Why We Keep Bringing It Up...an Essay

So…dragonofjapan said something: “Yes, you were abused, but what are you going to do about it right now?”
So I was thinking about that.
What a lot of abuse survivors do…appears like wallowing. In some cases, it may actually be wallowing…but for most of us…

What it is necessary to do seems counter-intuitive. In order to become a whole person, we have to examine the past in detail. We have to be heard by others. We have to have the feelings we could not allow while we were busy surviving a life-and-death situation. We usually have to fight programming that continually tells us we are worthless; that programming never seems to go away entirely in many cases.
To survive, we had to shut off our emotions, you see, and while that kept us from feeling precisely how abandoned and in danger we were at the time of the abuse…the emotions will remain shut off. In many cases, this leads to profound depression and suicidal thoughts. Too, there are specific brain changes associated with PTSD. Metabolic brain errors are induced by trauma.

( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231153341.htm )

So to some degree, those of us who’ve had this kind of damage are never going to be what we could have been without it…and we have to come to a place of acceptance with that.

Our parents basically showed us by their actions, and in most case told us, that we were pretty worthless. Typically there was not a sane reward/punishment system, so we never knew what was going to get the crap knocked out of us. Learned helplessness ensued. We’ve been programmed from a young age that we can’t stop people who were supposed to love us…from hurting us so profoundly many of us want to die. So we have to disassemble…programming that was screamed or beaten or molested or raped into us, and furthermore, the programming was done while our brains were still growing.

I understand some people are able to get over the programming. I suspect I personally am always going to have the random nasty thoughts: you’ll never get that right, you’re worthless, stupid, you can’t do anything right, you’re disgusting, you should just kill yourself now and save everyone from the filth you are.
Fighting the thoughts is just something I have to keep doing.

We really need to hear, like a scratched CD, over and over and over, it was not your fault, you didn’t deserve that, that was crazy, who would do that to a child? Things like that, we really do need to hear them over and over…And I’m sure this looks ridiculous to the non-survivors…When you’re a child and the people you NEED to trust are putting your life at risk...the usual rationalization a small child comes up with is punishment.
“I am bad, this is why mommy whipped me with an electrical cord.” “I was bad, so daddy punched me in the mouth.”
We almost universally blame ourselves for what our out-of-control parents did.
Too, we associate love and trust with being tortured. Some of us seek out relationships that feel familiar. Some of us avoid relationships at all. Some of us are terrified by emotional closeness and do our best to run people off or run away from them. Those of us who have a lack of insight and a dearth of empathy, sadly, may be the ones who take the cycle on another generation.

We need to feel our feelings. We need to cry the tears and scream the outrage that could have gotten us killed. Don’t think it could not have happened in many of our cases. It’s not terrifically hard for someone who’s twice your size to hit you just a little too hard, or knock you into something and accidentally kill you. My dad’s sexual abuse gave me a bladder infection that put me in the hospital, so that sort of thing can happen too-kids’ bodies are really easily damaged.
As adults we run around with canned rage, sadness, terror, and loneliness…and have to slowly work through the feelings…and how they affect our current personality. There are a lot of alcoholics and drug addicts who have resorted to substances that can kill them to avoid feeling the agony that child abuse survivors feel. There are people driven to suicide by this stuff.
So many of us are told things like: “Oh, that’s in the past.” “Why worry about that now?” “Just forgive and forget.” “Get over it!” Well, if we’re having flashbacks…it’s as if it’s happening…right now. But even if we are not having flashbacks at the time, this stuff can often cast a lifelong shadow over our lives.
There’s potential that’s been shaved off our lives, years we will not get back, time and energy spent in healing from the abuse, time and energy spent running away from the abuse mentally, things in our lives we messed up because we did not have our head on straight, relationships that got damaged or destroyed, interior misery we suffered, self-hatred we didn’t deserve, damage we’ve done to our bodies and minds because we hated ourselves and wanted to die.

…So, that’s why we keep talking about this stuff. By talking about it we ARE trying to put it behind us.
Putting abuse behind us does not happen by clicking our heels together three times and saying, "There's no place like sanity, there's no place like sanity."

Feel free to add anything I left out in that litany as a comment.
hylierandom hylierandom
53 Responses Jan 20, 2012

Beautifully written. Helped me so much. Thank you

"Some of us avoid relationships at all."


That's what I do.

If I may say so, you are a gem. Really liked your post. Please hang on.

...Major depression, anxiety...the usual, but severe.
I take a pill buffet these days...O.o
I'm glad you're still here too.

With your permission I would like to share this privately with a very special someone who shared childhood with me.

Thank you for your insightful thoughts.

Please feel free to recopy, helping people's always good.

This post is inspiring. A close friend of mine suffered horrific abuse as a child and is working incredibly hard to resolve it as she builds her own life.

Your post helps me understand her far better, perhaps enabling me to be of more help to her.

Thank you for your honesty

Excellent post! Pretty much describes how I feel and what I am going through. I am desperately trying to work through my past and reading this reminded me that I am moving in the right direction!

Thanks again!

I'm always so relieved when someone shows that they know what they are talking about when it comes to childhood abuse. Thanks for the post.

Stick with us and you'll be wearing horse turds as big as diamonds! -- Willie Nelson. We are here for ourselves and each other. If it helps you, it helps me. Thank you.

Thanks for writing this. I was ready... I got something from it

I'm glad. :)

You probably won't be free of random flashback s - I get them too - but if you are lucky enough to be able to correct current behaviour it will all be in the past - and the flashbacks will actually become a comforting measure of how far you've come

I still don't remember most of it...When I do remember, it's more abreaction than flashback...Which, at least I get to feel horrible about it for a while, but then it's over. So not the same stuff over and over.

I think I'm familiar with...

Yeah people can be awesome or they can be awful and gross. I posted about being molested by my crazy stalker brother and a troll kept insisting that I just had sex with my brother, he'd stop acting so nuts.

YUCK! Dude, some people on here are just creepy!
I hope you reported that bast@rd.

I was emotionally abused when I was young but not anywhere near this kind of magnitude.... I was being trained to act like it, but I was blessed by a loss that taught me the path I was on would lead to lots of loneliness and guilt and turned myself around. I'm nowhere near qualified to claim any camaraderie here, but I have to say: Are you serious? People really ARE so ignorant?

"Are you serious? People really ARE so ignorant?"
*Nods* Yes.
Though for a number of them, the ignorance is more than just ignorance...they themselves have stuff they are trying to "just get over...it wasn't THAT bad, that's just part of life"...Et cetera.

Yes Hylie; so true. I think that, somewhere in their minds, there is a notion that, if only they can convince you, then that would make it easier for them to come to believe it for themselves. Its a shame, because it can be so harmful to someone who doesn't understand the underlying motive. Thanks...

The comments here and the original post have helped me to understand the other voices reinforcing both sides of me; one side saying I'm ok and the other saying that I'm still worthless and don't belong.

They have helped to explain the lashing out for no apparent reason and the panic attacks that come during an otherwise stress free time.

My wife could not understand how, when I was near to death a few months ago, I could so easily accept that I was probably going to die. She thought I was suicidal, and the hospital staff put me on "bed alarm." One of the voices was strongly saying "Had you died when they tried to kill you you'd haved everyone a lot of trouble. Now go ahead and die now and stop breathing everyone else's air."

**** oh Dear! There are no words better spoken or written! Too bad we are screaming them at our cellmates in the Bedlam that is our experience. The two proclamations, "God sure ****** up when he made you," and " God doesn't make junk, " leave me wondering "Who made ME, then?" Backhand or forehand slap, fist to the face, boot to the shins, cook7ng spoon to the head, ad finitum have drilled into my head that, yes, God certainly does mistakes, and you are it. Relationships job failure, and self worth are the price WE paid for the abuse THEY laid on us.

"Too bad we are screaming them at our cellmates in the Bedlam that is our experience."
True, we're usually preaching to the choir.
...OTOH, by my age, most folks have had sorrowful things happen.
So are more likely to understand, I think. Not always.

I don't understand OTOH. I found your post by accident (or was it providence?) I loved what you said in the original post. I want to share it with my brother who is having a worse time of it than I am. Those who are not survivors (are any of us REALLY survivors?) will never get it, and even several who are don't either. I just ended a relationship with a boss who had been abused as a child and he continually exhibited the very behavior that his mother had dumped on him. Talk about a dynamic situation! Me? A survivor? I'm not sure yet. Possibly, when they finally throw dirt in on top of my remains, I will be able to rest. I don't know.

OTOH= on the other hand, sorry to use text-speak.

...We tend to re-enact the abuse in various ways. The way to stop doing that (and usually sabotaging ourselves by so doing) is, first, to become aware that we are re-enacting.

Mostly that means re-processing the trauma.

I had six months of couch time back in the early 80's. Now I'm supposed to reanalyze all that and try to redefine myself? I'm too old to reinvent myself. I'll just entertain myself for the rest of my life trying to figure out the difference between "Get over it" and "God don't make trash." Oh! and I'm supposed to figure out techspeak at the same time. Got it!

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This is such an insightful post, Hylie. It is an excellent example of the hard "disassembling" it takes to find yourself amongst the ruins. For all the experts expounding on the importance of shaping the young mind, there are people stealing that from a child.
"Get over it and move on," is fine for a bad employer or obnoxious friend. But not possible when your innocence and trust has been destroyed by people who should have loved you unconditionally.

I recently saw how this process of disassembly worked with someone close. I met my friend in a treatment center, we were roommates for a month. As her body and mind became healthier, something strange happened. She started having debilitating panic attacks. They would come in the evening, always around the same time. After a week, we discovered the trigger was a TV show another woman was always watching, Criminal Minds. With some serious work with her therapist, she finally recounted the day her mother shot her father. She shot him right in front of her, when she was a young child. Her father survived, but here is the unbelievable part...no one EVER talked about this incident. EVER. None of her siblings, extended family, no one. Her mother was, and still is, extremely verbally abusive and mentally ill. My dear friend had "learned" to take the abuse for fear of upsetting her mother. As her therapy continued, she tried to talk with her siblings about the incident. They refused. As did her mother's sisters. Seems like everyone adopted the "get over it" method of therapy. My friend is slowly getting better. I am in awe of her strength. Undoing 40+ years of darkness and fear is hard work.

I also admire you, Hylie, for taking on this journey. It has to be very scary at times.

well...I found other people in my head...so that's both confusing, overwhelming, and ...oddly funny.

Like DID?

DID-NOS, because it's not *exactly* the classical description of DID, but I'm/we are fairly close.


The "elephant in the room?" My siblings and I have breakfast together once a month in hope of healing some of those old wounds. We talk of everything BUT the old wounds and everyone keeps looking at their watch or cellphone for the prescribed hour of agony to be over. It will only be "over" when they carry my corpse away.

Too bad that elephant doesn't start talking, Casualwear. They say an elephant never forgets.

So, what is the "oddly funny" part, Hylie? I'm not trying to make light of your struggle. I have just found when dealing with my own demons, sometimes my sense of humor and the absurd was all I had left.

Well...one funny thing? I was first suspecting I was DID, and I was texting someone. I typed out "I don't think I have DID," and a voice in my head shouted "YES YOU DO!"

The military use disassembly in basic training in an effort to rebuild recruits into what they are supposed to be insteasd of what they were made to be...in other words turning a "soup sandwich" into a Dagwood.

Some of us were/are too badly damaged and could not be rebuilt.

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Thank you so very much for this. Sometimes I forget it's not my fault for being so messed up.

I get mad at myself sometimes too. I WANT TO BE OVER IT!!!
Not bloody fair...
I started getting more memories back in 2011, and am meeting the other people in my head that it took to deal with this garbage I/we went through.

Personally, I think we will never be completely over it. We will heal, leave most of it behind, but there are some scars we keep carrying around with us no matter how much we want to leave them behind. But I think that\'s okay, as long as we learn to live with them and they stop disabling us.
Be gentle with yourself. It was not your fault. You dealt with it as best as you could. And you were brave, and that\'s why you\'re still here, fighting it. And it will get better, just don\'t give up on yourself and don\'t give into that voice telling you you\'re not worth it, because you are.

...That voice in my head belongs to a 7-year old.
It seemed to really help when I figured out that negative voice is coming from a child...because I now am able to take her less seriously.

Maybe not taking her seriously is not quite the best approach. She could get even more upset. Maybe try listening to what she's telling you. It is part of you, after all... Maybe she just needs to hear she is worth it too.
I know it's not schizophrenia, what you have, but I will give you this link because I loved the way this woman talked about her illness and maybe it will help you. http://www.upworthy.com/what-s-schizophrenia-like-a-woman-who-hears-voices-explains-it-beautifully-2?c=ufb1

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Thank you for bringing some thing useful to this website.

I want to note here that I just deleted a comment I flagged earlier. It was probably triggery to some here...Not the latter for me though. I just found it disgusting, as I'm sure the poster who wrote it is...even if it was a troll.

Ugh. Trolling is just so wrong. I never saw the comment but I can imagine. I've run into trolls that are just trying to stir things up for fun... I met one once years ago that posted a comment to a gaming forum in reply to a regular questioning her SO's reliability in a thread where she set the topic to being her apprehensions about a surprise pregnancy. I was chatting with her on IRC when she saw it... Poor thing completely flipped her lid. I went to the forum and posted a complaint to the mod and replied to the troll telling him he's meddling with a real human being with real feelings... He showed no remorse at all, citing it was hypothetical and he's just playing Devil's Advocate and so on.... This particular troll was known for doing this stuff. Meanwhile I and a few other buddies had to calm the girl down and reassure her. The forum mod took no action, not even to reply... And he's extremely active on the boards. I left the forum in disgust.

You did the right thing.

It doesn't bother me much, but other people are a LOT more triggery...I've sort of mentally cauterized myself in that respect and OHHH!
I was desensitizing myself to my own abuse by reading the stories of others!
So THAT's what I was doing by reading all the abuse stories! It was sort of a compulsive thing for a while, reading other people's stories.

Now I find it damned useful, people can tell me about the horrible sh!t they've been through and I won't flinch.
People need to talk about it to fix it, and so I'm very much able to help others now. This is a very good thing.

It's hard to rewire the neuronal circuitry in our brains. Studies show that PTSD which all child abuse and rape survivors have cannot be managed by meds alone. A combination of CBT and/or psychotherapy coupled with daily yoga (group practice) will rewire your brain such that how you perceive and experience the world will change to allow for happiness.

Otherwise we constantly repeat our experiences (repetition compulsion) and then have a tendency to "drone" about it. It was helpful to me to write a letter to the child I was before my abuse to reassert that all that happened to me was not my fault or my choice. And then to acknowledge that now as an adult I do have choices. And that my life is the sum of my choices. As a child that was not the case. Big hug to all survivors.

What I found helpful was to not only write a letter to my younger self, but also write a letter to my abuser, getting out all the negative, angry thoughts and feelings that I had never had an opportunity to express to them. Then, I wrote a letter from my abuser replying to my letter. The woman who was leading the exercise (this was in group therapy) said to write the response as if they finally realized every awful thing that they had done to you, every cruel word, every negative belief that they instilled in you, and to have them acknowledge all of this in the letter and apologize how you would like them to. Basically, you write down (from them to you) everything that you've always wished they would say to try to make up for what they did to you.
It's an activity that's impossible to do without tears streaming down your face, but it's so incredibly powerful to start to be able to move on.

I might try...something similar.
I can't even think like my dad. I don't get a charge out of hurting people.

I know what you mean. The key isn't to try to empathize, or put yourself in their shoes and write a letter as them, but more to write a letter that you would like to receive from them where they acknowledge what they did to you and apologize for it, if that makes sense.
Hope this helps. :)

MarquiseDelirium, my mother told me to stop having 'pity parties.' It even took me a long time to explain things to a therapist of mine who has worked with both the abused and the abusers. In the end it came down to another client trying to explain the same thing to him for him to clue into the fact that he wasn't helping. He even said to me 'you make yourself depressed'... so I dissociated ALL my emotions.

Until he unlocked them by saying that he was proud of me. That's when I started to have a lot of problems. Again. Last year my psychiatrist was frustrated with my answers to his questions that he told me to answer his questions or to leave. I left. Apparently, answering his questions with answers which implied that I was going to kill myself wasn't what he needed to know.

Last night I came to the conclusion. Adults are NOT safe. Children are safe; Adults are not. Which actually is dangerous for CHILDREN. I AM a danger to children. At least I haven't harmed a child, yet. I don't want to hurt anyone. I dislike causing pain.

I can't trust my therapists. I have no choice but to find others. They hurt me. I am at fault. I'm not worth their time. Yet finding a therapist is like finding a renovation company. It takes a long time, usually longer than the job is supposed to take, and when you're hurt... the time takes a toll on you. I hurt. I avoid Pain. Death is an escape of the Pain. I am selfish for wanting to DIE.

I am BAD. I am STARVING myself to death. I am committing suicide in a passive way. That way I am not selfish.

I keep telling you you aren't bad, you keep not believing me. Not eating is making your depression worse. No, adults aren't safe...but not trusting some adults is a good way to make yourself insane.

I agree, our mental health system is almost as screwed up as the perps who sent us there. It is hard to find a "good" one. I have been in therapy off and on for 23 years and have been through some quacks to get where I am. Are you in a large city? If you are willing to travel to get to a good one that might help. You can go online to get recommendations too, also through your insurance company. I wish you the best, we need you here healthy because judging by your writing you are meant to do something profound for someone in this world. You just haven't found it yet! You are NOT BAD! It's your experiences that have led you to believe that!

The comment was directed to you in response to your comment below my comment thread.

I know I am not evil. I am not bad. I am changing.

And I joined this 'project' for the sole purpose of writing out my thoughts and pain where I won't get hurt by others. Where I can get feedback from total strangers who I trust because I don't know them! Internet is useful... yet a tool can turn into a danger just as easily as adults do.

Uh-uh Alustrial. That comment was directed and meant for YOU. You are worthy, have meaning, and can break through this. You are meant to do something profound for someone in this world. You just haven't found it yet! You will find it, it will come when you least expect it. It will come AFTER you have done all of this hard work they call "recovery" or "therapy". And it is hard work. Also, do you think you are bad or feel bad because of the choices you make? I want you to know that we have all made these "bad" choices because being in "trouble" or choosing to be around dysfunctional people is what we do because it feels familiar.

"Wow...I can't believe that there ARE people who tell you to just get over it. I seriously never thought humanity could sink any lower than it already has. Abuse survivors aren't wallowing, they are speaking up after being unheard for so long. So after being silent for say...18 years of torture out of fear that WE allowed to be planted in them, we want them to shut up when they are free to talk out it so they don't ruin our bubble baths and champagne made of gold?
Good job writing this letter...you should publish it somewhere. Spread awareness."

I showed evidence that there are wosre... that therapists can be worse.

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I'm crying too. I also want to clap, lol. Bravo. What an awesome, well written letter to all the "just get over it, it's in the past" judgers who obviously have no clue what it's like to live with these skeletons in their closet.

Thank you for writing this, and doing it so well!

Thank you. :)

I cried when I read this, you summed up exactly how I feel and no one does or will understand around me.
I keep everything hidden but I get flashbacks, but haven't ever told anyone of my experiences.
I believe my childhood had a very negative impact, and as an adult I am very childlike with certain aspects of my life. I want to get past this, but every now and then I have bad relapses. I constantly have suicidal thoughts and I hate being left out of a joke incase the joke is about me.
Thank you for making me see that I am not alone, and I can deal with this.
I'm new here but wish I'd looked at forums like this a long time ago

Brilliant way of putting it im 32 i wish i had over found these online support groups along time ago.... i am in the beginning of my healing process im currently journaling and reading and responding to our community who ever where ever we r we understand how eachother feel united we stand im thankful for that

I know you've had tons of similar responses to this writing but I still wanted to post something. I have just begun the healing process after reading some books and realizing that I have repressed memories of childhood abuse, to the extent that I don't remember a good chunk of my childhood (from about age 5 to 12). I am frustrated by the fact that I can't remember anything at all about what happened to me (although deep down my gut tells me that I was sexually abused by my father or that it at least had something to do with my dad). Although I am terrified of the flashbacks that might come and finding out a truth that I have repressed for so long, I feel as though I can't move forward and know who I am until I do. I live with my boyfriend and although he is amazing and loving and giving in so many ways, he just doesn't understand why I feel so sad and worthless all the time and why I am "dwelling" on this new discovery instead of just moving forward and "just be happy". I am actually going to make him read your story because I think you have explained it so perfectly. Also, it is wonderful to hear that someone else is having the same feelings and problems as me and it is further evidence that I am not crazy or making it up; I was abused, even if I do remember it. It affects every aspect of my life and explains so much of my personality and behavior over the years. Anyway, I really just want to say thank you for putting into words what I couldn't and for sharing your story with me. Feel free to email me anytime if you need someone to talk to. Stay strong, you're a survivor and will continue to survive!

I can relate to every word you wrote, I to, am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and it has ruined my life, to say the least. I can't talk to anyone about it. All they can say is "leave it in the past" these are very harsh words for us, the survivors, to understand, for the past continues to haunt us for our entire life. My life has been filled with sadness, anger and severe depression. I have lived my whole life coping with this that it has ruined everything I've touched. I suffered through my childhood and teenage years and it trickled over to my children and relationships. I still have flashbacks of what happened to me, such a long time ago. To me it seems like it was yesterday. Not a day goes by that I don't relive it. I am 58 now, and feel that my whole life has been wasted on coping. Not to mention the problems I have encountered since I started speaking about it. My family believes me, but feel I should leave it in the past. That is something I am not capable of doing. I would love to find a group with whom I can share all my feelings with, without feeling like I'm trying to make trouble for the family. God bless us all!

I would love to find a group also. For me I spent half of my adult hood years trying to piece together who I was and what happened to me. All I could remember were images of a few individuals and what their title was to me. I could remember nothing about anyone once I was finally gone from them and fee. My brain was worse than Swiss cheese. I have worked hard over the years and now instead of amnesia I can say I have some Swiss Cheese holes in my closet. Better, but some days I wonder why I thought I needed to know so bad.

I completely understand, sosad, the sense of energy drain from coping. I feel that all my intelligence and energy has been used up in just trying to keep my wits about me, preserve a place that knows my sense of injustice is accurate, and fight against those present who endured much of the same and have tried to tell me either it didn't happen, it wasn't so bad, or I am fundamentally wrong and ignorable.

You explained this so well!


You are very welcome. It honestly inspired me to start talking more! Thanks!

This was awesomely worded, factual and so accurately to the point.

:) thank you.

This is a beautifully written and insightful essay. It's very gentle.

I feel as if you've taken my hand in yours and used your voice to explain what it looks like inside of me.

It's the kindest reflection I've ever seen.

thank you.

I ...... wanna try
I wanna cry
but that's pointless
I mean ...... I will fight

<p>ptsd is very real,as an abuse survivor,people need to realize not only were we abused as children,which involves beatings with belts cords tree branches etc,there were daily if not several times a day hard smacks across the face,insults,name calling,being told your useless,military style excercises,such as being forced to run in circles during a thunderstorm,(i was shocked when i learned other abusive fathers did military style training abuse as well)along with being abused comes having your parents fighting everyday (but usually its the agressor raging, as my poor mom tried desperately to keep the peace,he didnt only hit us but he whipped things at us as well,hes broken a whole china cabinet full of dishes,that is one of my ptsd triggers,the sound of dishes crashing,broke my mothers glass coffee table,threw a huge ashtray at my mother and missed, hitting my sister square in the chin ,and there was blood everywhere.My dad once picked up a large frying pan full of frying porkchops and whipped it at us but burned his entire back,and we heared him screaming in agony,that was meant for us kids,he would have burned us alive if it landed on us as we were small kids then.Alot of abuse survivors get bullied at school daily,not only by students but by teachers as well,because we are very seldom the teachers pet,so life is a living hell,homes not safe and schools not safe,so simply telling us to get over it,thats not the answer,and no i dont wallow in my sorrows,but family get togethers become ,lets relive the abuse and argue over who got it worse. thankyou for your article i can relate</p>Oh and for those of us girls who were not sexually abused or raped by our abusive fathers,mine would say very demeaning things to me like,grow up and act your age you got a moustache gowing,and he wasnt talking about my face,same as smarten up dont be so immature you have oranges now.so people wonder why im messed up.and to the successful abuse survivors with no issues congratulations is all i can say

There is actually a LOT of evidence for what you wrote, " In order to become a whole person, we have to examine the past in detail. We have to be heard by others". some call it narrative therapy, but there are other names. Through telling your story and being heard you actually gain a sense of power over your story, this is empowering and assists healing. Congratulations on figuring that out.

I'll be honest: I'm not a survivor and I know I will never fully understand what survivors have gone through, but I don't think forgetting is useful. This is your past. This is part of what made you into the person you are today. This history is yours to take command of and remember. Remember how you felt, or how you didn't feel, and talk about it. If I have every right to talk about what happened when I was younger, so do you (and you even more so, for your stories educate people).<br />
I hope I wasn't out of place in writing this. <br />
Take care.


I am in the experience group: "I don't like being told to just get over past abuses" I've given a lot of thought to this topic. I deleted a friend from Facebook because of arguments over this topic, amazingly they were a friend I'd added because they shared similarities with me and had been given incestuous abuse, but then they continually attacked me and tried to invalidate me, so I decided "I don't need to put up with this".<br />
<br />
However when I first realised my mother was the one who had given me the ******, I felt the need to tell people. I think it was that I found it hard to believe myself, and by telling it I gradually made it more real to me. The people I told couldn't handle it, and invariably tried to tell me it was in the past and to move on. My husband and older daughter especially found it hard, and wanted to do anything to stop me talking about it. Partly they didn't believe it, as I didn't have proper memories, and they kept quoting research about false memories etc. Partly they were too horrified and it gave them too much anxiety to think about if it was true. And partly they worried I was going psychotic.<br />
<br />
I agree with all you've said. It's necessary to firstly make it more real to us, to lower the wall between us and our dissociated selves, to allow us to ease into being willing to know the truth. Then we we start getting flashbacks or body memories to process them, I feel we have to speak it out loud to feel it properly. Sometimes I can feel the little girls feelings during flashbacks, but I only feel the grief and anger when I tell it to someone else.<br />
<br />
However I realise there are limits to what other people will hear. So I have sought out other people who share the same/similar feelings to tell it to. Telling my feelings to those who actually understand them is even better, it's more validating and I can get anger told without a negative response. Before I found such support groups I made angry jokes about "Barbara" (not-mother) with my brother. If we were overheard by my family they were shocked, the anger was so intense and violent. My brother would say something to do with arsen or explosives, or I would say something about gangrenous anus cancer. (It's just feelings, not intent.)<br />
<br />
Sorry I need to learn to edit! Hah!

I was "molested" by the old man who lived next door, but I liked it. So did my playmate. I went online to find others to see if they felt the same way. There were plenty who liked it so much that they meet and role play so they can experience it all over again. They have normal lives with kids and the dog and house in suburbia. But they secretly get together and play. One girl said she always thought it felt so good when her uncle picked her up and carried her and when she grew up she realized it was because he was fingering her while he walked. One man said a man taught him to play "cows" and he liked it when he was naked on all fours and the man would "milk" him. Sometimes the man would just crawl under him and "drink out the faucet".

There's no right or wrong way to feel about this. There are lots of people who totally enjoy...being abused by an adult, or a much older child... However, from what I have seen in those who were abused prepubertally via stimulation...is that a number of them seem to become ravenously sexual as they get older. I have a friend I talk to...was abused all her life. She masturbates compulsively, to the point of pain and injury. I went through a period of hypersexuality myself, and it wasn't good, it wasn't healthy, it was using others the way I'd use a joint or a sixpack...to temporarily numb things. Even if it felt good...you were introduced to sex on an adult's timetable and not in your best interest. Personally, I like pain during sex. I also self-injure. When my dad raped me he was simultaneously hurting me and comforting me through touch. Now pain is comforting and I have an interesting collection of old and new scars, plus fear of anyone whom I really care for. Was what he did in my best interest? Was it good for me?

Oh, and forgot to add, agoraphobia, panic attacks and a dissociative disorder, all varying in symptoms depending on what kind of day I am having.

Not all abuses are equally bad in the effect they have on the child. If the child is never hurt physically, never has their trust broken, never has to lie or keep it secret, never has to feel guilt or shame, then they may not have any bad feelings until they do look back as adults and realise what it really was. Then they may have some shame about liking it, or about having a secret fetish based on the abuse. These are lesser bad effects, thoughnI still see them as bad feeling, only milder ones that aren't traumatising.

@ CTS-did not see this before...I'm sorry you have to go through this. I wish you the best.

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I appreciate where you are coming from but Ill share a different perspective. My therapist told me that people get "stuck" in their stories. We tell them over and over again (like my abandonment story) but we arent even really digging into it and examining it, we are just repeating it robotically. She said that we get caught up in believing that our history (our story) is WHO we are and she says that isnt true. We are more than our stories and we do ourselves a great disservice by trying to sort out who we are ba<x>sed on the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Which is cyclical. You cant go anywhere by examining it to death. You will never understand why your family is screwed up. You will never fully comprehend the whys and it doesnt matter why at a certain point. Your job is to take yourself, as you are right now, and try to accept that person and care for that person and make good choices for that person. I know its not that easy but i think she makes sense. sharing our stories is fine (the whole site we are on is ba<x>sed on it) but its not good to try to find meaning or worth by simply reliving your worst nightmares over and over again. I am a total hypocrite because im still stuck telling my stories too but i think she is right about it. My mom abandoning me is not WHO I AM. Its just something that happened that I had no control of. As my therapist says, "the awful things that happened to you were out of your control and they arent who you are. They didnt make you a better stronger person. You were already awesome and thats why you survived. Thats why you are here and thats why you are trying so hard to push through it. You were always a badass and those stories you tell are not the sum of who you are, they are just awful things to happened to you."

Your therapist has a good point, in one sense....the reason I keep bringing them up...is because my memories are still mostly buried landmines in my mind. Undefused landmines. Repressed, and still derailing things for me as an adult. For instance my wife hugged me in my sleep and I got to remember my dad doing something much worse to me, right then, right there, at 5 am in the morning...I have not been sleeping without a light on ever since then, and at one point had to turn all the lights on in the bedroom to sleep. I am having to desensitize myself to being in public... I'm a lifelong agoraphobic because of the two neighborhood pedoes, and so I have to keep making myself go around people to get over that...I have suicidal thoughts about once a month...in a good month...in a bad month I can spend hours trying to figure out new ways to kill myself.
I don't find any sense of...meaning or worth...dealing with these, they generally make me want to die when I get new ones. When I got the first memory of my dad raping me back, I had to be guilted out of shooting myself. I honestly wanted to be done with this stuff... and thought I was done in my 20's...then my brain said "Here ya go," and for whatever reason, I started getting a much more devastating and disgusting set of memories. Most of what my dad did is still buried, and I have no clue when it's gonna show up. On the other site I go to there are people in their 60's still getting back abuse memories. No joke.

Oh, simple reason why... They wanted to, you were there, so they did. We who aren't wired to like victimizing people...don't understand it's that simple. Your mom emotionally abused you, your brother sexually abused you...because they could.

I suppose its quite a bit different when you cant remember it all. forgive me. I did not mean to be hurtful or minimizing of your pain. I was more talking about people like me who have intact memories but cant let go of old hurts and keep rehashing. Its very different when you are still uncovering the madness.

Well...in your case, you're still trapped in the drama. Your physical safety isn't assured in your current living situation. Talking about it isn't going to do much, getting out will.

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I think this was a wonderful, soulful, truthful piece of writing. For anyone to dismiss your situation and feelings like you should be "over it" is terribly ignorant and hurtful. I didnt endure sexual abuse but my sister did, and since we're so close maybe that's why I have the empathy and compasison I do for things like this. I could not imagine asking someone what their going to do, or treating them like it was insignificant or anything other than a life altering incident when learning something like this about a person. You have every right to hear It was not your fault, You didnt deserve it, etc as many times as you need it! But - you should believe it when you hear it. Take care, thanks for sharing.

in response (and whole-hearted agreement with<br />
"Posted by UltimateWay on Mar 21st, 2012 at 2:46PM" <br />
<br />
The "simple" fact that we survived at all is a testament to our strength. Those who have not been in our shoes can never truly comprehend the depths to which we were forced to submerge in order to simply survive nor the heights to which we must climb in our efforts to heal and be whole. <br />
<br />
IT'S IN THE PAST - Yes, it is, but we are continually being reminded, either by society, friends, family and even our own minds. Sadly, very few of us actually have light switches in our brains to “turn off” the memories.<br />
<br />
LIVE IN THE MOMENT - We do. For many of us, living in the moment is STILL the only way we can manage. As much as we would like to look forward to the future, the past still sneaks up on us when we least expect it… like every other breath.<br />
<br />
FORGIVE AND FORGET - Forgiving is a continual effort for many. Forgetting would be a blessing for most.<br />
<br />
WHY WORRY ABOUT IT – Worrying about it is an after effect of what we survived. The fear is always there that perhaps we may unintentionally end up passing on the tortures and abuses that we survived. Many of us promise ourselves that we would NEVER do to our children those things that were done to us, but all to often it happens in spite of our intentions. Additionally, even the wrong word or tone of voice can trigger the “flashbacks”, but now that we are older/larger/stronger there is always the chance we could “snap” and try to defend ourselves from the “abuser”.<br />
<br />
GET OVER IT - That is what we are TRYING to do. Every day that we HAVE survived and CONTINUE to survive is proof that we are trying to get over it.<br />
<br />
As they say, “WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER”. We have experienced more horror in our childhood and survived than most will ever experience in a lifetime. That being said, we ARE moving mountains daily in our efforts to heal.

here here!

GC, you're awesome :)

10 out of 10 for the way you put what it is like to grow up with abuse. I admire you so much for your honesty and just being real. I am now going to read a fare warning and anything else you have written. I am not someone who has suffered abuse but my best friend for many yrs was and is still getting help for it with ptsd. A long and sad road with many side effects but alot of healing has taken place so far. I wish you well.

Thank you for this, you really helped me try to understand myself more.

IT’S IN THE PAST. - Of course it’s in the past! I remember it. Where the **** else is it going to be?<br />
<br />
LIVE IN THE MOMENT. - I don’t need a lecture on the subject from you. If I didn’t know how to live in the moment, I would have killed myself by the time I reached puberty.<br />
<br />
FORGIVE AND FORGET. – Forgiving is one thing. Forgetting is not feasible, when the incidents have spanned nearly 3 decades. I’ll have you know that I loved my mother dearly, in spite of all the **** she put me through.<br />
<br />
WHY WORRY ABOUT IT? – Look, it’s not as if I do it deliberately. It creeps up on me.<br />
<br />
GET OVER IT! – Post-traumatic stress syndrome is not something that you can just get over. I’m doing the best that I can with a very crappy upbringing as my mainfr<x>ame, so **** you very much!


My wife and I ended up getting in an argument because she was sighing. Sighing is a trigger for me. Why? The people who raised me and supposedly loved me would sigh exasperatedly, right before they lost it and started smacking me.

This is one of the most insightful as well as intellectual posts I have read since I have been coming here and joined EP. There's is only one thing I would like to add if that is okay with you, the one point that is missing and it causes me a lot if anger....WE HAD OUR INNOCENCE RIPPED AWAY. WE DID NOT GET A CHOICE AS TO WHEN WE WOULD HAVE OUR FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE, OR RATHER WE WOULD SAVE OUR SELVES FOR OUR WEDDING NIGHT. NO CHOICE IF OUR FIRST KISS, OR HAVING THE MEMORY OF A FIRST KISS. WE GOT CHEATED OUT OF MANY RITES OF PASSAGES THAT WE CAN NEVER GET BACK. THERE WAS NO PROM, NO SPECIAL BIRTHDAY PARTIES.....All we have known is cruelty and abuse. Our safe haven never existed, our heroes did not exist, we had to worry rather we would live to adult hood. We were never shown love, or even kindness. It's hard to read peoples memories of their happy first kiss, and their first time, and know that we should have been able to write about ours, but we have nothing that precious. People that did not have childhoods that were abusive are lucky, and they never quite understand us, it's not that we are obsessed on revenge, we just need reassurances now that are long over due.....I could continue, but I won't, and besides you done a damn fine job writing this post....Thank you...I am sorry, I hope I didn't offend you, i just wanted to add a couple points and wish I had gotten my thoughts together first.....I commend you for writing this one, it needed to be explained..........

I just didn't think about it from that angle, really. Maybe because innocent=victim to me. I was kept "innocent" of the words to describe my own victimization, and I think it was part of the reason I could not talk about it, had to repress it all. I thought my daddy was using me as a toilet.
I also have a hard time thinking of my body as worth saving for anything or anyone.

Too, my dad was sneaky... worked to keep the more extreme physical abuse, and all the sexual abuse, secret from mom. So I had the facade of a childhood, hollow and cold as an abandoned movie set.

I understand very well, I was forced to keep it a secret too, but she knew, she just didn't care....I hope I didn't offend you I wasn't trying to take over your post....It was a great post, as I said one of the best I have read concerning this topic.....

No worries.
I didn't realize I had thought of my body as such a disposable item, but I do.

Having appropriate descriptive language kept from you is interesting. The happiest time of my life was the year I spent in a foreign country. The words used to describe these awful things, and the awful thoughts and feelings associated with them, are not the words taught in beginning language courses, or the language one uses to get around on the street. It's all positive and serene.

I've often wondered if that year of respite is what made the next year back in the states so strange and disorienting. Flashbacks in bathrooms, wondering if I would get from point A to point B without forgetting where I was in the middle, anger and depression due to . . . .what seemed like nothing on the outside.

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Congratulations, and thank you so so so much. You managed to sum up everything I've been struggling to put into words so smoothly. I was abused as a younger child, both by my birth father and by the vile woman he married. I claim it didn't phase me... I even truly laugh at the memory (or what memory I have left of it)... But... I suppose it really did harm me more than I could ever anticipate. I'm socially anxious, I have a terrible phobia of relationships, and I keep everyone, even my own mother at a safe distance as to not come to any more emotional harm... <br />
<br />
But you... You know all of this. Of course, your case was different. And I'm truly, TRULY sorry it had to happen to you. In some respects, such experiences make us stronger. But I also believe they make us weaker, as well... <br />
<br />
Anyway. Sorry about the short essay on my personal thoughts. It's a bit impersonal of me to assume you're so much similar to me. But one can only hope they are not alone, right? <br />
<br />
Again. Thank you. Your words and theories are so inspiring. :) <br />
<br />
Live and Survive Well, My Friend.

Minimizing what happened is one way of slapping a lid over the damage. Yes, the experiences make us both stronger, weaker...and different from others.
My best friend pointed this out to me: We are not children anymore. Nobody can hurt us quite like we were hurt as children. Nobody can totally destroy us the way our families did. It pays to remember that.

You made me smile that you chose the word "vile" because it's the word I use to describe my hurter's abuses. Vile is evil with the "eeeeeee" at the end (she got fun out of what she did).

*applauds wildly* YES!!!!! You nailed it on the head! I hate it when people say stuff like "but you're out of there, you're safe now, so why are you obsessing over the past??" <br />
<br />
I especially appreciated what you said about conditioning. I was in my 30s before I escaped, and people don't seem to understand why "it took so long." But how do you escape if you've been brainwashed to believe you can't?<br />
<br />
Thank you so much for posting this. It's one of the best written pieces on this subject that I have read.

Thanks...brainwashing is part of it. Something more insidious is "Trauma bonding." Animals, and people apparently, respond to parental abuse by becoming MORE tightly bonded.

Well said... That's why EP is important to so many people who are trying to heal. It may take a lifetime, but living well even for a little bit of time is such a sweet reward for all of the pain and suffering. Thanks for the post. :)

Life is difficult, but ultimately satisfying.

There is no place like sanity....what a great saying...Maybe that shall be my new mantra...I agree with so much of what you wrote....for the moment my first story, I just had to vent...Thanks so much for sharing..<br />
<br />

Lots of need for that...

I don't get your point, here, Hylie. I don't know what that title is intended to mean, or to convey, but I don't think that it was meant to be a life sentence.

It seems to come up in cycles for me. "Here it comes, time to take out the trash again." I figure I'm ready to stop dealing with it at any given time when I both feel good and have gotten to the point of being bored with working on it. If I don't have rage, grief, and fear...but just boredom? I'm done.

I couldn't have expressed my<br />
emotions, feelings, thoughts over<br />
the years more clearly as I've discovered the facts behind my<br />
trouble with life and relationships.<br />
Your essay is the closest desc<x>ription I have ever read of the inner thoughts of these survivors.<br />
I thank you for your great contribution.<br />


Very well written and thank you for explained it for many since many just had the train passed by them and they can not even explained what happen to them. There is a lot of healing in writting and i have my children abuse by their father and that is so painful. i am trying to help them but I know is a lifetime commitment. Many people are not patient and are so ignorant that they need to read clearly things like you are doing here, (maybe) I suffer of depression constantly too but I have repeated constantly to myself that I am capable that I can and have separated from my family that called me denigrating names. I think that if you repeat a lie million times till is true. But in this case is not a lie. You are very capable intelligent and a great writer. I am sure there is more wonderful gifts you have and I think that you will see with time that depressions will reduce their power and I feel that I now can get depressed and like a spring in my soul I get back to fight very quickly, when before was a very long time to get out of the depressions episodes.<br />
Best wishes and keep writing is good for you and all of us. xoxoxox

You take care, I'm glad you're winning against it.

It was not your fault, you didn’t deserve that. Thank you, thank you. So well said, you put my thoughts in to words thank you. it was not your fault, you didn't deserve that. It was not my fault, I didn't deserve that.

I find it's easy to believe that of others, hard work to believe I was not at fault.

Well written. Thank you.

Glad I got it right.

Logic often fails to explain emotion, and emotional problems aren't rational, by definition. Too often, I think, people make an irrational jump from a position of not understanding a problem to one of fully understanding the solution. If someone does not understand, the logical first thing to do is to seek understanding. This isn't a public awareness of mental health issue, its an issue of critical thought, or rather the lack of it. The question, as you stated it in the OP, is loaded, and while I do believe that it needs to be answered—and you did it well—it also needs to be noted that the question was loaded—and biased.<br />
I do consider the motive and intent of people asking such questions; they may be well-intended, but they also may be ploys, or worse, used by sophists—imagine your father asking the same question.

Hmm...good points...especially that last one, athough knowing him he'd whine and make excuses for his pathetic self. Mental health issues in general are dismissed as not legitimate concerns. Example? how many diabetics get told "It's all in your pancreas, get over it!"

Oh, and that's a good point, too. State-of-the-Art psychiatry (funded by mega-corps) has it that the brain works in the opposite way from the body's other organs, holding that brain-chemistry causes stress, so if you alter the chemistry, the stress goes away. Logically, if the body worked that way, reducing the adrenalin of someone confronted by a large vicious dog would make the dog go away. Funny, huh? But this is stuff for another thread.

Oh, I meant to make the point; is it any wonder so many people think like that?

Well, if you follow the link, trauma alters brain chemistry. Also gene expression in the brain is changed, and hippocampal volume is reduced in the PTSD sufferer. ScienceDaily rocks!

I wasn't suggesting that chemical changes (even physical changes) in the brain don't occur, but that the 'solution' does not address the underlying problem; the stress caused by the (often suppressed) memories. PTS is the stress 'after' the trauma, and only hints at the stress stored away at the time the trauma occurred. I have known two psych doctors (PHDs) who told me that they believe that the only real solutions were to be found in drug therapy, and one of them was angry with me for declining drugs after my heart attack (he found my case "interesting" and wante to work with me).

Yeah...the meds...seem to set up the chemical preconditions for happiness to occur in my case. I am very strongly an organic depressive. But the meds don't MAKE me happy and they do not resolve much of anything.

They can help, tho, especially when the chaos won't allow coherent thought. I am not anti-med, but I am very pro-talk therapy.

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I think it was said-and remember, his reply was much longer than that one sentence...out of his desire to help...<br />
Look at this logically: the last time my dad had sex with me was 30 years ago, when I was 8...the last time he punched me was when I was 14. <br />
So I don't think the question is totally invalid. It gets asked a lot, and I thought a good answer ought to be supplied.<br />
But yes, talking about it IS the process of getting over it. And it's hard to explain to the non-PTSD public exactly how profound the damage is.

Right-o. I've found trying to not deal with it bites me in the butt, personally. The brain can heal itself somewhat. There's now more of a cultural willingness to face this stuff, and that helps. New treatments are coming online as we speak.

*standing and applauding* Oh, Hylie; Bravo/Brava! YOU ROCK!<br />
That question, asked by dragonofjapan, is terribly loaded; it denies that making statements about having been abused is, of itself, doing something about it, or that it can be beneficial. Its a terrible question, one born of arrogance and ignorance.

I have a PTSD workbook, the title of which is "I can't get over it!"

You just blew my mind.....SOOOO many times after sharing some of my experiences and pain the reply was "So what are you gonna do about it?" and it never EVER failed to bother me. It IS a loaded question, very dismissive, as if to say "ok find a solution and let's move on".

And that question bothers me even more, because it was the response of one of my uncles when I had confronted him about his abuse of me as a child; it was just the taunt of a bully.