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I have shared many times that Isurvive, a message board for child abuse survivors, helped get me through healing from child abuse. I have not been active on the site for several years – pretty much since I started the blog. I only have so many hours in the day to spend online, and the blog took up too much time for me to stay active over there.

While I was still active, I pushed for a separate forum for ritual abuse survivors. I wasn’t really sure where to post memories of being buried alive, etc. Ritual abuse is its own animal and does not really fit into any other category of abuse. The board owner at that time came up with the label of “ritualized abuse” because she wanted to encompass not only cult abuse but also systematic abuse by one abuser … and the Ritualized Abuse forum was born.

I have also shared that I continue to be active with Isurvive behind the scenes. I learned through the grapevine that several members were posting over there (some who also read my blog) but that there wasn’t anyone posting who was farther along in healing. While Isurvive has great directors and moderators, my understanding is that none of them experienced ritual abuse. (My apologies if I am wrong about this.)

So, I have decided to become active again in the Ritualized Abuse forum only. I am hoping to add the perspective of someone farther along in healing so those who are posting there can have hope of surviving the healing process. Also, I want the members to know that at least one person (1) can handle reading about the dark stuff; and (2) has been there (maybe not with the exact form of abuse but in the ballpark). I hope that my experience, both in childhood and in healing, will bring an added level of hope and healing over there.

I am announcing this here in case my active involvement in that forum will make participating in that forum more appealing to any of my readers. It’s tough to open up and talk about ritual abuse in a forum filled with strangers. Perhaps having a friendly face over there will make this easier.

If you do decide to post over there and you also post comments on my blog, please let me know the cross-reference name (unless you prefer to keep this private). That way, I’ll know that the two of you are the same person.

Image credit: Isurvive.org

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I shared yesterday that a dear friend of mine passed away. Lori Schmitt was the owner and operator of Isurvive, which is a message board for adult survivors of child abuse. Lori did not create the board. I found it in 2003 (and don’t know how long it had been around before this), and Lori took over roughly two years later (~ 2005). Isurvive was a good place before, but Lori took it to a whole new level, adding the toll-free number, the chat room, a Positive Transitions forum, a place for survivors of ritualized abuse to talk, and many other enhancements. Although I never met Lori face-to-face, she was very dear to me, and I am so saddened by her passing.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not coincidentally), I spent yesterday morning thinking about healing mentors and the sadness of losing them. I was doing yoga for the first time in a while (because I battled so much illness this winter), and I started thinking about P, my one-on-one yoga instructor who moved away a couple of years ago. P was much more than a yoga instructor to me. She is a fellow child abuse survivor who is much farther along her healing and spiritual journey than I am.

I would see P for a yoga session every three or four weeks, but I always got so much more out of it than yoga tips. She was always so “in tune” with where I was emotionally. She just “knew” when I was doing well or (as was typically the case) struggling, and she always had the answers I needed to find my way. She moved to another state a couple of years ago, and it was hard to see her go. She was a safety net for me of sorts, always putting me back on the right path both emotionally and spiritually. Without her here to guide me, I have to take responsibility for doing this myself.

As I mused about the loss of this mentor, I had no idea that another mentor had already left me the day before. Lori was another person who always believed in me, always saw the best in me, and was always there for me. While I rarely leaned in her in the past several years, she was my safety net. Just knowing that she was there for me helped give me the courage to fly … to this blog, among other things. Now that safety net is gone. Even though I know I don’t need it, there is something hard and sad about knowing that you are now on your own.

Of course, we are never alone. We grow and change, and we transform from being the mentee to the mentor. Our investments in others have ripple effects. Because of Lori’s investment in me, I invest in all of you. Several of you have told me that I have inspired you to start your own blogs, and you will wind up investing in others as you do this. I hope that Lori is able to see just how many lives that she touched and that the ripples from her kindness will continue for many years to come.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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You might have noticed that this blog is an Amazon Affiliate that donates all proceeds to Isurvive. (I never see the money. It is direct deposited into the charity’s bank account.) For those of you who are unfamiliar with Isurvive, this blog entry is to make you aware of this wonderful resource and tell you why I care about it so much.

In 2003, I started having flashbacks about mother-daughter sexual abuse. Before that, I had no memory whatsoever of being abused as a child. I remembered some comparatively minor emotional abuse and knew that I had a lot of seemingly unrelated issues (nightmares, eating disorder, panic attacks, phobias, etc.); however, I had no idea at a conscious level that child abuse was the cause.

I had no idea what to do with the flashbacks. I didn’t even know that they were flashbacks. I just “knew” that my mother had sexually abused me, and I was filled with deep shame and a strong desire to kill myself. That is when I found Isurvive.

It had not even occurred to me to look for a message board for child abuse survivors. I thought that I was the only person on the planet (except for my sister) to be abused by my mother, so I feared that nobody would believe me and that I would be committed to a mental institution for “making this up.” I truly believed I was losing my mind!

I was doing Internet research on dissociation and how to heal from child abuse when I stumbled upon Isurvive. At first, I wasn’t sure that I even belonged there. It was a message board for child abuse survivors, and I wasn’t sure if I had really been abused. After all, wouldn’t I always have remembered?

I read some of the posts and saw so much of myself in those messages. I felt like I had found my mother ship! I could relate to these people even though I wasn’t sure that I was really one of them. Then, I built up the courage to post what I had remembered. I was sure that nobody would believe me, but I was wrong! Numerous fellow child abuse survivors believed me, supported me, and told me how to survive it.

Isurvive became my lifeline during my therapy years. I was on the board multiple times a day. At first, all I did was “take” because I had nothing to give. However, over time I started to give back until, after a few years, I was mostly the “old timer” offering support. Isurvive quite literally saved my life on more than one occasion, providing me a place to be “heard” when I wanted to kill myself.

Isurvive has grown since then to offer both a Chat Room and a toll-free number so survivors of child abuse never have to be alone. I have used the Chat Room when I was emotionally free-falling. The moderator took me into a private chat room and talked me through my animal rape flashback. I never used the toll-free number, but many child abuse survivors do. You don’t have to be alone in the middle of the night, over the holidays, or any other time when your life is spinning out of control.

I no longer frequent Isurvive only because I don’t have the time. Between writing this blog and my professional one, working part-time, and being a full-time wife and mom, I simply don’t have the time to hang out there any longer. However, I will be forever grateful to Isurvive, which is why I applied for this blog to be an Amazon affiliate. Isurvive is not an expensive charity to run, but it does need an income stream to pay for the toll-free number, the server fees, etc. Lori Schmitt, the owner and operator of Isurvive, tells me that the funds generated by this blog go a long way toward keeping those services available to Isurvive members.

If you have never visited Isurvive, check it out! There are different forums for different types of abuse, such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The Ritualized Abuse forum is the place you want to go to discuss Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) issues even if you did not suffer from ritual abuse. There are also forums specifically for male survivors, one for Dependence & Compulsion (to discuss eating disorders, addictions, self-injury, etc.), and even for survivors who abuse others (to help them break the cycle). Isurvive is a safe place to interact with fellow child abuse survivors as you heal together.

Image credit: Isurvive

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I have shared before that I work as an online college instructor. In my class, we talk about the importance of teamwork and collaboration. As I was reading through my students’ discussions, I go to thinking about the benefits of teamwork and collaboration in healing from child abuse. So much of what my students were talking about applies to healing together as well.

I found an enormous amount of support through Isurvive, a message board for survivors of child abuse, when I was in the early stages of healing from child abuse. I logged on several times a day during my early years of healing. Even now, after seven years of healing from child abuse, I gain so much knowledge and guidance from reading the comments that my readers post. Sometimes my readers see something that is so obvious to them about me but that I miss because I am too “close” to the situation.

Finding a support network is so important to healing from child abuse. Of course, your support network should include a qualified therapist with experience in counseling people who have suffered from child abuse. A therapist is not enough, though. I found that I experienced so much healing and support through my relationships with offline friends as well as friends that I met online. You can do this through visiting Isurvive, by reading and posting comments on blogs such a mine, and in other ways that bring you into contact with fellow survivors of child abuse.

When I was in the early stages of healing, I needed to interact with people who were farther along their healing journey because I needed the hope that healing was even possible. I also needed “peers” who were in similar places so I could talk with someone who really understood in this moment what I was going through. Finally, I needed to interact with people who were newer to the child abuse healing process so that I could “pay forward” the support I had received as well as recognize how far I had come. I really needed the interactions with all three groups to make the healing process survivable for me.

Finally, I needed people who embraced me as one of them. For most of my life, I felt like a misfit who had no place. Through an online child abuse survivor community, I found a place where I belonged. I was not “crazy” – I was actually surrounded by people who “got” me! I cannot express strongly enough how crucial the camaraderie of fellow child abuse survivors was along my own healing journey.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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We did it!! Isurvive was in the Top Five most blogged-about charities for the contest run by Zemanta. Thank you very much to all of you who helped Isurvive pull this off.

Isurvive runs on a very low budget, so $1200 is going to keep the charity going for a long time. This money will enable Isurvive to continue offering the toll-free number so child abuse survivors who are struggling can hear a friendly and supportive voice. Isurvive will also be able to continue offering 24/7 support through the message board.

Most importantly, bloggers spread the word about this wonderful resource all over the Internet. Many child abuse survivors will learn about Isurvive and have a place to go when they feel like they are losing their minds. Also, more people are now aware that there is a need for such a resource.

Today was a victory for child abuse survivors everywhere. We have a voice. We can join together and be heard. We have empowered ourselves. We are no longer victims.

Congratulations Isurvive!!!!!!!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Hi, everyone!

I just wanted to leave you a quick administrative note about immediate support and feedback.

While I want to help everyone that I can, I have personal limitations. I am a mother of a child with ADHD who has been transitioning off one medication and onto another. I am very active in my kid’s school (put in over 10 volunteer hours last week for a big event at his school). I am starting a new part-time job for which I have been in intensive training for the past month. I write a professional blog for Adoption Under One Roof. I write this blog. I go through periods of struggling with emotional flashbacks where I have trouble doing any of the above. And now I have a cold, which has me feeling miserable at the moment.

Unfortunately, as much as I want to provide helpful and timely feedback, I cannot always do it right away. This is one of the reasons that I plug Isurvive so frequently. Isurvive is a safe place where you can get quick feedback because there are hundreds of child abuse survivors online at any given time who can respond to your needs.

I do eventually respond to every question that I receive, but I cannot promise how quickly I can respond. If you need immediate feedback, please post your question over at Isurvive. Isurvive is a message board for child abuse survivors, and it is very supportive.

I found Isurvive in December 2003, and the friends I made over there were instrumental in helping me heal from my issues. I serve on the Board of Directors for Isurvive today, and I have become good friends with Lori, who is the owner and operator of Isurvive. You are in good hands over there.

In the meantime, I have saved copies of the questions that people have left for me over the past month, and I will be responding to them on my blog. So, please be patient with me as I “unbury” myself from a backlog of questions.

Have a good weekend!

– Faith

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