Telling Others About It


When you have suffered the most humiliating thing you can imagine, being sexually abused by someone, and not feeling you can tell anyone, is a terrible burden to carry. Many people – more women than men, carry this burden. But keeping it secret, and not telling others is even more damaging, in the long term.

I’m realising this, as my own abuse in the past, has memories coming back to me, and they’re not happy memories of good times drinking with friends. They are memories of unwanted sexual acts forced on me, and with me not feeling able to stop them, feeling trapped and unable to do anything other than dissociate, and hope it stops soon. That was many years ago, all of it.

Keeping on going, hiding away from the horror that had happened, starting from digital rape from a ‘friend of the family’ at the age of around seven, then various teenage years events when I was looking for love, but getting more abuse, really, I’m now understanding. It’s taken the ‘alleged’ rapes in Parliament House in Canberra, for this issue to really hit me properly, as I can see the enormity of what I suffered. Happily married for over thirty years, but with things in my head I’d gladly not have.

One thing I’ve found has helped me was writing about it, and sharing the poetry I wrote about it, another thing is gathering a group of friends who understand, because they understand, having suffered in various ways at the hands of a man, or men, too. When we get together, we don’t talk about these things non stop, or even at all, just being together is enough, safety numbers, and with a maturity and understanding that comes as we travel from young woman to mother to mature lady, to older woman.

We now dress up mostly for ourselves, and our woman friends, not for men, and if we attract the gaze of a man, we hope we can deal with it in a way that feels good, not disagreeable. But of course, men are men, and even in our older years, there are men out there who will still not keep their penis out of things … Sex still happens, sometimes, and we can all hope the only sex is consensual, but you can never be sure of that.

Talking about this things, raising awareness, teaching others, these are useful ways to discuss things with other women, and sometimes men perhaps who understand. Together one day, maybe rape will be understood as a crime against both the body of another person, and against a just society. But we are all a long way away from that point …

Who Else in Australia Is Feeling Unsettled?


The recent media attention on the rape (or ‘alleged rape’) of a young woman, and the social media storm concerning it has brought me many memories I’d though long gone, but of course, memories remain in our minds, whether or not we are consciously aware of it. And some of my memories have been coming back to me, ones I thought were ‘gone’.

They’re not, gone though, they keep hitting me, again and again. But I’ve been offering support to others on Social Media, connecting up with them, doing my best to help, if that is what it is, to show I understand, I’ve been there too. Many of us know, can we band together and really make a difference? Perhaps not, but we’ll see …

In the meantime though, I now a lot more about what the term ‘triggering’ means now, because I’m feeling it in my current feeling of being unsettled. I’m not crying, or anything, but my attention keeps getting grabbed by the media, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to my more normal things, although of course as a writer, and community member, everything in the media that’s happening, is all a part of my ‘normal things’.

But there are many of us, and my hope is that we can band together and bring good things from this feeling of ‘unsettlement’, so that justice is done, properly, at last. May we all be safe from rapists, may every child face a safe childhood, and may every workplace be free from sexual predators. I know mine weren’t, but in this day and age, with more awareness, surely it should be possible? I hope so …

Taking Care For Myself


There has been a huge media uproar in Australia this week, and I have been slavishly following it all on Social Media and television, and I found for the first time, a little of what is meant by ‘being triggered’. Going from Twitter to Facebook and back to Twitter, reading as much as I can, seeing opinions both well considered and disgustingly trashy, accusing the victim of being at fault with this, but nothing bad said against the unnamed perpetrator, it has been doing bad things to my head.

Today has been a better day for me, looking at a different kind of problem, but one I am not emotionally affected by. The Centrelink issue is sorted out, no worries about that. So now I’m glad that I can perhap head back to my ‘normal’ life, being a surviver and even a thriver, rather than a victim of sexual abuse.

When these things happen, memories come back, and while I am able to hold the thoughts at bay, things from over forty years hit me recently, something that happened I’d forgotten about, thankfully. Suddenly there it was again, in my mind, the memory of something I’d hoped was gone for good. Nothing disappears though, it seems. The memories of things both good and bad are there somewhere in our brains, and may reappear when we least want them.

I’m concentrating on good things today though, getting things done, so I can be proud of myself for dealing with the things that need to be done, and thinking about happy things to happen in my immediate future, rather than the horrid things from my distant past. Those horrid things happened, I can’t deny that, but dwelling on them will do me no good at all. Thinking about the good things though, that makes me happy and confident, and helps me to deal with minor setbacks with equanimity, as happened today with my Disability Support Payment being suspended.

It’s ‘unsupended’ now, the issue sorted out, and my usual payment will happen next week, as usual. So my more normal life, of writing, being with friends, and out in the garden (when it’s not so hot, wow she’s a hot day out there today!) Life for me feels good again, and I hope I can maintain that outlook. Feeling positive about life is so much better for me, and for all of us, to live good lives! My husband, our dog, our son, my other family, and friends, these all make me happy. Nature too, even though I’d prefer cooler weather! It IS summer …

Outside a week or so ago, by our pond, a happy space on cooler days!

Thinking about being Triggered


OK, I have to let people reading this know I am not trained counsellor or medical person in any way. The words I share here are my own, unless I give other details of whose words they are. What I base my words here are my own thoughts about my own life and what I have seen, read, and heard.

As I have stated elsewhere on this blog, I have been a victim of sexual abuse in the past, as a child and after that, as a teen, and adult. I feel my life is now safe, and I don’t have to worry so much about these matters. Except of course we all do, don’t we? There is no real way of knowing which person may or may not be a rapist …

If these words are triggering for you, please seek support.

The idea of being ‘triggered’ was far from my mind, but I have noticed that with the talk on the media recently about an alleged rape of a young woman, my brain has been focusing on the subject, to the neglect of other things that would have been more useful to get done. The TV screen was the main target of my attention, as well as the screen on my lap top and my phone, where the talk on that rape, the victim, and various political responses were my main subjects to veiw.

Fortunately, I had something completely different I had to do earlier today, and my attention has moved to other things. I feel relieved about that. Was I triggered by this talk? I don’t know, and really, stepping back and thinking about the other things in my life seem much healthier subjects to look at. I have interesting things in my life, a partner I love and trust, and family and friends who love me. I would wish the same for all.

I do realise though that the words I last wrote at this site, where I talked of stages, and the idea that I was currently far beyond being a victim, and survivor as was now a ‘thriver’, while positive and hopeful could hide the truth that that victim is still there within me, no matter how much I may recognise that I am indeed thriving in my life.

I am an active community member, a published writer, poet, and blogger, and I am increasing my community engagement by visiting a different town (Hamley Bridge in South Australia), to be the Writer-in-Residence at a cafe there – Gallery 14. This gig is going well. I bring my published books with me, and pen and paper to write on, and get free coffee! I go every Monday morning, ready to talk with anyone who’d like to chat, about my writing and my books and about anything else customers may wish to write about.

If anyone came in with sexual abuse issues, I would certainly speak with them, but it would be as a fellow sufferer, offering informal support, not professional support. But I would certainly encourage such people to seek professional help, if they needed it. Sometimes just talking about things can be a relief, other times though, more serious help can be required.

I know my writing, especially writing my poetry collection regarding my earlier sexual abuse was therapeutic for me, but just because it helped me doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for all. I am an excellent listener though, and know being able to talk about things with others who understand can be therapeutic, at times. An initial step toward professional help perhaps, once a victim feels understood, and valued as a person who deserves the help they need …

So if I, in my safe life, can be ‘triggered’ I am sure there are many other people currently in Australia remembering or still experiencing, abusive situations. I hope all can get help …

I Make My Own Labels!


I’m currently 57 years of age, looking forward to my 58th birthday in April 2021. So only just over four months. In my life, I’ve been many things, both good and bad, but the good ones a far outweigh the bad ones, these days.

Some important things, in terms of this blog site, is that I have been a victim of sexual abuse, firstly as quite a young child (at approximately 7 years old). I suffered further abuse as a teen, a young person learning about sex at the hands of adults who should have not been abusing me, because I was still underage, and so unable to legally give consent.

These things happened, I can’t change that, but what can and have changed is the name I give to myself. I was a victim of sexual abuse, then I was a survivor of sexual abuse. Neither of these titles tell the story most important to me and my life now though. I am not a downtrodden victim, I am something so much better than that, I am a survivor, and we can take that one step up too, I am thriving!

I have been down low, but I have worked through those times, both alone, and with assistance from others. Sexual abuse is a not uncommon thing, not only, but more often, happening to girls and women. Yes, men suffer from abuse, sexual and otherwise, but that is not a story for me to tell, it is their story.

One of the tools, the most important tool, that helped me bet from being a victim, to thriving, was my creative writing. From the time I wrote my first poem relating to the abuse I’d received as a child, I could feel my inner strength growing. I eventually wrote many more poems relating to sexual and other forms of abuse, and was able to get a poetry collection published, one that I have shared with many other victims of sexual abuse.

I am a Precious Gem, and I am Thriving!

This poetry collection title is “damaged children, Precious Gems” and this blog site was created with the same name to both connect with other victims of sexual abuse, and to possibly find people who would like to have a copy of the book. I still have plenty of copies left, and am planning to make 2021 the year I take my Story out into the public in a much bigger way, by doing a lot more Public Speaking.

As well as the Public Speaking, I also love presenting Creative Writing Workshops, and I know others find a sense of empowerment, by being able to write out the words that haunt them, that have been shut away in the dark corners of their mind. Writing things down are of great assistance in the healing process, and that healing can take a long time. It’s a form of grief, where the adult is grieving for the damage done to the child they were …

I have spoken about this poetry collection, and I sell copies of my book, and when I feel the need to, I am happy to give copies to those I feel a connection with, and who I feel need the book, to help them come to terms with this Victim label, and so move up to ladder from victim, to survivor, and so up to Thriver! I am involved with a group of lovely ladies, all victims of abuse, and we meet together at times, to have fun, and support each other. We are the Precious Gems, and proud to be so!

So yes, I have been a victim, but with the wonderful fulfilling life I now have, with family and friends who love and care about me, I make my own labels, Writer, Poet, Good Person, Thriver, and Proud Precious Gem!

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 …