Lack of Child Abuse Resources for Survivors

by Tracy
(Canada)

I have been in therapy many times over the years and no one has been able to help me with my haunted past. I have had a number of traumatic experiences in my adult life since leaving my childhood home where the initial abuse happened and the later experiences have created further problems for me. It seems the cycle can never be broken. I can go along quite well for awhile in my daily living but as soon as something comes along to cause me any kind of internalized anxiety or stress, I become immediately incapable of coping and start a desperate search inside myself for any means of relief. This in turn creates a great rage within because I feel so helpless to fix myself.


If I have done my research correctly, I appear to suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a disorder that is different from simple PTSD and I think that is why I have never been properly diagnosed; most therapists are familiar with the latter, but less so the former. Case in point: I went to a therapist who specialized in PTSD and she told me I do not suffer from it. But if I look at the "Complex" version of this disorder, which is a relatively new concept, the pieces all fall into place for me. The key is that the trauma suffered in Complex PTSD happens over a prolonged period of time (eg. prolonged periods of abuse by a parent over the course of one's childhood) rather than a spiked period of trauma which more closely defines the classical definition of PTSD (e.g. Fire, death of spouse, war, etc.). It is very frustrating to have to rely on professionals in the field of psychology who allow themselves to become fixed in their concepts and diagnoses of mental illness. They must learn to keep themselves open to new ideas. We are a constantly evolving species and we certainly don't as yet have all the answers to the internal workings of the human mind.

Here is another example to prove my point. A number of years ago I went to a (different) therapist for treatment after leaving my job on stress leave. After a number of weeks of treatment, she told me if I didn't get better soon, I would be accused by my employer of "malingering" (i.e. "faking it"). Because I did not want my employer to have this perception of me, I went on medication that did nothing but fog up my brain so I could be "cured" enough to return to work. My employer forced me to take a demotion as a term of re-employment and then, almost one year to the date of my return to work, I was let go from my position under the guise of redundancy. So the answer to my trauma was more trauma. Since that happened to me more than six years ago I have been unable to secure permanent full-time work. My confidence in myself was destroyed.

A Video Reading by Darlene BarriereNote from Darlene: The volume of contributor submissions has now made it impossible for me to comment personally (especially in great detail) on each and every contribution. If I haven't left you a comment or one that is in-depth, please do not take my lack of a personal response as a slight, or as a statement that your story is somehow unworthy of my time. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could be further from the truth. If there was a way for me to respond to all of you at length, I would.

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Comments for Lack of Child Abuse Resources for Survivors

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Mar 15, 2009
Part 1: Not all therapists are created equally...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Tracy, you bring up some good points about diagnoses, and the way in which they are arrived at. I believe ALL professions in the field of psychology/psychiatry need to keep more of an open mind when it comes to mental illness. They must also stay up to date, which many of them do not. But I would be remiss if I didn't caution about self-diagnosis, be it for a physical or mental ailment. We don't know what we don't know. We only know what we see on the Internet and perhaps in books. And please, don't misunderstand; I'm not saying that you do or do not suffer from the "Complex" of the traumatic stress disorders. What I do believe, however, is in treating the symptoms; not necessarily the diagnosis. I have several family members and friends who have been diagnosed and treated for PTSD caused by long-term child abuse. So perhaps there is a bias among some professionals when it comes to this pervasive disorder. Perhaps you were dealing with such a biased professional.

I cannot speak to your particular case, Tracy. What I can say is that the right therapist can do wonders. The wrong therapist can do harm. You're living proof of that. When it comes to our mental health, we must be our own advocates (more on this in Part 2 below) or find someone who can help us with advocacy.

Thank you for sharing your point of view with my visitors and me. And I do hope you will find your path toward healing and recovery.

See Part 2: In response to your additional comments... below.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Mar 15, 2009
Part 2: In response to your additional comments...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Tracy, you wrote: "In looking around your site I have discovered you don't like to publish stories that shine a bad light on therapists, so you may not want to post my blog entry anywhere. That is okay if you don't want to. I just find that I am very frustrated with the lack of proper resources for victims like myself who, one the one hand, may look and act normal in most respects but, on the other hand, are so shredded up inside that we are actually verging on total debilitation and yet no one can seem to connect the dots."

I believe your comment (moved to above) was spurred by a comment I left on one of Haley's posts some time ago. What I was trying to get across in that comment was that I would not allow my site to become a place where it was open season on therapists. I still won't allow that, and I never will. If a person has a problem with a particular therapist, then that person needs to address it with that therapist; and if it cannot be resolved, then it's time to move on.

Not all therapists are created equally. As clients, we have no way of knowing how well they did in their education; no access to their marks; no way to tell if they are biased or not, etc. That is, until we either interview them or actually begin our sessions with them. Trust is critical to the success of any therapy process; without it, there will likely be no progress. But clients must be proactive in their own treatment, as difficult as that can be when that client is already in a depressed or despairing state of mind. The paradox is not lost on me; we as clients have to trust the pros know what they are doing. After all, they are the professionals. However, I believe that if a person is of sound enough mind to recognize they need therapy in the first place, then they can recognize when something isn't right within the process. Yes, there are elements to therapy that are grueling and perhaps even extremely uncomfortable; but it is up to the therapist to create a safe environment within the process. And yes, there is a power thing involved, since the therapist is in a position of trust. If the power of that trust is misused, then it can have severe repercussions on the client. That's why it's so important to also have outside support in tandem with therapy sessions.

Again, Tracy, thank you for the post. I do hope you find the path for yourself, the path that will lead you to healing and recovery.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Mar 15, 2009
therapists are very neccessary
by: Maurice1

there important in a world that has become inundated with the millions of Child Abuse Cases coming into the world arena from every small area of the world. Whether it is my small cottage in the rural part of Ireland or mansions.houses in Aerica/Africa/New Zealand/England wherever in the world. Human Natue is the same the world over.We will never have enough therapists to cope with the amount. Human Nature has it's own mechanism to cope though because 80% of family life is proving to be the winner in loving, caring, and valueing the individual. The Family unit is still the kernal of our human society. Even Families whose parents were abused are the better for it. LOve in such families is real, natural, normal, honest, truthful creating a bond of genuine family life. So tracey be fair to yourself and think positive, act positive and be positive for your future. Let go of negativity feelings. the negative in us will bring us to our knees but we need to love. I need to love myself, and say Hi I'm Special, kick my own bottom and get on with living my life to the full.

Mar 17, 2009
Reply to Maurice
by: Anonymous

Hi Maurice, thanks for your words of encouragement. they mean a lot to me. I do want to stress though that I have tried very hard to be positive in my life and it does work for a while but then things always seem to unravel again. That is why I believe that therapy, with the right therapist, is so critical. As Darlene stated, the wrong therapist can do more harm than good and I can attest to having been guided by more than one of the wrong therapist. That is why I ultimately turn to the internet and self-diagnosis, so I can "get to the bottom of it" so to speak.

I think the best analogy I can make about a fragile psychological state is this: If I had cut my arm off at the age of five, I would have spent my whole life from that age on coping with a life where I don't have the use of that arm. No one would ever say, "pick yourself up and just get over it...start using your arm again". Well, that is perfectly impossible to do if the arm is gone. The best one can ever hope for is a method of "coping" with the lost arm. That is why I find it so hard when people say, "get on with things, lighten up, etc.". I honestly feel that there is a piece of me missing that is critical to my functioning as a contented and happy adult. It simply is not there. I therefore must find the right therapist that will help me cope with that missing piece. That missing piece has created in me a disability that is not visible to anyone but which is equally as debilitating as the loss of a limb. I hope my analogy makes sense.


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