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

Repeat after me: ‘Obedience is our enemy’

Abusers know best how to instill obedience in a child

‘Don’t tell mommy, we’ll both be in trouble’, is one of many standard sentences that abuser use to make sure the child keeps their secret. Instilling a sense of shame and guilt is a very effective method of control. Usually the abuser will add in a sense of complicity: ‘You and me against the world’, ‘Our little secret’ and ‘You’re so smart, other people won’t understand’. A mix of friendliness and threats often keep the child from telling for many years.

Complicity and compliance

Enlisting the childs complience is an important step. It’s a way of making sure that the child is obedient and quiet. If you can get the child to feel responsible for what happens, the fact that it’s a bad thing means that they will keep their mouth firmly shut about it. After all, they feel it was their fault: ‘Look what you made me do’, ‘You shouldn’t have done that’.

Conspiracy of abusers? Or just child rearing mistakes?

Some contend that there must be a manual, something that people who abuse children must have read in order to skillfully seperate children from the very people who could help them. A list of things to do if you want to abuse a child. I believe the truth is much more sinister than that. Child rearing has long been based on the very same principles. It’s just more of the same, only the goal is different.

Powerlessness in children gives the abuser the advantage

What are some of the things we habitually say to our children that abusers pervert to their own ends?

  • “Shame on you” (for doing something bad)
  • “Respect your elders” (respect in this context generally means obey)
  • “Not another word out of you” (your opinion doesn’t count)
  • “Stop crying” (your emotions are best suppressed)

A child in this world is fully dependent upon adults and is taught many lessons that emphasize its powerlessness.

Empowerment for children

Empowering our children to say no, even to us, may give them a leg up on any would be abuser. Some think that this leads to lawless children, but I think their fears are overstated. Most children thrive on having good, clear boundaries established for them. Feeling the need to test them is a natural impulse. Offering them explanations and the reasoning behind the rules, is a way of helping them understand the world around them better.

Empowerment for toddlers

Empowerment can start at a very early age. Give a toddler a choice of 2 sets clothes to wear and as young as they are, they will pick one and feel empowered by the fact that they have a choice. It allows them to have some influence on what they wear, rather than you having all the power and making all the decisions for them.

Grooming uses a childs needs against it

foto to go with grooming blog, grass seed, photograph by Agnes van der GraafGrooming a child for sexual abuse

  • Do you want to know how perpetrators operate?
  • How children are groomed for abuse?

Most people want so much to turn a blind eye. But in doing so we turn our backs on our children. So buckle up, gather your courage and read how the grooming process really works.

Hooking the child through intimacy

A child has a natural need for intimacy,  for being special to someone and receiving one-on-one attention. A child needs cuddles and hugs as much as food and shelter. If these aren’t readily available, an abuser is generally quite willing to fill the gap. They use the childs need for intimacy, to be hugged and cuddled in order to get the child to have sex with them.

If for whatever reason you shy away from healthy intimacy with your child, you’re actually putting it more at risk because it’s needs aren’t being met.

A predator looking for prey

When an abuser is on the hunt for a new victim, quite often he or she will single out a child who isn’t safely bonded to the parent (unless of course the abuser is the parent as in the case in about 40% of the cases). It’s easy to spot a child who is unsafely bonded. They tend to present themselves as shy, not very sure of themselves. They are often pleasers and eager to perform all sorts of chores. These are characteristics that an abuser is looking for in a child.

Grooming is: giving the child what it needs

A child has needs, like loving care, physical attention, to be seen and acknowledged. Grooming is: tending to those needs to help form a bond between the abuser and the child. Quite often it’s cuddles, exclusive attention, physical warmth and attention, but sometimes it’s candy, presents and money as well. Once the child is ‘bonded’ to the abuser, the step towards sexualizing that bond is horribly easy.

Confused and scared, most children keep their mouths shut

The child, confronted with adult sexuality is likely be confused and a little scared. Most often he or she knows something is not right, perhaps its a gut feeling, sometimes its an awareness of rules. However the adult doing things to them is someone they have come to know and trust. Someone whom they have bonded with because of the careful grooming. The abusers instructs them to keep the secret, usually under threat of something awful happening, to them or someone they love.

Obedient, well behaved kids are likely victims

It’s the quite often the ‘good kids’ that are most at risk. The quiet and shy boys and girls. The ones that aren’t likely to have many people to talk to about what is happening to them. The ones that are likely to do as they are told. However once the abuse has started, these kids can turn around completely and start acting up and acting out, earning them the label ‘problem child’.

Lying, screaming, antagonizing and other behavioral issues

Things spiral out of control quickly then. The acting out behavior can be encouraged by the abuser to drive a wedge between the child and anyone in a position to help it. In order to hide the abuse, the child has to lie about it. Over time the child is likely to alienate everyone who was ever close to it. Because of the acting out behavior, pretty soon all the attention they are getting is correction for their negative behaviors and with that, they become increasingly dependent upon the abuser for any positive reïnforcement. Thus the bond between the child and the abuser is solidified.

The cycle continues, learning borderline behavior

The abuser will generally treat the child to a unpredictable mix of intimacy and agression, sometimes violence. It’s this unpredictability that keeps the child frozen in place. This attraction/repulsion cycle is repeated over and over and the child, desperate for positive attention, will try very hard to please the abuser. At the same time the child will act out more, sometimes start cutting and earn more labels, such as depressed, borderliner, rebellious teenager, no good, etc.

The process of grooming is insideous and largely invisible.

The pattern I describe doesn’t hold true for all cases of abuse.  Abusers don’t all look alike and act alike. Some abusers are violent from the get go. Some are the primary caregivers, in which case the grooming is almost automatic. Some act very loving towards the child. The only thing they have in common is that they use the child to satisfy their own sexual needs. Everything, all the nice and nasty things they do, has to be seen in that context.

Breaking the cycle: Healing from child sexual abuse

As a survivor, when you grow up, you’re often caught in a pattern of pleasing others and self sabotage. In order to heal you need to become aware of the pattern. You need to learn how it plays a role in your present day life. If you’re caught in a vicious cycle of revictimization and self destructive behavior, get help. It’s important to seek out a counselor, coach or therapist, who is familiar with child sexual abuse to help you heal from your past wounds.

 

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