Relationships

“Survivors often find it hard to trust other people and lack friendships and close relationships. Survivors sometimes feel that the only people they can trust and love completely are their own children and are very anxious not to jeopardize these relationships. They may be fearful of making demands, saying “No” to them, or putting any limits on what they can do, in case they lose their children’s love.” Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse by Carolyn Ainscough & Kay Toon

This is amazing I just came to this realization recently; my son had become life, the love of my life, the only human being and love I completely trusted. I felt totally safe loving him and with his love, it was unconditional, it didn’t hurt or judge, it never left me.  I let that love be “enough” for me and left no room for anyone else.  Now my son is almost 20 years old, has left the nest to start his adult life and I thought I would die.  I felt terribly lonely and sad, would have anxiety attacks, I felt like I lost my life support. Some say this is normal and I agree but I was a little overboard.

I can’t tell you how great it is to see that for me as an abuse survivor it is normal and that I can do something about it.

 

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Though a little uneasy something inside of me wanted to trust and to believe that people didn’t want to do me harm if I let them get close. I wanted to know that someone I liked could like me enough to not hurt me. I went in hopeful and I was raped.

They warned me that if I told I’d be blamed and that my family would be angry with me and I believed them because I had already experienced my grandmother’s wrath in a similar situation and had been trained to stay silent and to believe that I was the wrong one and somehow deserved these things. I thanked God that there were no visible scars so no one had to know. I was dazed and beyond shocked and immediately tried to erase what had happened from existence.

Because I was so good at controlling my emotions I dried my tears, stilled my trembling and walked in the house without a word to my grandmother as though nothing had happened. She asked what took me so long and I don’t remember my response. I went immediately to the shower and scrubbed myself trying to wash away the feeling of their hands on my body. I wanted to scream but was afraid I’d be heard so I screamed in my head and as I turned off the water and it ran down the drain I imagined that the rape and my feelings went down the drain also. It never happened I told myself.

“When I kept silence, my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long” Psalm 32:3.

That day is committed to my memory. I can still remember their names and faces. I can see the clothes that I wore; light blue bell-bottomed, high-wasted pants, a white tank top and white platform shoes that were the style. They told me how much older I looked, how beautiful and sexy I was and yes I might have looked like a woman but nevertheless I was a mere child.

How does a 10 year old hold onto something so vile, so contemptible and traumatizing in silence? I sealed it in the vault deep within my soul that holds the painful, incomprehensible secrets, feelings, & thoughts that I couldn’t speak or think about. I’d never have to face them again, or so I thought. The reality is that abuse will surface in some form at some point.

Resilience in the face of adversity

Resilience in the face of adversity

Cleveland kidnapped women move from Victims to Survivors.

Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship

Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks. Test your resilience level and get tips to build your own resilience.

By Mayo Clinic staff

When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?

When you have resilience, you harness inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster or the death of a loved one. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop skills to become more resilient.

Resilience means adapting to adversity

Resilience is the ability to roll with the punches. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. Resilience isn’t about toughing it out, being stoic or going it alone. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key component of being resilient.

Resilience and mental health

Resilience offers protection from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as lack of social support, being bullied or previous trauma. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your ability to cope.

Tips to improve your resilience

If you’d like to become more resilient, consider these tips:

  • Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in both good times and bad. Establish other important connections by doing volunteer work, getting involved in your community, or joining a faith or spiritual community.
  • Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Learn from experience. Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify both positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your behavior in the future.
  • Remain hopeful. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
  • Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. To restore an inner sense of peace or calm, practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
  • Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems or try to wish them away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you actively work at it.

When to seek professional advice

Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. If you don’t feel you’re making progress — or you don’t know where to start — consider talking to a mental health provider. With guidance, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.

Blame and Shame

My aunt saw him touching me one night, and she told my grandmother but nothing seemed to happen to him although I felt that he deserved some kind of punishment I mean it was wrong. Wasn’t it.?  Instead I was blamed, and shamed into believing that it was not only wrong but my fault. This is where my life turned onto a bumpy, pothole filled road that I would trip over and fall into for many years to come. Do you remember that day when your childhood ended? I remember it vividly. I call it a defining moment. We all have those a time or times so crucial that we unfortunately never forget, forgive or heal from.

My grandmother was so angry with me, not with him but me. Adding insult to injury she screamed at me saying that I had brought it on myself. She was bent down so that her face could be even with mine and there I stood with tears in my wide stretched eyes looking up into the face of madness. I was frozen into a state of shock at the horror that was being unleashed upon me.

I was a baby what could I have done to bring this on myself? The more she ranted the deeper within myself I sank. Her words were like a physical assault I felt like I should take cover to protect myself from the attack. The wind was knocked out of my lungs and I went numb. She was the adult I believed what she was saying and my spirit broke, my heart was wrenched apart and I was never again the same, I wanted to just disappear.

As if the physical abuse wasn’t enough to stomach now I had to swallow the emotional and mental abuse of a mad woman. She should have been my protector but instead she too became my victimizer. She shouted at me like she hated me. What did I do to cause her to no longer love me or did she ever? Maybe she did but certainly not enough.  I was more excruciatingly hurt and afraid of her and what she was saying to and about me than I was of my grandfather’s actions. Hers was the greater wrong because she didn’t realize my pain and trauma, she devalued me. Instantly I became a nothing and a nobody I didn’t matter.

What do you do when you’re made to believe it was your fault?  How do you go on?

Familiar stranger

It’s happening again within a couple of years of my cousin molesting me my grandfather started on me. It took place several times but I don’t remember exactly how often because it’s a blur like a thick fog that I can’t quite see through or beyond. I can see however like a movie unfolding, some specific scenes like us in the front hallway of the house that was so empty and dark, he would touch my private parts and make me touch his, he’d tell me not to put on any underwear so that he could get to it easier and he’d watch me walk up the steps so he could stare up at my naked bottom, or I’d be sitting on the banister out on the porch and he’d come and stand in between my legs and touch.

I was bewildered at the lustful eyes of my grandfather leering with desire and salivating for me his grandchild. Somewhere inside I knew it was wrong but I was so young, afraid, and confused. He wasn’t the boogey man or the scary stranger that my mother warned against he was my granddad I loved him and thought he loved me and so I complied.

As kids we have this trust and faith in those who profess to love us and whose care we are in. We believe they won’t hurt us and that whatever they are saying or doing is right and therefore we allow harm and foul to come against ourselves even when deep down we know something is wrong. The fear of what would happen to us, our loved one, and our idyllic world as we know it renders us compliant and silent.

I’d detachedly watch what was happening not allowing myself to feel or be fully affected by the events, I was disconnected, unplugged, it wasn’t me. I believe that the only way I could cope was to develop this defense mechanism to guard myself against the trauma of the experiences.

Is it worse when it’s someone you know?

What’s left behind

Even though the cousin who molested me was no longer in my life I was left with a sense of fear like I’ve never felt before. I became afraid of the darkness of night and being alone in it and sounds that I’d probably heard before but paid no attention to like my mother’s movements in the next room, or my grandparents walking around downstairs. The shadows on my walls of my favorite doll and other toys became menacing to me.

I had a beautiful room fit for a princess with a white and gold canopy bed with a pink comforter and wallpaper of dancing ballerinas in pink and blue tutu’s, it was once my sanctuary, my favorite place in the house and even though it looked the same it was somehow different, I guess I just didn’t feel the same in it. My haven had become a dark, creepy place with danger lurking in the corners and my imagination ran wild to something or someone sinister out to get me.

I’d go to bed at night and suddenly I’d jump out of bed seeking safety and comfort and would run to my mother’s room.  I’d climb up in her bed on the pretense that I would go back to my own room after some TV show we were watching went off but at the end conveniently I’d be asleep. Of course I wasn’t really asleep and I’m sure that she knew it too but she didn’t bother me she would just turn over and go to sleep with me nestled against her. Perhaps she too needed to know that I was safe.

There are Angels

I was lucky the first time, I had an Angel who loved me.

Then we heard her, my mother coming down the hall calling out my name. She said that it was like someone told her to wake up and she instinctively knew that I needed her, if you are a mother you understand.  When my mom came in the room the first thing she saw was me sitting there crying, she asked me what was wrong but I was too afraid to say. She spotted my cousin’s shadow on the wall near my night light he ran past her and tried to run down the stairs but she caught him and nearly beat him to death as he cried, begging and pleading for her to stop saying he was sorry. I stood by and watched in shock, devastated by the events of the night.

When it was all said and dome my mother cradled me in her arms and we cried together and she asked me what he did to me, was I hurt or bleeding and I answered her as best I could clinging to her for dear life. I didn’t fully comprehend all of what took place that night but what I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was that I could trust in my mother’s love and protection.