Jan
04

Sexual Harassment and the Truth about Freezing in Fear

By
sexual harassment and freezing in fear
trapped in the deep

I was fifteen or sixteen when I worked in that Real Estate office as a receptionist on the weekends. I answered the phones, and typed offers for the salesmen.  My mother’s disgusting boyfriend got me the job. That should have been the first red flag.

There was this one chubby salesman named Ron who gave me the creeps. He was about 40 years old. He was just a little too friendly. He would come up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. He tried to rub my back. I was terrified of him and didn’t even understand why. It was one of those feelings that today I have come to realize was my intuition. It was my “radar” warning me about a predator. That man had really bad motives when it came to me.

One day he came up to my desk and showed me some porn pictures. At first he was on the other side of the reception desk. He handed them to me; I took one look at them and handed them back without speaking. They looked like snapshots and they were mostly of naked people having oral sex.  Those snapshots were pretty graphic. He came around to my side of the desk and at first I tried to look away, but he told me to look at the pictures. Something about him scared me and so I did as I was told and looked at the pictures. He slowly flipped through them, and I looked at them one by one. I was horrified and terrified, but I didn’t turn away. I thought if I was strong, if I showed no reaction, that he would lose interest in me. I thought that if I just pretended that it wasn’t bothering me, he would not ask me to do those things to him. And then another one of the salesman joined in on this humiliating event. They were egging each other on, asking me if I had “ever done that” and asking if “I would like that” or if I would like to “do that”.  I was scared to death, but I never even flinched. I just kept looking at the pictures as he put one behind the other.  I was sure that I had to stay neutral to be safe. (Today that reminds me of how and why I’d learned that staying neutral would be the safest choice.)

There was a hot tub out back at the real estate office. They tried to talk me into going in it with them. They said that I didn’t need a bathing suit. They told me I could go in my underwear if that made me more comfortable. (like I could possibly EVER be comfortable in a hot tub with two disgusting older married men who showed me porn pictures)  They laughed at how uncomfortable I was when they were around me. I had this one boss there that I liked, but I didn’t tell on those men. I didn’t tell my boss and I didn’t tell my mother. I didn’t even think about telling! (Today that reminds me of how I learned that telling wouldn’t help me anyway so why bother. I was way too young to have to deal with all this stuff alone.)

They never let up on me until I finally had the guts to quit that job before they could complete their version of the grooming process.

I did not know what “sexual harassment” was. I didn’t know what sexual harassment was in the work place, or at school, or with boyfriends.  I did not know that what these nasty older men were doing was illegal. I didn’t know I had rights. I especially didn’t know why the hell I froze and just looked at the pictures! The thing that stuck out the most in my memory was that I froze and complied. I may have even laughed trying to be tough and make them think I wasn’t scared to death. I may have even mumbled the answers to some of the questions.  

And I was haunted by the question to myself about what I would have done if they had forced me to go in that hot tub with them. What if they had pushed me harder? What would I have done if they had demanded that I go? Deep down I was pretty sure I knew the answer…

Silence is consent and all I could think about was that I looked at the pictures and didn’t say no. I didn’t try to stop them. I didn’t report them. I felt as though I had actually gone along with them. For years I beat myself up over that day and the fact that I didn’t “do anything” about it. I didn’t stand up for myself. I didn’t call them dirty pigs. I didn’t say NO. 

I was so angry at myself kicking myself with questions like “Why did I freeze like that”? I bombarded myself with berating statements like “I should have…..” and “why didn’t I?”  It was many years later that I even considered that the TRUTH is that both those men should have been charged and would have been held accountable for the crimes they committed against me. This thing they were doing  was sexual abuse.

I was in my forties when I finally learned that “freezing” is what many children do when they are being abused and overpowered by an adult. I had learned to freeze and dissociate when I was just over two years old. It had become one of my main coping methods. I learned very young that compliance was the safest way to go. I had learned not to react, not to fight and I had learned that fighting or reacting would only make it worse for me. 

What I hadn’t realized as I grew up was that I would continue to believe that inaction is the best course of action well after I was old enough to say no. I could have gotten those men in trouble. I could have called the police, but I had been trained to accept unacceptable behaviour. I had been taught that I was not going to be believed OR protected. I had no reason to believe that was ever going to change.

I continued beating myself until I realized the truth about why I chose passive submission most of the times I had been abused from the age of 13 or 14 onwards.  There was a conflict in my belief system. As a grown woman I understood that silence was consent; what I didn’t realize was that my compliance and silence was also the childhood coping method that worked for me.  Silence and compliance was learned behaviour and the only way that I knew and since it was the only way all those years growing up, why would I try or even think to try another way just because I got older? Logically I told myself I “should have known better or should have done something” but the truth was that what worked for me best as a child always won out. I would freeze, dissociate and comply.  

I didn’t tell on those men because I had been groomed from a very young age not to tell. I didn’t fight because I had been taught from a very young age that fighting would only make it worse. I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know that I had any rights or any choices. I didn’t really learn my rights or choices until I was over 40 years old. My power had been taken from me from a very young age and I since I had never had any power in my own life, I didn’t know that I could ever have any.

Today, I know the truth about rights and choices. Today I have my power back.

Please share your thoughts. This post can be applied to any situation where adults misused their power over another person.

There is freedom on the other side of broken,

Darlene Ouimet

This is going to be an exciting year for Emerging from Broken. If you would like to receive updates about events, news about my upcoming book or other newsworthy updates, please subscribe to “get the latest news” button at the top of the blog on the right sidebar. Don’t forget to check your email and confirm your subscription.

Related Posts ~ Adult Victims of Child Abuse Still need to be Heard

Dysfunctional Family Law and Family Belief Systems

Effects of Abuse. Guilt, Shame and Solutions

Categories : Survival

78 Comments

1

Darlene,
I love this post! I dealt with this same issue. Until I realized why I froze, I blamed myself for the awful things that happened in my adulthood instead of seeing the rapist and abusers as the guilty ones. I’d already accepted the blame for my original abuse. I “knew” I was the bad one and every time I didn’t resist to the abuse I encountered, that reinforced my belief that I was the bad one and I was to blame for the things that happened to me.

Finding where that lie came from was so important for my recovery and for getting my power back. I sure don’t freeze anymore! Thanks for sharing such a key piece of the recovery puzzle.
Hugs,
Christina

2

[...] Related Posts: Power Play: How to Recognize an Abuser The Wolf in Shepherd’s Clothing: The “Benevolent” Abuser Power Trip: How to Journey From Overpowered to Empowered Sexual Harassment and the Truth About Freezing in Fear [...]

3

I could have written this post. It wasn’t until I was in therapy when I realized that I wasn’t to blame for freezing and that, like you, it was the safest thing for me to do and a learned and conditioned coping mechanism. It was my way to survive. Thank you so much for sharing experiences that so many of us believe we’ve suffered alone, it was unique, it was our fault and no one could understand or even believe us if we could verbalize it.
Lainey

4

Darlene,

This was a HUGE revelation for me in my own healing too! I carried this coping mechanism for decades, long into my marriage even…even convincing myself I had a sexual addiction because I just “couldnt say no, even if I wanted to” and only about a year or so ago did I even begin to realize (I cant even remember how it came about, but I remember the night I realized it fully and told my husband about it) and it really changed my view of myself and my power and I finally started to fully grasp my power as a person, an adult, a human being…I finally began to see myself as just as valuable as every other person who had a right to say no to things. I finally “got it” that I could say no too, and that IT WAS OKAY TO SAY NO and good people would even respect that no, and listen to me when I said it.

Even now this is a big issue for me, a month or so ago, I was waiting for the bus, and this man (who was drunk and probably homeless, but Im not sure obviously)
came up to me and started flirting with me, and I started to freeze immediately, but that time, I realized it was happening and knew I had a choice, and he asked me to use my earphones to listen to the music I was listening to with me…and I told him no, that I didnt want him to put them in his ear…and to someone without a history like ours, that seems so small and obviously something we have a right to want for ourselves, but that was probably the first time in my life I saw my rights as a person as more important than what someone else, especially a strange man, wanted from me. So to me, that was a HUGE thing, really really really huge…and I couldnt explain the magnitude of that to my husband, or really anyone else other than my therapist, and she may not even really “get it” on the same level, but I know that you all here do…and I am extremely proud of who I am becoming and that I am learning that I have rights and am valuable too, and I owe so much of that to EFB and Darlene and so many others that are a part of this blog.

Thank you!

5

I didnt even mention what originally came to me when I read this post the first time, before I commented last.

When I was in college, I was probably 24ish and had a job on campus, with a department that was predominantly male…and I loved that job, and I was good at it, and enjoyed the people I worked with. Then there were some changes and our department merged with another, and we got some new co-workers, and one of them did something similar to what Darlene wrote about, he was older and married and had children and I tried to avoid him, and not be alone around him and anything and everything outside of a verbal refusal…and I never even thought for a second that it was wrong…I thought I was the problem!!! Around that same time, my mother happened to tell me I needed to “dress more sexy for school so I could find a man”….so I knew I couldnt tell her! So I just started messing up so bad at work that they fired me….and this was in my 20′s, in college, after kids and a divorce….and I still didnt know I had rights that other people knew they had at half my age.

It makes me feel so robbed when I think of it like that. The people who were supposed to protect me, not only screwed it up when I was a child, but started a chain that continued for decades…and only when I made the conscious choice to NOT pass that on to my own children and start my own healing, did I see the truth for what it was. Now I watch my sibling’s children going through the same sorts of “am I good enough?” “am I sexy enough?” bullsh*t that I remember doing at their age….and it breaks my heart. I wish I could just hug them and tell them how wonderful they are, and how much more worth they have than just in their bodies and to tell anyone who thinks otherwise to f*ck off, even if its their parents or family!

6

Relating to this post and thinking about how the submission and resulting anger played out in my life. I never got any good advice from the places where I sought help. In domestic violence centers I was taught that “Men are bad and Women are good”, “Men are abusers and Women are victims”. Having two sons and loving them because they were the two people in the world I trusted, the ONLY two. And then having my oldest suffer from molestation by his god father angered me. I question EVERYONE and have since I was very young. Thanks to my Father who placed me in the trust of a neighbor who molested me all for my Fathers want of cheap/free alcohol.
These behaviors are adaptations, I believe. I too was molested at a very young age: 3. I actually demanded that my Parents take us away from the baby-sitter’s house and of course was ignored. That was my first lesson in not being taken seriously and my importance in the family. My Mother tells me of a family story: I was about 3 (when the molestation began,) I would run up to my Father in the grocery store hit him and shout “Bad Man!!” and run away. It’s telling that that is a “funny family anecdote” that puzzled my family. To me it shows a very angry little girl acting out her disempowerment. Part of the reason why I am “crazy” is from the constant BS that society tells us that fairness is inevitable. It’s not and you have to make or get your own. It’s amazing to me the reality that many people succumb to the lie of submitting. Take for example my sister-in-law. She was raped by her father multiple times. But now although not confronting him about it is “at peace” with it and forgives him. I really question that. I believe that she “forgives” him because family money is at stake and she can believe that nothing will ever happen to anyone again since he lives on another continent.
I on the other hand am intimately tied to my parents and living in the home I grew up in. I’m not better, just in a different living situation. I am working to get out of this awful place I put myself in. I know for a fact that I am not strong enough to deal with these flashbacks from the past. The aforementioned god father lives two doors down. I think getting away from this place will help me to help myself.
Sorry for the long comment. Your posts help me to ruminate and connect facts that normally I avoid. Thank you for your post, again. :)

7

Hi Christina!
Thanks for sharing and for being here!
This was a huge thing for me too! Once I found out the roots of the freezing, I was able to step out of that child hood coping method.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lainey
I am really glad that my work resonates with you! Once I understood that it was a survival thing I finally realized that I didn’t need to freeze anymore!
Hugs, Darlene

8

Hi Amira,
Wow, I relate to all of what you shared here too! I totally understand the hugeness of telling someone no! Just reading that story about the drunk guy I was having flashbacks of the times where I froze and could not say no. I related to a bunch of other stuff you wrote too! So glad those days are over.
Thanks for adding your thoughts to this thread!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Bipolar Bear
Your post brings a ton of stuff to my mind too. YUCK… and it bothers me that even today there is not a lot of really great help or advice out there. It is startling how many families tell those stories that they seem to recall as being FUNNY or cute!
Thanks for sharing; please don’t worry about the length of comments. Writing so often reveals our own answers. And here, there is even feedback and we get to impact others and it is win win for all!
Hugs, Darlene

9

Darlene, I’m old enough to remember what it was like before there were sexual harrasment laws. When I first started working, women just thought of it as something we had to deal with. It is a horrible feeling to be faced with complying or losing your job. I’m so glad that there are laws to prevent this now. Sexual abuse shouldn’t be part of any job.

Pam

10

This is all very interesting to me. They say there is the fight or flight instinct, but I find there is also the freeze instinct. I was kind of a combination as a kid. If my dad and I got into a fight (which was nearly every day) it was pretty messy. Very verbal and I was definitely a fighter and not a runner. But now that I am older, I freeze more. And I am beginning to wonder if initially I did freeze when I was younger, but my dad prodded me enough that I fought back. This is all non-sexual and I am grateful to have never had to experience sexual abuse. But I do get the “freeze” thing.

I actually started to do a little research on it a while ago because I was talking with my best friend about some of our difficulties, and I mentioned to her that I literally freeze and basically become emotionally, mentally and somewhat physically paralyzed when I am triggered badly. Such as if there is a sudden negative change and I am not prepared for it. I don’t know, it’s a strange thing for me. really strange. But I am unable to do or say anything because the strength of the person dominating me (or the situation dominating me) is so powerful and somewhat luring that I just let it happen while knowing that I should breathe, run, fight for myself, whatever the appropriate response is.

11

Hi Darlene,

Every time I read your posts which are written so powerfully, I see a mirror of my own life. You have put into words the way I automatically react (even today, in my forties) the FREEZE reaction. I have never questioned it before and I am so glad you have bought it to my conscious awareness because I froze all of my life whenever I was being mentally abused and every time I was sexually harrassed I froze because it was so inbedded into my subconscious/learned behaviour to just freeze.

I was never taught that it is ok to say NO, and I have never ever felt safe. The one time I did say no I was still hassled to have sex and so I just did it to get it over with to stop the hassling. That is how low I thought of myself.

I finally have said NO to my family’s abuse and guess what they have done? the most predictable response, stonewalled and ignored me and refused to discuss any issues raised. Also, I am told by family members who have spoken to them that I am crazy, mentally ill and on anti depressants. All are lies.

The issues I raised with them was that I didn’t want them to have contact with a family member who mentally and sexually abused me. Their response was to invite me to their home for a few days and my mother and her husband showed me photos of them and his family together and guess what I did, I FROZE.

I didn’t immediately say that was wrong and insensitive and I knew that they would minimise, lie, deny my truth. I had gone to stay there for a few days and so that night when everyone went to bed and my mind was so confused, I sneaked out the house, got in my car and drove home in the middle of the night. My intuition over-rode my FREEZE reaction and my body just said get out of this crazy house with these awful people who don’t give a shit about you.

Now whenever I feel uncomfortable and whenever I feel FROZEN, I just walk out the room, walk out the house, move home, just physically remove myself. That’s the only way I can feel better.

Thank you so very very much for this blog and thank you to everyone who writes their comments, I am learning from you all.

12

Emma,

I am sorry your family is that way. But I am glad you were able to get out of there and now know why it happens! Like you, I tried to say no, once or twice in my life, but was either pressured or forced to give in, so by the time I was an adult, I never even considered saying no, because it never mattered anyway and at least if you don’t fight it, they are (usually) nicer about the whole thing and dissociation was automatic and I didn’t feel it anyway. I used to feel bad and guilty about all those times that i didn’t say no, but now I know that it’s not me, it’s the life conditioning I was given before I had a choice. I have a choice now, and I can choose to not have people in my life that don’t respect my “no” regardless of why I give it.

13

The FREEZE RESPONSE is a primal, hardwired way of responding to danger or trauma. Deer do it as do other animals. I still do it but I try now to just leave the situation. Thank you for talking about this!

14

Hi Amira,

Thank you so much for your comments. I totally agree with you about how abusers are usually nicer afterwards.

I’m so glad that you are using your choice to say no and I’ve promised myself this new year that I am going to honour my right to say NO for the rest of my life.

Also, I find it has shown me that deep down all I ever wanted is for people to be nice to me and its that wanting that has got me into unsafe/negative situations.

Nowadays if people don’t like me or don’t appear to be nice people I just walk away and don’t get involved with trying to make them like/approve of me.

15

Hi Christina G
I was thinking about that flight or fight instinct when I was writing this blog post and I thought about the “freeze instinct” as well!
It was in the work that I did around the roots of freezing that I finally was able to stop freezing. Freezing was also hand in hand with dissociating and disconnecting from myself and the situation for me, so I first had to become very aware of when I did that and learn to stop disconnecting.
Thanks for being here and for your contribution to this thread,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
No matter if the law was in place or not, this was still illegal and I was a minor also. The bigger thing for me in this is that I didn’t even know that it was wrong and that I had a right to be safe. The problem for so many survivors/victims is that the laws don’t make any difference when a perp gets the feeling that the target won’t fight back or report. There is so much of this whole thing that is beyond verbal communication. It is so important to change the belief system because the boundary is drawn there.
Hugs Darlene

16

Hi Emma
Sometimes I think there must be a script somewhere, this family stuff is so typical! But I know that everyone gets together and gangs up on the truth teller as though the majority will be right and if the majority bands together, they won’t have to face the painful truth. I have seen victims of incest with their memories in tact, stick up for the parents who perpetrated it in order to stay “safe” or what they mistakenly think is safe. There is no safety when it comes to compliance with the abusers or controllers. Like you said, when you don’t comply with they have all sorts of new ways to punish and manipulate.
Thank you for sharing this Emma. You are right on track with your observations.
Hugs, Darlene

Amira ~ love your comments to Emma about your choice!

Hi Barbara,
Like I said to others, for me the way that I was able to stop doing it was to really look at the roots of how and why I had to do it as a child. The first MANY times I stood up for myself verbally I was scared to death and had such huge adrenalin rushes that I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest. But it comes easier all the time. (and I am talking about even if someone just talks down to me now, I don’t freeze anymore.)
Thanks for sharing. You are right about the freeze response being hardwired in when we have been devalued as a child.
Hugs, Darlene

17

As a biology student in school, and later as a nurse, I was taught about the Fight or Flight mechanism. Nobody ever talked about freezing. I had never heard of freezing until I got into therapy last year. I thought I was abnormal, weak, stupid… all those things I had heard over the years – and although I realised that by freezing I laid myself open to further abuse – and for it to get more dangerous, I couldn’t help it – and so the self-torture got ingrained in my psyche. The thought that – maybe I did deserve it or asked for it – enjoyed it in someway….terribly hurtful thought processes that prevented me from getting help. I had learned as a young child that keeping quiet was required – my mother hated noise – as I grew and went to school keeping quiet meant I did not attract attention, or at least was less likely to – but it didn’t work in reality. It didn’t seem to matter whether I spoke up or kept quiet, I did not get help, was not protected – and was abused. Keeping quiet was simply better for me, in the end – I could float off somewhere else.
Reading this blog was hard – I knew it would be when I saw the post on FB. AS I read it my heart was pounding and I was highly anxious but…..I really needed to see this.
The tears have been of relief – if I AM a freak it seems I am in good company! But I know I am not – nor are any of you. Facing the demons is hard, and sometimes leaves me exhausted for days, but I am learning to do different. Slowly – oh painfully slowly.
Thanks for this Darlene.

18

Hi Libby
I laughed out loud when I read your statement “If I AM a freak it seems that I am in good company!” I am glad you went on to say that you know you are not, nor are any of the other people here, but I really got what you meant in that statement! LOL
At the root of all my recovery and overcoming specific mysteries of the way that I think/thought and react, I have always reached the same point of having to realize WHERE the particular issue started. As a child we don’t process anything. When we get older, we process from the point of the event or trauma itself. THAT has been the problem and that is what I am getting at in this website. I had to finally look at what I HAD to do as a child and realize that I was still reacting from that belief system. I HAD to freeze as a child. What I didn’t know is that I didn’t have to anymore. I make it sound easy I know; as you say, facing demons is hard and it took me a few years to even understand what had happened with the freeze thing and a couple more years to re wire my brain and reactions and my definition of what was “safe”.
Thank you for sharing. As you say ~ keeping quiet WAS better then… but this is now and I am so glad that you are here and on the road!!
Hugs, Darlene

19

Hi Darlene, I know you were a minor. I was thinking of my own experience in a simular situation and though I was still very young, I was no longer a minor. I would have had legal recourse if they assaulted me but otherwise, there was nothing women could do about it.The older women in my office made it pretty clear that it was just something I needed to learn to negotiate. Women were still held as being responsible in whatever sexual situation. This attitude has changed somewhat, but I still think our culture puts more responsibility on men than women. Ayway, I’m glad there are harassment laws in place now.

At fifteen and sixteen, I also, was not sure about what was right and wrong treatment when it came to sex. That’s why it was so easy for a grown man to talk me into leaving home and living with him. I understand how you felt in that situation.

Love,
Pam

20

Hi Pam,
I think I understood what you were saying. I was just trying to be clear about something that I thought went deeper ~ I guess it is my own desire to communicate more . I think that our society/culture STILL does all this. I have been mentored by many victims as an adult. People who taught me to submit. In many areas in life I was taught that compliance is best. If you think about organizations that do this type of mentoring it is frightening. I was taught to submit to my husband by women who were victims of their own husbands. I was taught to serve others, (no matter wht the personal cost to me) by people who were victims of serving and being defined as only worthy of serving but not worthy of being served. I was in many situations like this office story when I was no where near a minor anymore, but my reaction was the same. My face still burns at one assault that happened at work when I was in my twenties because I was groomed to believe that I brought it on myself.
When I started to stand up I found out that standing up is possible too and there is self love and validation when I do that. There is “truth” when I do that. People (women and men) still today believe there is no choice when it comes to “the way it is”, but there is. For me I didn’t realize that until I fully understood my own belief system. It is so amazing to me today that I don’t ever get pushed anymore. It is like abusers “sense” that they won’t get past my boundary. I no longer give off any victim vibes or something!
I wasn’t disagreeing with you Pam, I just wanted to go deeper.
Hugs, Darlene

21

i have been lucky with my husband as he never has pushed me further than i was ready , yet now after 20yrs of being together we have no sex life because i freeze when he touches me. i have always been one of those who never understood the facsination my teenage mates had for sex, and still dont. i have read alot about body memories and other triggers deep in ya mind that take over when things get too much and the brain just blanks out. but i dont have what makes me react in that manner. i know i have been sexually abused by both grandads, my brothers and a babysitter. yet as my mind still cannot face the memories of what they did it seems i have found myself in a type of limbo. i hate not being able to have hugs and cuddles for fear of my husband thinking there will be more, even when he says he wont his body reacts and i recoil. which makes him think it is him i am recoiling from and no matter how i have tried to explain it to him, he cannot grasp what i am saying. and as it has been such a long time that i have been like this any attempt by me seen as excuses and not explainations. it not as if we dont know how to solve this as we have has to readjust my thinking a few times at the begining of our relationship, but time has set him into ruts that i am finding it hard to break him and therefore us both forward. ooooo partners can be such a bonus and a nitemare all rolled into one, carnt they?

22

Hi everyone

Libby, what you wrote made me think of the Michael Franti song: “all the freaky people make the beauty of the world!” :)

Darlene, this one brought some tears to my eyes. I haven’t felt like posting anything lately (not real sure why). I’ve got an unsent text msg in my phone (never planned to send it) to the girl I went on a date with month or 2 back; one thing I wrote (about the likelihood of family & their friends coming gunning for me if I cut off/spoke out about abuse was “unfortunately, I freeze when attacked. For those of us who were trained well enough early enough, it’s the 3rd option in the ‘fight or flight’ response”

I think I’ve posted before about the time (couple/few months back) when my mother said she wanted to “talk” to me. My body seized up instantly, but every nerve/instinct was SCREAMING at me to just get the f**k away from her, but I didn’t. (Although I made a couple of tiny attempts to stand up for myself verbally, which I think would be a first for me, so I’m actually proud of that).

There is a tiny part of me that can see it as a “good” thing, but only from the point of view that I was probably the worst I’d ever been in terms of starting to believe they deserved the blame I’d been giving myself all these years, but at the same time doubting myself so much etc (worried I was exaggerating/lying to myself/just trying to pass the blame to anyone etc) — but this time it was like a small part of me was apart from what was actually happening, and for the first time really noticing how my mother completely ignored my needs and was just 100% certain that I’d do what she wanted (I said it wasn’t a good time for me, she just brushed it off and waited for me to come sit down). Then she told me how my depression’s been so hard on them because I don’t interact with them as much as they want, and don’t help out around the house enough. (This was after I’d told them I was inches away from hospitalisation).

There was a small part of me that was thinking (I think even as it was happening) about the wry irony of my mother actually helping me by abusing me, because never again could I doubt the fact that she’s a self-involved, narcissistic, cold-hearted *#&#&^.

And yet, I’m still struggling so hard with the battle of doing the “socially acceptable” thing & not cutting all contact. I think it’s mainly a self-interest thing, in terms of I’m under so much pressure at the moment re moving out etc, I just can’t add to that. And I think I’m ok with that (choosing to do something because it helps me right now).

By the way, I want to express my sadness at the stories told here (my brain’s feeling too full to re-read them & remember specific names & story details sorry). This feels kinda half-assed, but I did feel it as I read the first time, so what the hell.

Ok one more thing – I’m supposed to be in a friend’s wedding party fairly soon. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it. I saw him tonight and he asked if I was going to be ok, and I said yes. In a way I think there was a fair bit of freezing going on right there. My parents are going to be there. I don’t really know what to do. This friend is the one who saw my worst breakdown couple of months back (ironically, after a wedding where my parents attended also) when I lost it completely and told him I didn’t want to live anymore. I think he just can’t understand this level of pain. I’m really worried that I’ll have another breakdown if I try and do it, but discovered tonight I’m too scared to disappoint him, so I just said yes. (He’d also said after earlier breakdown he could just not invite my parents – he’d only sent out “save the date” cards so far, but he still said how much he wants them to be there.)

As I typed that last sentence, I finally can see that that’s not fair to me. But I’m scared of the fallout if I put my wants/needs over other people’s (both from my friend & my family). Although to be honest, I was talking with my GP just today & saying that in a lot of ways, it feels like a pretty superficial friendship that’s only there cause we’ve known each other almost 20 years, and that if it wasn’t for the fact he’s one of basically two people that still contact me, I’d think about cutting it off. F**k this s**t gets messy doesn’t it? Because I’ve never felt able to say what I really thought about things, it’s like 20 years of him having a “friendship” with someone who doesn’t really exist. And for me, I’ve had to sit through things like him talking about how disgusting fat people are, how his friend who attempted suicide needs to “man up” and get over the girl he was in love with who rejected him (in a situation not dissimilar to my inability to get over my first love).

When I put it in black and white like that, it helps me realise this isn’t “just” me being too picky etc. But f**k me, it’s a lot easier to THINK about cutting off/standing up than to do it. Right now I’m actually thinking I need to call him tomorrow and bail on the wedding. (I at least warned him of it couple of months ago). And it’s probably only gonna get worse, not better as it gets closer and closer. But I guess I’m afraid that it’ll be the death blow to the friendship, and may trigger s**t from my parents too (scratch that – WILL trigger s**t from them), and that in turn may trigger a total family cutting-off before felt ready to do so.

F*********ck.

Feeling bad about spilling so much, but that’s just my brain f**king with me as usual, so I’m going to post it anyway. I’d really appreciate any encouragement/validation if anyone’s able to.

Hope everybody’s doing well.

23

Darlene,

Thanks for another insightful and succinctly written post. Like others, I read parts of my story in that as well. As a teen, after so much SA, and continued sexual harrassment, I wondered if I just wore a sign that said, “sex toy.” Like you, I just froze in situations where I could have said stop and then hated myself afterwards. Like you, I learned early that telling someone didn’t do any good and somewhere (yet to be determined) I learned that it would be easier/less painful/less stressful, for me if I didn’t fight it. I have always had such a strong voice for everything BUT the sexual things. I am in a stable loving marriage so having a voice to say no hasn’t been a problem but that said, my good marriage has masked the inner issues I have never dealt with and changed and I realize more and more that I need to settle these things in order to make myself whole and free of the baggage of the past.

Darlene, thank you so much for doing what you do. Truly. This is a great sounding board and I appreciate it.

Jen

24

Darlene & all, Sometimes I hit submit when I should read what I wrote first. I meant to say that society still places more responsibility on women than men when it comes to sexual morality. It’s better than it used to be but it still isn’t equal.

Darlene, If everyone did as those older women advised me, nothing would ever change for the better. Your comment on “your face burning” with remembrace of a past incident really relates to how I used to feel about the sexual abuse when I was a teenager. Your saying this makes me realize that my face no longer burns when I think about the incidents that made up that abuse. I am free of the guilt that belongs to them, not me. Carrying the shame of others is a burden too heavy to bear.

Pam

25

Hi Carol
I think this is a normal difficulty in the whole process of recovery.
hugs, Darlene

Ha ha Pam
I too made a typo in mine. I meant to say that I vividly remember how my face burned over that incident in the bathroom with the co-worker. NOT that my face still burns. Although… it makes me pretty angry today that he had that nerve!
Hugs, Darlene

26

Hi J.
I had (and still occasionally have) those tough times too. It is hard to “wake up” and realize the truth about our pasts. Down days are very normal.
Hang in there, I hope you feel better soon.
Sorry for the short comments, I am really tried lately, likely from the holidays and all the activity lately.
Hugs, Darlene

27

THanks Darlene,

Sorry to hear about the tiredness, I know for me that’s a really really frustrating feeling!

Don’t forget to give yourself a break when you need to – you do so much for everyone here!

Wishing you strength & good quality sleep

(and hugs! can’t forget hugs!!!) :)

28

PS I’ve been thinking my friend needs a “fog-busting” statement (as someone I know might say!) :)

I guess I’ve had to realize he’s choosing my parents over me (well I g uess he prob sees it as choosing both). Which is what I’ve been afraid of. But oh well.

Just can feel the brain pressure building already. Feel like I just need to drop out now before it’s too late. Tough decision to make.

29

I felt the same way about my spiritual abuse experiences during my teens. The church, the youth pastor, the baptismal tank, haunted me for years.

30

Hi Darlene,

You are doing such good work and giving out lots of powerful information and energy, there is only one you and probably hundreds of us!

The information given here is invaluable, thank you and no need to reply to this, please rest!

31

I felt over powered by the youth pastor who told the youth group that if I would get baptized in church, (show my submission) then a lot of kids would get “saved”. (they would have to prove their “salvation” by getting baptized in that church, too.) SO, I was holding the youth group back if I didn’t get baptized. I was holding the youth pastor’s career back by not getting baptized. I was probably jepardizing his family’s future as well as their standard of living, which was quite high. But in order to participate in a youth group trip to Haiti, I got baptized, dunk style, in this church. My boyfriend and I stuck together during much of this trip, and really started to pick apart what bothered us about the control and style of the youth pastor. Unfortunately for me, soon after that, his friends decided that I had a sharp tongue and was to be ignored. Then we went our separate ways, of college for me and work in another state for him.

It would have been better for me had I stood my ground and said that I had already been baptized in a church long before high school, would not get baptized again, and skipped the trip altogether. I suffered mentally from the whole experience for many years.

32

So yesterday I responded to a group that I have participated in for two years now by saying DO NOT SEND ME ANYMORE EMAILS. I got a snippy reply. This was the third time I asked to not receive anymore emails from this group since they have at least three different email chains going with different addresses. It is a choir, and paying your dues and singing (I also take private lessons and have for years, and have taught) singing well is not desired in this group. Solos always go to a political choice, and we are told to NOT sing out, to not out sing our neighbors, etc. And when concert time comes, there is this one doctor’s wife who harrasses me on the risers mercilessly. I knew this would be my last concert. So the women around me think I am a misfit since I sing well, and can project my voice, which is not desired in this choir. They also insist that everyone participates in a major fund raising dinner in January, lose a lot of rehearsal time to this for announcements about it, and say that if you don’t participate, you must donate more money. INSTEAD of just charging more money to sing in the choir and spending the time really singing well and learning music worth singing. NOT A GOOD FIT!!

Last fall, I sang with another community choir at our four year state university directed by a voice teacher, (of all things) and when I auditioned for the solo, he turned around from the piano and looked me straight in the eye and asked if i had been holding back my voice during choir rehearsals. (funny moment for me) None of the sopranos knew I could sing. He told me to STOP holding back and SING OUT. I also got the solo!! I beat out voice majors and school music teacers!! What a thrill and what a contrast to the other choir!

So, I really had the nerve and the backbone now to tell the first choir that I no longer want to receive emails and not care about the response.

33

thank you, so much, Darlene! that was exactly my problem when i continued having sex with my dad after i turned 18!

Nothing changed, because nothing had changed.
i had been raised to comply; and even though my head knew it was wrong, i felt i had no choice.
i had been removed from his household just two months before my 18th birthday; and my birthday present from my foster parents was being told i had two weeks to get out!

I also had not finished high school, had no job skills, and no resources of any kind – except dear old Dad… [I sooo wish someone had told me about JobCore! it might have given me a chance to get away, plus learn some skills!!]

My dad told me that if i turned him in to the authorities, again [even though i was NOT the one who turned him in] that i would be arrested, too, for incest, because now i was of age. And, i, of course, believed him. .
Why would i turn him in, at that point, anyway? the legal system had already failed me, and i was way too broken, by then, to fight
i had no where to turn…
I am sharing this because some people (maybe even some who have been abused) might be shocked that an “adult” would let such things continue (for 6 more years) but i was no where near grown up, when i turned 18!

34

I find this post so freeing. Although, I may have frozen in the earliest of years, I got to a point to where I began to fight when I was around 10 or 11. I fought back by speaking out and began telling what had been happening to me. I found a power, a kind of power, I began to believe that if I used the guy for my own gratification then I would be the one to retain the power. I went through that in my teens. I didn’t care if anyone ever loved me, I would sleep with a man then throw him to the curb. That is how I held my power.
As I matured I believed some how that I had to have sex with a man in order to be loved or accepted. My attitude changed about dumping a man and switched to doing everything I could to keep the one I loved.
I didn’t realize that I had been sexually abused until I was in my 20′s. It just made me feel more screwed up. I,like one of your readers, began to believe that I had a sex addiction.
In my 2nd marriage I was horribly sexually abused by my husband. He did unnatural things to me, for which I felt shameful for participating in. I would tell him no and we would fight and fight until I gave in. I was so afraid he would leave me if I didn’t go along with it. Even though I mostly complied he finally did leave. He left me with severe problems with my insides that I still can’t have fixed because I am too embarrassed to go to a doctor, a stranger, to have the problem fixed. I am too scared that if they do surgery that they will just mess me up worse. They want to do a hysterectomy and I am just horrified at having my uterus taken out. I know that there will come a time when I can face and deal with this. I am being patient with myself.
My current husband, the true love of my life, has taught me that I don’t have to perform to be loved and accepted. He is kind, gentle and understanding. He will be with me all the way when I find the courage to have the problem taken care of. But, I am thankful that I have finally realized that it really is the other person’s fault not ours that these things happened to us. My 2nd husband was a predator and he saw something in me that I couldn’t and used that against me.
I thank God for my current husband who has shown me that true love is not about sexual performance or just gratifying a man, but it is about loving a person for who they are and not what they do.
There has been a lot of healing with that. I love what you are doing here Darlene, it is so important that there is a medium to which we can share our experiences and speak openly about these things.
Thanks
-Liz

35

Liz,

I wonder if there are any alternative ways for your body to heal, at least to some extent, without a hysterectomy? I am going into massage therapy and will be looking for alternative uses for massage and supplements. Study the pros and cons of having a hysterecctomy? Long term effeccts, loss of hormones, etc.

I felt that my ex was a predator as well. I told my 21-year-old son not to take his girlfriend around his dad or she would be driven off. He has not told me that recently when he did introduce her to his dad, his dad asked her if her sister and her boyfriend have sex with each other, and later asked my son if my son has oral sex with his girlfriend. I am still mortified by this man. The girlfriend told my daughter this when she met her last month, and my daughter passed it onto me. I haven’t met the girlfriend yet; I hope it lasts that long. But I would be scared to have kids with a guy that had a dad like that!

36

Hi Elizabeth D
Thank you for sharing this. I totally understand all of what you shared! And yay that you learned what the real definition of love is! That has been one of the most important things that I have learned.
Thank you for being here.
Hugs, Darlene

37

My heart started beating a million beats a minute whilst reading this.
Although I am in oxy withdrawals there are surely many triggers in there for me.
For the first time ever i just remembered the ‘freezing’ you talk about. Like when the stepfather would make up excuses to come into my room, he’d close the door and i would just freeze and my heart was in my throat! How could he not see that?! That I was uncomfortable? Oh he saw it alright, and it gave him the power and domination he was seeking. Sick twisted F#<k. I hate his guts. Sorry to be so vulgar.

38

The strange this is that I would be the first to react and throw my body in front of a predator to save another, and have. I was a little girl and my best friend’s father beat her to the degree where she had seizures and I would literally stand in between them and scream at him to not touch her until he’d literally pick me up and throw me out of his house. She and I recently reconnected and she reminded me of things I’d forgotten and told me I was the only person alive her father was afraid of because I was fearless, yet in my own home, my parents were allowing two uncles to molest and brutalize me and I would freeze.
When I was an adult and an office manager and I would be sexually harassed, I froze, always, and yet when the same men did it to the girls I supervised, I was like a mother bear with her cubs.
I discovered in therapy that it was because I was not defended and I was afraid to defend myself that I became a defender to others and it even extended when I left my abusive marriage, only after witnessing my ex’s cruelty to my cat did I remove her to safety and then myself when I felt I had no choice but to flee or die. It’s amazing. Freezing is an act of survival. We are all survivors not just victims and I intend now that I’m free to not just survive but flourish and bloom.

39

Michelle,
The truth is the truth. He was a sicko. No doubt about it!

Hi Lainey
I am glad that you highlighted this. I have a few stories of where I stood up for others, (but never for me) but they are not in this way that you just spoke of, which is very true for many survivors and very confusing to understand! This is related to the fact that so many people think all others abuse was way worse then theirs was. It is that “disconnect” from self that we recognize abuse towards others but not when it comes to ourselves the same way. That is the belief system when we were groomed to accept it and to believe that we even deserved it so we didn’t apply laws or rights to ourselves but we totally understood that it was wrong when it came to others.
Thanks for sharing this!
hugs, Darlene

40

Lainey–your story made me think of something, that I never quite understood why I did it. When I first married my husband, I met his father, who has a very “different” personality (I have since learned he is not being hateful intentionally, just has a more abrasive style of relating to people, which triggered something from other people that was similar but was actually malicious in intent) so one day we were visiting and it was my sister in law’s birthday, and we mentioned calling her to wish her a happy birthday, and my husband had recently related stories of their childhood which his father was not very kind to his sister, and I could relate to them and felt sad for her.

So when we mentioned her birthday, and my father in law said something about his daughter, that I felt was mean and hateful towards her, I literally started screaming and yelling at him and made a huge scene taking up for her because she was not there and I felt he had treated her badly for a very long time and it was wrong. I never understood why I did that, and although at the time I remembered parts of my abuse history, I was unaware that they were still affecting my life, and I didnt connect any of the past to that event at all. So I just now realized, that when that happened, it was really the very very beginning of my healing, standing up for injustice for someone else that I felt couldnt defend themselves. My sister in law is very able to take up for herself, but she wasnt there, so I felt like I should do it for her.

So, after that, my father in law has watched what he says around me to some extent, and the rest of the family has a pretty vivid impression of how I can react when I am angry, from very early on in my marriage. LOL! They probably all thought I was insane! That was years ago, and now there is no mention if it even, and I have come to understand my father in law’s personality, and I still think he wasnt very kind to his children, but I know he wasnt intentionally mean, and that changes how I react at least….but I just saw the connection between sticking up for other people’s injustices and how it related to the most early beginnings of healing before I even realized that my abuse and my present were connected to eachother.

Thanks for sharing that!

41

Darlene and Amira, thank you for your kind words.

My therapist told me recently that because of my intellect and the ability to ‘see the big picture’ very very young and my defending my siblings and friends and underdogs (don’t get me started with orphaned animals), it’s probably the only reason why I didn’t have a psychotic break to protect myself by the time I was five. She said it’s a miracle.

I’m working on my anger. I turned it inward because we were not allowed to show any anger and were told we had no right as children to have any anger, and even in therapy, I couldn’t even hit a punching bag because of flashbacks from when I was abused. I can’t do a primal scream either but we’re working on getting all that adrenaline and cortisol out of my system. I managed a little growl and hit the punching bag twice. GO ME!!!!

I’m proud of all you fellow survivors. <3

42

Lainey,
In my case the anger stuff came up later on. It was strange how afraid of anger that I was. (had been taught to be as well) I wrote a post about that a while back. “Anger problems on the Emotional Healing Journey”

I had a long way to go on this one and still have to be conscious…
Hugs, Darlene

43

the anger came much later for me too.
i was very afraid of that anger. it was as if i thought it would kill me.
when it came out, (and wouldn’t stop) i disassociated and was hospitalised. it was after i gave my police statement and i was getting ‘body memories’ constantly. (darlene, do you know what i am referring to? – body memories?)

i remember telling my dr that if i had a gun he WOULD BE DEAD. i told him that if he was found dead then come looking for me, coz i will have done it. i was sooooo angry it was too much for my psyche to cope with.

thank goodness i went through that now, as i have no feeling left for him or her. except the disgust you feel when you hear of crimes on the news etc. but it doesn’t CONSUME me anymore. thank goodness for that!

44

Darlene, thanks for the link to that post. I could identify with nearly all of it. Another thing with anger with me was that not only did I attribute it to self-pity on my part but also because anger was heaped on me, I associated all anger very early on as abuse. And I made an unconscious commitment to myself to never abuse anyone so in my child’s mind, I wasn’t only ‘not allowed’ to feel or express anger and was denied it altogether by my abusers, but I I didn’t allow myself to be angry because I thought it would be abusing others. The concept of ‘righteous anger’ is easy for me to understand logically but difficult for me to absorb and integrate emotionally. Very tough but working on it and yes, I too have to be conscious but my therapist is amazing and we’re working on that right now.

45

Hi Lainey,

Glad to hear about the miracle in your favor! I was wondering about the therapy you mentioned – is that like a specific “type” or something? (As in, does it have a name?) And do you find it helpful?

I’ve been thinking about looking for something different therapy-wise. Haven’t really felt like current GP/psych can do much for me for quite a while (but I generally feel safe and can at least vent a bit etc, so still been going).

cheers

46

Hi Amira,

as I read your post I was reminded of the time I stood up for my ex against her sibling. Only time I can remember explicitly threatening violence (said I’d knock him out if he did it again – he’d thrown something at her & broke a window). Unfortunately he came at me, and of course I froze, but nothing happened. Pity he called my bluff! :)

But even though his wife & mother were there and screaming at me (and in fact even my ex seemed pissed at me), I still felt proud of myself.

Hope everyone’s doing well

PS I texted my friend to say I can’t be in the wedding. Still beating myself up for it I think, but pressure’s reduced at least. And he said he was sorry to hear it & to let him know if he can help, so that was nice. (Was really worried it’d end the friendship or something).

47

J-
She practices western as well as holistic ‘whole body’ therapy, so a lot of it has to do with spirituality too (not at all religious though, but I would imagine she could work with traditional belief systems) and is a certified psychotherapist plus runs a psychodrama practice and gives seminars on finding common ground between opposing parties which might include something as big as religious differences within a community or something as personal as an abused adult confronting and yet finding forgiveness with their abuser.
As she explained it to me, and mod, please edit if inappropriate, your nervous system is composed of several parts and the sympathetic nervous system is most commonly known for ‘flight, fight or freeze’ response –and causes your body to produce adrenaline and cortisol which remains in your body unless your parasympathetic system counteracts the SNS and the hormones are released to the other side of you brain (I think right to left but it could be reversed, not sure) as your body calms down. In many traumatized people, the parasympathetic system (PNS) never has a chance to counteract because the individual has been battered or barraged with trauma after trauma after trauma so through therapy, meditation, guided imagery (also another thing which uses a device to help the ‘right to left’ thing–can’t remember the four initials it’s referred as) etc. the patient’s SNS and PNS both begin to work more as it should. The hormones get ‘stuck’ in the limbic system (center brain) and the individual learns techniques through a trusting relationship with the therapist to get them moved to the left brain so the body can release them. The build-up of these hormones often causes or contributes to illness, especially gastric and auto-immune disorders. It’s not a cure-all by any means but I did some research on it and the effectiveness is 85% which of course is dependent on many factors. The primal scream (in my case the best I can do right now is little growls) and punching the bag are two easy methods to literally ‘get it out’ and I was cynical but it’s actually working. She also said she never met a patient who wanted to heal so badly but I’m a late bloomer and have a lot of dreams to chase so I’m doing lots of homework. LOL

48

Thanks Lainey, that was a very quick & thorough reply! :)

I think I’ve read some similar sort of stuff — not sure if cortisol was the thing I remember (I think maybe not) but definitely talked about negative… ummm, hormones? brain waves? can’t remember…. getting stuck due to constant exposure, and potential ongoing health problems due to that.

I think I need to try and find something along these lines to try. Thanks again for the info, I really appreciate it!

PS I just remembered, my version of this is drumming along to loud/heavy/energetic music — I don’t do it that often, but sometimes it’s exactly what I need!

I love that image of chasing dreams — get out there and hunt those suckers down! :)

49

Hi Lainey,
I wrote a post about that whole thing too, with a little different focus. I was so determined not to be like my mother that I never took care of myself because I thought that would be like being selfish. I never stood up for myself because that would be self centered like her. She put herself first so I put myself last mistakenly thinking that would keep me safe from turning out like her.
Hugs, Darlene

50

Hi Darlene,

your comment caught my eye – made me think/wonder if I’ve done a similar thing to you (put myself last etc).

Hugs! Hope your tiredness is improving :)

51

Lainey,
any links you can pass on to us on whole body therapy? My grandpa had secondary pituitary induced adrenal failure after my grandmother died suddenly at age 42. I have adrenal shock episodes under certain stressors, although they are much better to non-existent at this point in my life once I understood who was abusing me and left those relationships behind.

52

I lived out all my life in a frozen state until 39 years when I began to remember the events that caused my mind and body to freeze. The events throughout my childhood and beyond are so horrific it is taking years for my body and mind to stabilise. The damage is profound the losses incalculable yet this is the only way to move forward and grow and unlearn hopefully the frozen mode of survival.

53

Hi Beverly
I was about that age when things started coming back too. A lot of what I write here is in looking back. I totally agree that the only way to move forward is to look at that damage. In the end it was not as painful as the life that I had been living trying to cope with the damage and loses. I am glad that you are here.
Hugs, Darlene

54

Darlene,

Your story scared me because it brought back a feeling that I had at one time and that almost cost my daughter’s life. I don’t want to make this a long story because I still have a lot of pain dealing with it.

Long story short, my daughter and I were swimming in the neighbor boys’ pool. The one boy tried to drown my daughter and I FROZE. I just stood there, couldn’t move, couldn’t help her, couldn’t react. I FROZE. I blanked out. TO THIS DAY IT TERRIFIES me that it happened and she is ok, 26 and ALIVE, but other people’s children always intimidated me, and until recently, I was never able to scold or correct them very well. Children would walk all over me for YEARS!
Very upsetting feeling when you FREEZE! I understand. ~tears

55

Darlene i love your comment # 53
It is not as painful, or making me as physically I’ll, or giving me IBS, I am not having hardly any migraines anymore, my stomach doesn’t lurch EVERYTIME the phone rings anymore.. Etc the list goes on.

I was criticized, ostracized and downright kicked in the guts when I started to see them for who they were, and (god forbid) then start trying to deal with it. They just wanted it BURIED. Too bad, I was suffering therefore so were MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN so they got what they deserved. It took me about 14 years to cut them off completely and I don’t regret it for a second. I NEVER thought I could or ‘would be allowed’ to do it. But I done it.
And now all they have is each other, and maybe a handful of suckers who don’t know the real truth. I don’t even feel sorry for those suckers coz they NEVER have spoken to me properly. Just sucked in to a typical sociopathic relationship. They are there for them. Oh well… At least someone will show up at there funeral, I certainly won’t be!
How ironic that she prayed for god to make me ‘dead to her’, and now she is dead to me. And I didn’t even had to pray for that, she did that all by herself. THANKS ‘mummy’! My life is soooo much better without you and your poisonous claptrap. You and your filthy husband have finally removed ‘the last problem remaining in your life’ (me). So now, go be happy, (or not, i dont really care) in the filthy little quagmire the rest of us prefer to call ‘LIFE’

56

 This was my life. It no longer is.

Once there lived a certain cretin. His home was a dungeon, rank and full of odour, and that suited the cretin just fine. His only visitors were those whom he obtained his needed supplies, and they didn’t notice the smell and the darkness, for they regularly partook of his potions, and were constantly under his spell. They were addicted to the mind numbing concoctions, and slowly, but surely they all died a slow, poisonous death. The cretin became lonely, and had run out of supplies for his filthy dungeon, so off he went in order to procure some more.
 
It was raining outside and the cretin was cold, hungry and thirsty. He must get his sustenance, his very survival was at stake. He happened upon a young pheasant woman, her clothes were tattered and torn and her demeanour defeated. Her children were hungry and without paternal provision. She offered him her pleasant remedy and she took his magic potions.
 
Before too long the cretin took the woman and her babes back to his filthy dungeon. She saw and smelled, and tried her best to make a nice corner for her babes to sleep. Try as she may, desperation took over, and she too fell under his spell, and her taste for his potions grew stronger every day.
The cretin utilised the children as slaves, and they did their best to please him, for they had no where else to go. They did many chores in the dungeon, from sweeping the floor to providing his perverse entertainment, which they were naively unaware of their contribution. They had to continually rescue the woman from the hands of the cretin, and tried vainly to reason with him in his moments of pure madness. When he tired of tormenting the woman he turned his attention to the children, and they too suffered the painful reality of his madness. They washed the wounds of the woman, and of each other, the best way a child knew how, and pleaded with the woman to escape. She vainly attempted to run away from the cretin, but his potions always lured her back, and once again the children resigned themselves to life in the dungeon.
 
As time went by, the children ate and slept, the woman succumbed further to the intoxicating influence of the cretin and his many and varied charms. At the heart of her sanity, which rarely prevailed, she reasoned foolishly that she was unable to survive with out the meagre existence he measured out to her, and her innocent dependants. for them to be kept barely alive was all he needed to suit his purpose, of his own continued existence and ultimate domination.
 
As if by some miracle, some higher calling, the woman realized a need greater than her own, and dismissed her need of his magic potion. He, sensing her imminent departure, swiftly disguised his disgusting appearance and cunningly persuaded her to stay at his side. She had moral purity to consider, he, instinctive driven survival. After all, they had borne offspring, and the woman’s hidden moral centre irrationally surfaced once again, and she was forever bonded to the cretin.
As the days went by, the children grew. They gained strength from maturity, and reasoning from experiences suffered. Through the perfect miracle of innocence, they remained untainted and sweet, and without infection. The cretin simmered with pitiful disgust, and despised the children, for they represented purity and perfection, and he was the very manifestation of all things perverse. However, her illegitimate son, who was destined to suffer that curse, was sacrificed, his fate pre-determined by the cretins affliction and demented perceptions…
 
So the outsiders, those who had rescued them from the dungeon, came to see their pitiful existence, and threw them a lifeline, that for one soothed their conscience, and fulfilled their life’s desire to save the wretched. The woman gladly subjected herself to that which offered peace and eternal salvation, feeling born again, released from the cretins potions, she recognized a pure existence, one full of life and purpose. The cretin had little choice but to alter his alter his once proven course , to that of showing himself as a human man. For many days his new appearance succeeded in fooling the outsiders, they found him both entertaining, convincing and a reliable provider of life’s necessities, if only material.
 
It occurred that the cretins selfish greed finally befell the outsiders and his manic ways were exposed to those enlightened.
Of course those who had never dwelt under the roof of his dungeon, or smelled his foul odour, were yet to fully acknowledge the realization of his deviant purpose, his goal of total control over all in his path.
 

The remaining children made a pact, sealed with love and cemented by memories of their horrendous pain. They built a magnificent mansion, and planted a beautiful garden, where all sorts of plants and flowers grew, and they proceeded to have children of their own, these where, of course, the most beautiful in all the land. Everything grew to perfection, and the children filled their parents hearts with joy everyday.
 
And so they lived a calm and peaceful life, far away from the cretin. They ate and drank to their own satisfaction, forever at peace, and joyous at the prospect of sharing eternity with those of their own.
 
THE END
 

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I no longer believe she ‘did her best to find a nice corner for her babes to sleep’.
I wrote this about 3 or so years ago and at the time we honestly believed she would finally leave him when it ‘sunk in’ to her just how badly we were damaged. She did leave him, for a week, during that week told us all sorts of stuff he had done to her and others. (he told her he once killed a man with his bare hands, even if that is a lie, why would someone say that? To intimidate her, that’s why. It is a wonder he never killed her but I believe now he always stopped short of doing that because he needed a human punching bag, and she was the best he’d found yet)

So yeah, I just wanted to clarify, SHE DID NOT DO HER BEST!

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Michelle, I truly feel your pain and wish there were something I could do for you and everyone here who still suffers and/or are fighting the good fight to flourish and be true to themselves.
That being said, when I first visited a domestic violence center, one of the first things I was told was that women very VERY often return to their abusers because they’ve been psychologically damaged and emotionally manipulated into believing they need that person and can’t survive on their own. We know that many abused people becomes abusers themselves while swearing they would never ‘be like them’ and they don’t realize they’re abusive or are truly incapable of doing ‘their best’.
I don’t know what it is in a person, how they have an inner strength that the next person doesn’t, that makes them say, I have to get out, or if not for themselves, I have to get my children out. I was planning my escape but was so psychologically battered and controlled that I felt I couldn’t. I KNEW I HAD TO but it wasn’t until he began to be cruel to my kitten that I said, Oh no…..no no no and removed her from the home to a safer place immediately. I knew then that I would follow her to be with her. I sought resources and friends were looking out for me and helped me find the shelter which also gave me the courage to keep trying and to believe in myself more and I did on August 29th, 2011, in the middle of Hurricane Irene, in the dark. I left everything behind. Everything. Affluence, my beautiful home, three pets there was no way I could take but knew he would take care of them because they favored him, and even my reputation because he had my friends, family and neighbors believing he was a prince. But I’m alive. I’m alive and with the help of my advocate, therapist, doctor, attorney, friends and some family, I will flourish.

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Michelle
That is a powerful illustration! Thank you so much for sharing it here. I am so glad that it not your life anymore.
Something that is so hard for so many is what you wrote in the second comment; that you no longer believe that she did her best. Reading your story I was so sucked into feeling sorry for the woman (who was my mother too just with many different details) and I have such a deep understanding of the potions and the how all that works, and how hard it is to draw the line… but the damage was done and until I healed from the damage, I was broken. I could not heal by ignoring not tending to the wounds. I could not tend the wounds if I denied they were ever there.
and realizing that they didn’t do their best was something that set me free too. I still feel sorry for her, but not a my expense anymore. She chose to stay in the sick system. If she wanted to recovery and face the truth about the damage she caused, and even about the damage caused to her, she could have freedom too.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Lainey
Wow, thanks for sharing. Yay for escape and for being alive!
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene,

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My memory has begun to come back to me and it has been intensely difficult for me to refrain from blocking things out again. I had totally blocked out the first ten years of my life and that is coming back to me now. I did not realize until recently that I had been sexually abused by a brother, a brother-in-law, and Kent (bio dad). Sure things start to fall into place about why I act the way I do now, but ouch!
Finish this later…
Kia

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I will rewrite my comments again as there was some wrong and it did not post. I suffered sexual abused when I was 4 yrs old when my nanny asked me to do some deed for her and was abused by several men until I was 12 years old. Along the way, I was abused by a nun too. These horrible experiences I had are one reason why I have personality disorder that I am facing in right now. It is really painful knowing that I lived in the darkness all of my life and did not enjoy my childhood and adolescence. I kept it all of my life not until recently I just shared it to few of my closest friends.

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Hi Kia
I can relate to the pain of things coming back. The pain of facing this stuff for me was so worth going through because when it was past, I realized that I had been in so much pain all my life anyway that the intense pain for a time, was worth having NO pain at all anymore.
I look forward to hearing more when you come back.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Betsy
I am sorry that you lived in that horror! I am really glad that you are able to face them now. There is freedom in getting this stuff out of the dark, and looking at it in the light of truth.
Hang in here!
Hugs, Darlene

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I got called away from the internet last time. Like I was saying, I am starting to realize and understand why I act the way I do. A guy friend of one of my girlfriends reached out to touch me and I immediately shrank back and told him with fear not to touch me. I broke up with my boyfriend because of not feeling safe with him and having to much to deal with myself with the abuse and i couldn’t be strong for both of us. he had been abused to, but was being very dependent on me. I had no clue that i had been sexually abused. None. I’m remembering other things also. things like not being read to as a kid, having my only toys (two dolls) burned in the night because of them “having an evil spirit in them and putting that in me.” I didn’t know where my dolls were. Didn’t find out till later that they had been burned. Even now, memories are few and far between of those years. Though it is coming back. I froze so many times. I often wonder why, why I didn’t stop them from touching me. Why I didn’t raise more of a fuss. Why didn’t I fight them? Just thinking about this is making my chest tight. They were so much bigger than me. My brother did it before i was even four years old.
Every day is a battle in itself. I can’t go a day without something bringing it up.

Then recently I was told two things: one, that I do not laugh enough (this was from a five year old). Two, that i don’t let myself cry enough. I almost never cry. And I was told that I need to prove that I have an “outside voice”. I can NOT scream at all. I can’t get my voice to come out like that. I feel so often like my emotions, my voice, my laughter, my tears are locked inside. I can’t get them out. People wonder why I don’t do those things, but I was taught to hide my emotions from an early age, and to this day, I can NOT let them out well.

I blocked most of my relatives from my facebook page because of the drama they caused on it. I was so tired of having them be negative of me. I had no freedom on my own page. It took them six or seven months to figure it out. My first thought was: so I mean that little to you? Then one of my sisters emailed me and asked why she couldn’t find me on facebook anymore. I told her the truth. She laid many guilt trips on me and it hurt badly. Then a brother called and he “was so pissed that I would even dare to block my own brother on facebook”. He wanted to know why and I told him I was tired of being scolded every time I said a thing on facebook. He demanded a specific time and example which I could not think of – I was under to much pressure. When I told him i couldn’t think of anything right off the top of my head he got super mad and hung up on me. Yes, that hurt, but it shows that I was justified in blocking him. He also told my sister (who I live with when I am not in college) that I was just like Kent (birth dad). That was the lowest blow that anybody could give me. I do NOT want to be like him at all.

I refuse to bite anymore. I won’t answer the phone when he calls me. I can’t take his superiority and harassment any longer.

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Hi Kia
Wow, there is lots coming up for you! I had some of those same problems ~ emotions~ that you are talking about. I still don’t cry much but I laugh a lot now. I have a sense of humour and I make others laugh too. I feel safe within myself most of the time. All of these things straightened out for me as I continued with the work on the original belief system that had developed in me as a result of trauma.

It sounds like you hit a big nerve with your brother by standing up to him. It sounds like the truth about himself is really bugging him. I have an older brother who is a total bully and I don’t talk to him any more either. I don’t miss him at all. These people wanted me to follow a different set of rules then the ones they had to follow. they could treat me anyway they wanted but I could not treat them that way OR stand up to them. (how dare you??) There is no winning, no equality in that system and that is why I am done with that system.

Thanks for sharing and Good for you ~ there is a lot of victory in your comments! Lots of forward movement!
Hugs, Darlene

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I should clarify that I don’t know for sure that Eric sexually abused me. My gut tells me that. My actions tell me that. And the few things that I have been told about the years that he was around me. So I think he did, but I don’t know.
Also, I can’t understand why Kent did it when he never, ever liked me….. Just a few thoughts….

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Darlene
This reminds me of a situation I was in when was around 19 when I worked at a car dealership as a receptionist(executive assistant)/runner. I would work the phones, call for salesmen, file things etc, you know the drill, and also I would drive around part of my day delivering/picking up titles etc from the courthouse, other dealerships, the auto auction, etc…detailed job but fairly simple.

Well I was in a very bad situation there with many of the salesmen constantly sexually harassing me, which at the time I didn’t understand fully as what it really was! It was WRONG in every way. The specifics are difficult to even discuss this many years later (I am now 45). The reason I am commenting here is not simply because I was horribly sexually harassed the entire time I worked there, but because of one situation that truly crossed the line and absolutely deals with this topic of freezing! I had frozen so much already in situations of sexual and physical abuse growing up and in high school and college, so looking back I can see that it was a well developed pattern for me…dissociating I would call it…being anywhere but ‘HERE’ so to speak to get through abusive situations and episodes, and then never telling anyone anything that had happened, which only set me up for further abuse!

Well there was one man in particular, a middle aged black man, who was especially interested in me. I found myself in a situation one day where I had to go somewhere to pick something up, and he told me he was going the same place so we could go together. I, out of fear/intimidation perhaps, definitely stupidity!! (I have never really figured out why) agreed to let him take me, and got in that car with him, a decision I have regretted ever since!!

Well to make this story short, I found myself being driven not where I needed to go, but actually being ‘kidnapped’ in a sense and driven many miles away and offered money for my ‘services’…When I refused, he attempted to rape me, and when I fought him he got frustrated and then chose to ‘relieve himself’ as he continued to touch and grope me!!! I was unable to leave as the doors were locked on his side, and we were in a out of the way place down by the river and no one would have heard my screams, so I was helpless to get away, though I beat myself up to this day for not trying harder fight the situation and get away!!

After IT happened, he put himself back together, and told me to clean myself up and he drove me back to the dealership…I never said a word and worked there for a while longer and then was finally able to quit! I didn’t tell anyone until many years later!! I froze!! I was terribly ashamed!! To this day I am haunted by that situation, and sadly terrified of black men, and that is sad because I am not, nor have I ever been prejudiced!! I am simply terrified of back men! My Recovery from that and many other situations of abuse continues and I feel it will never really be over!! Very affected and ashamed after that situation and many others!!! FROZEN in my shame and disgust!!!

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Hi Michelle
I found myself bracing and cringing as I read your story.. I totally relate to what you said. I have several of those too, and I am going to be writing more about them in the coming weeks in an attempt to show in a deeper way than I have so far, exactly how they impacted my beliefs about myself and my worth and how I overcame being haunted by them. None of this stuff haunts me anymore! Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene,
As you know, from a prior post, I have recently discovered I was sexually abused by my uncle (my mom’s sister’s husband) at 12 years old. I buried my emotions from this one incident and never told anyone. It was not until this past month, at the age of 43, that I’ve rediscovered this memory. I had visual flashes of memories that I could no longer deny. I know it happened, when I allowed myself to feel those feelings I had then. That is what made it Real for me!

The trigger in this post was the word “freezing”. I froze when my uncle fondled me under my parent’s dining room table. I remember how he looked at me, whispered to me, and touched me. It was WRONG! but I was terrified he would finish what he started & come into my bedroom that night. He was still in my house with my parents. I remember praying, freezing under my sheets and feeling so anxious. I felt ashamed & disgusted with myself. I was raised Catholic, so I thought it was a SIN & I was a SINNER. This makes me angry to think I believed that!…But understandable given that I was trained to be compliant & submissive.

When I did tell about other wrong doings, I was called the “girl who called wolf”!, “it’s your imagination” or “your a tattle tale”. I was the oldest & looked out for my brother & sister, so if they did something wrong, I would tell my mom. I did not do that to be mean…I was concerned that something bad would happen to them, by them doing something wrong. I felt responsible for them. I was a little mother to them. Actually, they were mean to me in different ways. I have some flashes of different incidents of how my brother & sister treated me, as young as 6 yrs old.

Anyway, my point is I took on the shame, disgust & guilt of the abusers in my life!…I was not responsible or to blame for their behavior!…I knew from a young age, that my uncle’s criminal behavior would have been sweep under the rug, just like every other traumatic/abusive incident in my family to this day!…They will not look at the Truth & trained me Not to either!…That is Wrong!…As a Good Catholic Girl, I should have been believed and not sheltered from the truth!…I could just imagine how my life could of been without my depressions and anxiety!

I’m so angry with my parents!…My anger is bubbling to the surface these past few months. I need to get this anger out in counseling… I’ve been holding back. My depressions have been my coping method to avoid the pain & anger!….My anger has been coming out in bits & pieces, over the last few years. The difference between then & now is, I know better now, where the damage came from & I’m BELIEVING in MYSELF. Amazing what I’m learning as I work through my traumas.

I was teased from boys, which I would now call Sexual Harassment in Junior High. They noticed my physical changes and I felt embarrassed & even humiliated with their attention. They would steal my comb from my back pocket of my jeans and talk about me wearing a bra. There was one boy who came up behind me and pulled my bra strap. I would say stop & he would not…This was done while in line with other classmates and the teacher in the class!…I was scared and then to add salt to the wound, a girl started in with teasing me about having breasts. One day, I did not wear a bra & the boy went to snap it from behind and when he realized it wasn’t there, he said out loud that I was “hanging loose”…that was so Hurtful & Demeaning!…

I’m teary eyed now, writing about this….I never liked this boy from then on and the ironic part was, he was well liked & popular. He was good looking but I hated him for humiliating me!….I never talked to him after this & avoided him. I considered him an enemy & a bully. Of course, he had to be in many classes with me, throughout high school, so I had no choice but to deal with him. I did not know I had choices- my parents did not talk to me about other options- like going to another school or changing classes. I did tell my mom about these incidents, because I was so upset & needed her support.

I remember my mom telling me she called the School Counselor to discuss the problems I was having with some of my classmates. I was then, called into the counselor’s office with the girl bully. I was scared to talk with the bully sitting there and feelings I wasn’t going to be believed by the counselor! How brainwashed I was!! Of course, the girl blamed me for making faces at her. I wasn’t aware I was doing that!..I was shocked & denied that. It was a distressed reaction to her bullying! I was the victim & cried about her mean behavior towards me. I felt ashamed for not having the WORDS to VOICE my distress. Scared into Silence! I cry for that Scared Little Girl…..

No wonder, I became so Depressed and I felt powerless. I remember my mom chalking up my depressions to “peer pressure”, when I ended up in a psych hospital for children at 15 yrs old! Even when I was there, I had a difficult time talking about my feelings. I was so scared but I choose to stay there, then to go home. That is telling in itself! I would rather be in the hospital, then to be home! Then years later, my dad tells me that, “I left the Family!”…Now that was a truth leak, if ever I heard one. I had problems that were not being addressed by my parents and I was blamed because I left them to go to a Psych Hospital!…How twisted is that!…The family is more important then my emotions/problems! The more I uncover of my family’s beliefs, the more angry I feel!…I need to process my anger further in therapy… This is all so Hurtful!
Sonia

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SMD
This IS all so hurtful. Yes it is. This is all the stuff that I had to look at, I looked at all these things that seemed unrelated (the way things were at home vs. the way things were at school) and realized that all of it was my life. The way that I was invalidated by people. The way that I thought that I had to be silent. The fear, the shame, the silence, almost as though I agreed with them that I was not important and that my needs were not worthy. Well how could I have NOT agreed?? They gave me that message. I was raised with that message from everywhere. Facing that message and the damage it caused, (finally realizing it was not my guilt or shame or my fault in anyway) is what set me free. I stood up for myself. I finally realized that I had a right to be safe, happy, and loved. I stood up for myself by doing making this work a priority.
You are doing great! Thank you so much for sharing here.
Love Darlene

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Darlene,

Yes it is, “almost as though I agreed with them that I was not important and that my needs were not worthy”. Well how could I have NOT agreed.” Exactly! That WAS my Life, as a child. I had the right to be safe, loved, & happy, but how could I be without being raised with Self Worth!…My mom didn’t have any either, but then again, she could stand up for herself as a Bully would. I needed more assertive & loving examples in my life!….I’m going to continue making the work here a priority. It’s Validating & Healthy for my Self Worth! Thanks for your comments…they help me so much by pointing out the tangled mess inside of me & my family.
Thank you, Sonia

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Hi All
~ I have a new post published; In this new post I take a look at how I convinced myself something really unhealthy was actually healthy in order to find some validation and approval. This is about sexual harassment that I never realized even was sexual harassment. This is the next article in my mother daughter dysfunctional relationship category! I hope you all read it here: “I avoided the pain of Abuse by Altering the Truth” http://emergingfrombroken.com/i-avoided-the-pain-of-abuse-by-altering-the-truth/
Hugs, Darlene

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So true! I had known for years that I “freeze” when there are sexual advances by people I do not like and recently started to undo it. Thank you Darlene for articulating the thought pattern that runs in our heads ” If I pretend not to like him or ignore him, he will lose interest and go away”.

Hmm! this thought process may not entirely be false either because truly honorable men would go away if we showed no interest but the abusers are actually looking for a woman who would “freeze” that means no resistance.

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Just recently went through being chased in my home by a father in law I was caring for…at first my husband believed me and confronted him…he just asked to be sent home..his intent may not have been sexual but his gestures were and therefore sexual assault. I think we forget this is not sexual for them…it is a controller issue. They want the cat and mouse game, my husband is now beginning to doubt the whole thing and it quite possibly end our relationship…but for the first time in my life I feel empowered, it is just too bad that sometimes in doing the right thing causes undeserved repercussion.

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Hi Jennifer
Welcome to EFB ~ It is awesome that you stood up for yourself!
Thanks for sharing! hugs, Darlene

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I am so glad there is a topic on sexual abuse and freezing.

Years ago, a church leader and friend (Miss T) recommended me to stay at her Christian friend’s (Miss S) place. Little did I know that that was a “bad” area to live in, as I was new to the country.

1 night when I returned home from work, a man followed me. I hadn’t noticed him until he caught up with me and asked for direction. I answered him, but before I knew it, he grabbed my hand bag.

He then stood there with my bag in both his hands, staring at me, and wanted to come me again !

He had my physical belongings and obviously what he was attempting to rape me.

I FROZE and couldn’t scream until seconds later, I broke down and cried.

I wondered what happened… But he ran away !

I ran as fast as I could back to my place and pounded madly for my landlady, Miss S to open the door. When she did, I told her what happened but she did not respond much. She then told me this is a new thing to her, as the neighbourhood has always been safe.

I rang up Miss T a few days later and told her about the incident (without mentioning anything about Miss S’s non-reaction). Guess what ??? Miss T blamed me !!! She said I must be carrying a curse and these men followed me. She also said that I was always having troubles unlike others who live a relatively trouble-free life. She said I was troublesome.

I FROZE again and swallowed all her remarks. I even THANKED her for listening to me before hanging up.

Months later, I found out that Miss S has been robbed several times living there. Many women were robbed as well. That neighbourhood was one of the worst areas to live in. I found out about the place from a kind taxi driver who took me on a ride around the neighbourhood. At 5-6pm, there was still daylight and we saw daylight robbery occurring by the side roads, gangs (he pointed them out) and drug groups. He advised me to leave Miss S’ place as “this place is not for a single foreign girl like you.”

Years later, I met Miss T. Her victimisation continued. She started sending me emails accusing me of having false intention of taking information from seminar I was to attend and wanting to misuse it to propagate my own reputation !

Where on earth did that thought came from ? all I did was to politely consult her on whether the seminar was something worth going for, as the teaching therein could help the little group I was attending regularly. And I was attending that group as a member, not even as a leader !

Now whenever she sees me at a public event, she chases after me asking me for my latest information and what I am up to. I now refuse to answer any of her question and walk away from her.

She then started chasing me with emails asking me to support her financially, etc the “new ministry” she set up ? I had to ask her to unsubscribe me and she had the cheek to try to find out more information from me.

I learn now that my silence expressed through freezing was CONSENT. CONSENT to sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, etc !!?!!

and I am DETERMINED to STAND UP for MYSELF.

Xx

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… AND big thanks to you, Darlene for the article.

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Wow, I thought I was alone in that, I had a very similiar experience and for years I have just frozen up when I needed to assert myself and peole would yell at me if I told them and ask why I just stood there, I said I didn’t know I felt like a deer in the headlights, thanks for your insight and you website, it helps me so much everyday, thank you!

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