SNAP: Stories for Living

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      In the holiday season, memories flash back from good and bad lifetime experiences. While many trivial things go unnoticed, others remind us sharply of our pain through our senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. The 'nightmare experience' of child sexual abuse is all too vivid in body memories, among other sensual traumas.

      My gratitude is to the book and workbook from:
       “The Courage To Heal, A Guide For Women Survivors of Child Sexual  Abuse.” Ellen Bass & Laura Davis, 1988 Harper & Row.
      ISBN 0-06-095066-8   (Now one version includes men also)    

      In 1988, group therapists from our domestic violence support group, noted that most of their clients also survived child sexual abuse.  They took the initiative to create an additional support group to address our incest issues.  Over months and years, other victims/survivors and I participated and painfully enabled our healing to begin and continue.

     Revelations came when there were words for my experiences, I learned that being 'up at the ceiling” was disassociation ~ a normal after effect.  I learned what multiple personality disorder evolved from. I learned that describing “butterflies in my stomach' was not what others knew as 'physical attraction,' but fear.  My connection with fearful feelings of someone I was attracted to, was learned confusion about normal sexual attraction symptoms.  No wonder I consistently became involved with abusive men.  They sensed my fear, and control was their main issue. Tragically, I thought gentle normal men were 'boring,' now I know their value was true gold.

      Through this process of “Effects: recognizing the damage; and Coping: honoring what you did to survive.” is called TAKING STOCK in the book and was the most necessary clarification for me.
(as the text book's Table Of Contents, lists in Part One.)

      One one occasion, we went outside to the back of the building where  our group met.  We (clients) were given a heavy box of old breakable plates and saucers.  One at a time, we were instructed to each take one of the plates, shout what we were angry about and throw the plate into the huge dumpster to break it.  Gingerly and self consciously we began.  Soon, our locked up anger and energy was released and we felt the empowerment of finding our voices.  I hope I am describing this emotional work accurately.  Our group was as diverse as possible, by race, age, politically liberal or conservative, introverts and extroverts. Gratefully, we came together in a sisterhood, crying, laughing and hugging one another.

      On yet another occasion, we took a field trip to the woods and threw eggs at rocks into the river, shouting specifics louder than before. We surprised ourselves when we began cheering for each other.  We had become cheerleaders for one another on our healing journey from victim to survivor to celebrant. 

      The group-work and self-work was extremely intense, and we felt it 24/7, not only in an hour or two of group meetings.  Sharing our week with one another was an important beginning of every group session. We learned that our anger is the backbone of our healing.  Regaining trust in ourselves and others was a major part of the grieving and mourning.  Confronting our perpetrator was discussed at length, some did and others did not.  Disbelief of family members brought rivers of tears and rage to the surface. 

      To this day, almost twenty years later, we participate in Speak Outs at annual “Take Back The Night” vigils in our communities. We learned that indeed, God Loves You And So Do I!

Note: this story is from 2007. View other 2007 stories and 2007 voting results. View current stories.