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Stephen Collins, film and TV actor confesses on tape in a therapy session, to sexually abusing at least three girls over a period of several years (let me clarify here, that by abusing I am referring to exposing himself and touching the children-or having them touch him). His confession was taped by his wife, unknowingly to him or his therapist. It has now become a topic about extortion.

He admitted to sexually assaulting children, and now the topic has turned into how his soon to be ex-wife was extorting money from him so she wouldn’t make his admission public. Is anyone thinking about the children (now adult women) that he has hurt? Because these girls are the victims, not Stephen Collins and not Faye Grant.

This story is such a mess, and I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. So I am not going to repeat anything I have found on any of the news sites, because they are easily found with a few keyword searches on google.

Instead, I would like to concentrate on some of the symptoms that survivors of sexual abuse will experience over their lifetime:

  • Lack of confidence – and a belief that they are defective, broken, and can not be fixed (or be normal)
  • A feeling of being inadequate – the belief that they aren’t able to do anything right.
  • Choose damaged partners or have other adult relationship problems, as they don’t feel like they are deserving of love or healthy relationships
  • Are unable to trust
  • Experience sexual dysfunction – are either promiscuous or sexually repressed
  • Low self esteem – they may feel they are ugly, because you would only hurt something that is ugly or bad
  • They may abuse drugs, alcohol or other substances
  • Lack of emotional control (or over use of) – brought on by shock, or an emotional shut down
  • Panic attacks, seemingly brought on by nothing substantial – could be a word, or a taste, a sound, or a colour  – usually sensory
  • Self Punishment or sabotage
  • Illness – could happen decades after the trauma
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia
  • Flashbacks
  • The inability to be touched
  • Depression/Suicide
  • Seek security -especially in moments of great anxiety – find corners to hide in, empty spaces
  • Disassociated state, and an alienation from their body
  • Repressed memory

Here is where I make it personal: I read the list of symptoms, and recognize that I have had (and still have) each and every symptom. I am a survivor of a sexual abuse attack (i don’t want to classify it as anything else). It happened more than 30 years ago. Everyday I relive those moments. I think about what kind of person I would be if it didn’t happen, I wonder if my abuser ever went to prison- or if he ended up lying in a ditch somewhere-and was picked apart by coyotes and crows, my emotional age is still six years old. I no longer live in fear that my abuser will find me and make my life a living hell (in truth that happened without him finding me), but that fear stayed with me for decades-until a lot of therapy and moving around got me into a safe place. A place where I feel like I can start to learn how to have a life.

And that is my hope for the girls that Stephen Collins hurt – that they can learn to have a life.

Please be safe.

*List of sexual abuse survivor symptoms provided by the Penny Parks Foundation.