Long term effects of child sexual abuse – CPTSD – Guestblog by Karen Blodgett

This Guestblog by Karen Blodgett about CPTSD is part 3 in a 3 part series

Please check out part 1 and part 2 of her story. In part 1 she outlines her childhood experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a boy 2 years here senior. In part 2 she talks about the hold he had on her throughout her teenage years and what the effects of his manipulations were on her. In this third part she tells about her struggle with CPTSD and offers her help to other survivors.

I thought it was overMe in a Tagul.com word cloud

I remember thinking: ” it’s over!” I had stood my ground and he did not persist, he avoided me as I did him, even when we were in the same room. My victory was sweet but short lived.

My brain chemistry has changed

It wasn’t over, my brain has protected my body for so long, that my brain chemistry has changed causing CPTSD. Shutting off, dissociating has become the norm for me. The last memory of being a child was when I was five years old. The rest of my childhood has been stolen.

Learning to cope

I learn to cope with a lifetime of post-traumatic stress. I live in the same community as him for another year. He parties with our mutual friends. I still keep it all bottled up. I feel very much alone and there’s only two people I even connect with. I know people grossly misjudge me. Also I still think they won’t listen to me, care for or even believe me if I told. I feel like I don’t belong. I turn inward.

Home for Thanksgiving

I go off to college and then come home for Thanksgiving.  I desperately want to connect with my wonderful (yet very reserved) parents. Clearly they have no idea why I am different or why I have been a very moody, distant, and a socially awkward child. I feel guilty at the thought they might blame themselves. I want to get to know them better and that means they would need to get to know me better as well.

My parents figure I am going through puberty

My parents wondered what was wrong with me many times. One case in particular, I was in fifth grade, I cried for almost two weeks. Tears streaming down my face for no appearant reason. They tell me, they were about to seek therapy for me, but the crying stopped. I was 13 years old then. They figured it must have been the hormones of puberty.

Reconnecting with my parents

I reveal the truth to my mother and asked her to tell my father. I thought I would feel better but instead I am deeply saddened. I drop out of college for a month. I am deeply troubled and with my parents help I seek help. They support me through the rest of college, therapy and more.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)

I am diagnosed as having Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD as defined by Dr. Judith Herman) and for the past 25 years, I seek support for this condition everywhere I go. The CPTSD slowly becomes manageable with the therapies and the methods I learn: Relaxation, mindfulness, EBT, listening/problem solving, some neurofeedback, workbooks, exercise and more.

Study and professional life

I earn a B.A. Psychology degree, an M.A. k-12 moderate disabilities with a licence to teach. I teach in Africa for a year and in the US for 3 years in public school. Since then I have worked from California to Africa with most ages and populations of people. Currently I’m looking for a position in which I can help others benefit from my experiences.

My offer is to share my story and help you heal

I am telling my story here and I am sharing what I hope will help other young people. More importantly: I would like to offer understanding and support for others in similar situations. It does not matter how a person comes to be hurt so personally, the emotional scars are similar no matter whether you’re a victim of incest, child sexual abuse, trafficking, kidnapping or child pornography.

I am safe now

I am living my life empowered and know I am safe. I have gained resilience, integrity, and acceptance of many people from all walks of life and cultures. I intend to help others realize this safety and freedom in their own time and place. You too are unique and unique is valuable. It can be very empowering to realize just how valuable you are.

I am ready. Are you?

I’m ready to offer my assistance to anyone working through the issues of child sexual abuse and those who care for them. I’m looking for a position in an organisation that has child sexual abuse or trauma at its focus. I believe that through the benefit of my experiences of healing my own trauma, and the extensive studying I’ve done since, I can offer my expertise in any team working with this issue. You can contact me through my linkedin profile.

Best,
Karen

 

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

11 million British children sexually abused

11 million British children sexually abused

The latest numbers are shocking to some, old hat to others, but they do show that England is, like many European countries, full of child sexual abuse. The numbers of 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are numbers many European countries echo.

Scandals, lies and cover ups

Of late, Brittain has had quite a few scandals hit the papers, in particular (and of international infamy) surrounding the BBC. Jimmy Saville, Gary Glitter, Church officials, politicians and chiefs of police: the one thread that these cases have in common is that in all of these case they were a ‘public secret’. Meaning that people were aware that it was happening and chose to look the other way.

On choosing to look away

Whether it’s a celebrity or a relative who perpetrates child sexual abuse against you, the effects are devestating. But many victims of child sexual abuse also report the effect of people looking away as at least equally devestating. When you look away from a child in trouble you’re implicitly giving permission to the perpetrator and you’re telling the child he or she is not worth bothering about.

Not guilty

Allowing child sexual abuse that you’re aware of to continue doesn’t make you guilty in the eyes of the law. There are no laws that say you have to report a crime you are aware of. But are you at the same time, not failing to protect a child? Are you not neglecting the childs needs, effectively ignoring the fact that it’s being hurt.

Finally people are getting real about child sexual abuse

In England alone, an estimated 11 million people have suffered from child sexual abuse. Those numbers are huge and they may be the tip of the iceberg. Righteous indignation is aimed squarely at public figures who perpetrated or enabled these acts. The more difficult questions for people get their heads around are:

  • Is this happening in my own environment?
  • In my street?
  • In my own home?

It’s easy to think Jimmy Saville did it. It’s much more difficult to look critically at your own husband (or wife), at your family, at your children. The number don’t lie however and more than half of those 11 million people are abused by someone they know and love. Someone within their own family. Someone you might never suspect.

We need people who choose not to look away

On behalf of the children who are, right now, living in fear right under your noses. We need you not to look away. Pay close attention to whoever as access to your child. Listen to what your children say and believe them, even if it sounds incredible to you! All of the survivors that I’ve counselled, have told me that they have tried at least once to tell somebody, but they were not heard.

Get informed about child sexual abuse

My own book is a good place to start, to begin to understand what child sexual abuse is all about. How grooming works and what tell tale signs of child sexual abuse are. My book is geared towards the adult survivor of child sexual abuse, explaining what the short and long term effects of child sexual abuse are and how to heal them. It’s a great resource for social workers, counsellors and therapists alike, wanting to know more about that it means to be sexually abused as a child.

 

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