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Archive for June 9th, 2008

Sunrise (c) Lynda Bernhardt

A friend of mine has written his child abuse story for a brochure to encourage other people who are struggling with their child abuse issues. I am the “Internet stranger” in the story. He has given me permission to post his story here. The story is much longer than what I usually post in a blog, but the story is well worth the read. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

– Faith

++++++++++

When my folks divorced I blamed myself. Eleven year old boys don’t reason like an adult. I thought there must be something wrong with me because Dad took my older sister with him but never invited me to go. I was left to be raised by my mother but her work kept her away from the house too many hours so a neighbor girl was hired to baby-sit all my waking hours. In the 50’s child abuse was a hush-hush subject with nowhere to turn for help. How a 14 year old girl could conceive the cruel and perverted acts done to me is hard to understand.

My mind was totally controlled by her after being forced to repeat this poem to her several times a day:

“Every day, I will obey, whatever you say, sweetly, completely, immediately, without questioning, crying or complaining, or I will be severely punished.”

Resistance became impossible and I endured horrible physical and sexual abuse. Do you know what a little boy does after he is tied spread-eagle and naked to a table and whipped with a fishing pole? Anything he is told!

I learned helplessness, mastering fear, humiliation, shame, pain and terror. I cried myself to sleep nights, unable to change my situation. I withdrew to my inner feelings and did what ever was necessary to just exist. My memories are difficult to dwell upon even after having told and written my entire story in a book. It is still hard sharing the embarrassing things which I long to forget.

One public and very humiliating experience happened in a store as no one who witnessed it attempted to stop my babysitter from baring my backside and spanking me with other shoppers watching. I totally lost control of bodily functions and messed myself in public. That was the day that I first began considering suicide.

Wounds and scars over time lessen but the inner hurt stayed with me for years and years. My mind, emotions, and sexual orientation of life were confused and misguided. The abuse continued for 5 years and ended only when we moved away. Then I was able to persuade my mother that I was old enough to be a latchkey kid.

Years went by with graduation, college, marriage, children and a busy life. I tried to bury my past but many things triggered horrible memories which would not go away. I found the courage twice to discuss what had happened. Once with a doctor who told me that I should have been man enough not to let someone do those things to me. I wasn’t a man, I was a little boy. The other time was to a minister who told me to just forget it all and get on with my life.

Amazingly, I never turned to drugs, alcohol, or crime and did not become an abuser myself. I turned to God and stayed busy helping others in order to avoid dwelling on things I never wanted to face again. I hid my childhood horrors from my children and my wife even though she knew something was terribly wrong.

After 40 years of hiding the hurt, I realized that I would have to deal with this because too many things triggered memories that gave me insomnia, and flashbacks. Suicide seemed my best option so I made plans, and wrote out my last will while trying to determine the best time when my family would be able to cope with my final decision.

On an internet chat room, for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, a stranger gave me some life-changing advice encouraging me to write out my story, call a hotline and to read it anonymously. Blocking my phone number, so it could not be traced, I read it as my final act so someone would know why I was ending my life. I was amazed at the compassion and confidentiality I found with the counselor on the phone. An invitation was given to me to come and speak with the therapist. I was so afraid that I would be “Baker Acted” that I hid my car and would not tell my name.

First, I met weekly with a counselor named K until she moved to a different job and then I began therapy with M. It took me a long time to face and find victory in each of the traumatic and horrible experiences as I relived them It was a very emotional and difficult season in my life but the wisdom, and compassion of a trained counselor guided my thinking and helped me to find peace, joy and victory. I was never told what to do but was coached and guided into making the decisions I chose that led me to total healing.

With M’s guidance I made the decision to write my story in a book entitled It Had To Be Told, So He Told It To Me! That entire story is available at ItHadToBeTold@gmail.com. My desire is to help others who have been abused to begin their own journey and find healing and fulfillment in life.

I have written many poems and articles which have been posted on internet sites to help others. M even gave me an opportunity to speak at a Sexual Assault Awareness Day event in our community. My speech ended with the nine recommendations that follow entitled: If You Have Been Abused

If You Have Been Abused:

1) FACE IT

Stop denying, hiding and ignoring it.

2) FOCUS ON IT

Deal thoroughly with it.

3) FOLLOW A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR’S ADVICE

Don’t try to be your own emotional physician. Let wise, trained counselors help you.

4) FEEL IT

Stop suppressing the memories. Let it out of your heart. Hurts can become scars you can live with.

5) FIGHT BACK

If the statute of limitations is over and you cannot do something to prosecute, do something to prevent it from being repeated!

6) FIX IT

Healing often is hastened by expressing it. Some people paint, some write poetry, some get on “Safe Chat Lines.” See a Therapist; Do something!

7) FORGIVE IT

(This is hard!)

Forgive those whose choices permitted or caused it to happen. Forgive the person who did the abuse. This does not clear them, it heals your heart. Forgive yourself for not telling sooner!

You are NOT to blame!

8 ) FIND A WAY TO HELP OTHERS

This is a world-wide problem and you can help others who have suffered similar things. Look for hurting people! Reach out to someone else!

9) FREQUENTLY CELEBRATE

Celebrate each accomplishment on your journey to healing!

Wishing you – “Joy On Your Journey!”

~ David

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