Grief Work is a Necessary Part of Recovery from Abuse

It seems that everywhere I go this week I’m bumping up against grief. Clients are struggling with seeing other families happily celebrating Easter while they are alone because their family is too toxic to spend time with. Another client is mourning the years she lost to an alcohol addiction she used to cope with the pain from her abuse.

I’m not immune to grief this week either. My depression has taken a marked turn for the worse in the last month. Consulting with my psychiatrist on Monday, I asked her if she felt we’d ever get my depression to abate. Thankfully, she’s always honest with me. It is hard to hear, though, that she feels remission is possible but not recovery.


Five Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Hands down the question I’m asked most frequently, in person and online, is about how to find a therapist. I understand why. I’ve been a mental health patient myself for 20 years and know that locating a therapist can be a daunting task. It is a highly personal relationship which requires trust and understanding in order for the therapy to be successful. Finding someone with whom you can have a successful therapeutic relationship requires a lot of investigating and researching.

I always advise people to conduct a brief, initial interview with their short list of potential therapists. You are interviewing the clinician for a job as your therapist. Before you are required to pay for their services it’s important that you know they would be a good candidate for the job.


How We’re Affected by the Lies Our Abuse Tells Us

In my previous post I talked about the lies that abuse tells us. I described them as The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard – shame, self-blame and low self-worth protected by powerlessness. While that article listed a few of the effects survivors suffer as a result of these lies; such as the belief that the world will never treat them well, I think it’s important to elaborate in more detail about those effects. I want survivors to be able to identify those aftereffects in their lives and realize they are not borne of truth but lies.


The Lies Our Abuse Tells Us

For years now I’ve heard the statement “Depression Lies” circling around blogs and social media. It’s true. Depression does lie. It tells us we’re lazy, a burden to our friends and, sometimes, of so little value that the world would be a better place without us. I wish every depression sufferer had a firm grasp on knowing these lies so they don’t ever mistake them for truth.

During the last year of my work in the Trauma Recovery field I’ve realized that abuse lies, too. And its lies are just as powerful and destructive as the lies that depression tells. I believe that abuse tells us four very powerful lies that color our view of the world and ourselves. They permeate every aspect of our belief system. And they profoundly hamper our capacity to recover from our abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Songs for Myself: Taking Back My Abuser’s Favorite Music

As I have talked about in previous posts, sexual abusers are not always strangers. Ninety-three percent of the time, children know their abuser. And sometimes, when our children are older and start to date, their abuser is someone that they are involved with in a romantic relationship.

Today I have a guest post by Sarahbeth Caplin, who was raped and emotionally abused by a boy she began dating during high school. She writes about how he used music to connect with her. When he had her charmed, he turned the relationship into one of control, force and violence.


When Sex Becomes Currency

On more than one occasion a survivor of childhood abuse will ask me why they have a hard time finding and sustaining healthy romantic relationships. There are many reasons; most of them related to what they experienced in relationships when they were young. As abused children they learn that they are not worthy of being protected, that they deserve to be hurt, and that in being submissive to other’s wishes they are most likely to avoid harm. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that adults abused as children end up in unhealthy, abusive relationships.


Community is Shame’s Kryptonite

Shame is one of the most damaging aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse. Even though we may have been told by our abuser that what they were doing was good or a way for them to show us their love, we eventually get old enough to understand that what happened was so very wrong. Sometimes our abuser blames us, or our family does, or the abuser’s family and friends do. And in some situations the legal system blames us when we try to report our abuse.

The end result of all of these things is a heavy burden of shame that we have to haul everywhere we go. It changes how we see ourselves and it colors the way we view the world. The longer we carry this burden of shame, the more damage it does.


The Aftereffects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

In my last post I talked about the epidemic of child sexual abuse occurring in the United States, under the noses of a society who don’t want to talk about or acknowledge it. Sadly, the price for that ignorance is paid by the victims of the abuse. Our refusal to acknowledge the huge numbers of one in four girls and one in six boys being sexually assaulted translates into a failure to provide the healing help those victims need. If the victims don’t exist they don’t need resources to help them recover, right?


The Epidemic of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Our society doesn’t like to talk about topics it finds distasteful. Childhood sexual abuse is one of those topics. In general, we like to think that because we don’t openly discuss it that it only happens rarely. If it happened frequently it would be a greater topic of conversation, or so the false logic of our topic avoidant society tells us.

But the truth is that childhood sexual abuse happens at epidemic levels in our country. In fact, if as many children who are sexually assaulted fell ill with a disease like measles schools would close, businesses would shutter and people would quarantine themselves in their homes. But because childhood sexual abuse is not something our society chooses to acknowledge, we continue to live like it is an infrequent occurrence. This does a huge disservice to both victims of abuse and potential victims.


My Story, Part Two

In my last post I talked about my childhood abuse and the lessons that it taught me. I learned that I was to blame for the abuse, which made me bad and unlovable. Trying to be perfect, in order to earn the approval and love I so desperately wanted, was futile. That left me with the only other lesson I had learned from my abuse; that sex was currency. I spent it liberally throughout my adolescence and into my young adulthood.