IDEAS from the HEALING HUT

Sexual Abuse

 

Healing Is Possible.

 

Photo by Lisa Kinerson

 


Survivors for Survivors

A Self-Help Group For Women Survivors
Of Childhood Sexual Abuse



Some statistics say that as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5-7 men were sexually molested in childhood.  Some people never recover memories of the trauma they experienced as children.  Many who remember never speak of their past.  Of those who do, how many speak to someone who keeps statistics?

 *  *  *  *  *

Many of us will have repressed memories of abuse until we are between the ages of 25 and 65 years old.  Memories can be triggered through life changes such as a birth, a death, the onset of illness, divorce or break-up, marriage, a new job or home (finally feeling safe enough to begin the healing process), helping others to retrieve abuse memories, or simply by just being ready to heal.

As with all traumatic experience, remembering and daring to speak about what has happened to us is often painful and frightening.  These steps are also the very ones that lead us to healing.

In my own experience of remembering I found that access to the understanding and compassionate ears so crucial to healing was not easy to find and usually prohibitively expensive; thus I created and, for several years,  facilitated a weekly support group called Survivors for Survivors.  The group was run by and for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse, on a donation basis. *
 
*(Please note:  Though the Survivors For Survivors group is not currently running, we hope that some of the information on this page may be of use to you on your healing journey).


Looking for Help

Healing IS possible.  It takes great courage – though you already have that, for you made it this far – and a stout heart – which you also have, for you are reading this page…and the knowledge,( sometimes hidden so deeply within that we can hardly find it), that you are, indeed, a being of light, who has every right to a safe and judgement-free world in which to speak about your life, be heard by open ears and move, at your own pace, towards healing.  These are the things, at the very least, that a place to mend should offer you.


Some Things You Can do, Right Now


1).  Know that it WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.  No matter how much you felt it was, it was NOT.  A child should be safe in the knowledge that the adults in her or his life WILL NOT CROSS BOUNDARIES WITH HIM OR HER, NO MATTER WHAT. 
Even if your body responded sexually to the abuse, it was NOT YOUR FAULT. 

Even if you did not fight back, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. 

Even if you never told anyone, ‘allowed’ it to happen, were very pretty, not very pretty, were a disobedient child, were protecting another family member, OR ANY OTHER REASON YOU CAN COME UP WITH to take the blame off your abuser –

IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. 

Allowing this truth to enter your being deeply, WILL move your healing forward.

2). Know that the room always looks messier as you begin to clean it…
When you begin cleaning a room that has not been cleaned in a while (begin facing the pain you have been avoiding or struggling with all these years…)– as you get into the task, and go deeper into it, it often looks messier than it did before you started…the grunge under the couch cushions is now in view, a bad smell erupts when you lift up the carpet and oh…there is perhaps even toxic black mold growing where it has been damp!  This is the phase, in healing, when facing the truth that may have been buried for years or even decades, can feel overwhelming.  But if you know that the way to the Light of your own healed being is THROUGH the dark, through the pain, the sadness, the ANGER (yes, anger WILL be a part of your healing, as will mourning), and the fear, you will find a deeper courage to allow this healing process to move forward.  The Angels like to say “You will fly as high as you are willing to dive deep” and I have seen this over and over again, in my own journey of healing, and those of my clients and others.  You will be as strong in the world as you are courageous in opening to your vulnerability. 

3).  Speak your truth, OUT LOUD, even if it is only to yourself in a mirror at first.  Try risking to say the things you feel might be true, even if your mind is telling you they are not.  (for many, it was the mind’s job to keep you safe from the knowledge of the truth, but your emotional and physical bodies hold the memories until you are ready to experience them, express them (speak), and then release and heal them).
For most who were abused, sexually, physically or emotionally, a harm equal in size to the actual assault, was the SILENCING…in one way or another, most abuse survivors were silenced.  It is therefore an enormous step to BREAK THE SILENCE.  When you are ready, find someone to tell.  Better yet, find a lot of people to tell.  Tell your story.  Your story is as important as anyone’s – when people are harmed in a car accident, or in war, or in almost any other way, THEY TELL THEIR STORIES, and this is a part of their healing:  WE EXPERIENCED A WOUNDING.  WE GET TO TELL IT.  WE MUST TELL IT.  Write a poem about it.  Draw or paint it.  Cry it.  Yell it.  Whisper it, if that is all you can muster to start.  Take back your voice.

4). If finding human support has been difficult (finding a therapist, support group etc), or even if it hasn’t: go get or order a copy of the abuse survivors Bible:  THE COURAGE TO HEAL by Bass & Davis.  This is available at most libraries and can be ordered on line. Try Amazon.com.  It is an AMAZINGLY useful book, on so many levels – answer questions that may help you know if you were abused or not, read other’s stories, find survival tools for handling the moments when you think you can’t…I love this book and bless the authors for giving it to us!

5). Make a ‘survival kit’ right now.  Gather some things that comfort you, including the following:
- the names of at least one, preferably three, people on whom you can call at ANY time of day or night if you are feeling scared or confused or hurting intensely.  Include their phone numbers! If you think you don’t know anyone who would welcome that midnight call, ASK someone.  You might be very surprised at what people are willing to be available for – most of us feel very good about helping others when we are asked.
- a list of five things you can do that bring you back to yourself – for example, take a warm bath, lie on the bare earth and smell the good dirt, put your favorite music on and wrap yourself in a blanket, make a certain meal, meditate, pray, make art or eat jam on toast or hit a baseball…you get the picture – something you do that is YOURS.
- One small comfort object – a thing that you can hold onto that grounds you – a stone, or book or thing belonging to someone special to you…etc…
- One small toy for ‘little you’ – a thing you liked or would have liked as a child, particularly, at the age at which you were abused.
- one quote, from anywhere, that inspires you and reminds you of something that nourishes you.

Put these things into a bag -  you can make one especially for this purpose, or buy one – and wear the bag or keep it with you round the clock for as long as you need or want to. 

6). BE GENTLE ON YOUR SELF.  This is often one of the hardest tasks for abuse survivors.  Even when we think of ourselves as children, we can be harsh and judgmental…try this: 
Go to a park and sit in the playground.  Watch children who are about the age you were when you were abused.  Really look at their innocence.  Then imagine how you would feel if someone abused the child you are watching….likely, you will feel disgust and anger – it is unimaginable – even if you are looking at a teenager – the idea of someone hurting that young being, emotionally or otherwise, is likely a horrible thought.  If you were not afraid, what might you think, feel, or even say or do, now as an adult, towards the abuser??  What might you say or do for a child in that situation?  These are questions to look at – but the bigger tool in this exercise, only after you have done the first part, is to TURN THIS TOWARDS YOURSELF!  YOU were once that child. YOU are worthy of the same feelings, thoughts and actions as you felt towards the child you did not know.  The young person within you needs your love and attention and protection.  No one protected you as a child.  YOU can protect and hold that ‘little you’ now.  This may sound trivial, but to begin to give that wounded part of you the love and caring that she/he deserves WILL move your healing forward.  Its good to get ANGRY at your abuser and the adults who were not able to protect you as a child, but it does not serveyour healing to become addicted to blame:  you must now give yourself all the love and comfort the world did not give you.  This way, nothing can stop you from healing.

7). Make an ‘Inner Child Doll’. 
In my support groups and workshops for abuse survivors, making an inner child doll, even for those who think of themselves as ‘uncreative’ (which, I must tell you, you are NOT – you were and are extremely creative to have survived what you survived and to be finding a way, in this moment, to heal!), has proven – again and again – to be very powerful work.  Some of the participants who resisted the task most vehemently experienced the deepest healing in doing the work!  So, I invite you to take the plunge – see what happens!

     Instructions for inner child doll:

     Use any medium you like – sticks and stones, leather, found objects, or simple fabric. 
     Create the doll with the following in mind:
     The left leg represents the ways you were hurt by mother, or feminine energy
     The right leg represents the ways you were hurt by father or masculine energy
     The right arm represents your gifts to the world and how you give them
     The left arm represents what you need in the world and how you receive.
     The body of the doll holds your heart, and should be made of or filled with something that nourishes you (for      example, in one doll I made, I filled her body with dried ginger powder, which represents the spicy-ness of my being, is good for my digestion and is a flavor I really love).
     The head represents your relationship to spirit, or your higher consciousness – the hair being how you express your spiritual beauty.

     Making the doll is just the first step.  Now you must CARE FOR HER!  Try, for at least one week, treating her as if she were a real little child – put her to bed with a story and snuggles  – treating her just as you should have been treated as a child – make her three healthy meals a day – if you have to leave her, find a sitter (this can be a real human friend, or perhaps a large and trust worthy teddy bear you can leave her with).  Make sure she has toys she likes.  Make her her own little bed…you can take this as far as you like – AND KEEP A JOURNAL.  At night in your bed, ask her to tell you her secrets.  She will.  And you and she will heal from this love you are creating where once perhaps there was none.

8). Start a journal that is specially for recording your abuse and abuse-healing related thoughts, feelings and work. 

9). GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT for being exactly where you are!!  Whether you are ‘succeeding’ tremendously in the world’s eyes or ‘failing’ miserably in your own or anyone else’s, you are ALIVE.  You are taking a risk in reading this and you are looking at your options to heal – that is something BIG – YOU ARE SURVIVING!  And you probably know that that is no small feat.  You are taking a step in this very moment in HONOR of YOURSELF…and this step is one more on your path not only in surviving, but to THRIVING, which you can and will do, if you so choose.  On behalf of the Light, I honor you and thank you for being here on the planet.  Truly.  Thank you.


LINKS
 
Inspiration:
 
 
 
 
 
 
All individuals and organizations listed on this site have helping women heal from abuse as their goal and mission.  If you would like to have your organization’s information listed on this site, please contact     
Anila.Zaba@gmail.com