Information for Survivors

Information for Survivors

‘Will I ever be better?’, ‘How do I become a Thriver?’, ‘How do I get over this?‘………………..there are no simple answers but HAVOCA believes every survivor has the right to become a Thriver.

From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

Victim

Survivor

Thriver

Doesn’t deserve nice things or trying for the “good life.” Struggling for reasons & chance to heal Gratitude for everything in life.
Low self esteem/shame/unworthy Sees self as wounded & healing Sees self as an overflowing miracle
Hyper vigilant Using tools to learn to relax Gratitude for new life
Alone Seeking help Oneness
Feels Selfish Deserves to seek help Proud of Healthy Self caring
Damaged Naming what happened Was wounded & now healing
Confusion & numbness Learning to grieve, grieving past aggrieved trauma Grieving at current losses
Overwhelmed by past Naming & grieving what happened Living in the present
Hopeless Hopeful Faith in self & life
Uses outer world to hide from self Stays with emotional pain Understands that emotional pain will pass & brings new insights
Hides their story Not afraid to tell their story to safe people. Beyond telling their story, but always aware they have created their own healing with HP
Believes everyone else is better, stronger, less damaged Comes out of hiding to hear others & have compassion for them & eventually self Lives with an open heart for self & others
Often wounded by unsafe others Learning how to protect self by share, check, share Protects self from unsafe others
Places own needs last Learning healthy needs (See Healing the Child Within & Gift to Myself) Places self first realizing that is the only way to function & eventually help others
Creates one drama after another See patterns Creates peace
Believes suffering is the human condition Feeling some relief, knows they need to continue in recovery Finds joy in peace
Serious all the time Beginning to laugh Seeing the humour in life
Uses inappropriate humour, including teasing Feels associated painful feelings instead Uses healthy humour
Uncomfortable, numb or angry around toxic people Increasing awareness of pain & dynamics Healthy boundaries around toxic people, incl. relatives
Lives in the past Aware of patterns Lives in the Now
Angry at religion Understanding the difference between religion & personal spirituality Enjoys personal relationship with the God of their understanding
Suspicious of therapists– projects Sees therapist as guide during projections Sees reality as their projection & owns it.
Needs people & chemicals to believe they are all right Glimpses of self-acceptance & fun without others Feels authentic & connected, Whole
“Depression” Movement of feelings Aliveness

©Barbara Whitfield 2003

HAVOCA’s ethos, ‘Every Survivor has the right to become a Thriver’, isn’t supposed to dictate a route for your journey, it isn’t even supposed to inspire you on that voyage.  The phrase simply gives you the right to be what ever you like, when ever you want to be it. There are no time limits or milestones to achieve on the healing path.  Each day can be taken one step at a time; no one will criticise or comment if you stand still for a while, you can even look back if you like. Your journey is ‘yours’ and yours alone, however, here at HAVOCA, as you take each step, we’ll be here right behind you.

There is a wealth of information for survivors available on the internet but it does tend to be rather difficult to find. Since starting HAVOCA in 2001 we have tried desperately to locate useful, recovery related, material and locate it all in one place. Where possible we have included the copyright information and/or a link back to the source material. If no copyright exists the information was either written by HAVOCA and/or publicly available.

Try not to be overwhelmed by the shear amount of detail. Recovery should happen at your pace and it shouldn’t be dictated by lists and menus. The information for survivors has been ordered alphabetically so it is easier to find; the order does not bear any resemblance to the importance that subject has. Every survivor’s recovery is different and therefore the way you use this website will also vary. Just do what feels right, copy and print what seems pertinent or simply bookmark useful areas within your browser.

Use the menu on the right to find areas that may interest you, if you get lost at any point, use the ‘Information for Survivors‘ tab at the top of the page to navigate back here.

50 Responses to Information for Survivors

  1. Vanessa says:

    I am in counciling …but is there any groups in Phoenix Az
    sometimes I just need to talk to someone …when something gets triggered….and I feel overwhelmed

  2. Moni says:

    I wondered if if is possible to complain about the treatment I received as a child, now I am a adult?

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Yes, in most cases it is possible. It does depend somewhat on which country you are from, how long ago it happened and what sort of abuse it is. However on the whole most legal systems allow for such cases.

  3. Kimberly, 4-18+ says:

    Well, at this stage in my life, I would at least like to bring myself into the survivor role! I guess I REALLY need help with that. How do I stop treating myself like the worst possible human being, who doesn’t deserve to get better? I’m in therapy, for the 2nd time in my life. I guess I thought that by sharing details of my abuse, I would be able to move on to healing, but I didn’t say it, I wrote it. Believe me, it took all the strength in my body to give it to her! But, now I’m so embarrassed and ashamed, I can’t even look her in the eyes! I really need some help!

    • Fellow survivor says:

      Kimberly, I was told that moving on doesn’t need to involve the abuser unless you WANT that person in your life and sometimes it’s better for your to separate yourself from the abuser.

      Sharing your story with the abuser is very rarely helpful unless they too are in the stages of recovery and rarely are they on the same page or state as you are. That’s okay.

      Healing comes from within yourself and from your higher power, who I believe is God. You bare no shame, guilt, or embarrassment for sharing your story. Be proud you were strong enough to face it head on! I wish you much success in your journey healing.

  4. Paula says:

    I am a 56 year old woman who has just started the process of healing from extreme physical and emotional abuse as a child. I have tried to move through my adult life without any support or help believing everything my mother did and said to me I deserved. But I kept repeating things in my adult life that I know were a direct result of my childhood and all I wanted to do was end my life. I finally sought help when the urge to end my life was so overwhelming it scared me. I’m only in the beginning stages of therapy, which is helping me see things in a different light. Seeing the victim – survivor – thriver feelings chart above, I realize that I am still in the victim stage and look forward to the time I can be in the thriver stage.

    • Pauline B says:

      How weird. My name is Pauline and I am 56 and joined the Havoca
      yesterday. Its encouraging to know Im not alone. I have had feelings of not wanting to live really live at last before its too late. I’ ve worn myself out struggling to cope and ” get on with it” but “it” isnt enough any more. good luck becoming a thriver. You deserve it .

  5. Cindy says:

    Im 53 yrs old. I ruined my marriage, my family. I was a throwaway child. I was told i was a mistake. I grew up in foster homes. My parents were haroine addicts. Now im alone. Why was I born to suffer????

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      I don’t have that view. I don’t believe in faith and I don’t think other people can make you feel a certain way. Only you have control over the way you feel. That may sound harsh, even cold. And I don’t deny that some people do endure more suffering than others.

      In reality each situation is different and yet there are patterns that point us in certain directions or lead us to take certain actions. Abusive or dysfunctional families display similar patterns. Some professionals call it the ‘cycle of abuse‘. It can be broken.

    • Fellow survivor says:

      Cindy, I am 50 years old and was abused by my mother until just 2 weeks ago. I have chosen to walk away. I have done it before and should have left it that way; but wanted my family back in my life. Unfortunately, my abuser needs help. I have received help many times. I am getting ready to see a new counselor due to some new events that triggered memories of some old events.

      What I want you to know is that you were not born to suffer. You were wonderfully and fearfully made. You are loved by your creator and you deserve better than what you have experienced. Start thinking of yourself as someone who deserves better and it will help to head you in a new direction. Get some counseling, it really does help. And remember that you are not a parking ticket looking for validation! Love yourself and if someone else comes along whom you feel you trust to love you too, great. If not, you deserve to love yourself and set healthy boundaries for your life so you don’t life the 2nd half of your life in pain! (((Hugs))) And remember the only person’s confirmation you need is your own!!!

      • Sharon says:

        Geez I’m 51 and my mum abuses me every time I see her…. manages to always pin the blame on me … I asked why din she have an abortion 51?years ago …she can’t answer it…. I hate the woman…I’ve tried so hard (not to get on with her) but to stomach her with the knowledge of what she did to me fir years…. I need answers but no one helps… closed door effect !!!!

    • Josi says:

      I was a throwaway child too… Was only there so the religious nut cases in lived with could add onto their house and letter sell it for profit…. Didn’t even bother to buy me shoes that fit or clothes that weren’t torn. My parents were dead by 9 and 11… I’m sorry, and I know how you feel because I lay awake crying myself to,sleep most nights wondering why I wasn’t worthy of being loved.

  6. Amen says:

    This is a very big issue. I try all my best to become right, have women of wish i can love, give all myself to her, have a family and be happy. But is difficult- I just give up …I dont know what to do.

  7. Amen says:

    I suffered lots when were child. Lost myself, i dont do bad to people; i love children, many times i feel that i am nothing in this world.

    My dream is … I want friendship that leads to serious relation or even more serious to marriage if it will be the case, I want a
    soulmate, a “partner in crime”, a soul mate,
    a lover, a person i can trust and rely
    on, someone who i can say whats on
    my mind to and know that they will
    listen and understand even when i’m
    wrong, someone who loves me for
    me and knows that i love her and for only her… BUT HOW TO FIND IT WITH MY CHILDHOOD KNOCKING MY HEAD ALL THE TIME? SOMEONE CAN HELP ME?

    • browneyedgirl333 says:

      Hi i just joined today i know exactly how you feel. I am 39 years old and want those same things but i find it extremely difficult in trusting anyone so instead i just isolate myself. I hope this forum helps, I am also in therapy and see a psychiatrist I do believe we both have a long way ahead of us but dont give up….not now…

  8. Preston Fralick says:

    I am a 46 year old man.I was a victim of great physical abuse. It involved multiple punchesto the head , beer bottles, severe naked whippings, misc. Treatments shoving face in feces, kicking in shin, shot with bb gun . The list goes on. Iran away at twelve spent the next three yrs. Incarcerated. Soon after release the abuse started punch to head kick in private. So Iran away dropped High School and struggled to this day in life. I want justice . I never was given a chance to succeed in life.

  9. Nan says:

    I am a 48 year old women who was raped at the ages of 5 and 16.the first was my mother’s best friends 21yo son.back in the 70s people proffered to sweep it under the rug and forget about it.as a teen I was lost and very confused and was again raped by a different man.I was promiscuous and was trying to be loved.since then I have been lost, abusive marriage and after an abusive relationship with another man.I don’t seem to do relationships well have major trust issues and feelings of abandonment. I have had trouble with drugs and alcohol in the past and just don’t know where to turn anymore.people always leave me.it’s weird because I love animals and children and don’t understand why no one will love me.I have a lot of love in me so I just don’t understand.I could write a book with all the bad stuff that happens to me.I choose isolation rather then being around people I don’t know.I’ve grown bitter in my older years and am afraid that I will never find happiness for myself.

  10. David Smith says:

    I was abused throughout my childhood, I am 50 years old. I understand trying to cope and finally falling into depression. Finding it preferable to be alone, having trouble trusting people….. All the symptoms of years of abuse.

    I finally found some peace when I realized that I was giving that situation power to control my life. I also realized the power in acceptance and learning to be content. When you learn to accept yourself as who and what you are, then the healing begins in earnest!

    When you realize that you are the source of your happiness, and that you are in control of what you feel, then you are free. We give weight to others words when they are weightless. We choose to give power to others opinions and accept them as our own to the detriment of our well being. We do these things to gain the acceptance of others, when the only acceptance that matters is self acceptance.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Thank you for your uplifting comment. It reminds me of the quote ‘nobody can make you feel anything’. Of course, to a degree they are right. We take responsibility for our own feelings and have the power to change what does and doesn’t affect us.

  11. queenofsheeba says:

    I’m new here, and no idea how to work this lol. So apologies if I’m in the wrong place, I’m not even sure if I am ment to be here…..iv started councilling, and she’s pretty sure there has been some kind of sexual inappropriate situations in my childhood from my mothers side. She is very over sexual….I was always seeing her naked, she even plucked her pubes I’m front of me. I remember her and my dad having sex in the bed when I was there once. And I found stacks and stacks of videos when I was in my early teens of my mother having sex with other men in our living room….my dad was filming it. My dad them paid me to keep my mouth shut about it and not tell my mum. But tell me, is this noncontact sexual abuse or I’m I just being over sensitive? Sorry again if I’m in the wrong place X

  12. M says:

    i am told it wasnt my fault, yet i blame myself? 3 different people. 3 seperate times in my life. I must have done something.I have children and am terrified something like this may happent to them.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Its understandable but what have you done about fixing the hurt inside? Have you seen a professional or started to heal yourself? Without help, the pain will find it hard to leave.

    • Gladtobe says:

      I too was abused by a relative as a child and have just got on with live. I was overly promiscuous as a teenager and was then abused by a different man at 16 and taken advantage of at 23. I gave a son now and worry so much about the same happening to me and wondering what I can do to avoid it

  13. Healing4me says:

    I am 68 years old and am new on here, too. I find it hard to say out loud, however I was raped as a teenager by one of my father’s employees, while I was babysitting. This went on for awhile until I finally got the courage to stop babysitting their kids. My father and mother both passed away without ever knowing. And I also had a very chaotic childhood at home.

    Then I went on to promiscuous behaviour, got married three times to abusive men and stuffed everything down for a long, long time. I did go to Al-Anon while married to an alcoholic and it helped greatly at the time. Any relationship I had was not good.
    I isolate myself so I don’t get hurt anymore, but in that I’m hurting myself. I feel lonely and not worthy. I never had kids and my siblings and I are not close. I live with my dog and cat and they have to listen to my outbursts. Not fair to them.

    I am retired, however have been experiencing extreme outbursts of uncontrollable anger and frustration for the past three or so years and am depressed and sad most of the time. I’m thinking I had to control myself my whole working life and maybe that’s why I’m exploding now. Last week I finally went to a counselling center for an intake interview and then found this group online.

    The more I read on this site the more I see what is going on with me. I am hopeful that with the counselling and help on here that I will be on the road to recovery. I really do want to start enjoying my retirement and experiencing some joy and peace in my life.

    Thank you for listening.

  14. Susan says:

    I was abused for years by a family friend but my foster mother never believed me.before then i suffered severe internal damage from my birth father which led to me being taken away.i was lucky to be able to have children but my ex husband sexually abused our eldest daughter who has now severed contact with me.i am now with a wonderful man but sometimes i think i don’t deserve to be happy and try to push him away.i have never had counselling-afraid if i start crying i will never stop.

  15. liberty says:

    I was sexually abused and beaten as a child by my mother and stepfather, I went to the police as a child and was laughed at and abused by them. My stepfather went on to abuse my four sisters of which two had children by him.i went to the police a second time when my 12 year old sister had his child again they ignored me. just over two years ago I went back to the police this time they listened and eventually it came too trial, he got 24 years and she got 8 took me 47 years to get justice. I had no support through the trial and still have none. I need help but my gp said I should be over it at my age. How can I get help to move on .

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      PLease accept my apologies for your GPs complete lack of understanding and compassion. If you would like to contact us with their contact details we would be happy to educate them on your behalf. Survivors dont ‘get over it’. You have every right to seek healing and to experience a fuller, pain free life, in much the same way any patient has the right to heal. I would suggest requesting a GP change and demanding counselling for your situation. You might find reading this article on ‘moving on‘ useful.

  16. laurie says:

    I am 51 and was abused by my father for over ten years on a weekly basis. I have at times in my life thought I was over it but as I get older I see that I’m not. I have had problems with alcohol, drugs, low self esteem and do not trust anyone especially men. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I am currently in a relationship that I am ruining due to my total lack of trust and low self esteem. I feel so lost anymore.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      I’m sorry you find yourself in this position. There are lots of things you can do. There is hope. This website contains thousands of pages that guide you through the steps and there is an online forum for people like yourself who want to reach out for support.

  17. Lessie Hardley says:

    I am glad that I found yourwebsite. I am 70yrs old and I was abuse by my mother. Mentally and physically.I had to learn to cook before I was 8 yr old. An at age 11get a severe beating for nothingfor the next 5 year Ii get beatings with switches andthen she beat me unmerciifully with extension cord until I was bleeding Iwould her beg”Mommy please please. I woul hear my younger sister begging her to stop.My motthr hated me most of my live. She toldme to et out of her house oneSunday moring I was 17yrs

  18. Anamaria says:

    Hello everyone. I am 38. I am sorry to find so many people are abused from birth to end of their lives. I am one of those too. My worst enemy has been my own family: mother, father and brother. I have left the country at 25 so they would not be able to reach me. I am very spiritual which helped me in staying positive and not attempting suicide despite the lack of interest in ‘life on planet Earth’. Till age 32 I couldn’t talk about my sexual abuse to anyone. My husband though is an amazing person and help me feel safe for the first time ever. I told him everything I remembered and he forced a confrontation with my father. It was horrible since he’s reaction was that of a psychopath. I cried and my soul bled in front of him, yet nothing. However, a week or 2 after that I started to feel sorry for him understanding how sick he really is. I forgave him and it would seem something huge blockage has been shifted. I have forgiven my mother and brother too but there is no way they could ever acknowledge their mistakes. I feel pain in my whole body but I no longer feel I deserve to die , or that I am stupid and ugly. My anger has left me and I see that I am very blessed person, having survived my family and yet have the power to fight to break negative patterns and reach towards happiness. I even wear pink clothes now!!!!!! (You may smile now, but black or dark blue was my camouflage ) I say NO to abusive people and relationships. BUT there’s still something deep inside I cannot shift. A couple of days ago I have read one cannot heal alone. I NEED HELP. PLEASE GUIDE ME to find a therapist. I live in Slovakia and I do not speak the language here. People here don’t speak English neither.

    My heart goes out to you all and prays that you heal. Anyone who wants to talk more, please write to me.

  19. Susan Behnke says:

    I have worked for 56 years to deal with the pain and consequences of early childhood emotional and sexual abuse, and extreme neglect by my parents. I have made progress. But as I grow and develop needed skills, achieve periods of remission from depression, I always encounter another time of difficulties which revive the old feelings and difficulties, which I must then step back and work through again. I’m 62 now and I’m so tired. I’m considering the conclusion that all the effort and pain have not been worth whatever benefits I’ve gained – which always seem temporary. I am ready to give up – which is unlike me, but enough is enough. I have a therapist and a psychiatrist and they are good – but I just don’t want to continue working so hard and feeling I’ve gained so little. Any advice?

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Working through trauma and the experience of doing so can be related to working on an over grown garden. It starts off a complete mess, given time and hard work you slowly kill back all the weeds, provide some structure and landscape the space into a beautiful oasis. However, if you let the work slip, the maintenance stop or just neglect a small part, the garden can start to be consumed by weeds again. Healing is the same, its a constant requirement. Hence why it is often referred to as a journey.

      I’m sorry that its hard work. You didn’t deserve the things that happened to you. You might like to join our forums so that you can seek support from other survivors who are experiencing exactly the same thing.

  20. Colleen Bruce says:

    I have read a great book of survival, recovery and hope of an adult survivor of abuse, multi-generational mental illness and addictions. It gave me a great sense of peace with the reality of accountability as an adult on my part, so I don’t pass on in any form what has happened to me.

    • Kathryn LaTrace says:

      Hello Colleen. Would you please tell me the name of the book? It sounds like it would be very beneficial to me also. Thank you.

    • Gladtobe says:

      Colleen can you share which book you found so useful. I would love to read it.
      I am survivor not a victim but would like to move to the next stage

  21. Richard Hutchinson says:

    Its the feeling of being worthless coupled with the echoes of hateful spiteful words & violence that haunt me. my mother would at times pull a knife on my filthy abuser of a step parent. Those times were all too few & far between for me. I wished she had just killed the bastard.I have had horrible thoughts of killing my step siblings, who were responsible for a lot of the beatings & abuse from him. I have justified & almost accepted the consequences of such deeds. Hated my mother & stuck now with feelings of revenge. I don’t want to go to prison. It feels like that is the only option. I saw my mother battered but I hate her at times. Its not like she didn’t know what was happening. I just want to live a little. I got into drugs in a big way, it helped me forget sometimes what happened. I cant continue like this it has affected my relationships, my everyday life at every stage. Counselling is no help maybe if I killed those pair of filth at least I would have the satisfaction knowing his foul spawn no longer lived. I need help

    • Aggie says:

      I can imagine why you feel the need to wipe them off this earth..however if you did carry that through, it is you that would incur yet more punishment and possible abuse in the prison system.
      Why let them ruin what is left of your life further? they are not worthy of you forgoing the rest of your life, they have caused you enough pain and damage. You are NOT worthless, far from it. I too am a victim of abuse and only today felt ready to disclose this to a health professional..counselling I have tried previously for a domestic violence abuse from my ex, I found it draining, it didn’t fix things but it helped to release..how I will deal with the rest of the abuse I endured as a child I have no idea yet. I think what did help me survive this far, im 43 now, is I met someone, married, had children, the marriage fell apart of course, cos im crap at relationships (wonder why!!?) but my children need me, ive fought hard for them and focused on them. I drowned my sorrows as a ten was always drinking, thankfully never messed with drugs, I got ill and had no choice but to stop drinking. I think you are amazing to admit you have/had a drug problem, its unsurprising we all need something to take away the pain especially that our mum didn’t love us and protect us, after all isn’t that what a mum is meant to do. My guess is your mum was carrying her own demons and felt worthless too, to put up with that but that does not take away your pain. Im sending you a massive hug Richard as a fellow sufferer but also as a mother who really does care. I hope someone on here can direct you to a service that can help you. Personally I can only suggest seeing your doctor or registering with one soon so that they can help you move forward and have the life you deserve, a bloody good one, where you are valued and loved as you should be.

  22. Cassandra lewis says:

    I’m scared that I’ll always be carrying on a cycle of abuse in my life. This is very hard

  23. Aggie says:

    Hi all, today was the first day that I sat with my GP and told her that I was sexually abused by my sibling. I have yet to find counselling but have been given some ideas of where to start.
    I was abused by my older sister sexually, when at age 4 we were put in a room and double bed together..my older brother also hated me as I took away his mothers attention (being only son) and he would regularly shout at me, drag me around and hit me when he was left to babysit me.
    My mother never had time for me, so I was always palmed off on my older sister to take out from under her feet,my mother never hugged me unless I was ill and she never told me she loved me until earlier this year whe she knew she was dying. my sister back then became like a mother/sister and disturbingly now I know abuser to me. she would always be buying me stuff and I had it drummed into me what a wonderful sister I had. Our relationship fell apart as she became more interested in boys and left home. She and my brother are close, I am very shut out from the family because I guess as I grew up I distanced myself more from them. I have children one of whom is severely disabled, none of my family have been emotionally supportive, we live only 100 miles away but they have never visited or shown interest except my parents. Something inside me this past week has just snapped I got into a row with my sister..i think since my mum died a lid has been lifted, im under immense stress and I’m at the point where I want to cut myself off from the family totally for my own sanity. I will never tell my father as he would hate me and my sister is the only one of us to remain nearby him so he thinks she is wonderful and I get this thrown in my face all the time..sorry this is so long I just felt the need to let this out to somebody

  24. Maureen Redmond says:

    I am 53 and going tbrough a stage of depression, having nightmares about my abuse, mental, physical and sexual. I am missing work and putting my job at risk but i can’t sleep or focus on anything at the moment, I don’t even want to wash, dress and go out. My mind is going 24/7 I just need to get it out but find it hard to talk to anyone face to face.

  25. Victor Jones says:

    I am a victim of child abuse, domestic violence and child molestation. I have gone through the steps to recovery. I forgave my abusers as it releases the power they had over me so that I can live a happy more fulfilling life.

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