We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

We Are Survivors

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The need to address the long-term effects of child abuse and interpersonal violence by NIH (National Institutes of Health) is critical for the wellbeing of a large percentage of Americans. About 10 years ago, just such a request was made in the April 22, 2005 issue of the journal Science by Jennifer Freyd who is the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. She called for the creation of a new National Institute on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence – but her call for this Institute was ignored.

Posted by on in Healing

One of the most difficult issues to deal with in therapy is dependency – a state of mind where we are supposed to rely on someone for aid and support – our therapist. Our deepest wounds, though, were inflicted upon us when we were the most vulnerable: when we were loving, trusting, and emotionally available children. As adults, we tell ourselves at some level that that will never happen again.

There is an unusual degree of consensus among child welfare workers, researchers, politicians, criminal justice professionals and the public that the current systems for safeguarding abused and neglected children are hobbled by fragmentation of services and policies.[1] Key problems include:

Just as childhood incest is underreported, so is sibling incest. It occurs far more frequently than many want to believe although many of the same reasons for father-daughter incest (the most prominent) are the same. In fact, sibling incest is estimated to occur 3-5 times as often as father-daughter incest.[1] Once again, the root causes lie with faulty/uninformed parenting skills.

Posted by on in Healing

Many survivors have an ongoing problem with regulating their feelings and the self-harm that follows. This includes everything from eating disorders, substance abuse, self-mutilation, and, at times, thoughts of suicide. It might be helpful to understand the cycle that occurs that works to perpetuate these destructive patterns so that changes can be made.

Within this series that I have been writing, I have been trying to connect the dots to show the contrast between:

With the large number of child abuse and neglect victims and caretakers to be served, large case worker loads, high volume of criminal justice referrals, and limited programs available, resources are rationed. Victims of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse are the most frequently referred for criminal justice action and program services. In general, neglect cases—especially those involving chronic low-level neglect – receive few or no services.[1] However, experts emphasize that sexual abuse, physical violence, emotional and psychological abuse, and neglect often co-occur, so these children are many times not being served.

Posted by on in Abuse and Neglect

Child prostitution is another difficult result of child abuse, but it needs to be discussed. General psychological and emotional problems, housing instability, substance abuse, educational and vocational failure, and major problems at home have all been cited as common precipitating factors in the lives of prostituted children. The homes children run away from are often marked by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, and regular violence between the parents.

I have shown throughout this series documented, scientific research of reported incidents of multiple personalities, the causes, and the need for effective therapy. As a child abuse survivor, I had about 20 personalities/alters that I integrated into one during 11 of my 23 years in therapy. Thank God, I had a trauma therapist who knew what she was doing.

Child victims of physical or sexual abuse very often have complicated histories of multiple victimization and trauma, and exhibit a variety of disorders, problems, and difficulties that may or may not be the direct result of abuse. Although the following list of treatment guidelines pertains to children in treatment for abuse,[1]it is helpful for adults as well. Some of the work that needs to be done in therapy is described below such as:

Posted by on in Brick Wall of Denial

Millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect isolate because of society’s refusal to lend support when they finally have enough courage to tell someone about their past trauma. After being brainwashed as young children that they were the cause of their own abuse and that if they said anything, they would endure more harm, adult survivors are usually left with the need to summon up enormous courage, if they want to confront their abuser’s criminal acts, with little or no support from the public. It is an almost impossible task, so many never reach that level of defiance.

Posted by on in Abuse and Neglect
There is always a discussion about men who offend but very little about women offenders. Between the early 1970s and the year 2000, the number of women in prison doubled from about 3% of the prison population to about 6.3% of the total. Women in this study[1] accounted for about 14% of violent offenders, and more than ¼ of them were juveniles.

Most often, women offender’s pathways to crime are rooted in past trauma associated with family and intimate violence. This study found that nearly 60% of women in state prisons had been physically and sexually abused. Although men also experience traumas at early ages, the emotional dynamics and behavior present themselves differently in adulthood—men often become perpetrators and women remain victims or are in dependent roles with continued abuse. In a study conducted among violent women offenders at New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, nearly 60% were sexually molested as children.

Posted by on in Healing

I had never heard of a “safe place” until I was in therapy. After my memories about the awful circumstances I grew up in came forward, I realized how unsafe I felt. In fact, I used to tell my therapist, “I’m afraid of most people.” That was only natural after the amount of trauma I endured at the hands of my parents, but it took me a very long time to come to grips with that. In fact, I was 50-years-old before I stopped feeling the threat of being psychologically annihilated if I stood up for myself, and I was 55-years-old before I stopped seeing the world through the eyes of a traumatized child.

In my blog, Dissociative Disorders - Part 17, I wrote about Paul McHugh’s support of Catholic priests who had been charged with pedophilia. Now I want to address Elizabeth Loftus’ role as well. In Dissociative Disorders - Part 10, I wrote about her studies validating repressed memories. With her support of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) and lucrative payments defending Catholic priests, she apparently reversed what she stated in her earlier research about the validity of repressed memories.

There are three related assumptions that still serve as the basis for much policy and practice in the criminal justice system.[1] The first assumption is that maltreatment of children and violence against women are completely separate phenomena. The second is that children who witness violence are not significantly affected by it. The third is that the non-abusive parent in a domestic violence situation (the mother in 95% of cases) should be held accountable for the actions of the abuser.

During the 1970s and 1980s, child abuse prevention programs were developed for school systems. They were primarily aimed at teaching children how to possibly avoid abuse not realizing they were attempting to pit small children against powerful, manipulative child molestersHas any of this work over the last 40+ years? NO. The rate of child abuse has not dropped considerably. America has no real grasp of the number of children being abused because most children, and adult survivors of child abuse, never tell anyone. The only statistics available are for those children who are reported to Child Protective Services which is the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by on in Abuse and Neglect

A report was made public recently that addressed the response of Bob Jones University (“BJU”) to disclosures by its students of sexual abuse.  BJU is a Christian educational institution that currently enrolls about 3,000 students in various undergraduate and graduate programs.  In response to national media reports of BJU’s mishandling of sexual abuse complaints, the school hired GRACE (“Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment”), an organization whose mission is to empower the Christian community to address the sin of childhood sexual abuse, as an independent ombudsman to review and report on BJU’s practices and policies regarding sexual abuse disclosures. 

Posted by on in Healing

Once a person is victimized as a young child, particularly if they do not get any type of help to heal from their abuse, they are susceptible as adults to being revictimized. When someone suffers from trauma that hasn’t healed, reactions from the old wounds can affect their adult lives in a variety of ways, everything from substance abuse, binge eating, dissociation, having flashbacks, not having healthy boundaries, and feeling suicidal. All of these manifestations due to being abused as a child work toward destabilizing survivors and leaves them open to further abuse in their adult lives.

The relationship between girls being abused and their involvement in crime later in life was studied by the National Institute of Justice.[1] It found that when compared with girls who have not been abused and neglected during childhoodabused and neglected girls are:

A task force conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[1] found substantial support for the use of early childhood home visitation for the prevention of child abuse. It found that home visitations by trained personnel play an effective role in the reduction of child maltreatment. The task force recommends home visits be considered for families at risk for abusing children. Studies reviewed by the group suggest that approximately 40% of maltreatment episodes might be prevented through programs of early childhood home visits.