[00:00] – Introduction
[0:40] – My story of abuse
[01:50] – Why I’m passionate about helping fellow survivors to heal
[03:07] – Focusing on how you survived instead of the effects of abuse
[06:26] – The tactics sexual predators use, why children are vulnerable to sexual abuse and why that means the shame doesn’t belong to you
[07:53] – Why the effects of abuse leave us feeling weak and disempowered and inadequate of leading our own healing
[08:33] – Why it’s important to be in charge of your own healing journey
[08:40] – What healing looks like
[10:44] – What’s coming in future episodes
“Being empowered doesn’t have to mean you have to figure everything out for yourself. And it doesn’t mean you can never ask for help. It definitely doesn’t mean you’re by yourself. It’s about growing into the strength that you already have within you–just developing that.”
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Welcome to the Overcoming Sexual Abuse Podcast, where you get the tools and inspiration to help you overcome childhood sexual abuse. I’m your host, Christina Enevoldsen, certified coach, author, and incest survivor, and I’m here to help you heal and live your very best life.
In this introduction episode, I share who I am, some of my story, and why I’m passionate about helping you overcome abuse. I share the topics coming up to help you move through your healing journey so you can live beyond the abuse.
I was sexually abused by my dad, two uncles, countless men, and my dad trafficked me in sex parties. He co-hosted with a neighbor. My earliest memory of being abused was before my second birthday, and as far as I can remember, I was abused until I was about 11.
And so I’ve experienced all the pain that came from abuse, that agony of feeling separate from the rest of the world and trapped alone with all of the secrets and the shame. And I know the pain and the fear of being trapped in abusive relationships. I’ve seen my fair share of those. And the torture of then seeing the effects of my abuse then impact my children.
I was ostracized by my parents for standing up to them, and a few years later, they sued me for speaking out about what my dad did to me.
Now I’m a certified coach. I’m the author of the Rescued Soul, and I’m the co-founder of overcoming sexual abuse.com and the director of Flourish Healing Program. I’ve been helping childhood sexual abuse survivors and incest survivors through their healing process since 2009. And I am just getting started.
I’m passionate about helping other survivors heal because as much information as there is about sexual abuse and recovery right now, When there are tools to share and there’s healing and thriving available. A lot of my clients say, “I just want a normal life.” And I so get that. I didn’t feel anywhere close to normal before I started healing. I felt like a child in an adult body.
I felt intimidated or terrified of just normal adult things like going to the store alone or meeting new people. I felt just small and powerless and I had to figure out the truth about who I was.
Some people in your life might look at the symptoms or effects of abuse and think of you as damaged or weak or fragile, and you might even think of yourself that way. But I wanna help you see yourself as strong and empowered.
Instead of seeing the effects of abuse, I wanna help you focus on what you went through to survive, what you did to save yourself, and the things you experienced were so painful and so scary that most adults don’t even like to talk about it or even think about, but you lived it, that’s badass, and you survived horrible things as a kid. And one of the tendencies we have is to think of ourselves as the same age we are now. With all the knowledge that you have now, the maturity, the abilities that you have now, and to judge your past self based on what you can do now. Oh, I shouldn’t have trusted them, or I should have stopped it, but you were a child in a child’s body with the limited brain development of a child and the limited experience of a child and the limited authority and social standing of a child. And if you have that tendency to judge, criticize or shame yourself, spend some time with a child the age that you were and see if you would judge them like you judge yourself. So I wanna help you see yourself through the lens of truth.
And one of the guiding principles in everything I teach is empowerment. Abuse is because someone overpowered you. You know, maybe you were physically overpowered because someone was bigger or stronger than you. Maybe you were powered over with authority. Someone said you have, I have a right to do this to you because I’m your parent, or I’m your teacher. Or maybe you were overpowered mentally. Maybe they had good sounding reasons why it was okay for them to do what they did to you. This is what love is. Or I’m teaching you how to be a good wife.
Maybe you were tricked or lied to with some other tactic. And children are naive because they haven’t experienced the things adults have. And that’s one of the reasons that in adult child interactions, adults will always have the advantage.
And though they may have tried to put the shame that truly belongs to them onto you, the shame is theirs. And the shame is theirs for using their advantage against you.
And another thing about children is their brains aren’t developed enough to be able to see nuance. So one part of what the predator says to you could be true, or it feels true or it’s true in a different circumstance. But kids can’t see that. Things are black and white to kids.
And another way you may have been overpowered is emotionally. Predators choose kids who are already emotionally vulnerable. They know who feels alone and unloved and unsupported and who’s unprotected.
And kids who feel those things are easy to overpower with just a little bit of
attention or maybe some gifts or kind words. And they likely don’t have anyone to tell.
And even if they did have someone to tell, they might think, oh, I was to blame because I wanted the attention, or it was my my fault because I liked the gifts.
And they don’t know it was all manipulation so they could be overpowered. So the abuse starts with being overpowered in some way. And even if there was something gained from the attention or what is passed off as love, there’s the unwanted part. And that unwanted part was a criminal act. It was a crime.
So if you started out feeling alone and unloved and unsupported and unprotected, and that’s what made you vulnerable in the first place, sexual abuse only made it much, much worse. And by the way, that experience of being alone and unloved and unsupported and unprotected, that wasn’t because you’re not valuable. That wasn’t because there’s something wrong with you. It was because someone let you down. Someone failed you. It wasn’t your fault.
So all of that leaves us feeling very alone without allies, unworthy, weak, powerless. So we wake up feeling that way and go through the day feeling that way, and one day after another, we go through life feeling less than.
And when does that change? There’s no magic bridge we cross when we become adults. We don’t suddenly see our true value and recognize we have actual power and that we don’t need to rely on those old coping methods. We don’t just suddenly shed all the effects of abuse and walk into a new wonderful life. That doesn’t just happen.
We become adults feeling the same way we did as kids. And that leads to looking for someone else to fix us. And that creates dependency. I know something about that because in my life that led to more abuse, the so-called helpers liked me dependent on them. They needed me to need them. They had the answers instead of helping me find the answers in me. They wanted me to see them as powerful and as a hero instead of helping me be my own hero. And that kept me from owning my own power and voice and life.
So my approach is to teach you to live in a way that empowers you, and that might seem thrilling to you, or it might seem terrifying, and maybe a little bit of both. And that’s okay. I get that.
Being empowered doesn’t have to mean you have to figure everything out for yourself. And it doesn’t mean you can never ask for help. It definitely doesn’t mean you’re by yourself. It’s about growing into the strength that you already have within you just developing that. It’s about being okay, even when the circumstances around you aren’t okay. And this isn’t about fake it till you make it, or putting on a phony smile pretending that things are fine. It’s about knowing you have what it takes to actually make your life fine.
It’s not about being controlled by other people or by circumstances because you have a sense of safety within yourself, knowing that you’ve survived a hundred percent of the challenges that you’ve had so far. Good track record. So I teach tools and strategies, and I give you guidance and support so you can truly own your own life.
And that’s what healing leads to you being able to control your healing and your life. You have agency using your voice empowered to create a future that’s not determined by your past.
So I’ll bring you weekly episodes on topics about real healing, not just coping or managing symptoms or running from triggers. We’ll talk about relationship issues like boundaries and healthy dynamics. We’ll also talk about navigating tricky family issues, including estrangement, abandonment, and betrayal. Plus, I’ll help you repair the relationship you have with yourself through things like self-care and reparenting.
I wanna make the healing process less of a mystery sharing things that will make it easier for you. So if you’re a childhood sexual abuse or incest survivor, no matter where you are in the healing journey, maybe you’re not even started or maybe you’re well on your way, I invite you to join me every week where I open my heart and I share my experience of my own healing journey and my work as a coach. And I offer the insights and tools for you to heal.
I’ve been there and I know how painful the effects of abuse are. I know how much destruction it could cause in your life. I know how tough the healing process is, but I also know how amazing life can be when you heal.
Healing is hard, but I know you’ve already survived hard. You can totally do hard things.
Now I have lots of healing resources for you, so be sure to get in on that by joining my email list where I share the next steps you can take in healing. So to do that, go to my show notes page at overcomingsexualabuse.com/000
Thanks for joining me today. I am bringing you more on healing boundaries, self-care and family dysfunction, and so much more. So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of it.