection, she was proud of me for trying.  She loved me and sometimes  that love was so big it hurt. It causes an ache  in my heart even now. Just like the ones we get in our muscles from holding our arms up and open too long. It is still here though in my heart. And it carries me through my days.

Courage

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Surviving is a courageous act.  I do it everyday.

In my interior  world, everything according to my viewpoint  is tainted by other people’s  unknown and dangerous intentions. Something I can’t see inside another’s heart and mind. For example last night I was trying to find my way to a meeting room (for Survivors of Incest Anonymous) in a local hospital. 

Fourth floor conference room.  How hard can it be? 

Even though I followed the  easy instructions to where the room was, I ended up needing help locating it. After entering the hospitals front doors, I took a quick look around, noticed just a few people at the lobby desk. Elevators where they were supposed to be.  After arriving on the 4th floor,  there was no one on this floor and I headed down the hallway looking for the room. It wasn’t where I thought it was going to be.  At the same time, this employee who I had noticed on the first floor, was behind me, having gotten out of the other elevator.  In my mind, he was following  me  4th floor. To him, he was just working.  I felt a flash of wariness, a sort of automatic alarm going off . Even though I felt suspicious,  I forced myself to turn around and asked where the 4th floor conference room was located. I kept my physical distance.  He helped me  find the room, and the bathroom. Then he moved on to where ever had been going.

Danger averted. Apparently I really needed this meeting. 

Based on my own past  experiences, the  flash of wariness and suspicion,  and the question of ” why was he following me?” are a perfectly normal and to be expected.  What are his  intentions? People are harmed in the places where they are supposed to be safe. It happens everyday.   The shame was deeper.  I realized since it was such a small, fairly new hospital he probably knew that I was there for the SIA group, so he knew my secret shame.  What if he thought ( like so many others I have met) that I had deserved what happened to me. That I had been born in sin and this was what I was here for to~ be abused and raped.  That I had been placed in his life at this moment to be  his gift from god to take care of his sexual needs.

 I had to tell myself, its okay, I can do plenty to protect myself, I am not the little girl who was hurt so  badly in the past.  By someone who was supposed to be responsible for looking out for me.

 But I didn’t really breathe a sigh of relief until the other members started showing up.

Nothing happened to threaten me. I found my room safely. Our group meeting was richly satisfying.  We all made wonderful connections to other survivors.  My own  past experiences poison me with fear, shame, and doubt in the simplest of endeavors. 

I have learned that courage comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  You can’t tell from looking at someone if they are courageous until you hear their stories of where they have been and what they have survived.  He never knew that I was displaying tremendous courage, both by asking for help, and going to a meeting.

For today, it is all about the courage.