PTSD and CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
How can anyone learn how to react to a child who discloses abuse when we as a society still put our hands over our ears when the subject arises?
One-third of all women and 14% of men have been sexually attacked as children. These statistics haven’t changed in decades.
Why not? See remainder of this post Source: DISCLOSURE
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – BROKEN TRUST
If my parents had of believed me when I was eight years old, I wouldn’t have been in therapy for 20 years healing from the impact of their ignorance.
Thank you, Mom and Dad
My guest poster today is J.E. from her blog “This is My Silence”. (Trigger Warning)
Hello, I am J.E., 23 years old, and a PTSD survivor.
I’m married to a wonderful man who has been my rock and encouragement throughout those days when I didn’t believe in myself, nevertheless, he believed in me. I’m also delighted that I’m a working mother of two children (‘superheroes’), as the joy I see in their faces every day provides me with every reason, now realizing how past abusive years has an enormous impact on your life.
Writing is cathartic for me, and I’m using my healing journey to perhaps healing others. “This is My Silence” is my first blog, and here is my story.
A Little Piece of Me
Typing and deleting, typing and deleting. As I am sitting on my couch, I’ve come to a realization that this is now my second draft and remain struggling with a conundrum. It’s challenging to write about your journey, even though you may have memories floating around inside your head, writing them down on paper (computer) is difficult.
So, Where is my beginning?
I lay my jars of memories around me and search, and peering into each jar I take a moment to remind myself to breathe for a moment after each one. As I continue my search, slowly opening and closing each jar, I come to a standstill, noticing that every single one of these memories speaks my story, but only one conveys the beginning of my life. So I will begin like this:
Ok, so here’s the story:
A women-only spa in Toronto, Ontario, Canada took some massive criticism and triggered a social-media outcry last week, that prohibits some transgender women from using their facilities.
On Facebook, a woman stated that she refused to revisit the spa on account that they canceled her friend’s (who is transgender) appointment due to their spa’s policy which states “no male genitals” rule.
The spa explained, “because we are a bathing-suit-optional environment, our current policy is to ensure all clients are comfortable in an environment with nudity, including minors.”
The backlash was extreme from the public, transgender and LGBTQ communities. However, the spa further clarified that it’s a ‘single-sex facility with full nudity, and unlike other facilities.’ They stated they supported these communities, but the spa has policies to adhere to.
This describes me. As a person with PTSD, I always feel “on guard”, and automatically scan a room if it’s a gathering with friends, a crowd of people or anywhere outside my home. Perhaps it’s a trust issue or maybe I don’t ever feel completely comfortable. Does this describe you?
I’ve written many posts about my PTSD (childhood sexual abuse); which was a ‘dirty little secret.’ Have you held on to secrets for years and years?
Recollecting my past, at around eight years old, while my friends and I played in our yard, the predator next door sat on his veranda puffing on a cigarette or repairing whatever under the hood of his car.
I was panicked for them and me, wanting so much to convey to them of the sexual abuse at the hands of this man, yet at the same time felt bewildered.
I had a secret; an ugly little secret, to something that I didn’t cause – or did I?
There was the distressing apology, forced by my parents to blurt out and recite with sincerity to this predator for abusing me. That sincerity was met with confusion wondering how I wronged in the first place. All kinds of feelings swished around: guilt, helplessness, and I was embarrassed.
A 30-year-old man is forcing sex on a child. Would that warrant an apology?
Perplexing also was permitting this predator into our home for Sunday dinners. Were my parents attempting to soothe the predator’s feelings for being wrongly accused?
I thought this was an excellent infographic explaining all forms of PTSD and displaying the horrific impact it has on a person in the future.
Hey, little girl, I saw you with that man
what were you doing, letting him have his way
didn’t you know it was wrong, why didn’t you stop it?
you could have said no, but you still let it happen
what’s wrong with you? how could you not know?
I tried to say no, he was bigger than me
yet he made me feel wanted and special for once
I was his “princess” and he said I “danced like an angel”
and I was invisible to everyone else
even though it hurt, it was worth the warm feelings
that I craved so much, and he granted me so lovingly
but then came anguish and pain
Finally, I did try to tell, but no one would listen
the words came out, yet no words were heard
no one will really know
that my mind and my heart
died back then
I was little and
I didn’t know how to say no
Written & copyright Deb McCarthy/2017
*I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and it feels so much better to be able to say ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ now.
As an unloved daughter of a narcissistic mother, the cards or flowers I handed to her with ‘love’ throughout the years were given with the expectations and desires that one day she would hug me with love. Giving her a card each year was presented or mailed with a fake smile or strained “Love you always mom.”
She by no means ever deserved a card, lunch or dinner out, and especially a visit when I was an adult. When I moved across the country, there was one year I ‘neglected’ to send a card or call. This resulted in a ‘hissyfit,’ possibly threw one of her notorious tantrums including tears, resulting with my father phoning me, blasting “how could you treat your mother like this?” I can’t recall my reply, but more than likely, I said I was sorry.
A few days passed, and what do I receive in the mail, a multi-page letter from my mother ranting how self-centred I am, this is the way I treat her after everything she’s done for me throughout my life, took care of me, and will sever our relationship now. This was due to not sending a card?
To be honest, I feel jealous of others who have/had a wonderful mother.
So to all of those who are survivors of narcissistic emotional abuse, or never received the kind of motherly care, empathy, encouragement, and love; this post is dedicated to you. You are all Warriors!
Trust was broken
you knew it was
But that didn’t stop your
desire and craving
My hands were tied
above my head
to the bed
Who cares, you thought
I’m getting what I want
This secret between us
no one will know
I’d never tell
because you persuaded me
told me I was lucky and special
to have someone like you
a special person
for protection and care
Trust wasn’t broken
You were was entitled to this
Written and copyright by Deb McCarthy/2017
Would this be a tough decision? Have you prepared yourself?
Presently, I still require individual therapy from my therapist, for she has been the most successful in tackling the secrets and hurts that I’ve been holding onto for so many years. I remain needy to be heard and reassurance from her, so I will continue on for now, and for me at this moment, it’s distressing to consider parting ways, but I recognize that day will come and I will have to prepare myself for it.
How gruelling therapy is in the first place, and yet to be so secure with a stranger, to trust and disclose your most private inner thoughts, secrets, feelings and emotions; a person who listened to you when no one else does or ever did, never criticized, nor judged and was actually absorbed in what you had to say. It’s a reassuring relationship.
This article is wonderful explaining the huge impact emotional abuse and narcissism has on a child growing into adulthood. It’s a bit longer than most of my postings yet well worth the read.
I experienced emptiness during my childhood as a daughter of a narcissistic mother who either ignored me most days or spewed vicious words of criticism and anger. I spent many hours in my bedroom reading, a huge relief from my mother outside my door. Which was worse, being ignored or the vicious words? Either way, I felt empty.
Emptiness: It’s not a disorder in and of itself, like anxiety or depression. Nor is it experienced by most people as a symptom that interferes with their lives. It’s more a generic feeling of discomfort, a lack of being filled up that may come and go. Some people feel it physically, as an ache or an empty space in their belly or chest. Others experience it more as an emotional numbness.
You may have a general sense that you’re missing something that everybody else has, or that you’re on the outside looking in. Something just isn’t right, but it’s hard to name. It makes you feel somehow set apart, disconnected as if you’re not enjoying life as you should.
People who don’t have it don’t understand. But people who feel it know:
In many ways, emptiness or numbness is worse than pain. Many people have told me that they would far prefer to feel anything to nothing. It’s very hard to acknowledge, make sense of, or put words to something that is absent. Emptiness seems like nothing to most people. And nothing is nothing, neither bad nor good, right?
But in the case of a human being’s internal experience, nothing is definitely something. “Empty” is actually a feeling in and of itself. And I have discovered that it is a feeling that can be very intense and powerful. In fact, it has the power to drive people to do extreme things to escape it.
I originally posted this on my Niume.com blog (now edited) and received the most readers of any of my posts (4.4K). Eating disorders may occur at any age, and it’s awfully difficult to accept when you are middle-aged and over 50+.
Two years ago, I was 58 years old and struggled with an eating disorder called anorexia. That was extremely outrageous to me recalling a time when I had ballooned to a whopping 285 lbs.
During the late 1990’s I had been hospitalized too many times for major depression and on a cocktail of too many medications. Countless meds with their side effects increased my weight, and the heaviness remained that way for many years. But, before the gallbladder illness in November 2012, I had slimmed down to 185 lbs.
Yes, the gallbladder fiasco. Long story short, surgeons operated twice to finally remove this painfully unusable organ, and throughout this time, my diet was: “No fried food and no rich desserts or you will irritate your gallbladder.”
I have CPTSD (sexual and emotional abuse), and just hearing the word “fake” & “scam” was an enough to cause an actual trigger to my past, coupled with huge anxiety and intense anger.
Yesterday, while sitting in a coffee shop sipping tea and reading a book, two women around 30 – 40 years of age sitting behind me, actually had this conversation. True story. I’ll call them A & B.
A –Do you believe in all of this PTSD shit?
B –I don’t know what to think sometimes. I do know a co-worker who’s sister is going to therapy for it, I don’t know what exactly for, but she just said something that happened to her when she was young and has PTSD now.
A –Do you think it’s for real, or is she looking for attention? How old is her sister?
B –I think she’s in her 30’s, not sure. It’s something about molestation or something, I didn’t want to ask and be nosey.
A –Yeah right, like she can remember things that happened when she was a kid!
B –Well it’s her business
A –I’m just asking because I saw a show last night showing how some men in the military and some police are actually faking having this PTSD, just to collect disability. Some of them have collected $100,000.00, what a shame when people that have an actual disability need it.
And, their discussion continued……..
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or other violent personal assault. PTSD is a real illness that causes real suffering. (source: psychiatry.org/ptsd) Continue reading
There has been a secret you’ve been concealing, that’s most likely eating you up inside, however, you now have mustered enough courage to tell someone you trust. It’s rough, and you’re just a kid.
Protection and trust have already been shattered by your abuser; you just couldn’t take it anymore, now it’s time to receive compassion, tenderness and told you were so courageous for coming forward and that person will be punished.
It may perhaps have been very positive for you, you were believed, acknowledged, obtained love, affection, sorrow and apologies for this ever happening; possibly counseling. You went on to recover with perhaps some difficulty, but you received support.
Instead, it was the most regretful day of my life.
Recalling my childhood, my mother seldom had any positive or encouraging words for me, mainly heartless or cruel remarks, only criticizing me for one thing or another spewed from her mouth. She was continually displeased, and only now recognizing that it would be impossible to accomplish ever pleasing this woman.
I was thinking the other day, what words would myself and perhaps others wish their narcissistic moms compassionately said to them.
Mom, if only you could have said:
~I know you don’t lie, of course, I believe you
~Always come to me when you’re upset or angry, I love you
~I’ll always believe in you, whatever your dreams are
~Let’s just have a girl’s day out once in a while, your choice, whatever you want
~You look so cute in those clothes
~Don’t focus on body image, it’s what’s inside
~You’re more important to me than anything
~I’m so damn proud of you.
~I love reading your stories/artwork/playing games
~You smell so nice and clean
~Don’t always spend time in your bedroom, we should spend more time together
~Your feelings matter you have a right to your opinion, I’m not always right and remember, we all make mistakes
~You look like something is bothering you, want to talk about it?
~Let me take care of you when you’re so sick, how about hot tea? Or I’ll sit beside you or we’ll lay in bed together
~Sure, have your friends over anytime, they are always welcome
~You’re so precious to me, having a daughter is a blessing
~Anything you want to ask me, go right ahead
~I love the way you laugh
~I’m sorry, it’s my fault, not yours/my mistake sorry I made you feel bad
~You are worthy, don’t let anyone make you feel that you are not
~Someone is going to be a lucky man to have you as his wife
~I want to just hug you, and keep hugging you
~I’ve got the best daughter a mother could have
Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017
PTSD is to blame for my feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness habitually during my life. Sexual abuse by a neighbor when I was six years old, coupled with the impact of living as a daughter of a narcissistic mother was the catalyst. With trauma, both sexual and emotional, I experienced negativity leading to depression. Seeking out therapy has improved the healing process.
On goodtherapy.org they explain Worthlessness
Worthlessness can be described as a feeling of desperation and hopelessness. Individuals who feel worthless may feel insignificant, useless, or believe they have nothing valuable to offer the world. People diagnosed with depression often report these feelings, and children who were neglected or abused may carry a sense of worthlessness into adulthood.
Worthlessness, a feeling that may cause an individual to feel as if they have no significance or purpose, can have a significant negative effect on emotional health. A recent study conducted by researchers at Seoul National University found that feelings of worthlessness were significantly associated with lifetime suicide attempt in adults who reported major depression and had also experienced trauma. The study concluded that, among symptoms of depression, worthlessness had the strongest association with lifetime suicide attempt.
Triggers can pop up just about anywhere. Just when you think that you have tackled an issue, whether it is dealing with a traumatic experience or re-living memories in a disorder called (PTSD), post-traumatic stress disorder, triggers may resurface.
For me, traveling the tough therapy road, confronting issues relating back to my horrid past of childhood sexual and emotional abuse (PTSD), I lived with flashbacks and frightening dreams. Certain smells, certain surroundings…..hard to pinpoint, can trigger a recollection. Luckily, I have moved on with my life and can swiftly shove these painful thoughts aside. It took years though to be able to achieve this.
A couple of years ago, a tough test for me tackling triggers was put to the test. Nine years of hospitalizations ended in 2002, and I had not visited the inside of any hospital ward since that time. My psychiatrist’s office was in the hospital, and although I had to pass by the doors to the ward for each appointment with him, it never bothered me due to the fact that I was an outpatient now.
Have you ever had someone enter your life that really made a difference when you were a child, validated your feelings or listened with concern when you spoke?
Perhaps it was a mentor, coach, Girl Guide leader; you get the idea. Reflect for a minute who that person was. For me, it was my high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Fox.
Each day I was greeted with a brilliant smile from her, and the only teacher throughout my entire schooling that I connected with.
I was emotionally abused by my narcissistic mother, forever feeling depressed, apathetic, sullen, despondent and isolated. Her home economics course, for grades eleven and twelve, included both cooking and sewing/crafts (this was back in the early 70’s when it was assumed girls who graduated would ultimately become secretaries or housewives!).
Don’t you just love the “just let it go” people? Such a simple solution for THEM.
To heal from trauma means finally dealing with the source of the trauma, whether it’s childhood abuse or neglect, combat experiences, or a natural disaster or a violent assault. How can this be done, however, when trauma provokes such negative and overwhelming feelings – feelings that most try hard to keep safely buried?
Therapy can be a vital step, helping the person feel safe enough to revisit their trauma without being retraumatized in the process. Getting the right support is key, however. Not only is it important to connect with a therapist well-versed in effective therapeutic approaches, it’s also vital to seek out a person with whom you feel a personal connection.
Multiple studies confirm that a person who feels good about their relationship with their therapist is more likely to have a positive outcome. A recent study from Bowling Green State University researchers takes the concept a step further, noting that a deep connection between a therapist and patient can lead to “sacred moments” that increase well-being on both sides.
“Well back in the ‘60’s, we didn’t know how to handle things like that”
That was my mother’s asinine come back to my question, “Why didn’t you even take me to the doctors’ as a caution?” when discussing the sexual abuse a few years ago. I’ve always questioned this, whether it be any decade, wouldn’t a mother ensure her child was ok? All around, I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother which explains everything.
My parents didn’t believe me when I was 8 years old, revealing that our neighbor was sexually abusing me, and making matters worse, had to ask for forgiveness from the abuser. I doubt my mother truly believes me to this day or recognized that she made a huge mistake or perhaps ashamed how it was all handled.
She has never fully expressed regret for her actions, never acknowledged or empathized with the crap I went through (PTSD, major depression, hospitalizations, etc.) including years of therapy to heal and wipe up her mess. (Showing no validation or empathy is a common trait of a narcissist).
She slept peacefully at night during my hellish years, while I was awake feeling guilt, shame, and worthlessness. I finally severed ALL contact with my mother a few years ago, which was the wisest decision and the only alternative allowing me to continue healing and living freely.
(I finally received validation from a stranger (therapist) 45 years later which began my healing journey from feeling anguish and pain).
Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy 2016
How true is this? Hugs to all, Deb
This video had me in tears. Sometimes I forget I’m a warrior, yet I struggled most of my life hiding a secret and believing it was my fault for the sexual abuse. I know now that it wasn’t and I finally accepted this and can breathe.
In newspapers and media reports, it’s sometimes stated women were violated and “sexually assaulted” or “abused”. Although I’m cognizant that abuse is traumatic regardless, “assault” covers such a broad range.
My point here is, are the public aware of the seriousness surrounding the most horrific assault cases. I located information below on the Gov’t of Western Australia Department of Health (Sexual Assault Resource Centre) website.
What is sexual assault?
My first involvement with therapy back in the early 1990’s was Psychodynamic Therapy, and at the beginning I was uncertain what it involved. This form of therapy was used to confront the issues dealing with PTSD, but little did I know I was in for an incredibly bumpy ride. Back then there wasn’t much information on types of therapies used, and wished I had researched and had use of the internet and resources that we do today.
The information on PsychCentral.com site explains:
Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. In its brief form, a psychodynamic approach enables the client to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to abuse substances.
The article continues on PsychCentral.com
I found this article somewhat helpful appearing in PsychCental.com.
Trauma is a complex phenomenon. Many of us have probably experienced an event that we struggle to not only forget, but emotionally cope with. If I were to ask you if you have ever experienced a traumatic event what would you say? Was it severe, moderate, or mild? Was it long-term or short-term? Were you able to easily get over it? Whatever the case may be, a traumatic experience must be an event that we find difficult to cope with over time. Sadly, many people who tend to lack knowledge about trauma fail to recognize that anything a trauma victim comes in contact with can re-traumatize them.
For example, I previously had a client who witnessed his mother slit her throat and commit suicide. Prior to this suicide, the mother had been playing hiding-go-seek outside with all 4 of her children. This child struggled with understanding why his mother would walk away during hiding-go-seek and kill herself. Now, at the age 10, he watches movies with his father that often include crime scenes, murder, and suicide which tends to trigger memories of his mother’s suicide. He is unable to sleep at night, relax, or put the past behind him. Yet, his father is unaware of the reality that he is possibly re-traumatizing his own son with these movies.
This article will discuss 7 things we, who are close to trauma victims, should be mindful not to do. I will also give suggestions on what we should do instead.
It is sad to say but a large amount of individual, families and parents come to therapy with unrealistic expectations about the therapeutic process. I often have parents and families ask the following questions when they see me for the first time:
- “How often will he/she see you?” This question is asked because the unrealistic expectation is that if the child/teen sees me more often throughout the week, progress will happen faster.
- “Will you make him/her talk?” This question is asked because the unrealistic expectation is that I am someone who should make an individual talk about the “bad” things that have happened to them in order to stimulate great progress.
- “Has she/he talk to you about what happened to them?” This question is also asked with the unrealistic expectation that an individual, who just met me and may be slow to warm up, will open up like a fountain and start talking. Many families often tell the child/teen “your therapist is not going to judge you so just open up.”
- “Why isn’t he/she talking about what makes him/her so mad?” This question is asked with the unrealistic expectation that if the person talks about their past, they won’t be so angry anymore.
Remainder of this article @
Throughout my years in therapy, validation was comparable to receiving a gift, at times triggering tears of sadness, yet happiness and contentment at the same time. Finally, someone was not ignoring me, was respecting my feelings and best of all, no interruptions with cruel words. As a daughter of a narcissistic mother, very rarely showing any validation, empathy and usually telling me “you’re making things up again.”, this was all new to me.
Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person’s internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue. – psychologytoday.com
This article from PsychCentral.com explains ‘Validation’.
Have you ever wished you could take back an email that you sent when you were emotionally upset? Or maybe you made some statements when you were sad that you didn’t really mean or agreed to something when you were thinking with your heart that you later regretted? Or maybe you wanted to be supportive and helpful to someone you love but couldn’t because your own emotions made it difficult?
Communicating when overwhelmed with emotion does not usually work well. Being overwhelmed with emotion is not a pleasant experience. For emotionally sensitive people, managing their emotions so they can communicate most effectively and with the best results means learning to manage the intense emotions they experience on a regular basis. Continue reading
“She’s such a nice girl”.
I’ve never recognized why I developed a short fuse or experience sudden outbursts of anger while growing up until I was in my therapy session last week. My therapist and I are seldom at odds, yet one particular thing she said ticked me off and I snapped at her which resulted in anger.
We talked it through and resolved the issue, but I was shocked when she said, “when angry, the PTSD kicks in just like that”. I never connected anger, irritability or having a short fuse before with PTSD, but it makes sense. Yes, I have a ‘short fuse‘ and I’m terribly impatient at times.
I’ve been termed ‘such a nice girl’ often, and to others, I suppose I am. Well-mannered, respectful, soft-spoken, compassionate, but underneath, I’ve held back anger on many occasions. Outside smiles, inside tears.
I’ve had problems with dreams and nightmares for years, and never gave it much thought that it may be connected to trauma (PTSD). After, discussing memories and flashbacks in therapy, I’m beginning to understand how much trauma can have an impact on dreams. My psychiatrist has prescribed a medication (Prazosin Hcl 2mg) to alleviate the nightmares, and it has been fairly successful so far.
Those terrifying, nighttime dreams in which you show up at work naked, encounter an ax-wielding psychopath, memories from childhood trauma or other tribulations may become a thing of the past thanks to a discovery reported on Reuters.com.