Preparing to Heal from Sexual Abuse

Apr 19th, 2010 | By | Category: All Posts, Articles

Christina Enevoldsen

by Christina Enevoldsen

Does time heals all wounds?  I’ve heard many survivors of abuse try to soothe themselves by saying, “Soon, this will pass.” It does take time to heal—and lots of it. But time alone won’t repair the soul mutilation of abuse anymore than it will repair the destruction caused by an earthquake. Sexual abuse ravages the depths of your being and to be restored, you’ll need to face each wounded area.  Healing takes great quantities of perseverance, courage, strength and yes, time.

Recognizing the Abuse

The first step in beginning to heal from any kind of abuse is to recognize and acknowledge that it happened to you, and that it matters.  It’s very common to remember an unwanted sexual encounter, yet not recognize it as sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is when someone with less power is tricked, trapped, coerced, or bribed into any type of sexual experience. Power imbalance may result from the perpetrator’s age, size, position, experience, or authority and includes kissing, fondling, being forced to touch the abuser’s genitals, anal, oral or vaginal sex, and non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism or sexual comments.

Though you may not label it as such, the effects are no less present. The attempt to deny the seriousness doesn’t limit the effects. Just the opposite is true. You may have low self-esteem as a result of your abuse and might not think it matters that you were hurt, but your life is important and you are worth the time and effort it takes to overcome this.

Gaining the Proper Perspective

While it’s common to see the abuse as less serious than it is, it’s also common to see the abuse as bigger than it is. The abuse leaves you feeling powerless. Often, that feeling carries into the healing process. The powerlessness causes you to think of yourself as less capable and weaker than you are. The effects of abuse can seem engulfing, yet you are stronger than the abuse or its effects. Your survival proves that. You’ve lived through the worst of it and the same strength that preserved your life will help you build a new one.

Facing the Effects and Envisioning a Better Future

It’s important to see how sexual abuse has affected your life. Go through the symptom checklist Possible Indicators of Sexual Abuse. Don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, recognize the symptoms of victimization for what they are. Once you recognize how much the abuse has affected you, you can see how much you have to gain by the healing process.

Sometimes it’s hard to visualize a life not consumed with abuse, but try to imagine yourself doing something that you weren’t able to do before.

Facing the Pain

The pain of abuse can be agonizing and incapacitating. Sometimes, it overtakes you and it’s impossible to think about anything else. At those times, pain seems like the enemy. You may try to avoid it through masking or stuffing. Pain won’t kill you, but failing to deal with the pain can limit or shorten your life.

Pain is a vital tool in healing and will only be eliminated as your wounds heal. It’s meant to be a signal to help you find the specific areas that need your protection, nurturing and attention. If you cooperate with your pain instead of fighting it, it will be your ally.

When you recognize a feeling emerging, try to identify when it started. Understanding the origin of the event or memory can help you process and work through the feeling.

Even if you don’t know why you feel the way you do, it’s still important to express your emotions. Masking or stuffing feelings won’t make them go away, only expressing them will.

Be careful not to judge your feelings. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They are helpful indicators of what you believe about your experience. You will likely experience anger and hatred and many other powerful emotions during this time. The more comfortable you become in allowing the feelings to surface, the easier your healing will be.

Gathering Your Resources

A support system is vital to your healing. Friends and family members, support groups and/or a therapist can fill this need. You can’t do this alone. You suffered alone for long enough and you need others around you to heal. Choose people who will take the time to listen without judgment and who help you feel safe.

Professionals who are familiar with sexual abuse issues not only provide support by listening but also by educating you on the process, though many survivors heal without professional counseling. If you choose not to seek therapy or can’t afford it, you will need to learn everything you can about the subject. Doing so will prepare you for the journey by telling you what to expect and by affirming your thoughts and feelings.  Here is a list of recommended reading. Even if you hire a therapist, you are responsible for educating yourself and for your own healing. Nobody can do it for you.

Taking the Plunge

You may be tempted to put your healing on hold while waiting for your abuser to apologize or your family to believe you.  Unfortunately, those things may never happen. Isn’t it time for you to be in control of your own life?  Don’t allow someone else to determine when your healing journey begins. Others may not choose to do what’s best for you, but you can.

Related Links:

Microwave Healing: I Want To Feel Better NOW

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and four grandchildren.

[read Christina's story here]

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49 comments
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  1. amazing, so accurate

  2. This is excellent Christina!

  3. Wonderful, Christina.

  4. Thank you for laying this out so clearly, Christina. So true that the only way to begin to heal is to recognize and deal with the abuse point by point, however painful that may be.

  5. when you do forget the abuse, I have no anger anymore towards the two that hurt me, but i seem to have horrible flash backs even with treatment and trying hard to let go, the pastor has told me i have not forgiven if i can’t forget, i wonder do all wounds really heal

  6. your pastor does not understand. You can forgive, but you will not forget. The flashbackswill decrease with time and healing.

  7. I agree, the pastor doesn’t understand. I will heal the wounds, but I will always have the scars.

  8. Laura..first let me offer an e-hug.
    Forgive and forget comes from Shakespear’s play, King Lear, Act 3 Scene 7; ( If my memory serves me well re the number of the act) It is not found anywhere to “forgive and forget” in the scriptures. This is abusive.
    Over spiritualization of real life issues is a hard core problem in the church. When my son Aaron was died in an accident, in 1994, the well meaning but ignorant pastor told me that “he was in heaven because God wanted him there, and he was in a better place.”

    I told him right then and there that was the last thing any pastor should tell any one who had just lost a child, and a few other things. It belittles and denies the person the right to grieve and the right to mourn..because ..if you truly believe that it is all a spiritual problem, then you have NO excuse for flashbacks and sorrow, pain and suffering.
    Guess what..that is unfair and it is contrary to the way we are made.
    If we just put a spiritual twist on the problem..bingo!
    You can just pray it away. No way!
    Miracles happen, but most of us lesser mortals have to process things..
    I am sorry you were told that..healing is cyclical, I have found. It takes time and every cycle brings a new perspective that needs attention..in my humble opinion.

  9. Laura, I’m so sorry that you’ve been told that by your pastor. He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Most pastors don’t have any training that prepares them for dealing with these issues.

    Yes, healing from all wounds is possible. The flashbacks will only continue as long as there are still issues to be addressed. They aren’t pleasant, but they serve us by reminding us to deal with our painful past and by giving us clues to sort our our memories and feelings. You won’t always have flashbacks, but you’ll always remember what happened to you. As you heal, the memories won’t carry the pain that they do now. They will seem to be in the distant past instead of something that happened yesterday.

  10. Wow, even though I hear it nearly everyday, I’m still so amazed (and disgusted) by how much sexual abuse and other painful issues are compounded by spiritual abuse.

  11. Some people add to the original hurt by their ignorance, like the pastor that Laura mentions.

    Christina, thanks for the work that you do here and on your Facebook page. We need more people in recovery to speak out and share their experiences of healing.

  12. I agree, Patricia! Thank you Christina – you’re doing important work! Just look at this conversational thread and you can tell you’re having a positive impact!

  13. Christina, well said about “the memories won’t carry the pain that they do now.” I had someone ask if it was painful to talk about the violence with my Dad. I was sort of surprised, and said no. I had worked through the feelings, and it didn’t hurt like it used to!

  14. Patricia and Dan, THANK YOU! Thank you for the important work you do. Darlene’s and both of your writings have been a source of inspiration and help to me. I’m so honored to have your insightful and encouraging contributions to the discussions we have here.

  15. You’re so welcome, Christina! I’m so enriched by being a part of this whole healing dialogue! Wonderful! :)

  16. Yes, pastors are just people. The man who caused me the most pain in my life, my dad, and the man who brought me the most healing, my husband, are both pastors.

    The problem I have isn’t with their intentions, it’s what pastors do with their authority. They shouldn’t present themselves as an authority on things they aren’t qualifiied to speak about.

    On the flip side, we shouldn’t have the expectation that our pastor knows everything. We need to take responsiblity for how much any person speaks into our life and verify the truth for ourselves.

    I actually know a lot of wonderful pastors. They aren’t any difference from anyone else I know. Some are great and some are awful. They’re just people.

  17. Christina, you are very welcome. I am glad to know that I am making a difference. Making a difference is why I decided to blog about my incest recovery. As more survivors speak out, we spread more awareness about incest and other forms of abuse. Prevention is much more important of a step than recovery.

  18. This is one of my rants too Jean, but it isn’t just pastors, it is cops, doctors, etc. and there are coverups in every orginization! Fathers and mothers abusing and selling thier own kids, those kids will never be able to trust, nor did they ever know to not trust. Such a huge problem. There are many who have positional power and misuse that power. So sad.

  19. All of these agencies and organizations are made up of people. The people carry the same dysfunctions they learned from their families or origin. We need to make changes in ALL of these groups where we find abuse so rampant, but we face the same challenges we face in our own families, where there is a life and death struggle to keep things the same.

  20. Thank you Christina….I feel like I need to print that note..

  21. What a hopeful and insightful post, Christina! I so appreciate your balanced approach to the healing process; the work you are doing is SO important.

  22. Ellen,
    Thanks! I’ve tried to find more balance in everything these days, including healing. lol. I think most of my life pre-healing was spent zooming from one extreme to the other, reacting to one thing or another. It’s been nice to find the peace that balance brings!
    Hugs, Christina

  23. wow,
    as i was reading these post i had memories popping out at me then the pastoral comments and how people use religion and culture as an excuse to impound the damage already there is so close to home. my mother has been a spiritual medium n healer for most of my life, always there for others in need and had got quite a following, but she doesnt see how we where treated when we were children or later as adults, is not very christain or god insired at all. God gives us all choices, but with that comes personal responsiblity. the person who makes a descision to have a child then has the responsibilty for its emotional as well as phyiscal well being. the gall of people saying that God would actually put us through hell on earth to make us stronger is not the God i know. he is there for guidance not leadership. i do believe that for some reason some people make it through to survivor faster than others, and i know that your sharing in these blogs and the f/b page has helped me enormously this last few months. thank you

  24. Carol,
    Unfortunately, spiritual abuse and sexual abuse are often connected. Often, spiritual abuse is perpetrated to cover for sexual abuse. It’s so heart-breaking to me that the people who we should be able to turn to for help and comfort abuse us yet again. The good news is that no matter how many types of abuse we suffer from, healing is possible. I’m so happy to see how much you’ve healed in just a short time. You’re a wonderful example of the survivor turned thriver spirit!
    Big hugs, Christina

  25. I just buried my dad. My abuser. He named me executer of his estate. I was the only sibling who turned out honest. Now my siblings think it is me trying to be controlling and be his “wife” I shoulda stayed away when i walked away from him 3 years ago. I was the oldest in the house so i took care of stuff always and once again I am. My financial life has fallen apart and now after 9 months of clearing his home stumbling across “souveniers” I never knew existed MY soul has fallen apart. For the first time in my 25 years as a “survivor” I fear I won’t be able to survive much longer. I still have 3.5 more months before estate would be settled.

  26. Oh Nicky, I’m so sorry! The grief from the death of an abuser-parent is difficult enough without the additonal abuse from your siblings, having to sort through objects that cause more pain, and having the responsibility of once again ‘taking care’ of your abuser. I’m sorry for the position you’re in, but at least you know the end is near. You’ve already survived the worst and made it this far. It’s almost over. Do you have friends around you to lean on? We’re here for you! Hugs, Christina

  27. You wrote ‘Isn’t it time for you to be in control of your own life?’ – I have never felt that. I’ve always felt like I was hovering at a distance trying not to be a burden on people or the planet – trying to refrain from burdening the world with my pain and existence. Also I have always deferred to others – like I had to take into account their wants for my life. It almost feels selfish to have control of MY life. I can’t quite believe I’ve been paying all my attention to what others want to the degree I have no idea what MY life is or should look like. Like inside I had such pressure and yet such distance from knowing my true self. I honestly don’t have a clue what ‘my’ life could or would look like. What’s possible… It’s like my self esteem has been so low, I couldn’t even summon a possibility of my own life. Whenever I have disagreed with someone, inwardly I’d be screaming yet outwardly I could never day ‘I don’t agree… I think…’ and I’d be terrified, sorry… am terrified saying that. Someone says to me ‘waht are you feeling?’ I really don’t know. How can you build a congruent life on that foundation? I know now at least I don’t want to do what i have done before. I want to be congruent and independent and not live in anyone else’s life – in the sense that it eclipses mine. I don’t think that’s selfishness, I think that’s self direction. It’s really hard for me to tell the difference for some reason. I don’t want to work in a job where I have no respect either, I want to do something where my gifts are able to be used and that doesn’t demean me anymore than I already am. Is that so much to ask? Really I’d like to study to do that; but living by yourself and saving for a deposit to rent and saving for study is just so expensive. I can’t think how to begin when I’m terrified even when looking at opportunities. I expect this is all normal. But I want to be able to regain control – I don’t think I’ve every really had it

  28. Louise,
    I can identify with so much of what you wrote. I was an expert at ‘going with the flow’. I could never be an active participant in my own life. I just reacted to things instead of making plans and going after dreams. I thought very much like a child who doesn’t have any say.

    You’re right, though. It’s slow going, but it does get easier as you face things. I’ve been taking back my power as I face the things that took it away and realize the truth about myself– I’m capable, I’m intelligent, I’m wise, I’m empowered to lead my own life.
    Healing hugs,
    Christina

  29. I had a major breakthrough today. After I was reading you recommended books I realised I had a seen book on PTSD and dug it out and was reading away. there were exercises on feelings from Thich Nat Han and some on how to relax and how to deal with anxiety and I did all of them and realised I could relax, for the first time in like ever it was like my brain was speaking to my body… and I could breathe and anyhow I have managed to stay present all day. I’m like ‘Lou meet Lou..’ :) Really its like so many disconnected things tied up in my brain and suddenly make sense. What a lovely present. Oh the book was the ‘PTSD Sourcebook’ by Glenn Schiraldi Really huge progress for me this is. I’m so grateful for all your help

  30. Fabulous, Louise! I’m very happy for you!!!!!! Thanks for letting us know about that book.

  31. ‘It’s very common to remember an unwanted sexual encounter, yet not recognize it as sexual abuse.’
    Where you wrote this, this experience of re-recognising was one of my clues that something was off kilter about how I saw my childhood I had it all rosy and yet I remember experiences that weren’t; I also remember experiences that made me feel very uncomfortable and I didn’t know why – it was because they weren’t right but they were ‘normal’ for me, and familiar too. It was one day recently when I was thinking about an experience and I was like – wait a minute that is not appropriate behaviour; that’s what you’d be like with your boyfriend or whatever. I had never even recognised that – like total denial or something. Unbelievable how I had this arranged in my head to cope, it’s very unsettling now. I have to look at my life twice with different eyes… and a big part of me doesn’t want to address it or go there and is fighting this process – I guess that’s why I had it so neatly wrapped up and for so long too. Also I had anhedonia or frozen feelings a lot. Am tremendously nervous sharing to be honest

  32. Louise,
    I can really relate to that uncomforable feeling and not knowing why. I started recognizing more and more of those in my childhood. Some of them I wasn’t ready to look at or couldn’t remember anymore about them, so I just recorded it in my healing journal and even that step helped. It was as though I was saying, “your concerns, feelings and well-being was ignored for long enough and I’m not going to do that to you anymore”. It was part of treating myself with more value. I was listening and paying attention and attaching significance to things. Some of what I recorded were big keys to unlocking some mysteries. They were waiting for me for when I was willing and ready to see them.

    It’s okay to be gentle with yourself. You’re stepping out in big ways with all of your comments and participation. I hope you recognize that and are proud of yourself.

    Christina

  33. hi i havent been back on this post for a while and how it has grown.
    thank you for your help christina, between you and darlene i have made massive leaps mentally now i just have toprctise what my mind now knows instead of what it thought it knew. getting my emotinal issue out in the open will take a lot of work as they still seem frozen in most areas though i noticed some thaws in lil pockets like my daughter and husband but not enough that the major underlying issues are dealt with. but i have a plan and the determination to follow it through to the end. hard as that is for those around me to handle

  34. Carol–I’ve seen your massive leaps! WOW! You’ve sure come a long way in a short time. Yes, there are still more challenges, but I hope you’re celebrating how far you’ve come and are proud of your hard work.

  35. This is how I feel about the phrase ‘Time heals all wounds.’

    Sonnet II (by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
    slightly adapted by Vicki

    Time does not bring relief, you all have lied
    who told me time would ease me of my pain.
    I miss it in the weeping of the rain
    I want it at the shrinking of the tide
    The old snows melt from every mountain-side
    and last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane
    But last year’s bitter hating must remain
    heaped on my heart and my old thoughts abide.
    There are a hundred places that I fear to go
    so w/ the crime’s memory they brim!
    and entering w/ relief some quiet place
    where never had it happened in this space
    I say ‘This memory’s false, b/c it really happened’
    and so stand stricken, so remembering it did.

  36. I wish to Christ someone would give a solid example of what healing looks like.
    An example of what I need was answered by the singer, Pink, tho she probably never intended it that way.
    When she says in her song ‘Change the voices inside your head, make them like you instead,’ it makes more sense to me than ‘You have to do healing work’ but not saying what specifically that entails other than to say face the pain, don’t deny it, recognize it.
    I’ve done ALL those things, which is why I’m frustrated, b/c I appear to be failing at it.
    I hope to God I’m not the only one experiencing this, b/c I’m not going to get any answers if I’m the only one perceiving it that way. Then I’ll be no better off than I was before I found the web site.

    I was at the end of the road before I found this and ‘Families of 9/11′ web site. The road led to a dead end and I’ll spare everyone details of what I saw at end of the path.
    I only need to say it wasn’t pretty or good in any way. But I found the two sites OSA and Families of 9/11 instead of acting on the impulse, and that helped control my irrational desires.
    Right now I seem to be frustrated due to my total lack of progress on getting better.
    I’ve already done 90% of what it says here about how to get better. I’ve told people it happened, I’ve acknowledged that it DID happen-at the cost of my entire family, so that now I have nobody I can go to in an emergency-I’ve even told the authorities. In fact telling the authorities was the second thing I did.
    Anyway, I feel like a race car up on the block just spinning my wheels at 120 mph and getting nowhere.
    I have no idea if we’re allowed to be this honest but I don’t care, b/c I’m tired of failing to improve myself and being forced to listen to people tell me I’m making the failure happen to myself.
    I am NOT making it happen. If I didn’t want to get better, I wouldn’t have searched for the web sites in question.

    The one good thing about here is that, so far, nobody has expected me to use their personal methods to recover.
    At a support group for the families of murder victims, (but not the 9/11 one) this woman expected me to improve using HER methods and totally insulted me when I failed to do so. Never mind that I’ve never heard of ANYONE doing it her way, she was in charge and used it against me. To try to cram her methods down my throat.
    I hate when group leaders think they’re better than everyone else, and I’m glad it’s not like that here.
    I’m REALLY glad and want to say thank you for not forcing certain methods of healing down my throat.

  37. I’ve started w/ the book ‘The Courage To Heal.’ Now the only problem I’m having is that I disagree w/ a part of it. Only in terms of talking. What I mean is I’ve al-READY talked to someone, and I feel like I’m a lot further along than I knew even before I started reading it. So do I have to read the parts I feel I’ve already conquered?
    Can someone answer that? Do you have to read the entire book, or can you skip to the sections that you feel you haven’t covered?

  38. Healing is a long process, it needs a lot of work, seeking professional help, involving friends and loved ones, may be even contronting the person who did the damage in the first place, trying to forgive, and by that I mean not blaming yourself and trying to heal the anger so that you can move on, not trying to say it was ok what the perpatrator did.
    Healing needs the right environment, social support and healthy lifestyle.
    For the past 3 to 4 years, I have had therapy. Talking in bits and pieces about my past, about my childhood, the developing country where I come from, the discrimination that was there towards my mother who had to raise me on her own, with limited recourses and much jelousy; the fact that she had to trust people because she had no support system otherwise, and that those people were a part of my childhood trauma’s and abused me, or showed a blind eye, when it happened right in front of their faces. The fact that people would abuse information, would mistreat one another, in a country filled with hate and frustration, is something that I have to create distance from every day. Because even though we are now in a safe and fairly luxurious environment, I still have my old fears, that have left a permanent dark place in my heart.
    Yes, healing doesn’t happen with some magical trick overnight that u can apply and that is being withheld from you. No, healing happens gradually, and is a fragile state that can still be interfered with.
    Healing means that I wake up everyday with a feeling of depression and a sence of fear for social gatherings and a sence of mistrust for human kind, but that I try to hang on to a healthy routine, and visit the psychologist, take in my medication, talk about my fears and know that there are people around me that care for me and love me and that there is hope for future no matter what.
    Healing is that you give to society even though much is taken away from you by a society in the past, and gradually you learn that you are receiving back.
    Yes there are still days that I stay in bed, or that someone attacks you verbally because they are jelous of you, and think you are miss perfect and have it all figured out and they don’t; there are still days when images from the past, the touch of my abuser, the darkness of that feeling of unsafety comes back rushing in, and I only want to give in to that darkness and stay still, and ruin all my chances for happiness, and there are days that I attack people do not deserve it and show them my miplaced anger. That my mistrust of the world and all in it takes the better of me. And I loose control.
    But healing means that those days are becoming less and less, that love is becoming more of a permanent residant in your heart and in your house and that you learn to trust to give, and to receive.
    Sometimes, I still think God is against me, that he had abanondoned me, but some days, I am sure he lets it rain and let’s the sun shine on both the bad and the good people of this world, and that He will create a healing process throughout this life for me, and for others like me, so that we can lead the lives we deserve, with progress in our study, work, love lives and social lives, and that we can become stronger and put things in to perspective with a devine patience.

  39. Lady, thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences about healing.

  40. I dont know where to go for support. I have no family except my wife. People that i know that have healed from trauma talk about how important it is to have a support network but all of the people that i read that talk about healing from abuse are all women. As a male, almost all my friends have abandoned me during this difficult phase of my life. I have no contact with any family members. I work from home alone so i have no co-workers. No one in my church has any clue how to help me. I have reached out to several organizations that offer support and help for victims of abuse but they are all for women only. The website malesurvivor.org has been a little helpful but they dont have any groups anywhere close to where i live. I feel alone, isolated, abandoned and am in constant pain from all of the abuse i suffered as a child. I have no problem talking about the abuse, the problem is i dont have anyone to talk to about it . I have done about 20 years of psychotherapyand counseling which has made only a small dent in the healing process. One hour a week barely scratches the surface. I was in an abusive home environment for 21 years before i finally got away. I had no idea how bad it was. Both my parents had long term PTSD, which i didnt know at the time. I was finally diagnosed with complex PTSD about 5 years ago. My parents verbally, emotionally and spiritually abused me throughout my childhood. I was participating in seances in our home when i was 7 or 8 years old. My mother was heavily involved in the occult and she got me involved at a very young age. I had no idea what i was doing. We never went to church and our whole spiritual life involved occult and demonic activities on a regular basis. I was sexually abused by an older male cousin when i was 7 or 8 years old. it was 3 or 4 nights in a row. I never told anyone until i was about 22 or 23 when i started counseling. I am now 48. I cry every day and have cried almost every day for at least a dozen years. I cant stop crying. I have been on medication for depression for years but the crying and the pain never goes away. I have been to healing conference, read numerous books on healing, listened to a variety of tapes on healing from abuse and done a ton of journaling. I feel mired in the depths of pain and cant get out. No one that i know has ever gone through anything like this before. I feel like my existence is to suffer. Even tho i know its not, when you suffer and cry every day its hard not to feel like your purpose in life is to suffer. I lost my whole childhood to abuse and a lot of my adult life. I have never really had anything close to a normal life. I have had so many things wrong physically as a result of all the abuse that i am exhausted every day trying to work through the pain and overcome everything else. If you can do one thing, please work on getting more help for men. I have been told by numerous counselors that men wont talk about this stuff in a group setting so thats why i cant find a male support group. I need more help than i am getting, which is very little at the present. I just dont know where to turn to get the help i need ?

    Dave

  41. Dave,
    I don’t agree that men don’t talk about this in a group setting. Lots of men have talked about their feelings and experiences on this site and on the OSA Facebook page. Many more women than men talk about it, but more and more men are sharing about their abuse now.

    Ultimately, the most important support in healing comes from inside of you. I hope you find the internal and external resources you need.
    Christina

  42. Christina – yes i am aware that men are sharing their stuff in an online setting and I am familiar with malesurvivor.org. Unfortinately they dont have any support groups in my area. I am not looking for internet support. I do have that. What i dont have is people that i can talk to about what happened to me. I cant find any support groups or people willng to listen to me share my story. Thats the frustrating part. I want to talk about it, I want to share what happened. I want to be open and talk about the experience but i have no one to turn to that is willing to listen to me other than my wife and she can only handle so much. I do take care of myself and i do what i need for me. Almost everyone that has come out of abuse and write about it talk about how important a support group or having a network of friends or people in their life to help them through the process. that’s whats missing for me. Its hard. I will carry on alone.

    Dave

  43. How is talking about the details of what happened supposed to help? I can’t see that it would ever do anything but be really painful. The pain is never going to go away. It’s not a cut that heals and we never see again. How many times would I have to tell my story before it would be deaf in my ears so that it wouldn’t hurt anymore? Really. I am seriously looking for an answer to that question.

    Thank you.

  44. I hear you loud and clear. I have been in that place before too. I thought “i have already shared everything so whats the point ?” – even tho i had talked about everything that happened i had not truly dealt with all the pain from it. So now instead of just talking about it, i talk about it and deal with the emotional pain (i cry every day). There is an end to the pain. It wont last forever. The reason we talk is to deal with the pain. We have to process the feelings and emotions behind the pain. If you have told your story and have not experienced some healing then perhaps you need to tell it to someone who truly understands and empthazies with you and will truly hear you and hear your pain. That has been my experience anyway. I shared a lot but i shared with people that were incapable or unable to help me. I just kept sharing because thats what i was told i needed to do. It got the stuff out in the open which was a good thing and was a good first step for me but i had to go deeper. Now i am going much deeper and dealing with the core pain and truly healing. I have found this website to be incredibly helpful and supportive in my healing journey – “Emergingfrombroken.com” – Its a blog and Christina from this site is friends with the woman who writes that blog.Its an online support community of people overcoming all types of abuse and neglect. I strongly encourage you to check it out.

    You can heal from the past. The pain will go away. Its just a process with a lot of layers. Please read that blog – the woman who wrote it has completely healed from all of her abuse and neglect. There is hope. The key is sharing with the right people who you connect with at a deep level. Once you feel validated it will make the process better i believe – at least it has for me anyway. Hang in there and please keep sharing. This is a good and safe place to share.

    blessings,

    Dave

  45. Smow,
    I know how painful it is to talk about the abuse. The thing I realized that the pain wasn’t coming in as I shared, it was leaving. I wrote a blog post to answer your question:
    http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2012/05/12/why-i-talk-about-my-childhood-abuse/
    Christina

  46. How do you help to heal a 13 year old teen who was abused when he was 6 years old by his own cousin? How will I as a parent deal with this and my son’s depression? I feel I let him down and sometimes treat him as he is “okay” and realized later on he is a depressed child. Help!

  47. Dear Dave,

    I read your story here. My heart cries out for you. Last August my son who just turned 13 confided to me that he was sexually abused by my nephew who was then 13 and my son was 6 years old. Upon hearing it, I was in limbo and everyday and every night I cry and blame myself for not being there. It hurts for the victim but it hurts a lot for parents too. In the Philippines we have many cases of abused children but we lack support groups, resources and legal help. It’s better in advanced Western countries.

    I feel for you. I guess I understand because I was a victim of domestic violence. I can relate to the experience. I always believe that unless you experience it yourself you will never ever fully understand the victim’s feelings, pain, sufferings and trauma.

    After 7 years my son finally confided the burden he had carried that drastically affected his life-schooling and his overall life.

    To get healed if your perpetrator knows what he had done and whether he is punished for it or apologies, the fact that s/he is aware of his abuse – is a big factor in healing.

    My parents abused me for 24 years and I have not completely move on because I realized that they must know what they had done to me Nd how they have hurt and destroyed my life. Whatever else after that is immaterial. You have to get it out of your system and tell the perpetrator to get your healing!

    Also, it is hard that our family are the abusers! But, you must talk to yourself to get out of it. You must forgive yourself and stop blaming yourself. I tell this to my son now. Victims always feel they cause the abuse. No. Tell yourself you did not cause it.

    I may not be 100% healed but I want to get healed fully and start a new life!

    You must help yourself. Only you yourself can heal you.

    My prayers for you.

    Nikki

  48. Thanks Nikki – i hope your son continued to talk about what happened to him and that he can confront his abuser one day. When i confronted the cousin who molested me he said he “has a disease” and that he cant help it…so essentially it wasnt his fault because its a “disease”…no apology. Nothing to indicate any wrongdoing on his part. His parents sold the same line “jon has a disease” – so thats it…i am just supposed to accept that and say – ok he is sick so he didnt mean it…he has molested dozens and dozens of boys repeatedly but because he has a “disease” its ok !! What a joke…they dont want to face the truth. they dont want to acknowledge that he did anything wrong…they wont accept any responsibility – neither him nor his parents who made me sleep with him..they refuse to acknowledge my pain and my suffering…it was a waste of time trying to confront him…i got nowhere…it just made me more mad that he is using a lie to excuse his behavior…he will never acknowledge what he did and how much pain and hurt he has caused…i have had to move on from that and just focus on healing the pain myself. I will never get acknowledgement from him or from my mother that they caused me tremendous pain and suffering by repeatedly abusing me. They know what they did was wrong. They are too cowardly to face the truth. They live a lie and lie to others to cover it up and lie to themselves that they “couldnt help it”…I am getting ready to start a support group using a book called “the courage to heal” – hopefully it will help bring some closure to all of my pain and suffering.

    Dave

  49. Thank you for writing this article. Ive read much today on this subject. Thisarticle,for me, is pitch perfect.

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