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Survivors of sexual abuse - how do you deal with it?

katya

katya

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Joined
Dec 4, 2013
Messages
2,052
Location
England
I need some more coping strategies. I don't really talk about it (except with my boyfriend, who struggles to handle his own emotions so he's not really the best person to go go - no offense meant to him). I'm waiting on clinical psychology, but that'll take months to get through.

I have a really stressful job (I'm a newly qualified teacher), and some days it feels too much: I either focus on what happened to me, and then think that, if anyone at school knew, they wouldn't want me to be a teacher anyway because they'd consider me a threat to children (which I'm absolutely not); or my self-esteem is so low generally that it affects my confidence and resilience. I'm not sure if the latter is directly or indirectly to do with what happened to me; I think I've just been so worn down by it all for so long that my to-go settings include very low self-esteem.

I don't know whether to talk more openly about it, tell someone at school, keep it to myself or what.
 
Gajolene

Gajolene

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Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
7,826
Location
small town Ontario, Canada
I would keep it between you and your doctors/therapists, I think it would be better to talk here safely untill your counselling kicks in, I found in rl most people are either nasty about it or feel to awkward to talk about it. I've never had a trully understanding OH that I've been able to confide in deeply about these sensitive issues as well. I've lost jobs, family, friends, over my SA abuse history, and the subsequent PTSD I suffer now because of it, it's very painfull to go through. I had people turn of me and attack me to protect the predators as well.
I found speaking here and being able to vent and ask advice I can stay safe and anonymous for backlash and further harm over these issues rl and I am in the midst of counselling and the beginning stages of EMDR to help cope with trauma flashbacks, obsessive memory cycles of the traumas and sleep disorders for it. Hope this helps.
 
keepsafe

keepsafe

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Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Messages
13,623
It's not fair that we have to keep it a secret, but I do too apart from my therapist, doctors and social worker. I don;t think people want to know about anything like that - they don;t like it as G says it makes them feel uncomfortable, or they think we are going to turn out to be abusers ourselves, which I know I am not.

I am having therapy, although waiting to have more sessions, I have also had E.M.D.R - I think here is a good place to discuss this, without backlash, lots of people understand on here and have been through similar things. I found it to be a safe place talking to therapist. I hope you get to trust your therapist when it starts, be open and honest about your feelings so they can help you. I use a safe place, can you imagine somewhere nice/good/relaxing in your mind and then take yourself there when the pressure starts to build?

I find it hard to distract from the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. One way is to take a cold shower.

I do hope you are going to be ok

KS
xxxxx
 
S

Saranoya

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 12, 2012
Messages
152
As a general rule, I only talk to other people about what they *need* to know. And you can argue about whether anyone ever really needs to know that you have a history of abuse. Maybe your answer to that question would be no.

I guess my perspective is a little different. I'm physically disabled and epileptic. Some things (like my wheelchair) are obvious. I don't need to explain them (although sometimes, I do need to explain why I use a wheelchair despite not being completely paralyzed below the waist). But some things (like the fact that I have trouble with certain fine motor skills, that I can't write very well or for a very long time, that I can't cut a piece of paper in a straight line, or that I get tired easily even when I'm doing something physical that doesn't look like much to anyone else) aren't visible until I point them out. In some situations, I need to say: I can't do that, and here is why. Epilepsy is something that I always need to warn people about, even before it becomes an issue. If I don't, they'll panic when it happens, and that's not helping anybody (not them, but certainly not me, either).

Sometimes, someone sees a visible manifestation of my trauma detritus. I have scars on my arms. I go to no particular effort to hide them: they are a part of who I am. If someone happens to see them, so be it. If they are brave enough to ask where those scars came from, I tell the truth (that they are self-inflicted, but old). If someone touches me unprompted and I inevitably jump half a meter into the air, I ask them not to do that anymore because I generally prefer not to be touched. When I'm extremely tired and a concerned colleague asks why, I tell them I have nightmares. When I have an intrusive thought or a flashback, and someone notices and asks me what is wrong, sometimes I will even tell the truth about *that*. Depending on the person. If I don't want to say anything, then I was "just daydreaming". But I have to say that since I no longer force myself to keep my history a secret, I have almost no flashbacks anymore. I am convinced that either you decide your traumatic history is a part of your life's story like any other, and talk about it on your own terms, or you don't "allow" it to be a part of you, and then it will still be there, but force itself upon you at the most inopportune of times.

Try to let go of your doubts about this. Listen to your instincts. Follow them. Talk to the people you think you can trust. Will some of them piece things together on their own, from disparate comments like "I have nightmares" and "I don't like to be touched"? Yes, undoubtedly. But would that be so bad? You don't have to feel obligated to keep this a secret. You were traumatized by what happened in large part *because* you were never able to talk to anyone about it. Don't let that happen again.

Will some people be uncomfortable in the face of the little things you tell them? Yes, but that's inevitable. Those who were there when your trauma happened (your abuser, and maybe others?) don't *want* to hear about it. Those who weren't there can't understand it, and so they feel weird. They live in a different world. But that doesn't mean that some of them aren't willing to try. Tell them what you think they need to know. Tell them whatever it is that you think you *can* tell them, taking into account your own need to talk, as well as their ability to listen. Don't be afraid that they won't trust you with the children. They will, until you do something to prove them wrong. People trust *me* with their kids, after all. And I'm an epileptic, who may or may not be conscious at any given time.
 
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