fear

Sitting with my fear and anxiety

For the past two and a half years I have dedicated my life to being a voice for the voiceless and fighting for justice for those who have been hurt. All the while I have been on my own personal healing path. My path, like most healing paths, has been filled with pain but I have also found a lot of love.

Tonight I will give a presentation here in Pennsylvania. I have given 30-40 presentations just like it over the past 2 years, except tonight is different. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and other disorders as a result of having been sexually abused as a child. Through therapy I have learned coping skills and relaxation techniques to alleviate the symptoms when they arise. Today I will call upon all the knowledge I have gained to get me through the event. Why is this event so different from the dozens of others? Why have I not felt this much anxiety since I first decided to disclose my abuse?

Tonight is different because the people who I once loved and who I thought loved me have decided they will attend the event. The same people who attack me and other victims nonstop. The person I called “Mom” for so many years. The same people who write letters to event organizers, when I am to speak, asking them to rescind their offers because I am a liar and a phony. The people who will do anything to silence others and myself when it comes to speaking about child sexual abuse.

Please let me be clear. I do not fear these people nor will they stop me from my mission. The mission of protecting children and creating a society that is accepting and loving of survivors of CSA. The anxiety that I am feeling comes from the revictimization these people are hell bent on delivering. You see their mission is not unique or unexpected in any way. They are not special. This was something I knew would happen at some point. The denial and self-preservation is too strong a force in their lives to see the truth.  They have been groomed, just as we all have been,  by a master perpetrator and cannot break free.

Healing comes through embracing the truth.

So for today I will sit with my anxiety. I will embrace the unknown and tonight I will take the stage.  I made the decision long ago that something else is more important to me than fear. No child should ever have to hurt the way I and the millions like myself have. Survivors deserve to have a society that treats us with love, respect, and compassion. Fear and anxiety are the fuels I use to push me forward as I speak.

So while I may have been triggered by this experience I can get peace knowing that it has offered me growth. The opportunity I have tonight is a blessing. In recovering from child sex abuse I made a promise to myself to always feel, no matter the emotion that came, and to be honest with myself. Tonight I will look fear and anxiety in the face and I will overcome. My message will be heard, I will help save others, and I will overcome every obstacle put in my path.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “you gain strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

By: Matthew Sandusky

Shame: A Personal Reflection

 

For the last 29 years I’ve felt ashamed. Ashamed of my body. Ashamed of my appearance. Ashamed of my actions. Ashamed of my choices. Most of all, I have been ashamed of something that I have held so close to my heart but never really attempted to talk about. The abuse my body endured at the hands of someone else has locked me into a closet that I have been unable to let anyone else into.

The shame. The guilt. The mental torment. The secrets. The lies. The weight sometimes feels unbearable. It’s like you want to explode. Instead, you just smile and keep going. I’m pretty sure that explosive, bubbling feeling that is centered right in my gut will always nag at me until I can heal the wounds of my past. It will fester and ooze until I can work through the years of self-blame and shame and doubt. But one day…the wound will heal.

I think the shame feels the heaviest. It’s like toting a weight around with me everywhere I go. It’s like walking around and wondering if I am transparent because it feels as if everyone I pass by can see right through me. They can see my “junk.” They can see my past, my flaws, my brokenness. It’s like they can see that I’m not like them. It’s like they can see all of the blood gushing from the wounds that I keep putting band aids on in hopes that they will just go away. I wonder if they really can see?

In the stillness of the night is when it hurts the most. My mind won’t ever let me completely rest. I always seem to play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game. At 34 years old I still can’t stand the thought of another human being sleeping in my bed. I need my space. I need to know that I am okay on my own. When I can fall asleep I drift off to the lull of the television and the snuggles of my fur babies. The silence is too much for my already racing mind. The silence allows too much grief to creep in. The silence allows it all to come rushing back.

But for today, I will rest knowing I am doing the best I can.

By:  Alison Morrett

inner-child

Healing your inner child after sexual abuse

“Survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) often have conflicting feelings and opinions about the child they were at the time of the abuse. A CSA survivor might be mad at the child they were back then for not fighting back, not running away, or not telling. There might be the feeling that this child caused the abuse and therefore is responsible for the pain being felt now as an adult. Many of these feelings end up internalized as anger or resentment towards an inner child, representative of a childhood self.”

Below is an excerpt from my book “Undaunted: Breaking my silence to overcome the trauma of child sexual abuse. In the excerpt I write about one of the conversations I had with my inner child. I never would have attempted this work alone. I was only able to attempt it because I was working with a specialized trauma therapist and I had progressed far enough in my recovery to have the strength to tackle this work. Healing your inner child is very intense work and I strongly recommend consulting a therapist of your own before exploring this aspect of healing. 

Begin excerpt:

“Please sit down. I would like to have a talk.” I knew I was at a point where I needed to sit down with this young, scared, and lost boy. He needed to hear what I had to say, and I needed to put into words what I had been feeling. We sat there for a quiet moment. I just looked into his empty blue eyes as he returned the stare right back into mine. He was dressed in torn up jeans and a filthy t-shirt that he had worn for the past week. His blonde hair was long and unkempt, like he had just woken up from another restless night where sleep escaped him.

“The first thing I want to say is, I believe you.” He was no longer looking at me. “You are the bravest person I have ever met, and I will do all that I can to make sure you no longer get hurt.” I know he hears me but there is no reaction.

Is this child that stubborn? Was he never taught to look at someone who is speaking to him? Is he a bad kid with no respect for others? No. I know these things are not true about him. He is scared. He has been afraid for most of his life. It has been a life that taught him to trust no one, especially men. It is a fear that most likely started from birth, but as he has explained to me, his first memory is being around two years old. His alcoholic biological father has him sitting on a bed and is kneeling at his feet, holding the red-hot flame of a cigarette lighter to his tiny, fragile toes. His father, his protector, is causing him excruciating pain. As he cries out, his mother and grandfather are beating on the door. He can hear the panic in their voices as they plead with his father to let him go. As the tears roll down over his little cheeks, he sees that his father is laughing. Then darkness overtakes him completely. This was his beginning.

“Look at me, please. You need to know that I love you and I will never hurt you.”

As he looks up at me, I see those blue eyes and I see the tears. In that moment I can’t control myself, and we both cry together. I want to hug him but I do not want to invade his boundaries. I am here with him, having the hardest conversation either of us has ever had. It will have to be enough for now. This little boy has experienced so much in his life, and here he is, still standing. I know he won’t speak during this conversation. Words have been beaten out of him, and the threats from the offenders are real. It is now my duty to protect this child and give him the opportunity to see a world he has only imagined existed.

After his victimization from his biological father, a man who was supposed to protect him and nurture him, his adoptive father then sexually victimized this innocent boy. I wasn’t there to protect him at the time. That would never happen again.

“I want to thank you for what you have done for us. I know you lost your childhood, but now I am giving that back. It is my turn to carry the pain and put it away for good. You are my hero, and I will forever be thankful and inspired by your strength. Always know that none of this was your fault. Now you go play. I have work to do.”

As we stood, he hugged me tightly and for the first time I heard his fragile, scared little voice: “I love you.” The tears started to roll from my eyes once again.

For further reading on healing your inner child please click here