As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), I have been searching for sometime to figure out a way to summarize the challenges survivors face. But due to the levels of pain and varieties of struggles each individual confronts, it seemed like this wasn’t possible. That is until I was watching, of all things a tv show, when I had a moment of clarity. A young lady had been kidnapped and was all alone. While listening to the dialogue of the actors and imagining how a real kidnap victim must feel it hit me like a ton of bricks…
The loneliest feeling in the world…is waiting to be found.
And there it was. My own personal struggle was wrapped up in that one, simple but excruciatingly painful statement. Survivors of CSA know this feeling. We live in constant fear of people learning what we are currently going through or have been through. We live in perpetual terror that our deepest, darkest secret will be exposed. Our fear, shame and guilt is compounded daily in our hearts, it weakens our spirits and like a weight, its sits on and sinks into our thoughts – emotionally, mentally and at times even physically. It feels like an wrecking ball holding us down, preventing us from moving, from doing anything or going anywhere.
The tv show I was watching showed the kidnap victim left to die, held down by spikes in the desert, hands and feet bound to those spikes. She was all alone, in the middle of nowhere, with no help in sight. And during this time, she had no idea if she would ever be found, or if she would die alone, with this horrific secret.
And in that story is the analogous representation of the degree of despair felt by survivors of CSA. We have that same sense of abandonment, of being all alone, all the while, we need and we want more than ANYTHING, for someone, ANYONE, to FIND OUT and to FIND US!
In its simplest terms, what we need is much like the moment a child has a parent rip off a bandage from a banged up knee or elbow. When a band-aid is pulled off it hurts like hell, but then when done, there is this immense sense of relief. And the growing sense of relief is so much more powerful than the instant moment of pain. Thats not to say we don’t get that band-aid ripped off over and over again when we relive the experience by telling our story, or testifying in court or being deposed, but by engaging on a healing path, we can find a way to move froward productively. Just as a survivor feels extreme emotional trauma in the moments/hours/days surrounding the time people learn the truth about their abuse, once the initial pain subsides, the healing can begin.
I know I have said this before, and I’ll continue to say it until there’s no breath left in my lungs. If you are or have been a victim of CSA, reach out now. You are not alone. You may have been left in the desert, but you now have people looking for you and available to help you. If not with TWH, find someone, some group, somewhere. They are all around and willing to help you. And may we all find the peace we deserve.
Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal
August 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Thank you again for another courageous post, David. May your messages touch many and give hope to those waiting.
August 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Thank you Julie for the kind words. It means more to me than I can adequately express. It’s ironic actually. I write, it’s what I do, even part of who I am, but when someone sends a warm, kind comment like yours, I basically freeze. 🙂 I know it has to do with the repercussions of CSA and my inability at times to see my own self-worth. Even though I have begun healing, and I’m light years ahead of where I was, I still have a long ways to go. But getting comments like yours really helps. So thank you, bless you and peace be with you always. 🙂
August 14, 2013 at 9:21 am
I sure understand the freezing, David. I do that too around certain topics, threads of life experience that I haven’t opened up to others much yet. Integrating all of who I am is a lifelong process, especially when some parts are still raw and bruised, but all the more reason to open them and expose them to the Light of connection with others and acceptance of (my)self. Together we heal. Thank you for shining your light on the path for others to follow and lead.
August 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm
Thank you, David, for describing the feeling so well. However, disclosure is a lot more than removing a bandage from a festering wound. At least the wound is open, but something has died within it, or has never been allowed to grow. Also, instead of cleaning the wound, people pour poison on it. Most of us are out of the fire into the frying pan as people accuse us of slandering the abusers, or deny our personhood by saying that we imagined the abuse, or abuse us again since we are branded as ‘easy marks’. However, these are always lesser traumas, and we are going in the right direction. It’s still the right thing to speak up.
August 13, 2013 at 3:32 am
I remember being as young as 5 years old and feeling such a heavy sadness that was already my constant companion. I don’t remember why I felt so sad. Fear was always there in the very fabric of my being. I was so used to it but turned off the awareness of that fear until one night when I was 19, just shortly before I left home. I looked fear in the face that night and realized it was always a part of my childhood.
August 14, 2013 at 1:01 am
Thank you patricia for expressing what so many of us feel. Thank you for your courage and strength to speak this truth that I know other survivors will relate to. And I hope above hope they see that in spite of those feelings, they too can find their own healing path. Just as we have. We don’t have a secret potion or remedy. Having known you for a little while now, I know that your healing has been and is, like mine, an ongoing process. That’s why we must keep sharing our story to as many that we can, so they too can begin to heal. Bless you.
August 13, 2013 at 10:20 am
David, you have eloquently said what so many victims of CSA experience.
What I have experienced myself, as with other survivors I’ve spoken with, is that the one who ultimately needs to find us is ourselves. Situations arise that we need a rescuer to bring us to physical safety. If still a child, we need an adult who will advocate for us and be our voice. As adult survivors, we are left with the task of “finding” ourselves…who we are after the memories have surfaced, after the outward abuse has stopped, after we have shed the betrayal, shame and guilt. There is a great reward to be had in being our own hero. We have to be able to provide what we need, and that is a learning process. It can be painful to recognize what we endured and how it affected us; but, it can also be a journey of excitement and self-definition, driven by a source of strength known only to survivors of sexual abuse. We are strong, capable, and competent individuals. 🙂
Thank you, David, for your post.
August 14, 2013 at 12:55 am
Thank you Yvonne for pointing out an insightful truth. As survivors we are the ones that ultimately have to find our voice and ourselves. It usually takes the help of others, whether it’s a friend, family member, therapist, support group, etc. But in the end we do need to find ourselves. It can be a challenge since we’ve felt so alone and lost for so long, but as survivors we can say, it is possible. And that’s why we do what we do…to help our fellow survivors find their own path to hope and healing. Blessings and peace to you my friend.
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August 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm
Thank you for sharing your story and insightful view of what other survivors have and might still be going through.
August 14, 2013 at 1:02 am
Thank you nicole, I’m just trying to help my fellow survivors any way I can. Please share this with anyone who might be struggling and let them know help, hope and healing is available to them.
August 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm
A great ahah moment for a writer and survivor.
August 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm
The perfect way to summarize it 🙂
August 15, 2013 at 11:25 am
After years aof abuse I feel more free of the abuse than ever. It has been a long long struggle.
People would pretend to be my friend and take advantage of my healing process by adding more hurt into my life.
There are no words to
describe my pain
explain how I feel.
Tell you I’m hurting
There are no feelings
left in my body
they all left
The day you hurt me.
There are no tears
to be shed
because there are
No words inside me.
No words only numbness
Feelings severed from my body
Ripped from my soul
By your bare hands.
By Michael Joseph Kullik
This poem was written for the book “In Cabin Six”, I wrote it in 1995 and Jill Kuhn finally got the book published in 2000. It took 5 years for her to get it published, and I am glad she did.
One of the only books I know of art and poetry by men who were sexually abused.
We all go through many things. Men have few places to turn. Especially in the 60s when I was first hurt. I do think it has gotten better. Many men and boys who have been hurt are out there.
It helps knowing we are not alone.
August 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Michael, let me first say thank you for sharing your poetry with us. They express the pain and despair so many of us as survivors of CSA experienced. Let me say thank you also for your courage in speaking out about what I know all to well is painful to write about. I know because it’s what I do.
It started off as a way to help myself with my own healing journey, but I was asked by several others to begin sharing. And so I did, and here we are. I know that your words will help others because some people aren’t able to put into words their struggle and they appreciate more than you know when you do.
And you’re right, for a very long time there was little to no help for male survivors and only slightly more for women. Thankfully things are beginning to change. With organizations like Together We Heal, NAASCA, The Lamplighters, etc., more men and women are finding the hope and healing they need.
Please don’t ever hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or pass along my contact info to anyone you know in need. That’s why we exist, to help those that don’t have the means to help themselves.
Thank you again for sharing and may peace he with you.
August 19, 2013 at 11:33 pm
Awesome, just absolutely awesome way to express the feeling. As I look back on my days of being a kid trapped and doing everything I could think of to show everybody something was wrong but with no one noticing. I always thought about it as “Hiding In Plain Sight”. Even as everyone in your life was scratching their head trying to figure out why you had such a personality change, that is if they even noticed, you fall further into accepting the fact that this is your life and it isn’t going to change. It never entered my mind as that small little boy to just cry out and shout “Here, over here. Here I am. Someone is hurting me”.
August 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm
Reblogged this on Onlybythegraceofgod's Blog.
August 23, 2013 at 4:12 am
Thank you so much for your kind words, for sharing your own story and for sharing this one with others. Together we can truly heal. Please let me know if we can ever be of assistance or work together in any way to help our fellow survivors. Peace be with you always. David
September 1, 2013 at 10:32 am
This is so incredibly true. Over the many years of abuse, I experienced the strange emotional contradiction of both “knowing” that I had to keep this foulsome secret…and wanting so very desperately for someone, anyone to notice and ask. It wasn’t til I was 21 that I’d told someone outside the family what happened, and to this day he’s still the only one who knows.
Blogging has definitely helped though. I don’t feel like I can talk about this with anyone else I know in real life, but putting my experiences into written word on the internet under a username is very therapeutic. I only hope that others read what I put out, and take comfort in the fact they are not truly alone in this.
September 1, 2013 at 10:39 am
I know exactly what you mean. That’s how this site and our services for survivors began…as a simple little blog that was my way of trying to figure a way to help myself work through the pain and find a way to heal. And now we are where we are and hoping to help more survivors any way we can. Peace be with you always.
October 7, 2013 at 11:55 am
You did a good job on the article. For when survivors find themselves alone, unappreciated, misunderstood, and unloved, they have a tendency to accept love offered, which may not be conducive to a healthy relationship. That is why it is crucial for survivors to ban together and support one another. Keep up the good work my friend.
October 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm
Thanks so much Connie! I genuinely appreciate the kind words and encouragement! 🙂 just trying to do all I can to help my fellow survivors 🙂
November 8, 2013 at 11:04 pm
Great post. I love it so much. Yes we have all felt all alone in our pain. That was such a huge part of my life for so long, but finding other survivors for love, care, and support has changed my life and helped me so much in my healing. Wise words. Thanks. 🙂
Good and healing thoughts to you.