Thank you for coming to this page. Some are surprised that the subject of childhood abuse comes up on a site that is supposedly dedicated to addiction recovery. However, some 2 out of 3 individuals being treated for addiction have histories that include childhood abuse. It is just too prevalent to ignore. And yes, even in the LDS culture.
I saw a 38 year old woman in my office recently whom had told only one other person of the awful hell of her childhood sexual abuse. She could not yet speak directly of it. Tears and the remembered fear overwhelmed her. She was nearly unconsolable. Such is our condition in the beginning. She is so not alone in the world. All forms of childhood abuse are present daily around us. Sexual abuse alone touches one in four girls and one in six boys. The damage can be profound. (Please see ksl.com’s story: My Story; The pedophile, the child and me.)
John Briere PhD suggests that trauma from childhood sexual abuse (and other traumas) deflect us off the normal emotional developmental line. We develop deficiencies in our emotional fabric. When we get to adulthood, we are poorly equipped for life. We struggle with relationships, anxiety, depression and fear.
We only seek to love and be loved, but our deficiencies get in the way. For example, our dysfunction might generate an urge or need that compels us to be controlling. Our goal in reality is a desperate effort to feel “safe”, truly seeking only comfort and protection, but instead our controlling behaviors create chaos and anger. While we seek only to love and be loved, we end up feeling frustrated, betrayed, unlovable and isolated. It gets to be quite a mess.
As I contemplate my own recovery from sexual abuse, I am still surprised by how little I felt the abuse had affected me. Even when my life and my relationships were in shambles, I couldn’t make the connection between my abuse and my deficiencies. I knew I was self-destructive, compulsive and had a high tolerance for inappropriate behaviors, but I didn’t understand they were connected to what my perpetrator had done to me. As my eyes began to open and I felt the beginning of healing, many emotional burdens were released. A tremendous load was lifted from me, the weight of which I had been unaware of. Life without that burden is amazingly different.
April was molested by family member for a number of years. She was a bright, attractive and talented girl. She had a wonderful testimony of the gospel and the Savior. But she also had some behaviors she didn’t want or understand. She became promiscuous, which conflicted her mightily. It went against everything she had been taught and believed. And yet when the weekend came around she would find herself acting out sexually.
April worked very hard on her healing. She read a lot about abuse recovery and was very diligent about her therapy appointments. She made a number of discoveries about how she perceived herself in light of her abuse. She realized that she felt somehow to blame for the abuse. She realized she felt like she was not a good and worthwhile person because of what had been done to her. As she confronted these issues and began to realize that when pedophiles attack it is not the fault of their victim, and that she was in fact a very worthwhile and good person, her life changed dramatically. Specifically when the weekend came around, April didn’t need to act out sexually anymore. Such is the power of healing.
One of the hallmarks of sexual abuse is that we can not ignore it. We can not just push it away, put a lid on it and pretend it never happened. It will at some point demand to be resolved and attended to. Usually by coming out “sideways.”
Claudia was 32, a beautiful, talented mother of two. She was the Young Womens President and truly loved by her girls. Her life appeared to be perfect. The perfect husband, calling and family. But Claudia had been abused sexually by her baby sitter. She was quite young and attempted to dismiss it as just a bad dream.
Then one day in Claudia’s perfect life, she could not get out of bed. Nor could she the next day, nor the next. The medical doctor found nothing physically wrong. Claudia’s abuse had come calling to be dealt with and the flood of emotions overwhelmed her.
Marilyn van Derbur, 1958′s Miss America, tells the story of her recovery from her father’s sexual violations in her book, Miss America by Day, Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love (missamericabyday.com) She says, Most people have no understanding of how complex the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can be–especially if the violator was a family member, priest, coach…trusted friend. These pedophiles weave their way into our lives. Most are charming, talented, respected family and community members. They are not the bearded, stubble faced Charles Mansons. They don’t make us hate them, they make us hate ourselves. We don’t want them in prison. We live a lifetime in a kind of prison difficult to describe.
…When I was 39 [my daughter] was turning 5, the age I was when the violations began. Her age was triggering the memories and the feelings as another part of me used every ounce of energy to repress them. This head-on-collision, this conflict resulted in physical paralysis. Her remarkable story of healing is an inspiration to all who are survivors.
We are blessed to have access to so much healing wisdom. It was not so a generation ago. If you are tired of your burden, this may be the time to let it go. You will be amazed at the help the Savior can be. The comfort and peace you can find are exquisite. They are only truly understood by experiencing them.
Please use our site to start your journey. I invite you to “Leave a reply” and tell your story. You may be surprised at the healing power of just letting your story out. (This is a safe confidential, anonymous place.) Or ask the therapist a question, read our blogs or perhaps avail yourself of counseling. It will make a tremendous difference for you. May His blessings be with you.