Indeed, now does feel like an important moment to make comments on ‘lid comes off’ re: child sexual abuse. There’s becoming greater awareness that conventional phrases like “none of that will happen in my school”, is as as trustworthy as a counterfeit note. Secrets, which have remained hidden for decades of corruption, are becoming known publicly to wider audiences. Thanks to CARC (Final Report 2017) outcomes, changes in State Laws included (Qld given): requirements of mandatory reporting accompanies the Child Protection Acts –
Child Protection Regulation 2015
Child Employment Regulation 2015
Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Final Report: Preface and executive summary.
Cosgrove, Sir Peter. (2017). Letters Patent. (Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia)
Unsurprisingly (or suprisingly), depending from which POV it is viewed. These leaps in reviews may often indicate that there is greater interest in the topics covered. This melds well, with compared with 2020’s yearly stats (as follow). Notable leaps in ‘Statements’ (comments from other ‘Old Boys’/past BBC students) have a majority of comments, from either past students-family-relations. Through these, a consistent pattern of implicit learning to inherently have the occurrence of ongoing CSA remaining ‘hidden’ in targeted victims often remaining silent. As those who dared raise any objection were indirectly un-enrolled/removed-from-the-system, the multi-layered, hegemonic CSA structure continued. Ironically (?) it was our first female PM Julia Gillard (as pictured), who was able to call the essential Royal Commission (CARC 2013-17), from which we’re now in a ten year NRS.
Taking an ongoing interest in AK Buchanan, out of the moment, 2020’s current stats already show that there is a core interest in:
Taking an ongoing interest in AK Buchanan, out of the moment, 2020’s current stats already show that there is a core interest in:
We are pleased to add in ‘Darkness to Light’s “Child Sexual Abuse Statistics”, to our Library. Following is also a link to their website, celebrating 20 Years (2 decades) of preventing child sexual abuse. Please enjoy your viewing + post any of your comments/suggestions here …
The statistics and facts below can help you understand what child sexual abuse is, the risk factors and consequences for survivors, and how to identify and report suspected abuse. For all statistics and references, download the full statistics PDF.
The Magnitude of the Problem
Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than people realize. Find out how big the problem really is. Magnitude Statistics
Those who molest children look and act just like everyone else. Abusers can be neighbors, friends, and family members. Offender Statistics
Further to an earlier post, while working further through the ‘Apologies’ (Reconciliation) part of my NRS Submission I was again contacted by a Parent. Despite being arranged, that all messages are to go through a Support Agency ‘parents always know better’ … At the last calm message, I had had enough. Assertively, I laid out some key points (beyond my control) that have been bases for the other CSA instances in my life. Shortly after, I received this TXT message:
(Name), I don’t understand this very direct message, It seems as though someone or an organisation on your behalf, Eg…..NDIS? Have sent it? Who?
Also I am alarmed with reference to CSA & NRS, who is this?
What’s Goodbye appologies-submissions??
SMS data 28.11.20.
(Name), all I asked on the previous sms to you was, can we have a coffee soon.
❤️ & 😘
SMS data 28.11.20.
These responses prove that despite believing that a victim’s comments to one parent being truthful, only select parts of this info was exchanged with the other parent. This was also an influence of the competitive sibling’s suspected-narcissism (alike the previous marriage’s attacks). Many parts of both these family issues run parallel to the marriage issues.
This misunderstood response was from my asserted response, to my family’s misunderstanding of the Disability resulting from my CSA experiences (under their “loving & protecting, Christian parenting”). As the truth is coming out in numerous other circles, so too is a major part of my own. Following is my assertive message, triggering the above response:
Tony is on the NDIS, for an often misunderstood injury, (Sibling’s) denial of it is both perjury (Court) & adds to my lost hope. From a history of apologies/denials (Sibling), effects of a childhood of CSA, our dysfunctional family became obvious: my complete withdrawal is required (I need to enjoy my life). Repairs are possible, similar to the style of family Tony is breaking away from. Wrongs have happened (CSA & distinction), if unaddressed they often continue.
Goodbye (CSA NRS Apologies-Submission will soon be sent)
SMS data 28.11.20.
Despite having spoken openly (I believed) to each parent in the past, any dependence on their memory of these moments appears alike “in one ear, out the other”; despite my continued reminders (texts, media & conversations); recorded notes of supposed ‘promises’; getting others involved (3rd eye POV); any of these forms of ‘proof’ gets disregarded, now surfacing that a parent admitted to agreeing with another sibling as they were “afraid to lose contact with their grandchildren”. Justice does not exist, when Emotional Blackmail is played. Now, I’ll await what results from the NRS Apology.
These experiences have been posted to this Blog, as numerous other past students and their families are curious or unaware of the instabilities that exist. Screens, or facades are frequently made to give differences between the unstable Private effects of family tensions and the typical social Public reputation. Through the building of a Trauma-Informed Community (Blue Knot 2020), our lifestyles should become stronger than how those of shallower, CSA ‘hunting grounds’ previously were.
“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.” —Anais Nin (attributed)
Several months ago I wrote a blog post about how self-compassion can heal the shame of childhood wounds. I received many queries about shame and self-compassion from Psychology Today readers. I’d like to address some of your queries and share some of the major ideas in my book, It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself of the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion, with you here.
If you were a victim of childhood abuse or neglect, you know about shame. You have likely been plagued by it all your life without identifying it as shame. You may feel shame because you blame yourself for the abuse itself (“My father wouldn’t have hit me if I had minded him”) or because you felt such humiliation at having been abused (“I feel like such a wimp for not defending myself”). While those who were sexually abused tend to suffer from the most shame, those who suffered from physical, verbal, or emotional abuse blame themselves as well. In the case of child sexual abuse, no matter how many times you’ve heard the words “It’s not your fault,” the chances are high that you still blame yourself in some way—for being submissive, for not telling someone and having the abuse continue, for “enticing” the abuser with your behavior or dress, or because you felt some physical pleasure.
In the case of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, you may blame yourself for “not listening” and thus making your parent or caretaker so angry that he or she yelled at you or hit you. Children tend to blame the neglect and abuse they experience on themselves, in essence saying to themselves, “My mother is treating me like this because I’ve been bad” or “I am being neglected because I am unlovable.” As an adult, you may have continued this kind of rationalization, putting up with poor treatment by others because you believe you brought it on yourself. Conversely, when good things happen to you, you may actually become uncomfortable, because you feel so unworthy.
Former victims of child abuse are typically changed by the experience, not only because they were traumatized, but because they feel a loss of innocence and dignity and they carry forward a heavy burden of shame. Emotional, physical, and sexual child abuse can so overwhelm a victim with shame that it actually comes to define the person, keeping her from her full potential. It can cause a victim both to remain fixed at the age he was at the time of his victimization and to repeat the abuse over and over in his lifetime.
You may also have a great deal of shame due to the exposure of the abuse. If you reported the abuse to someone, you may blame yourself for the consequences of your outcry—your parents divorcing, your molester going to jail, your family going to court.
And then there’s the shame you may feel about your behavior that was a consequence of the abuse. Former victims of childhood abuse tend to feel a great deal of shame for things they did as children as a result of the abuse. For example, perhaps unable to express their anger at an abuser, they may have taken their hurt and anger out on those who were smaller or weaker than themselves, such as younger siblings. They may have become bullies at school, been belligerent toward authority figures, or started stealing, taking drugs, or otherwise acting out against society. In the case of sexual abuse, former victims may have continued the cycle of abuse by introducing younger children to sex.
You may also feel shame because of things you have done as an adult to hurt yourself and others, such as abusing alcohol or drugs, becoming overly sexually promiscuous, or breaking the law, not realizing that these behaviors were a result of the abuse you suffered.
Unbeknownst to them, adults who were abused as children often express the overwhelming shame they feel by pushing away those who try to be good to them, by sabotaging their success, by becoming emotionally or physically abusive to their partners, or by continuing a pattern of being abused or subjecting their own children to witnessing abuse. Former abuse victims may repeat the cycle of abuse by emotionally, physically, or sexually abusing their own children, or by abandoning their children because they can’t take care of them.
Shame can affect literally every aspect of a former victim’s life, from self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image to the ability to relate to others, to navigate intimate relationships, to be a good parent, to work effectively, to learn new things, and to care for yourself. Shame is responsible for myriad personal problems, including self-criticism and self-blame, self-neglect, self-destructive behaviors (such as abusing your body with food, alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, self-mutilation, or being accident-prone), perfectionism (based on fear of being caught in a mistake), believing you don’t deserve good things, believing that if others really knew you they would dislike or be disgusted by you (commonly known as the “imposter syndrome”), people-pleasing and co-dependent behavior, tending to be critical of others (trying to give shame away), intense rage (frequent physical fights or road rage), and acting out against society (breaking rules or laws).
Shame from childhood abuse almost always manifests itself in one or more of these ways:
It causes former abuse victims to abuse themselves with critical self-talk, alcohol or drug abuse, destructive eating patterns, or other forms of self-harm. Two-thirds of people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children (Swon 1998).
It causes former abuse victims to develop victim-like behavior, whereby they expect and accept unacceptable, abusive behavior from others. As many as 90 percent of women in battered women’s shelters report having been abused or neglected as children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).
It causes abuse victims to become abusive. About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).
The truth is that for most former victims of childhood abuse, shame is likely one of the worst effects of the abuse. Unless you heal this pervasive shame you will likely continue to suffer from its effects throughout your lifetime.
Facing the problems that shame has created in your life can be daunting. You may be overwhelmed with the problem of how to heal the shame caused by the childhood abuse you experienced. The good news is that there is a way to heal your shame so that you can begin to see the world through different eyes—eyes not clouded by the perception that you are “less than,” inadequate, damaged, worthless, or unlovable.
The Healing Power of Self-Compassion
Like a poison, toxic shame needs to be neutralized by another substance—an antidote—if the patient is to be saved. Compassion is the only thing that can counteract the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.
Many of you may be aware of the writings of Alice Miller. Miller believes that what victims of childhood abuse need most is what she called a “compassionate witness” to validate their experiences and support them through their pain (Miller 1984). For many years I have personally experienced how being a compassionate witness for my clients can help them heal and how transformative having a compassionate therapist has been for me.
One of the most consistent findings in this research literature is that greater self-compassion is linked to less psychopathology (Barnard and Curry 2011). And a recent meta-analysis showed self-compassion to have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, and stress across 20 studies (MacBeth and Gumley 2012).
Self-compassion also appears to facilitate resilience by moderating people’s reactions to negative events—trauma in particular. Gilbert and Procter (2001) suggest that self-compassion provides emotional resilience because it deactivates the threat system. And it has been found that abused individuals with higher levels of self-compassion are better able to cope with upsetting events (Vettese et al. 2011).
There is also evidence that self-compassion helps people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In one study of college students who showed PTSD symptoms after experiencing a traumatic event such as an accident or life-threatening illness, those with more self-compassion showed less severe symptoms than those who lacked self-compassion. In particular, they were less likely to display signs of emotional avoidance and more comfortable facing the thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the trauma they experienced (Thompson and Waltz 2008).
Finally, in addition to self-compassion being a key factor in helping those who were traumatized in childhood, it turns out that self-compassion is the missing key to alleviating shame. Confirming what I knew from my extensive work with former victims of child abuse, research shows that traumatized individuals feel significant levels of shame and guilt (Jonsson and Segesten 2004). Shame has been recognized as a major component of a range of mental health problems and proneness to aggression (Gilbert 1997, Gilbert 2003, Gilligan 2003, Tangney and Dearing 2002). And it has been found that decreases in anxiety, shame, and guilt and increases in the willingness to express sadness, anger, and closeness were associated with higher levels of self-compassion (Germer and Neff 2013).
One clinician, Paul Gilbert, author of “The Compassionate Mind,” found that self-compassion helped to alleviate both shame and self-judgment. A study of the effectiveness of Gilbert’s Compassionate Mind Training (CMT), a group-based therapy model that works specifically with shame, guilt, and self-blame, found that the training resulted in significant reductions in depression, self-attacking, feelings of inferiority, and shame (Gilbert and Procter 2006).
In addition, research suggests that self-compassion can act as an antidote to self-criticism—a major characteristic of those who experience intense shame (Gilbert and Miles 2000). Self-compassion is a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin, the hormone that increases feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity, and connectedness. Self-criticism has a very different effect on our bodies. The amygdala, the oldest part of the brain, is designed to quickly detect threats in the environment. These trigger the fight-or-flight response—the amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure, adrenaline, and cortisol, mobilizing the strength and energy needed to confront or avoid the threat. Although this system was designed by evolution to deal with physical attacks, it is activated just as readily by emotional attacks—from ourselves and others. Over time, increased cortisol levels deplete neurotransmitters involved in the ability to experience pleasure, leading to depression (Gilbert 2005).
Neurological evidence also shows that self-kindness (a major component of self-compassion) and self-criticism operate quite differently in terms of brain function. A recent study examined reactions to personal failure using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology. While in a brain scanner, participants were presented with hypothetical situations such as “A third job rejection letter in a row arrives in the post.” They were then told to imagine reacting to the situation in either a kind or a self-critical way. Self-criticism was associated with activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate—areas of the brain associated with error processing and problem-solving. Being kind and reassuring toward oneself was associated with left temporal pole and insula activation—areas of the brain associated with positive emotions and compassion (Longe et al. 2009). As Kristin Neff (2011) aptly stated, “Instead of seeing ourselves as a problem to be fixed… self-kindness allows us to see ourselves as valuable human beings who are worthy of care.”
Of particular interest to me was recent research in the neurobiology of compassion as it relates to shame—namely that we now know some of the neurobiological correlates of feeling unlovable and how shame gets stuck in our neural circuitry. Moreover, and most crucially of all, due to our brains’ capacity to grow new neurons and new synaptic connections, we can proactively repair (and repair) old shame memories with new experiences of self-empathy and self-compassion.
In light of my research, I determined that in addition to offering my clients compassion for their suffering, I needed to teach them how to practice self-compassion on an ongoing basis in order to heal the many layers of shame they experienced.
Combining what I learned about compassion and self-compassion with the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my many years of working with victims of childhood abuse, I created a program specifically aimed at helping those who experienced abuse become free of debilitating shame. My Compassion Cure program combines scientific research on self-compassion, compassion, shame, and restorative justice with real-life case examples (modified to protect the subjects’ anonymity). Its proprietary processes and exercises help abuse victims reduce or eliminate the shame that has weighed them down and kept them stuck in the past.
By learning to practice self-compassion, you will rid yourself of shame-based beliefs, such as you are worthless, defective, bad, or unlovable. Abuse victims often cope with these false yet powerful beliefs by trying to ignore them or convince themselves otherwise by puffing themselves up, overachieving, or becoming perfectionistic. These strategies take huge amounts of energy, and they are not effective. Rather, actively approaching, recognizing, validating, and understanding shame is the way to overcome it.
“Shame is sickness of the soul.” —Silvan Tomkins
While many people suffer from shame, not everyone suffers from what is referred to as debilitating shame. Debilitating shame is shame that is so all-consuming that it negatively affects every aspect of a person’s life—his perceptions of himself, his relationship with others, her ability to be intimate with a romantic partner, her ability to raise children in a healthy manner, his ability to risk and achieve success in his career, and her overall physical and emotional health. The following questionnaire will help you determine whether you suffer from debilitating shame.
Questionnaire: Do You Suffer from Debilitating Shame Due to Childhood Abuse?
Do you blame yourself for the abuse you experienced as a child?
Do you believe your parent (or other adult or older child) wouldn’t have abused you if you hadn’t pushed him or her into doing it?
Do you believe you were a difficult, stubborn, or selfish child who deserved the abuse you received?
Do you believe you made it difficult for your parents or others to love you?
Do you believe you were a disappointment to your parents or family?
Do you feel you are basically unlovable?
Do you have a powerful inner critic who finds fault with nearly everything you do?
Are you a perfectionist?
Do you believe you don’t deserve to be happy, loved, or successful?
Do you have a difficult time believing someone could love you?
Do you push away people who are good to you?
Are you afraid that if people really get to know you they won’t like or accept you? Do you feel like a fraud?
Do you believe that anyone who likes or loves you has something wrong with them?
Do you feel like a failure in life?
Do you hate yourself?
Do you feel ugly—inside and out?
Do you hate your body?
Do you believe that the only way someone can like you is if you do everything they want?
Are you a people pleaser?
Do you censor yourself when you talk to other people, always being careful not to offend them or hurt their feelings?
Do you feel like the only thing you have to offer is your sexuality?
Are you addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, shopping, gambling, or stealing, or do you suffer from any other addiction?
Do you find it nearly impossible to admit when you are wrong or when you’ve made a mistake?
Do you feel bad about the way you’ve treated people?
Are you afraid of what you’re capable of doing?
Are you afraid of your tendency to be abusive—either verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually?
Have you been in one or more relationships where you were abused either verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually?
Did you or do you feel you deserved the abuse?
Do you always blame yourself if something goes wrong in a relationship?
Do you feel like it isn’t worth trying because you’ll only fail?
Do you sabotage your happiness, your relationships, or your success?
Are you self-destructive (engaging in acts of self-harm, driving recklessly, suicidal attempts, and so on)?
Do you feel inferior to or less than other people?
Do you often lie about your accomplishments or your history in order to make yourself look better in others’ eyes?
Do you neglect your body, your health, or your emotional needs (not eating right, not getting enough sleep, not taking care of your medical or dental needs)?
There isn’t any formal scoring for this questionnaire, but if you answered yes to many of these questions, you can be assured that you are suffering from debilitating shame. If you answered yes to just a few, you may still have an issue with shame.
Shame Is Not a Singular Experience
Just as the source of shame can be all forms of abuse or neglect, shame is not just one feeling but many. It is a cluster of feelings and experiences. These can include:
Feelings of being humiliated. Abuse is always humiliating to the victim, but some types are more humiliating than others. Certainly, sexual abuse almost always has an element of humiliation to it, since it is a violation of very private body parts and since there is a knowing on the child’s part that incest and/or sex between a child and an adult is taboo. (These taboos hold in nearly every culture in the world.) If the abuse involves public exposure—for example, being chastised or physically punished in front of others, particularly peers—the element of humiliation can be quite profound.
Feelings of impotence. When a child realizes there is nothing he can do to stop the abuse, he feels powerless, helpless. This can also lead to his always feeling unsafe, even long after the abuse has stopped.
Feelings of being exposed. Abuse and the accompanying feelings of vulnerability and helplessness cause the child to feel self-conscious and exposed—seen in a painfully diminished way. The fact that he could not stop the abuse makes him feel weak and exposed both to himself and to anyone present.
Feelings of being defective or less-than. Most victims of abuse report feeling defective, damaged, or corrupted following the experience of being abused.
Feelings of alienation and isolation. What follows the trauma of abuse is the feeling of suddenly being different, less-than, damaged, or cast out. And while victims may long to talk to someone about their inner pain, they often feel immobilized, trapped, and alone in their shame.
Feelings of self-blame. Victims almost always blame themselves for being abused and being shamed. This is particularly true when abuse happens or begins in childhood.
Feelings of rage. Rage almost always follows having been shamed. It serves a much-needed self-protective function of both insulating the self against further exposure and actively keeping others away.
Fear, hurt, distress, or rage can also accompany or follow shame experiences as secondary reactions. For example, feeling exposed is often followed by the fear of further exposure and further occurrences of shame. Rage protects the self against further exposure. And along with shame, a victim can feel intense hurt and distress from having been abused.
The following exercise can help you discover what your primary feeling experiences of shame are.
Exercise: Your Feeling Experience of Shame
While you may have experienced all the feelings listed above, you may resonate with some more than others. Think about each type of abuse that you suffered and the various feelings that accompanied it. Ask yourself which of the items listed above stand out to you the most for each type of abuse or each experience of abuse. In my case, for example, when I think about the sexual abuse I suffered at age nine, I resonate most profoundly with defectiveness, isolation, self-blame, and rage.
Further Defining Self-Compassion
If compassion is the ability to feel and connect with the suffering of another human being, self-compassion is the ability to feel and connect with one’s own suffering. More specifically for our purposes, self-compassion is the act of extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. If we are to be self-compassionate, we need to give ourselves the recognition, validation, and support we would offer a loved one who is suffering.
Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, is the leading researcher in the growing field of self-compassion. In her book Self-Compassion (2011), she defines self-compassion as “being open to and moved by one’s own suffering, experiencing feelings of caring and kindness toward oneself, taking an understanding, nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s inadequacies and failures, and recognizing that one’s experience is part of the common human experience” (224).
Self-compassion encourages us to begin to treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show a good friend or a beloved child. Just as connecting with the suffering of others has been shown to comfort and heal, connecting with our own suffering will do the same. If you are able to feel compassion toward others, you can learn to feel it for yourself. The following exercise will show you how.
Exercise: Becoming Compassionate Toward Yourself
Think about the most compassionate person you have known—someone kind, understanding, and supportive of you. It may have been a teacher, a friend, a friend’s parent, a relative. Think about how this person conveyed his or her compassion toward you and how you felt in this person’s presence. Notice the feelings and sensations that come up with this memory. If you can’t think of someone in your life who has been compassionate toward you, think of a compassionate public figure, or even a fictional character from a book, film, or television.
Now imagine that you have the ability to become as compassionate toward yourself as this person has been toward you (or you imagine this person would be toward you). How would you treat yourself if you were feeling overwhelmed with sadness or shame? What kinds of words would you use to talk to yourself?
This is the goal of self-compassion: to treat yourself the same way the most compassionate person you know would treat you—to talk to yourself in the same loving, kind, supportive ways this compassionate person would talk to you.
The Benefits of Practicing Self-Compassion
By learning to practice self-compassion you will also be able to begin doing the following:
Truly acknowledge the pain you suffered and in so doing, begin to heal
Take in compassion from others
Reconnect with yourself, including reconnecting with your emotions
Gain an understanding as to why you have acted out in negative and/or unhealthy ways
Stop blaming yourself for your victimization
Forgive yourself for the ways you attempted to cope with the abuse
Learn to be deeply kind toward yourself
Create a nurturing inner voice to replace your critical inner voice
Reconnect with others and become less isolated
I hope I have been able to convey to you how self-compassion can help heal you of your shame. But it is difficult to adequately explain this concept in one blog. In the coming weeks I will write more blogs about how shame can be healed with self-compassion and explain to you how you can go about becoming more self-compassionate. As you continue reading the blogs and practicing the exercises you will grow to more fully understand what a powerful healer compassion can be.
In the next blog, I will discuss the various obstacles that get in our way of becoming more self-compassionate including: our belief that self-compassion is the same as “feeling sorry for ourselves,” the belief that self-compassion is selfish, and our need to forgive ourselves for past actions in order to believe we deserve self-compassion.
When you face the truth, you change your life and deepen your relationships.
Posted Jul 30, 2020
When I was a kid, I once overheard my mom on the phone, saying, “Jason keeps pretending he can’t hear me when I call him to help with the dishes.” My own kids sometimes adopt this same strategy. Have you ignored a summons to step up and be responsible? Dismissed emails to avoid something unpleasant? Rejected the news about the dangers of sugar, booze, or nicotine?
Dodging reality to live in denial is a forte of our species. A few years back, I was in a thrift store and found a used book from the 1950s arguing vigorously for the health benefits of cigarette smoking. When we don’t want to change, we stick our heads in the sand and use denial. The satirical newsmagazine The Onion nailed it with their article, “New Study Finds Nothing That Will Actually Convince You to Change Your Lifestyle So Just Forget It:” It said:
“Though it contains several significant discoveries with a direct bearing on human health, a comprehensive study published this week in The Journal Of The American Medical Association has found no data that will in fact convince you to change your lifestyle in any way, so what’s the point of even telling you about it?”
The more we want something, the more we are tempted to ignore the truth if it gets in our way of having it. In twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is to get past denial. This is because, as author Stephen King writes, “[Addicts] build defenses like the Dutch build dikes.” King knows this firsthand, as he wrestled with alcohol and drug use. He told himself he “just liked to drink,” or, as a sensitive artist, he needed the drugs to face the pain and challenge of writing. Like most addicts, he thought he was the exceptional person that could handle it. It wasn’t until his wife and family confronted him, including dumping out a garbage bag of evidence (beer cans, cocaine spoons, cigarette butts, Valium, Xanax, Robitussin, Nyquil, and mouthwash bottles), that his denial walls crumbled down.
Source: Photo by Rafael Serafim from Pexels
Facing reality is painful, but it is better to address warning signs instead of turning a blind eye. Sometimes spouses ignore signs of addiction (she keeps coming home late plastered), infidelity(why does he abruptly shut the laptop when I come in the room?), or lies (that story just changed again). Excuses mount, and denial becomes enabling. It’s easier to ignore warnings than have difficult conversations, but this leaves problems free to grow unchecked.
Some of the damage from child abuse is caused by those who looked the other way and ignored the warning signs. Many victims tried to tell a parent or teacher about mistreatment and were disregarded or pressured not to talk. When this happens, victims doubt their own reality, and the truth gets lost.
This distortion occurs in domestic violence, where abusers minimize their actions, and threats of being hurt cause confusion and self-doubt in those who are abused. One of my projects examined how an abuser’s blame can persuade a victim to doubt what happened and blame themselves. One woman said: “[He convinced me that] if I would’ve just done this, he wouldn’t have taken my debit card away, or … he wouldn’t have yelled at me or said that I was stupid.”
Survivors also use denial to cope, because it is hard to admit abuse is occurring, or leave. Denial gives a victim a chance to come to terms with an awful situation while trying not to feel worthless. As another research participant said: “If you can not focus on the negative, things are always better. If you live in your dream world with the rainbow, all that stuff, it’s always much easier to cope. If he was bad about everything, then I had to be bad, too.”
Denial of reality may be understandable, but problems don’t usually change by themselves. If you are disregarding important concerns, it’s time for a cold splash of truth. Ask yourself: Am I avoiding a difficult issue? Do I sometimes rewrite reality in a way that becomes dishonest?
If so, it may be time to break through the denial and accept the facts. This is how change occurs and relationships become more authentic.
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft (New York: Scribner Books, 2000), p. 94.
Terry Trepper, and Mary Jo Barrett, Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook (London: Routledge, 2013).
Jason B. Whiting, Megan Oka, and Stephen T. Fife, “Appraisal Distortions and Intimate Partner Violence: Gender, Power, and Interaction,” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 38, no. s1 (2012): 133-149. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00285.x
This newsletter covers an update on the National Redress Scheme (the Scheme). It provides information on the National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, an update on institutions and recent Scheme data.
The update contains material that could be confronting or distressing. Sometimes words or images can cause sadness or distress or trigger traumatic memories, particularly for people who have experienced past abuse or childhood trauma.
National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
As the Scheme goes into its third year of operation, the Australian Government has committed to investing $6.7 million from the 2020-21 Budget to establish a National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the National Memorial) in Canberra, with completion expected in 2022.
The Government will commission the National Memorial and consult with Victims and Survivors on the memorial design, scope, and purpose of an educative component.
An online survey to give all Australians a chance to have input is now open, visit www.engage.dss.gov.au.
Everyone is encouraged to take part, particularly those with lived experience of institutional child sexual abuse. Your views will play an important role in acknowledging the impact of institutional child sexual abuse and contribute to healing and educating future generations. The survey is anonymous and is open until Sunday 22 November 2020.
The Scheme is continuously working with institutions that have been named in applications or identified by other means to encourage them to join and participate in the Scheme. To date the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 303 non-government institutions covering around 53,300 sites such as churches, schools, homes, charities and community groups across Australia are participating.
A total of 158 non-government institutions have committed to join and finalise on-boarding by no later than 31 December 2020.
Having completed my initial NRS Experiences and Impact Statements (NRS Fact Sheet, 2019), it initially felt ironic that the most nerves I had felt was actually at the final stage: Apologies. Advice that has given earlier indicates that description of each individual instance, together with personal impacts from each of their ongoing effects supports the evidence throughout the Instances and Impact Statements. While I had previously had the wrong POV, that completing Instances and Impact Statements, my work would be over – taking a wider POV, it’s now clearer that each section confirms and complements related matters throughout the NRS Submission.
As exciting as all this may sound, the journey of its lodgement isn’t over. knowmore (Community Legal Service) is another body involved in the National Redress Scheme. There are also Senior Staff within Blue Knot, who are able to offer their advice into the fine-tuning/tweaking of the order, expressions, focus and editing of Preliminary NRS Submissions.
In working my way through some of the updated NRS data, I came across the following list of possible example list of impacts of CSA experiences (Describing Impact of your Application, 2019). In closer focus, it began to both horrify my and reminded me in the instance(s) that I’m drafting up a list of requested apologies. I also realise that I am ‘but one fish in the sea’ of previous CSA Assaults. Although I feel fortunate for the beneficial discussions I’ve had, my deepest request/suggestion goes out to any other Surviving-Victim of CSA: Seeking Help can be done anonymously! When you’re ready to take things further, Expert Guidance is available.