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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse


This is quite a sensitive topic for most of use who were sexually abused.  In therapy yesterday, I finally talked about some things regarding sex with my husband and my relationship with sex in general.  When I was in Junior High school, I remember having fantasies about being sexually abused in violent ways and then rescued.  I used to have to do this to go to sleep sometimes.  What I now know is that once the sexual abuse stopped for the night, then I could relax enough to go to sleep because I was over for that day.  I can't believe that it has taken me over twenty years to say anything to anyone.

I still have the same fantasies only more violent once what happened to me became conscious to me.  At that time, I also started to watch BDSM pornography on the Internet. I'm not doing that so much now.  I told my therapist that I feel a lot of shame regarding this issue.  He pointed out that shame is self-generated as a defense.  I understood this as focusing on what I judge to be "bad" is my own thoughts.  If I focus on my shame (at least where I am in therapy at this time) I then don't have to deal with the really issue.  I like to think of it as a bunny trail.  It doesn't mean that my feelings of shame are not real.  They are very real, but based in my thought system.  Shame is a "normal" important response to also need to be attended.

I realized that I associate sex with violence.  My therapist asked if I could live with that fact.  With ambivalence I stated a quite resigned, "yes."  I mean it is the truth.  Due to the type of sexual abuse (see "About Me" or my profile section) it is perfectly "normal" to have these types of behavior. Actually, he told me that it is "abnormal" that my response isn't more severe. (I'll write about my relationship with my husband in a later post...this one is difficult enough.)   It is easier to increase a behavior rather than decrease one.  So, he asked me to think of positive experiences instead and it doesn't necessarily have to do with intercourse. It can be as simple as cuddling with my husband or falling asleep on his shoulder.  Doing just those two things took me about six years to get to, so don't feel guilty if you can't be this intimate with your significant other.

I am relieved that I finally said something albeit it was quite difficult!!


Bayleigh Marie said...

Yep, I understand!! Congrats on being brave and speaking out!

Shen said...

What a brave post. It's very hard to discuss the things which bring out shame. I have been able to write about some things, other things I still can't imagine telling anyone. For me, it isn't violence I associate with sex, it is really about being powerless, about having no choice. Those are the scenarios I remember imagining when I was an adolescent. If that isn't a ridiculous thing to trigger sexual feelings, I don't know what is.

But associations are learned and this is what we learned. we were literally hardwired to be triggered by these things by our early experiences and we can't change those.

I have heard that we can add to these triggers, though. I've heard that it's possible to incorperate new triggers into your repetoire - like the cuddling you spoke of.

These are still difficult things for me, but I'm working on it. I'm trying to notice when there is a peaceful moment between my husband and I and then encourage an inner connection between that feeling and arousal. I have had some small victories in this realm... and if I could actually talk to him about it, it might be even better, but so far I've only been able to work with this in my own mind, very privately.

It takes time, but I don't believe we have to live with how things are forever. It doesn't mean we have to feel shame for the way things are, or beat ourselves up if something triggers a reaction that seem innappropriate. We can notice it and move on, accepting ourselves exactly as we are.

Wow, I really needed to hear all that and talk through it. Hope you don't mind me doing it here.

Thanks for the post

Clueless said...

Thank you, Bayleigh. I could use all the encouragement I can right now...Thanks for understanding.

@Shen Oh, I'm so glad that you shared what you did...it was somehow comforting. Thank you also for your encouragement and for listening. I am really scared to start talking about this more in therapy.

Mehdi A. said...

Hi dear Clueless..
Thank you for asking..and the truth is no..I'm not okay..but it's not new..the only hting is, it's been a long time..and I don't know if there's an end to this era in my life, or how long should I stand and take the beating..I'm just so tired you know..
Hope you are doing okay.
God Bless You

Tracie Nall said...

Speaking about this in therapy is so brave...and so is writing about it here!!

Each step in this healing process is important.

Clueless said...

@Tracie Yes, this is becoming quite a difficult time in therapy. I will be writing more even though it is difficult. I hope that it helps.

@Dean. I'm sorry that you are going through a rough time. Hang in there. Please feel free to contact me. I'd like to support you.

Tracie Nall said...

Thank you for sharing this, and the continued parts of the story with the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse!!

Patricia Singleton said...

It takes so much courage to share some of our deepest shame and fears about being sexual abused as children. Thank you for having that courage. You are opening doors of communication for all of us.

Clueless said...

Thank you to you both Patricia and Tracie. I'd like to share this post in one of the carnivals.

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