Sanctuary and Serenity

Posts Tagged ‘abuse

Survivor Behaviours.
As a small child I invented and used a large repertoire of behaviours so I could survive my abuse.  I might have dissociated, or lived in a pretend world, or occupied my mind with triviality, like counting, or developed other personalities, and most likely buried any awkward, or “unacceptable” feelings by withdrawing, or feeling rageful, or preoccupied.  These are all common behaviours and thinking patterns that my creative, inner-child created so that my unique, special spirit could somehow survive the abuse, and so I could keep up a semblance of sanity as I withstood the abuse.
These same behaviours may be preventing further healing for me.  I will need to slowly and gently give up some of them, in my own time, so I can continue to recover from the side-effects of the abuse.  I can get suggestions and help from other people, but the real changing will have to happen within me.  All I need is a willingness, some patience, and a small amount of faith.
In order to let go of the old “survivor behaviours” that are hindering me, I need to realize they were there, and be thankful, and thank my inner-child for her creativity and resourcefulness in such a time of need.  She was and is a warrior, a fighter who refused to go down, even in the most horrid situations.  She calls out to be acknowledged and honored.  I am truly in awe when I consider the determination and strength that was held in so small a being.  She is a real trooper!

A mystery is something that is a puzzle because there is no reasonable explanation for it.

DID,(Dissociative Identity Disorder),is not a puzzle in this sense – it is the most reasonable, normal and practical way of dealing with something so hard for a mind to grasp that it has to create a way to cope with and handle it.

For example, if we are standing on the sidewalk and see a car crash into another vehicle resulting in gory and massive injury to the occupants, it is perfectly normal to block the scene out of consciousness. This is a normal reaction and often happens, to refuse what the eyes are seeing and the ears are hearing because to retain such trauma consciously is too much to think about. We deny it, shut it out, block out any memory or thought of it – all these are ways our minds try to cope with something far beyond our ordinary experience.

This example is talking about a trauma that is NOT connected to us personally. Let’s bring it into the personal arena.

It is documented that the cause of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), is extreme sustained abuse ( physical, sexual, emotional and psychological , usually a combination of all four) over a prolonged period of time. Usually beginning before the age of five and often occuring in infancy.

However, DID can actually occur because of one incident, e.g. a particularly vicious rape, or finding a loved one after their murder or suicide, which, if the person’s ability to cope with such horrific events is extraordinary low, it can cause them to dissociate to forget, and the mind creates another entity, alter/part, ego state, to keep the event out of consciousness.

DID is the presence of two or more distinct personalities within one body.

I would like to add here that there is NO automatic assumption that DID crtiteria must include sexual abuse for dissociation to occur. For those who present with symptoms and behaviors of multiplicity from sustained abuse and who might be confronted with needing to admit to sexual abuse or be delegatd to a fictitious or malingering desire to be called Multiple, it behoves us as therapists to focus on what the client is telling us.

Sustained abuse of ANY kind where the severity of the abuse in a single traumatic event, and/ or the length the abuse is sustained can cause the mind to dissociate to survive and will result in multiplicity.

It does grievous disservice to those seeking help for DID , and indeed, creates a magnification of their dilemma if focus is put on one kind of abuse be it sexual trauma, criminal neglect, or emotional abuse where absence of such history would put the diagnosis in question.

When I was in practice whether the client was mulitple or mono, I was not interested in a criteria for the diagnosis. For me, good therapy is all about the CLIENT’s agenda, not the Therapist’s thoughts, preconceived ideas, stereotyping or textbook theories.
Definitely not in a label or tag plastered on by a code in the DSM IV.
What I have learned about Multiplicity has been far more from my clients and DID friends than from any text book.

My main objective in this DID section focuses on cult-related issues and healing, but we cannot afford to OMIT an equally important FACT, that DID can have its origins in non-cult, and cult- associated sexual abuse.

It is hardly a mystery, but rather very logical, that in the case of severe and unbelievable ritual abuse of a child that continues for years, in the home and/or in a cult setting of any fanatical persuasion, a young child traumatized and having noone to turn to or trust, will look for ways to stay alive psychologically, emotionally and physically.

The only safe place for the child to hide because there is nowhere that cannot be reached in the outside world is to go deep within him/herself and create a friend in thought to take his/her place during the abuse. To, in one sense, pretend, ” it isn’t happening to me, and my little friend will protect and step in for me”.

We have all at one time or another, when something momentous occurs that we simply cannot face, e.g. we lose all our possessions in a fire, or earthquake, say to ourselves, ” This isn’t happening to me” – but in fact, it IS.

I have done this more than once, it is a common phenomenon. Do we become abnormal when our experience of abuse exceeds a certain level ? Those of us who think we are normal and people with DID are in some way defective, need to search ourselves and ask what difference is there between us ? When we dissociate, as we do, in times of extreme adversity, if we bide by this concept, then we become as “abnormal” as anyone with DID – the variable being that we do not have to dissociate over a long period of time, which we would do if that is our lot. It is the time and severity that distingishes between me and my DID friend if I have one.
Let us not deceive ourselves in this and think it not so.

For the person with DID,raised in a cult environment, (satanic/sadistic abuse), not once, but over and over and over, when the body is being beaten or tortured along with verbal abuse and emotional starvation and other extremes of deprivation, or when having to witness others being treated this way, (including watching sacrificed babies, children, adults and animals), the child, and/or adult who experiences this, will, instead of saying, “This isn’t happening to me”, very creatively deal with the unthinkable by shutting down and dissociate everything from conscious thought and awareness.

In this state of dissociation, another part of him/her, takes over to be present during the abuse and the more this part does this, the more established he/she becomes as an alter personality who thinks, behaves and feels in their own individual way.

This is logical, is it not, that there would be differences in these parts or alters, because if they were exactly the same as the host, or original person, there would be no need for anyone to take their place !! Their contribution to the life and survival of the host person cannot be measured.

In my mind, people with DID are a lot more ” normal” that those of us who are monos, who deal with our traumas in most UNcreative ways.

We use denial, we repress anger/rage, hurt, pain, squash memories, lash out at others because we won’t deal with our own “stuff”, so we, instead of creating safe measures and acknowledge we have things too much for us, jump to a conclusion that anyone with DID is abnormal, and has some strange mysterious disease or condition because they ARE, in fact, dealing with extra-ordinary suffering.

The myth that no abuse is severe or extreme enough to cause a mind to fragment in dissociation is, in my mind, the worst damage done to someone with DID.

It is when we, as therapists, as relatives and friends of these normal, sane and creative people, WAKE UP to the fact that we MAKE a mystery out of normal (documented) reaction to prolonged and extreme stress, terror and trauma that we will be in the place to help and treat such folk with respect and understanding.

We will learn how wonderful is the human resilience to pain and suffering, and bring awareness to the general public in an effort to stop this vicious mirage where society thinks it sees craziness,weirdness, and unreasonable behaviors, which, if it came close enough to touch, would be as unsubstantial as a mirage. The reality, substance and TRUTH could then be embraced in such a way as to heal and give the sufferers Hope.

Retired Therapist

I Am Perfect Just as I Am.
This does not mean that I am flawless.  It means I am at a place of accepting myself right where I am.  I am where I should be.  I am not expecting myself to be somewhere or someone else.  I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
As I affirm this perfection in myself, I am accepting all of me – my inner and outer strengths, my weaknesses, my dreams and wishes, my secrets, and my past.  I am made of all of these things and I am learning to love me.
I can accept my past and my present, both, and cherish all the events that have made me me! Even the most negative experiences have given me lessons, and gifts.  My sexual abuse may have given me the gifts of compassion, perseverance, courage, and wisdom.  I am not grateful for the abuse, I am saying that I can recognize and cherish the parts of me that have kept me alive and gave me this passion to live.

My Need to Trust.
Trusting is one of the most difficult tasks I have to master.  Because of my abuse, I learned that no one could be trusted – not me, not any God, and definately not other people.  I have lived most of my life in fear, yet constantly longing to at last be able to trust someone or something.
As a child my natural instinct to trust was taken from me by my abusers.  After repeated attempts at trusting other people, I didn’t experience a feeling of safety.  People within my family were loyal only to the secret about the sexual abuse and did not provide a natural trusting environment for me.  I quickly concluded that life and the world were not safe.
I need to be most gentle and patient with my need and longing to trust while healing.  I have lived my life for so long with fear and distrust, that I need to be very patient, gentle, and slow with myself in developing this ability.
I can allow myself to take little risks in trusting as I “test the waters,” and I can notice, and appreciate my valiant efforts to change.

Nonsexual Relationships.
As a survivor of abuse, it may be hard for me to trust that my relationships with other people can be nonsexual.  I may still hang on to my child’s belief that in the end, people are only attracted to me for sexual reasons.
I can affirm my right to have nonsexual, nurturing, healthy relationships with people of both sexes by taking small risks with those people I trust.  I can look after myself by being very clear with others about my needs and my boundaries.  I can ask them to honor and respect my needs and parameters and try to trust that they are telling the truth.
There may be great pain and grief about never having this nonsexual nurturing as a child.  I can be patient and supportive with myself as I start to experience this new kind of healthy, clean, clear, and safe relationship.

I have heard many people tell me that I was strong – maybe even at times when I felt the weakest.  They were seeing the inner me – something that it is difficult for me to admit or even know of.  I learned as a survivor of abuse that I was weaker – especially weaker than the abuser.  My real gift of strength was stolen from me and has stayed hidden deep within me for years.  This source of strength carried me through horrible and sometimes life-threatening situations.  This is what other people have seen.
Once again it is my spirit within that has refused to give up, no matter what happened.  It would not die during the abuse, and it refuses even more vehemently to die now.  As I continue to choose this loving path of healing, I can have faith that my source of inner strength will continue to be there for me – even under the worst conditions. I am strong.

Loving My Inner-Child.
There have been times in my life when I’ve wished that my inner-child would be quiet or even go away.  She knows so much pain that I would sometimes rather ignore her than face the truths about my abuse.  It’s easy to love the child-within who represents joy and life.  It is much harder to love the broken child-within, she is a reminder of my pain.  Yet it is this inner-child who needs me to see her most, and believe in her, and she needs all the love and comforting I can give to her.  She needs to know that I accept her as she is – brokenness and all.
I learn to love all parts of this child by honoring all of her feelings, her deepest thoughts, and creativity.  She believed in life enough to keep going when all tried to have her give up and die.  She deserves to be heard and loved by me.