The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 2


After yesterdays part of the journey about understanding sexual abuse, today’s part will cover overcoming blocks to recognize sexual abuse. And this part, too, is still part of chapter 3 of my journey, so I’m still busy “acknowledging the abuse” here.

Overcoming blocks to recognize sexual abuse.

The book mentions three common blocks that can make it difficult to acknowledge sexual abuse, and deals with each one more in depth. The three blocks are:

Block 1: Feeling unsure how to evaluate a particular experience
Block 2: Feeling confused by the special nature of the abuse
Block 3: Holding on to your own personal biases and discounts

According to the book, each of these three things can prevent people from acknowledging that sexual abuse took place. So I guess my challenge today will be to look at each of those blocks and see whether, and if yes how, they apply to me. Stop reading, obviously, if you are uncomfortable with the mention of sexual abuse and sexual abuse related stuff.

Block 1: Feeling unsure of how to evaluate a particular experience

Piecing together the memories of abuse that I have, I can conform that it’s not always easy to decide whether something was actually sexual abuse or not. I mean the really explicit stuff that I recall obviously was, but what about when my stepfather had me sit on his lap while he was watching TV and pulled me against him, stroking me? I have plenty of memories of watching TV like that, trying to focus on the TV instead of him, because I didn’t like it and was afraid he’d want to ‘play’. (That’s what he called the sexual abuse, he called it ‘play’ or ‘playing’)

So nothing really happened many times when I watched TV with him, but I was thinking of the abuse all the time and constantly stressed because I never knew whether we were going to end up ‘playing’ this time or not. Was that, in itself, already part of the abuse? Is that a memory of abuse? Or was this just my stepfather actually trying to be nice? I have a couple of memories of this nature, where I don’t know if it counts as sexual abuse at all or not, because nothing really happened, except within myself. But then, oftentimes sexual stuff, like thoughts or so, happen to me while I am with my family now, too, and I’m 100% certain that they are NOT being sexually abusive. So… confusing. Which leads to:

Block 2: Feeling confused by the special nature of the abuse

The book says that especially when sexual abuse got labeled as something else (like “medical checkups” or, I suppose, “play”, like my father called it), or when it happened gradually or was indirect, like by passive exposure, it can be confusing and hard to tell whether something was abuse or not. For example it took me a long time to realize that my stepfather making me watch child porn was sexual abuse already, even though he didn’t touch me and let me have candy, which was rare for me to get. But I think while those two blocks still exist for me, it is really the third one that I struggle most with.

Block 3: Holding on to your own personal biases and discounts.

See, in hindsight I can tell that I was brought up, basically, in a way that aimed at getting me to go along with sexual abuse. I never really resisted, and . . . gee, this is hard. As in really hard. It’s so embarrassing and makes me feel so guilty. I’m with mom and she assures me it’s fine, but even so it’s hard. But I guess I’ll bite the bullet and say it. I wanted it. Kind of. I mean not really. But then real enough. For one thing my mother accused me of “wanting it”, and hated me for “stealing” my stepfather from her. And for another he kind of made it in a way that had me end up asking for him to continue. He always made it seem like I had a choice. For example I have this memory of him touching me, like in the porn he had showed me, and then asking ‘do you want me to stop?’. But I didn’t say ‘yes, please stop’. Ever. I don’t think I ever really said it. I remember crying and feeling awful, but I don’t remember ever saying I didn’t want it. The only thing I remember is the question “do you want it, too?” and that my answer was always yes. So instead of feeling abused, I feel horrible and guilty and like I invited and deserved what happened and really have no right to feel abused.

And while I KNOW that’s not true, and it’s helpful to read in the book that of course it still was sexual abuse, and rationally know that playing along was probably my safest bet at survival, because my stepfather could get incredibly violent if he was cross, try telling my feelings that. Not in situations such as now, where I’m relatively calm and feel safe and contained and okay, but in situations when I’m emotionally upset. In those situations I feel like it’s me who is a dirty whore, bad and deserving of only the worst, and like I have no right to whine or blame anyone besides myself, like everything is my own fault.

Hm… I kind of feel like this was a pointless post today. I didn’t really learn anything new. I knew all those things before. I don’t feel particularly connected to my words either. I’m toying with the idea of pressing delete, because I was only rambling, because what I know and what I feel don’t really match, and while my feelings still have those blocks, my thoughts don’t anymore. I don’t know. Whatever. I’ll post it and hope tomorrow’s part of the journey will be better. Next up will be memories.


ADDENDUM: mom just read what I wrote and asked me whether I feel ‘all there’. I don’t. I think my emotions dissociated away while I wrote. Which might be why I have no connections to my own words anymore and I feel like the post is insignificant rambling. So I guess I’ll try to sort the dissociation out somehow now.


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

The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 1


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


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. prideinmadness
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 16:24:26

    Block 1 would be my go to block.

    Maybe as you keep going you’ll feel more connected to what you’re writing. I usually feel very disconnected when I share certain experiences. It’s easier. That’s a block :p

    I’m seriously glad you are sharing this with us! I think I’ll tell you that every time!

    • Lola
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 17:42:03

      I’m glad that you are glad that I’m sharing! And I really hope it’s going to get easier to stay connected to what I’m writing as I go on. I also disconnect very easily when I share my experiences, which is a weird thing to happen because I still KNOW how I should be feeling, but instead of feeling it, I’m all detached and indifferent about it and it doesn’t really feel significant anymore. I guess that means that I still need this kind of distance to be able to go there. But I’m only at the very beginning of the journey, so I suppose (hope) this block will get smaller as the journey goes on. We’ll see.

  2. Juliet
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 18:10:14

    I “liked” this post not because I like what you had to go through but because you’re trying to deal with it. Besides, I don’t think it’s a pointless post at all. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can be helpful for others to read this; for they might recognize their own struggles they have with this topic. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Lola
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 18:40:44

      Thank you for your kind comment, Juliet! I suppose you are right and the post itself isn’t pointless, and that’s just the feeling I get because my feelings are a little messed up anyway. I’m very happy if what I write is helpful for someone who happens across it.

  3. Trackback: The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 3 « Who needs normal?!
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  5. Kyle Stanly
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 15:15:44

    Could you elaborate a bit on the “For one thing my mother accused me of ‘wanting it’, and hated me for ‘stealing’ my stepfather from her.” part?

    Is your mother co-dependent? Supporting your step-father’s decisions and wanting to stay with him AND blaming you for “wanting it” at the same time… Is that the same mother you talk so highly about in your other posts? Is it black and white thinking that influences that? I mean, considering how she is always there for you and helps you through things even at her expense, could she be co-dependent?

    • Lola
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 15:25:37

      No, not the same mother at all. When I write “mother” I refer to my biological mother. When I say “mom” I refer to my mom now, she is another person. So no black and white thinking at all there, no splitting. I live with my mom now, I’m an adult adoptee. I have no contact to my birth mother.

      As far as the part about my mother accusing me of wanting the abuse and stealing my stepfather goes, it’s really screwed up. I don’t know what exactly my mother was, but my stepfather was everything to her. I think she was dependent on him in some way. Only he had a fancy for little girls. (It’s probably no coincidence that he married my mother when she was only 16 and pregnant with me.) In my mother’s eyes he could not do wrong. Whatever he did was right. So she accused me of having seduced him, of “making” him abuse me, and I suppose, looking back, that as sick as it was, she was jealous at the sexual attention I got. So she hated me for being there and getting what she wanted, but to her it was not her husband’s fault, but mine. It’s messed up. But yeah, I suppose she could have been co-dependent on him.

      • Kyle Stanly
        Jan 08, 2013 @ 15:31:52

        Ah, then that makes a lot of sense then. So, your biological mother saw him as always right (white) and you as wrong (black)? I’ve heard Borderline Personality Disorder can be passed down, so could it be possible that your biological mother had it?

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