‘Why should I admit the abuse?’
‘I’ve coped with it all these years and bringing up all of these unpleasant memories feels uncomfortable and painful’
These are common responses to the healing process.
Child abuse of any type has a lasting effect on personal development. Although the adult has buried his or her experiences deep within the realms of the mind, the effects of the abuse continue in the fore front of everyday life. Although the victim may consider their abuse to be over, the lasting effects will continue to haunt an individual. It is only by recognition and acceptance that the real process of healing can begin. It will be difficult to start with but eventually the light at the end of the tunnel will become brighter.
The first step has already been taken, you are reading this website!!! Next you will need to break the denial and talk about your experiences. You can do this by confiding in a close friend, family member or partner. Alternatively you may prefer to join our forums and post about your experiences relatively anonymously.
Some people feel they need to talk things through with a professional. We at HAVOCA strongly recommend that you attend a therapist and we have a section on choosing the right one for you.
You should set yourself realistic limits, don’t try to deal with it all at once. The abuse may have dug it’s roots into your system over many years, don’t expect the healing process to finish over night. With your own patience you can do this – say it to yourself. If you feel tired, drained or unfocused then take a break and start again when you are ready. The whole journey is done at your pace.
The first step is to admit the abuse took place – you can do this by admitting to yourself, try saying out load several times ‘I was abused’ repeat it over and over again and notice how your body feels. If you find this difficult, try starting a journal. A journal is an excellent way to express yourself and then to step back and analyse your emotions. Alternatively or as well as, talk things through with a close friend or lover; only do this if you have their confidence and you know you can trust them.
Denial can go very deep and in some cases lead to MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) or DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). The classic definition of dissociation is when you’re driving down the highway and you arrive at your destination, not totally sure how you got there (and you haven’t been drinking!). You’re ok, but you don’t really remember driving the whole distance. Congratulations – you’ve just dissociated. We all do it to some degree.
Dissociation runs the gamut from the above to forgetting more things, to the opposite end of the spectrum – multiple personalities.
DID, formerly multiple personality disorder, is nothing more than a very creative coping mechanism. It is not an illness. They are not crazy. These people are survivors of all sorts of trauma in childhood, and it affects the way they process current information and react to everyday life.
If you enter into healing, be prepared to lose everything. Healing is a ravaging force to which nothing seems sacred or safe. As my original pain releases itself in healing, it rips to shreds the structures and foundations I built in weakness and ignorance. Ironically and unjustly, only I can pay the price of having lived a lie. I am experiencing the bizarre miracle of reincarnating, more lucidly than at birth, in the same lifetime – Ely Duller
The decision to heal is a powerful, life-affirming choice. DECIDING to heal, make your own growth and recovery a priority, sets in motion a healing force that will bring to your life a richness and depth you never dreamed possible – BUT be prepared for MUCH pain along the way.
You may feel alive for the first time, it is as if you have woken up for the FIRST time, you learn to appreciate things all over again, simple things. You need COMMITMENT to healing…experience every bit of you rife without wasting it is how many survivors feel…the opportunity to LOOK at YOURSELF!
You may know its time because:
- You can’t maintain the intimacy you felt with your partner prior to the wedding
- You start to feel crazy when your daughter reaches the age when your own abuse began ( THAT WAS ME a few years ago)
- You feel as if you are bursting at the seems or hitting bottom
then the decision to heal comes…
IT IS NOT EASY BUT ALWAYS WORTH IT!!!
OFTEN the decision to heal wreaks havoc with marriages and intimate relationships, dealing with parents, other relatives, some times even friends or you own children. It CAN BE hard to just function, to go to work, to study, to think, to SMILE, to perform. It can even be hard to sleep, eat, or to simply to stop crying:
“If I’d known that anything could hurt this much or could be this sad, I never would have decided to heal.”
And at the same time, you can NOT go BACK.
Sometimes early stages of healing are so filled with crisis that women have a hard time accepting the fact they made a choice at all.
A quote that sums this up beautifully, Vicki, :
“Though sometimes I want to crawl into a dark place and hide from reality and other times I want to give up completely, I GO ON. I do not know where this “healing” will lead me, I live on other people’s hopes. I live on other people’s faith that life will get better. I continue to wonder whether it is worth it, but I GO ON. This, then is healing.”
Deciding to ACTIVELY heal is terrifying because it means opening up to hope. For many survivors, hope has brought only disappointment.