Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors
This material may be protected by copyright.
If “I’d been looking for ‘this kinda book’, for so long” sounds familiar – this could be the answer! Both suggested + reviewed by others in our league, here are some short examples of what it contains:
“As you discover and come into your own truth, you will gain the following:
• emotional strength as your self-confidence and self-assurance build
• an awareness of what triggers your painful emotions and moods, and an improved ability to cope with them before the pain escalates
• more responsiveness to outside influences as you become less reactive
• a feeling of safety in your own body
• confidence in your ability to consciously choose your response to situations that are in your best interest with due consideration for others, rather than emotionally gambling by unconsciously reacting in unhealthy ways to gain others’ approval and avoid pain
Mentors, coaches, and therapists can be instrumental in guiding you through the process, but the answers to truth-based healing reside in us. We must seek them out and apply them by reaching into the core of our being for the answers. The point is this:
You must uncover and discover to recover.”
Ryan, Evelyn M. (2015). Excerpt from (p.25/188)
This book isn’t an easy read, but that’s not what readers of it are looking for. Answers, methods + solutions are what it contains, which is what this writing aims for! If anything can make surviving-victims of child-sexual-abuse feel better, it’s knowing that there are things like this book.
A direct personal response (DPR) is one of the 3 components offered through the Scheme to eligible people.
Participating in a DPR is an opportunity for people who have experienced abuse while in the ‘care’ of an institution to share their experience of abuse, to the extent they wish to do so, with a representative of the institution and to have them hear, recognise and acknowledge their story. The institution’s representative may apologise on behalf of the institution and explain the steps the institution has taken or will take to prevent abuse happening again in the future.
A DPR can be given through a face-to-face meeting between a person and a representative of the institution, a written letter, or any other method preferred by the person and agreed to by the institution.
All participating institutions must participate in a DPR with a person who requests it, except where it would risk causing harm. Institutions must provide DPRs in line with the NRS DPR Framework.
Although this provided DPR info sounds fairly straight-forward, I can let readers know that it’s far from that. For some of us who’re also dealing with related issues, having to relive the same moments for unfamiliar ’help’ can unfortunately cause you to relive the same moments for the 3rd-4th-or even 5th time! It’s great having a chance to reconnect, with those ’in the know’ who’ll be able to recognise your past-current-future lifestyle. This can be a great stage, to finally get ’official statements’ for YOUR ordeals – directly! Please take it from someone whose had to go off the comfortable track – reach out to the suitable Counselling people.
Thanks to Australia’s impact of climate change & covid19:
my NRS 1. has been submitted;
NRS 2. still awaiting ”Institutional Responses”;
NRS 3. is now having experienced Counsellors helping me.
“There’s always a bigger wave …” (common saying). CSA Survivours should try to keep in mind, that you’re not in this alone + they’re more sources coming forward: other surviving-victims, Counsellors, Government Sources & Law-enforcement (Police, solicitors & judges).
Many survivors experience similar impacts from the abuse. These can include anxiety, depression, suicidality, feelings of worthlessness, shame, anger and self-blame as well as struggles with trust, intimacy and other relationship problems, identity issues and addictions and clashes with authorities. Male survivors also face some unique impacts. Some of these arise from the expectations about men in our society.
We believe that your survival is testament to your resilience
We provide connections with others who have walked a similar path and focus on the way forward to recovery and growth.
SAMSN’s Eight-week Support Groups, led by male facilitators with professional training, have a trauma informed approach that prioritises your safety and focuses on recovery and healing.
SAMSN’s Monthly Meetings provide a forum for connections and conversations about recovery, and opportunities for learning from each other.
We recognise the additional issues for more marginalised groups of men
Men who are not from the dominant white, male culture face additional challenges of stereotyping in relation to their identity as men. This includes Aboriginal men, those from culturally diverse backgrounds, prisoners, men from rural and remote areas, men in the military, men with disabilities, men from the LGBTQI communities and older men. These men experience additional layers of discrimination, shame, isolation and have often have less access to support.
We are building a network of survivors who are finding their pathways to recovery & healing
Despite the impacts of the abuse and the additional societal challenges, boys and men find ways to survive and manage these many challenges. You are a survivor.
Some of the things we know can build a strong and healthy sense of self are:
Knowledge – getting some facts and information about abuse, about emotions, about impacts and services available
Safety – within yourself, safe in your key relationships, and a safe place
Self-acceptance – realization that the abuse doesn’t define you, and accepting that others believe that too
Commonality – that you can find others who understand, knowing you are not alone
Control – you can make decisions, choices, and that things can change
Hope – for justice, a desire for change, finding a way to turn this into something that gives back
NOTES As pieces from SAMSN have been related to parts of my NRS – Apologies coping issues, I felt that some generalised parts of their site + Spoken Podcasts + hearing from more, in our growing community. Unsure how each of us will deal with ’Recovery + Healing’, each of us has different ways that we live. Even the final paragraph introduces some of the atypical parts of society, which are gradually growing larger/“more accepted”. Stereotypes may have a new definition in 100 yrs; yet right now Aboriginal Indigenous, culturally diverse, disabled, LGBTQI & aged sectors are targeted. Alike child sexual abuse, this should stop – alongside sexism + so many of the other ’ism’s.
In keeping with a human nature (or animal instinct) of hiding/subverting past memories away, the oft-said belief of “the past is the past”, “just get over it” is coming back to prove itself wrong. Deeply. As many of the support-therapists-Counsellors-medico’s I have dealt with told me: ”you can’t successfully move on from the past, if so much is hidden away”. This post isn’t to repeat my past sorrows, rather shift the focus onto another of SEQ’s GPS schools: IGS Ipswich Grammar School.
Our RCbbc Blog is getting more contact, from past Surviving-Victims of CSA of IGS. As one predator of BBC employment (Anthony Kim Buchanan) had been known to have moved onto IGS, our 2022 goal can now be to unravel more of hidden truths, impacts and solutions of this growing habit. Speaking with others (support-therapists-Counsellors-medico’s), is the best place to start, which should provide help in moving forward.
There’s a bunch of things you shouldn’t say to an abuse survivor, but the biggest no-no is insisting they need to forgive their abuser in order to move forward.
Forgiveness is healthy. It doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or condoning what happened. PsychologyToday.com defines forgiveness as the release of resentment or anger and describes it as “vitally important for the mental health of those who have been victimized.”
However, forgiveness is a process. And how someone navigates this journey is deeply personal to them. They have to do it in their way and their time. And sometimes, forgiveness is not what someone needs to do in order to heal. Insisting that forgiveness is the only way they can move on it extremely damaging.
I have tried to forgive my parents. But I can’t. It’s very hard to forgive people who show no remorse. If I am ever going to forgive them, I need time. And when people tell me to let go of my anger, it negatively impacts my mental health. You can’t just let go of emotions if you don’t experience them first. It’s unreasonable to ask someone to detach from something you never gave them the space to attach to in the first place.
When I am told to let go of my anger, I bottle it up to please people. The anger gets worse and I engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. These behaviours are what people think I will engage in if I allow myself to be angry. But in reality, bottling up negative emotions is what leads to acting out and self-sabotage.
Anger is not a bad emotion. It is something everyone experiences. It can be expressed in unhealthy ways, and that is often what happens when survivors are told to “forgive” and “let go of their anger”. The anger isn’t being allowed to be expressed, so it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it is often directed towards the survivor themselves.
There are links between being a survivor of child abuse and developing addictions. In a report by the National Institute of Health, it was found that more than a third of teenagers who have experienced abuse will have a substance misuse disorder before their eighteenth birthday.
This anger is also directed at other people, with survivors being more at risk of committing crimes.
“…participants with histories of childhood physical and emotional abuse further showed that female participants were more likely to exhibit internalizing problems such as depression, social withdrawal, and anxiety during middle childhood, which in turn increased the risk of adult crime. In contrast, male participants were more likely to exhibit externalizing behavioral problems, such as aggression, hostility, and delinquency during middle childhood, which subsequently led to adult criminal behavior.”
These behaviour appear to be what people fear the survivor will display if they express their anger. And I believe the advice to forgive and let go of anger is usually well-meaning. However, survivors like me have been given that advice since forever. And since forever, survivors like me have not been given the space to address and understand this anger, which leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
The only way we can truly let go and be free is by having the support to experience our anger. And that’s okay because anger can be experienced in a constructive way. Matthew Tull PhD of VeryWellMind describes anger as a valid emotion that pushes us to express what we need. He gives tips on how to channel this anger constructively, so others hear what you need rather than just hearing that you are angry.
I believe a survivor’s reaction shouldn’t be policed. It’s hard to express anger constructively when you are experiencing pain you have been keeping a secret for so long. Sometimes, a survivor will need to explode and express anger in ways that make you uncomfortable before they can learn to channel it in healthy ways.
Cutting short this healing process with assertions that the survivor needs to let go of this anger is retraumatising. For so long they will have been punished for expressing negative emotions in response to what has happened to them. If I cried or showed I was struggling to cope with how my parents were treating me, they would punish me more. So when I say I am angry with them, it hurts me deeply when someone tells me I shouldn’t be.
If we really care about survivors, we need to support them even if we don’t understand their journey. They have made it this far, so we need to trust they will continue to heal. But they need to do this in their way. And if they cannot forgive their abusers and let go of their anger, that needs to be accepted.
I would argue that my anger and inability to forgive are what helps me to move forward. If I didn’t have these feelings, I would most likely reconcile with my parents and get trapped in the cycle of abuse again. This anger is because I care about myself now. I understand I deserve better. I understand it wasn’t my fault now.
A survivor has most likely been controlled for the entirety of their childhood by people who were supposed to care about them. As people who are supposed to care about them too, please don’t control how they heal from their abuse. Be part of them achieving the freedom they have always been deprived of.