Troubled teenager, sexually abused – guestblog by Karen Blodgett

Guestblog by Karen Blodgett: Troubled teenager, sexually abused

Karen posted her story of her childhood here earlier, you can read it if you click on: ‘Unique is valuable’. This is the second part of her story, about her troubled teenager years.

Painting by Karen Blodgett

Did he have a conscience?

Thinking back I see that the abuser did not appear to have a conscience. He never gave any sign that he realized the inappropriate nature of his abuse of me. As for my part: Victims can be dramatic. I have acted out and present myself in less than the favorable light. I was caught in a vicious circle. My nature, my protected environment, and perhaps my personality added up to make me a shy, overly dramatic, vulnerable child. The abuse caused many negative behaviors and affected my choices throughout my teenage years.

Troubled teenager

Children do not think like adults and neither do teenagers. When I turn eleven I think I am very mature. For a few confused years I think, because of everything that happens between us, that I must love the abuser! After all, everything I know about love, sex, relationship and myself, I learned from the him.

Watching Oprah Winfrey

I am watching Oprah and I’m glued to the set during her story about her recovery. I secretly hope someone will ask me. No one does. I allude to it many times, write about it in private and collage about my perception of life. I create a “perfect” girl’s life, but I am troubled. I have a subscription to ‘Seventeen’ at age fifteen. I read ‘Cosmo’ and similar magazines, anywhere I can, in every waiting room. I learn from their articles how I should look and act to be accepted. Meanwhile I go to Planned Parenthood secretly, at age fifteen and get birth control on my own. On the surface I look like a normal teenager, I do well enough in school and have protective parents.

Protecting everyone but me

I spend a lot of my energy hiding the sexual abuse from the community that supports my family. They are wonderful people. I have many  friends who are older than my grade level, I seem wise beyond my years. It is a fairly close-knit community. We spend most of our time together, at home, in school and at most social events. With my silence I protect everyone but myself.

Hoping someone will believe me

I beg my parents to let me switch schools. After a year and a half of constant begging they give in. People at my old school don’t understand and when I meet them again at social occasions, they judge me. I tell a classmate, at the school the abuser attended, that he abused me. I was so hoping she would tell, but she says: ‘There’s no way that he would do such a thing.”  I guess because he’s so popular. It takes another two years before I speak about it again.

Telling him NO!

I am 16 years old and I have a date with a boy I have my very first real crush on. Then the abuser invites himself into my room. Somehow I find the courage to tell him “NO! You are not going to @&*% this up for me!” and some more colorful language that I don’t usually use. I can hardly believe it when he turns around and leaves.

Still I keep the secret

Still I do not tell anyone.  I spend my time studying, doing required sports and hanging out with much older “friends.”  They are a fun wholesome bunch and probably think of me like a little sister.

betrayed, rape, why, hypervigilent, shamed, teenager, confused, ugly, anguished, terrified

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Unique is valuable – guest blog by Karen Blodgett

Unique is valuable – Blog by Karen Blodgett

This painting and story is from guest blogger Karen Blodgett, job seeker as support and educator for victims of trafficking/prostitution, from Western Massachusetts/ the Tristate area. She very graciously and couragiously agreed to share her story. Thank you so much Karen, for your spirit and help to break the silence…..You can contact Karen through LinkedIn. Please do, she’s a very warm person, wanting to share her talents to help you heal.
karen blodget painting unique

I am unique

The journey through life teaches everyone something different.  I am a survivor of long term child sex abuse. In the past what has helped me, is to believe in myself, to display the strength I gained to move past difficult situations and I to become aware of the support systems available to me.

Been misunderstood all my life

Many people misunderstand me. However there are also people who love and understand me. I realize I am following a path less traveled. Being my friend requires a lot. I own my issues and do not expect much from people. People still want to be here for me. Carrying on normal relatonships is difficult. The more I learn about myself, the effects of abuse, relationships and perceptions, the more I find out: I am unique!

I am seven years old

I am seven years old and I am playing in my backyard, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, when I am first sexually abused. I am just another kid in a small “safe” rural community. It is not my fault.  I am vulnerable and he makes me feel less than everyone else. He really started two years ago, by teasing me, embarrassing me and making me feel like I don’t belong.

The abuser is only two years older

The abuser is only two years older, but he appears to have purposely set out to victimize me, emotionally and sexually. It is a lot more common than you might think. My parents always told me “sticks and stones may hurt, but words will never hurt you.” They couldn’t have been more wrong.

I think like a typical seven year old

I think typical seven year old thoughts. First of all I am afraid I have done something bad and I will get in trouble. Time passes and it seems like no matter where I go, he finds me. This goes on day and night for the next eight years. I am afraid to say anything to anyone. I am afraid of losing my best friend. He threatens me into keeping my mouth shut with the things I fear most: I would have to move, I would lose all my friends or that my parents or his parents would lose their jobs if I told. When I understand what being pregnant means, I worry about that constantly.  My biggest fear is people will not believe me so I don’t tell anyone.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Dissociation: How to help someone who dissociates

How can you help someone who dissociates?

0011As a partner or a coach this question comes up often. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize what’s going on. It may even be more difficult to get a grip on the dissociation. Partners in particular want to know what they can do to help. Here’s some tips.

Trauma informed practice

Trauma from sexual abuse has many different forms. One of them can be dissociation. In my book I Thrive ! I give some examples and tips on how to handle this. Knowing the symptoms of sexual abuse makes it easier to help someone deal with them. This is known as Trauma Informed Practice (TIP).

Speak about what’s going on

When your friend starts to dissociate, he/she probably knows what’s going on. But sometimes it happens very suddenly and it may help for you to recognize and speak up about it: “Are you still with me? “, or “It seems to me you start to dissociate, am I right?” Or a more direct approach: “Hello! Stay with me! ”

Acknowledge the fear

Reckognize that your friend doesn’t do this just for the fun of it. There’s always some memory or trigger that scares her/him in such a way that she wants to disappear. Acknowledge that fear.

Be there

Let your friend know you’re there. Even when you think you’ve lost her for a moment. It may help to remind her of the present. “Your name is…”You’re ….old” “You sit on the couch””there’s a candle burning next to you.”You’re here now and you’re SAFE. Keep repeating this and ask her response. “Can you hear me?”, “can you tell me what items are red in this room?”

Plan ahead

Talk about things that may help, plan for them together. Nobody is the same. Some people feel better when you make eyecontact, others want to be left alone, some want to start doing dishes so they can feel their hands again… Some people feel very afraid of physical contact so ask if that is okay when she dissociates. And when the situation is too dangerous not to, tell her:  “I’m gonna put my arm around you now, or take you by the hand and lead you to the curb, before we get run over by that truck.”
When the diference between ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ becomes clear, the dissociation will fade.

Respect yourself

It’s good to talk to your partner about her/his trauma. But don’t forget to look after your self. Find help if you need to. Sexual abuse is not something just your partner deals with. It shows self respect to recognize you need to take care of yourself as well.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

How to be powerful even when you’re still confronted with your abuser regularly

Powerful stuff

ivonne bij hekA little foreword by Ellen, if I may…
This is one of the most powerful blogs Ivonne has written, in my humble opinion. That’s why I chose a picture of Ivonne. To me she is living proof that healing is possible.
She’s not just a great coach and author, she’s also the best friend anyone could wish for. All her blogs and books are helpful and very effective,but if you need to make a choice: Please don’t skip this one!
An honor to translate, a little longer than usual, but worth it. So bear with us….

What do I do when I still run into my abuser every time?

Healing from sexual abuse is not easy at the best of times. It takes time and a lot of effort. We start. Fall back. Start over. Again.  And Again.
It may take time to find the right coach, the right therapy.
Then you run into the one person you want to get away from and the healing process seems to start all over again.
We keep putting our focus, our energy onto the abuser.
While it’s really not about him/her……

HUH????
Now, Excuuuuse me…..

No…hold on….

It’s about finding our inner strength

Small example:
I used to take a self defense class and one of the ladies shared what had happened to her while taking a traintrip. Some stranger came up to her and all of a sudden put his hand between her legs and started to fondle her. Shocked she felt completely powerless to respond any other way than shameful and guilty.
A more effective way could’ve been to calmly take his hand away, show it to the rest of the passengers and exclaim: Now look what I found!. ..What do you know, I all of a sudden find this stranger’s hand in my crotch- anybody any idea what to do with it?
This way you turn the shame and guilt around to where it belongs: With the abuser.

As an adult you’re not helpless anymore!

When you see your abuser regularly it may help to plan ahead.
Think of what you want to do and do the opposite:

  • Do you cross the road to avoid him when he walks your way? Just keep walking and look him straight in the eye
  • Do you still listen to his endless chatter? Tell him you’ve wasted enough of your precious time and go do something else
  • Does he still try to make you feel uncomfortable by telling dirty jokes, sexual innuendos, tell him you’re not interested in his juvenile behavior

Write down how you would like to react. Even if you’ll never use the exact same words it will help you to change your conditioned response. We’ve been in the same behavioral pattern for so long it may take a while to reverse his power over you.
But it can be done!

Practice, practice, practice

There are some very effective excercises you can try:
Stand up. I mean, literally,  Stand Up.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground
Breathe. Inhale…Exhale…
Think of a time you felt powerful. Remember that A+ you got for your paper? Or when you played that sportsgame and felt invincible. Or how about that hike in the woods and you felt that tingle in your legs coming from taking a long walk. Or any moment when you felt proud of yourself, your accomplishment.
With practice you can relive that moment of power whenever you choose. Even when confronted with your abuser.

The power of inner strength

That strength doesn’t mean the use of muscles. Not even using the power of will.
It means the power of feeling.
My friend, Thomas Crum, talks in his (excellent) books about the metaphorical gardenhose. When a gardenhose doesn’t contain any water it’s limp and just lies there.  When the water in the hose is frozen the hose is hard. And sure, it will take some effort but eventually putting enough pressure on the hose it will break.
This compares to the power of will and the power of muscle.
But when the water runs continuously through the hose it becomes bendable, but will never break!

Fun exercise to do with a friend

We can practice this with a friend. It’s not only an eye- opener but a lot of fun as well.
Pretend your arm is that gardenhose. Let your arm go limp. Now ask your friend to try and bend your arm. Easy-peasy, right?
Now make that arm as strong as you can. Is that all you can do?? C’mon I’m talking STRONG !!! – you’ll notice most people start making a fist at this time. Now invite your friend to bend your arm. Don’t go as far as breaking bones, we don’t want that, but you’ll see with some effort your arm will bend.
Now think of that moment when you felt powerful (see above) and let your inner strength run like water through your arm. You can even wiggle your fingers a little like nozzles. That’s right, water everyone around you, keep it a steady stream. Now let your friend bend that arm! Uh..Uh.. Nope, No Way… Neener, neener….
Got the picture?

Practice your personal POWER

When you keep practicing, you will find it becomes so easy. And eventually it will take a lot less effort and energy than feeling ashamed and guilty.

You will find your true power again.
Powerful !!!

Booktip: Thomas Crum

The ‘unbendable arm’ exercise and a number of others are listed in Tom Crum’s book ‘The magic of conflict’. Also from Tom, a lovely, funny, easy to read book: ‘A journey to center’ is a great book on learning how to live, how to deal with life’s ups and downs, how to deal with conflict in a way that uses this kind of personal power.

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

How can you tell if you’ve been sexually abused

How do I know for sure if I’ve been sexually abused?

DSC_0208A lady once asked me if I could tell by her symptoms whether she’d been sexually abused or not.

A friend of hers had the same symptoms and remembered the sexual abuse, but this lady had no such memories..

Confront the abuser

Now of course this is tricky, especially when you don’t know for sure if he (or she) actually behaved the way you suspect he did. Most often the perpetrator will deny when asked. However, sometimes they want to come clean. When this means a reduced sentence for instance.

Can I get my memories back?

You can try to activate your memory by hypnosis.
Be weary of the so called: False memory syndrome, though. After research it’s evidently possible to “plant” memories that didn’t actually happen. When your therapist asks questions in a certain, suggestive way, your brain will invent a memory to fit the suggestion. So be careful with this and see a practitioner who is aware of this risk and avoids suggestive questioning.

Any other tips to find out if I’ve been sexually abused?

Pick up a piece of paper and a pen and write down any small little detail from your childhood that you do remember. Yes, the old fashioned way- not on your computer or electronic device-I’ll tell you why in a minute…
Where did you sit during dinnertime? What food did you like (or not)? What was the color of your bedroom? Who was your best friend? What did you like to do after school?
When you start asking these simple questions, it’s amazing how fast your other memories are triggered.

One step further

Now have you written all those small details down? Try to take it one step further:
What scared me? What made me angry? What was the name (or face) of the boy I had that secret crush on? What did I ( want to) tell my diary, or my teddybear?

You can ask for help, too

Even if you felt lonely and isolated growing up, there were still people around you: Family, neighbors, kids at school. Maybe sisters, brothers, cousins.
“Hey cousin, do you remember when we were ….old, that time we climbed that tree…I think I’m getting old ’cause I don’t remember much else from my childhood. I do seem to remember that….so and so… sometimes kind of looked at me funny…..
An abuser almost never gets his kicks from abusing “just” one person. Chances are he/she tried it with your immediate familymembers (schoolfriends) too.

Conclusion?

Now look at everything you wrote carefully.
Notice any irregularities?
Did you skip a certain period of time?
Are there any familymembers or friends that you seem to continiously have forgotten?
Did you write a story? From somewhere deep within? Or does it look like someone else’s tale? Did you keep a far distance from your memories?
Is there a written part that looks different than the rest? Does your handwriting look different in some (particular) memories?

If you don’t feel comfortable analyzing your own script, please ask a coach to help you.

Still not sure if you’ve been sexually abused?

When you’re still not quite sure if you’ve been sexually abused or not there’s only one other thing you can do:
Let it go.

Healing is the same

The healing from trauma, caused by sexual abuse or something else, is the same.
So when you feel anxious, (unreasonably) afraid, when you have nightmares, feel any discomfort and you don’t know for sure where it comes from, find a good coach or therapist and heal.

I Thrive !

My book I thrive! was not just written for people healing from being sexually abused. It will help anybody who wants to heal. It will help anyone who is tired from the struggle to survive.
It will help you recognize your life is worth living.