Category Archives: Child Abuse

I Had Victim Written All Over Me

I saw this quote in a local news story about a sexual assault that occurred involving a couple of players from the Oregon State football team 16 years ago. They were spoken by the victim in the case, then-24 year old Brenda Tracy.

Now, I don’t normally get into assault and violence against adults on this site. Not that it doesn’t bother me, but this site is about child abuse survivors and I don’t want to have to start writing about every case of violence that occurs. There’s just not enough time in my life for that, so I try to stay focused. I’m not making an exception here because, as it turns out, Brenda was a victim of child abuse prior to ever being in this situation:

Tracy said she was sexually abused as a minor, up until age 5 by a family member, then again at 9 by a neighbor. She has not talked publicly about the earlier incidents. And while it’s the practice of The Oregonian to not name victims of alleged sexual assault, Tracy insisted she be identified here.

“I’ve spent all this time trying to prove to the world that I belong here,” she said. “That it’s OK to take up space, that I’m not garbage.”

As a young woman she found herself in abusive relationships, a partner to men who were volatile, angry and dangerous. She’d been emotionally and physically abused. She remembers wearing a turtleneck in the summer once to cover bruising on her neck after being choked by a boyfriend. The father of her children was incarcerated, first for drugs, then a Measure 11 sentence for robbery. She was prey, and the predators often found her.

“My self-esteem was gone,” Tracy said. “I didn’t think I was worth anyone really loving me.”

This is how childhood abuse plays out in adulthood for many people, male and female. The abuse becomes an ingrained part of how we see ourselves, believing that it was deserved. As adults, why would we believe we deserve anything else?

If you never get out of seeing yourself as a victim, your adult life may not look much different than hers. If you can get past that though, and start to understand that you are not garbage, that you have value and have a contribution to make, then you can overcome. You can stop being a victim, and become a true survivor.

Brother and Sister Survivor Show How Secrecy Works

The latest episode of the Survivor Stories podcast, featuring Ben Glade and Annaka Vimahi, brought home two important things to know about child abuse:

1. How deep does the secrecy surrounding child abuse run? A brother and sister, 4 years apart, have no idea they were both being abused until they were in their thirties.

Think about that. When we talk about child abuse being a secret epidemic, this is a prime example. Abusers groom kids and do everything they can to keep them silent. Survivors grow up and face all kinds of stigma, so they keep silent, and the cycle just continues. The only way out is to keep talking, and let kids being abused, and adult survivors, know that they aren’t alone.

2. Survivors truly are all around us. We just don’t talk about it and therefore we don’t know how many people right in front of us can identify with what we are dealing with. We need more survivors willing to identify themselves and let it be known that they survived, and have overcome, childhood abuse.

What’s the End Result?

Tomorrow I get to do something that, according to statistics, is one of the things adult survivors of sexual abuse dread the most. I have to have some dental work done.

I was terrified going to the initial appointment for an exam, I’m terrified of going back to have this work done, and I’m terrified of the number of appointments I will have to have to fully complete the work. Luckily, we found a dentist here in Corvallis who specializes in sedation dentistry, so I will actually be sedated long before I step foot in the office tomorrow, but even with that added bonus, just the thought of being in a dentist chair makes me feel queasy.

The only thing that is getting me through this, and the thing I’m counting on to get me through this whole process is the knowledge that the end result will be worth it. I’m looking forward to getting these things fixed and moving forward.

I think healing from abuse is a similar reality. Some of the steps toward healing can be scary, and many of them won’t be all that pleasant. Facing what happened, and facing the self-destructive behaviors we’ve developed over the years to help deal with it can be pretty terrifying. Healing isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it can be a lot like taking a drill in the mouth, but we do it because the end result is worth it.

A life beyond “surviving” is out there, and it’s possible, but you have to show up to each appointment to get there. Keep your eyes on the end goal and keep moving forward!

Facebook User Asking For Advice on Confronting Her Abuser

Over on the Facebook page someone sent me a message asking for advice. Since I haven’t really faced a similar situation, with her permission I posted it to the page to see if anyone else had any wisdom to share. If you do, please go share your thoughts!

Take Care of Yourself

Over at the revamped No Longer Silence Movement website, they’ve put together a list titled “Treat Yourself“.

I am not pointing to it because I think there’s any new amazing revelation in this list of ways to take care of yourself. In fact, if you look at it, it’s mostly full of very common sense ways that adults should take of themselves on a day to day basis. On the other hand, that’s exactly the point. I’ve said many times that when you are surviving an abusive, horrific, childhood, you are too busy surviving what is happening to pick up the subtle lessons of life that you should be learning as you grow up. When we should have been learning about how to dress, good hygiene, ways to deal with stress, etc. we were learning how to hide, how to deflect attention, how to disconnect emotionally and all of the other defense mechanisms that we used to protect ourselves.

Healing for that, is learning how to move forward and live an adult life. This list is a nice place to start, and to understand that we are worthy of the care that we give ourselves.

What Is There to Say About Adrian Peterson?

Reposted from my Sports Blog.

As a survivor of child abuse, I’m just not sure where to start with this whole Adrian Peterson story. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend, and trying to figure out what to say about it, and I think finally I do have some thoughts.

First off, let me just get this out of the way. Yes, lots of us can look back and say “my parents did this”, or “my grandparents used a switch” what’s the big deal? As Cris Carter said on TV yesterday, it’s 2014, we know better now, and those people were wrong to do what they did. Going out and getting a switch and beating your kid with it to the point where you draw blood and leave some vicious marks on their legs is wrong. (I won’t link to the photos, but trust me, they’re not pretty.) Stop trying to defend it. If you were beaten with a switch, you were abused, whether you feel like it was abuse or not. Whether it’s been going on in your family for generation or not. This doesn’t represent the “weakening of America” this represents a step forward in preventing injury and later issues for children. I do think we can have a reasonable disagreement over light spanking in certain circumstances, but beating kids with a switch should not be a normal part of any child’s life!

The tougher question is what to do about Adrian Peterson. I think it’s fairly obvious that he is a victim of his own upbringing. When he needed to be disciplined, he got beaten with a switch. This is a textbook example of repeating the cycle of violence. Adrian now has a chance to learn better, and to stop the cycle, because he’s been reported for child abuse.

This past weekend, he was inactive for the Vikings. That makes sense to me. He was indicted on Friday and had to go to Houston to turn himself in and post bail. That all occurred, and he didn’t play.

Now it’s been announced that the Vikings are going to let him play while the legal process runs it’s course. For most of us, if we were charged with a crime, after posting bail, we’d probably go back to work and await the rest of the legal process to continue. But, being a professional athlete isn’t the same as a regular job. You’ve got the extra media attention, you get the public relations nightmare of having this guy go out and represent your team on Sunday and so on. That throws a lot of other things into the fire. (By the way, if you want to know why Ray Rice was released by the Ravens only after the video went public, think PR. They stood by him and his suspension when they judged that the issue would blow over and people would root for him again, then when the video was released, they re-thought that idea and released him.)

As far as I see it, the Vikings are perfectly within their rights to play Peterson while they await the legal process. They would also be within their rights to release him outright and never let him play again. That’s their choice, and it’s your choice to make up your own mind about whether what they are doing is right or not. You can choose to protest the Vikings decision to let him play next week, boycott the team and the NFL, or any other option available to you. If enough people think it’s wrong to play him, and that response hurts the Vikings bottom line, it might just get them to change their mind. That’s how free markets work. As a survivor, I’d like to think that anyone convicted of child or domestic abuse would not be allowed to play any more, but what to do until they are actually convicted? I don’t know.

What I hope, more than anything, is that this situation and all of the publicity will help us understand the damage done to children by outdated, barbaric practices. Perhaps enough people who still view getting a switch as normal will begin to question these beliefs and end the cycle within their own families. I think we can all agree on that!

The August 2014 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

Thanks to everyone who submitted something to share with other survivors for this month’s carnival!

This month, I decided to repeat a theme that the carnival has had before, change, for my own personal reasons. As it turns out, the very day that this edition goes “live” on my site, happens to also be the last day that I will live in South Carolina. My wife is pursuing an opportunity in Oregon, and I will be leaving and driving out there to join her. Since my work involves both travel and working from home when I am not traveling, I do get to keep that the same, but obviously, we are undertaking some pretty big changes!

As a survivor, and as someone who interacts with survivors, I see how difficult change can be. It presents us with things that are uncomfortable, unknowable, and beyond our control. For survivors, that can be scary, but change is part of life, and learning to deal with it is an important part of healing.

So, along with that theme, we have a few posts that speak specifically about change:

Charlotte Issyvoo, from her Sublime Mercies blog, shared When Home was Hell – Love After Slavery.

Meanwhile, April Phelps Downey asks an important question, “Is it Possible that Change Isn’t a Bad Thing?

I also decided to weigh in, with my post about this move, and how making small changes helps us learn how and feel confident about making bigger ones, Dealing with Change and Challenges.

We also have some posts shared for the regular categories as well!

Advocacy and Awareness:

Tracie was keeping an eye on recent news and wrote about Grooming, Mel Hall, and Disclosures of Abuse; What Parents Need to Know.

Jayneen Sanders offers up lots of good information in Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse, and Dave Pittman adds more with How and When to Talk About Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Art therapy:

Steve Head shared a collage along with these words, “This is a new art piece I felt compelled to do. I have been carrying the story in my heart and in my head for over 50 years, and it feels great to finally put it on canvas to share with others:

“Visiting Uncle Oscar” by Steve Head Digital Collage by Head2art”

Aftermath:

Dave from Together We Heal shared He Would Tell Me.

Healing and Therapy:

Dave Pittman also suggested this post under the healing and therapy category, One Thing Leads to Another, which I enjoyed not just for the reminder of the 80’s song title, but also because it points out how starting down the healing path can lead to all sorts of changes and opportunities to give back to other survivors following on that path.

Along those same lines, I want to add Another Good Reason to Talk About Child Abuse.

Survivor Stories:

Patricia Grace submitted a post that actually is the first few chapters of her book, Shattered.

The ever prolific this month, Dave Pittman, sent along a survivors stories piece, The Invisible Hand on Your Mouth! (Trigger Warning)

Thanks to everyone for the submissions! For those of you submitting for the first time, I hope to continue to see your work in future carnivals, and for those of you who’ve been around this scene for awhile, thank you for keeping this going through the years. I think it’s important to have this regular reminder that there is a large community of survivors out there, that we are not alone. For those of you just reading this and seeing that, indeed, you are not alone, please be sure to share this with your circles and get that same message out as far and wide as we can!

Oh and last, but certainly not least, thank you Tracie for allowing me to host this month, and for keeping this ball rolling!