Trust Issues

Something that is difficult to explain to those who have not lived through violation as a child is the monumental effort it requires to try to trust anyone or anything in life.

I’m fairly certain that I have never experienced a “healthy” relationship.

Ever.

I don’t even know what that means.

I wasn’t given the tools to build trust or to engage in productive connection building outside of the hell I was trying to navigate as a young child. That was my normal. My reality. My “healthy”.

I have often heard other survivors express that they feel as if they have a target on their backs. That predators, sexual or otherwise, can sense us from miles away and are able to find and easily exploit our weakness. Hurt us over and over again.

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Weighing Forgiveness

It seems hard to conceive. Forgiveness? Why should I give him forgiveness? In my case, he’s not around to apologize. He’s not even alive to benefit from it. Why should I bother, when he hurt me without my consent, and left my family alone to pick up the mess?
The concept of forgiveness isn’t new to me. Back in college, during my happiness seminar, we were supposed to work on letters of forgiveness. She told us not to forgive our level ten pain, but instead to choose a five or six. I didn’t have a level five or six pain. I had a level ten. That day in class, I was antsy, my heart raced, as I prepared to sit down and work through things I hadn’t worked through in years. A classmate decided she wanted to work outside, and a bunch of us joined her. We talked about anything other than forgiveness, and fulfilled a different class objective. I dodged my bullet.

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Surviving CSA: Battling Struggles & Finding Strength

Approximately 1 in 6 men and 1 in 4 to 5 women will be sexually abused before the age of 18.1-2 Too often, their stories are silenced – by shame, guilt, fear.

771 survivors completed the Childhood Sexual Abuse and Trauma survey to make a difference in helping others understand the true impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and how to support survivors and protect children.

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Talk about CSA
CSA statistics

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7 Things Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Wish Others Knew

Thank you to the hundreds of respondents who completed the Childhood Abuse and Sexual Trauma (CAST) survey. Your willingness to share your truth will make a difference in helping others understand the true impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and how to support survivors and protect children.

Telling others about experiences with CSA is never easy, and the reactions survivors receive can truly impact their healing. We asked survivors what they wished others knew about CSA. Here’s what they had to say:

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A Place to Scream

Finally realizing I needed to be accountable to myself and release some of my childhood pain led me to writing about my past experiences.

Sharing my worst secrets and thoughts publicly was not something I ever envisioned doing. I never in my wildest imaginings thought that maybe someday anything I had to say would matter.

I’m not even a writer. I needed an outlet to try to prevent my very real and incredibly fast fall from grace from accelerating. Instead of numbing those thoughts or pretending they didn’t exist I forced myself to explore them. I wrote them down. I got them out.

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Gone. But never forgotten.

When I received a phone call informing me my abuser had died, I can’t remember if sorrow or relief won as my initial emotion.

I would like to say it was sorrow. Maybe to make myself appear as if I’m not completely desensitized to the death of someone I loved. I honestly believe it was relief that flooded me first though. Relief and then anger. Sorrow coming in a distant third.

Anger because there would never be any closure for the death of my childhood. No apologies for what was taken from me. How do you mourn the murder of innocence? Put to rest the death of what I could have been?

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An Open Letter to My Abuser’s Former Victims

I’ve oftentimes wondered if you exist. I find myself sometimes, combing through the young women in his life, wondering if he ever did the same things to you. Maybe you don’t exist. Maybe you’re just my imagination running wild, my yearning to find someone else who gets it, creating stories in my head. Sometimes I imagine you coming to me, and whispering in my ear, “Me too,” and I would instantly get it. Sometimes I imagine a message sent from miles away because it is just too painful to say out loud. Whether you exist or not, I have a few things I want you to know. Continue reading “An Open Letter to My Abuser’s Former Victims”

Healing from Trauma with Self-Compassion

The knife in her desk drawer was there as long as she could remember. She has no memory of when she pilfered it from the kitchen, but there it lay, next to the Bic pens and the lined looseleaf paper. But she does remember clearly why she took it and why it remained there all these years later … it made her feel safe, in an environment and a home where she felt very much in danger. This way, she knew that if he came after her again, she’d be able to defend herself.

The need to feel safe is perhaps our most basic human need.

If we feel threatened, if we feel in danger either physically or psychologically, our biology demands that we protect ourselves. Survival always comes first. So our physiology dictates that we defend ourselves either by fighting back, or the alternative – doing whatever we can to escape the danger. This might mean physically leaving the situation, if we can, or if not, leaving psychologically – finding some place to escape in our minds so that we are emotionally removed from the terror.

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