1. Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001 2. Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. 3. Brown, Jane D., and Kelly L. L’Engle. “X-rated sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with US early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media.” Communication Research 36.1 (2009): 129-151. 4. Debra Boyer, U. Washington, Susan Breault of the Paul & Lisa Program, “Danger for prostitutes increasing, most starting younger,” Beacon Journal, 21 September 1997 5. National Runaway Switchboard, August 2006 6. Shared Hope International 7. FBI, 2011
I often wondered why I was supposed to journal my thoughts and feelings when I entered recovery. Honestly, nobody answered the why, it was just something that was supposed to be done. Initially, I felt like some teenage girl in her bedroom writing in her “diary” because I did not understand the basis behind putting those thoughts and feeling to paper. Below is a good summary of how journaling can help God heal our wounds!
There is a profound connection between writing and healing. Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas, after considerable research, explained in his book, Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, that excessive holding back of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can place people at risk for both major and minor diseases. More than simply a catharsis or venting, translating events into language can affect brain and immune functions. The subjects he tested had an increase in germ-fighting lymphocytes in their blood and lower stress levels. Writing was found to reduce anxiety and depression, improve grades in college, and aid people in finding jobs. He also reported that months after people had written about traumas over 70% reported that writing helped them to understand both the event and themselves better. Writing provides a means to externalize traumatic experience and therefore render it less overwhelming. At the same time, as the upsetting experience is repeatedly confronted, the emotional reactivity one feels as s/he assesses its meaning and impact is weakened. Once organized, traumatic events become smaller and smaller and therefore easier to deal with. Having distilled complex experiences into more understandable packages, survivors can begin to move beyond trauma because the process of writing about it provides a means for the experience to become psychologically complete, therefore there’s no more reason to ruminate about it. But not just any kind of writing will do. Dr.Pennebaker explains that the more writing succeeds as narrative – by being detailed, organized, compelling, vivid, and lucid – the more health and emotional benefits are derived. Likewise, over time, the work of inhibiting traumatic narratives and feelings acts as an ongoing stressor and gradually undermines the body’s defenses. By Catherine McCall, MS, LMFT
“A journal is a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer, and a good friend and confident.” – Ron Klug
(This post comes from Anonymous.)
Sexual abuse began so early in my life that I missed the chance to become my own person in the way that I should have at an early age. My initial identity was formed as someone who existed to bring another a sick pleasure.
The secret use of my body to satisfy someone older and bigger was the first place that I felt valued as a human being and that identity stuck to me like hot glue. Fortunately for me, I have come to know that that was only a false identity and not the real me.
Babies and small children often suffer through what we know as separation anxiety. Having been so close to the mother in the womb and at the breast results in fear and anxiety when infants experience separation. I have experienced a different form of separation anxiety as I have faced the reality that the early identity formed in me was the wrong one. Or worse, that it was forced on me by my abusers. I became an object and not a human to them and then to myself.
My abuse stretched out over many years, and I was acting it out in multiple sexual relationships primarily as the sex-slave of others. I lived to pleasure others and took that role because it was the only thing I knew. I was the powerless one and the partner always the strong one. It was sheer hell in so many ways, even though I thought I wanted this. I didn’t know that I was living out the wrong identity for many years after the abuse. Eventually, truth broke through.
I’ve spent many years untangling the effects of abuse. I’ve made great strides in separating myself from the false identity forced on me and in developing the real me, the man who has power over my own mind and body. This causes anxiety at times when I seem to fall back into old patterns of thinking. Like a baby, I don’t know who I am apart from the abuse that “mothered” me in many ways. But with each day I find that I won’t die becoming the real me.
I will live and I will live well.
Why Boys Do Not Tell About Sexual Abuse
By Karyl McBride, Ph.D.
Created Jun 12 2012 – 3:14pm
The dark cloud over PennState revealing a sexual abuse scandal also holds a painful overcast shade for male victims of sexual abuse. The news of the cover-up and victimization of boys at this prestigious university has understandably caused a flurry of confusion, surprise, and concern for parents, educators, football fans, and all who care about children. Having worked in the sexual abuse treatment field for three decades, I’ve seen the difficulty for boys and men in reporting sexual abuse. Why is this so? Cover-ups, denial, and internalizing feelings seem to dominate rather than vulnerable exposure of abusive acts perpetrated on male victims. In general, people don’t like to believe these things happen. It is difficult to understand that adults can be sexually attracted to children. For most healthy individuals, this concept does not compute.
But, let’s take a look at why it is particularly difficult for males to report sexual abuse when it involves them. We know from studies done on sex offenders in prisons, that boys and girls are sexually abused at alarmingly high rates and most are shocked by the statistics. It is also well documented that sexual abuse of boys is underreported. Why?
It is difficult for any child to report sexual abuse because they feel guilty, they may have received threats from the offender, they fear they won’t be believed, and they don’t want to cause family problems. But for male victims, there are additional barriers to disclosure:
1. In our culture, boys are socialized not to be victims. “If I am a victim, can I then also be a man?” Big boys fight back and are not supposed to be victims or it somehow obliterates their identity of “manhood.”
2. Guys are expected still, to tough things out and not ask for help. Fewer men, for example, seek therapeutic treatment and many are still adverse to this concept unless dragged to therapy by their families or spouses. Family therapist, Terry Real, wrote eloquently about this issue in his much-needed book about male depression titled: I Don’t Want To Talk About It. Asking for help is still seen by many males in our culture as a sign of weakness.
3. It’s likely an understatement that our society is still somewhat homophobic? It’s getting better, but we have seen much in the current news about this issue still rearing its ugly head in military circles, same sex marriages, and legislative changes and discussions. So, for a young boy who is molested by a male offender, the issue of sexual identity comes into play. We see young males in therapy asking the question frequently: “If I am abused by a male and I am also male, does that mean I am gay?” Little children, ages 8-10, ask this question frequently in therapy, and teen male victims often just choose to suffer in silence because of this fear. “Will my peer group label me as gay if I tell?”
4. When young boys are touched in the genital area, they can have an erection. It is visible to them, different from female victims. The touching can feel good to both boys and girls and then cause great confusion. “Did I want this?” “If it feels good, is it my fault?” “If there is pleasure, I must be the one in the wrong.”
5. When young boys are sexually abused by female offenders, there is another interesting mind assault. If a young male is getting attention sexually from an older woman, he is often seen as lucky. Boys can be experimental with sex and that is often regarded, as “boys will be boys.” And if the offender is the child’s mother, you can only imagine the difficulty in reporting, and the devastation for the child.
6. Often boys report that they don’t view the sexual acts perpetrated on them as that abusive. They minimize or deny the impact to avoid feelings of helplessness or confusion.
So taking these reporting issues for boys and putting them in the context of the male world of football, one can see the great impediment to reporting something as vulnerable as being sexually abused. If I’m a big tough guy…this did not happen to me. It is more typical for young male victims to use coping strategies like becoming aggressive to overcome the feelings of helplessness, or trying to numb the feelings with drugs or alcohol. In many cases they internalize the trauma and become depressed.
In a college football environment, the players are still young, developing men. The coaches, as well as other instructors, play an almost parental-like role with these young people. The power differential is obvious and the effects devastating when the power of the leader is misused in a secretive, abusive, and flawed manner that actually encourages a wall of silence for compliance that results in reward.
The bottom line is that it is up to adults to protect young people and the need for further education for parents and educators in this arena remains a constant call for clarity and direction. While much has been done in prevention and education regarding child sexual abuse, unfortunately there is more to do. We can start with creating emotionally safe environments for males to disclose sexual abuse and let it be known to boys that this can happen to them too. Boys should be taught more realistic roles to emulate other than the classic tough guy.
And finally, let’s not forget that sex offenders are the prime narcissists in this culture. Their lack of empathy is palpable. They are most concerned with getting their own sexual and power needs met and therefore the impact on the victim… is not on their radar.
(Some resources taken from Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, Volume 29, fall 1989)
Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers http://www.amazon.com/Will-Ever-Good-Enough-Narcissistic/dp/1439129436/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252439024&sr=8-1
Audiobook: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/buy-the-book.php
Survey: Is This My Mom? Use this to assess if your parent has narcissistic traits. It is applicable for men as well. http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/survey.php
Research: Interview You? http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/for-men.php
FB Parties for Adult Children of Narcissists: http://www.facebook.com/DrKarylMcBride
Originally posted at http://shessomebodysdaughter.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/believe-her
April 19, 2013 · by she’s Somebody’s daughter
Would you know the signs to look for if you suspected that someone – a child – in your life was being sexually abused?
It has been our observation that perpetrators of child sexual abuse are often frequent users of pornography. And unfortunately, the victims too often suffer in silence.
It is our desire to speak truth and help raise awareness about this issue, to empower others to offer help, and so we put the above question out recently on our social media sites. Through those connections, a courageous college student, a sexual abuse survivor, answered us by writing the following article, and shares bits and pieces of her personal journey.
Please note that this is for raising awareness and informational purposes only. We strongly urge you to speak with a professional directly if you have any questions or concerns about sexual abuse (resources available here).
And so with that, we will let guest blogger Magali, share for herself:
When writing about the signs that would help create awareness on the topic of sexual abuse, it was hard to make a distinction between emotional and physical symptoms because they are so linked together.
This article is written from a female survivor’s point of view.
Sexual abuse is a wound that affects a girl wholly: psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It also affects the way we see sexuality and men. The damage done runs deep and much time is needed to recover.
We are all different and every one of us react to things in different ways. The following are common signs one can take notice of in a girl who is a victim of sexual abuse.
When something, such as a sexual abuse, happens to anyone, it affects the body first: feelings of being defiled and dirty – the hardest thing is that your body has been attacked – and you cannot get rid of this. You cannot put this in a room somewhere and not think about it. What happened lives in your flesh.
The pain is often unbearable…and these signs and symptoms are simply ways to cope and/or to deal with that pain.
A lot of people resort to dissociation, separating the body and the mind in order not to think about what happened in our bodies or feel the pain. For me, I hated what the person did to me and my body; I hated my body and so I started dissociating. There was my physical body, which I didn’t want to think about, and there was me – a thinking, feeling being.
Dissociation is also a way to protect oneself of all the emotions too painful to feel. To make it simple, there was my body, my mind and my emotions – all separate. I used to think of me as just a mind, I didn’t want to think of me as a woman, with a body. I didn’t want to think of me attracting boys or men.
After the abuse, a victim also feels a great deal of guilt and shame. We cannot believe it happened to us; we’re ashamed, we feel it happened because of something we did. The instinct is to hide it, but to keep going, pretending it never happened. That’s dangerous and leads to a lot of damage. You can keep it all bottled up inside for only so long and when it explodes to the surface, it comes back in full force, as if it had happened yesterday.
Eating disorders often stem from sexual abuse because of dissociation and the discomfort we feel towards our own bodies.
Eating disorders are only the symptoms revealing that a girl or young woman has a twisted perception of what her body is. She doesn’t want to see herself the way she really is…the way she was designed to be.
Eating disorders are linked with self loathing, guilt, shame – it’s a very complex disease. (visit ‘Tell Me What You See as a resource and for more information)
Some victims feel so much guilt and shame that they have to take it out on themselves. Self harming is not only cutting it can also be scratching, burning.
Advice: the girl may not always cut on her arms, she might cut somewhere so it will not be noticed.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION
Substance abuse can also be a way to deal with the pain and often leads to a drug addiction.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS
Post traumatic stress is hard to describe precisely for each person, but often nightmares, panic attacks, unwanted memories and flashbacks haunt us as victims. Post traumatic stress is not rational – it’s basically how our emotions choose to express themselves.
I remember having panic attacks in a class managed by a man, he had done nothing wrong or inappropriate, but just the idea of sitting down in his class was unbearable. It’s not a rational thing; yet the emotions are so strong and just as hard to navigate.
A victim of abuse will feel the need for protection, a need to protect herself. She will build up walls, physically and emotionally.
1. She might change the way she dresses, to prevent boys or men to be attracted to her.
2. She might not want to sit close to a man or a boy. Being on a bus or a subway is still a nightmare for me.
1. She will distance herself and not let anyone get close to her. I was always in control, choosing what I would say, what I would do in front of people. I would lie through my teeth swearing up and down that I was okay when asked; please don’t take it personally when we lie…we lie to ourselves first and foremost.
2. If the girl has friends who are boys, she might have a difficult time being around them.
UNEASINESS TALKING ABOUT SEXUALITY
Obviously, they will be uncomfortable with the topic of sexuality and the topic of dating, relationship with men/women. Our minds associate sexuality with the abuse even if it couldn’t be farther from the truth and anything that isn’t safe is out of the question.
ATTACHMENT TO CHILD BEHAVIOUR
After abuse, I didn’t want to think of myself as a woman so I was semi-consciously reverting back to acting like a child, sleeping with a teddy bear…
This looks like having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, not wanting to make plans with anyone, wanting to stay in all the time, an overall sadness, not smiling, not laughing, shutting yourself off.
MY ADVICE IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO WAS OR IS BEING ABUSED:
- Please be patient. Considering the amount of trauma she’s been through, she will not open up easily.
- Tell her you love her and that it’s going to be okay. Assure her that you are going to be there for her no matter what!
- If she says she was abused, believe her; you don’t need to know every single detail!
- Help her find a safe place, a counselor she can talk to
- Allow her to recover in her own time – don’t rush it and don’t force her to talk
Let those trained to deal with sexual trauma and abuse do their work. I understand it can be hard for families or friends to be kept out of the process, but it’s necessary.
Be happy and encouraged that she found someone safe to talk to, even if it’s not you.
ON THE TOPIC OF FORGIVENESS
Be really careful with the topic of forgiveness: don’t push it or rush it! Just hearing the word made my insides scream! I remember hearing about it at church, and at the time it took all I had in me not to explode and run out of there.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- encourage her
- tell her you are praying for her
- support her when she talks to you
- you can also help her find an outlet for letting all the emotions out; if she’s a creative person: painting, drawing, writing, singing, or if she’s more active: find a sport
It is our hope, along with Magali’s, that by publishing this information we all will have a new awareness of those around us who might be suffering in silence, and be willing to offer help and hope.
♥ Thank you, Magali, for sharing so openly and honestly – and so courageously! ♥