Archive for abuse
This week I’m excited to welcome back to Emerging from Broken, guest writer and fellow blogger Pam Witzemann as she tackles the difficult subject of ‘forgiveness.’ In this in-depth two part article, Pam takes a look at some of the difficulties surrounding forgiveness, experienced by survivors of child abuse. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. As always I am looking forward to the conversation~ please contribute your thoughts and insights! ~ Darlene Ouimet
The Process of Forgiving Child Abusers by Pam Witzemann
Part I: Defining Forgiveness; for Victims of Childhood Abuse
It isn’t easy to forgive an abuser especially a child abuser. Victims of childhood abuse need to have a right concept of forgiveness because it is so often, twisted into a weapon of abuse. This causes confusion on the part of the victim and denies them access to the freedom from the past that true forgiveness can bring.
Parents who abused their children are likely to demand their adult child forgive them for the past but may never acknowledge any wrong doing or accept any responsibility for their actions. The truth is that they aren’t interested in being forgiven. People who want forgiveness are filled with remorse and though it may hurt to verbally admit to what they’ve done, they will do so because being forgiven by the person they have hurt is important to them.
What many abusers want instead of forgiveness is for the abused person to forget what was done to them, over-look it, and not hold them responsible for it. They also need their victims to remain silent and when that silence is threatened, they demand forgiveness and declare that any relational problems are due to the victim’s unwillingness to forgive. These lies cause confusion and abusive people know that causing confusion in others, works in their favor. There is nothing that confuses a childhood abuse survivor more than the forgiveness ploy.
All survivors desperately, want to be free from their past and in our culture, we are taught that forgiveness abolishes sins. This is true but as with all truth, abusers twist the truth into a self-serving lie. Therefore, it is important for child abuse survivors to arm themselves with a true understanding of what abuse is, what it is not, and to know with certainty, what they, as the victims, are Read More→
Forgiveness is always a huge issue and a hot topic with survivors of any kind of abuse or trauma that was inflicted by another person. A lot of people preach and teach that forgiveness is the ONLY way to personal freedom and recovery. I think that is a wrong. I think being told that is like being re-abused. I think that forgiveness is a RESULT of the healing process BUT I had to set the whole issue of forgiveness aside while I did my healing work.
Because only when I set that issue aside was I able to look at the whole picture from a new angle. I was able to look at it through the grid of the truth instead of through what was being dictated to me and all the false teachings around the forgiveness directives.
As someone who has personally recovered from childhood sexual abuse and dissociated identity disorder as well as multiple chronic depressions, forgiveness was not the key to recovery for me. I understand today that forgiveness is not saying “what they did is okay” and I also understand that there is no point in forgiving someone that Read More→
“When a child has been in a dysfunctional family system, that child grows up with some dysfunctional thinking. It can’t be helped. The dysfunctional ways of thinking in my family system got passed on to me. Dysfunction and mistreatment, psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all contributed to the survival methods that I had to adopt in order to stay alive”. ~Darlene Ouimet
I have this “to do” list. I tell myself that I am going to get “this much done” each day. I have it all mapped out. But I don’t stick to the plan. I get distracted, I want to chat on the phone, I want to read a book, I want to spend more time on facebook talking to all my peeps and updating the Emerging from Broken facebook page. I want to catch up on Twitter. I tell myself that all these activities are part of the greater goals that I have to spread this message. But the truth is that I am not Read More→
I am excited and pleased to have my wonderful friend and fellow truth seeker, Carla Logan, guest posting today on Emerging from Broken. There have been some really deep posts this past couple of weeks and Carla shares a summary of her feelings and discoveries using the imagery of “living off the crumbs” and emotional starvation. Carla and I look forward to the discussion and responses in the comments section. ~ Darlene
No More Crumbs by Carla Logan
When we grow up in an abusive home, we learn all kinds of things that are not true. We learn that we don’t deserve love. We learn that we don’t deserve respect. We learn that we don’t deserve kindness. We learn that we don’t deserve affection or even attention. We learn that we don’t deserve to be treated as a human person, an equal. Some of us learn that we don’t deserve to be treated even as well as a family pet who sits on the floor at the dinner table waiting for the scraps of food to be tossed its way. We learn that what we do deserve is nothing more than to be satisfied with the crumbs we are allowed, the ones that fall from that table. The table that we should be sitting at as equals. Warmly and lovingly welcomed. And yet we are not.
And the tragedy doesn’t end there, Read More→
I needed someone to validate my existence. I wanted someone who could tell me that I was worth the air that I breathed. But because I didn’t believe that I had value, I didn’t believe anyone who attempted to tell me that I did. If I met someone who liked me, I wondered what they wanted from me. I wondered if they were sincere; I was sure that they must have a hidden motive. If a waiter in a restaurant treated me like my business didn’t matter I was hurt and my mind would start spinning about why he was treating me that way. I would examine every single sentence that we exchanged, looking inward for something that I must have done to cause this attitude in him. By the same token if a waiter was really nice and attentive to me, I wondered if he was only doing it for the tip.
If friends invited me over, it wasn’t long before I questioned if it was because they wanted my company, or because they wanted me bring cooking or baking. Did they need an extra girl? Did they want to play a joke on me? I was always second guessing everyone and everything because of my history with abuse, but I also second guessed everyone, because I was always second guessing me. That was the way that my mind operated because that was the way my mind was trained to operate. If my mother told me that I looked nice, I wondered what she wanted; subconsciously I braced myself for what was coming next…. continued Read More→
Something is happening here on Emerging from Broken. There is a depth of sharing and honesty that I didn’t expect. There is a community growing that I only hoped for. There is a profound expression of struggle and healing, all working towards the overall good and towards emotional recovery.
This post is the follow up to my last post ~ “Tomorrow I will Start to Face the Pain” . If you have not read it, I really recommend that you take the time to read it and the 50 some amazing comments that it has generated so far. There is something special there.
Some of those comments made my heart ache with pain and I wanted to touch each heart and convince each one that there is hope for emotional healing. It is possible. It is doable. This is curable! I feel your pain because I remember that pain myself.
~The pain of realizing that any kind of abuse including emotional abuse is rejection. I worked so hard all of my life to be this great person full of acceptance and rejection was my biggest fear, only to wake up one day and realize how rejected that I was all along. But that was not MY failure.
~The pain of realizing that my life was built on lies. But they were not MY lies.
~The pain of realizing that all of my efforts to avoid being alone, left me alone anyway, but then realizing that the journey is lonely because we have to go through it as individuals. All my life I tried to do life how someone else taught me to do it, but in reality, I had to find my way because there is only one of me. They took that from me for way too long.
~Realizing that I had been defined by someone else and then suddenly realizing that if I was not who I thought I was, then who was I? And being scared to death to find out who I might be. Which comes from the same fear of rejection and round and round it goes.
~I was so stuck in realizing that after the abuse I felt like no one ever loved me again ~ thinking the answer would be in finding someone to love me again, but in truth, I didn’t love me either. I didn’t know how. The abuse defined me. I wanted someone else to fix it just like someone else broke it. But I had to do it for me. I had to decide that I would love me. I had to find out how. I had to redefine me and in that new beginning, I was able to take my life back.
~Realizing that I never believed that MY abuse was really valid and therefore I was invalidated; first by them and then by me. But that was not my choice. That was what I learned to do. I wasn’t given a choice. But I have one now. I have one today.
~Realizing and finally acknowledging that I was filled with guilt and shame and not knowing exactly what the heck to DO with it. But it wasn’t MY guilt and shame and realizing that was what got me to the next step in the process of letting it go.
~And the frozenness that goes along with all of it and seems to return with each new stage. That feeling of being immobilized; the fear of forward motion; all of that with its own history, each one of us with a slightly different story that the frozen is grounded in and has its roots in and everything even remotely related to any of the following things.
~ I told but was ignored
~ I didn’t tell because I was too scared of the consequences
~ I told and I suffered the consequences
~ I didn’t know there was anything to tell
AND the threads of steel wrapped around each one of these things, each memory, each event, each invalidation and ALL the conclusions that we came to ~ all of which need to be looked at, examined, cut and then healed such as:
~The belief that I am the one that wasted my life. That somehow I should have been able to get over all of this by myself; that somehow I am a failure because of what happened TO me. That somehow the abuse done to me has suddenly become my fault, and I lived my life as though it was my failure ~ that my whole life was my screw up. But HOW was I supposed to move forward with no guidance? HOW was I supposed to “get over it”?
~No one validated me so that I knew how to validate myself
~No one ever helped me move forward.
~No one encouraged me to be who I am but everyone “told me” who I was and that was a lie too. No one knew me. No one SAW ME.
~And I carried the failure that was not mine to carry. I lived the identity that they assigned me.
Running from me but not realizing that it is in the running back to me that I find my true self. Running from the truth because I believed the lies.
Running until I finally realized that the running was killing me. Realizing just one truth was enough to set me on the right path. And then running again because the fear of the unknown was just too scary to actually stop running to face it.
Round and Round it goes… like a whirlwind that I was trapped in. I had to somehow find a way to step out of it for mere moments at a time. Picture being inside of a small tornado that is spinning you around so fast that everything is a blur. Now picture stepping back just enough that you can SEE the spin in front of you, but you are not in it, just for one minute. That is how it began for me. And I began by just looking at one thing at a time for those moments when I could step back from the spin. As time went on, I learned to love myself and fill the void in me for myself. This was not quick OR easy but it was possible and it is possible.
And we do have a choice.
And we can overcome.
And we can take our lives back.
And we can leave the pain behind.
And we can live fully in real happiness and freedom.
………..And I know because I didn’t think I could do it either, but here I am.
More little snapshots of truth;
Related posts: “Tomorrow I will Start to Face the Pain”
and most of the other posts on this blog..
I wanted to know HOW I would recover from emotional abuse; how do I do it? What do I do?
As though knowing HOW would make it possible.
I wanted to know HOW the healing would take place, as though knowing how would make it real or as though knowing how would enable me to make the decision on whether or not I was willing to go through with it.
But the truth is that I didn’t ever get to know how. I didn’t ever get prior knowledge as to where the journey would take me.
I was held back on some aspects because I thought the pain would kill me, but the pain of recovery was never as bad as the pain of living broken. Unfortunately, we don’t know that for sure until we are on the other side of broken.
I thought that if I ventured forward but didn’t succeed, that the pain of another failure would kill me; so I hesitated about moving forward.
I hear this question all the time; “But how does it work? How will I do it?”
I didn’t know, I never knew, and looking back I don’t see how I could have even been told. Because it is different for everyone. Because it is a step by step process that takes time. Because on breakthrough builds on another.
What I remember is that I believed it was possible. That belief came because my therapist told me that there were others that had overcome and recovered from chronic depressions and dissociative behavior. I had not actually met anyone that had overcome, but when I started to trust him, I started to believe him and after I began to believe him and when I had my first little breakthrough, then I believed that I could do recover too. I finally had hope. I finally believed that if someone else could overcome ~ if someone else had recovered from dissociative identity disorder, sexual abuse, and a lifetime of psychological abuse, then maybe I could recover too.
I finally believed that I was worth taking the chance on. I was worth the effort. And I also realized that the reason that I had not considered that I was worth it prior to this was because from a very young age I had been treated as though I was not worth it. As a child I had no choice but to believe that lie.
I dug my heals in and went for it. I just put one foot in front of the other and took my time looking at the reasons that I had been in this state of difficulty and struggle with my mental health for so long. All I had was hope and it turned out that was all I needed. Each little success, each little breakthrough no matter how tiny was what kept me going forward after that. My breakthroughs became my motivation and hope was my foundation.
Blind faith I guess you could say.
I realize today that success is not the end result but rather a collection of accomplishments.
I took someone else’s word for it; that recovery was possible and it ended up being the truth. This is my biggest inspiration for writing this blog. I want to inspire hope as it was inspired in me.
I made the decision to face the pain. I made the decision to go forward but I didn’t know the answer to the HOW question. And in the end, it didn’t matter.
What are your thoughts on the “HOW” question? Please share them with us in the comments.
Exposing Truth ~ One Snapshot at a Time
“It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.” Thomas Jefferson
I was dissociated. I grew up having dissociative identity disorder which means that I effectively disconnected from myself and from the events that happened to me. That is what dissociative identity disorder is. That was how I protected myself, how I survived, how I coped. In recovery it was extremely important that I eventually connected those events BACK to me. I had to realize that those things really happened and they happened to me.
This isn’t as easy as it might sound. For one thing I didn’t realize when I talked about certain abuse situations, that I didn’t connect them to me. The first time I connected being molested as a child, to myself, I was stunned. Shocked actually. I had had the memory for years. But I didn’t actually relate it to something that happened to me as a person or to me as an individual or to me as someone who was violated. So when I talked about it in therapy this one day, it was just like I was talking about something slightly uncomfortable, like driving in bad weather. Like I was talking about an event that was slightly awkward but not the devaluing and terrifying sexual assault that in truth is what actually took place.
It doesn’t help if you are told constantly while growing up, that you are dramatic, that you talk to hear yourself talk, that you exaggerate. Or if you are told statements like “we don’t talk like that” or “we don’t talk about things like that”. It doesn’t help if you are brainwashed to believe that your memories are wrong. That your memories are false, because the memory is horrifying enough. It doesn’t help if you are told that you deserved it, that you asked for it, and the worst one of all ~ that you liked it. It doesn’t help if when you got older that you have become so sexualized that your body responds to something awful. It is really confusing when you are told it didn’t happen AND you are told you deserved it and to forgive. (If it didn’t happen why are you told you deserved it or to forgive?)
It might be nice to believe that it never really happened. Like witnessing a fatal car accident. Your mind will often try to tell you that it didn’t happen the way that you saw it happen. Your mind will try to figure out all sorts of ways that it might have happened differently and with a different outcome. I could have done this or that differently. I could have stopped it. Your mind will try to protect you from the horror of what you saw. Well my mind tried to protect me too, so it split into different memory banks and separated one memory from another. My parents gladly assisted with this process by not validating me and by convincing me that my dramatic personality was full of shit.
When I finally connected that first event to myself, I was able to connect other events too and accept that these things happened to me. I had to accept more than just that certain abuse happened to me, I had to accept that I was not validated at the same time. I was not heard, I was not protected. And although my parents were not my sexual abusers, they didn’t listen to me, my mother had a violent temper, my father was emotionally unavailable, completely detached and disinterested in me and all of those things are also abusive. I had to realize that. All of this was part of the picture of who I was and what happened to me and how I dealt with it or didn’t deal with it.
If I was to recover, if I was to heal, I had to put myself first for once and really look at this as a whole picture. And I had to realize that I had been abused, mistreated, not valued, heard or protected, and that those things happened to ME, that it was wrong, and that I didn’t deserve it. I also had to realize that I deserve recovery; that I deserve to have a full life. That I deserve to know what love is and to be loved and to know my own value. I had to stop comparing my life and my past to everyone else’s and I had to stop believing that how other people defined me was TRUE. I had to realize at the depth of my entire being, that I WAS NOT who “they” said that I was and that they don’t get to define me anymore.
I fought for my life when I was abused, but I fought even harder to get it back. and THIS truly is “the good fight”.
Written with more love then I ever knew I had or imagined that I could ever feel;
related posts: Mother Daughter Relationship Nightmares
Facing and Speaking the Awful Truth ~from the blog “you can fly with broken wings ~ by Fi MacLeod