Category Archives: Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

Adult survivors of child abuse can still be affected by their abuse as children. In this category I will be talking about adult survivors and myself, as I am also a survivor of child abuse and I personally have gone through many of the effects of child abuse from sleep disturbance to trust issues.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Art Therapy Complex PTSD My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse Stages of Healing

The Emergency Stage: Stages of Healing

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The emergency stage is very disruptive. Memories and long repressed emotions bubble to the surface. Sexual abuse was all I could think about. I had no escape from it. I felt like I had lost my mind. I couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating well, and wanted to run or hide. The feelings are overwhelming and this is when I started to feel even more suicidal. It felt like it was consuming me from the inside out and I was out of control.

New memories that had been locked away came forward. I had nightmares at night and flashbacks during the day. I wasn’t even able to escape into my head with dissociation like I used to. I got myself into therapy and talking to someone really helped me get through a lot of it. As I said in my last blog post that I felt like I finally got past this emergency stage. It still feels this way sometimes and I’m learning to cope better. I still use therapy on and off but what has helped the most is support from my family, friends and online community of survivors. I found forums like http://www.myptsd.com where I read about what other people were experiencing. That helped me not feel so crazy.

During this time I had almost constant anxiety along with anxiety attacks. It has taken me 4 years to figure out how to help myself. There are a ton of parts to healing so one 1 thing really doesn’t work it for me. It takes an arsenal but I am finally in a better place and the techniques I have learned are paying off. I still have a lot of anxiety but I’m better. The attacks don’t last as long and I don’t feel like I’m going to die when they happen. I am less scared. My body freaks out but I am able to talk myself down, breathe, and employ more things that get me through it.

If you are in the emergency stage please know that you are not going crazy. Find someone to talk to so that you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are some great communities out there on the web, forums, twitter chats, survivor communities online. Talk to your doctor about medications, if necessary There are also therapists trained in trauma recovery and group therapy you can attend.Talking to a therapist and reading about the stages helped me realize that this would pass. It will pass for you too. Another thing that helped me was to have a plan for when I was feeling desperate. That desperation for relief led me to feel suicidal. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t really want to die but at times it felt like my only option.

Here is my Safety Plan to help me cope and de-escalate my suicidal ideation:
1. Deep breathing. I use a 1-2-3 method- 1 deep breath, hold to 2 counts, blow out for 3 counts, repeat, slower each time.
2. Focus on the people who love me and how we feel about each other.
3. Call my Mom-text my older brother-text my friend-talk with my online friends
4. Call a crisis line-
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Rainn Nation Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
5. Go stay with my Mom
6. Contact therapist – make an appointment
7. Go to hospital.

You list might look a lot different from this and that’s ok. Do what works for you. You aren’t doing it wrong, just keep trying. Remember that what works can change. For me, some things work some of the time.

Grounding techniques are also very effective to help keep me in the present and not feeling lost in the flashback or memory. The mind is powerful and a flashback can have you feeling like you are being hurt all over again. These can also help if you are disassociating to stay more present. Try these out and see what works for you:

Employ your 5 senses- Touch, sight, sound, smell, taste
Touch: I like using a cold wet wash cloth. I hold it in my hands, feel the temperature, rub my arms and legs down, the back of my neck, my face. I also have some really soft blankets that I love the feel of. I have a rug in my bedroom that is fake fur and I go sink my toes in it. Wiggle your toes right now and notice the feeling of what your feet are touching. Turn on a fan and feel the air movement. I also go find my dogs and hold them, pet them, talk to them, They are always down for cuddles.
Sight: Notice what is around you, say it out loud, describe things. Art therapy can be very helpful to express yourself and shift your focus.
Sound: Play your favorite music, clap you hands, speak out loud
Smell: I use essential oils for anxiety like: Eucalyptus, lemon, orange, lavender. I also like rose and have rose hand lotion that works with a few senses because it feels good and smells good.
Taste: Eat something and notice the texture, how it tastes- is it sweet, sour, cold, hot? I love making tea and the whole process can be relaxing for me.

Change your state: sit if you are standing, stand if you are sitting. Put you arms in the air. Get up and dance a little or walk around. Stretch. Go outside and inhale some fresh air.

This is a pretty big list but doesn’t cover all the things to try. I don’t mean to throw a big list of stuff at you but it takes a lot of trying to figure out what is going to help you. If none of this works, try other things. Search for grounding techniques and you will find even more things to try. You are unique so what helps me might not work for you. Like I can’t do yoga yet due to it body memories. That’s why I don’t like it. This process also takes practice. Eventually I was able to practice mindfulness more throughout the day and it has helped me to stay more present instead of drifting off into my head. I found that drifting off and dissociating was making my flashbacks and memories worse. Once I got more of a handle on staying present I was able to better cope with many of the symptoms of my complex PTSD. Be gentle and patient with yourself. This is not easy at first because you are creating a new pattern of behavior. It literally takes practice for your mind to create the new pathways and go-to actions that will eventually become second nature. It does get easier the more you practice. These techniques can be helpful in other stages of healing and with stress management in general.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Emotional Child Abuse My Story

Stages Of Healing From Sexual Abuse: 1 Deciding to Heal

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There are many stages of healing that a survivor of sexual abuse goes through. Not only do we go through these stages but we go through them over and over again, each time getting more integration. There is no real order to them and many times I have felt stuck in one stage or another. I desperately wanted to feel better and “get over it” as they told me I should have already have done. I now know that a complete resolution may not be possible for me but that doesn’t make healing any less valid for me. I can feel better and I have proven that. I will continue to improve even when it feels like I’m taking a couple steps backward. It’s all part of the journey. According to the book: The Courage to heal, there are 13 stages. I have experienced them all and still go through them over and over again.

The 13 stages are:
Deciding to Heal
The emergency stage
Believing it happened
Breaking the silence
Understanding it wasn’t your fault
The child within
Grieving
Anger
Disclosures and truth telling
Forgiveness for yourself
Spirituality
Resolution and moving on

Here’s where I started:

The Decision to Heal- In 2014 my symptoms from complex ptsd became overwhelming. I ran for a long time and batched, cope with alcohol, and was generally unwell and unable to work. I still struggle to work consistently. I was suicidal and as much as I didn’t feel like I had a choice at all, I chose not to die. I got myself into therapy and seriously committed to healing. This became my full time unpaid occupation. I had been in therapy a few times through my life since I was 10 years old but I didn’t find it very helpful with the exception of some EMDR work I did in 2011. I had to stop going because I couldn’t afford it.

I made a ton of changes and I felt stuck in the emergency stage for a long time. I moved my residence 3 times. Now I’m changing jobs. I’ve gone through the stages and now I FINALLY feel like I’m not in the emergency stage any longer. This is 4 years later. This beginning stages are very disruptive and I found many of the things I used to cope were either unhealthy or just not working. I was remembering more and more instances of sexual abuse. I started calling rape what it was, rape. No pet names or minimizing language. It’s the truth. I couldn’t even say the word for decades but I say it now. I am a rape survivor, a child sexual abuse survivor, domestic violence survivor, partner rape survivor, narcissistic abuse survivor, bullying survivor. I remember my own death and floating above myself. I get a lot of bits and pieces of memories still. Much of it doesn’t make sense. I still disassociate a lot but I’m learning to stay more present throughout the day.

When I remember more I go through a sort of emergency stage again but in a shorter duration. There is just so much to deal with it is very overwhelming for me. It is disrupting and as much as I don’t want to remember anymore, I can’t go back. I can’t undo what was done but I can move toward a better healthier future for myself. That is my goal now, to improve, progress, come at this with compassion and love. It took me a long time to even like myself but I also found this little part of me that I love. That is growing and it makes this journey easier.

Every survivor is different. Their stories and how they go about healing is unique to each and every one of them. There are no boxes that we all fit in, no list that makes sense for everyone. Over the next few posts or so I want to share my experience with the stages of healing as described in the book I mentioned earlier. I hope to share so that it is out of my head and processed more. I want to share to show you can go through all of this and still be able to have a good life. I couldn’t find someone like me so I’m going to be my own role model and model good behavior for myself. Healing is the most difficult work that I have ever done. It is so worth it. I will continue and CPTSD will not kill me because I am tougher than trauma. I’m tougher than what happened to me. I’m tougher than the abusers. I will survive. Whatever it takes, I got this.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Stories Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

Abuse Survivor Blog Wins an Award

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My abuse survivor blog has won an award! They gave me a badge for my website.  I have the #8 out of top 15 blogs about child abuse. This was unexpected but it’s encouraging me to keep going. Sometimes I post a lot, sometimes very little. It is still difficult to stay consistent. My healing is still up and down but I’m finding my way.

Here’s my award ribbon!

Child Abuse Blogs

Other blog news: I’m going to be working on posting my video posts that I took off of YouTube. You will find them in the corresponding posts here where there are missing videos. Thank you for your patience.  More audio posts and other helpful videos are on the way as well. I’ll be sharing what I have learned along my journey. Thank you for reading and subscribing!

Big THANK YOU out to my Patrons on https://www.patreon.com/sarahgarlits You help fund things around here and that keep this blog possible.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Stories Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD My Story Sexual Child Abuse

Traumas I Can Remember

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Trigger warning on this. My entire blog is difficult and can trigger survivors of abuse. If you feel triggered, please do not continue to listen. Press stop, exit out of my blog and practice some good self care techniques.

Every time I say it out loud I feel stronger and more confident that I no longer have to hide what happened to me. It’s empowering for me. I’m still getting new memories but this is most of what I know so far.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Free Writing My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

PTSD Episode

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My anxiety and insomnia are back again. I’m in another PTSD Episode. This happens and will happen again and again as I move through my life. The duration of the episodes get shorter and recovery time from the episodes grow shorter. I am becoming more resilient by practicing self care and self compassion like my life depends on it. Because it does. I feel more prepared to take care of myself now. Knowing what is happening and having a plan to take care of myself helps me so much during times like these. I’ve got this and I’m cranky about it all the same. I’m surviving on meditation, love, coffee, and a Spoonie/Goonies Never Say Die attitude.

I hope you are having a better day, dear reader, than I am. If you are having a crappy day too, know that I stand there with you in solidarity. Deep breathing and mindfulness meditation have been the most helpful for me. Art and writing in my journal when I need to express myself more. The insomnia has been creeping back as my anxiety worsened. I’m going to have to focus on sleep more this month. People talk about healing as some wonderful spiritual positive experience but the reality is that it hurts.

This month’s mantra is “Keep it Moving” and I plan to do just that. I am being more active and focused on myself. I refuse to let Complex PTSD kill me. Like I said before, I live.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Free Writing Insomnia My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd Sexual Child Abuse

Completely Healed Complex PTSD?

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healing from complex ptsd

I used to think being healed from complex PTSD and child sexual abuse meant that I didn’t have any lasting effects and my symptoms would be completely gone. I was told by many uneducated people to just get over it, move on, let it go, ect. Here’s the thing though: I’m not choosing to hang onto anything. Complex PTSD is not a choice. I can choose to recover but healing from trauma is a long messy process. If I could just choose to be healed, I SO WOULD! You have no idea how much I want it to be as simple as choosing wellness but the reality is that takes more time than anyone has the patience for. Relearning how to human and to learn(possible for the 1st time) healthy coping techniques takes time.

When would I consider myself healed? I wouldn’t. I know that may sound harsh but stay with me. If I could acknowledge the trigger or memory without it ruining my day or take longer than a few minutes to get back to life before the trigger. To be able to set it down as soon as it jumps on my back with love for myself and not the seemingly automatic reaction of anxiety, fear, and negative self speak. I don’t think that healing means that I forget. It will always be there. Being healed is handling the triggers and feelings in a way that is not detrimental to myself is the goal. Healing from child sexual abuse along with the other traumas that make up my complex PTSD is a lifelong process. It’s a journey and not a destination.

My focus now is to be compassionate with myself through all of this. It’s what I have denied myself thinking if I wasn’t hard on myself, I wouldn’t do it. I had and still have a whole myriad of untrue reasoning about myself that I’m working on. Basing goal posts according to someone else’s standards or their timeline is counterproductive. They aren’t me so they don’t get to judge or dictate what healing looks like for me. I get to do that. I have to do the work, ME, not them. It’s so easy to sit and judge someone’s behavior or doing the recovery work rather than fixing your own crap, right? Other people can be supportive and compassionate or shove off. There is no need for tough love, criticism of how I live, recover, suffer, live, or achieve my goals.

I am happy to report that I have been doing a LOT better when it comes to putting myself 1st and sleep. According to my tracker technology, I have been getting an average of 9 hours a night for over a month now. I still wake up a lot but the amount and quality has increased. My life and mental well being have greatly improved. In fact, according to my tracker technology I am averaging 9 hours a night. This is a huge change from the rest of my life. I’ve had chronic insomnia for decades. This is proof to me that things can get better. It just takes work and dedication. I can do that. I’m doing it! More sleep has reduced a lot of my complex PTSD symptoms including anxiety and anxiety attacks. I have a self care sleep routine that is working.

There are a ton of other things I do which I mentions in another blog talking about my Complex PTSD toolbox pt1 and  Complex PTSD toolbox pt2. Check those out for more info. All the things at once are overwhelming for sure but focusing on thing at a time works for me. I focus on 1 thing and then build on that. I know I’m going to have up and down times now but I have a plan and several plans depending on what is going on.

Knowing what is happening so I can help myself has been life changing. Before I practiced mindfulness and check-ins with myself I was living in a reactionary state that was extremely difficult. I really didn’t know what was happening or what to do. I would just suffer and wait for it to pass. Taking action to help myself through whatever symptoms arise has lessened the amount of time it takes to be functioning again. There are still times when it seems like nothing helps but in those times I can practice compassion with myself.

 

 

 

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So, I Quit. Another New Chapter in My Life

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I quit my job, my business, my career. I worked really hard for over a decade. I adapted and tried my best. I simply don’t have the emotional energy anymore. In order for me to keep going I have to put have to put my needs aside. I can’t do that anymore. I quit. I passed this test and lived. I chose myself. I’m really sick and down. I really really really don’t want to be in this dark place right now.

I’m really sad about it and it’s added to this new level of healing I’m in that includes grieving…lots of it. I almost tried to explain more but it sounds well, kind of like gibberish but that’s the healing process. I’m sad that I won’t accomplish some of the things I set out to do. I’m sad that my income will most likely suffer more due to this choice. I’d sad that I cannot do the job I love so much. I still love it and miss it.

So, what now? Well, I’ve been studying another business for a long time that will use many of the skills I taught myself in the adult industry. All the hours slaving away at updates, copy, video editing, seo, creating web pages, membership areas, getting payment processors integrated, configuring wordpress, plugins, ect will pay off in my next adventure. I’ve already gotten started but it’s not quite ready yet. What is holding me back is self confidence most of all. I’m working on it a little at a time when I’m feeling lucid along with the other hundred things I’m trying to fight with in my mind. I am way more sick than I let on most days. I do that for everyone’s benefit and to keep that little bit of denial alive so I can pretend to be ok. I can’t anymore and it’s heartbreaking.

I know I have been away and not posted in awhile. I haven’t felt like talking much. I had too much to process. This decision was very difficult and still is. I’m not going away though but I’ll be switching all my social media around for my new adventures. I still need time but I’m getting there. Thank you all for reading and the support you show me. I appreciate all of you even when I’m too sick to be online. One day at a time. I’m still here.

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Sarah Blake Video Diary for May 12th, 2017

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I wanted to let you know that I will be starting several series on my Youtube channel. I want to lean my channel away from me being a performer and for my channel to be more informative about complex PTSD. My hope is that someone else with PTSD, depression, or other mental illness and are inspired to love themselves and work on healing or doing whatever needs to be done to feel better. If a goofy Midwestern gal can heal and get better, they can too. Don’t give up, it can get better! So yeah, I do have an ulterior motive here. I want to change the world as much as I can in a positive way as long as I’m still here and breathing. That doesn’t mean that I still won’t be a performer or that I’m going to stop creating videos for entertainment purposes. No way! I’ll do both and probably challenge a lot of stereotypes and beliefs along the way. GOOD!

Anyway, here is another Sarah Blake Video Diary with me talking about my experiences living with complex PTSD. I always want to do these daily then hit a quiet patch in my healing. That’s ok because I have other videos to create having to do with coping and definitions to inform others about complex PTSD. Onward!

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My PTSD Video Diary on Youtube by Sarah Blake

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If you have been following this blog but not my PTSD Video Diary on my youtube channel it’s going to look like I disappeared. I have not! I have been going through some tough times but I’m still kicking! I’ve been posting my video diary on youtube and writing in my journal instead of typing into a computer. Writing with a pen and talking seem to work better than typing to express myself lately. Sometimes I’ve been posting daily and sometimes weekly. I’ll go ahead and post the videos here so you can see them here too. If you enjoy the video please subscribe to be kept up to date of all the new videos that get released. I’m going to start after the date of the last posting I wrote here, April 29th, 2017.

In this video I am adjusting to medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. My therapist convinced me to to seek help through medication and this is what it is like for me to adjust to those medication. I had a lot of side effects, mostly that I was sleep all the time. I felt tired and goofy in this video:

 

I’m also planning on typing in my journal entries that I wrote or read them out load on some videos so I have a digital record of them. I might record some audio only ones as well. I feel compelled to not have this secret anymore and open up my life. It’s helping me. It’s helping other people. Win-win.

I’ll be posting the other PTSD video diary videos but I will try not to overload you too much. Just a few a week. If you already subscribe to my youtube channel I apologize for the double postings. I go through and reread my own posts(typos and all) and watch my older videos to help me see myself as a person. I still have some self worth issues but I do have some love for myself that I don’t remember ever having before. Loving myself is has really taken all the wind out of shame. Sharing has helped me a lot over the past few years. I don’t regret it at all. In fact, I want to share more! I’m starting to get asked to share my posts on other blogs and I’m going to agree to it. The more we all share about abuse, the more informed people are. Information is power. Hopefully, it can change some things for the better for survivors and to prevent abuse is some way shape or fashion. Yes, I have an agenda as well as a fuckton of a lot of healing to do. I want to share my life to help me and others. That’s it! Heal a fuckton, raise awareness about abuse, show people they are not alone and PTSD is a natural response to a traumatic situation. Maybe someone else that has PTSD sees one of my vids and realizes they are worthy of love and happiness. I want my channel to be a safe space to talk about this tough stuff. Ok, I’m rambling. Onward with the PTSD video diary postings!

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse Emotional Child Abuse Free Writing Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd

Behind the Smiling Mask

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For years my brain locked away years of memories of abuse and rape. At 10 some of these memories came back to me. Luckily, my brain waited until I was older to tell me the rest of the story. I have suffered ever since. Nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, fear, pain, living with a broken heart of a child. Reality crashed down upon me the thousand bricks and now I crawl out from underneath each brick each day.

The greatest mystery of life is who we truly are. Now as I can remember the repeated rapes I also remember the resilient little girl behind the smiling mask. I was a chameleon who knew the world would not understand my pain. The burden of child abuse and survival is not something that anyone should suffer alone. I kept their secrets and did what was expected of me to survive the world that treats survivors as perpetrators. I was a chameleon to survive and to live again. I hid my PTSD, the abuse I suffered from countless people and from the world  behind my smile. I smiled to say that I’m okay, that I’m one of you, but I’m not. I no longer hope for acceptance nor do I want to be accepted by people who would minimize or excuse rape and abuse. I do not want to be counted among those who are ignorant or ignore it.

My mind is slowly revealing to me who I truly am. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse and partner rape. I will no longer remain silent or hide behind the mask of a smile for anyone’s comfort. I am a survivor and I was a resilient child that grew up to still love deeply and be kind. They could not take that from me and they cannot have it now. Each memory is like suffering all over again my body is racked with pain but I still live.

I no longer hide, I no longer wish to be accepted or to act accordingly. I no longer care to fit in. I know the world is cruel and I will live anyway. Now I take off the mask and reveal my true self, not just a survivor but a warrior, still alive, scars and all. My story does not end here but my true life and purpose begins here.

 

See my PTSD Video Diaries: https://www.youtube.com/user/sarahblakeinc