No More! A call to action

No More is a public service video series that is making the rounds on youtube

This is a great way of getting all ‘slacktivists’ involved. The no more video’s are short and very shareable. It’s a clear and concise call to action. What is good about the no more campaign is that it tackles sexual abuse from a variety of standpoints.

No more bystanders

No more looking away when you see someone being abused. This is one of the most hurtful things about child sexual abuse: all the people who must have noticed something, but never said a word. All the campaigns that are geared towards getting a child to speak out about it are to no avail unless adults learn to listen, with not just their ears, but also with their eyes, their minds and their hearts.

No more ‘He didn’t mean any harm’

There is no excuse for rape, none. ‘Boys will be boys’ is selfperpetuating non-sense. It’s time to teach our young men how to behave responsibly. It’s time to raise our children not to be rapists. By our example, by our normative statements, by teaching our young ones to respect and nurture each other. Rape and pillage is soooo 2013.

No more: ‘She was asking for it’

In all my years as a counsellor/coach I’ve never ever heard a story of a young child asking to be raped. Children ask for something allright: they ask for loving care, they need to be held, comforted and nurtured. Even a troubled teen with tiny tanktops and camel toe shorts is not asking to be raped. We need to properly identify the ‘it’ that someone in trouble is asking for. Because most likely ‘it’ is recognition, validation, nurturing. Someone who is asking for ‘it’ in that way is vulnerable to child sexual abuse.

No more: ‘You should be over that by now’

Thank goodness more and more people are finding their voices to talk about what happened to them as a child or adult. Thankfully we’re no longer silent! Because when we learn to speak about it, when we learn to say the words that’s when healing begins. Healing is a long road that usually doesn’t start the moment the abuse stops. It starts when we find ourselves safe enough to begin to uncover the secrets we have stashed away in the back of our heads. This is the time to heal.

Time to say no more!

It’s time to say no more and thank goodness we’re finding our voices to do so. This is what this video is all about. Saying no, not only to the acts themselves, but also to the silence that surrounds them. Because the silence enables the acts. NO MORE

Join the movement

 

How to heal from child sexual abuse

grass seed, photograph by Agnes van der GraafThere is no manual on how to heal

As much as my book is a helpful resource to many, on the journey to their own healing, it is not really a manual on how to heal. That’s because there is no set process. There is no 12 step program for you to follow. Healing is an intensely personal matter and each of us has to find their own way.

That said: Let me give you some general advice on how to heal from child sexual abuse.

The first advice on how to heal

“Don’t blindly follow anyone’s advice on how to heal.”
Healing from child sexual abuse is a personal matter and you are the expert of your own trauma. You know exactly what bothers you most and what aggravates you the most. Thats why you and only you can determine what is right for you. You are the one who knows how to heal. The therapists are just the hired help to get you there.

The second bit of advice on how to heal

Choose a type of therapy or counselling carefully. There are many different types of therapy. The type that is going to help you best is the one that you feel most comfortable with, or the one that offers the most learning. There’s quite a few choices to make in that respect. Get a general idea on how you would like to address your trauma in therapy and find the type of therapy that is most likely to offer you the help you need.

Some of the choices out there:

  • Cognitive: May help if you need help understanding what happened
  • Physical: May help if you have body memories, flashbacks or nightmares
  • Creative: May help if you have a difficult time expressing things in words
  • Systemic: May help if you need to change something in the way you respond to your (family) system
  • Interactive: May help if you have recurring behavioral patterns that you need to address.

Choosing one of these areas as a focus point will narrow down your options and will give you a framework on which to base your choices.

Advice number three: Find a therapist you trust

If you hire someone to clean your house or babysit your kids, you’re likely to interview several people and choose the one you feel can do the best job for you. Someone that fits within your home and family. When you’re looking for a therapist or counsellor be sure to use the same caution. Interview several. The intake process works both ways. Have a list of questions that you want answered when you go in for your first appointment.

Think of questions like:

  • Personality: What is the therapist like? Does he or she put you at ease? Do you like the furnishings, the overal setting? What’s your first impression?
  • Diploma’s: Where did the therapist study, what did he/she study. Which additional courses? Has he/she kept up with the latest developments?
  • Experience: Does he or she have experience with healing child sexual abuse? Has he or she worked with survivors of child sexual abuse before? Is he or she a survivor?
  • Goal: What does the therapist think the goal for therapy should be: coping or healing? Does that fit with your wishes for the therapy?
  • Reputation: Does the therapist have a good reputation? Can you check references?

If you get satisfactory answers to all those questions, you may have found your therapist for that particular point in time.

There are many stages to healing

The fourth bit of advice is to expect that you are not likely to be able to heal everything with just one therapist or type of therapy. If that does happen, you’re the exception to the rule. Most people will go through a series of therapies, each building on the achievements of the others. Some therapies will help you cope better with your every day life, others will delve into the trauma so you can break through the patterns that cause your every day life stresses and turmoil. Each is important and necessary at different stages of recovery. There is not just one ‘right’ way to heal from child sexual abuse.

Advice five: Expect setbacks

Count on setbacks. Plan for them. Realize that you can’t tackle the problems of a lifetime in five weeks of therapy. The road to recovery is littered with pittfalls and roadblocks. If you realize this at the outset and know that it’s all part of the process, you may be able to take them in stride. Plan on how you are going to deal with the inevitable setbacks. Make them less stressful and more playful. Don’t get mad when you fall off the horse. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and smile.

 

Stop coping!

Is it your time to heal?

Child sexual abuse is a serious matter.  If you’ve been made to feel ashamed, powerless and helpless as a child, chances are you are prone to the same types of feelings as an adult. Unless and untill you heal from your childhood of sexual abuse, you are likely to fall victim to those feelings over and over. If the past is bothering you, even after many years, it’s time to heal. If you are ready to face your fears, it’s your time to heal.

Why healing isn’t  about learning better coping skills

Healing is quite different from coping. Coping is within the scope of surviving. And surviving falls way short of living to your fullest potential. Coping is finding ways to keep the hurt from overpowering you. Coping sometimes stands in the way of healing. As long as you’re coping with life, you may not wish to heal. Coping is like an addiction in that the pain and fear continue to rise to the surface and you may need ever increasing coping skills in order to keep from feeling the pain and fear.

You are meant to thrive!

When I say thriving, I don’t mean financially or materially, even though the chances are that you will do well, or at least better, in those areas too after you heal. Thriving is about way more important things than money. Thriving is about feeling good inside your skin. It’s about being self-aware. It’s about not being clipped from behind by triggers anymore. It’s about being fully and vibrantly engaged with life.

Conquering your fears

There is no absolute safety in the world and healing isn’t going to save you from future pain and suffering. It’s not going to take away the past either. It is going to put the past where it belongs: In the past. In healing from child sexual abuse, the challenge is to learn how to live your life today, without having the past overtake you. Not by suppressing the pain and fear, but rather by defusing the pain, by conquering the fear.

Leaving the past behind

Calling yourself a survivor is hanging on to a victim identity. Because just coping just isn’t good enough. It’s not easy to let go of your victim-identity, even if it does hurt you and keep you stuck. It’s not easy and it’s very scary to leave behind everything you’ve always known about yourself and make room for something different. But it can be done. You can live a life that is beyond trauma.

Do you want to know how you can heal from child sexual abuse? Preorder the book now!