From Victim to Victor: Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse
Part Two: Physical and Emotional Ailments
[Part One Symptoms] [Part Three Forgiveness] [Part Four Google's Fight]
Click here to deal with being Unloved As A Child
The emotional, psychological and physical stress of abuse often takes its toll in physical illness as the body "remembers" being betrayed.
Feelings of worthlessness, apathy, self-loathing, can drown a survivor.
A mixture of self-blame for the activity, feeling bad about hating the abuser, horror at partial enjoyment, and possibly, absorption of some of the abuser’s guilt feelings.
Childhood sexual abuse teaches the victim that the world is an untrustworthy place. Fear can infiltrate every aspect of the survivor’s life.
Unfortunately often directed inward, anger can be a liberating emotion when the survivor directs it at the appropriate target(s).
Uncertainty about what the abuse means (how can pain be love? Why is a caretaker betraying me?) overwhelms the child -- and festers in the adult.
To avoid the pain and guilt of blaming the perpetrator (especially in cases of incest) the victim may physically hurt herself or himself. Self-mutilation ranges from tattoos and nipple-rings to cutting, sexual violence and enemas. [HW writes: "tattoos and body piercings are considered a beautiful thing by some individuals. These practices are celebrated, not condemmed, by many tribes and cultures around the world."]
Clearly a distrustful, confused, angry survivor is likely to have difficulties relating with other people.
Childhood sexual abuse is frequently accompanied with verbal abuse. Accusations of being stupid make a deep impression on a helpless, victimised child. This feeling of powerlessness persists into adulthood.
Frequently the various parts of the survivor, including the derogatory messages about being bad, stupid, unwanted, unlovable, etc., are “heard” as thoughts or even sounds.
HallucinationsSomewhat like Flashbacks but which the survivor “sees” in front of her, like blood on the bathroom floor.
Hallucinations may also be "negative", i.e., not seeing something (like car keys) which are actually there.
Self-blame to the extreme. When the pain becomes too much to bear, suicide may seem to be the ultimate solution.
Slow suicide. Also an attempt to dampen down the pain. May range from the legal (alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, prescription drugs) to the illegal (e.g.,street drugs).
A feeling of having been stripped of dignity and effectiveness.
A feeling of being held down, of being directed by others.
Generally noticing what’s wrong, rather than what’s right. Expecting the worst.
Victims of any kind of trauma are likely to find themselves revictimised.
Sometimes the new victimisation happens in similar circumstances, sometimes in situations that seem to bear no resemblance to the original incident.
Why does this happen? Because we all seek -- mostly subconsciously -- to repeat what we've already experienced. (This applies to good things, too, of course). So a person betrayed as a child will often feel drawn to a person who ends up betraying her.
And this may be because our experience of abuse is interpreted by our primitive brains as being our fault. This becomes ingrained in a neural network
The symptoms of shame, guilt and low self-esteem make it easy for a victim to accept the familiar and hard to accept respect and love from a mentally-healthy person.
A survivor's memories of abuse are often challenged or denied by other family members, health professionals and the public at large.
The recovery of "repressed memories" is a major controversy.
My view is that repressed memories can and do surface years after the abuse. They can also be manufactured wittingly or unwittingly by therapists. In which case they are not really memories, but beliefs.
All memory is malleable. Our memories are not like videos. They are not uncontaminated records of exactly what happened. Memories are influenced by our thoughts, desires, cultures, by the movies we've seen and the conversations we've had.
To rise victorious over CSA, it is not necessary, nor is it possible, to know exactly what happened. That it did happen is horror enough. Fortunately, you CAN Heal Your Past
In addition, if you're a victor who previously suffered sexual issues, you can End Your Fear of Sex