Comments for Child Abuse Story From Cassandra

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Jan 06, 2009
Guilt and shame not yours to bear...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Cassandra, being afraid to leave the safety of your home and venture out in public can make healing and recovery very difficult.

You said, "I have guilt over my abuse–I mean, I felt dirty and at times it felt good but I didn't want it. I don't know whether it would have been easier to speak of it if my body hadn't reacted physically to what was done." We'll never know about the latter; and there's very little point in even asking that question since that's not what actually happened. While I understand why you feel guilt and shame, that guilt and shame is not yours to bear. Even with girls, Cassandra, it is not uncommon to become aroused, and yes, to even orgasm when being sexually assaulted. That DOES NOT mean sexual assault didn't take place. Rather, it means your body betrayed you through the sexual assault. Keep telling yourself that.

I am concerned about your offending brothers. It is highly likely that they are still sexually offending. If they have daughters, they are at extreme risk.

As for your self-harming, the physical pain you inflict upon yourself replaces the unbearable emotional pain. It's a release of sorts. You definitely need help sorting through what you endured as a child, and what you are now doing to cope. You said you can't afford to see psychologist for a formal diagnosis; but it isn't a diagnosis that you need. Labels won't give you what you need; you need a counsellor who can help bring perspective to your life NOW and do it in a safe environment. Cassandra, all the heinous acts that were committed against you at the hands of your brothers and all the emotional abuse doled out by your mother when you were a child are over. But your thoughts are reliving them over and over again. It's your thoughts you need to deal with; a counsellor can help with that, but only if you're willing to go that route. You certainly deserve to go that route. You can't change what you feel; but when you change what you think you automatically change how you feel. You're worth those changes, Cassandra.

Thank you for sharing your story with my visitors and me.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jan 06, 2009
Responding to Darlene
by: Cassandra (OP)

'I am concerned about your offending brothers. It is highly likely that they are still sexually offending. If they have daughters, they are at extreme risk.'
I guess I'm afraid, caught up in a sort of love hate confusion with them (and with reporting them). Even now I still don't want to make waves and even now I still don't want to get them into trouble (which was something that they would repeat over and over' don't tell or we'll be in trouble').
Being bought up that family is everything I tend to make excuses for them- which is something common to child abuse victims- putting the blame on yourself. Logically I know none of it was my fault but emotionally- well, there is a scared little girl deep inside who even now feels guilty- no matter how much I try telling her she isn't.

'As for your self-harming, the physical pain you inflict upon yourself replaces the unbearable emotional pain. It's a release of sorts. You definitely need help sorting through what you endured as a child, and what you are now doing to cope.'

I am getting slowly better with self harming- I only tend to slip up once or twice a week and cut instead of multiple times every day. The mental health nurse I see has me doing meditation and deep breathing to try get through the urges- it helps sometimes, well, 5/7 times.
Its not so much the self injuring that is hard to break myself out of, its slipping into dissociative states (which is when I cut) I just want to feel again, to stop feeling, to remember I'm real and to reclaim myself. I know there are contradictions with that statement but it is the best way I can describe it.

'You said you can't afford to see psychologist for a formal diagnosis; but it isn't a diagnosis that you need. Labels won't give you what you need;'

Getting a formal diagnosis is more to help me financially (and how horrid does that sound). You see at this point I find it extremely difficult to work with my anxiety as high as it is daily. To be able to have some sort of benefit through Centerlink (our welfare office) and not have to look for work, I need to prove to them that my anxiety and other 'issues' prevent me from working/looking for work/studying.

?But your thoughts are reliving them over and over again. It's your thoughts you need to deal with; a counsellor can help with that, but only if you're willing to go that route. You certainly deserve to go that route. You can't change what you feel; but when you change what you think you automatically change how you feel.?

I?m working with a mental health nurse to work through my past. It is slow going, but we are working on changing my negative thought patterns to positive, as well as working on finding my triggers.

Jan 07, 2009
Good Lord!
by: Francine

Cassandra, what your brothers did to you wasn't and WILL NEVER be your fault. As for your mom, she is just a bit as responsible as your brothers. Strangely enough, I went through the same thing; the "being yelled at" part...yes, I can relate. You might want to try counselling. Don't wait too long. I'm so sorry.

Jan 10, 2009
You are not alone
by: Louise

Cassandra, I sympathise greatly with you in what you have had to endure and continue to experience as a result of the horrible abuse. Upon reading your story in a sense thought I was reading about my own story in that your story was starkly similar to my own.

I too was sexually abused by two family members and as a consequence I was diagnosed with PTSD, experience high levels of anxiety/panic attacks, dissociate on a daily basis, experience flashbacks/nightmares and self harm. I cannot work/study at the moment as a result of these symptoms I am currently on Centrelink benefits. At first I was ashamed about this as I have always studied/worked but I have learnt to accept that at the moment I am ill and need to rely on this support to survive.
In writing to you my point was not only to let you know that you are not alone in your suffering but secondly to let you know that I never thought that I would ever be in a position to seek counselling for the abuse that I suffered...part of me didnt feel as though I needed it and the other part did not want to confront the pain. When I was younger I had short term counselling but I did not feel as though I was connecting with the counsellor. I gave up hope of finding a counsellor who I felt I could trust and feel safe around. Ten years later I have again (reluctantly) sought counselling and it was the best decision I have made. Yes it is painful, but I have found a counsellor who I trust, who makes me feel safe and beleives me. So if there is a message that I do want to send to you...from one Aussie to another... please please take back some control of your life and seek some counselling. Your mental health worker can only support you to a certain point, healing really needs to come in the form of some kind of counselling> I wish you all the best and please know that you are not alone. I am thinking of you

Jan 16, 2009
Sweet Child
by: Megan

You deserve so much better things out of life. As an abuse surviver myself, I can relate to many of the feelings and such that you felt/still feel. Good luck, my friend! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers always! <3

Jan 16, 2009
Louise
by: Cassandra (OP)

Thank you for your words- it is good to realize that I am not alone.

I have seen, over the years, numerous amounts of counselors. Strangely enough, the only one that I have felt comfortable talking with is male. He has helped immeasurably with controlling my symptoms, however I am far from being able to function.

*grins* good news though- I am now getting a benefit from centerlink :) It is one less stress that has to pile up on me at this point.

From Darlene: Cassandra, I'm glad to hear that you are now getting a benefit from Centerlink. Perhaps it will make it easier to focus on your healing. All the best.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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