Archive for the ‘Confronting Abuser’ Category

On my blog entry entitled So F@#$ing Angry at Mother/Abuser, a reader asked me the following question:

I have to ask, Faith, as this is honestly that only got my mother, one of my sexual abusers as well, to leave me the EFF alone as well…

when you have written her, have you given her specific details of your memories? Have you ever directly called her what she is and relayed memories back to her? For me/us (me and my insiders) doing this pulled the covers back off our mother in such a way that she was so ashamed she never even tried to refute it–

She tried getting family members to contact me, but i continued sending her the same letter, and adding new memories to it. Guess what? In our case, the truth, the UGLY, BLUNT, DIRECT, no longer beating around the bush truth let us free. ~ Journal of Healing

The short answer is no.

When I was in therapy, my therapist and I discussed whether or not I should confront her. His advice was that, due to her mental illness (he strongly believes she has schizophrenia, and I agree – She has never sought a diagnosis because she thinks “hearing G*d’s voice” audibly is “normal”), a confrontation is not going to meet any of the needs I would hope to get out of it. He believes she truly does not consciously remember the abuse and, if confronted with it, the truth could cause her to have a psychotic breakdown.

When deciding whether or not to confront an abuser, I think the child abuse survivor needs to put some thought into what you hope to get out of the confrontation and then objectively determine whether that outcome is likely. If it is not, I don’t see the point of putting myself through the emotions of a confrontation when what I hope to gain from it won’t happen.

I have no desire to have her “get crazier.” I also have no desire to put more of a burden on my sister, who as the only child still in contact with our mother/abuser feels responsible for picking up the pieces. My sister would be the one dealing with the psychotic woman, and I don’t want to do that to my sister.

And then, at the end of the day, what would I have gained from setting off the chain of events to cause this much damage? Very little. I don’t see my mother taking responsibility and apologizing – I see her falling deeper into her insanity, which could cause her to continue to send me letters but of a more insane variety. If she has a psychotic break, she will become even more unpredictable, as she did when my father passed away suddenly in high school.

I see too many negatives and too few positives coming out of a confrontation, which is why I don’t do it. Thanks for asking the question, though. I periodically have to remind myself why I have made this choice. I still think it is the best choice in my situation.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

Read Full Post »

I am reading the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson for my Book Club. I had no idea that sexual assaults would be part of the book, much less such a graphic sexual assault. If you are in a bad place, do not read this book. However, if you are in a good place, you might find the book to be quite empowering. (Keep in mind that I have not yet finished the book.)

There is more than one rape scene, but the one that takes place in Chapter 13 is especially disturbing, particularly if you endured similar abuses. (This is a rape of a woman in her twenties who is a “ward” being attacked by her guardian.) The reason I am writing about it is because I felt so empowered about how she fought back in the next chapter.

*** spoiler alert ***

She was, of course, surprised by the first rape. The second time, she came prepared with a hidden camera, not knowing that the second rape would be much more brutal and sadistic. On her third visit, she uses a taser on the her abuser, handcuffs him to the bed, does a few other things to him, and then tattoos the following onto his chest in large letters: I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT, AND A RAPIST.

*** end spoilers ***

Can you imagining having the opportunity to do that to your abusers? Oh my gosh – the empowerment of vicariously living through this character as she does to her abuser as I would love to do to my own, although I never would have thought of that particular strategy. There’s more that she does to ensure that he never rapes anyone else again, but you’ll have to read the book to learn about that.

It was empowering to see this sadistic abuser having to be put in his victim’s shoes, although it is not the same because she is fighting back, not seeking to victimize anyone. It is also empowering to see a victim take her power back from her abuser.

I know this is just a work of fiction, but I really enjoyed the way she fought back and wanted to share it with all of you. I might have to add some of her tactics to my visualizations the next time I am working through another round of anger toward my abusers.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

Read Full Post »

Have you seen the article about the child abuse survivor who beat up his abuser? According to this article, 43-year-old William Lynch confronted his abuser, 65-year-old priest Jerold Lindner, in the lobby of a retirement home. According to the article, Lynch asked his abuser if he knew who he was. When the abuser said no, Lynch basically beat the h@$% out of him – enough to send him to the hospital.

According to Lynch, Lindner raped both him and his brother at ages 7 and 5 and also forced them to perform sexual acts on each other. The article says that Lindner has been accused of sexually abusing others as well. It sounds like, other than being ostracized from him family, Lindner has never really paid for hurting so many children. Meanwhile, Lynch has “had nightmares for years, battled depression and alcoholism and had attempted suicide twice because of the priest’s abuse.”

Here is a quote from Lynch in that article:

Many times I thought of driving down to LA and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me…You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life. ~ William Lynch

I find this whole story sad. I like the part of the article quoting a psychologist who said that it is “normal for victims to fantasize about revenge without acting on it.” If you are burning up with rage, that is the course of action that I recommend rather than risking getting yourself thrown in jail for beating up your abuser.

Visualizing beating up my abusers has been very effective for me. Like Lynch, I have experienced lots of rage festering inside of me toward my abusers who, to my knowledge, never spent a day in jail for abusing children. Rather than take physical action like Lynch, I have chosen to “beat up my abusers” in my own head. I have found this to be a very healing exercise in which nobody (including me) gets hurt.

The beauty of it is that I don’t have to stop or worry about anyone trying to stop me. I can beat up, maim, and even “kill” my abusers over and over again in my head without doing any harm to anyone. I was actually a bit disturbed by how graphic these fantasies got at first, but I soon recognized that I was finally giving my anger and rage a voice. I did not need to involve another person for me to express my rage – I could do this successfully inside of my own head.

As for Lynch’s comment about his abuser destroying his life — Don’t let your abusers have that kind of power over you! Notice how the abuser did not even know who Lynch was after all of these years while Lynch probably never stopped thinking about his abuser. Choosing to work through therapy, process your pain, and heal is the way you resurrect your life. Our abusers definitely destroyed our innocence, but only we have the power to let them destroy our lives.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

My sister graduates from college on December 12. She was a ninth grade dropout, and she applied to college in her mid-thirties as a newly divorced single mother. She will be graduating with honors with a double-major. I am sooo proud of her, and I am thrilled to be there to watch her receive her degree at the commencement ceremonies.

Unfortunately, my joy over being part of this amazing accomplishment is being overshadowed by my complete freak-out over having to see my mother/abuser for the first time in six years. My sister invited both of us to the graduation (she still maintains a relationship with our mother/abuser), and my mother is coming. My mother and I have had no contact since I sent her the note telling her to “back the f@#$ off” in September.

I have done a fairly good job shoving aside my anxiety over seeing her again after six years apart (by my choice) until recently. Now that this “meeting” is less than two weeks away, I am a basket case. I have a constant headache. I am irritable. I feel triggered all the time and am staying “medicated” in one form or another 24/7 – Xanax, wine, food, etc. (not all at the same time). I am having trouble sleeping on and off (depending upon what I take at night – I am also doing a rotation of various sleep aids to get through the night). My two states of being are unbelievably anxious or deeply depressed. It really, really sucks.

I am going to try to keep blogging during this time because I think I will need it. Please be patient with me during this time because I am not sure how much I have to share during this time. I am so overwhelmed with emotions.

I can’t remember if I shared this already, but a friend will be accompanying me for the visit. I am paying all of her expenses (airfare, hotel, taxi, food, etc.). Her “job” is to be my “buffer” and make sure that I am never alone with my mother. She has a wacky and warped sense of humor, and she is “morbidly curious” about meeting my mother. She will do her best to keep me laughing by making all sorts of inappropriate comments and hysterical observations. She is looking forward to the trip. She finds family dysfunction to be quite comical, so she is the right person for this “job.”

I am staying so triggered. Even as I write this, it feels like I have bubbles in my head, and I just want to cry nonstop. I don’t worry about a hell after I die – this is hell.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

On my blog entry entitled Talking Very Fast When Triggered, a reader posted the following comment:

And to wrap things up: if these things you have said are indeed true, then I do not want to judge you too harshly. But I will say that it is sad that the victims of something like this would sit idly by simply because they were afraid of going to court, or just assumed that you’d lose. I give children more leeway, but you are a grown adult now, and who knows how many more children have been brutalized because no one stepped up? ~ Lagore

Lagore’s comment is very long and is questioning whether something as heinous as ritual abuse could actual happen. Lagore states that there is no recorded evidence of ritual abuse taking place and that, if it does happen, then we victims of ritual abuse should be prosecuting it. So, what I would like to address in this blog entry is whether child abuse survivors have an obligation to prosecute our abusers.

My answer to this is no. We certainly have the grounds to prosecute, but we also have the choice of how to live our lives. My entire childhood was dictated by the choices of others. My childhood is gone, never to be recovered. To say that I am obligated to make my adult life about prosecuting my abusers is to take away my choices in adulthood as well. At some point, my life needs to be about my choices and not in reaction to the evil choices of others.

I told my therapist that, after all of the hard work that I have done to heal, I wanted to help other child abuse survivors heal as well. He said that, while I could choose that path, I was under no obligation to do so. It is okay for me to live my life in any (legal) way I choose. I can spend it helping others heal, prosecuting my abusers, traveling the world, or as a recluse. This is my life to do with as I wish.

Let’s get back to the court system. I hold a law degree that I earned from a prestigious law school, so I am very knowledgeable about how the court system works. People are theoretically tried by a jury of their peers; however, a jury is just a group of people who live in your area who bring their own personal experiences and biases into the jury box. Most people in society reject the reality of ritual abuse for a number of reasons, so those people are not going to convict without overwhelming evidence – evidence which, in my case, is decades old.

At this point in my life, most of my abusers are either old or dead, so my role in stopping ritual abuse is not going to come through the court system. Instead, my role (in addition to helping other child abuse survivors heal, which is my primary goal) is to raise awareness that ritual abuse really does happen. As society comes to accept this reality, then they will be more likely to enter the jury box without assuming that the victim is lying or delusional.

I don’t think anyone who knows me offline or reads my blog would accuse me of “sitting idly by” when it comes to child abuse. I have raised awareness and talked about many issues that most people do not, such as animal rape, mother-daughter sexual abuse, and using masturbation as a form of self-injury. Many people have thanked me for speaking out about issues that they believed only applied to them.

Child abuse is an epidemic that affects a large percentage of our population. No one person is going to stop it, but each person filling his or her role is a step in the right direction. I am accomplishing much more societal good by writing this blog than I would by shifting focus to prosecuting my abusers. I want the focus of my life to be about healing, not retribution.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

On my blog entry entitled Got Another Letter from my Mother/Abuser, a reader posted the following comment:

I would like to offer my unsolicited view. Through this blog I’ve grown to care about you a great deal and respect you and your work. So, while I don’t know the whole story, only you know that… from the information you’ve provided, it appears that you are still in a position where you are being held responsible for your mother’s well being. It is so not fair to you.

Is it possible to have your therapist call mom/abuser’s counselor and communicate to the counselor that it would be healthier for both of you if your mom/abuser is advised to back off and that there are very good reasons. Not only for your benefit, but for your mother’s as well…? I just don’t think it’s healthy or just for you to have to carry all this on your own. Maybe the two of them could set up communications and then HER counselor could be taking on the responsibility of your mother not you. People use mediation all the time when they disagree and I think this is no different. This way you will be covered no matter what happens it is NOT your responsibility. It will fall squarely on the person who is responsible for your mom/abuser’s mental health. What do you think? ~ Mia

Mia’s suggestion is only one of many that I have received. I responded by getting really sick so I didn’t have to deal with it. :0)

At this point, I am still not sure what to do. My therapist initially said to ignore her. However, after contact #3, he left a message saying that we needed to think about what I would say to her if/when she calls again. I have not returned his message. My family is going out to town for Spring Break, and I am checking the Caller ID before answering the phone, so I guess I am just postponing dealing with this issue.

One friend suggested that I have my therapist call my mother’s counselor and say that it is detrimental to my emotional health for my mother/abuser to keep contacting me. Another friend suggested that I write her back and tell her that I have forgiven her for the things she wrote in the letter. That way, she can show her counselor that she resolved the issue and will, hopefully, then leave me alone.

A part of me wants to confront her if she calls. I have told her multiple times to back off. If she continues to push it, then she gets what is coming. Maybe I could say something like, “Until you are ready to take responsibility for all of the child abuse I suffered, we have nothing to talk about,” and then hang up. She can take that comment multiple ways. She can own up to what she did to me personally, or she can own up to one of the numerous people she allowed to hurt me.

For right now, I’ll be getting out of town, and she does not have my cell phone number, so I should at least be able to buy another week of not having to deal with her.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

I am posting this message in real time. This just happened … my mother/abuser just called my house!!!!!

I have been focusing on breathing for the last hour. I called my therapist and am waiting to hear back from him. I also called a friend, who was great at reminding me to breathe. Seriously, I keep feeling lightheaded because I keep forgetting to breathe.

Let me back up…Mother/abuser’s birthday was last week, and I did not send her a card or present. She is in “Christian counseling” as part of becoming a Christian counselor herself. [Deep shudder] I suspect that this counselor is the one pushing her to disregard all of the boundaries that I have had in place for over five years – don’t call or visit; only write once a month; do not discuss the past or reconciliation.

Seriously – If a woman’s adult child has not wanted contact in over five years, why would this counselor think that badgering me is going to result in a reconciliation? Oh, that’s right … She’s not an educated psychotherapist.

So, my mother/abuser sent me a card on Monday. It was very short, and I dissociated away most of it. (My friend took the card so I would not get triggered by it again.) It said something along the lines of, “It has been a long time. I want a reconciliation. I will do whatever it takes.”

And then now, only two days later, she is calling my house!?!! I haven’t even had time to respond by mail yet!!

Again, I dissociated the message, but it was definitely her voice and something along the lines of, “You should have received my card by now. I want a reconciliation. Please call me…” I turned it off before it finished. My friend is going to listen to the message and tell me if there is anything that I need to know from it. Then, I am going to delete it.

I am not sure what to do other than remind myself that I am not a little girl any longer. She cannot force me to reconcile with her. If she shows up on my doorstep, I will call the cops. If hub is home, he will take care of it. Fortunately, I am going out of town this weekend. If she shows up then, hub will make sure she never comes back. She lives 6 hours away by car, and I would not have thought that she would just show up. However, after this barrage of contact and running over all of my boundaries, nothing would surprise me.

Don’t worry about me. I am going to be okay. I am going to pick up my son from school and then go to my friend’s house. She will keep me calm (or as calm as I can be). In the meantime, I am going to keep reminding myself to breathe.

Please send your thoughts, prayers, and positive energy my way today.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Several of you have asked me whether or not I ever talked to my mother/abuser about the abuse. The short answer is no, although I did sort of confront her through one of my alter parts when I was still in college.

When my therapist and I talked about confrontation, he strongly suggested that I not confront her. He said that he generally leaves that decision up to the patient, and it is ultimately my decision. However, in my case, he felt that a confrontation would be a very bad idea.

In my case, my mother is schizophrenic. My therapist is concerned that a confrontation could cause her to have a psychotic episode and have to be hospitalized. He does not want me to feel guilty for anything that she might do in a psychotic state after I confront her.

Also, I see little to be gained by a confrontation. I truly do not believe that she carries memories of the abuse in her conscious mind, so she certainly would not validate my memories of the abuse. And, without her being willing/able to take responsibility for the abuse, I see no point in having the confrontation in the first place.

Now, I did sort of confront her back in college through an alter part. To make a very long story short, my mother screwed me over financially in college. We had a financial arrangement that she backed out on without telling me. I found out when my car insurance was canceled right in the middle of finals. I was not happy.

So, I called my mother (who lived in another state), and she had a really smug, b@#$%y attitude on the phone. An alter part took over and said, “You already f#$%ed me as a child. You are not going to f#$% me as an adult.” Of course, she hung up on me.

After this conversation, my mother immediate “forgot” what was said or why. [I believe that she has dissociative identity disorder (DID) in addition to the schizophrenia.] All she remembered was that I called her and “was nasty to her.” She took out a gun, loaded it, and almost blew her head off. I learned about this a few years later, when she wrote a self-published autobiography.

After I read her autobiography, I asked her if she remembered why I was “nasty to her,” and she said, “No.” She seemed very confused about the whole thing. I chose not to remind her.

I see nothing positive coming out of confronting my mother about the abuse, but I see a lot of potential negative. If she blows her own head off, then that is her business, but I don’t want to potentially cause her to have a psychotic episode and blow somebody else’s head off.

For me, I am at peace with my decision not to confront my mother about the abuse. I have been able to heal without having this conversation with her, and I don’t think that anything positive would come from this conversation – at least not enough to make it worth the taxing emotional experience of going through with a confrontation on my end. I would much rather simply never see her again at all.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Stormy skies (c) Lynda BernhardtAs I shared in my last post, I confronted my mother/abuser about the child abuse without even realizing that I did, and she reacted to the confrontation without realizing that she was. (You will have to read that post for this situation to make any sense.) In my situation, there was no decision made. An alter part took over, and I confronted my mother/abuser about the child abuse in the heat of the moment.

When you work through the healing process from child abuse, you will reach a place in which you must decide whether or not to confront your abuser. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Some people find it to be very empowering to confront their abuser. Others wind up regretting this decision.

Confronting your abuser is not required in order to heal from child abuse. If it was, then survivors of child abuse would be giving away their power. If the abuser refused to see them or had already died, then the child abuse survivor would be forever unable to heal. Many people have healed from child abuse without even laying eyes on their abusers again. You do not have to confront your abuser in order to heal.

However, you might want to confront your abuser. Many people find confronting their abuser to be incredibly empowering. They are able to look their abuser in the eye and say all of the things that went unsaid throughout childhood. In some cases, they might even receive a sincere apology. (I would not hold my breath for this outcome.)

If you are considering confronting your abuser, think about what you hope to gain through the confrontation. If you need to hear “I’m sorry” in order for the confrontation to make a difference, then you might not want to go through with it. Many abusers are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their actions. Your abuser might tell you that it was all your fault and not show a bit of remorse. If your goal is to hear an apology, then you might be better off doing your confrontation through visualization so you can control the outcome.

Also, if you choose to confront your abuser, be prepared for the fallout. I know several child abuse survivors whose relationships with other family members were affected by the confrontation. Most abusers have family members who live in denial and expect everyone else to do the same. By “bringing up the past,” you are upsetting the apple cart, and they don’t like that. I have comforted friends who lost other family members they cared about after a confrontation. While they know that this speaks volumes about their relationships with these other people, it still hurt.

I, personally, chose not to confront my abusers. In the case of my mother/abuser, she is mentally ill. My therapist believes that, if I do confront her, she is likely to have a psychotic episode and have to be hospitalized. I do not want to risk the safety of others just to have the confrontation. Also, I do not feel like I need to have one in order to heal. I already did have a confrontation of sorts, but I have been able to release my feelings through visualization, so I feel no need to do it in real life.

That being said, I have set up very firm boundaries, which sort of act as a confrontation. I told my mother that she may not call or visit me. She may only contact me monthly in written form (either through email or a letter). She tried to force me to tell her why on several occasions. I was not ready for a confrontation, so I told her that if she raised the issue again, then I would not communicate with her for three months. That took care of the problem.

Whether or not to confront your abuser is a very personal decision. Some child abuse survivors feel a very strong need to do this while others do not. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to whether you should confront your abuser. You need to follow what your intuition tells you about what is the best thing for you to do in your situation.

Related Topics:

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »

Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtWhen I confronted my abuser, I did not even know that I was doing it. That is probably something that only a person with dissociative identity disorder (DID) can understand.

I had turned down three full scholarships to attend the university that my mother/abuser wanted me to attend. It was a prestigious university that her sibling had been unable to get into, so it mattered to my mother/abuser that I go there. My interest was more in the doors that would open up to me by having a degree from this particular school.

In retrospect, I cannot believe that I turned down a free ride to stay financially dependent upon on my mother/abuser for another three years, but I did. She agreed to “be my scholarship” and pay for all of my bills while I attended this school. However, she reneged right in the middle of finals halfway through my education there.

I started receiving past due notices from my car insurance company. I kept forwarding them to my mother/abuser (as per our arrangement), but she did not pay them. I received an insurance cancellation notice right in the middle of finals.

I called my mother to ask WTF? I cannot remember specifically what she said, but it triggered Irate (my “rage alter”). Irate took over as my host personality sat back in horror and amazement. Irate b@#$%ed that woman up one side and down the other, ending it with saying, “You already f#$%ed me as a child. You are NOT going to f#$% me as an adult!!!!!” My mother/abuser hung up on me.

My host personality was a walking doormat. The “me” that most people knew was extremely passive and had a hard time standing up for herself, even in simple situations. The conversation had to have blown my mother/abuser out of the water.

Years later, my mother/abuser wrote a “book” about her life that included this situation. I put the word “book” in quotes because it was nothing more than a bunch of ramblings by an insane woman. That book is Exhibit A in my accusation against anyone who did nothing to intervene at a mentally ill woman parenting two children.

Anyhow, my mother’s account of that day is as follows: I telephoned her out of the blue and “was nasty to her.” She hung up on me. Then, she got out a gun, loaded it, and sat on the stairs debating whether to blow her head off. Ultimately, she decided not to do it.

That is how I found out about this – through reading her insane book. I have since asked her if she remembers why I “was nasty to her,” and she said, “No.”

Clearly, that moment between us was deeply significant. For the first time, I confronted her for all that she did to me in childhood. After I did, she was hit with the guilt and shame of what she did, which is evidenced by her first reaction being to commit suicide.

Ultimately, we both shoved it all back deep down inside again. I stayed angry at my mother/abuser for months and refused to see her. This was right before Christmas. I refused to come home, as did my sister, who was still angry with our mother/abuser for something she pulled on her over Thanksgiving. That was the first Christmas that my mother/abuser spent alone, probably ever.

By February, our mother/abuser came to visit (she owned the townhouse where my sister and I were living), and she “forced” a reconciliation of sorts. My sister and I reacted by taking complete advantage of this. We ran up her credit card like nobody’s business. Then, we went back to denial of what had transpired between us.

Related Topic:

How to Decide Whether to Confront Abuser After Child Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

Read Full Post »