What the Survivor needs to tell you.

what the survivor needs to tell youWhat the Survivor needs to tell you.

1. We grew up feeling very isolated and vulnerable, a feeling that continues into our adult lives.

2. Our early development has been interrupted by abuse, which either holds us back or pushes us ahead developmentally.

3. Child abuse has influenced all parts of our lives. Not dealing with it is like ignoring an open wound. Our communication style, our self-confidence, and our trust levels are affected.

4. Putting thoughts and feelings related to our abuse “on the back burner” does not make them go away. The only way out is to go through these emotions and process them.

5. Our interest in sexual activity will usually decline while we are dealing with this early trauma. This is because:

  • we are working on separating the past from the present.
  • pleasure and pain can sometimes be experienced simultaneously.
  • it is important for us to be in control, since control is what we lacked as children.
  • Sometimes we need a lot of space. Pressuring us to have sex will only increase our tension.

6. We often experience physical discomforts, pains, and disorders that are related to our emotions.

7. We often appear to be extremely strong while we are falling apart inside.

8. There is nothing wrong with us as survivors — something wrong was DONE to us.

9. Sometimes others get impatient with us for not “getting past it” sooner. Remember, we are feeling overwhelmed, and what we need is your patience and support. Right now, it is very important for us to concentrate on the past. We are trying to reorganize our whole outlook on the world; this won’t happen overnight.

10. Your support is extremely important to us. Remember; we have been trained to hold things in. We have been trained NOT to tell about the abuse. We did not tell sooner for a variety of reasons: we were fearful about how you would react, what might happen, etc. We have been threatened verbally and/or nonverbally to keep us quiet, and we live with that fear.

11. Feeling sorry for us does not really help because we add your pain to our own.

12. There are many different kinds of people who are offenders. It does not matter that they are charming or attractive or wealthy. Anybody — from any social class or ethnic background, with any level of education– may be an offender. Child abuse is repetitive, so be aware of offenders with whom you have contact. Do not let them continue the cycle of abuse with the next generation of children.

13. We might not want or be able to talk with you about our therapy.

14. We are afraid we might push you away with all our emotional reactions. You can help by: listening, reassuring us that you are not leaving, not pressuring us, touching (WITH PERMISSION) in a nonsexual way.

15. Our therapy does not break up relationships – it sometimes causes them to change as we change. Therapy often brings issues to the surface that were already present.

16. Grieving is a part of our healing process as we say goodbye to parts of ourselves.

From _Triumph over Darkness_ by Wendy Ann Wood, M.A.
copyright Wendy Ann Wood 1993

They are survivors. If you don’t have respect
for their strength you can’t be of any help. It’s
a privilege that they let you in – there’s no
reason they should trust you – none. You can’t
know their terror – it’s your worst nightmare
come true – a nightmare from which you never
awaken. It’s unrelenting. There has been no
safety – no one, no time, no place, no thing –
All was tainted. Hope was obliterated – time
and time again. That they are in your office or home
is in itself a supreme act of valor.

3 Responses to What the Survivor needs to tell you.

  1. AvatarRose says:

    Point 10. As a child/teen, some of us wouldn’t have even known that we could tell. It’s not that we feared telling – it’s that we were oblivious to the idea that we could tell someone. If you have been convinced that your upbringing is perfectly normal and you’ve developed a mountain of coping strategies, then why would you have a need to tell? Our suffering is in silence and besides, if your own abusive parents couldn’t help you, then surely nothing is wrong and you’re the cause in any case. You have no idea what ‘normal’ looks like as you have had no point of reference.

  2. AvatarAndrew says:

    7) so many have told me how strong I really am. It’s true, I am stronger that you could ever imagine…how else could I have looked like I was normal?

    13) Why do you think you have the right to know???

  3. AvatarDebbie says:

    I have found that the strength I portray to others is actually a hindrance, because they think I’m ok, that I’m strong. When I show my weakness, people run, they don’t know how to handle it, I can’t win, so I remain alone.

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