Monthly Archives: August 2009

Survivors ~ Core Issues

I have been doing some research today and came across a book that is referenced below.  I have not downloaded the book but did download the .pdf that has some good information in it.  I thought I’d share the following as it really does highlight the core issues that survivors face:  self-worth, autonomy, emotional expressiveness, gender identity, and sexuality.

More specifically, these issues include:

• developing a steady sense of self-worth and letting go of their sense of themselves as worthless and shamed,

• setting boundaries on the behaviors of others such as learning to say no when they do not want to do something or asking     sometime to stop a particular behavior and do something else instead,

• standing up to others who want to bully them or boss them around,

developing capacities to identify, regulate, and express emotion in ways that are appropriate to the situation,

• having a strong sense of self and not be talked into doing things they regret later, while still being open to what others want,

• establishing intimacy which often involves learning to manage slights and not being swallowed up by hurt and shame when slighted or hurt,

• as parents, being authoritative and not authoritarian or permissive with children,

• negotiating cooperative relationships with others in the workplace,

• accepting themselves as females and males and no longer feeling as if they do not measure up to what they think are ideal standards for their genders,

• coming to terms with and working through any affects that the sexual abuse may have had on their sexual identities and sexual expression, and

• learning to understand sex as an expression of love and intimacy.

* taken from ‘Child Sexual Abuse:  Child Survivors, Mothers, and Perpetrators Tell Their Stories.  By Jane Gilgun PhD and Alankaar Sharma, MSW

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Going to the doctor’s

The annual physical can be fraught with additional stress for women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.   I can’t say that I know many women who rejoice at stripping down naked and sitting on the examination table, barely covered by a teeny, tiny paper sheet, waiting for the doctor to come in.    And… yippee skippy…how about that pap smear or mammogram?  Ya.  Tons of fun.  But still you go and do it because it is prudent and helps to maintain good health.   As much as it sucks, try to imagine how much of a challenge it is for a woman who has been sexually abused as a child.  (I am speaking from a woman’s perspective however male survivors experience similar issues)

There has been research done that has uncovered the emotional, psychological and physical consequences of CSA and the subsequent implications on health care of the individual.   Sadly not many health care providers have been trained to address or consider these needs in routine settings.   As a result survivors suffer again in silence or simply do not go to appointments.  Neither of these choices is ideal as survivors often have underlying health problems or predispositions that need to be monitored regularly.

SO…what to do?  Our mission at Voice Found is to help heal, support and empower adult survivors and so this is something we will bite into.  (Re)education for health care providers on issues related to this topic is on the agenda.   We are working to identify or create curriculum, practice guidelines and programs. It will take time but we think it is worth it.

In the meantime if you are a survivor, you might find this resource useful:  http://www.cwhn.ca/resources/csa/faq1.html

and then BAM..it hits you again and again

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Today I feel like a target in one of those arcade games at the fair.  A line up of happy people have paid their money to try and win a prize.  Rifles at the ready and I am the sole target.  Bam Bam Bam.  I keep standing with a silly grin on my face while shots are fired in rapid succession from all directions.  Over and over and over again.   Or maybe I am more like one of those ‘clown’ punching bags.  You know the ones?  They keep standing no matter how many shots or from what direction.  I think you get the idea.

Through the past few years I have been opening the doors that have held dark secrets.  I have been illuminating these places with light and love and through the process have been healing. There remained one tightly sealed door and I knew that for me to move forward I had to open it.   It has been opened….and the secret shared.  I am now dealing with the pain that comes with the revelation.  One thing becomes many.  The memory brings up many others…some directly associated and others similar in the emotional response.   Recovery is hard work.   Everyday life does not stand still and wait.  ( damn I wish it would sometimes…)

I am fortunate to have love and support.  I am not alone in this but yet must do it alone.  And so, while I get pummeled by pain, I still smile.   That goofy grin stays on my face because I know.  I know that this is the way to freedom.  This is only way I can be completely and one hundred percent happy.  This is the only way I can love myself.

So go ahead and take your best shot.  I’m going to keep standing and  smiling.

the gift of choice

There is a beautiful gift we are given as human beings.  That is the gift of choice.  I made a choice a few years ago to do the work I needed to do so that I could move forward with my life.  And not just a ‘life’ but a wonderful, happy, joyful life.   That meant I had to face a lot of deep and buried pain and speak of the  abuse.  I lost a job, lost some friends, lost support of people who mattered to me.  I shook up the status quo.   There were very few people who wanted to hear my voice.  After all, it made THEM uncomfortable.

What happened to me at the hands of my perpetrator was horrible.  From the age of 5 onwards, there was not a single day that I was free from what that person did.  That first act caused a chain reaction of repeated abuse by many.  I became a textbook case of  what happens to children who are sexually abused.  Not a particularly easy read.  But it is what it is and it is DONE.  PAST.  It does not mean I have forgotten.  I choose not to ‘live’ from there.

There is a beauty and wonderful gift that has come from my life experiences.  I have come to see that I am a remarkable person.  Since freeing myself, I am now able to let the child inside have life.  She is free now to experience pure joy and love and wonder and awe.  When combined with the wisdom of my years I find I have a very unique perspective.   And just by simply BEING, I allow others to be.   People tell me they feel comfortable around me.  They tell me that I help them to see themselves.  That I am a light…a warm energy.    What an awesome gift that is!!!  I can think of few things better in life than to be true to oneself and through that allow others to realize themselves.

Imagine if I had allowed my voice to be silenced.  If I had folded up and stayed in the safety of darkness.  If I had let the opinions of others keep me from my path.  If I had continued to allow that first act of violence to cloud my life.  If I had made the choice to continue to be a victim.

I chose wisely.