The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 1

SexualHJ_03_1

Here we are again. Hello back if you’ve been following. Hello and welcome if you are new to my journey.

On yesterday’s part of the journey I realized (formally) that I have sexual issues. This was the first of four chapters of part one of the journey, which is “becoming aware”. This is the part I am still at.

Today I will look at the second chapter of “becoming aware”, which is called “acknowledging the abuse”.

The central statement of this chapter is that it’s important, but not always easy to recognize sexual encounters as having been (or being) abusive when they really were (or are). It says that the areas important to acknowledging sexual abuse are:

  1. Understanding sexual abuse.
  2. Overcoming blocks to recognize sexual abuse.
  3. Remembering sexual abuse.
  4. Telling others about the abuse.

The book deals with all of those separately and at quite some length, so it’s too overwhelming for me to work through everything at once. Therefore I’ll start with the first item on the list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Understanding sexual abuse

I know from experience that sexual abuse comes in many shades. The book confirms that and provides information on various different kinds of sexual abuse, to make it easier to recognize sexual abuse. It names and explains all those kinds of abuse, which can overlap. I’ll mark the ones that I think apply to me with an (X):

  • getting involved in sexual acts as a child with other children
  • incest (X)
  • molestation (X)
  • stranger rape
  • date or acquaintance rape (X)
  • marital rape
  • sexual assault
  • exhibitionism or exposure (X)
  • voyeurism (X)
  • obscene phone calls or e-mail massages
  • sadistic sexual abuse (X)
  • sexual exploitation (X)
  • sexual harassment
  • gender attack
  • gay bashing
  • sexual violence (X)

Phew. To be honest it gives me no little shivers to see that many X-marks there. I have a strong tendency, almost an urge, to downplay the gravity of the sexual abuse I experienced. All those X-marks don’t really agree with that, so I have a hard time not going back and erasing most of them, only leaving one or two. So maybe while I have no problems with acknowledging that I was sexually abused, I do have problems with acknowledging the seriousness of it. Ah well. That’s probably why there is a chapter that is called ‘acknowledging’. I’ll leave all X-marks and see what happens.

Anyway, the book also names four key features of sexual abuse to determine if sexual abuse took place:

a) lacking ability to consent
b) betrayal of a trusted relationship
c) violence or control
d) that you felt abused

For me, personally, those are all true. I don’t think a child can in any way consent to sexual activity with her stepfather, and I have memory snippets around from when I was very young, like three or four years old, so I wasn’t even anywhere near being able to consent. I think if someone who’s supposed to be a parent gets sexually involved with his stepdaughter that is a betrayal of a trusted relationship – except that I can’t recall ever trusting either him or my mother. I also have memories of violence and control and yes, I felt abused. At least in a certain way. I don’t know.

I grew up believing that that’s what girls are there for, period. My mom knew about it, it happened openly within the family. It wasn’t ever really hidden. That’s so sick. But it made that I didn’t feel abused, but more like I was a bad girl for not liking it. Gosh, and then it seems like I DID like it, but didn’t like it at the same time. It’s so confusing. Everything moves around in my head, this way and that, while I think, and I go from ‘I felt abused’ to ‘I never felt abused’ to ‘I hated it’ to ‘but I liked it’ to ‘crap, nothing makes sense’ within seconds. It’s all a jumble and it feels like crap and makes all those conflicting sexual thoughts come up. In one moment I feel like if somebody wanted to fuck me right now, I’d want it too, and the next I feel awful and want nothing to do with it. 😦

Sigh. But I guess the bottom line is that I can probably safely say that I have been sexually abused. And probably a lot more than I want to acknowledge. Acknowledging that seems like a first good step for today. The rest is probably still riddled with blocks. At least it feels that way. And I will look at the blocks, too, I promise. Tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Missed the past episodes of the journey? Here they are:

A project for 2013
The Sexual Healing Journey Begins, Chapter 1
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 2

 

Book source:
MALTZ, Wendy (2012): The Sexual Healing Journey. A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse; Third Edition; Harper Collins. New York.

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21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vwoopvwoop
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 18:38:13

    this is a tough step. those four features to determine if sexual abuse took place are really eye-opening. considering those things, it really cuts through the denial of past situations. like, if these things are true then i need to accept that making excuses for what happened isn’t fair to me, i need to re-evaluate.

    thank you for sharing and continuing to share this journey. 🙂

    • Lola
      Jan 03, 2013 @ 19:53:19

      Thank you for the comment! And you’re welcome! 🙂 I found it quite a tough step as well, but I came through okay. So that’s good. It’s funny you mention denial. I wonder how much denial is going on on my side. I don’t really have much of any feeling regarding or surrounding denial. Yet. We’ll see where it goes from there.

  2. prideinmadness
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 19:18:04

    I would have a few X’s by those types also and I can tell you that I still downplay it but I would argue that it’s helping more than if I faced it (I know that sounds backwards).

    I think the “felt abused” part is extremely important. Part of why many of my examples are downplayed are because others never saw it as abuse because, for example, it involved a friend or a boyfriend. The fact of the matter is, if you feel wrong, then that’s something that needs to be listened to and validated.

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂 It’s got me thinking. I planned on avoiding this topic in therapy but maybe I’ll do something with it. Only a little bit.

    • Lola
      Jan 03, 2013 @ 20:03:27

      Well, if I have learned one thing, then it is that what’s helpful and what’s not varies greatly with where you’re at in your recovery. I know it never helped me ANY if past therapist wanted to talk about all those abuse related issues. On the contrary. And up until very recently I still gave those things a wide berth. I don’t really know what exactly changed since then, but something did change and I feel more ready to have a cautious look now. I feel like it might end up being helpful now. I suppose there’s a time for everything.

      Anyway, regarding the downplaying, I suspect that tomorrow’s part concerning what the book calls “blocks” might be quite insigntful in this regard. We’ll see.

      Thanks for your comment and whatever you decide to do about bringing the topic up in therapy or not, be safe! 🙂

      • prideinmadness
        Jan 03, 2013 @ 20:27:48

        I think there is a time and place to address issues. Now must be your time and maybe mine will come later (I’m focusing on something else right now in therapy).

        I would be very interested to hear about “blocks”. It was always easy for me to “block” things about because people told me it wasn’t a big deal.

        If I do talk about I will be safe 🙂

        • Lola
          Jan 04, 2013 @ 12:40:06

          Yes, there is a time and place for addressing stuff. And whenever yours comes, you’ll probably know it. 🙂 I’m going to work on the blocks thing a little later today.

  3. lostservice22
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 01:59:33

    I have been away from the blog world for the holidays and just started to read this journey you are on.
    I think you are SO very brave. not only to be doing this but to be putting it out here for all of us to read.
    I was a child of sexual abuse and I know how hard the healing process can be. It is a long process and unfortunately it is hard, but it is worth it. one day you will realize how much this is helping and you will be amazed.
    I am still finding all the hurt bits and working them out, my abuse was one of the reasons I got in to a bad marriage for 7 years and that is now taking it’s own healing.
    It is all worth it.

    • Lola
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 13:13:15

      Thank you! 🙂 I’m looking forward to the day when I will realize in amazement how helpful working through the stuff was. 🙂 Strangely I find that putting my journey out there for others to read is helping me with finding focus and getting to a point where my thoughts are more comprehendible. It also helps me with recognizing how the things make me feel, because I experience those feelings more clearly when I know that others will be seeing what I write. Anyway, I’m glad you are healing from your abuse, too, even when it’s slow and takes time. I agree that it’s going to be worth it!

  4. nobodysreadingme
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 11:19:45

    Hi Lola. Still at it, I see. Congratulations on your bravery and persistence. And honesty.
    I’d like to mention you again on my blog. I don’t want to do that without your express permission. I’m not going to do it behind your back. I know how much you hate that.
    If you say No, that’s fine.

  5. Trackback: The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 2 « Who needs normal?!
  6. Trackback: The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 3 « Who needs normal?!
  7. Trackback: The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 4 « Who needs normal?!
  8. Kyle Stanly
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 14:58:48

    I’m sorry, you mentioned your mother knew about this abuse? The very same that is your main means of support right now? She didn’t do anything about it, only after everything was done? I don’t mean to make you relive everything that happened, but… how do you forgive her for letting it go on?

    • Lola
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 15:04:15

      No, no, sorry I was not being clear. The mother who knew of and tolerate the abuse was my biological mother. I was removed from my birth family when had just turned 15. She surrendered custodial rights. My feelings towards her are quite complicated and still very messed up. She is who I mean when I say “mother”.

      When I say “mom”, I mean the mom I have now, same as when I speak of my family now. I am an adult adoptee. My mom is the total opposite of what my mother was like. She’s the mom I would have died to have when I was little. She would never have known of abuse and allowed it to go on. She protects me now, too. I hope that helps clarify the issue a bit? You can read more about my family on the “family” page, too. 🙂

  9. Kyle Stanly
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 16:02:59

    My apologies, I should have looked into it a bit more before posting. Once again, I apologize for my ignorance.

  10. Trackback: The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 5 « Who needs normal?!
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