Victims of sexual abuse are sometimes (often actually), further traumatised in the process of the abuser being arrested and then sent, through the court process, to jail (if found guilty). Having to go back over the terrible things done to you is likely to cause further damage to the victim of abuse.
And the traumatised brain doesn’t like further trauma, and remembering relevant details can be difficult for the victim of abuse, in many different ways. On a personal level, I can’t remember all of the details of the abuse I received from a ‘family friend’ when I was a child, of about six or seven. I certainly know who my abuse was, but the intricate details of exactly what happened are more or less lost.
My abuser has been dead for many years now. I know, from things I’ve since been told, that the same person may have abused others, in various ways. I don’t know the details of their stories either. Should I know, should I track down every dirty detail, and thing further on them? I don’t think so.
I have gone on in my life to much better things than that abuse. I am a connected and caring member of my community. I think my resilience in life may have developed from being able to survive that abuse, who knows? If I were to go through therapy with a suitable therapist, who knows, we may come up with every single disgusting thing done to me by that man, back when I was an innocent child. But do I want that? No.
He is dead, and unable to hurt anyone again, unless they allow what happened to them against their will, comes back to haunt them. If I went through that, I don’t think that could bring me more peace than what I already have in my life. I did my own form of therapy, writing thehorror of it out of my head, onto paper, in poetry. Narrative therapy, dealing with things through writing, that is how I have found peace.
And connecting with others who have also suffered in similar ways, being with them, having great times with them, these things are healing for us all. We turn our backs on the bad stuff that has happened in our lives, and move beyond it, from victim to survivor, and certainly for me and some others, thrivers! Life after abuse can be beautiful!
The Adelaide Plains Poets will be holding a Festival very soon, on the subject of truth. The Adelaide Plains Festival of Words (Truth). The Keynote Speaker is Kathy Parker. She is a blogger, poet, and public speaker, with a story to tell. https://kathyparker.com.au/ Kathy will be telling some personal stories, her own and possibly yours. It will be candid, honest and raw.
Some people may not like what she may say, I’m not sure, but I am sure that I will learn and I will find connections with Ms Parker’s story and my own. I suspect also that many others present will find connections too.
We are currently thinking about the stories that have been coming out from women, and some men too, of sexual abuse. The truth has been hidden for many years, and I’m sure there are still many untold stories. But the truth is still there, told or untold, and both the abused ones, and those who did the abuse, know the truth of it.
If you have a story, please don’t hold it inside yourself, festering, rotting your mental health, blinding you to your true worth. We are not to blame, us victims. The ones to blame are the perpetrators, the men, and yes, sometimes women, who abused vulnerable victims, and who in many cases, escaped from prosecution, for a variety of reasons.
Even if your own story is decades old, it can still damage you, please seek help, talk to others, share your story, so the burden can be at least in part lifted from you. Speak to a trusted friend, your doctor, speak to someone … Or if there is no-one to speak to, you may be able to find help in creative writing, as I, and Kathy Parker, and many others have done. Creative writing is truly an aid to recovery, whether you share the words or not.
The more I wander around the online world, the more I see stories of abuse of children. Today there was a news post on the television too, talking about the amount of abuse of children in the Northern Territory. On the TV, on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations between friends, the stories of these horrendous cases of abuse are there, it’s impossible to keep away from them, unless one puts their head in the sand and refuses to look at the truth.
Telling me the offender had bad things happen to them too, as a child though, that may make me a little more inclined to give an offender some sympathy. But any adult of moderate intelligence at least, should understand the basic fact that sexually abusing children is not only an awful and disgusting thing to do, it is also against the law.
So a bad upbringing might impact on a person, in terms of what they may be willing to do. A person may have not been taught good behaviour, by the adults in their lives, but surely the education system, the media, and their peers should give them lessons in living a morally good life. If you think of children, and see them as possible sex objects, then you are not thinking the correct way about children.
Children learn their own behaviour from every thing they see and do. Adults in a child’s world all have a role in helping that child to learn. I hope all children only have good adults in their lives, teaching them good things, things that will help the child to become a good person, one who tries to do the correct and moral thing. Choices are ours to make, be a good person, be kind, help instead of hindering. It shouldn’t be that difficult to follow those guidelines.
I write about many different things, in my writerly life, some of my writings are poetry, some prose, some online, some in books, on envelopes and other stray bits of paper, some in a newsletter I am the editor of. I write about a few different things, some serious, some silly, some in between. One common theme for me though seems to be the idea that Community is a Very Good Thing!
Another blog post I wrote today, on another of my blogs is this one, where I mention various things, but end up talking about the importance of community. As a person who has been damaged in my past, but am now more focussed on the good things in my own life, I am grateful, very grateful, for the better things I have happening in my life. I have strong connections with people who share various things I care about, and am involved with.
I have a chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis, but it is manageable, and I am going well enough in my life. I know what I can do, but still push myself sometimes, to challenge my ideas about my capabilities. Some days I feel almost ‘normal’, other times I feel very much affected, but I know the damage my body has done to parts of me is helped both by my medication, and by my own body, healing itself too. I may be damaged, but I am far from being destroyed. I have family, friends, and organisations all happy to be helping me to live the healthiest and happiest life I can.
The idea of healing yourself when you are alone, is a sad one, to me, but many people try to do it that way, struggling, and feeling that is the best way to go. Strength for me, doesn’t mean fighting your way through to all that you achieve, strength can come from joint efforts, using the resources available, and working with others for a common good.
I have strong thoughts about abuse of women, and am also concerned with the awfully high number of people committing suicide. Others may call those who kill themselves cowards, but I am so sorry for anyone who thinks they have no other options available to them, but to end their life.
Can I, as an ordinary person, do anything to stop violence, and stop people from killing themselves? I don’t know. I do know that I am willing to listen to people who want to talk to me, because they are sad, lonely, feeling life can’t give them anything good. Sometimes, that can be enough to save a life.
Is that such a hard thing? To give a suffering person a little bit of your time, a non-judgemental ear, and some soothing words? That really can be enough. Life isn’t always sunshine and flowers, life can be weeds and gloom. But with a kindly attitude to life, and to people, the flowers and sunshine can win through.
Mothers Day can remind us of the times in our lives when we wanted a loving mother to hold us and comfort us, but she wasn’t there for us. Whether the reason was because she was no longer in your life, or her ‘motherly ways’ were not in evidence, your mother was unable to give us the mothering we needed when we were damaged by our abuser/s.
But even though your mother wasn’t there then, I hope you are now in a better position with your mother, or with your thoughts on how she gave you new skills, how your own abilities increased, or how other people came into your life to give you some solace in your mother’s absence. If you are a mother yourself, you know how damned hard it can be at times.
Mothers live with the pain, the panic, the joys that pregnancy and then bringing a new person into the world. Sometimes though, the joys can take a very long time to arrive, and the pain and panic seem to rule our world. I hope that you are always able to find other people who truly understand what you are going through, and who can hold you so that the crumbled pieces of yourself stay together, until the internal glue of the love you feel for your child manages to stick your pieces firmly together.
This process can take so long at times. I know I was a mother for nearly five years before I began to feel I really was nearly the mother I’d told myself I would be, while I was pregnant. I was going to be the best mother in the world. Instead, I’m a ‘near enough is good enough’ mother, and nearly twenty-five years after my son’s birth, that’s all I have to be. Perfection is overrated, and no-one can be a perfect mother, the creature doesn’t exist, I don’t think.
If we didn’t have a good, or good enough mother, that can make the whole ‘becoming a mother’ process harder, because you can’t follow what she showed you, because she didn’t herself know how to do it. If that’s the case, I hope you can find others who can show you, through how they deal with their own children, a good way to go with your own child, knowing though that each child is unique.
Loving your child, and yourself, doing the best you can, and seeking and accepting help, these things can help all of us mothers. We can join together in a band of motherhood, and be forces for good, because no-one does ‘good’ as well as a good mother does!
The ABC have put out a story on their ABC News channel, and as I was reading it, I was remembering certain things from my past, back when I too, was a young woman, trying to negotiate the twisting path of having a life, having a fun time, and being safe. The story had so many echoes happening in my mind, and it made me think, and I’ve decided to help spread the word, in the hope that good things may still come from this awful thing.
This could have been me, or you, or you. The story told here is a story no-one would ever want to be able to tell, but so many women, and some men too, could tell a similar story. Being drunk and doing reckless things are no reason you should be abused. The young man had also been drinking, that is no excuse for his behaviour, as being drunk was no excuse for hers. Being drunk may be the reason, but it isn’t an excuse.
Thinking about how this young person, Saxon Mullins, was treated, raped, it makes my heart break a little, but I am so glad that she seemingly is now seeing this as an opportunity to do some good. I’ve also been hearing on the news today that this issue of ‘consent’ is going to be looked into further and possibly be legislated on. Saxon Miullins did not consent to having sex with her abuser, she was raped. If a woman isn’t obviously keen to having sex with you, and you have sex with her anyway, you could well be raping her.
How many cases of rape are there that go unreported? Many. many more than you may realise. And never forget that a child is unable to give consent to a sexual act with an adult, no matter how keen they may be on the thought of it. Children must be protected, from others and from themselves, because that is what a good society is there to do.
This is a sad story, as I said. Please make it become a better story …
We can be damaged in our lives in many, many different ways. Sometimes the damage is external, sometimes it is internal. Nature can damage us, the crazy thoughts we have can damage us by making us not take adequate of ourselves, or convince us to damage ourselves in other ways. Other people can damage us, on purpose or accidentally.
We fall over, catch diseases, have car accidents, get sporting injuries, so many ways to be damaged. Getting over the damage, any damage, can take time. And sometimes we may not realise there is psychological damage there too, that gets missed as we concentrate on healing our physical damage. If you are healed of the physical, but are still feeling low, you must certainly look at any other ways you may be hurting.
Visiting your medical advisor is always a good idea it you are hurt. They heal our physical aches and pains, and they can point us toward the other medical people available, the ones who cure our mental ills, or at least try to. When all of this is happening, there are ways we can help ourselves, ways that are not instead of the ways provided by others, but things we can do at home, by ourselves, if and when we have quiet times.
I’m speaking here of Narrative Therapy, where we can try to write out way to wellness. I have been involved in presenting workshops in this method, as well as applying these ideas to my own mental aches and pains. I have two blogs that refer in part to some of these ideas, the first is this blog, where I refer to sexual abuse and healing from it, the second is another blog of mine, which refers to Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic illness I was diagnosed with back in 2010.
The following ideas and writing prompts are great ways to continue your journaling practice or to get yourself “unstuck” if you’re not sure what to write about next.
For instance, you could try the five writing exercises from this website
Some of my own ideas, which I have done myself, and felt good from include simply writing a list of the things I am grateful for, every day, for a while. This makes me pay better attention to my life, and opens my eyes to the good things that are out there, waiting for me to see them.
Another idea I’ve had, that I haven’t actually used yet, but am a little bit excited about, is the idea of writing a shopping list for the things I want or need for a better life. This list can be a list of real things that you can buy in a shop, like chocolate, or new curtains, or it can be a list of more metaphysical things, including perhaps ‘better ideas’, smiles from strangers, or a bank balance that never gets to zero.
Exercises like these can help us, maybe not in ways that are immediately obvious, but it ways that can assist in shifting our thoughts from constantly gloomy ones, on to more positive thoughts. What do you think? I am hoping to be working with people on these kinds of things, with the intent of helping them, as I have in the past. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them, leave a message!
I ran a beautiful poetry workshop today, one where stories were told, possibly for the first time, and fine poetry was written as well. I ran this workshop, based on the idea of using the poetry of other poets, as inspriration for our own poetry, in a variety of different ways.
This image is from the front cover of my first poetry collection, and it was a book that promoted the talk of child sexual abuse. The collection is the same name as this blog site. Talking about these things can help to bring healing to people, in knowing that are not alone in their lives, and other people have been through these kinds of terrible things too.
There were happier things talked and written about today, happy times, happy memories. It was a great session, and in the future I can see myself talking to a diverse range of people, using poetry to help people to connect more deeply with a variety of things in their lives. Creative writing brings much good!
At the session, some poets changed a few words to come up with completely different poems, some used the other poems to inspire there own poem on a similar theme, and other ways to use the words of another poet. This is certainly a workshop I would like to run again, somewhere, sometime. Prompting poetry from new poets, or new poetic forms from poets who only use only the one form, these are exciting things!
Tomorrow I’m heading off to a brand new poetry group that is being run by a friend, and that excites me too. Poetry is a fine way of connecting to hidden parts of the brain, and can create amazing things. I have been so happy to have worked with the women I was working today, and on Monday last week, and I hope we can maintain this relationship in other places soon, or the same place perhaps next year.
I strongly believe that writing about troubling things can help people who suffer, and that writing can help you to find ease in tiomes when you feel troubled. Indeed, one of the people there today spoke about this, and was glad that she has creative writing, in particular poetry to help her to get noxious thoughts out of her head.
If talk on these subjects hurts you, I sincerely hope you have people who can be there if and when you need them. Talking helps, silence or blaming from others hurts. Please seek help if you need it, no-one should suffer any further than they already have.