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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.

Abuse Survivors Overcoming Sexual Abuse

A Message to Survivor of Abuse

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I filmed a video a couple weeks ago that I was going to post next week. The more I thought about it, the more I moved it up.  I posted it today because survivors like myself don’t need to hear these words tomorrow or next week. Some of us need these words right now. It is so powerful to hear that someone believes you, believes in you, and that the abuse was not in any way their fault. I was inspired to post the video now instead of later by this video of a beautiful and inspiring acceptance speech by Maria Cahill. I watched her bravery with tears in my eyes as she spoke about needing to hear those words, “I believe you”,  and her resolve to not be silent about what had happened to her.

When I started therapy, I was looking to fix myself. I was looking for all the things that I was doing wrong in order to try to get my life back together after falling into a deep depression with thoughts of suicide.  It turns out that I wasn’t “doing it wrong” and after some time I really started to believe the truth. It wasn’t my fault.  I didn’t need to be so hard one myself because I was not the one at fault, I was just trying to cope and survive.

A big part of the reason that I am still here and I didn’t succumb to my depression and PTSD is that people believed me and believed in me.  The words I say in the video are words that I needed to hear. Hearing the, writing them, and saying them have helped me to heal. I want you to hear them. I want you to know that I believe them and I believe in you. I think society doesn’t want to admit that things have gone so wrong so it looks to lay blame not on the abuser but on the victim. When those of us need support and compassion the most, many are treated with disrespect and scrutinized when it is not the victim that needs examined. Its alarming to me and ridiculous. Victim blaming is a huge part of why people do not come forward or seek help after abuse.

I recently released a few very difficult videos and in true form of our society, I was told that I was asking for it. I was 3. At that age we ask for love, food, water, maybe our favorite toy but not to be hurt. I mean, REALLY? Do they really believe a child is asking to be injured/raped/molested? This makes me very angry. Seeing the horrible comments like this does not make me want to be quiet. It does not have the desired effect of shutting me up(hardly anything does anymore, HA!). It only made me want to talk more, share more, to put more of my truth out there so that others may find the strength that I have and the courage to begin to heal.

I tell ya, it does not feel strong to share those private moments and my past abuse. Its scary. It feels like I might die, that someone will want to silence me but I do it anyway. I was told that if I tell my family would be killed and I would be killed. I do it for myself and I do it for others that are also suffering in silence.

Here is my message to my fellow survivors:

I believe you.  It was not your fault.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Child Abuse Stories My Story Videos

Conversations with the Sun

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I remember talking to the sun as a child. Every morning I was thankful for it coming up again. During some of the abuse I would dissociate and talk to it or I would talk to it afterwards. I would have pretend conversations with it. I would ask that it would just stay bright and there would be no night. At night is when the bad things would happen. When the sun came up in the morning I knew it was safe to sleep again. I would beg for it to rise again and make the world safe for me. I don’t remember being afraid of the dark, just afraid of night time and of going to bed.

During this time when I was about 5 years old a movie came out that had a huge impact on me and I found comfort in the fantasy world that was the movie: Legend. There was a song that resonated with me so much and I cry when I listen to it now. Everyday the sun would give me hope. “Loved by the Sun” by Tangerine Dream and those lyrics in the chorus, loved by the sun, reminds me of when I would go outside and the sun rays would touch my face as if to comfort me. I was too afraid to tell anyone and get comfort from another human being so the sun was my friend. When the sun was around, no one hurt me.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I know there are many ways that I coped but this particular memory brings me so much joy and hope. I’m remembering things again that are not horrible but hopeful instead. I imagine hugging my child-self and telling her how proud I am. For years I have been so mean to myself and talked to myself like the people that abused me. Remembering my strong child-self is so heartwarming.

I was never angry with the sun for leaving for the night. I missed the sun like a friend and unconditionally love it. I remember in a pretend conversation I asked why it couldn’t just stay with me. It said it needed to rest so it could come back to protect me the next day. I accepted that in my child’s mind that didn’t know the sun doesn’t actually sleep, talk, rest, or that the earth was revolving, giving us the night. The reasoning of an abused child can be wondrous, beautiful, and sad all at the same time. I feel sad but thankful at the same time that I was able to cope in that way.

I remember finding out at school that the sun doesn’t sleep and that it always shines. That also gave me a comfort that is hard to explain. The sun was everything. Without it, everything would die. Without the sun, I felt I would die until it rose again to brighten the darkness and protect me again. I felt loved by the sun. I’m finding this once lost memory of how I was able to get through those times to be such a source of strength and an example of resilience. I’m listening to the song on repeat and letting myself exist in that memory, crying happily and smiling at my child self,dancing with our arms up, being loved by the sun as it touches our face.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse My Story Stop Child Abuse Videos

I am NOT Ashamed

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Shame seems to be one of the most effective tools that abusers and society have to make survivors of abuse feel horrible about themselves and keep them suffering in silence. I buck against this way of thinking because it directly contradicts my truth. I know what is true in my heart about myself. I have clear examples in my memory that proves to myself that I am not a bad person and I have no reason to think otherwise no matter how many people want to point fingers or criticize. Their comments and attempts to shame me talks of a deeper truth about them. The silence they seem to want only furthers the agenda of the abusers.

Many survivors are shamed into silence. I was shamed into silence for a long time. I thought I was protecting my family at first, then others from me. That’s right from ME, as if I was going to negatively affect them with my painful experience or scare them away. I’ve learned that what someone does with information about me is not my responsibility and not in my control. I didn’t want to be seen as broken or that there was something wrong with me and the truth is that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. I’m healing from abuse. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m not going to feel shame for something that someone else did to me. I didn’t choose to be abused and I choose to no longer be ashamed of it. I am not ashamed.

So who should we shame? No one. No one should be shamed but instead we should support them to heal. People who are abusive often have been abused or experienced a trauma in their life. They are already ashamed of themselves whether they show you that side of themselves or not. The anger in me does want to shame the abusers, string them up by their toenails and a myriad of other punishments! My heart tells me that this is not the way. Abuse does not stop abuse, it only continues to spread it. Ok, them now what? We acknowledge what has happened and we move to heal those contributing factors that may lead to abuse in both the survivor and the abuser. Offer love, empathy, and the support we ourselves would like to have when in pain.

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

Be Yourself

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo

What if I told you that you are not broken…that you don’t have something wrong with you, you don’t need to be fixed. You were hurt. Someone hurt you. They need to be fixed. You are injured and will heal if you let yourself. Like a tree that’s faced the harsh winds, you will grow stronger and more resilient. You do not have to be happy all the time. It is ok that you feel the way you do. It is ok if you are not happy in this moment. You aren’t doing life wrong because you don’t have a smile on your face 24-7 and dancing with bliss the whole time. You are a human being with such a beautiful wide range of emotions and feelings. Life is not good and bad, black and white, on or off, for then we would never see the sunsets.

My sadness is now beautiful in a way. It is so powerful of an emotion and one that I have avoided for years. I didn’t want to change or grow because I thought I was coping just fine the way I was going. I didn’t want to feel those other feelings. It was when I started to allow myself to really fully feel these emotions like sadness that I started to grow as a person. By feeling as though I would be punished for not having the proper emotion I was told to have, it made happiness all the more challenging. Happiness culture is bullshit. Happiness is great but so are the other emotions. Life would be boring without them.

I feel sad today. My heart hurts today. I feel it in the core of myself as my chest tightens. I was angry earlier, angry at people, angry at the world and what we’ve let things become. I’m angry for every abused person that is not getting the love and support they need to heal. I’m angry that people aren’t taught how to treat those who are abused but instead call them liars and are taught to not trust them. I’m angry because our society is abusive and abuses those who go through horrific experiences as children and as adults. I’m angry because its not about teaching someone to be empathetic, I’m angry because this is not cultivated as children and on into adulthood. We all know what is right. We all know how to love, nurture and be there for others. Bullshit that people get to play dumb or say its not their problem or get over it. We would if you would let us and many abuse people, if left untreated, not cared about, or loved, can become more injured and commit violence themselves.

Instead of trying to fix people or give advice, let them be themselves. It can be the greatest thing in the world to just be your self with another person and they not act like the world is over.

Abuse Survivors Adult Survivors of Child Abuse My Story Uncategorized

Feelings of Hopelessness

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One of the most difficult feeling for me to have are feelings of hopelessness. I really dislike feeling this way and have found its definitely something I give myself a hard time about when I’m feeling it. This compounds the problem and then I feel even more hopelessness, BLARGH! So one of the big things I have been making a conscious effort to change to to be more accepting of myself. I’ve talked about this before and I really wish the changes could be overnight but they aren’t. It takes a lot of work for me to treat myself well.

Luckily, feeling hopelessness is not perpetual and it does pass. I have to stop interrogating myself with “WHY?” and start being kind to myself like I am someone else. How would I treat someone who was having these feelings? If one of my family members or a friend said they felt this way would I ask them 20 questions and beat them down? NO. I don’t need to do this to myself then. This reaction of self-hate is obviously a learned reaction and a repeat of how I was treated in my past when I wasn’t happy.I don’t always realize that I’m being so hard on myself until I start to feel even worse, and sometimes I catch it right away.

After that feeling lifted I can really see a difference. It surprised me when I was putting the footage together for the video diary the other day. I can only describe this feeling lifting as similar to when a headache lets up and you aren’t in pain. It is exhausting in the same way for me too. Coping with feeling hopelessness is more like a battle. One thing that has helped me is to just be kind to myself during that time period. I read, sculpt, write in my journal. I tell myself positive things, like a real inventory of that things that I am proud of, the positive people in my life. I call a friend or family member and the support can be just what I needed. What helps seems to change just as the emotions do which is frustrating. Nothing linear, point a to point b. The control freak in me likes to stomp its feet about this as with most emotional things I have to accept that I can not change them but only change how I react to them. I am trying to live more in the moment and enjoy my surroundings and the environment that I can control, right now.

The feeling of hopelessness is common in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I mentioned earlier that I am trying to live more in the moment. There are tons of articles, and blog posts about this but I recently started reading a book that has some great straight talk about living in the present moment and I found it to be comforting. Its called: How To Live In The Present Moment, written by Matt Morris.

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Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse Vlog Jan 22, 2015

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New abuse survivor video diary for Jan. 22, 2015. The day started out rough again but then there was a great thing that happened. The memories lifted and my day became brighter. I felt stronger and happier. Although processing these memories from my past childhood sexual abuse and my 1st marriage are difficult, its not something  I allowed myself to do. That mode of thinking I wasn’t supposed to cry and I was just supposed to be silent about my pain was very unhealthy for me.  It hurt me more to try to do what society said I was supposed to do. I listen to myself more now and its really paying off.

I’ve learned that even if I am having a hard time that it will pass. My days aren’t all bad memories and when it happens I need to just sit with them and feel them. Let them integrate themselves and love myself in the process. I love myself by cooking myself great meals, listening to piano music, and not being hard on myself. These things that happened to me did happen. I have the time and opportunity now to heal myself, be kind to myself, and spend time with the people who love me for me…even the parts that I don’t like, they love them too.

It has not been easy but I’m learning what a valuable tool crying can be to help to cleanse myself and process those memories that have haunted me for years.  They are starting to integrate now.

Healing is not what I thought it was. So much misinformation about what healing and forgiveness actually is or what it looks like. Kinda pisses me off really, societies lies and all the shame being thrown around when its really not needed. I am not ashamed of what happened to be and my life will continue to get better, even if some days are rough.

The mental pain caused from the abuse seems worse than the actual abuse now. The lingering effects are challenging but really, I rarely back down from any challenge.  I feel things changing like my perspective and that’s the best thing out of all of this. Life is much better than it was, bad days or not, are better than bad weeks or months.

There is starting to be some backlash now(I expected it much earlier) for coming out with my experience but that’s ok. Our culture promotes suffering in silence. Feels a bit rebellious now that the negative comments are starting. I’m sure like before, they will continue and are just part of the internet experience.  I invited them to go for it in a comment on my last video diary.

Fear keeps people for standing up for themselves, for what’s right, and from sharing their pain with others.  I have been through and survived way worse treatment than a few abuse words on a computer screen. The important people in my life are  drowning out and hateful talk that many times, doesn’t make any sense. Anger tend to not make sense but the source of it is pain.

Because I know that anger is a result of fear or pain, I feel a sense of compassion for the people who are now up in arms about my vids. Its ok, it doesn’t want to make me stop helping myself with my video diaries. In fact, it strengthens my resolve to continue.

I’m not surprised that things were twisted. They concentrated on deflecting from the fact that I am an abuse survivor going through a rough time to focus on the fact that I have a wishlist. Yes, I’ve had it for years and I have a lot of fun with it as well as my viewers since I open the gifts on cam. I put the links on all the videos but they want to focus on that as if it somehow discredits me.  It doesn’t.

I’ve encountered negativity to most everything I have every done or talked about doing. Since I am in the adult industry, I have received tons of hateful comments and hatemail. Its nothing new and its like a repeat of the things said when I was in my mid twenties and more into the mainstream adult videos I was being hired to do.

The survivors and others struggling with similar circumstances with me have been so uplifting. I have received tons of emails and messages thanking me for sharing this with others and they’ve said its helping them. I didn’t expect that and it is really driving me to continue on and share even more. Those are the important people. They helped me not feel alone with my pain and in sharing it, there is healing there. Its amazing and my heart soars with those emotions that are overshadowing any attempt to get me upset or shame me.

Thank you for the compliments, emails, and messages sharing your experiences with me and your words of encouragement. They mean a lot to me and I hope I can offer that back in some way.

 

 

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Survivors of Child Abuse Video Diary Jan 21st, 2015

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This is a video diary for January 21st, 2015. It wasn’t posted until now because I was having such a hard time that I couldn’t re-watch the video diaries for editing and writing descriptions until today.I am still recording lots of videos as well as video diaries every day. I am feeling better but the next few vlog posts will definitely be hard to watch. I’m working through some really awful memories. They are so awful that I’m having a hard time voicing them. I’m still not sure if I want to share them.

A big part of my wants to protect others from my pain, from the inconvenience of it, and this feeling goes back to my early childhood of enduring repeated horrific abuse to “protect” and “save” my family. This is extended now “need to protect” and “fear of losing people” has extended toward my friends and even strangers. This is something used by many abusers to keep their victims quiet. I’m afraid if I talk about the abuse I will lose people in my life. I’m afraid that if they are not happy with me and I am not happy, they will disappear. This way of thinking was really drilled home from a few abusive relationships in my adulthood.

I feel like I need to warn others about me because its not all fucking glitter and rainbows so maybe I won’t be punished later for disappointing them if maybe they know in advance. Maybe I can lower their expectations enough to accept me. The act of talking about my abuse actually feels rebellious and like I may in some way have to pay for it later with some sort of abuse. These are not rational thoughts but they do make sense as to why I feel these things. how else would I feel given my history. I am really trying to relearn in order to find some more peace in my life. I don’t know if other survivors of child abuse feel this way but the mix of fear and relief at the same time is pretty confusing

Finding more peace in my life means to cut down on stress, no rat race, and to allow new people in my life at my own pace. I am trying to accept myself as my family has accepted me and told me a lot over the past few months. They have totally stepped up and are right there for me. They always do this but I need to just ask for some help, or an ear to listen. I am not a religious person but there is no other way to describe the feeling when I think of them other than I am blessed.

I am also blessed by your kindness and support. Please know that I see everything you send to me, your compliments, comments, and suggestions. I am trying to catch up on emails and comments on social media but sometimes social media such an unhappy place that I tend to avoid it. The more I have been not online and involved in social media, the happier I am. Less input at this stage of my healing is best for me. I’m not ignoring you at all. I see you, and your kindness. Thank you for showing me this side of yourself after I showed you my side of myself that is in pain. It means so much to me and I have happy tears in my eyes as I’m typing this.

Some days are still really difficult and the emotions you are seeing are raw. I tend to express myself with language that may be scary or perceived as intent. I am just talking, processing through emotions, and expressing myself. I felt like I wanted to end my life in August but that is not what I want now. If I get those thoughts and they stick around, I will definitely be calling a friend, family member, or my therapist. Sometimes, it may seem like the best thing to do is try and swoop in and help but you are all already doing that. You are doing the best thing. You are listening, you are supportive. I couldn’t ask for more. 🙂

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Abuse Survivor Vlog Jan 20th, 2015

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This is my abuse survivor vlog for January 20th, 2015. I was feeling pain and sadness and today its sadness and anger. I’m angry at the injustice and that people get away with abusing others. I’m angry that out society seems to foster these abusive behaviors and encourage victim blaming. This is a step forward for me and the anger helps me process. It may not seem like a step in the right direction to be angry but it helps me to accept things that have happened. There is a cycle of grief that I experiences. Pain, sadness, anger, growth(integrating the feelings and thoughts into myself.

I slept horribly last night and my dreams were of time spent with abusive people. People that told me to trust them and then they started to lie and manipulate as soon as they received an inch, they look a mile. I spent my night with assholes. That was very unpleasant. Today my thoughts tun to vengeance and I have some interesting conversations with myself as 1 side is absolutely certain that causing those people pain would somehow improve my life. It won’t, I know better. So the other side tries to explain this to the vengeful side and they go back and forth. In the end my willpower wins out and no one is hurt, no one is looked up online, and I move onto other things until the vengeful side renews the argument once again. They aren’t worth my time, I am. So I do things for me, for my wounded side that is angry and gnashing its teeth and foaming at the mouth a little.

Instead of giving into the side of myself that can become abusive, I choose to be strong instead. I love myself and treat myself like a wounded animal. I’m cautious and loving. I am not afraid of this side of me but I treat it with respect so that it does not bite me. At any point I could turn the wrath onto myself. This part of me needs love in order to be able to feel safe again and rest. The conflict inside can be exhausting and confusing but as long as I keep being understanding and let myself be whatever it is I feel like being(aside from the all out unacceptable behavior that I am better than), I will get through this part of this cycle.

I’m planning on doing some more informational type blog posts and videos. Yes, there is a tone of websites that state effects of child abuse and statistics but sometimes when I read something, I don’t always connect with the author. Sometimes things need to be a certain way for me to grasp the content of the information better. I think this may also be the case with others. There are many ways to learn and many ways to talk about the information. Some of those posts can be a little dry but in my typical weirdo fashion, I will add my own input, opinions, and how I see what I’ve learned. I will still be doing the daily vlogs as well as the informational post. Information is awesome, awareness is awesome, ignorance is not bliss and no excuse. The world needs this information and the more people that share it and talk about it the better.

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Abuse Survivor Blog Video Diary Jan 19th, 2015 Breath

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Breathing helps me a lot with my PTSD due to childhood sexual abuse and partner rape. I feel more grounded and the increased oxygen seems to help too. I’m having a really rough time in the video diary. I was doing great but today I feel nervous and anxious. Flashbacks are really getting to me and you can even see this happen in the video. I stop breathing, close my eyes or look off into no where(they call it the thousand yard stare, sometimes). This video is being filmed at the height of my anxiety and the worst part of my day.

After I filmed this video I did feel better and was exhausted. I still had a rough time but it was less because I voiced what was going on. I found that it helped me to further ground myself and stay in the present. Other things that can help me to ground myself are a hot back, walking outside, putting my feet on the ground, and of course, giving Buster a hug.

I hope with letting myself feel more, allowing myself to cry, and more therapy I can make it through these days feeling better and have more and more good days instead of the heartbreaking days like today. I joined Pandys.org today and I’m just waiting for approval of my account. I think being in touch with more survivors like myself will be a great help to me.