Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Walt Oleksy, Oct 12, 2013.
Now that I have your attention...
I had a mild experience being sexually abused when I was a teenager, from a distant aunt, but when she told he not to tell anyone, I obeyed. I put it so far back in my mind that I thought I had forgotten it, but it was there all the time. I had to do a lot of journaling before I brought it back up. It was mild compared to what it seems others have experienced, but it’s all part of the same problem… anger, guilt, low self-esteem, an unwillingness to forgive, and lots more that cause TMS pain.
I’ve waited a few months to post about sex abuse but think that time has come, having just seen a movie about it. I highly recommend you see “Don’t Tell,” an Italian movie with English subtitles from 2005 that you can rent from Netflix or Blockbuster. But be warned in advance, it’s not a comedy. It treats the subject with maturity and dignity and leaves you feeling comforted.
In the movie, a young woman in Rome remembers she was sexually abused by her father, and it makes her feel unsafe with other men, even the wonderful guy she loves and he loves her and wants to marry her. She has such emotional stress she doesn’t want to get out of bed to go to work. (TMS).
She takes a break and visits her brother in America and when she tells him that their father sexually abused her when she was girl (something she has not told anyone until then), he tells her that their father sexually abused him, too. Together they find peace in the terrible situation, but when the girl returns to Rome, she still can’t tell her fiancé about it. She continues to keep it to herself, and it is a narrator at the end of the movie who gives her the helpful, healing advice: “We have to erase the child we were.”
I don’t know if that will help anyone reading, but it sounds good to me.
Then I read about a Los Angeles psychotherapist, Dr. Carol Boulware, who helps adults who have been sexually abused as children and who have depression anxiety, panic, stress, anger, sexual problems, communication problems, marriage-relationship difficulties, etc.
He first asks “What is sexual abuse” and answers it saying it represents any kind of sexual contact between an adult or older teen and a child. This behavior is used to gain power over the child and often involves a betrayal of the child's trust.
There are many types of sexual abuse, some include physical contact or touching offenses. This includes fondling, touching sexual organs, masturbation, making the child touch the adult sexually, and vaginal or anal penetration with self or objects. Non touching offenses include exposing a child to pornographic material, indecent exposure, leering and deliberately putting the child in the position of having to witness an act of sexual intercourse.
What Kind Of Person Would Victimize A Child?
People who sexually abuse suffer from emotional immaturity, low self-esteem, an inability to see harm in their actions and lack the knowledge to control their impulses. Often the offenders were victims of child sexual abuse themselves. Many abusers are not strangers, they are often people of position or power in our lives, such as, teachers, doctors, baby-sitters, neighbors, sports coaches, parents, peers, siblings, relatives and clergy.
How Common Is Child Sexual Abuse?
It has been shown that 3-7% of boys are sexually abused by the time they reach eighteen and 2-5% of girls, on the whole two out of ten children are victims of abuse. These averages are of course conservative since most occurrences are never reported.
Were You Sexually Abused?
The psychotherapist says pay attention to your feelings and follow your gut. A lot of victims of sexual abuse tend to block out memories they have of the incident only to be triggered by painful reminders: specific sounds, smells, words and facial expressions. If you suspect that you were sexually abused, you probably were. Trust you feelings and memories.
What Are The Affects Of Sexual Abuse?
Do you feel at home in your body?
Do you feel comfortable expressing yourself sexually with another?
Do you feel that you are a part of your body or does your body feel like a separate entity?
Have you ever intentionally and physically hurt yourself?
Do you find it difficult to listen to your body?
Do you feel out of control of your feelings?
Do you feel you sometimes don't understand all the feelings you are experiencing?
Are you overwhelmed by the wide range of feelings you have?
What are your expectations of your partner in a relationship?
Do you find it easy to trust others?
Do you find difficulty in making commitments?
Even though you're in a relationship, are you still lonely?
Is it hard for you to allow others to get close to you?
Do you find yourself in relationships with people who remind you of your abuser, or you know is no good for you?
Do you find it difficult to love yourself?
Do you have a hard time accepting yourself?
Are you ashamed of yourself?
Do you have expectations of yourself that aren't realistic?
Do you enjoy sex?
Do you find it difficult to express yourself sexually?
Do you find yourself using sex to get close to someone?
Does sex make you feel dirty?
Are you "present" during sex?
What Problems are Caused by Sexual Abuse?
Major Sexual symptoms of Sexual Abuse
Difficulty with becoming aroused and feeling sensations
Sex feels like an obligation
Sexual thoughts and images that are disturbing
Inappropriate sexual behaviors or sexual compulsivity
Inability to achieve orgasm or other orgasmic difficulties
Erections problems or ejaculatory difficulty
Feeling dissociated while having sex
Detachment or emotional distance while having sex
Being afraid of sex or avoiding sex
Guilt, fear, anger, disgust or other negative feelings when being touched
Major Long-Term Medical Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
Vaginal or Pelvic Pain
Low back pain, chest pressure
Erection problems or ejaculatory difficulty
Chronic physical complaints
Major Long-Term Psychological Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
Stress disorders - PTSD
Why Do You Have To Deal With It Now, If It Happened Back Then?
There are many reasons why children do not deal with the abuse at the time of the incident: unconscious feelings of shame, disbelief, self blame. Abusers may also threaten or bribe children into not speaking up, convincing the child that it is indeed their fault, and that they will never be believed otherwise. These tactics are used to silence the child. Under no circumstances, is the child to blame for the abuse. Although, if the abuse is not dealt with in a therapeutic and healing setting, the effects of past abuse will remain and undermine the victim for years to come.
Does It Get Better?
The worst part, the abuse, is over. Now your next step is to surround yourself with supportive loving people, and focus on the desire you have to heal yourself. This is your process. You must be gentle and patient with yourself as your healing process gently unfolds. You are giving yourself the gift of coming to life, again.
You are not alone, and in fact, in recognizing what has happened to you and speaking about your experience is one of the most vital components in the healing process. You have already taken a giant step. If you think that you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you need to take action immediately so your life will not be undermined by the past one day more. Get help.
Therapy Offers New Hope!
Patients who have suffered for years from anxiety or distressing memories, nightmares, insomnia from sexual abuse or other traumatic events can now gain relief from a revolutionary new therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).
Research shows that EMDR is rapid, safe and effective. EMDR does not involve the use of drugs or hypnosis. It is a simple, non-invasive patient-therapist collaboration in which healing can happen effectively.
This powerful short-term therapy is highly effective for a wide range of disorders including recovery from sexual abuse, rape and traumatic incidents, depression, panic attacks, phobias, eating disorders and poor self-image, stress, worry.
You can get help with the problem by posting it on this web site, TMSWiki.org/forum, and others will reply.
Or you can contact RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. It was created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with over 1,100 local sexual assault service providers nationwide. RAINN also runs the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline. Together, the hotlines have helped more than 1.6 million people since 1994.
RAINN also publicizes the hotlines’ free and confidential services; educates the public about sexual violence; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual violence, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline services (click, call, text), are provided by RAINN through a contract with the DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). Your information will remain confidential. RAINN will not share your name or any other personally identifying information with SAPRO or your chain of command.
RAINN has adapted the award winning National Sexual Assault Online Hotline to provide specialized live help online at SafeHelpline.org to members of the DoD community who have been sexually assaulted. Safe Helpline is also available by calling 877-995-5247. The phone number is the same inside the U.S or worldwide via the Defense Switched Network (DSN). All Safe Helpline staff members have been trained to answer questions relating to military-specific topics such as Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting and how to contact relevant military resources, such as your installation or base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), should those services be requested.
To learn more about RAINN and its programs, visit www.rainn.org.5 Tips to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
The following five safety tips from RAINN focus on practical things parents can do to protect children from sexual abuse.
Talk often with your child and set a tone of openness. Talking openly and directly will let your child know that it’s okay to talk to you when they have questions. If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, make time to listen and talk to them.
Teach your child key safety principles. For instance:
Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
If your child is uncomfortable or if someone is touching them, s/he should
tell a trusted adult immediately.
Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to
them in ways that make them uncomfortable that it shouldn’t stay a secret.
Your child should know that s/he has the right to speak up if they are uncomfortable, or if someone is touching them. It’s okay to say “no” even to adults they know and family members.
Implement Internet safety protocols, and parental controls through platforms such as the Google Family Safety Center. Work with older children to set guidelines for who they can talk to online, and what information can be shared. For instance, be cautious when leaving status or away messages online and when using the "check-in" feature on Facebook or Foursquare.
Educate yourself about the warning signs of child abuse. Know what to look for, and the best way to respond.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org), and from TMSWiki.org/forum.
Dealing with child or adult sexual abuse is giving yourself “tough love.” Maybe you can do what the Italian movie suggests, if you erase the child you were. Keep the good memories, but delete the bad ones. It will not be easy, but it’s worth working on.
And remember, it wasn’t your fault.
Another great post Walt.
I had the pleasure of talking to Walt on the phone. He's a sweet mild mannered compassionate man. Gentile and kind and smart.
It takes great courage to tell people someone has sexually abused you. I sometimes receive emails from people saying they were sexually abused, surprisingly few from females, most from men. They were often abused by uncles or neighbors, etc. Many admit to me they had never told anyone but me.
So pain runs deep, and Walt finished this article with a brilliant statement, "it was not your fault." I always tell people that TMS has a movie called Good Will Hunting, watch it and learn about repression, and behavior, and GUILT. However, Will Hunting took Horney's aggression method as his modus, not the compliance that most TMSers take for coping. The TMSers most often use self-punishment, the aggressors take hostile positions.
Sex is all about power and control, the problem stems from the stages you are in life. It's an abuse if the person is not mature enough to know whether they want the advances. Kids need to be allowed to mature on their own until the time comes that they are mature enough to make the decision on their own.
Be watchful of your children, it's often a relative, or someone within your inner or "fringe" circle, who you trust, and the child trusts. EVERYONE carries a shadow.
Thanks for the support and kind words, Steve. I know my dog thinks I'm a nice guy, but it's good to know people I respect as much as I do you
also think I am.
I forgot to suggest seeing GOOD WILL HUNTING. It had that excellent message: "It's not your fault." Few things are, for TMS sufferers. We're such good, nice, conscientious people. Sometimes I wish I was as callous as other people are, but then I tell myself no, I'm glad I care about what others and I think about myself.
It was a tough post to put up, but I get the sense that a lot of people are victims of sexual abuse and are not sure how to handle their emotions because of it. "Don't tell" may not be the answer, but "It was not your fault" is certainly one.
It's encouraging that the new Pope is taking on the subject, at least as it applies to his fellow clergymen, if not his flock. It's about time.
Girls and boys, as well as grown women and probably some grown men, have become sex slaves all over the world. Children have to be taught to be careful of anyone, family, friends, strangers. We used to be taught that in elementary school, but I don't know if it's being taught today.
Then there came computers and the Internet and it's so easy for porn to spread and excite sick people.
Forest wants me to work on a TMS in Pop Culture web site and I need your input. I found some new examples and he wants me to go back into what is already posted and rewrite-revise it. We need to talk or exchange emails about it.
A friend of mine who recently retired after 30 years in "child protection" said victims of sexual abuse also often have flashbacks, dreams, and weird thoughts about sex that they can't control. Even if they don't act them out, they feel very ashamed and conclude, "I'm the sick one". This makes getting help even harder because they take personal responsibility for what was, in fact, inflicted on them. To realize that your trust was betrayed and no adult (or teenager) has the right to initiate children into sexual activity is key to healing. Children naturally tend to blame themselves and it is especially hard for them to realize that a loved adult could be a betrayer. Realizing the adult was wrong is scary because, to a child, it means the world is not a safe place. Blaming him or herself, gives the child a feeling of being in control.
Njoy, this is such an important point that I think some don't quite realize or understand when talking about child abuse, sexual or otherwise. Blaming oneself can almost be a form of self-protection, I think. The world still makes sense if I'm at fault. My life still makes sense if I'm at fault. When that occurs at a young age especially, it can be so difficult to shift that blame to where it really belongs - to the abuser.
Thanks, Walt, for sharing your story and posting this thread. It's an incredibly important topic for all of us to know about and understand, whether we've been through it or not.
Becca, I totally agree. I have a schizophrenic daughter and people sometimes assure me, "It's not your fault". Occasionally, I reply, "I almost wish it were. Then I might be able to figure out what to do so she could be well."
Life can be very sad and having no idea WHY something happened to you or someone you love is harder, I think, than having to admit to a mistake. After all, we all make mistakes. That's inevitable.
Anyway, the only way out of emotional pain is to fully grieve it. Not in a morbid way, but wholeheartedly. On the other side there is joy.
Walt, you spoke so clearly to me with your initial post. The quote, "We have to erase the child we were" is interesting. I've always thought in terms of integrating that sexually abused child. But that means integrating the fears and confusion and rage and shame. I like better the idea that I could erase her so that her hurt would no longer hurt me.
I fear a part of me wants to hang on to the "victim" I was, even though I stopped outwardly identifying with the victim mentality long ago. Years of sexual abuse from multiple "trusted" family members resulted in long-lived desire to be rescued, to have some authority figure tsk-tsk at my stories, validate that victim within, and embrace me in their non-sexual loving arms.
But - reality- dude, I'm 50, and it's time to let this sh!t go. Somehow, some way, I want to process the memories, uncover the repressed memories, confront the wrong thinking about those suppressed feelings so they no longer manifest themselves in my physical body, and live even more fully than I'm blessed to be presently living.
Thank you for posting. You certainly got my attention.
Walt this is a great post, it takes a lot of courage to write what you did
im glad you stood up.
Thanks Pal, This is a great post
Cherylie, you might find Forest's new mailing list on "parts work" interesting. The theory is that we all have parts with different beliefs and ideas, many of them based on traumatic incidents from our past. Some, we are aware of. For example you might say "Part of me wants to do it. Another part thinks that's a bad idea. I'm not sure what to do." I would know just what you meant by that!
My favorite type of parts work (at present, anyway) is called IFS (Internal Family Systems). The process is meant as self-help. I learned mostly from books but there are therapists as well.
IFS may apply to your situation because it is possible to "erase" the bad memories of sexual abuse or anything else that traumatized us when we were too young to cope. Here's the gist: you talk to the part, listen to her, love her, reparent her, and then (when she is happy and she wants to) you help her "unburden" and join you, go play, explore the cosmos or whatever SHE wants to do.
I must admit part of the reason Forest started the new mailing list is that I go on and on about IFS as a tool for TMS because it has helped me so much! If you, or anyone else, wants to give it a try you can let Forest know by pm-ing him or emailing <email@example.com>
There is also a new thread in the General Discussions Forums called Mailing List for Parts Therapy and TMS with links to explore on youtube, amazon, etc.
Thanks for the info, njoy. Another interesting concept for processing the past.
What a wonderful post, Walt. It covers a great deal of territory.
The older the wound, the more integrated it is into the entire system. It is no longer an isolated wound, but a pervasive one that is part of the fabric of our being.
I have no illusions regarding this aspect of myself. I will not thrive because I have healed, but because I have re-woven my own tapestry. As Buddha turned the poisoned arrows into flowers at his feet, I seek to take that imagery further. The flowers take root, and multiply. They are nurtured by the pain, and transformed into something beautiful that can be of use to others. I learn, and I teach. I use each and every tool that is provided. I gain strength from knowledge.
All of us here, we are using our experiences, sharing them ... and causing endless ripples of energy. Because of all of you, I am stronger.
This is why choosing your community with care is important. We become like those we spend time with.
I'm in good company ... thank you.
with grace and gratitude,
Walt, I have just reread your long post, above, and am wondering if it's possible to "erase the child we were” as the lead character was told in the movie, Don't Tell. Actually, I don't think it is possible. I think we have to bring that child in from the cold and give it our love and comfort. What happened, happened. It is now a part of us whether or not we acknowledge it.
Also, it seems to me that boys who have sexual encounters with older females are every bit as much abused as girls with an older male. It's good that there have been some changes in society's perception, lately. I have had several friends and foster children in this situation and, believe me, it's the opposite of a gift, even if the encounter was completely non-violent.
I agree that we shouldn't "erase the child we were" but better is to do what you suggest.
An aunt did some naughty things to me in the dark back seat of a car when I was a young teenager,
then told me not to tell anyone. I still remember how I felt about that. I never told anyone,
but the repressed emotion stayed with me until recently when I learned about TMS and forgiving.
I think I put it behind me, but maybe one never does put something like that behind them.
A very good friend was a boy abused by a priest and it turned him off to the Catholic church.
It sure has stayed with him and he's 50 now.
Thanks for sharing your story, Walt. The more this is talked about the less it will happen. Long ago, everyone thought, "It only happened to me, no one else." The cloak of denial was almost absolute and still is in some countries. This just plays into the perp's hands. Scott Peck, in People of the Lie, talks about human evil being our refusal to recognize the ways we harm others. I think that's true of every form of abuse and explains our human inclination to fight with each other on every level. We need to call ourselves and others on every form of abuse but NOT to prove one of us is better than the other. That's just another excuse to be abusive.
Thanks for sharing such a personal and sensitive incident Walt.
I also feel it takes courage to share this.
I believe that talking about abuse and painful experiences from childhood and beyond takes away their power and opens the door to deal with the feelings.
Your honesty helps me have more courage to be open and honest with what went on in my life.
I want to share another abuse event in my life. I was more amused than anything.
I was about forty and working as the editor of a travel magazine for a major auto club and hated the company I worked for.
I should have stayed three minutes but stayed three years. It was full of phonies.
One of the heads of the department was a very macho-looking and acting man who always had a smoking cigar
in his mouth. He told me one day, "Walt, you should smoke a cigar. It would make you look stronger, tougher."
I didn't care to look strong or tough and thought he was another phony. He proved it one day when he asked me into his office
and told me to close the door behind me. His secretary sat outside very close to his door.
He looked at me, wet his lips, and said, "Walt, you have the best-looking ass I've ever seen."
I was more than surprised but didn't hesitate a moment to reply, "Thank you, sir," and left.
I kept the sexual harassment to myself but always thought my older brother who was an executive in
another department of the company was among everyone who was fooled by the jerk who pretended
to be macho. I quit soon after, not because of that or any other sexual harassment but just because I
knew I didn't want to work there anymore. I left and became a freelance writer and now 40 years later
I found the right job for me.
Separate names with a comma.