Abuse is the Abuser’s Fault

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Step 5.

I keep getting stuck on step 5.

But today I have a headache and all my joints hurt and my stomach is on the verge of conniptions.  I know all these distresses are from avoiding externalizing the truth of what I experienced and how I really feel about it.

  1. It really was the abuser’s fault.  It wasn’t my fault he crossed boundaries.  It wasn’t my fault he sexualized me, he took advantage of me sexually when what I needed was a proper teacher who would challenge my gift but not violate my vulnerabilities.
  2. It really was BB’s fault he violated me sexually and psychologically.
  3. Today, right now, the thing that hurts me terribly is that he kept saying “I won’t do anything you don’t really want me to” while he kept gradually advancing each stage of violation.
  4. I hate even talking about this.  I hate the shame it conjures up.  I hate him.  I hate myself for hating.  I hate the school that harbored him.  I hate the church that took him in and treated me like an adulteress.  I hate the larger community that was so god-damned stupid.  I would like to damn to hell all that stupidity, and faux-blind facilitation.  I hate all the adults who at the time did nothing to stop him or protect me from him.  I also hate my parents’ original naivete.
  5. Why don’t I hate my parents?  Why don’t I hold them to the same standard as other adults?  A) Because I have, and I processed all that with them, and they were sorry & mourned & repented & asked forgiveness.  Also because they shared with me more of their story of what-all they tried to do at the time.  Do I feel shame that they were incompetent?  Not really.  But I do believe their being pacifists handicapped them.  I think they would have fought harder if they weren’t so immersed in 100% pacifist-mentality.
  6. There’s so much I want to someday tell about what they told me.  But for today, I want to shout out loud: It was BB’s fault that he did what he did to me.
  7. Now, what can I do about that?  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  And that torments me too.  But when I think of how young I was when he started grooming me… yuck!
  8. And when I think of how I started cutting myself… yet I was so good at taking care of myself – to hide it – I knew good sterile technique…  Yet, I showed him what I was doing. But he didn’t do anything for me…  When I think about how much I went through so entirely alone…  It makes me so very profoundly sad.
  9. God! I love my younger self!  Thank You, God, that I am still alive to know at least that!
  10. I made a couple of near-attempts at suicide and one real attempt.  I survived.  I credit God for that.  Thank You, God!
  11. I also credit myself.  I think I have an incredibly strong will to live.
  12. I am proud of my will to live.
  13. Yes! I am very proud of my will to live.  It is a very good thing to have a core self that wants to live no matter how painfully I might experience living.
  14. My joints don’t hurt now.  My stomach is calm.  My head-ache is receding.
  15. But I want to get even further than this point.
  16. Maybe rather than rush to the next thought of “what should I do about this?” I need to simply celebrate the goodness of being, the goodness of my being.
  17. What’s wrong with figuring out what I should do about all this?  First of all, the “should.”  No adult did a damn thing to protect me when I needed it most, yet now there’s a “should” for me?  “Do about this”? The main thing to DO is to VALUE MYSELF!  And if that’s not enough for the world, then that’s really too bad for the world, and to hell with anyone who can’t understand that.  The first priority for every person is to know, value, and treasure their own immeasurable value/ worth/ uniquely-special-gifted sacredness.  Amen!
  18. So, even if anyone doesn’t progress “beyond” valuing their own sacredness, that’s okay.  I believe that’s okay because when people get in touch with their own immutable sacredness, they inherently realize all persons are sacred.  I liken it to musicians practicing in their practice rooms.  Even if no-one ever played ensembles, there would still be a lot of beautiful music happening and no-one harming anyone else.  Just like in the Hippocratic Oath that says “First, do no harm.” I would preface it with: “First and always revere one’s own sacred nature.”
  19. Okay, so today I am holding myself, and holding the joy of knowing I survived.  And beyond simply surviving I found again my core-self who knows she is sacred.  Praise be Jesus!
  20. Here’s a link to ASCA Step 5: http://www.ascasupport.org/_html_manuals/survivortothriver/indexSurvivorManual.html  And to the questions that follow: http://www.ascasupport.org/_html_manuals/survivortothriver/indexSurvivorManual.html
  21. I’m not ready to do the questions, but at least I’ve made my self-affirmation.
  22. Glory, hallelujah.


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Awesome Affirmations

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I’m working through ASCA’s “Survivor to Thriver” Chapter Four, “Remembering” 

Step One: Breath and Affirm!

When I adopt or write affirmations for myself, I like to try to compose them as short mantras so that I can integrate the thought into my breathing.  An ancient prayer that does this is “Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria.”  I pray “Jesu juva” as I inhale, and “soli Deo gloria” exhaling.  I fill myself with Christ’s Grace, and I hope to live humbly giving God glory.  The essential meaning/ thought/ feeling is that I am gratefully yielding all of me to Christ, fully trusting Abba-Christ-Spirit holds me, and is birthing me into who I am meant to be.

Here are a few of my affirmations specific to being a survivor, becoming a thriver:

  1. It is Good that I exist; I celebrate my Being!
  2. God loves me, and so do I!
  3. My broken-ness doesn’t mean I am damaged; I am healing and becoming whole.
  4. I let Grace flow in as I let go of what I don’t need.
  5. I don’t need to be perfect; I only need to continue healing and growing.
  6. I am not a thing for others’ pleasure; I am a Sacred Person who can share blessing.

I found these from the Audacious Life helpful as well.

Here is a list of affirmations I composed to help me let go of things.

If you’ve found/ made a list of affirmations you’ve found effective, feel free to leave links in comments to this post! Thanks!


Self-Soothing Strategies

Every person needs to know how to self-soothe.  From new-born babies needing to know how to return to sleep to newly pubescent teens coping with surging hormones, to every adult whether they be survivors of any sort of abuse or not, we all need ways cope with uncomfortable feelings.

“Soothing is what good parents do when their children are upset. It often involves soothing touch that is warm and comforting. It can involve words that are reassuring, empathic and hopeful. It may involve activities that are physically, intellectually or sensorially nourishing, such as taking a walk, reading a favorite book or sharing a special meal. It can also involve daily practices that are spiritually uplifting and inspiring, such as meditation. When you can perform this type of caring for yourself whatever your chosen activities may be then you have learned to self-soothe.” (from ASCA’s “Survivor to Thriver” Manual — On-line Version)

Ways I self-soothe:

  1. Take a nap.  I can sleep almost anytime anywhere if it’s silent and dark, but an afternoon nap is especially luxurious.
  2. Pray; praying is always comforting for me.  No matter what else I’m feeling, no matter what my concern, I feel anchored when in conversation with my Abba-Creator, in communion with Jesus, abiding in the Spirit.
  3. Listen to music (usually classical or comtempo-Christian, sometimes blues).  I like to start with music that is the same mood I’m feeling and then transition to music expressing my desired feeling.
  4. Play my piano.  I enjoy playing repertoire I know, reading new scores, practicing challenging pieces I’m working on, my own compositions, and sometimes improvising.  I won’t improvise for anyone else; that’s an extremely personal activity for me, but it’s sometimes a way I pray.
  5. Journal.
  6. Light a candle.
  7. Read an engrossing book.
  8. Put on a perfume or lotion with a relaxing scent like lavender or rose; I also really like the original Jergens because it reminds me of my mother when I was a very little girl.  She often carried a small bottle of it in her purse, and when at church, sitting in the pew, she would let me put some on my hands.  I felt like such a lady!
  9. Take a steamy hot shower, or if it’s a steamy hot day a cool one.
  10. Repeat a short prayer or mantra, like:
    1. Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria; or
    2. The Glory Be (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be; world without end.  Amen.  (It’s amazing how, no matter my circumstances, praising God for Being God is uplifting to my whole being.)
  11. Sometimes when I have felt over-whelmed, experiencing no particularly bad feeling, just a little disoriented, or possibly on the verge of panic, I simply take note of What Is.  I observe my surroundings and list mentally what I see in concrete terms of What Is.  It’s remarkably effective for me.  No-one taught me to do this.  I remember the first time it occurred to me to do this.  It was when I was walking to my first class on my first day at graduate school.   I was so aware of so many new things, all at once; it was helpful to list them to myself, one at a time.
  12. Simply breathing very deeply and very slowly is extremely helpful.

My goodness!  It is quite lovely to think about how effective are these techniques/ strategies, and most of them are entirely without cost.  Thanks be to God!

The Power of Peer Support

Farm Friends Rob MacInnis

Support Network

It is important not to try to recover in a vacuum. You do need help from like-minded and empathetic survivors and trained professionals.. . Learning to trust others and to turn to them for support is a crucial step in recovery. Doing so challenges one of the basic notions that arises from a history of abuse: namely, that people are dangerous.  [from ASCA “Survivor to Thriver” on-line workbook]

The ASCA workbook suggests listing “everyone you can think of whom you can call for support during times of need.”   I won’t list people by name here, but on my list I’ve included a few people from my family, friends, and ASCA group.

I am grateful I have people in my life I can trust.  Just knowing I can trust them makes a significant difference in my experience of being in the world.  Gaining some experience with ASCA, I was inspired to begin a similar support group/session with a friend.  Finding this kind of peer-support to be so helpful, I decided to begin this blog.  For me, blogging about my experience is a part of shattering the vacuum that can shackle victims to faux-shame.

If you, dear reader, have experienced any kind of violation or abuse, I encourage you to get not only whatever professional help you might need, but equally importantly: find peer support.  While professional therapy has its own merits, I have found peer support to be more effective in terms of freeing me from the “vacuum.”

Safety Action Strategies


Action Worksheet (from Online Survivor to Thriver Workbook by ASCA)

Actions I can take to help me restabilize myself after feeling unsafe:

  1. Leave the space or situation entirely.
  2. Excuse myself to the bathroom if I think I might want/need to return temporarily.
  3. Avoid people/ places I know will feel dangerous to me.
  4. If it’s a trust-worthy person who innocently does something that makes me feel threatened, tell them asap what behavior I request they avoid; I don’t need to say why.
  5. After I’m away from whatever made me feel threatened, pray and write about what I felt and/or how I am now okay.  I.e. concretely affirm my safety and that I deserve to be safe.
  6. Remember to breathe.
  7. When in a safe place, do something physical to burn off the adrenaline that was probably triggered.

This exercise is also difficult.  It’s painful to think about these things.  It’s also frustrating and discouraging that I have to in a sense make my world smaller.  I think I need to re-frame how I think about how I address making myself safe.  Rather than seeing my world as smaller, I could simply recognize that everyone has places or conditions they have to avoid.

For example, most humans would avoid certain situations at least without proper gear and preparation, such as:

  • swimming out into the deep of the ocean or a turbulent part of a river
  • moving quickly near the edge of a cliff
  • driving the wrong way on a one-way road
  • walking through poison ivy or a fire-anthill or any identified toxin

In other words, we can still swim if we know and accept what conditions we need for safety.  We can look over a cliff if we are careful.  We can drive the direction we need to if we take the appropriate road.  We can walk through the woods, desert, or where-ever there are small dangers if we remain alert and avoid those limited threats.

Another note: I’d like to have more strategies for dealing with triggers/ “toxic” situations.  This is something I can work on.



Assessment Worksheet (from Online Survivor to Thriver Workbook by ASCA)

Triggers that make me feel threatened or endangered:

  1. Small spaces
  2. Spaces with only one exit
  3. People standing too close to me
  4. Anyone standing directly behind me
  5. Anyone touching my head
  6. Certain smells
  7. Certain postures by men
  8. Certain people (the man who abused me, any man who looks or acts like him in any way, anyone who I know associates regularly with him)
  9. Certain phrases — even if they sound positive — if they refer to me being subordinate, I cringe inside and find it difficult to go on without correcting/ censoring the person
  10. Lots of common scenarios in Public Schools; I don’t ever like being in a public high-school building

This exercise is difficult.  I find myself resisting thinking about triggers.  My mind wants to glance off any uncomfortable remembrance.  I find my mind wandering to other things.  I can feel my body getting tense.



Signs of Danger


Awareness Worksheet (from Online Survivor to Thriver Workbook by ASCA)

Physical/ emotional/ intuitive signs that tell me I might be in danger:

  1. I feel trapped, like a caged wild animal; I want to leave but I don’t know how.
  2. My physical movement looks inhibited (someone is blocking a path of exit).
  3. I feel nervous (my body feels like it needs to move suddenly/ randomly).
  4. I feel anxious, like all my veins are electrified; I think it’s adrenaline flooding me.
  5. My heart begins to race.
  6. I find it suddenly harder to focus.
  7. I feel agitated.  This starts more as an intellectual thing, but quickly overwhelms me emotionally.
  8. My stomach hurts.
  9. I suddenly have diarrhea.
  10. I feel awkward, like I don’t really belong in the group/ situation.
  11. Certain smells make me want to flee.
  12. The presence of a few specific people would make me want to immediately leave.
  13. I suddenly feel some kind of faux-shame, but there’s no reason for it.  (My body/emotions feel that before my mind can discern what in my environment has made me feel helpless.
  14. I feel impotent or helpless or having no capacity to contribute; I don’t like being just a spectator.
  15. I feel like an object, like someone is staring at me, like I’m just there for their entertainment.  I don’t like to be the only contributor.
  16. I sense someone is near, but I can’t see them.
  17. I hear something, but I can’t identify it’s cause.

(Next posts will address “Assessment” and “Action”.)