Category Archives: Child Abuse Survivors

Child abuse survivors are those that survived. They lived through the experience and whether the abuse was recent or in the distant past, the abuse is something they always carry with them.

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More Life Changes to Help My Healing Journey Along

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I’ve been quiet a lot in the past month and that’s because I am making some more big changes in my life. I’ve shared a little on twitter about it. I’ve decided that I need to accept that I can only go so far by myself in my healing journey. I am no longer going to be living alone. This month I am downsizing everything in preparation for my move to upstate NY. This is so challenging to let go of stuff I’ve collected and had for decades! I’m going to do it though. It’s in my best interests. I was worried that people would be upset with me but I can’t help it. My life has to go on and I don’t live for others anyway.

The relational and developmental trauma I experienced cannot be healed without relationships. I’m very resistant and a bit bitter about it but I’m making headway to slowly allow more people in my life. Cutting ties with toxic people and having a very small group was what I needed but now it’s time to move on into another stage of healing. My healing journey includes constant changes. Some thing work some of the time. I have to roll with it and do what I need to do for my well being and life. Toxic people are still not allowed and I have no issue now with ejecting them. I block so fast and don’t even give it much thought. I don’t have to like people or give them my time. I have so much less guilt and the “what about” thoughts now after blocking.

It is not lost on me how absolutely fortunate I am to have a loving family that is willing and able to help me through this. I am moving in with them and we are pooling our resources so that I will be able to focus on my healing even more. I’m a workaholic. I love it, crave, it, and hurt myself with it. I medicate and avoid my mental health issues with work. Now I can have more room in my head for facing the challenges I need to work on. I will have the freedom to start over again. Healing for me has been a series of tearing things down and rebuilding my life in a way that is more true to myself instead of trying to please other people.

I haven’t worked for a few weeks now and had virtually no responsibilities other than taking care of my basic needs. Life have been torn down to the foundations in many ways. It sucks to start from a beginning again but it is also a blessing for me. Onward to rebuilding my life for myself. It’s taking longer than I would like but that’s the general human impatience that we all live with. Good things really do take time. But 1st, I need coffee!

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New Vlog Post October 15, 2018

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Click here or on the pic above to go to my Patreon account and check out the new video! It’s about 10 minutes. More to come as I get more videos edited. I posted a new vlog this week. I’ve been filming nearly every day to track my progress through my healing journey. Becoming a Patron starts at just $3. I’m still working out how I’m going to be expanding my Patreon. I would love the feedback if you would like to share. Thank you!

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Take Me with You

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A letter to Myself. I have written many of these over the years. The post pic of some of those letters. It scares me sometimes because all the selves in my start talking at once in my head. It scared me that I was all these selves before. I’m really trying to accept this about myself and love myself. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE! So, here’s a love letter:

Dear Sarah,

Take me with you when you need strength. Know that someone loves you and hold a safe place for you to be yourself. Your playful, tearful self. Take me with you when you need me. Most importantly take yourself with you and all of us stand behind you that believe in you. You can do this. You are doing this. You have survived every single day no matter what the world threw at you. It’s ok to be hesitant in receiving help, just keep going! Day by day, step by step, and layer by later you are making a life for yourself that you get to live for yourself. It’s yours! The abuse may have held you back but you are bursting out now.

Take all your friends and loved ones with you through everything. Let them stand behind you and be your foundation along with your own love for yourself. When someone walks over your boundary, ask yourself, “What would Mom, Jeff, John, the support group, patrons, and your twitter friends tell you if you told them about this?” What would you tell them if this happened to them? You don’t deserve to be treated badly EVER! Everyone that cares about you wants you to have healthy boundaries and not go over them or hurt you. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries after you state them or make an effort to do better, have a block party and dance about your freedom from another asshole! You don’t have to give them a chance either. You can do what you like. You don’t owe anyone attention, friendship, or whatever. Even if they give you things or money. You don’t have to play tit for tat.

Allow yourself to have more fun and be your silly self. That’s the good shit and you deserve more of that. Years of not letting yourself unfurl are over. Go as slow as you are comfortable. Extend your wings and let yourself be whoever you are that day. Remember that you aren’t changing, you are remembering. This is all still you. You will grow but you are always still you. No need to fear that. The core of you is good and loving. That really small voice, the real you, doesn’t think you suck. It loves your very much. I love you very much. All of me loves all of the you’s. Even if we never integrate into a whole self you are wonderful just like this. Just think, you most likely will grow and be even better because I know you. You won’t just stop here. You will go get ALL THE THINGS you want because that’s who you are.

That voice telling you all those cruel things that the abusers did is wrong and stupid. The abusers were stupid to do what they did. They could have had so much but they had to be abusers. They didn’t pick you because you were weak. They picked you because you are full of life and love. They wanted to eat your life force. They will live on having their miserable lives. They aren’t happy people even when they get what they want. You, however, will grow into a more loving giving person or rather wake up those parts you had to hide away to protect them. You get to have love and happiness in your life and you are already finding loving people!

It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be scary, but you can do this. I believe in you. Your loved ones believe in you. You don’t have to fight this alone anymore. If and when you doubt yourself ask your loved ones and they will tell  you that you can do this. They have your back and so do I, all of the parts. The goal is to have a better life and be yourself, whatever that is! You will have it too because that’s what you do. You do the damn thing! Keep going!

Love Always,

Sarah Garlits

 

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Survivor Vlog October 1, 2018

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New  PTSD video Diary Teaser
You can watch the full pt 1 vlog on my Patreon
http://www.patreon.com/SarahGarlits
Part 2 posts later this week. 🙂

Where else can you find me?

Support my art, writings, survivor blog, youtube channel and more here:
http://www.patreon.com/SarahGarlits
Social Media:
http://www.twitter.com/SarahGarlits –I’m most active and interactive here
http://www.facebook.com/sarahgarlitshttp://www.youtube.com/SarahGarlits

http://www.youtube.com/SarahGarlits – My channel

Blog and contact me:
http://www.abusesurvivorblog.com

Link to information found in this video:
I am not affiliated with this company but wanted to pass the info along to other survivors. Great information and they have helped me a lot!
CPTSD Foundation Live daily support calls and free resources: https://cptsdfoundation.org/
Traima Recovery Uniniversity Youtube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_px…

 

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

Believing It Happened – Stages of Healing

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It really happened to me. The memories, flashbacks, and nightmares are real. For so long I couldn’t say the words. Now I know that I survived child sexual abuse, attempted murder, partner rape, bullying, attempted suicide, domestic violence, stalking, and more. Denial that these things happened to me served me in some ways to try to move forward in my life…until I couldn’t move anymore. There was no more forward. I had no choice but to start healing myself because continuing to hate myself and not believe my own memory was killing me. I had to stop making excuses and confront what I did not want to deal with. I didn’t want to remember or have to pause my life to heal. The rose colored glasses have been shattered much like my mind.

My brain separated the functioning part of myself from the abuse but it was always there. There were symptoms even though I couldn’t remember for years. I wanted to believe it didn’t happen. I wanted to believe it was just a dream, just weird thoughts, just not me. It matters. I matter. What happened to me matters. The fact that the rapists walk free matter while I continue to suffer. I am not disposable and no survivor is. It happened and I believe myself. I trust myself. I wasn’t ready for years to admit it but it’s my truth.

If you are struggling with this please know that it is ok to be where you are. Believing and getting through the denial takes time. According to the The Courage to Heal book believing doesn’t happen all at once. Be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to force yourself or push yourself to accept it all at once. Healing is a gradual, grueling, nonlinear process. Don’t let anyone else rush you either.

I would love for this process to be faster. The more I push the more disruption happens. Learning to give myself time and to believe each new memory as it arises is also something I’m having to gradually learn. It is easier to fall into the old ways of coping but the more I choose to love and accept myself and my memories the easier it is getting to get through another day.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Survivors Complex PTSD Effects of Child Abuse Effects of Emotional Abuse My Story Overcoming Sexual Abuse ptsd Stages of Healing

Remembering – Stages of Healing

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Remembering is another stage in the healing process. When I was 10 years old memories of child sexual abuse that I suffered came back to me during a class assembly. Right there in front of everyone, the memories came crashing in. It roared in my ear and black came in around my peripheral vision. I felt like I was being sucked into the back of my head and everything was going black. I started to fight it but it was no use. All the sudden I was 3 years old and very confused, in immense burning pain, couldn’t move.I saw the abuser. I’m not sure when I came back to the present as remembering that traumatic event was also traumatic. I ran out of the room crying. It was like a horror movie except it was my life. My life wasn’t what I thought it was. I don’t have much memory of the next few months but I went into therapy as did my family.

I’m still remembering traumatic events all these years later that I repressed and I’m now 38 years old. Survivors can remember at any age and there are seniors in their 80’s and 90’s just now remembering traumatic events that happened to them in their childhoods. Now it effects me much like it when I was 10 but I am better able to handle it because I usually know what is going on. Do you remember that scene in The Bourne Identity where Jason Bourne remembers some repressed memories due to the government experiments? He grabs a table to steady himself and almost falls over. It’s pretty close to that for me. I usually have to get to a safe state of being like sitting down. I can get dizzy and fall. It’s like I’m not even in my body, I’m certainly not in the present.

There are times when I can feel a memory on it’s way, like impending doom. When this happens I get to a place that I will be safe.I let myself feel as much as I can. I employ selfcare and grounding techniques that I mentioned in the last post. Every step is important but I just started learning how to let myself rest. Remembering is painful and exhausting. There is no way I can just go back to whatever I was doing. I need time to process and rest. When I’m ready I write about it, create some art, and talking about it when I’m ready can help too.

Remembering is a unique experience for every survivor. Some survivors remember what happened, others don’t, some of us get pieces or just feelings. I have traumatic amnesia around many events. There are also body memories, emotional flashbacks, and my memory seems to change. I can remember different parts of my life at different times. Sometimes I can’t remember anything and I just exist in this body, dissociating to the point of depersonalization. Some survivors remember the event but not the feelings that went along with it. The healing process can bring out more memories as well as life events and stress. Something can trigger a memory like a life event such as getting married, having a child, breaking an addition. A retraumatization can also bring the memories back.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.