I have read some heart rending stories here about abuse. Some have commented on their recovery, but many have not. I am very interested as to what helped you get over a terrible experience. I think your testimony could help those who have not yet recovered.
Abuse survivers - how did you recover?
Larc - hon, I believe 'recovered' is too strong a word. Anyone who has gone through abuse lives with it for the rest of their lives. (hence my thread on triggers - "Please..")
What DID help me was alot of reading, and putting myself in the hospital where I had a safe place to let it all out. I was a cutter. My second husband was absolutely wonderful about it and supported me through too many long nights to count.
Support, validation, respect and patience. A listening ear who cares. Learning how to feel, to get angry and then to get angry without distruction. Learning to cry. Learning that you ARE a good person and WHY. Learning to take care of yourself vs neglecting needs: physical, emotional and spiritual. Learning to reach out.
These days I am treated for depression and anxiety. (my fight or flight response got stuck 'on' due to the past) I also have alot of pain. I still cannot sleep most nights.
It's an ongoing process that you deal with layer by layer by layer and day in and day out. One never 'gets over' it. And I drew a line in the proverbial sand - I will not give up. (there are many days I would like to) But I will not put my girls through that. I want to make a difference, not just repeat the same ol crap. That's the driving force behind my growth - making a difference, a postive one.
ps: I wish abuse survivors got paid by the hour for the inner work they must do!
Edited by - Mimilly on 15 August 2002 9:56:33
Mim, thank you for your very candid response. Your comments lead me to another question. You found a man who was kind and sympathetic. My question for you and others is, how did your being abused as a child affect your relationship with men? Here, I am assuming that most suffering from abuse as a child are women who were abused by men.
Recovery? Most hinges on the character of the individaul and the degree and length of abuse. Every experience will differ as can be attested by some committing suicide.
It's knowing how to cope with it. I've carried mine since the age of seven and I am now 61 years young. Only in the past five years have I been on the road to recovery. How and why I stated so late? NO HELP from anyone, self-help. I knew I had a serious problem but I couldn't put my finger on it. When I did, it was a matter of time and continued persistence to stay on the 'positive' road. I will leave it at that.
Larc - this is totally different for each abused individual. I had a man (at the time) who was incredibly supportive, did research etc. He proved that not all men are scum.
When I was having flashbacks, I could not tell him from my father. I had to learn that he was NOT my father.
My mother is a man-basher from the word go due to being severely beaten for 25 years. I didn't want to turn out with her hatred. Not only did I want to change regarding what my father did to me, I also wanted to change some of the attitudes my mother taught me. I, therefor, have taken to seeing people as individuals, and this helps tremendously. No comparisons.
The result is that I love men - I don't hate them. Hating takes up way too much of my energy and I need every bit of wattage I can muster.
I was also abused by a woman - not my mother. I realized early on that individuals abuse - not a generalization of peoples or gender.
I hope this answers your question. I can only speak for myself.
How does this affect your relationship with men?
I endured a lot of physical abuse and even more mental abuse at the hands of my father. He was also very mentally abusive to my mother as well, to the point where she had a four-year depression bender on the living room couch. But on the outside we were the "coolest" JW family. People wonder why I'm not spoiled as an only child. This is why. I was literally tortured off and on for years. It affected my schoolwork, my friends (what friends?), everything. When I reached my mid-teens I started to fight back. My father and I would beat each other senseless in the front yard.
In my late teens, I was in a relationship with a brother for a couple of months. My parents loved him but I ended it right away - I just wasn't interested. He kept hanging around with my family though. It was just like hanging out with dad, except this guy was 6'2' and a military man before he found the "truth". I was no match. But deep down the beatings were pleasantly familiar. It was obvious to the congregation what was going on, I even talked to the elders a couple of times, but people just let me talk. One day a sister was visiting and staying with my mom and walked in on a "beating session". When I saw her face everything became clear. I ran away to Ireland to get away from everyone. I told the congregation I was serving where the need was great but, truth be told, I needed to go as far away as possible.
It was tough dealing with men after that. I even have had issues with sexuality and sexual preference. But fortunately I broke the cycle. I'm married to a calm sincere British guy who has also escaped the terrors of growing up in the organization. I have never been hit or abused since. But the pain and memories will always be there. You just can't let them consume you. I just sort of put them to the side of me, not forgetting them, and not living entrenched in them.
I went through a group counsellling that was only for about a month. I recognized alot of characteristics in myself that was manifest in others...like the fight or flight response mentioned by Mimilly. It's easier to see traits in others you miss in yourself. I also saw a pattern that I was putting all men in a category that was safe. I figured each one out, put them in a place where I was in control and left it there. But the ones who were outstanding friends brought down that wall. The ones who saw me on the inside and stood by me no matter what. That didn't fit the little category I had set up.
One of my molesters was my father. Due to that, I could not pray to a heavenly father. Then the trust issues come up you don't have with non-family perpetrators. 20 years later I trust almost no one and always cover my back. I can count my friends on one hand, although alot of people count me as theirs. It is very lonely but I found a very caring man also who went through physical abuse by his parents and we just force ourselves to keep the walls down.
Now I find myself with a little peace. If you don't pass it back you pass it on so I wrote letters to everyone I felt was accountable and let 'em have it. Then the rest I packed in a back corner of my brain in a locked box that I can pull out when I need it but it can't control me. I spend my time helping others which helps me.
Past that, I don't know if you ever really move on. You just draw the line between victim and survivor and go from there.
talk therapy - with a psychiatrist.