Child Sexual Abuse – Answer (18 June @ 08:20am)

Thank you for writing to us about this awful thing that happened to you.

Everything you have said in the letter are struggles that other survivors of child sexual abuse also battle with.

Take a look HERE at all the different things that survivors of childhood sexual abuse can battle with. So first of all you are not strange – you are also not alone. When sexual abuse happens to us as children, we tend to cope with the resulting problems in various ways. As we grow up and become adults these coping methods that helped us survive can become self-destructive and damaging to our lives and relationships.

This is not fair, just as the sexual abuse is not fair. The perpetrator leaves us with long-term problems. When the initial sexual abuse happens it is the perpetrator who is in the wrong and chooses to commit a crime. The perpetrator is fully responsible for anything they do to you. Nothing you did or did not do makes the sexual abuse your fault. You mentioned that as you started growing up and learning more about sex, you discovered the full extent of what had happened to you. Many survivors feel the same way. For example, if you had your virginity taken from you before you even knew what a virgin is. Most survivors sit as adults with a large number of problems such as trust issues, anger issues, boundary issues and relationship problems to name just a few and all they want is to be normal, but as hard as they try to fix their lives up, there is always something that they almost “can’t” control that causes them to fail and mess things up. Now don’t be alarmed that doesn’t mean that you can’t heal and live a happy life, but it does mean that the answer is a difficult one. The way to fix this problem is to face it. Not to face the specific emotional and behavioral issues, but to face the actual sexual abuse that took place when you were a little girl. It is sitting inside of you unfortunately and it isn’t going to go away until you face it.

You have already broken the silence surrounding it, by starting to tell people about it – that is brilliant. But you have to do more unfortunately. You have to really admit to yourself everything that has happened and then admit it to another person – preferably a counsellor who can help you work through it. Answer this question to yourself, “Is there anything in your brain that you don’t want to go to and will avoid and run from and deny whenever it even slightly comes to mind?” That place in your brain, that horrible, frightening place is where the problems are still coming from. Until you have faced that place in your brain and unfortunately felt the horror and terror and disgust and whatever else is there – everything you couldn’t feel and think about and face when you were so very young – until you have done that, your body and emotions cannot heal. And I do understand that you cannot image going to that place and admitting that pain and truth to anyone. I really do understand that. You should never have had to go through that and you were too young to handle it. Adults would probably struggle to handle that. But I promise you that it starts to get better when that is out in the open. It might only be one person that you tell that part too – a counsellor hopefully. But please let it out. Then you will be able to start healing, and then the memories will not affect you as they do now. You will be able to start to grow and heal and open yourself up to other people.

The journey will not be finished, but it will be well on its way. You also need to understand and mourn what this has done to you – support groups for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse or books such as The Courage To Heal by Laura Davis and Helen Bass (…MORE) will help with this. You also need to learn healthy boundaries, an experienced counsellor, a boundary course or books such as Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud (…MORE) will help you do this. You are also welcome to visit us – we have a support group, counselors and all these books that you can use.

Everything at Rape Crisis Helderberg is free.

We can also offer you and your boyfriend counselling together for these problems.

Call 083 484 9409 or 021-851 1390 to speak to someone or write to me on admin@crisiscentre.org.za.

The abuser will go to any length to shift the responsibility to the defenseless child. You were affected by the abuse whether it happened once or many times since the damage is incurred immediately. You do not have to accept any responsibility for the attacks even if they occurred over a prolonged period of time. You felt you had to keep the secret. You felt alienated. You felt you had to maintain an image of the ideal family. You might have gotten angry at non-abusive people – it is safer to get angry at people you perceive to be powerless. Your feelings of betrayal by your family are immeasurable. Regardless of who abused you, how often, or what the nature of the abuse was, know that it should NOT have happened. You are a creative, caring and courageous person. I know your pain. I want you to believe that you were not to blame and you are not alone. Most child sexual abuse survivors suffer with many of the same feelings and consequences as you do. I hope you will come to the awesome realization that your pain is temporary but denial and its consequences are forever. Congratulations for having the courage to take these first steps – it is just a few more to go and you can do it – you have had the strength to survive this long and you will have the strength to take these last most painful steps.

If any one of us can heal, then so can you.

Kind regards,

Lynda

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