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Archive for November, 2011

Creepy basement (c) HekatekrisI heard on the radio yesterday that more alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky have come forward. According to this article, the New York Times reported that about 10 more alleged victims have come forward (which is consistent with what I heard on the radio) but that the Pennsylvania State Police have not confirmed the number. The police are interviewing these new accusers.

For anyone who doesn’t understand why other people step forward once an abuser has been accused, the reason is that the victims are now more likely to be believed. Even when someone is sexually abused by a “nobody,” the victim risks not being believed. Nobody wants to believe that abuse happens, and the victim is the one who gets interrogated first – not only by the police but by family and friends of both the victim and the abuser.

When and where did it happen? How many times? What exactly did he do to you? Did you tell anyone when it happened? Why not? Why are you telling now? Are you sure it happened? You say this happened over a decade ago – Are you sure this really happened? I believe you believe it happened, but have you considered that you might have mental health issues? Are you sure you didn’t just dream this?

These are questions faced by any child abuse survivor who speaks out in adulthood, even when the abuser is not a celebrity. Imagine what it must be like for boys – many of whom were lured in through a charity reaching out to disadvantaged children – to stand up against a local hero. Heck, a “football god” to many! Who would have believed them?

Also, how many of these boys grew up believing that they were Sandusky’s only victims? How many believed there was something fundamentally “wrong” with them, explaining why they were abused? Once the silence has been shattered, many victims have the courage to step forward publicly and say, “It happened to me, too.”

These young men stepping forward are not doing it for five minutes of fame. They are finding the courage to stand up against the person who took away their innocence. As more victims come forward, it will be more difficult to deny the truth of what happened regardless of how powerful or famous the abuser is.

I hope that all of Sandusky’s victims are getting therapy to help them heal, and I hope that receiving public validation that the abuse DID happen helps them along their healing journeys.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Food chain (c) Lynda BernhardtI was plagued with weird dreams last night. I was visiting with friends at a mall in my hometown. I can only remember one friend (P – used to be my best friend in my 20’s, but I haven’t heard from her in years), but I think there was a second one there, possibly my sister. Anyhow, we were having a good time until they told me that two people were coming. The first was C, a high school friend who I would love to see, and the second was momster. I said I was sorry to have to miss out on seeing C, but there was no way in h@#$ I was sticking around for momster and fled.

I tried to blend into the crowd in a different store, but momster and the others found me there. Momster came up to me and wanted hug (like she did when I saw her last at my sister’s graduation). I gave her the weakest hug ever, and her end was just as weak. P and the others were saying, “See. I knew you would be OK seeing her.”

I ran out of the store and ran as fast as I could through the mall with P and the others trying to catch me. I leaned over and vomited. P and the others were still saying that I was OK and this was good for me, but I had to stop and vomit again even harder.

Then, it was Halloween (my ex-friend and I took our children trick-or-treating together on Halloween for eight years – this was our first Halloween not doing so), but I had to attend a make-up class that was being held in ex-friend’s classroom. (Ex-friend is a teacher.) I didn’t want to see her but knew there wouldn’t be a choice. She was polite to me (in real life, she pretends I don’t exist), but it was awkward. I borrowed a textbook from the speaker, but ex-friend took it from me.

Then, my son said he was hungry, and we went looking for food. He had bought himself a mansion filled with ponies, and I kept commenting how keeping ponies on carpet isn’t really the best idea.

Strange, strange dream. I had trouble falling back to sleep and am now pretty tired from being so restless all night.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Smoke day (c) Hekatekris

My kid (N) is having an issue at school. You can read the details here.

Update – the third party (K) still does not want to be N’s friend even after his mother explained the situation. N’s best friend (P – different “P” from the child N had an issue with) is also friends with K. K put P in the position of “choosing” between K and N at school yesterday, and P chose K. (In fairness to P, he did play with N at afterschool care.) N came home from school very upset. P’s mom and I are good friends, and she will talk with P tonight about not blowing off one friend for another. As for K, I have told N that nobody can make K be his friend, not even K’s mom.

Yes, it’s fifth grade drama!

That being said, I am having a difficult time keeping my own triggers out of the situation. I am trying to handle everything like a rational adult, but I am having to deal privately with my own triggers.

Trigger #1 – K just spent the night at our house the weekend before the drama hit. The boys were supposedly great friends, and now K wants nothing to do with N. This is triggering my own issues with the sudden ending of a nine-year friendship that is still somewhat raw.

Trigger #2 – K comes from a wealthy family, and I am leery of wealthy families because my most sadistic abusers were also wealthy. I have an aversion to anyone “in society” because I view those people as threats – it was “society” people who hurt me as a kid. I have been working very hard to assess people based on their character and not by their pocketbooks, but having the “rich kid” screw over my kid steps all over my childhood triggers.

Trigger #3 – My kid only lashed out at the other kid because he was hurt by a deep wound being opened. (In fairness to the other kid, he had no idea about my child’s emotional wound. Side note – The other kid has forgiven my child, and they are getting along fine now.) I suspect that one reason K is pushing N away is because he believes there is no excuse for saying something so mean, which tells me that K doesn’t know what it is like to have been deeply wounded. I know what it was like to be deeply wounded as a child, and it hurts to know that my child has been wounded as well (different cause, but a wound is a wound). The whole dynamic of someone who hasn’t been wounded judging someone who has stomps all over my triggers.

So, I am blogging about my crazy … um, I believe I was told to call them “confused” … emotions as I try to process fifth grade kid drama as an adult and not a triggered child.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Party (c) Lynda BernhardtDoes anyone else get triggered by your birthday? I don’t think I have blogged about this topic because I don’t want to reveal when my birthday is, and I typically only think about this topic near my birthday. However, a conversation with a friend over the weekend reminded me how difficult my birthday is for me every year, so I thought I would write about it today.

My birthday falls during a challenging time of the year for me. For those of you who have read my blog for a full year, you know that (sadly) covers a large portion of the year. Because my birthday happens to fall near another time of year that is triggering for me, it is difficult for me to determine how much of the triggering comes directly from my birthday itself and how much is the cumulative effect from other triggers.

Regardless, my birthday is always a difficult day for me. I would prefer to stay curled up in my bed under the covers and sleep through the day. I feel “off” the entire day. I feel like I am being put in a spotlight that I don’t want shining on me. In my head, I appreciate that I have a lot of people in my offline life who care about me and want to celebrate with me. In my heart, I just wish I could hide and not hear “happy birthday” all day. I put on my “game face” and do my best acting on my birthday, pretending that I am OK when I just want to disappear.

I am not sure why I react that way. Perhaps it is because a birthday ties into the connection with your mother, a connection I don’t want to think about. Perhaps I suffered ritual abuse on my birthday – certainly a possibility.

Despite all of my parents’ failings, they always celebrated my birthday. I got a birthday cake each year along with presents. I have no conscious memories of my parents (or anyone else) being cruel to me on my birthday. I cannot explain why I loathe it so much, only that I do.

My aversion to my birthday does not tie into aging. I am actually happy to grow a year older. Each year that I age, feel less like a potential victim. The older I get, the less “attractive” I am to predators. So, my issues are not tied into fears of getting older or of being one year closer to the grave.

I don’t know why my birthday bothers me so much, only that it does.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Historically, I am an emotional basket case from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I am not entirely sure why. I suspect one reason is because, as a child, the holidays meant that school was not in session, which cut me off from all of the safe people in my life. I also suspect that some of the ritual abuse tied into the holiday times, but I don’t have specific memories tying into specific dates, so I can’t be sure.

Because I know that the holidays are a tough time for me, I made the decision last year to listen primarily to Contemporary Christian music. At this time of year (when I am susceptible to depression), I’ll latch onto a song with a melancholy tune & lyrics and “go down the well” of my pain. For the most part, the genre of Contemporary Christian music does not lend itself to melancholy tunes, although there are a few that I could use that way. I make sure to skip over those. (I mostly listen to Pandora.com over the Internet.)

I found that I struggled less with depression last holiday season. It was still hard, and I was still depressed on and off, but it was improved from prior years. So, I am sticking with that same strategy this holiday season.

This year, I have added the change of not drinking any alcohol. At this time of year, I like to kick back with a glass of wine at night, which is fine in the moment. The problem is that alcohol is a depressant and seems to encourage that depressed part of myself to grow stronger the next day.

I have had plenty of nights where I really wanted that glass of wine, but I am staying “on the wagon” for now. I have no issues with substance abuse, so it’s not an issue of craving alcohol. I just like “taking the edge off” in the evenings. I have decided that tonight’s “taking the edge off” isn’t worth the additional struggle with depression the next day.

So, I have made both of these positive changes, but I still feel “off.” I see both listening to melancholy music and drinking wine as ways I have added fuel to my fire. Removing the fuel hasn’t stopped the fire, only prevented its acceleration.

I don’t know what my expectations are. My hope is that I can get through the holidays without feeling out of control emotionally. I am feeling less out of control, but I still feel like I have anxiety and depression geysers going in my head. I am ultrasensitive right not to any form of criticism, even reading criticism into where I know objectively that none is intended. I am trying to be aware of my feelings without reacting to them.

Can I just go to sleep and have all of you wake me in January?

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Hi, all!

If you are leaving a comment, please include your first name only or a fake name. I try to remove all last names as I see them, but I sometimes miss them. If you include your first and last name, it is possible someone you know will find your comment when he or she searches your name in Google. If you include an email address, only I will see it, so it won’t show up in Google.

I am happy to remove anyone’s last name from a comment. Just send me an email. My email address is listed on the About Faith Allen tab. :0)

~ Faith

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For those of you who aren’t sports fans, you might not have heard about the child sexual abuse scandal that is rocking Penn State. You can read the complete details here.

In a nutshell, Jerry Sandusky was a football legend as a coach at Penn State. He has been charged with 40 counts of sexually abusing boys. Here’s the really sick part – He had access to these boys because he established a foundation called Second Mile to reach out to needy children.

I was stricken by the testimony of janitor James “Jim” Calhoun, who walked in on Jerry Sandusky alleged performing a sexual act on a boy in the shower:

“Jim said he ‘fought in the Korean war … seen people with their guts blown out, arms dismembered … I just witnessed something in there I’ll never forget,’ ” the testimony states.

In the early stages of healing from child abuse, I had a difficult time seeing my child abuse as a big deal. I could complete understand how seeing “people with their guts blown out, arms dismembered” would be traumatizing, but I couldn’t view my child abuse in the same way. I was truly shocked when my therapist told me that I had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD was a diagnosis for soldiers who had experienced trauma, not for children who endured abuse that “wasn’t that bad” because “others had it worse.”

I wasn’t able to view my PTSD as “serious” until reading Judith Herman’s book, Trauma and Recovery. What was groundbreaking for me was her approach – The same PTSD that I experienced from child abuse is the same PTSD that soldiers experience after combat. It’s a disorder – a real disorder that explained many of my symptoms.

For some reason, I could understand PTSD better by applying it to a soldier than to myself. There was no question in my mind that someone who had “seen people with their guts blown out, arms dismembered” would understandably develop PTSD. I was able to view my disorder without a layer of shame.

I find it validating that this war veteran was that traumatized by seeing a child being abused and that he puts the trauma of child abuse on the same level as what he saw in Korea. Child abuse really is a “big deal,” even though we child abuse survivors often have a difficult time believing it.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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