Category: Uncategorized

You don’t have to do it alone

No matter how long ago or how recent an individual has experienced childhood sexual abuse, or the age when the abuse occurred, it is always possible to begin the healing process. The same is true for individuals who have experienced an isolated abuse event or a repeated pattern of maltreatment. No matter the situation, there are organizations, support groups, and trained individuals who are willing and able to help. How much or how little an individual chooses to reveal about their experiences, and with whom, is completely up to them. Each individual’s pathway to healing can be completely different from one another. This journey can have many twists and turns, however, one of the most important things to remember is that you or your loved one, do not have to do it alone.

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My Toolbox

By Anthony Carrone

In my last article, I mentioned the tools I try to use every day to continue coping with my memories of sexual abuse. For me, coping is a never-ending process. Unfortunately, my tools don’t make the memories go away, but I can’t think of a healthy alternative that does. Like many tool boxes, the tools in my box were acquired over time. I don’t use all of my tools every day, and sometimes I need WD-40 to get them working correctly, but knowing I have a set to use is helpful in its own way.

My toolbox:

  • Staying active
  • To-do list
  • Charity
  • Mindfulness meditations
  • Journaling/Storytelling
  •  

Staying active

Finding ways to stay active has played a major role in coping with my troubling memories. In addition to all of the known benefits of staying active, for me, it brings back favorable memories and feelings from my childhood. Some of my favorite memories were made playing baseball and camping with my friends. Staying physically active has allowed me to reminisce about those times while creating new memories with my new friends. Completing a game or a difficult hike also provides me with a sense of accomplishment that feels really good!  

To-do lists

Some mornings, I wake up feeling anxious or depressed and feel like there is nothing that will get me out of bed. It would be so easy to turn over and go back to sleep. What I have found is that making a to-do list helps me get past that initial morning depression and jumpstart my day in a much more positive way. I actually use a cheat code for this – Let me explain. On those difficult mornings, after I realize I am dangerously close to falling into a non-productive day, I get up and make my bed (I know this is not always easy – but it got easier with repetition) After I make my bed, I create a checklist of things I need to get done. My trick is adding “MAKE YOUR BED” as the first task on my list and immediately checking it off. Oh, it is so satisfying! It may seem silly, but sometimes that small sense of accomplishment is what I need to change the trajectory of my day.

Charity

Practicing random acts of kindness and charity every day is, I think, one of the most effective ways to cope and also make a real difference in someone else’s day. Charity does not have to be monetary or even publicized to make a difference or be an effective tool in your kit. Unselfishly giving your time, love and attention creates a positive energy that you and people around you will benefit from.

Mindfulness meditation

Meditation has been the most useful tool in my toolbox. Actually, it may be the material many of my tools are crafted from.  Or maybe it’s what my toolbox is made of?  Anyway, before I lose you… Practicing mindfulness meditation has changed my life. Most of us are mindful at some point during the day, but it’s really difficult to stay in that zone.  Sometimes we are distracted by a thought from our past that brings up uncomfortable memories. For me, if I let it, those thoughts have the potential to bring me to a dark place, usually filled with anger and a case of the f*ck its. A place where my mind is racing all over the place, but my body is paralyzed – a feeling of defeat. Practicing mindfulness through meditation has helped me recognizing when these intrusive thoughts arise, accept them, and get my mind back to the current moment – Like when I am having trouble getting up in the morning, recognize my negative emotions and decide to make a to-do list to help get me started.  There are many different styles of meditation, so if mindfulness is not the way for you, check out some other forms of meditation that seem like a better fit!

Journaling and storytelling

Getting my thoughts out, one way or another, has always helped me cope with what I am feeling inside. What I like about journaling is the ability to go back and actually read my own words about what I was thinking or feeling during that moment – it’s right there in front of me. It also helps me see my own potential behavioral patterns. If I notice I am feeling a certain way, I’ll often go back to my journal to see when I’ve felt that way before. If I have, I’ll recall how I reacted and review how that worked out for me. Finding a group of friends or an outlet like Gravity Network to share your thoughts with can be super helpful.

As I said earlier, these tools have not deleted my memories of sexual abuse, but they have taught me skills to live a happy life without blaming myself for other’s actions. I plan to stay physically active and remain healthy to help find the joy in things I used to love. I will do my best to make to-do lists to help me stay on top of my daily tasks when my emotions want to distract me. I will give my time and attention to other who need it, because others have been there for me when I needed to be lifted up. I will practice mindfulness to remain aware of my true self and chart the path to my brightest future. And I will continue to tell my story through personal journaling and this blog, not only for myself, but for others who read and are going through their own struggles.

Stories: I thought fighting to stay alive was normal

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

When I got in my teens, I had these weird flash backs, of someone on top of me, I couldn’t breath. I saw myself floating above me. I thought I was dreaming, I heard my mom, call my dad’s name, I looked over towards her, then my dad yelled go back to bed, I then realized the horror, my dad was on top of me, I felt the pain, I was back in my body, I was told keep my mouth shut and don’t tell anyone or I’d get an a** whipping.

I knew my mom knew what was going on, because she allowed my siblings along with my dad to yell at me, hit on me, make fun of me and call me names. I was taught I should just be there and take it, fighting screaming, getting gang picked on.

My younger sister did me the same emotional way, of narcassistic abuses, as I got older. I thought she loved me, until I found out about her and my daughter, ganging up on me, the same way my narcassistic drunk parents would do to me. My dad blamed me for their divorce, also.

The Impact


I got into a domestic violence relationship. I thought the fighting from my childhood was normal, as with the name calling, being degraded by people that said I love you. I am still lost in my life because I thought fighting to stay was normal, that I had to learn to fight to stay alive, agreeing (with my partner) to sexual abuse along with the bruises and broken bones.

What I Want Others to Know


The local District Attorney and Victims Office, have victim shamed me long enough! This has caused my head trauma! I have been ignored, refused serviced, and even been refused to view the file or purchase a copy from the DA! Why does he hide the information from me, I was the victim to getting hit, I had a valid restraining order in effect to get away from my abuser, and my two childern were not believed either.

How Sweet the Sound

Originally published 3/3/2018

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I am still getting used to writing those words.

Admitting to my past and sharing my story has led to multiple moments of what I can only describe as tiny fracture breaks within what I thought was my semi stable reality. I thought I was doing okay. I saw no reason to reopen those old, pulsating wounds. I felt they had been stitched up adequately enough.

The ability to see beyond where I was and imagine where I could be was nearly impossible due to the inflicted abuse from my childhood. Survivors of trauma know this feeling well. There is a darkness that takes up residency. It becomes so much a part of us that we wouldn’t recognize ourselves without it. Maybe we don’t even want to. Who are we without this pain?

Sometimes the hurt from past experiences is so achingly unbearable it immobilizes us, rendering us powerless. So many people are locked deeply in the clutches of pain from past events or encounters. Agony and shame intermingled and running so deep in our veins we cannot fathom being able to fight it.

Recently I starting exploring the terrible, irresponsible and hurtful choices I was making as an adult. Choices I was making myself, not something that was being done to me or against my will like when I was a little girl.

I decided to take some accountability for my very real and incredibly fast fall from grace. I started to dig, unearth and attempt to reconcile with the actual reasons leading to my abysmal life choices. I started confronting the shame that lived inside of me. The things that are and always will be a part of who I have become today.

I decided to accept them.

Sometimes it is the very worst things that have happened to us in the past that can in fact be our most empowering tool of hope. How can we ever authentically relate to and make real, honest connections with those that need our voices the most if we don’t claim our most horrific moments?  The ones we attempt to hide, forget, deny or numb away?

Understanding that your past actions do not and will not determine your legacy begins with not trying so strenuously to will them away. It begins with acknowledging that those pieces are a part of you and they should be nurtured, not dismissed.

John Newton and William Cowper are two voices from history who perfectly help convey the message I am trying to deliver. Newton, a reformed atheist turned Ordained Minister challenged Cowper, a crazy misunderstood Christianity loving wordsmith to a hymnal duel.

Write a new Hymn to a familiar tune in time for each Thursday’s bible study.

Newton and Cowper made change happen by owning who they were and sharing their pain with others. Easier said than done but it eventually led to penning Amazing Grace, a song undeniably powerful in the simplicity of its message and one most can readily identify with.

They were from different backgrounds but they lived with the same ghosts so many of us struggle with. Pain, loss, confusion, sorrow, anger and the desire for redemption to name a few. Through their salvation and their ability to forgive, they each felt a desire to grow from their past experiences and become better because of them.

I’m guessing that neither of them ever would have expected that a former atheist slave trader and a suicidal poet who had been institutionalized for insanity would someday be the ones to collaboratively write a world changing, soul reaching and universal identified with hymnal lyric.

Somehow that happened.

What better voices than those who have come from complete darkness to help others see the light that can be found within it?

As I struggle with my own past and attempt to make amends with the abuse I endured and survived as a child I am often overwhelmed by emotional ferocity of it. Facing these experiences and sharing them with others is terrifying.

I am grateful for each and every prayer I have been blessed with. I do believe in a higher power. A force larger than myself. I just don’t think that simply putting my trust in any given faith blindly will help me or any of us find the answers.

Step outside of what you think you know and listen to the people around you.  No matter what you believe or who you pray to or what you have been told. Honor your personal truth while trying to embrace the truths of others. Explore ideas you may be less comfortable with and try to discover what is causing the aversion behind those thoughts.

Fight.

Talk.

Understand.

Listen.

Connect.

Heal.

Forgive.

Make change happen because of your experiences. Don’t stand around and wait for it to happen or place blame when it doesn’t happen the way you thought it would or use religion as a way to not see what is right in front of you.

Use your voice; however it feels right to you.

Shine your light.

Embrace your dark.

Tell your story.

Write your song.

Challenge your best buddy to a hymnal writing contest.

You never know what could happen…

CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE RELATED POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are often at a higher risk of developing PTSD related to the trauma. PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and is a mental health problem that occurs in individuals who have experienced significant trauma such as CSA. PTSD can occur to anyone who has experienced an event that has personally traumatized them, however, not everyone who experiences trauma will show signs of PTSD.

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Living as an adult survivor

Survivors of CSA may also be less likely to attain higher levels of education, higher salaries, and better, more fulfilling jobs when compared to their non-abused peers.2,3 This may be due to feelings of low self-worth or self-confidence, physical health issues, such as chronic fatigue or chronic pain, or issues regarding mental health, including severe anxiety or depression. Triggers may be everywhere for adult survivors, and may be present in common experiences including routine examinations at the doctor’s office, being intimate with another individual, or even in regular parenting or childcare experiences, such as changing diapers, breastfeeding, or showing children positive affection.

Read more…

TELLING OTHERS ABOUT CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE

Choosing to disclose, or share, a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a completely individual decision. While some forms of treatment or healing may involve disclosing the trauma to move forward, this may not be the most beneficial option depending on each survivor’s personality or history. Some individuals may want to share what has happened to them, while others may never choose to tell anyone for the rest of their life. Sometimes, the decision not to disclose a history of abuse may be due to a previous attempt to disclose that did not go as planned. For example, some survivors may have tried to tell someone when they were a child or when they were experiencing the abuse and may have been ignored or not believed. This may cause feelings of fear or a lack of desire to try to open up again.

Many survivors will never disclose the abuse

It has been estimated that nearly 20% of all survivors of childhood sexual abuse will never disclose the abuse, and roughly 60% will not disclose the abuse until at least five years after the first incident.1 Whatever the reason may be for not disclosing an abuse, each individual’s story is their own to tell. However, much they want to share is completely up to them, as well as when, or if, they disclose this information to their friends, family, or partners.

Although this decision and situation can be handled a variety of ways, there are a few things to consider that may help an individual make the decision to disclose a history of abuse, and ideas to make the process as positive and healthy as it can be. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Determining your level of trust with the person you are looking to talk to and considering how supportive they are of you.
  • Determining what you hope to gain from disclosing your history. Are you looking for support? Are you looking for relief? Consider if the person you’re disclosing to can help you achieve these goals.
  • Consider disclosing only when you are in a safe environment without many distractions, and when everyone involved is in a sound state of mind (for example, only when everyone involved is sober).
  • Considering if the other person has had a history of abuse or trauma, and how it may affect the way they receive your story.
  • Give your partner, friend, or family member space to process what you are telling them. Although the story you tell is yours to share, and you are in control of the conversation, your loved one may need time to process and best choose their words or actions to support you.
  • Tell the individual you’re disclosing to what you need from them. If you want them to help you seek treatment, tell them that. If you’re just looking for someone to listen and not ask questions, tell them that as well.
  • If there is someone else who knows about your history that you trust and who supports you, consider telling them that you’re planning to disclose to someone else. This way, if anything goes unexpectedly, you have a source of support ready if you need. Even if there’s no one else who knows what you’ve been through, just letting a trusted individual know that there’s something important going on in your life and that you may need a no-questions-asked friend in the near future may be helpful.2
Yes, I am angry…but YOU are dangerous.

Trauma and Meditation: An Open Letter to the Community

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Dear “Awakened” Communities,

Yes I mean YOU, Buddhist and Non-Buddhist alike. I am angry with you. Yes angry, oops am I not supposed to be angry? Well buckle up, you may not like this ride, or just jump off and avoid all these “negative emotions” if you can. You are good at that…unless of course you are wielding them at others while they are all dressed up as truth and passive aggressive compassion.

Yes, I am angry…but YOU are dangerous.

I am angry because I was raped when I was an eight year old little girl. You are dangerous because you tell me that I should live as if this didn’t actually happen.

Through my meditation practice I have learned to let go of my shame, and because of this I have learned to be open and honest about being raped and molested as an eight year old child. I have found the courage to sit with and write about the flashbacks, the anxiety, and the PTSD that has resulted from that traumatizing year of my life. Sitting still and silent has not made these things go away. Philosophy and critical thinking have not made these things go away. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of counseling have not made these things go away. Alcohol, self-injury, exercise, and diet have not made these things go away. Prayer, and begging, and bargaining have not made these things go away. You know why? Because these things do not go away. Full stop.

Trauma can be ignored and lied about. But it does not go away

Trauma can be folded into daily life, it can be set safely in the background, it can be worked with, and looked at, and talked about. It can also be ignored, dissociated from, and lied about. But it does not go away. We know that trauma changes brain chemistry, especially childhood trauma. So until I undergo a lobotomy or brain death, these changes will not go away. I can maybe mitigate them with diligent self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self compassion. But, no amount of ephemeral “no-self” or “emptiness” is going to change the fact that the rape occurred, that these physical brain changes occurred, that PTSD is the result. To offer “no-self and emptiness” to rape survivors as some illusory way out is a dangerous, arrogant, and self-serving game. It serves only to deny the reality of what happened. It serves only to continue to silence us. It serves only to leave survivors feeling alone and like failures when inevitably these memories come charging back in the form of PTSD. It serves only to allow YOU to feel more comfortable with what we represent…the loud, chaotic, unpredictable, and cruel nature of this world.

We believe in the healing power of stories

You want to talk about present moment, real present moment? At any given moment I can be unconsciously triggered into a flashback, into anxiety, into my PTSD symptoms. I can be sweating, heart racing, nauseous, short of breath, and physically incapacitated. I can be back in that bed feeling crushed by that man while he inserts himself into my mouth, my vagina, my brain. I can be once again looking out that window while it is happening praying for help, praying for my mother to come home, praying for God, someone, anyone to save me. These things happen exactly IN that “empty present moment” and they are anything but an empty illusion. But, do you know what I do? I stop and sit still and silent WITH them. I watch them occur, I feel them, I let these things wash through me and over me and I notice what that means, and I notice that I do not die…to spite every fiber of my being that tells me otherwise. I shake, and I cry, and I experience the present moment of PTSD. Then I get up and experience the other present moments during the day when the reverberations of PTSD and rape remain in my body. When these things pass, I live with and experience that relief as well. I am fully aware that both of these things will happen, and I let myself experience both the pain and the relief. This is my practice. Present moment isn’t supposed to always be easy, blissful, and peaceful. Present moment is simply what it is when it shows up, and the real practice, the real bravery, comes in letting it be what it is, making real contact with what that is, for better or worse.

And you say “emptiness?” And you say “no-self?” And you say “let it go, it is an illusion, it is imaginary?” Why does what you say sound EXACTLY like what my abuser said to me in order to keep me silent, in order to keep me trapped, in order to continue raping me with impunity?

You may not understand this if you have not been through it.

You will hold tightly to your belief that there is some simple on/off switch that can make the past disappear, that can make future flashbacks never happen. Oh how I wish that was true, just as you do. Believe me, I have tried to find that easy switch in nearly every way possible. That on/off switch does not exist, in any form, from any religion or belief system, and to pretend like it does is no different than selling snake oil to a terminally ill patient. It is no different than turning your back on a rape-in-progress. It is no different than telling the victim, and the perpetrator, not to worry it will all be over soon and when it is over it will all be imaginary anyway. Your “emptiness” denies the violence of the act as equally as it denies justice or responsibility for the act. Your “emptiness” denies the humanity of the person raped and the intentional cruel action of the person raping. Your “emptiness” denies a harsh reality. Oh how I wish I could deny it too, but I cannot.

You want to see my anger, my struggle, my vigilance, my embodiment, and my honesty as some sort of proof that I am not “awakened, realized, saved.” But oh how wrong you are. I spent most of my life trying to escape this human form, dissociated from it, and guess what…that didn’t work. Now I am in it, feeling it, allowing it, and I don’t know if this works either. Hell, I don’t know what “works” is supposed to mean anyway. But, I do know that I am done trying to be something I am not. I am no longer ashamed to be human, I am no longer afraid to speak openly about sexual assault or any other part of my humanity, and I am no longer looking out that window waiting for someone else to save me. Not even you.

Sincerely, angrily, unashamed, and still sitting,
April Resnick

April Resnick Gravity Network Open Letter     

Me when I was 8 years old

Originally published in May 2015

Signs your child may be being sexually abused:

Children are three times more likely than adults to be sexually abused.

Specific symptoms of sexual abuse:
(citation, the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress)

  • Withdrawal and mistrust of adults
  • Suicidality
  • Difficulty relating to others except in sexual or seductive ways
  • Unusual interest in or avoidance of all things sexual or physical
  • Sleep problems, nightmares, fears of going to bed
  • Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors
  • Refusal to go to school, or to the doctor, or home
  • Secretiveness or unusual aggressiveness
  • Sexual components to drawings and games
  • Neurotic reactions (obsessions, compulsiveness, phobias)
  • Habit disorders (biting, rocking)
  • Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Prostitution
  • Forcing sexual acts on other children
  • Extreme fear of being touched
  • Unwillingness to submit to physical examination

If you feel you child may be being sexually abused, please talk to him or her and seek professional assistance. Please click on ‘Getting Help’ at the top of the page for information on resources that my help you and your child.