Archive for child abuse
Sometimes I get comments from people that are so filled with judgement that I don’t even consider publishing them. I am sharing the following comment with you today because it is a fantastic example of the judgement that is out there in the world about what we reveal when it comes to our dysfunctional family stuff. I didn’t publish this comment on the post it came in on~ I didn’t see the point in giving this woman a voice and her comment is so ridiculous ~ especially since it is from this total stranger who doesn’t know me, my story or my family.
This comment speaks volumes about her judgements; she really thinks that she knows my family history and sides with my father. She offers proof that I misunderstood my father’s intentions and decides that it is up to me to mend this broken fence. She absolves my father of all responsibility for the abandonment that I suffered at his hands.
And because this kind of lecture is SO common, and since we have been hearing this kind of stuff since childhood, it is easy to get sucked into this kind of judgement and “feel bad” for MY actions; or at least it might have made me feel bad 5 years ago. Today I was shocked. I thought “how the heck does this woman KNOW anything about my parents or what happened in my family or to my mother? Why does she think she knows anything about my father, his decisions, his actions or his intentions?
I didn’t publish this comment on the post where she left it because this kind of stuff heaps more damage on the already damaged reader. I am publishing it today to highlight a typical example of what survivors of abuse and dysfunctional family stuff hear all the time from Read More→
Earlier this week I received a comment on the post “Thanksgiving and Gratitude ~ When the little voice rebels” and a commenter asked some excellent questions. Since I get questions like these frequently, I decided to answer them in this new post. Here is the paragraph from “Coffee” with her questions;
Coffee79 wrote: One area I struggle with is when that voice comes along I want to call someone, anyone to tell me this isn’t the truth. When I tell myself that truth, why can’t I believe it? Why does it mean more coming from someone else? My self-esteem will not stay consistent, and my therapist says I need to learn how to be my own best friend. I feel like I do work at it more than I used to, but how does someone become these things when they never had it? I do not have a healthy reference. I respond to this voice by telling myself it isn’t true and I tell myself positive affirmations but I am not convinced. Darlene, how did you become your own best friend? How did you build your self-esteem without relying on the words others?”
Anyone who has been reading Emerging from Broken for any length of time knows that I find the answers by looking back to where the damage was caused and the messages I got and accepted about myself. I had to find out where my self-esteem went ‘missing’ in the first place. I know that’s easier said than done and I am not minimizing the actual ‘work’ for one second but that was the first part of the work. Becoming my own best friend came later. I had to clear a new foundation on which to build my relationship with me, before I started working on becoming my own best friend and validating myself.
When I look back on my own life, I realize that I was ‘trained’ or taught (by words and actions, outcomes and circumstances) to believe that without certain people I would not survive. When a child’s efforts are met with impatience there is a clear message communicated to that child. This message does not have to be communicated in words. It was only by finding out what that message WAS that I was able to overcome it. There were a LOT of false messages stuck in my belief system but the bottom line was that in the mind of a child, not being loved, ‘good enough’ or acceptable means being rejected and rejection means death. (I had to think deeply about this concept in my own life in order to relate to it. It isn’t something that I understood just by hearing it).
Through looking closely at these messages that were communicated to me, I came to the conclusion that I associated not being approved of or not being “good enough” with death. MY DEATH. And the survival instinct is very strong and something I realized is that I was Read More→
I am pleased to welcome Kylie Devi back to Emerging from Broken. In January of 2012, Kylie wrote a guest post about having been sexually abused as a child and how much trouble she had getting professional help dealing with it. There were some unforeseen results due to her sharing this information however and this new post is about her abusers confronting her about that blog post and her reaction to that confrontation; how it froze her and how she got through it. It will be helpful for you to get the whole picture by reading her original blog post first. Please help me welcome Kylie back! ~ Darlene
Breaking Through the Fear of Speaking About Child Abuse by Kylie Devi
In January of this year, I wrote a blog post sharing my experience with the “get better industry.” I shared how I felt that traditional psychology and social work failed me when I really needed it. And how I pulled myself out of the trenches of the horrors of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse as well as a ten year battle with drug addiction.
The belief I shared is that any industry designed to help me “get better” is only going to thrive when I don’t get better. An example of this is that the medical industry doesn’t thrive when nobody is sick, seeing doctors, or buying pharmaceuticals. Therefore, they are invested in people being sick. Make sense?
My main purpose for sharing this blog post was to reach out and say, hey, we all have our own unique path to healing… and it’s really awesome when we can share with each other too. For me, both of these are implicit – we have to do the work ourselves, but it is so powerful when we can participate in communities full of people who are also “doing the work.”
I do believe it was received that way by many people who read it, but there were some other people who weren’t too excited about what I had to say.
In February, I got a phone call from my main abuser saying: “I read your little blog post, what are you doing? Trying to get attention? Who abused you, and why am I hearing about it in this way?”
(I would like to say that “your little blog post” was kind of comedic to me, since this is a highly trafficked website that has helped thousands of people.)
And then 3 more phone calls from my other Read More→
“I learned to set boundaries by realizing where they were missing in my life. I learned where they were missing in my life by seeing the truth about abuse etc. As long as my value was in question (by me as a result of the way I had been defined) I could not set boundaries.” Darlene Ouimet
I googled the key words “setting personal boundaries” and the top info I found on it included understanding the abusers and not judging or placing blame on them because after all, we are all wounded souls! No wonder we have so much trouble healing from abuse! Oh it all sounds so lovely, but the truth is that I healed by setting ALL that aside after trying it that way for well over 20 years with the main result being that the depressions only increased and my boundaries got weaker. (see the links at the end of this post)
Have you ever thought about why setting personal boundaries is so dang hard in the first place? Here in Emerging from Broken, I always talk about how everything has a root. Depression starts somewhere. We are not born with low self esteem. And it is the root of both those things that makes setting personal boundaries so hard!
When I was defined as “not good enough” or “not worthy” by the actions of others in my life, it is understandable that I believed that definition of “me”. And as long as I believed that the definition of me was correct, I didn’t believe I had a right to HAVE boundaries. I didn’t believe that I had a choice in my own life about what kind of treatment I had to accept. I didn’t understand that I was being treated badly and that I had a right to say no to that treatment.
There was a root to why I had no idea Read More→
This week I came across the expression “love and you will be loved” several times and it got me thinking about how in theory it can and does work but the problem is what it infers. Depending on what you have already learned about “love” different messages are received through this saying. This phrase is so often said as a solution for everything just like with other sayings such as; Love heals all wounds; Love is the answer; if you are lonely then simply Love someone. It implies that if you “are not loving” then you will not be loved and the message that I “heard” is that I was not loved because I was not loving enough which led to me trying harder in impossible and abusive situations. This directive “love and you will be loved” seems to imply that we are all able to love as though love is something we just “know” how to do. Are we born knowing how to love or do we learn how to love by first being loved.
“Love and you will be loved” is often said as a reprimand. That phrase has some baggage that goes along with it. It decides that you will only be loved IF you love and that is fine. I am not disagreeing with that concept. It is the way that it is applied that I have an issue with. In our society, it seems to be applied to the victim in any given situation. The statement seems to infer that if you are struggling then it must be YOUR fault. If you are lonely, it is YOUR fault. If you are oppressed, what did you do to cause it? If you are being abused, or if you were mistreated (in any way) in the past, what did you do bring that on to yourself?
What if the saying “love and you shall be loved” was applied to the Read More→
“I will leave the past alone when it leaves me alone” Commenter on Emerging from Broken
I heard so many things against speaking about the past. Questions which are actually statements and judgements more than they are actual questions such as “why do you want to talk about your problems in public” or “why do you want to air your dirty laundry in front of the whole world?” These judgements always concluded with some version of “you are only making yourself look like a fool.” Statements like that carried with them the all too familiar indication that the speakers (the judges) were concerned for ME; that they truly cared about what was “best for me”.
When I faced the cold hard truth, I began to comprehend the actuality reality; I realized that their concern was never for me. I didn’t need to make myself look like a fool, they did that for me all of my life. I think of the times they delighted in finding ways to embarrass me or humiliate me in front of others. In fact I think that some of their motives were based on discrediting me in case I ever revealed the truth. They were not concerned about MY dirty laundry. They were only concerned about what I was exposing about THEM. They didn’t want me to expose THEIR dirty laundry. And I think this would be a good time to add that if they didn’t KNOW what they were doing was wrong, if they didn’t “know any better” then WHY did they know that they needed to keep me quiet about Read More→
It wasn’t that bad. What happened to me wasn’t “that bad” and I told myself that for YEARS. When I was in my early twenties and struggling with trying to quit the coping methods of alcohol and drug use, some of my memories of child sexual abuse were coming up and I was trying really hard to get rid of them without resorting to alcohol or drugs. At that point in my life I had never told anyone (outside of family but they didn’t validate the abuse OR me) what had happened to me.
One day I was having coffee with a friend of mine who I had met in a 12 step program. In an attempt to mentor me and validate an issue that I was struggling with he told me that from as young as he can remember his parents sandwiched him in between themselves while they had sex. He told me that he can never remember a time growing up when he didn’t have sex with both his parents. He told me that by the time he was 5 he liked it and by the time he was a young teenager, he loved it. He didn’t know it wasn’t “normal”. It was his normal. And now he was struggling to learn what the truth about “normal” actually was and to overcome the damage that had occurred in his life. He was having all kind of relationship problems as a result of child sexual abuse.
Although I felt extreme compassion for him, I didn’t hear any of what he was trying to communicate to me. He was trying to communicate that it wasn’t his fault and that his body reacted to being sexually stimulated. He had been sexualized from a very young age. All I heard was how horrible his childhood was and how horrific the child sexual abuse that he endured was. And the biggest thing I “heard” was that what had happened to me did not compare with Read More→
I convinced myself of many things in order to cope with child abuse, emotional abuse and being defined as less important than others in my life.
I was unable to cope with the truth so I changed the truth to suit me. I learned how to view “unhealthy attention” as though it was healthy and validating in order to cope with my dysfunctional world the way that it was and by doing so I was able to pretend that my world was actually functional. I found a way to believe that I was special.
But in order to feel loved and to believe that I had at least some degree of self worth, I had to change my understanding of the word “special”. I had to warp my definition of that word in order to fit it to the actual circumstances. The things I accepted as “proof” and validation that I was “special” became pretty sick and unhealthy.
I remember when I was about 13 or 14 years old, my mother started Read More→