Victim to Survivor to Thriver


When a person, male or female, has been abused sexually they may well, and quite rightly, claim the label of ‘victim of sexual abuse’. The abuse happened and it happened to them, therefore, they are the victim of it.

But once the initiating event or events are over, there comes a time to remove the ‘victim’ label and affix a new label, one that is truer to what is going on in their life now, rather that what has happened to them in the past.

These are not easy things to think on, sexual abuse and the trauma of it are not easy things to have lived through, there is no denying that. But living a life of a victim, always and forever, that is not a good life to live.

Being a survivor, that is a possible new label to think on, and explore. I have been a victim of sexual abuse, I can certainly admit to that. And for a while, as a younger person, I certainly acted in ways that could be ascribed to the actions of a victim of sexual abuse, even though I had not admitted to anyone else, the abuse I had suffered.

But I was fortunate, my life continued going on, my initial abuser was no longer in the same position in my life, and I was able to escape from any possible further abuse, even though there was no declaration of what had been done to me. There were a few further incidents, when I was in my teenage years, that would probably be classified and sexual assault, but again they were not declared to others.

My life kept on going, as I moved on from young adult, to girlfriend, and further to who I am now. I have written about these events, using poetry to explore what life had been for me regarding the abuse, and eventually publishing a poetry collection, an uplifting moment for sure. I was definitely WAS but am NOT now a victim of sexual assault anymore. I am a survivor from sexual assault, and could even, these days, wear the label of a thriver.

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Tell it to the sky …

Sexual assault was done to me, it was not my fault, I know this and am able to blame the correct persons, the abusers, as the ones who were at fault. And even though none of these people have suffered from what happened, I still feel vindicated, merely because I am the one who survived, and am now blooming in my middle age, with a great life filled with love and understanding from those who know me, and the few who know more details of my ‘victimhood’.

I live a good life, with involvement in many things in my community. I feel competent and capable, and I am doing things to help other people, and so helping myself too. If I had held to a label of ‘victim’ my life would be far lesser than it is now, nearly fifty years on from my initial abuse. I have lived through it, and gained much strength through my increasing understanding of what life should be, can be, and indeed is, for me.

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Holding to the ‘victim’ label is never going to give anyone their best life, it will hold them back in a variety of ways. If you can find ways to look at your life, and see that you are in fact at least a survivor, if not a thriver, then I congratulate you and welcome you to the possibility of a good life, a far better one than you may have as a ‘victim’.

I’m not pointing any finger of blame at those who still feel like they are victims from what has happened to them. I don’t know the circumstances of what happened to you, and realise that only you know how you feel. I simply say to you, that I feel your pain, and hope you can find a way to stop being that victim, and begin to move toward being a survivor.

Counselling can help, talking with those who understand can help too. Realising the truth of what happened, and properly laying the blame at the the abuser, and not yourself can help. I certainly found creative writing, especially writing poetry about my thoughts, and what happened helped me to reach the truth of it all. I encourage all, to use creative writing, whenever troubled times hit you. It helps to sort things out, and you can better reach a better place in your thought process, and in your life …

If these words feel troubling, please seek help, https://www.1800respect.org.au/help-and-support/telephone-and-online-counselling

 

‘Getting Over It’ May Take a Lifetime


People who have suffered abuse can’t simply snap their fingers and be ‘over’ the effects of the abuse. And the effects of child abuse, whatever kind of abuse it was, can continue into adult life, and possibly be there for all of an abused person’s life.

Whether physical, emotional or sexual, abuse is damaging and is never something you can easily recover from. Even if you think you have recovered, and have a life that is going well, after effects can come up when you aren’t expecting them too, and the painful memories of it can hit you again.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is what you are dealing with, and it is not a simple thing, ever. If you have suffered from a life-harming event that happened in the past, that still intrudes on you, with memories, flashbacks, sleep problems at night, and other related incidents, you may be suffering with PTSD.

If you think you are over the event that affected you in your past, and think you’re over it, but still have some troubling times, sometimes writing about it can bring a sense of healing. It won’t do the job of a professional therapist, but it may still be a way to assist you through to a better understanding, and acceptance.

Your own narrative, your story, where you write about how you feel about what happened to you, and how you have been able to come to terms with what it was, this is a great way to help yourself. If you can write about things, thinking about them, and their effects on you, this is a way to begin your narrative healing process.

fb_img_6091998978731855839Sharing your story with others who understand, that helps to, helps both you and the person you’re sharing your story with. There are so many of us, living lives of healing, or not healing, in various ways. Knowing you are not to blame, and also that you are not alone, but are part of a tribe of damaged ones, all healing in our own time, this can be therapeutic, to some extent.

But if you are getting messages from others or, thinking the same thing about yourself too, that you should ‘be over it’ by now, this won’t be useful at all. PTSD is a big thing that happened to you, and getting from damaged, to haled, this is a kind of grief, when you are grieving for the unharmed ‘you’ that you’d been previously.

And grief, whether over the death of a loved one, or the death of your previous self, that takes its own time, and there is no prediction on how long the healing process may take. Being told to ‘get over it’ certainly won’t help. Writing about it definitely might help though.

Life can be made up of a lot of moments that damage you, and finding better ways to live instead of living in utter despair can be a lifelong commitment, but it may be the only way you can live a life worth living, and that is surely what all of us should be struggling to do. Life has good moments too, and they can help you to keep on going. Writing about them too, can help you – reflecting on things to be grateful for is a task that can help you in your narrative healing. Gratitude is a fine attitude to hold onto.

When or if you write about things to be grateful for in your life, things can begin to look better, less dark. If you can’t find a single thing in your life to be grateful for, it is time to definitely find professional help. Birds, pets, friends, family, sunshine, rainbows, Nature, flowers, these are things I often begin my things to be grateful for list, if I’m in the need of a reminder. imag0572_1

I have a good life, free of abuse, with much love in it. I have my husband, son, mother, who I either live with, or see regularly. I am certainly grateful for their part in my life. They don’t know the full details of the sexual abuse I have suffered in my life as a younger person, before I began the relationship with my now husband of 33 years. I don’t feel any need to share these things with them.

If I was talking to other victims of sexual abuse though, I may well refer back to the worse things in my life, if appropriate. It isn’t a thing to mention, unless it was completely relevant to the discussion. Life is a winding twisting thing, and having control of it, means you may be regarded as a mentor, and inspiration, and if telling your sad and sordid story of your previous life can help someone to see that life can get better, then it is surely worth the telling?

I’m interested to hear the thoughts of other people regarding any of the things I have mentioned in this blog post. Be at peace, life can be good …

Not a Victim …


When a person, male or female, has been abused sexually they may well, and quite rightly, claim the label of ‘victim of sexual abuse’. The abuse happened and it happened to them, therefore, they are the victim of it.

But once the initiating event or events are over, there comes a time to remove the ‘victim’ label and affix a new label, one that is truer to what is going on in their life now, rather that what has happened to them in the past.

These are not easy things to think on, sexual abuse and the trauma of it are not easy things to have lived through, there is no denying that. But living a life of a victim, always and forever, that is not a good life to live.

Being a survivor, that is a possible new label to think on, and explore. I have been a victim of sexual abuse, I can certainly admit to that. And for a while, as a younger person, I certainly acted in ways that could be ascribed to the actions of a victim of sexual abuse, even though I had not admitted to anyone else, the abuse I had suffered.

But I was fortunate, my life continued going on, my initial abuser was no longer in the same position in my life, and I was able to escape from any possible further abuse, even though there was no declaration of what had been done to me. There were a few further incidents, when I was in my teenage years, that would probably be classified and sexual assault, but again they were not declared to others.

My life kept one going, as I moved on from young adult, to girlfriend, and further to who I am now. I have written about these events, using poetry to explore what life had been for me regarding the abuse, and eventually publishing a poetry collection, an uplifting moment for sure. I was definitely NOT and am NOT a victim of sexual assault anymore. I am a survivor from sexual assault, and could even, these days, wear the label of a thriver.

I found much strength in writing about my abuse, with poetry. Telling my story was a way for me to look squarely at what had happened, and, with therapy in a group, as well as my own writing, I found the truth of where I was going, no longer a victim, but a survivor.

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Sexual assault was done to me, it was not my fault, I know this and am able to blame the correct persons, the abusers, as the ones who were at fault. And even though none of these people have suffered from what happened, I still feel vindicated, because I am the one who survived, and am now blooming in my middle age, with a great life filled with love and understanding from those who know me, and the few who know more details of my ‘victimhood’.

I live a good life, with involvement in many things in my community. I feel competent and capable, and I am doing things to help other people, and so helping myself too. If I had held to a label of ‘victim’ my life would be far lesser than it is now, fifty or so from my initial abuse. I have lived through it, and gained much strength through my increasing understandings of what life should be, can be, and indeed is, for me.

Holding to the ‘victim’ label is never going to give anyone their best life, it will hold them back in a variety of ways. If you can find ways to look at your life, and see that you are in fact at least a survivor, if not a thriver, then I congratulate you and welcome you to the possibility of a good life, a far better one than you may have as a ‘victim’.

Forgiveness is Divine?


Forgiveness is Divine? Really? When you are wronged by another, sure, we’re supposed to forgive and forget, but that idea is one that can never come easily, especially when the one who offended against you, is getting away with horrendous behaviour.

This article talks about the concept, and explains how the concept of forgiving, especially forgiving by women of the men. The women are labelled, shamed, and spoken of in derogatory ways, because of the fact they haven’t seen to do the ‘correct thing’ and forgive those wrongdoer/s.

The Bible contains much on the idea of forgiveness, with much of it talking about God forgiving us of our sins, if we can forgive those who sin against us. This is a long row to hoe, in my opinion, but further study has indicated what forgiveness doesn’t entail, and that made it all seem a little easier to swallow.

Forgiveness of the one who acted against you, doesn’t mean condoning their behaviour. In Judaism there is talk of no need for forgiveness if there is no repentance shown by the offender. I’m OK with that idea, because I think that trying to forgive someone who shows no repentance would feel, does feel, impossible

I am appalled at the way that women have been labelled as crazy, a bitch, for failing to forgive those who ‘sin’ against them. To do that takes an enormous level of faith that God will ultimately make it all good, forgiving your sins if you forgive the sins of others. This is all very well for those people who deeply believe in God, and feel that God will deal with those awful ones who have done terrible things. The idea is irrelevant to those who don’t believe in God, of course.

When considering this thing from the Stoic point of view, then you should automatically give forgiveness, in this case, whether there is any repentance or not, because obviously the wrongdoer is lacking in enough wisdom to realise their error. And the gaining of wisdom, is up to the person themselves, not to you. Move on from them, after forgiving them, and continue with your life, leaving anger and other negative emotions behind.

I am new to the ideas of Stoicism, and will think about this idea of forgiveness, as it applies to me, but I realise that I cannot tell others how they should act, what they should do. It is up to all to decide on how to act when important issues are at hand. I will endeavour to act in the way that most follows Stoic thought, but as I indicated, I am new to all of this ‘Stoic stuff’ …

Who Will Protect the Vulnerable?


When I heard of the killing of a young woman in Victoria today, I was sad, but when I further read that it appears she was the fourth such victim there recently, I began to get angry. This young woman,  Courtney Herron, has had a tough life, but that doesn’t mean she deserves what happened to her. No-one deserves to be brutally beaten to death. The fact that she appears not to have been sexually abused does not make her death “ok”, it is still a terrible tragedy.

Living away from a safe and steady home is an unsafe life. This seems to have been Ms Herron’s situation, but this still does not mean her murder was less tragic than the murder of anyone else. All people deserve to be well treated in their lives, men, women and children, from all ‘classes’ life.

Homelessness is an ongoing issue – homes are left unlived in, rents rise, and benefits for society’s most vulnerable people stay low, so the housing that is there and available, remains out of their reach. Society is failing vulnerable people in many ways, and not enough is being done to remedy these issues.

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I am simply one person, not on any formal position, but a person still who cares, and is able to raise concerns, in the hope that my words may be read, thought on, and reacted to. Women and children are abused, men also get bashed and killed, this is a fact, but just because it is a fact, that doesn’t mean we can shrug our shoulders.

One day, will people be safe to be outside at night, or will we always be at risk? To say a woman shouldn’t be out at night is a nonsense, if you have no home to go to, how on earth does a woman stay out of sight? And if anyone feels it’s the woman’s fault for being out, I say NO! It is the fault of the person who brutally bashed the woman, there are no excuses ever.

 

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Attacks such as this one, go well beyond anyone could ever claim was ‘self defense’, and is far more likely to have been committed by a man and not a woman, although the fact of no sexual abuse may negate that thought. I don’t know the truth of all of what happened on this occasion, the police have the evidence and expertise, not me.

I am just sad to see yet another person die, someone who has suffered in life, and suffered even more in death. To say her suffering is over now means nothing, because now that she is dead, she will never have the chance to begin to live a better life, to meet or even to think about, any possible higher goals.

I am a deep believer in the idea that all of us are on a life-journey to live the best life possible to us, and seeing people who are unable to even begin to think on such thoughts saddens me. Having the gift of life, living in this wonderful country of Australia, these mean much is possible to us, but these can so easily be wasted, by our own inaction, or brutally trashed by the actions of others.

Is this a feminist issue? Should anyone who calls themselves a feminist sleep easy, knowing another woman has been the victim, seemingly, of the violence of a man? Gendered crime is a real thing, the beating to death of a woman, was that an angry act against feminism? Men who feel woman are nothing, and it’s alright to beat them to death, these are the kinds of people unlikely to ever think feminism is anything to celebrate.

 

What can be done to connect with such people? Can their minds be turned around, so they feel differently, and begin to value the lives of all? I hope so, but need to know more. Am I merely a lone voice, lamenting such matters? I hope not. Will you join me, and share your words and thoughts about these tragic events? Hope you might …

This is Molly, a Story …


I had an idea yesterday, and I’m exploring it a little further, looking for the best place and way to best use that story. I suddenly realised, just now, that this website might be the most suitable place to use the idea.

I hope that once I finish this story of Molly, it will have a happy ending, but for many vulnerable people, women and girls like Molly, there is no happy ending for them, even in death. Dying is never a happy ending, and surely in a society with as many resources as we have in Australia, and other, similar countries, people like Molly should be able to get the help they need?

 

If you know why Molly doesn’t smile, and are living the same sad and dangerous life that Molly lives, please seek help. The numbers here are a good place to go for help. No-one should have to live with abuse, not at home, not when out.

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I have done a few “This is Molly” pieces, and put the first two on my writer website/blog. Feel free to have a look, and leave a comment there, or here if you wish to. I can’t help financially, but I will read what you write, and will respond thoughtfully.

No-one should ever have to live through terrible things, and not have anyone who will at least be there to hear their story, and respond with compassion, empathy, and belief. Listening with empathy, responding with belief and compassion, these are abilities of most people, if they think properly about the person who is talking to them.

 

Many Kinds of Violence


I was reading this article

‘It’s a man’s problem’: Patrick Stewart and the men fighting to end domestic violence

today, and it got me thinking, again, on the subject of violence to vulnerable others. It isn’t always men who are attacking, raping, killing, but it is certainly men acting in these  ways more often than women.

Women do attack others, physically, emotionally, financially, yes, but the truth is that both physical and other forms of violence are more often committed by men. If you’re a man, and have been attacked by a woman, I am sorry for you. I wish no-one ever experienced violence of any kind.

It is a fact of life though, that those with power will always attack the vulnerable, and the ‘vulnerable’ are more likely to be women and children. Men tend to be the ones more ‘in power’ over the weaker people in the world.

If you experience any violence from someone then you must find a way to find help. Talk to others you trust, go to the police (if it is safe to do so), find help wherever you can. If you witness this kind of violence, offer help to the person being attacked, merely being there can help. Keep yourself safe, though.

Of course, young children can be victims of abuse, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually, abused. This is a terrible thing that our society must fight against, and we must be prepared to help if and when it happens and we hear about it. If a person knows but does nothing, they are throwing the abused person to the wolves, and surely no-one wants to do that.

 

Damage Takes Many Forms


In Australia at the moment, there has been a lot of talk about sexual abuse, particularly abuse by a high-profile religious person, Cardinal George Pell. The abuse happened many years ago, but the repercussions of that abuse are still happening. A man has had details of the abuse done to him put ‘out there’ in public, another man has committed suicide.

Institutional Child Sexual Abuse has had a higher profile in Australia and beyond, since the Gillard government held a royal commission into this in 2012. Many politicians gave support to this and many stories were shared, perhaps for the first time, for many.

To have these kinds of things in the media again, will bring out more stories, more memories for those who have been victims of sexual abuse, whether as a child, or adult, and whether in an institution, or somewhere else. Sex abuse is one of the most profound abuses a person can receive, when their own body is invaded against their will …

I feel for all of us who are thinking about, or struggling not to think about our own circumstances. These things cause trauma to our bodies, stresses from what has happened, and what else could possibly happen cause further damage, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is a not an unusual result.

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May there be blue skies, and flowers for every victim, and may their life become a flourishing happy space to be in.

I have found happiness, in a successful marriage of over thirty years, and in the various connections I have made with many wonderful people through some of the things I am involved with, out in my various communities. I don’t hide away from the bad that has been in my life, instead I have shared my tale, but it has taken me all of my married years and the years before that, to get to my level of peace.

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Books and writing have certainly helped me through the saddest parts of my life, and I am still finding good things in my life, through the written word, in my published books, and the books I am continuing to write, and I hope, have published. Life is a journey, with many roads and paths, some good roads, some dead ends, some paths leading to beautiful places. I take many roads, and have seen many lovely things!

When Those We Trusted Went Bad


Sexual abuse of children by adults has happened many times, probably always. But certainly these days, society makes an effort to try to keep children safe from those who would cause them sexual harm.

Today, a man who many people trusted, has been charged for actions he took many years ago, that broke that trust. Cardinal Pell, of the Catholic Church, is in the process of getting he deserved, for going evil things to boys who certainly did not deserve to be shamefully treated the way they were.

The person whose words I heard spoken earlier today, apparently is still a believer in God, and is still a member of the Catholic Church, not blaming that church for what happened, but blaming just the person who was the one who did the acts, from which he still suffers. Having your trust broken, can do untold psychological damage, and also physiological damage …

Children should always be allowed to grow, undamaged, and with every possible effort given, to assist them so they can reach their full potential. I wonder how many such damaged people there are, out there in the world, still trying to find ways to live a good and decent life, after having had unspeakable things done to them, when they were far too young to be able to help themselves, and recover. And how many abusers are out there, who will never be found, so never receive the punishment they deserve.

I am not a religious person, but even so, I can see that religious people certainly put their trust in the people who lead them, and to have that trust broken, that must surely hurt? I hope that everyone involved in this, can find helpful ways to get through it all, I really do.

Ways We Harm Children


  • Every time we tell a child to sit down and wait, and then ignore them, we are damaging that child.
  • Every time we promise a child something we know we cannot give them we are damaging that child.
  • Every time we favour our own wants over those of a child, we are damaging that child.
  • Every time we favour someone else’s child over our own, we are damaging that child.
  • Every time we leave our child with someone else when we go to something interesting, that they would have been capable of doing, viewing, seeing, too, we are damaging that child.
  • There are other ways, but I expect you have understood what I am saying here – our children deserve every good experience we can give them, so they can grow and learn to be good and resilient people. Because no parent is perfect, no matter how hard they try, but working through their imperfect upbringing is one of the tools our children can and will use, to become that resilient we want them to be, for their own good, for all of us who will ever come into contact with that child, all through their life.

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Because you know what, it’s true – Those damaged children can still learn, and grow, and become fine people, if they can get the love and attention they need, sometimes, from someone. If you are a parent, and you want your child to be the best they can be, for themselves, and yes, and for you, their parent too, do them a favour, do society a favour, and pay attention to your child, as much and as often as you can.

Children learn things in a vast number of different ways. They learn by seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, but also but less obvious ways, and they are sensing things and learning things, every single day. They copy, they try things out, they practice, they experiment – if they see you doing something, you’d do best to make sure it’s something you’ll feel OK if they do the same thing, because they will do it.

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Can you blame them? Parents and other relevant adults in a child’s life are those they will learn from, as well of course as television and other forms of media, and from their friends, and everyone else they see. If you want your child to read books, make sure they see you reading books, read to them, give them books, take them to libraries! If you want them to eat good food, do the same yourself, and have good and nutritious food available for them.

Take your child for walks, visit museums and art galleries, try out things with your child – horse riding, kite flying, gardening, mountain climbing, watching sport, taking part in sport, everything and anything, if you do it with your child, they will learn as you both learn, strengthening themselves as you strengthen your relationship with your child.