I say our home page because it belongs to all survivors of sexual abuse. I see this page as being a place to come to for information that will help you in your healing. A place to share stories, experiences, triumphs and challenges. I am travelling on my own healing journey. Ten years ago I started to remember and experience flashbacks from my childhood. During my time in therapy I have retrieved memories of sexual, emotional and physical abuse by both my Mother, Father, and a neighbour. I am still in the process of remembering, and at times it has been a difficult journey. Along the way I have received support from many different sources and I hope this home page will be a place to share some of these and give others an opportunity to share. I am a survivor. A Survivor who finally has a voice and feels very strongly that the more noise we make the more likely people will realize sexual abuse is a crime.
Each person’s healing journey is unique! This has been for me as frustrating at times as it is wonderful. I have spent hours searching throught books trying to find a passage that will let me know I am not crazy. It is in sharing our stories that we realize how much the effects of sexual abuse manifest uniquely the same in all of us. Over the next few months I will be writing about some of my challenges and concerns.
Diane Auld - My Counselling Site - Counselling - Art Therapy - Survivor & Creative Groups
I would like to thank GeoCities for giving me the opportunity to become a part of the Internet Community. And Don Auld for his help in creating this home page, and his support.
What writing has given me is insight into how I feel, or would feel if I was feeling at the moment. When I am experiencing a flashback or series of flashbacks I can still easily run away from feelings and emotions. I write these down, sometimes before, during and after. The incredible thing is I think I am experiencing my writing. But, many times I read my writing afterwards and do not even remember the details I have written down. So for me journaling helps me remember, helps me understand my process. Helps me understand me. I have often told people it keeps me sane. The other wonderful thing about writing is you can show it to anyone you want, to no one, and you don't even have to read it until you are ready. Most importantly it helps me to realize how far I have come. Sexual abuse limits us, writing is one way to free yourself in a safe and gentle manner. The fascinating thing about journaling is it enables us to tap into the creative parts of ourselves. So if you have a secret desire to paint, sculpt, make music or draw. Journaling taps into our creativity and releases it.
I found many good journaling books:
How do you break the silence? What does it mean?
Breaking the silence means telling someone.
And for each of us the telling is different.
First we have to tell ourselves.
Most of us spent many years suppressing the memories of the abuse, and when we do start to remember we cannot believe it is true.
There it is, breaking the silence, means we take a chance that we will not be believed. The all pervading thought “If I cannot believe myself how can I expect anyone else to?”
It is how we feel, but it is not the truth, they will believe you, and strange as it may seem when the people you choose to share your truth with believe you it helps you to believe.
Breaking the Silence empowers you.
It helps you to take your power back.
Speaking our truth about the Abuse enables us to step out of the shame and guilt that has held us prisoner.
Speaking our truth enables us to get understanding and support.
Speaking our truth helps us to know it happened, and move on with our life.
Speaking our truth enables us to get in touch with how we feel.
Speaking our truth helps us put the abuse in the past and the healing in the present.
When we share our truth with someone we trust, we see ourselves and the things we went through in the compassion and understanding of the person we are telling.
Speaking our truth brings with it a kind of freedom and honesty that opens the doors for intimacy and closeness.
Speaking our truth very clearly states we are no longer willing to suffer in the silent prison of someone else’s making.
And as I said above in my introduction Speaking our truth gives us a voice, and the more we use that voice the more people will know that sexual abuse happens and it is a crime of the most vicious kind.
Finally, Speaking our truth helps us to know we are not alone, we are a member of a most courageous group of women and men who survived, who can stand together as a force to help put an end to sexual abuse.
For me speaking my truth and breaking the silence has been a lifelong challenge. As a child I had no one to tell about the abuse. If I had tried my mother would not have believed me. I also think we learn very early it is useless and sometimes dangerous to tell. I grew up with the awful feeling that no one understood me. So telling my story is my way of understanding me and understanding how I live in my world. A world that is changing.
As important as it is to break the silence, it is very important you find someone you trust. A therapist, your partner, a close trusted family member, a good friend, your support group, someone who will understand how important this is to you. Someone who will appreciate how much courage it takes. Someone who has been there for you and you feel safe with.
When I first started to remember the abuse 4 years ago my telling was in a very detached way. I had only one clear memory and the realization that there had been more and the fact that it had started when I was a baby was shocking for me. It took me two years and the death of my father to decide to go for therapy. Flashbacks and different forms of uncovered memory have helped me to reconstruct my abuse history. Over the last two years I have started to write my story and tell my friends that I have been abused. Right now it is important for me to start talking and writing about the details of what happened during the abuse. It is time for me to give my parents back the responsibility for the abuse. I no longer want to feel ashamed for something that was not my fault. Keeping silent imprisons me in shame.
How to Speak your Truth!
Speaking your truth does not have to be verbal. Actually speaking your truth can look any way you want it to.
- Write about it. When I first started writing I could not read my writing to my therapist or husband. I gave it to them to read. Gradually I started reading it to them myself. It helped to hear myself say the words.
- Draw a picture. Art is a powerful way to tell your story. Get some crayons, paints, or pencils and a large piece of paper and just put how you are feeling or what you are seeing on paper in any way that seems right. Let your hand just do what it wants to do. Let the feelings come out on paper.
- Clay - I have done a bit of art therapy and clay was wonderful for me. I could get my aggression out by squeezing the clay. And I could make objects. Again let your hands just play, you will be amazed at what comes out.
- Sit with someone you trust and tell your story - As much as you can or as little as you can. Each time I have told anyone my story it is different, because my reasons for needing to tell are different. Right now I need to know that it was not my fault. I need to know I am still loved when I am finished. I need to hear myself tell my story so I can really believe it. Basic reasons, but so important for me.
- Sing - I listened to a friend sing a song she had written. The song was for all of us who have been abused. It was so beautiful and so powerful.
- Dance - Let your body tell your story.
- The ways to Break the Silence are unlimited. And when you are ready you will find your own way.
Just know you are not alone. And in telling your story you take your power back.
This week I read to my support group a story I had written. The story of the abuse I lived through. I was scared, actually terrified. What would they think of me, could I actually say the words, all my fears came up to convince me not to do it. At the end of the story everyone was crying, they were crying for me, for the fact that those things had happened to me. No one even thought I was making it up, they believed me. The looks of compassion and understanding on their faces was amazing. And the next day I felt taller, sounds funny doesn’t it. I felt stronger inside.
I want to emphasize that I am talking about Breaking the Silence with someone you trust. Someone you are sure will be able to support you, and give you what you need at the end of the telling. Telling your abuser or a family member who does not understand is very different and that is something you need to fully prepare for. Something you need to plan with your therapist or partner or close friend. My parents were NOT the first people I chose to tell. The most important person you need to consider in all of this is YOU. Your comfort and safety.
Doing something nice for myself. It always feels like there are hundreds of other things I
could be doing.
Have you ever felt that you are getting obsessed with the abuse and that your life revolves around the fact that it happened, and how it makes you feel? My most intense times naturally come while I am in the middle of flashbacks or when I am dealing with the feelings that come after the memories have emerged. I want the memories to emerge, but I find myself getting focused to the point that nothing else exists. I literally have to remind myself that there are other things in my life than sexual abuse, and that it is ok to take a break. Time to change the focus and do something nice for myself. Easy to say, but not so easy to do.
So that's what we are going to do. Talk about how to change the focus and do something nice for ourselves.
What Does Something Nice Mean?
Something that will make you feel good. Something just for yourself. Not something for all the other people in your life. Something just for you. Does that idea make you want to turn off your computer or make you say," It's been so long I don't know what would make me feel good." Well if it does we need to do some serious thinking about it. That might be a place to start - with paper and pen write down all the things that would make you feel good. Don't worry if they are not possible at the moment, or completely impossible just write them down.
It would make me feel good to:
Pick something you have not done in a long time. Even better pick something you have never done, but would love to do, and do it. And the ones that seem totally impossible can be done in your imagination. Next time you look up at the clouds you may see me floating by on my way to the Grand Canyon. While you are doing something enjoyable understand you are doing it because you deserve it, and for a moment there is no one more important than you, or no one more wonderful than you.
How many times have you thought that while you have been reading this? There is another way to look at it. If you take time for yourself, it will be easier to give to all the other people in your life.
Sometimes it is really hard to be nice to myself because I don't feel like I deserve it. Those are the hardest times. When I think or write lines like the one above I see my husband's face or see my therapist saying to me " You do deserve it. You are wonderful." You know they are right ! We do deserve to have some enjoyment, some peace, some quiet, some joy, some pleasure.
That is why preparation is so important. A list or action plan for those times when we are not feeling strong will give us something to play with. Make these preparations when you are feeling good, and they will be there when you need them.
- Make your list of the things you would like to do to change your focus.
- Have your supply of favorite books, comfort movies, bath oils etc... ready.
You do deserve it. Looking inside and dealing with memories of the past is hard work. I need to constantly remind myself of how much I have done. To look at what I have accomplished. To understand that I do not need to go immediately on to the next thing, that it is time for a break.
How do we make time for self-care?
How do I get all the things done I have to do and still find time for me?
Well I found a whole bunch of suggestions:
Ask yourself - If I knew someone who was dealing with the issues I am dealing with what advice would I give them? Would I tell them they did not deserve to take some time and give themselves a break?
Writing this has really helped me. I am going to print off a copy and store it in my emergency book, for the times when I cannot think straight. We do deserve to give ourselves the one thing we want the most, the hardest thing to give, and the thing we never got as children and that is:
I wish you all of the above, and peace - Diane
Links to other sites on the Web
Diane Auld - My Counselling Site - Counselling - Art Therapy - Survivor & Creative Groups
The Wounded Healer Journal
Sexual Assault Resources USA
Recovery Canada - The Wellness Page
A Fantastic Home Page for Journallers
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Abuse Recovery Links - Survivors Forum
Child Abuse and Recovery - An Incredible sight with many resources.
The Journey Home - A victim of incest until the age of 15, Pat Swinger tells the story of her healing journey,
how she worked to overcome her past and learn to live in joy. Checkout her inspiring site and her book.
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