From Roland C. Summit
“Much of the hidden world of sexual abuse is very nearly unbearable. Sexual touching, so often trivialized by words such as fondling or molestation (annoyance) , is only the physical expression of a climate of invasion, isolation, and abandonment. Sexual abuse is so developmentally toxic that it must be walled off and enshrouded in a kind of psychological cocoon, set aside from the mainstream of consciousness to remain dorgmant or to grow as it will, emerging unpredictably in some alien metamorphosis.” “Hidden Victims, Hidden Pain:Societal Avoidance of Child Sexual Abuse,” 30-60,. In Lasting Effectsof Child Sexual Abuse , edited by Gail Elizabeth Wyatt and Gloria Johnson Powell, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
FALLOUT: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders (And Others), plus her dream journal and drawingsPart I – MEN WHO COMMIT INCEST
Chapter 1 – Who Am I?
Chapter 2 – Why Did I Do It?
Chapter 3 – How Could I Do It?
Chapter 4 – Treatment
Chapter 5 – Hurdles in Treatment
Chapter 6 – Modus Operandi
Chapter 7 – Will I Do It Again?
Chapter 8. A Metaphor
Part II – BONDS THAT BIND
Chapter 9. The Trauma Bond
Chapter 10 My Trauma Bond
Chapter 11 The Sexual Bond
Part III – COMMUNITY AND FAMILY
Chapter 12 After Release, Then What?
Chapter 13 Protecting
Part IV – THE SURVIVORS
Chapter 14 The Fallout
Chapter 15 Powerlessness
Chapter 16 Damaged Goods
Chapter 17 Betrayal
Chapter 18 Traumagenic Sex
Chapter 19 The Monkey Wrench Effect
Part V – SHAME
Chapter 20 Freeing Shame
Part VI – THE MOTHERS
Chapter 21 Role of the Mother
Part VII – RECOVERY
Chapter 22 Getting to Okay
Chapter 23 Survival Manual
Part VIII – PROFESSIONAL REMARKS
Chapter 24 Survivor as Therapist
Part IX – FURTHER STEPS TOWARDS CLOSURE
Chapter 25 Letters
Chapter 26 Gestalt Goodbye to My Father and Epilogue
THE AUTHOR’S DREAM JOURNAL AND DIARY
Me and Mom
6 Weeks Old Today
Kneeling Fanged Male Angel
Crested Bird Man
Swiss Cheese (goodreads)
FINAL THOUGHTS (from the book)
Is an innocent, carefree childhood a thing of the past? Or was there ever really such a thing? Can there ever be one? Some readers may be surprised that I don’t give the victims advice as to whether to tell or not, but only suggest an alternative via escaping the incestuous situation. There are several reasons for this. First, the justice system is flawed; enough said. Second, the family suffers considerable economic hardship , often losing the house and car, both vital to its continued survival. Third, the victim experiences additional guilt. Fourth, too much taxpayer money is not only going down the drain, but in many instances doing harm, as inmates become hardened by the prison experience. Fifth, incarceration doesn’t seem to solve the problem.
HOW MANY INCEST OFFENDERS DO YOU THINK YOU KNOW?
Probably several, since only about five percent ever get reported. Most are men, and daughters are usually their victims. I can speak for both the daughter victim as well as the incestuous father, because I am an incest survivor and I also treated imprisoned sex offenders for twelve years. Many of them had molested their daughters, and less frequently their sons.
I had earned my degree and was a psychologist when I began work at the prison, but knew little about sex offender treatment. It was not covered in our graduate curriculum. The first and most important lesson I learned while working with these offenders was that they do not believe that they have harmed the victim! Since their child did not say “no” or cry or tell her mother, and because her young body physically responded to the touching, they convinced themselves that there was no harm done.
Incest doesn’t just “happen.” It is a common practice for a father to “groom” his daughter before sexually assaulting her. The father attempts to strengthen the parental bond with his daughter in order to make her more vulnerable to him. The more she comes to trust him the easier it is for him to transition into sexual touching. And the more she has come to trust him, the greater the negative impact on her future relationships. Looking back, I remember my father taking me out square dancing twice before beginning to molest me. It seemed a little strange, but my mother said she had nothing to wear.
REACHING INCESTERS IN THE COMMUNITY
Incest harms. Would fathers who care about their daughters molest them, or would the knowledge of the harm they were inflicting stop or prevent their behavior? Those fathers lucky enough to get treatment while in prison are educated about many of the areas in which the child is damaged. But what about the men who are struggling to deal with the temptation to molest their child, or who have acted but not been caught? They have no access to treatment due to the new reporting laws which make it mandatory for professionals to report any adult who sexually assaults a child to the authorities. (It is a sexual assault because the young are trained to obey adults and lack the knowledge to be able to give informed consent).
THE HEAVY SECRET
The incest perpetrator’s next move, after having groomed and molested the victim, is to insure that she doesn’t tell anyone. The child must “keep the secret” from everyone, or terrible things will happen, including threats of retribution upon her, divorce of the parents, her being removed from the family, etc. In my case, my father told me it was a capital offense in our state, which I took as meaning it would be the death penalty for him if I told. (It turns out he was lying, as I learned much later).
Not only do the reporting laws prevent unreported men from getting treatment, but remove any possible source of support for the victim’s struggle in deciding what to do. One of the negative results following sexual abuse by a family member is powerlessness. Some victims run away from home to escape the bind she finds herself in, only to be apprehended and returned home to the source of the abuse. Some victims marry early to escape the home situation. I have a suspicion that many young suicides are pursuing what they see as the only way out.
I struggled with the seemingly hopeless, no-win situation of many incest victims, and when I retired from the prison system I decided to write a book sharing the damage I myself experienced in order to demonstrate its destructiveness, but I fear I am failing in that pursuit. We the people do not like to think about, much less spend time reading and learning about, topics that are emotionally repellent. Our response is “gross!” and so we avoid the topic. Meanwhile, all over the world children are being betrayed by the very people who are expected to protect them, and the children are in many ways trapped. The resulting sense of powerlessness often becomes part of her adult personality. What if she does report the incest? There is something called the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome in which a child may report the incest, but then family pressure, threats and fear cause her to retract her statements and her charges are deemed to have been falsehoods. To be returned to a family under those conditions appears to be even worse.
Many complexities surround this issue. One child did not keep the secret, and her father died while he was in prison. The officer who called his home to report the death to his wife told me that in the background he could hear someone screaming and sobbing for her daddy.
The drawing above was accidentally left out of FALLOUT (it means that I was/am a little lopsided).
My father only attempted to sexually molest me, when I was 13 years old. He reached down inside the front of my dress and groped my bare breast, and I fought him off. And yet that, alone, was enough to destroy me.
I was once asked by another incest survivor, how did I know that I had the right to say NO to my own father? Because most children do not know they have that right. And 13 is still very much a child. Here is the difference between me and most 13 year olds: when I was 12 years old, my dad was arrested for trying to murder my mother. From jail, he was taken to a hospital when his type 1 diabetes got severely out of control. After the doctor stabilized his blood sugar, my dad was moved to the psychiatric ward. He spent several months on the psych ward. So — by the time my dad tried to molest me when I was 13, he had already lost all of his standing as a father in my eyes, and I knew that I did not have to blindly obey him. If he had never been in a psych ward, if he had never been arrested, and if he hadn’t come so close to actually murdering my mother that I had believed, that horrible night, that my mother was dead — and if my dad were still the pastor of the church my family attended from the time I was 6 until I was 12 — then my father would have still seemed like God in my eyes, and I am sure that I would have done whatever he wanted me to do. But… even though my dad was thoroughly and permanently discredited in my eyes when I was 12 years old, and even though I fought him off when he tried to sexually abuse me — what my father tried to do to me, was painful enough that it destroyed much of my life. Today, I am glad that he is dead. My dad died 30 years ago. I never allowed myself to think this before, let alone write it. But it is true. On this Father’s Day, I am glad my father is dead. After his failed attempt to molest me, he sexually abused my younger sister, many times, after she and her twin went to live with our dad and stepmother, when they were adolescents. But I did not know this until much later. Yes, I am glad he is dead.
I Left This Out of My Book on Incest because I had mislaid the article after just one citation from it, and forgot where the origin of the quote I later wanted was: –just found it: Robert S. Mayer writes, “I hypothesize that there is an interaction between trauma and developmental arrest…The trauma either causes a developmental arrest or magnifies a pre-existing maturational deficiency….I have been most successful when I have based my treatment on standard therapeutic technique through a theoretical framework of what I believe to be normal child development. I try to understand the developmental stages of the child and the functions that they serve, and then help the patient to pass successfully through them. Hopefully, this will build an ego that can tolerate greater degrees of affect so that the trauma can be therapeutically processed…..I can view the patient’s behavior as survival strategies rather than acting out, which is perjorative..” (88, 89), “The Difficult Sexual Abuse Survivor,” in Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Innovations, edited by Mic Hunter.
EARLIER JOURNAL ENTRY – 4-7-2006
My early morning reflections have included realizing how much about my father I did not admire–his physical lack of hygiene, his newspaper to spit on, on the floor beside his bed, his sense of entitlement, his lack of empathy, his acceptance of his alcoholism, his attribution of nefarious motives to others, his poor me attitude, his lack of a work ethic, his possessiveness to my detriment. I never recall him saying “Thank you.” All these reflect a man with emotional problems. Why was my trauma bond with him so tight? What was the attraction? Two things: 1) His lively intellect 2) He liked talking at me and I was a good listener and lonely and had a mother who didn’t like me.
The following was taken from my class notes years ago and unfortunately I did not record the sources. I may be able to add them at a later time.
Freud and the “OEDIPAL COMPLEX” REVISITED
Although Freud was quick to see sex in the dreams of others, he was far less likely to see sexual implications, even where the symbolism was strikingly suggestive. In fact, he refused to discuss a dream with his follower Carl Jung once, saying that he had to maintain his authority. It has been recorded that it appears that both Freud and his siblings were molested as children. Suspicion has been laid upon Freud’s father, and it has been hypothesized that Freud developed the Oedipal theory to help him avoid looking at that reality.
The literature furthermore discussed indications that Freud and his nephew molested Freud’s sister and niece. During the time that Freud was planning for his father’s funeral he had a dream that he was in a train station and saw the sign which read, “You are requested to close the eyes.” This has been taken to mean that Freud did not want to look at the role his father played in his own admitted hysteria, or that his father was a child molester.
Individuals who work with people who have been sexually abused as children and who molest their own siblings often molest their own children. Let’s keep that in mind when we look at his famous “Irma Injection” dream–that and the fact that Freud’s own daughter was named Irma.
What Do They Say in the Locker Room About Incest?
“Have you seen him being super creepy with his daughter? What an uncool dad.” –Posted on Kos along with a photo of Ivanka (Tiffany) sitting on Donald’s lap. One comment received was something like “Happy to keep it in the family,” whereupon another poster responded to the effect that remarks like that could cause incest survivors pain. The exchange disappeared before I got it copied perfectly.
Photo courtesy of Faisal Jawaid firstname.lastname@example.org/imgres?imgurl=http://gdj.gdj.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/kits-photography-3.jpg&imgrefurl=http://graphicdesignjunction.com/2013/07/kids-photography/&h=750&w=500&tbnid=0sYvrGsLE8-ErM&tbnh=275&tbnw=183&usg=__TxaMRYu_LpNDk4KTslifxXTYJlA=&docid=YFx0JFHX82-3wM
LETTER TO MY FATHER
Daddy, you’ve been gone for more than thirty years now. Your ashes are spread in my back yard flowerbed. Some of them have been carried by the wind. They have all been carried on the winds of time. You said you were in love with me, your daughter, and that what “we” were doing wasn’t wrong. It was so totally and obviously wrong that it is difficult for me to believe you did not see it.
Alcoholism isn’t an excuse for anything, but I wonder how much that accounted for your misspent life. You told yourself you were in love with me. What did you tell yourself when you tried to molest my little sister, years later?
I just re-read some of your earlier letters, and I wonder: How can you perceive my support of Mother’s divorce as unjust? How can you say that I helped destroy your “romance of twenty years,” when you were screwing around with her daughter for a number of them?
I can see how strong our trauma bond was, and how continuation of the relationship even beyond the grave keeps me ensnared. I still can’t tell you goodbye because there’s so much of you in me. [See, however, the Gestalt Goodbye in Chapter 26 of my book.]
When you died in that hospital room, I kissed your forehead. My sister shuddered and said she didn’t see how I could do it. I’m not sure if she meant how could I kiss a dead body or how I could kiss you.
When I was treating sex offenders, I sometimes wondered what kind of group member you would have been. I don’t believe you would have denied committing the incest, because my experience of you was that you usually told the truth as you knew it, and you always trusted that I was speaking the truth. My feeling is that you would have denied that molesting me was damaging, however. Perhaps this entire book is an attempt to convince you otherwise….
To think that it took this long to realize that you were molested by your father, too, but felt it reflected on your manhood and were ashamed to tell me about it…..
Five years after your death I finally felt capable of dealing with your ashes. I carried them from their storage space in my garage to the back yard and braced myself as I raised the lid from your container, fearing the impact of facing you inside that box. To me, it was you, not your ashes inside that heavy box. I turned my back to the wind, shuddering at the possibility of breathing in a lungful of you….
When burying your ashes behind the garage I had three options. I could place them in the flowerbed, the vegetable patch, or in the compost pile. I shuddered again at the thought of eating you in next season’s vegetables. I chose, instead, the flowerbed.
Kneeling in the grass, I smoothed the soil. Rest in peace, you very wounded man.
I can send you some links about C-PTSD if you are interested in learning a little bit about it. It is a kind of PTSD.
The symptoms are basically the same as PTSD with flashbacks, although there are emotional flashbacks also. And usually trouble with self esteem, negative thoughts about oneself etc.
It is caused by on-going abuse in an environment that the person is entrapped into or that they cannot figure a way out of. They cannot walk away or they perceive they cannot leave due to brainwashing or threat of violence.
C-PTSD can be from childhood abuse where the victim cannot get away because they are unable to financially support themselves or survive on their own. Domestic abuse victims can be trapped financially or from brainwashing tactics of the abuser or threats.
Also kidnapping victims and situations of entrapment, with ongoing abuse.
I have posts about it that I can link you to. It is difficult to find information about on mental health sites because it is not currently listed in the DSM ( the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose). Some therapists know that it exists as a real disorder and others do not understand it.
Being someone that grew up in a mentally abusive background, I do know it exists. And having C-PTSD makes people vulnerable to predators that are domestic abuse partners.
Feel free to connect with me anytime about these topics.
This image is so striking to me. Surrounded by blinding darkness, there is still light if we can just see it, and then take the courageous step to climb out of the darkness and into that light. It may only be one step at a time and each step may seem too much to handle but each step up is a step further away from down.
breakingsarah for balance of post
W E C A N D O I T !
Today I woke, a fighter
Slightly stronger than before
I’ve already won many tiny battles
Just to make it out the door
©Anthony Gorman 2014 image: http://pixshark.com/open-door-painting.htm
A SAD, STRESSFUL, TROUBLING TOPIC THAT NEEDS AWARENESS, CAUTION AND EDUCATED DISCUSSION
Excerpted from https://deophotography.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/wow-thats-a-lot/ via https://petruviljoen.wordpress.com/
Maybe I’m not trying to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse or PTSD. Thing is, people don’t want to talk about this stuff because it’s so painful to think about. But if my art can make them allow themselves to feel something, maybe we can move towards a more open dialogue about this topic. Maybe that’s what I’m after. I’m still figuring it out, but I think I’m getting there.
Another thing I did this week was revisit my self portraits exploring PTSD. I created a few new ones, one digital collage and two that I physically altered.
So I’ve been printing on razor blades. Initially, I thought I wanted to print the mug shots of sex offenders onto them, but I thought about it some more and thought I would also try houses. Using the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, I looked up the names of the offenders living five miles from my childhood home. The number: 1157. Which is rather terrifying. But anyway, I was able to get the addresses of these people, and I plugged them in to google maps and got “streetview” images of their homes, which I then took screen shots of.
Since my work is also talking about violation, I’m thinking that my methods of locating these people is a violation in some way. On the flip side, I have access to their addresses and what their houses look like because of technology. It’s a weird thing to think about, and I’m still sorting through it, but yeah. It’s
a little creepy I can do all of this.
Nan’s comment: Good heavens! I would have guessed 4 0r 5. Those are really the men my book is addressed to, but cannot/will not reach them. The illustration could be called “Living on the Edge.”
America has a sickness. Not just America. All over the world there are children keeping secrets. Secrets too horrible to confess to anyone. Secrets that influence a lifetime…
For the original post visit
quasproduction.wordpress.com for this excellent piece by Jeffrey.
For a Bellyfull of hurt go to: —No, apparently the gatekeepers felt it was too acrimonious
A father’s ultimate betrayal
The ultimate betrayal
A father’s ultimate betrayal
Is to love his daughter too much
Taking her body for granted
With every forbidden touch.
He tells her he loves her
With each forceful thrust
Burning his way through her soul
Fulfilling his evil lust.
Ignoring her pleas and cries
Until she simply cries no more
His satisfaction leaves her alone
Laying naked on the floor.
Time stands still
Her body pulsates with pain
She only knows she’s alive
Because the shame burns through her veins.
The hands of the devil
Pin her to the floor
The evil force within him
Fills her body once more.
As 2 become one
A part of her dies
The only thing keeping her alive
Are the fear and the lies.
By day she is a hated daughter
But by night a loved sex slave
Using the lessons of love
Her devoted father gave.
Selling her body
Working as a whore
Playing a whole new game
She was a child no more.
She lives in a seedy world
That to most is unknown
Where Property is paid for
So Violence is condoned.
They can do what they want to her
Because they paid the asking fee
Earning her fathers living
But he gets her for free.
Fathers so called love
Leads her to a early grave
Too ashamed by her secret
Of living as a sex slave.
A survivor speaks:
As someone that struggles with various forms of mental illness, I have learned that I can’t bow down to my feelings and thoughts. Nor can I completely shut down, because I need access to my emotions. What I can do is become my own master juggling act; balancing extremes, knowing what to listen to and what to throw away. I keep a little bit of my insanity beautifully nestled within each artwork I create. It is the one place where my mental illness becomes a blessing, instead of a curse.
— “What They Don’t See” by Jaeda DeWalt, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, and ADHD brought on in part by childhood sexual trauma. Read more at Michele W., who interviewed the founder of Broken Light Collective.
Recovery is a state of mind which is as convoluted as the philosophical question “how long is a piece of string?”
By definition it should be simple, recovery is a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength nevertheless this is not as straightforward in reality, recovery is dependent on many factors which hold different meanings to us all.
The one resounding similarity is that recovery exists due to there having been something in which to recover from, a commonality which is rarely spoken of. Whether it is from physical injury, a traumatic event or mental illness, recovery is a state which starts after the fact that you survive whatever it is you lived through.
.Two words get uttered when speaking of recovery and get misunderstood within the context; these words are: victim and survivor. Like bickering children these words are seen as opposing cliques, in which one belongs to one or the other with no cross over, creating a divide between two almost identical groups which in all seriousness could do with one another’s support and solidarity.
Victim has become a dirty word, an insult or indication of weakness; we hear sayings like:
“Don’t be a victim” and “victim mentality”. A common rhetoric which flippantly dismisses people’s trauma or ability to cope.
Whereas a celebratory inclusivity is given to people who present themselves as survivors, it is marketable, a destination is created called “recovery” which only those accepting themselves as survivors are welcome. A whole industry of self-help has been created to cash in on this concept, to extort a person’s vulnerability for profit. An often ineffective method, with results which can be damaging to the individual as well as societally. When a state of mind can be sold to you, it is often the case that, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The reason for this is because “recovery” is not a fixed occurrence, so if a book or seminar states “ your road to recovery starts here” then I would urge you to question what recovery is to you, and where and when is the “here” they speak of? Do they suggest a quick fix, or a progressive steps plan? If so, ask yourself why they have felt the need to structure this strategy in such a way? The answer is sales and profit, something which has no bearing on your recovery or needs as an individual. It may seem adorably bite size and alluring with its set time frame, but is this reality?
On the opposing side there is no glory when you are thought to be the survivor, you do not “win” with this label. The identification as a survivor brings about just as many pitfalls as that of the victim. Your survival can become a prison, with the bar set exceptionally high, the expectations for the survivor to be a pillar of strength is a heavy crown to wear. With this pressure, further survival tactics are employed, such as camouflage and a new skin is created to conceal the pain and inevitable ups and downs which follow suite with recovery.
This means that victims and survivors are drowning in a sea of social etiquettes, marketing tricks and the usual pressures of life; all the while being expected to challenge or maintain labels which society has deemed for them to uphold.
The reason I know this is because both these labels have been assigned to me throughout my life. As a victim of child sexual abuse, teenage sexual violence and rape, abandonment, neglect and emotional abuse I survived. However my battle scars did not heal dependent on my label, these wounds are now an ongoing illness called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) which is defined as a psychological injury which results from ongoing or repeated trauma in developmental stages of life such as infancy but including all ages before adulthood. It is a visible injury as it can be seen on MRI scans, C-PTSD causes an exaggerated response to threat-related stimuli causing increased appraisal of danger and fear responses, whereas activity is decreased in parts of the brain responsible for memory, decision making, reward anticipation, rational thought and reality.
As a child and adolescent I was referred to by family friends, doctors, therapists and social workers as a victim of circumstances, which just confused me further; however in my early twenties the label victim was disgusting to me, in fact so was survivor, which is why pretending to not belong to either group seemed the best option. In my late twenties my awareness grew on the matter of trauma, which led to self-identifying as a survivor, my past became more and more present in my day to day life, overlapping past, present and future; leading me to dissociate with the world.
One day during this period I walked a short distance to a letter box outside my home, which for me as an agoraphobic was a chalwithhttplenge and part of my exposure therapy, when suddenly I saw my rapist walking without a care in the world towards me. Panicking I ran to my house having not posted the letter, sweating, crying and feeling as if my front door was Fort Knox, I dropped my keys franticly rooting around on the floor, my heart felt as though it would explode out of my chest before the door became unlocked. Eventually the door was opened, falling in the hall way crying like a small child on the floor, realising that my worst fears were realised. This event sparked off a new explosion in my mind and a break down ensued.
Now in my early thirties as a housebound person with many other mental illnesses which are symptoms of the CPTSD, I accept myself as both victim and survivor, these two states do not exist separately in me, but simultaneously, side by side; two parts of me holding hands. Accepting of one another existence; the victim reminds the survivor not to be so hard on them self and to allow for fragility and comfort. With the survivor reminding the victim of their strength and ability to fight for their life….
For more, please visit http ://otvmagazine.com/2016/04/04/as-a-victim-i-survived-by-charlotte-farhan
One woman’s raw journey through incest, teen pregnancy, trauma, death, and family estrangement: Posted on March 7, 2016 by breakingsarah.wordpress.com Breaking Sarah.com
When Anger Surfaces
Ahhh, anger. An emotion I have come to know too well these last few years. This image is striking but it is how I feel inside when the anger hits, bounds up in knots and unsure of myself. But notice the little butterfly – it’s sitting there, calming me, letting her know that the anger must not control me and this too shall pass. It is not all darkness.
I have learned to deal with many of the emotions that my family trauma brought out in me. Anger though, it holds on, hiding in the shadows, just waiting for that spark to ignite internal rage.
I have kept it at bay for a while now, until this last weekend when it reared its ugly head. We are in the process of moving. We are renting the house we currently live in and are moving out of. We have two more weeks before the movers arrive. The owner decided to re-list the rental now instead of waiting until we are out. So we have had to clean up and somewhat stage the house so that it looks all nice and neat, putting away personal everyday items. The real estate agent is pissing me off. We keep a fairly tidy house but I did deep cleaning and took it upon myself to stage the house better in trying to help them out. I didn’t have to do this, was not asked to do this, it’s just how I am. The real estate agent came in to take pictures and didn’t seem happy with anything, asking me to remove more things and do this and do that – well we are NOT the owners and we still have to live here for a couple more weeks! Then she said that our son’s bedroom stinks and can we please light a vanilla candle or something when people come to look at the house. Excuse me? Yes, our son’s room has a scent; he’s in his early 20’s and never leaves his room. I had already lit a warming candle in the kitchen that was filling the house. I just felt she was out of line saying that and the way she said it just really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like I had done all that work and it wasn’t even appreciated.
All of the sudden, my anger began to surge forth in a nasty aura of red. I tried to stop and ask myself – why am I so angry? It was minor issues, so why was the anger surfacing? After some reflection, I realized it took me back to the family trauma and drama. It was taking me back to feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of. It was me doing everything I could to help a situation but it not being good enough. It was about me needing to be perfect and putting myself in a situation where it wasn’t noticed or appreciated. Oh boy – this is the biggest issue I am still working on, and it’s the one I will struggle with greatly when I got to find a new job and begin working in an unknown situation with unknown people.
Then, we were informed that people will be calling to schedule a look at the house, calls which can come at any time, so now we are being put out, our normal routines and lives are being disrupted and it isn’t even our house! It happened last night – we got a call just before we were about to start dinner, so we had to rush to tidy up and put personal items away. For some reason, at that point, I was LIVID! I was far more angry than I should have been; I think it had built up with everything going on. Let’s just say that unfortunately, a couple adult beverages calmed me down.
I know this is something I need to work on. At least I am aware of where the feelings are coming from and that the anger is manifesting from them – old feelings, old emotions, old insecurities. Being aware is half the healing process after all. I will keep working on it – I just need to get through the next couple weeks of strangers coming in and out of our home. I need to calm myself and realize that it will all be over soon enough.
Note: I have no information about Hummingbird’s history other than what follows. So much of it is relevant to incest survivors, however, that I felt it appropriate to include it here, on this page.
This is me at 17 years of age
I can’t tell you how much the response meant to me after I posted Til it Happens to you. The support was incredible! I was too overcome to respond for a while. People have asked how I got through it all. I suffered status epilepticus at 13, meaning I had continual seizures which couldn’t be controlled. I stopped breathing and was in a coma. It took a long time to recover from this event (it was predicted I wouldn’t). The next year, I met a monster, and was abused. The finale was being thrown off a building at fifteen. My healing has taken over twenty years. There are some things that have helped.
1. I can’t handle violence of any kind. I can’t discuss literature, nor movies, let alone view them, if they are violent. At first, I didn’t want people to think I was fragile. I didn’t want them to see the distress that talking about violence (parcelled as entertainment to the masses), conjured. I would pretend that it wasn’t hurting me. Nowadays, I don’t pretend. I gracefully bow out of conversations and invitations which would bring me into this sphere.
2. I couldn’t leave the house by myself, even to go to the letterbox. It has taken many years and many small trips to gather the strength to go farther afield. I plan ahead, and the apps I have on my phone make my preparations easier. If you are agoraphobic, be kind to yourself. Every little step is a triumph. My major incentive was that I had to get to the IVF clinic early in the morning, and simply had to do it. It made me braver than I actually felt! Now I take my daughter everywhere, and the freedom is liberating!
3. I have had to confront my deepest fears. The ones I was frightened of encountering, as I would surely fall apart. My fears included rejection, loneliness, being left alone and finding out that people weren’t as they appeared. Confronting these fears has been terrifying, and it has hurt. I have uncovered that people I looked up to were abusive behind closed doors. I have been let down and let go, but I have survived. I learnt not to leave myself behind in the process. Comforting myself became of premium importance.
4. People see a smiling, functional adult when you are out and about. They don’t recollect the child kept alive in Intensive Care on a respirator. They came into my life during a different chapter. I know what it took to get to here. The hundreds of hours of physiotherapy, the scores of surgeries… I have to remind myself of my achievements and give myself a quiet pat on the back.
5. Boundaries are a big one for a survivor. I felt as vulnerable as a newborn when I started to make a life for myself. I believed anything anyone said, and believed everyone was a friend. It has taken trial and many errors to come up with boundaries, and to trust my judgement above all else. It was a revelation, to give myself the space to honour my instincts. If a person or situation doesn’t sit right, and makes me uncomfortable, I walk away. It is imperative to do so, as I have a little girl watching me. I need to display good boundaries so she knows that its okay to be in touch with her own. It has sometimes taken me being struck mute in the company of somebody who is toxic, for me to comprehend that my body is trying to protect me by producing physical symptoms. I am free, and thus I get to decide who stays in my life. It may not be anything that anyone is doing. Rather, they remind me of someone from the past. I still have to honour my discomfort.
6. Things will trigger me on a daily basis, and much of it is out of my control. It could be a song coming on in the supermarket, an aftershave I detect in passing. It might be a conversation, or visiting a friend in a hospital where I had prior surgery. Deep breaths are required, and sometimes a visit to the lady’s restroom to compose myself. I tell myself that my anxiety is a natural reaction, and I am doing fine. If I am with close friends, I will tell them that a memory has come up. If I am not, I will breath deeply, find a focal spot to concentrate on, and reassure myself quietly.
7. I will not drink to excess, nor take tablets to blot out a bad day. Sometimes, the memories hit hard, and along with the massive amount of pain I suffer, it becomes overwhelming. Alcohol is a depressant, and thus, is disastrous as an antidote. I will only have alcohol when in the company of friends at dinner, or as a toast of celebration. It only compounds the depression which inevitably comes after overworked adrenals have crashed. Instead, I go for a walk, swim or am otherwise active. It helps tremendously.
8. I will space out at times. When you hardly sleep, and are in pain, it happens naturally. When you put flashbacks or a panic attack into the mix, let’s say I am sometimes away with the fairies! Writing (and preparing for a writing task), also lends itself to spacing out. If you holler at me on the street and I don’t respond, that’s why! I am escaping into my inner world, which is expansive and magical. I nearly jump out of my skin when I am walking along and a car beeps me. I remain jittery for the rest of the day. I am hyper vigilant; always scanning a crowd for danger, even when in my own world. It’s quite a combination!
9. You are allowed to say “no” to a request. You are allowed to rest. I keep going until I can’t, and at that point, I retreat for a bit. I have to. It is a revelation, when you learn that you can keep free spaces in the calendar. Even thirty minutes to sip tea and daydream is heavenly. I need time alone to restore and reboot. Time is precious, and I try to use it wisely.
10. My survival has been an odyssey of epic proportions. I tried to run from the memories. I attempted to smother them, as one instinctively does a fire. The smoke streams from underneath the cloth, and then the flames explode forth in a cacophony of rage. It is like burning off disease, only to have damaging adhesions form underneath. Running doesn’t work, and it certainly doesn’t help. Over many years, I have visited my places of trauma. I have wept and I have released at each site. I only did so when I was ready. You have to be ready. My natural instinct is still to run when triggered, but now I have tools. They come in the form of a laptop, a paintbrush, a pastel. They come to me as bird song, my walking shoes, my friends and my music.
When I was a child, I had big dreams. I had a determined spirit and an acute awareness that what was being done to me was not only wrong, but evil. I felt as though a cannon had ripped through my psyche, smattering me into pieces. Over time, I have laid out all the pieces, and put them into place. I am glued, sewn, fused and grafted together. I was once a china doll. Now I am reinforced and can never be broken again. It takes time to heal. You will want to give up. You will consider yourself beyond repair. You will want to run and you will try to escape your own mind. You will want to give up. Please don’t. The joy of finally accessing the tools to help you cope are worth the fight.
A demon in me that lies await,
For me to crash into an awful state,
At that point it wakes and crawls,
To get to my conscious through the walls.
A hideous creature that’s full of rage,
Ready to self-destruct at any stage,
It just waits there deep inside,
Until it can no longer be controlled or hide.
For when I crash I begin to boil,
My control is gone, it’s no longer loyal,
Instead the locked box comes alive,
With so many memories ready to revive.
Finding the key to close it shut,
Is one of a kind that can’t be cut,
It’s has a maze in its secret location,
To keep it open to feed my frustration.
A haul of questions I can not answer,
It’s more aggressive than any cancer,
It crawls under skin and gets in your head,
Loving the destruction that keeps it fed.
When the key is found, life can restart,
A mask is fixed like a flawless art,
It’s not all false but it’s neither true,
Who I am, do I have a clue?
Is it an illusion that I have created?
To dismiss all the things I have hated,
With a childhood like mine life is a dream,
With no escape and a horror-like theme.
The following is an excerpt from a much longer post on .
Trauma Addiction? No!
Although there are as many reasons for why others cut as there are individuals who cut, I think it definitely has strong connections to trauma. But the connection isn’t an addiction to trauma. It is a conditioning of trauma. In high school, my cutting and hitting stemmed from the belief that I deserved to be punished for my mistakes. It helped to justify the punishments I received from my parents. It helped to distract from the terrifying thoughts and memories that plagued me. It helped to give me something physical to actually cry about because it was horrible living with wounds that I couldn’t see, couldn’t name. It was a coping mechanism for trauma, and if I was “addicted” to cutting, then it was because I didn’t have any other coping mechanisms to fall back on, not because I was addicted to trauma.