If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from being a survivor myself and working with fellow survivors, it’s this…
I/we have so many questions we’d like to ask, but feel too ashamed, silly, that we’ll be judged, or guilty, to ask. It takes time to build up trust with our counsellors and therapists. Our partners, friends and family won’t understand. Some may simply not want to, or feel ready to seek help yet. So where do we start?
Here, right here is a good place.
I’ll keep this as simple a question and answer session as possible…
(If you have any questions you’d like answers to, please feel free to contact me and I will add them here. All anonymously of course)
Q. I just don’t understand why I seem to keep choosing the wrong partners. Is it me? Have I got a sign on my head saying ‘mug’?
A. No, first and foremost, it isn’t you. Lets get that absolutely clear. We do need to go back and have a look at your personal history, to see why this is happening for you. Many victims/survivors find themselves on a merry-go-round of repeating the cycle of abuse we suffered as children. This is in no way intentional or even clear to many at the time. It is only in unpicking our past, our experiences, our upbringing, what boundaries were put in place, or often the lack of personal boundaries we were taught, the mixed messages of how we received love, warmth, comfort, even food in some cases, that we get to stand outside of the box and look at how dysfunctional our realities were and how we now have the power to change that.
Q. I’m a little embarrassed and feel guilty that at the time, I enjoyed the comfort and attention that my abuser gave me. Does this make me a bad person? Did I ask for it?
A. Absolutely Not. It is so very hard, even if you have experienced abuse, to look at this from the perspective of the child you were at the time. You are an adult now, and when we look back from our adult perspective, we judge ourselves harshly, feel guilty and ashamed, that we should have stopped it, should have known that this was wrong.
Our abusers often went to great lengths to groom not only us, but our families too. They gain our trust, form bonds with us and then use this power to take advantage for their own sexual gratification. Abuse is about power. They used their power over a child. It’s very important that we see this, we were children.
Have you got children? Nieces or nephews? Friends with kids? It can help (it can also be a huge trigger*) to look at how innocent and small they are, see how they need adults for the very basics of survival and see that you were like that once, reliant on the adults in your life.
If you have been abused by a parent or sibling this can be especially difficult to unravel. They were your nearest and dearest. The very people that you should have been safest with. We know all too often that this is not always the case. 90% of victims and survivors state that the abuser was a family member or known to them.
Be gentle with yourself as you start to dissect your own journey. There will be many layers and each will take time to heal.
(*When I say trigger, doing this may mean you really start to feel how small you were at the time of the abuse, it may trigger flashbacks, memories, anger, tears. They are all good healthy emotions that are coming up to be healed)
A brilliant website I have found on my travels is Pandora’s Project – It’s an American website with lots of really helpful peer advice from fellow survivors and for those who are supporting a loved one through it. They also have a lending library and chat room. I’ve personally loved their articles and essays, infact I’ve referred to their material many times with my own clients too.
More questions to be added soon….