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Posts Tagged ‘not fitting in after child abuse’

Storm clouds (c) Lynda BernhardtThis week, I have been focusing on the topic of not fitting in, which is a feeling that often plagues child abuse survivors. This feeling is even more prominent for those of us who suffered from childhood ritual abuse.

The book Safe Passage to Healing by Chrystine Oksana does a wonderful job explaining why this is. Ritual abusers do not want the child telling anyone about the abuse. So, they isolate the child, making him feel like he will never fit in anywhere other than with the cult.

Of course, ritual abusers really do not have to make much of an effort to bring about this feeling of isolation. It is hard for the child who has been raped and tortured to find a lot in common with the average child. When my weekend was filled with being gang-raped and buried alive, there really wasn’t much common ground when talking with another ten year old about her weekend. The only ones who could understand my life were those who were living it, and they were the last people I wanted to be around (other than my sister).

I felt particularly isolated in middle school. The onset of puberty really amplified my feelings of isolation that I was already experiencing. That was when the suicidal urges started. It wasn’t that I wanted to die: I just did not want to continue living if this was what my life had to offer.

Even on message boards for abuse survivors, it can be hard for those who suffered from ritual abuse to feel like they fit in because many of their experiences are so different from those experienced by others. All abuse is bad, so I am not negating the pain that anyone suffered when being abused. It is just that survivors of ritual abuse have an added layer of stuff to work through that can cause them to feel like they don’t fit in, even around other child abuse survivors.

My favorite message board for abuse survivors took care of this by creating a forum specifically for ritual abuse survivors. Because there was so much overlap, this forum also grew to encompass anyone with dissociative identity disorder (DID), even though not every person with that diagnosis suffered from ritual abuse. This has become a tight knit community within the community because of the common experiences.

The other isolating factor is society’s widespread belief that ritual abuse does not happen. If you say that you were ritually abused, then you must be “crazy.” Well, my sister and I have both been diagnosed as “not crazy,” yet we both have the same ritual abuse memories. The stories I hear from other ritual abuse survivors have too much in common for us to make it all up. Besides, why would I make this stuff up? There have been many times that I wished it was all in my head and that I was just “crazy.” That would be much easier to live with.

Related Topic:

Warped Reality of the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Child in field (c) Lynda BernhardtThis week, I have been talking about the struggles of not having the same social graces that other people have, thanks to being raised in an abusive environment. Today, I’d like to go more into the feeling of isolation and “not fitting in” that many child abuse survivors experience.

I am very active on a message board for adult child abuse survivors. I never felt like I fit in anywhere until I found that place. Of course, just about everyone on there pretty much felt the same way – that they had never fit in anywhere. Many “newbies” to that site question whether they will fit in there because they have never experienced a feeling of belonging before. It feels so wonderful when you finally find a group of people that understand you.

I often find myself feeling like an outsider in a group. I will volunteer to facilitate a group, in part to keep myself separate by choice. That way, when I feel left out or different, I can pretend that is the reason why. It is unlikely for me to come across someone in my day-to-day life who has healed from dissociative identity disorder (DID) or who has suffered from child abuse as severe as mine.

I do meet many people who have suffered form some form of abuse, and we definitely wind up having a lot in common. But that only comes out when we move to the one-on-one setting. It’s not like a group of women are going to sit around swapping childhood rape stories.

I wrestle with the need to connect with others and the need to protect myself from rejection. The more I feel comfortable with myself – with loving and accepting myself the way I am – the less vulnerable I feel to the opinions of others. It is only my own opinion of myself that should matter.

While I am generally successful in feeling comfortable in my own skin, I will get triggered from time to time, as happened over the weekend, and then all of those old insecurities arise again. I question if I will always feel like the odd man out. I wonder if there is a place for me anywhere.

I know this is completely crazy because I have so many people who care about me in my life. But one trigger can make all of that seem so fleeting and fragile. I guess this is just another layer of pain that I need to grieve and heal. I need to have a good cry and plug back into my life. I need to get back to how I feel about myself rather than being so sensitive to the opinions of others. I don’t want to give my power away like that.

Related Topic:

Warped Reality of the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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