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Pamela Anderson reveals sexual abuse history



Pamela Anderson Reveals Horrifying History of Sexual Abuse






Callie Beusman ProfileFollow


Callie Beusman

Filed to: DIRT BAG Today 9:11am



On Friday, Pamela Anderson gave an absolutely heartbreaking speech at the launch of her animal rights charity, in which she revealed that she suffered sexual abuse throughout her childhood.

According to the transcript of the speech, which she has since posted on her blog, the abuse began when she was six years old:

At the risk of over exposing myself...again, possibly being inappropriate...again. I thought I might share with you events that, in surviving, drove me to this point right now. I did not have an easy childhood — Despite loving parents, I was molested from age 6-10 by my female babysitter.

Two years later, she said, she was raped by a friend's brother:

I went to a friend's boyfriend's house while she was busy. The boyfriend's older brother decided he would teach me backgammon which led into a back massage which led into rape — my first heterosexual experience. He was 25 yrs old. I was 12.

And in 9th grade, she continued, her "first boyfriend... decided it would be funny to gang rape me with six of his friends."

In the aftermath of all the horrific abuse she suffered, said Anderson, she had "a hard time trusting humans" and "just wanted off this earth." It wasn't until she discovered her love of animals that she found a sense of purpose: "My loyalty remained with the animal kingdom. I vowed to protect them and only them. I prayed to the whales with my feet in the ocean. My only real friends — till I had children." And now she's been advocating for animal rights for 20 years.

After the event, she tweeted "I want people to know - they can overcome and prosper with love." I'm very in much in awe of her strength in overcoming all of this trauma and her courage in coming forward with her story. [CNN]



Carefully scripted lives

Carefully scripted lives: My concerns about the Duggars

February 25, 2012 By Libby Anne 159 Comments

I can’t say how often I’ve heard ordinary Americans defend Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their popular TLC television show, 19 Kids and Counting. “I wouldn’t choose to have nineteen kids,” they say, “but if they can manage it, who am I to question their choice?” “The kids look happy and healthy,” they say, “look how polite and well mannered they are.” I hear these comments and I just have to sigh.

First of all, I want to pout out that I would have concerns about the Duggars even if they were your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. For one thing, there is no way any two parents can give nineteen children the individual attention and time they need. It’s just not feasibly possible. The Duggars like to say that “love multiplies,” but the thing is, time doesn’t. And then, of course, there is the population issue.

But it’s not these things I’m going to discuss here. The fact is, the Duggars aren’t just your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. There is a great deal of editing that goes into making TV, and one thing that gets edited out are the Duggars’ religious beliefs and their beliefs about child rearing. There is much, much more going on here than you see on TV.

I know this because I grew up in a family very much like the Duggars. We had a third fewer kids and we didn’t have a TV show, but otherwise it was about the same. Our beliefs were nearly identical to theirs, as was our way of living. When I look at the older Duggar girls, I see myself. I was them. With that in mind, I’m going to take a moment to outline nine specific concerns I have about the Duggars.

1. Isolation and Indoctrination

The Duggar childern are homeschooled in part in order to shelter them from bad influences, i.e. from other kids and teachers who hold different beliefs or live different sorts of lives. The Duggar kids don’t have friends who aren’t pre-approved by their parents. In fact, the Duggar kids aren’t even involved in church activities – their family participates in a “home church” where they and several other like-minded families get together on Sunday mornings and worship together.

Furthermore, even the older Duggar children are not allowed to go anywhere without having an “accountability partner,” i.e. another sibling, to keep tabs on them. When one of the older boys volunteered at the local fire department, one of his sisters always went with him to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get in trouble.

Another reason the Duggar children are homeschooled is in order to teach them “God’s truth.” This means that they use religious textbooks, creationist science curriculum, etc. I understand that we have this thing called “freedom of religion” in our country, but I also believe that children have a right to an education, and teaching children one side of everything becomes indoctrination rather than education.

Not surprisingly, the Duggars’ computers have internet access limited to about seventy “approved” websites. To get unlimited internet access, the children – even the older ones – have to get a password from their mother and then have another sibling sitting by them watching the screen as they surf the web to make sure they stay out of trouble. The main reason for this is likely to keep the children from viewing internet pornography, but it also helps ensure that they don’t get subversive information or other viewpoints.

2. Children raising children

If you think Michelle is the one raising all of those kids, think again. Those older daughters, some of them already adults, are the ones who are actually doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. They are, in effect, raising their younger siblings.

Now I’m not saying Michelle sits back and watches soap operas while the kids work, but rather that with that many children there is simply too much for her to do on her own. She doesn’t have the time or energy to raise her children without her older daughters’ help. And fortunately, because the Duggars homeschool, those older daughters are available to help 24/7.

The Duggars have this thing called the “buddy system.” When each new child is born, that child is assigned to one of the older children. In this way, the older children are responsible for dressing, feeding, and even educating the younger children. Michelle had this to say about the buddy system:

This house would not work if we didn’t have the buddy system. The older children mentor the younger ones. They help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day, help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that they want to wear that day, and just all of those types of things.

I’m all for siblings helping each other and playing together, but this goes way further than this. This is siblings raising each other. And as we’ll see, this means a lot of sacrifice for the older siblings doing the raising.

3. Authoritarian discipline

Though they have not directly admitted it, there is a lot to indicate that the Duggars follow Michael and Debi Pearl’s discipline methods. This means they require absolute obedience from their children and see even bad attitudes as signs of disobedience. It also means they use corporal punishment. The Pearls suggest that you begin to spank your children at around six months, and they urge parents to spank a disobedient child until that child submits completely. Complete submission to the parent’s will is the hallmark of the Pearls’ teachings. Here is a quote:

If you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final. (To Train Up A Child, page 49)

The Duggars have stated that they use blanket training. What they do is place a baby on a blanket and tell the baby not to get off. If the baby crawls off, he or she is spanked on the leg, told “no,” and placed back on the blanket. If you do this for long enough, the baby will learn to stay on the blanket, and then you can safely leave the baby there while you cook lunch or school the older ones. This all seems counter to the nature of a naturally curious baby.

Authoritarian discipline shuts off questions and leaves little room for children to explore. The emphasis on obedience overrides anything else, and as I’ve written before, this can be highly problematic.

4. Bill Gothard and IBLP

The Duggars are big fans of Bill Gothard and are enrolled in his Institutes for Basic Life Principles. Outside of the circle of his followers, Bill Gothard is frequently regarded as a cult leader. He teaches, for instance, that troll dolls delay labor, that cabbage patch dolls are possessed by demons, and that Christians today must follow Old Testament sexual purity codes, including abstaining from sex the evening before weekly worship. Oh, and he teaches that tampons take girls’ virginity.

Until 2002 Gothard ran a group home for delinquent children in Indianapolis, Indiana. Children were sent there by the juvenile justice system for years until the place was closed down under allegations of abuse, including Gothard’s notorious “prayer closets.” There has been a growing movement among young people raised on Gothard’s teachings to expose the abuse, physical, emotional, and spiritual, they suffered at the hand of Gothard and his multiple ministries, including orphanages in places like Russia.

What bothers me most about the Duggars’ involvement with Gothard and IBLP is their use of his “re-education” camps (my term). When Josh Duggar was showing some signs of being “rebellious” years ago, they sent him to Gothard’s military boot camp for young men, the ALERT Academy. He returned much subdued. They’ve done the same with some of the girls, sending them to Gothard’s Journey to the Heart programs, where they are reminded of how wicked and sinful they are and told again and again that following God means obeying their earthly parents.

5. Emotional control

The Duggar children are also taught to carefully control their emotions, and emotions like anger or ingratitude are not acceptable. I’ve often heard people argue in favor of the Duggars by stating that “they look so happy!” Here is an excerpt from blogger Dulce, who was raised on the same teachings as the Duggars, dealing specifically with this issue:

One of the creepiest things about Gothard and the Pearls is that they teach that happy is the only acceptable emotion. If you do not have a joyful countenance, you are publicly shaming your authorities. In other words, if the kid looks unhappy, it is a personal offense against the parents. Pearl also has nauseating quotes and anecdotes about how any time his kids expressed unhappiness or anger they were hit even harder and longer until they were cheerful. How twisted is that? Children are taught from babyhood to always be cheerful, or else they deserve a spanking. As they grow older, it is not just the fear of a spanking that causes them to keep smiling. It is the sincere belief that they are sinning with ingratitude, rebellion and more if they don’t present a happy face.

As I said earlier that a bad attitude is seen as rebellion, and immediately dealt with. I have no idea whether the Duggar children are happy or not, but I know that if they are unhappy they aren’t allowed to express it, especially for the TV cameras (being a Christian “witness” to the world and all that jazz).

6. A quiver full of expectations

As I said in my introduction to the Quiverfull movement, Quiverfull is more than just seeing children as a gift from God. It’s also about seeing children as potential culture warriors. Children are “arrows” who are to be sent out into the world spreading the gospel and Christian values and replicating their parents beliefs and lifestyles. This mindset leaves little room for children who may differ from their parents or what a different sort of life.

In a family influenced by Quiverfull beliefs, children who embrace different beliefs or ways of life from their parents are seen as failures. The idea is to raise ideological clones. The amount of expectations this places on children is immense. I really don’t know what those older Duggar kids want out of life, but I do know that if they want something different from what their parents want for them they are in for a lot of trouble, a lot of emotional manipulation, and a lot of guilt.

7. A patriarchal family order

The main emphasis in the Christian Patriarchy movement, as I pointed out in myintroduction to it, is on a hierarchical family order where each member plays his or her role and everyone stays in their place. As an example, click here and here to see what the teachings the Duggars follow regarding the proper role of the husband and of the wife. The gist is, of course, that the husband is to lead and the wife is to submit.

The main way this plays out for the children is threefold. First, the children are required to obey their parents without exception. Second, the children are being raised for their future roles – the boys are to be providers and protectors and the girls are to be homemakers. They’re taught this from day one. Third, daughters are taught that they must obey their father even after they become adults.

Those older Duggar girls have been taught that they are under their father’s authority, and that they must follow his will for them. His commands are absolute, just as their obedience is to be absolute. By obeying their father, they are preparing for the time when they will similarly obey their future husbands. Furthermore, by staying at home rather than leaving the home to attend college or get a job, they are preparing to spend their lives as homemakers, as mandated by their gender.

8. Courtship, modesty, and purity

Like many Americans, the Duggars teach their children to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. But they go further, teaching that even kissing should wait until the wedding day. Furthermore, virginity is not just physical, it is also emotional. “Giving away pieces of your heart” through crushes or childhood romances is viewed as permanently damaging, and sexual thoughts are strictly forbidden.

The Duggar girls are also taught that they must dress extremely modestly so as not to “tempt” their “brethren in Christ” (why is this always the female’s responsibility?). That is, of course, what is behind their long jean skirts. This sort of emphasis on “modesty” can be damaging to both girls and boys.

In addition, the Duggars believe that their children should find spouses through parent-guided “courtships” rather than through dating. Dating is portrayed as “practice for divorce” rather than more realistically as “practice for carrying out relationships.” I’ll give an overview of what such a courtship looks like below, but for a young woman’s excellent courtship story, which finishes with damning analysis, clickhere.

First a young man goes to a young woman’s father and asks to court her, and the father says either yes or no (or sometimes maybe later). The young woman is given the chance to veto the courtship if she is not interested in the young man. If a young woman has her eye on a guy, she can share that with her father and he can possibly talk to the young man or the young man’s father, but she can’t initiate anything herself.

A courting couple is ever under the watchful eye of parents and other chaperons, and sometimes is not given a chance of privacy at all. The father can call or suspend the courtship off at any time for any reason. Eventually, if the courtship goes well, the young man asks the young woman’s father for permission to marry her, and if he obtains that permission he asks the young woman, and if she says yes a wedding follows almost immediately.

9. No teenagers allowed

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the Duggars is that their older children aren’t allowed to be teenagers or make their own choices. You can see this strung throughout this entire post.

The older children spend their teen years raising their younger siblings and are only allowed friends from a small pool of approved families. Their access to the internet is strongly curtailed, and they aren’t allowed to go anywhere without an “accountability partner.” Disobedience or ingratitude is seen as rebellion and dealt with swiftly and immediately, sometimes through one of Gothard’s many “re-education” camps. Extreme modesty is enforced and dating is forbidden. Contact with the opposite sex is watched closely. Adult daughters are expected to obey their father’s will for them, are taught that being a homemaker is their God-mandated role in life, and are only allowed to marry through a courtship controlled by their fathers. Furthermore, teen and adult children are expected to adopt their parents exact beliefs and way of life, and any other option is seen as failure.

All this is seen as a good thing. Just like my parents, you see, the Duggars don’t believe in teenagers. Let me quote myself on this issue:

It’s true that the word teenager is less than a hundred years old, and it’s true that our current modern conception of the teenager is new. But the reality is, in our society today, being a teenager is not simply about gossip and boys and a lack of responsibility, it’s about figuring out who you are as an entity separate from your family and their beliefs. Because I was never allowed to be a teenager, I never differentiated myself from my parents at all. I never learned who I was. I was never allowed to.

While I do wish I had been allowed to be a teenager in external trappings – clothes, dating, hanging out at the mall – what I really regret about not being allowed to be a teenager is not the material trappings but rather not ever separating myself and my identity from those of my parents. I wish I had been allowed to be different from them, and encouraged to find my own interests and beliefs. I wish I hadn’t been so enmeshed in my parents’ lives and identities as to lose myself completely.

The Duggar children are given no real chance to differentiate from their parents and to explore what they themselves believe and want from life. Instead, they are set off along a prescribed path and are quickly nudged back onto it if they so much as angle to toward the edge. Rather than forging their own paths, the Duggar children are expected to simply follow the path forged by their parents. No questions, no buts, no backtalk.

Have you noticed that all the Duggar girls share one room and all the Duggar boys share another? Michelle said that’s because that’s how the children wanted it – they didn’t want to be separated. That may well be true, but it’s worth noting that when you share your room with your eight sisters, some still toddlers or babies, it’s really hard to find a moment of privacy or a place for sharing secrets.


Most of this stuff doesn’t come across on the TV show, does it? On the TV show the Duggars try to portray themselves as just one big happy family following God’s commands – a witness to others. What you don’t see is that the Duggar children live lives in a fishbowl, carefully scripted lives from which no dissent or differentiation is allowed. Their lives are laid out for them, and growing up is not about exploration but rather fulfilling the expectations of their parents. Conformity is key and stepping out of line is not acceptable.

Bowing to negative publicity, the Duggars recently enrolled some of their children, including the older girls, in an online college program highly promoted by premier Christian Patriarchy group Vision Forum. This program promises bachelors degrees in as little as two years and has the advantage of keeping the Duggar children safely under their parents’ watchful eyes. Not surprisingly, the girls are interested in studying things like nursing and midwifery. I have no idea whether they’ll actually finish, but it would be great for those older girls if they were able to get college degrees of some sort, because it might open more horizons for them in the future.

As for what’s in the future for the Duggar kids, if all follows their parents’ plans the boys will be set up with careers of some sort and will court girls from like-minded families and then start their own families with a baby at least every other year. We’ve already seen Josh Duggar follow this prescribed path.

The Duggar girls, in contrast, will remain at home until some suitable suitor approaches Jim Bob to ask to court them, and they will then move to their own homesto continue their duty as homemakers and begin having numerous children of their own.

If things work out differently, though, and one or more of the Duggar kids strike out on their own, I can only guess how hard things will be for them. And I have to say, the TV cameras and publicity won’t help. I can only wish them the best.


Homeschooled Girl kicked out of Prom


Homeschooled Girl Kicked Out of Prom Because of Leering Dads


Callie BeusmanProfileFollow


Callie Beusman




In case you weren't already convinced that most high school dress codes are sexist bulldust meant to police young women's behavior along totally arbitrary guidelines, this story should do it for you: a 17-year-old girl was publicly chastised and kicked out of a homeschool prom in Virginia because several dads in attendance were unable to stop ogling her from a balcony overlooking the event.

18oh6nq88zhxzpng.jpg Let's Reinvent the 'Don't Be a Slut' School Dress Code

525]The classroom is not the beach, young lady. But it's not a convent, either. So why are…

In a blog post at HannahEttinger.com — titled, aptly, "f word the Patriarchy" — Clare, the young woman in question, wrote about her experience. According to her, she attended the Richmond Homeschool Prom with her boyfriend; the event's only dress code stipulation was that her dress be fingertip length or longer. With that in mind, she'd purchased a below-fingertip-length dress with her own money — so, by the criterion specifically stated on the event registration, Clare was not dressed inappropriately.

When she arrived at the event, she was told by an event chaperone that her dress was too short. She protested, stating that she had made sure it wasn't, and the chaperone begrudgingly allowed her in. Once inside, she met up with her friends and writes that they were all "appalled" that she'd been stopped, "especially considering we've been attending this prom all four years of high school and usually wore much shorter dresses." She also notes that "We were... a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves."

It was then that the event chaperone, a woman, approached her again. Writes Clare:

Despite her protests, Clare was made to leave, along with five other friends she'd carpooled with. Which makes sense, you know, because the nebulous menace of "impure thoughts" is so obviously dangerous to young men that it justifies kicking six teenagers out of an event they'd paid for!

This whole thing is infuriating, particularly because it so well encapsulates the absurdity inherent in how our culture conceptualizes propriety. We're taught to think that women's bodies are by definition impure and that displaying them is automatically salacious and obscene. And we localize that "obscenity" in women's behavior, which is patently ridiculous. In this situation, a bunch of fully-grown men were gawking at a teenager's body, and she's the one accused of being "inappropriate"? Seriously?

Furthermore, "impropriety" is always defined from a male perspective: the "below the fingertip" length stipulation was merely a stand-in for the real, tacit dress code, which is "Don't wear anything that a dude might find 'distracting,' i.e., boner-inducing." Implicit in this logic is the idea that women don't have any ownership over their bodies or any control over how they're read — in short, that if men deem something "provocative," it's automatically harlot-garb. It doesn't matter if it's an event-appropriate dress or leggings, which are what I like to wear when I've given up on the week: if some phantom man might find your clothing inappropriately sexual, it's by definition inappropriately sexual.

hjsaqhhjllegbvip6auj.jpg School Dress Code's 'Distracting' Leggings Battle Rages on

525]The fight to ban leggings rages on in middle America, but this time protestors sported a snappy new …

On the bright side, the event's Facebook page was shut down after an outpouring of criticism for its organizers and support for Clare. Turns out that being a big, sexist hypocrite is never a good look.

My response:

I was a home schooled kid attending church as a teen with two other home school girls. I wore a skirt that was knee length but had a bit of a slit, boots up to my calves and a sweater top that hugged. I was later accused by the girls for my apparent lack of modesty and that it had caused me to be leered at by old men at the church. It was "my fault" for being provocative. My sweater top was not inappropriately tight or the skirt slit slutty, but I was slut shamed anyway! This story really resonates with me, and makes me angry that these things still happen even ten years after my own incident. We have not out grown this as a culture and its sad. And it really does affect girls in the worst way. I've never really gotten over it, and am still worried about showing too much skin.


An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

I have always loved Woody Allen films; the whole Soon Yi issue creeped me out, but I did not know about this until recently. I feel torn as a victim of sexual abuse and my love fore midnight in Paris, but I think it comes down to just loving the films now and not the person I once respected as an artist. And Dylan's case is a classic in which the victim is not believed. I am not saying her mother is not a master mind dramatic and co-abuser and Allen the soul abuser. But Allen reacts the same way I am sure my abuser would- silence, they won't dignify the allegations with much of an answer. Secondly Dylan has these memories, they didn't come from nowhere, but yet like many sexual abuse cases the evidence is like a whisper and you have to put your ear to the ground to hear it. To see the abuses that are often so subtle and manipulative you have to be willing to stretch your emotional intelligence and look for the things that are not said, and even more to what is said. In my case my mother said that I was never left alone with my abuser- I believe her. It's a truth lie, I was probably never left alone with my abuser because mother was either a witness or a participant. An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow By DYLAN FARROW


Frances Silver

Dylan Farrow

(A note from Nicholas Kristof: In 1993, accusations that Woody Allen had abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, filled the headlines, part of a sensational story about the celebrity split between Allen and his girlfriend, Mia Farrow. This is a case that has been written about endlessly, but this is the first time that Dylan Farrow herself has written about it in public. It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence. So why publish an account of an old case on my blog? Partly because the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award to Allen ignited a debate about the propriety of the award. Partly because the root issue here isn’t celebrity but sex abuse. And partly because countless people on all sides have written passionately about these events, but we haven’t fully heard from the young woman who was at the heart of them.
, but it’s time for the world to hear Dylan’s story in her own words.)

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.

When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.

But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.

Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?

The bad beginning

The things that make our history (Sibling and I) are sad and heartbreaking,and in a way is neither of our faults but has shaped everything. So the bad omen was the beginning. The bad omen of how they were literally born at my birthday party which was held a day early to accommodate family. My mother having to leave for the hospital and it disrupted everything. If you knew my Mother you would know that she was able to pull the center of the universe to herself, and only she could have been so dramatic. In other words things that happen with her tend to feel like more than a coincidence.

Things didn't get any better from there. I had been promised a new playmate. Of course I had expected something to magically pop out of the womb my size and age. But sibling didn't and I was incredibly disappointed, and the whole having a sibling immediately lost any of its excitement or thrill.

Now my parents were abusers with all kinds of problems. So where most parents work to ensure that their first child is supported and paid attention to during the transition time with a new baby, mind did not.

Most parents try to make sure the first child doesn't feel like they have lost their place or their value. Mine did not.

This neglect was lodged in my heart but it didn't become a full blown disease immediately, but slowly gathered momentum as my horrible and cruel parents did the unthinkable.

Instead of meeting my understandable dislike and jealousy over the new child, with some positive parenting and understanding of my feelings, because this happens with most kids, over the years they shamed me and I was essentially punished for it.

I was terrible for not completely loving this person who changed my life and stole my parents, and because I was terrible I must be punished. But they didn't stop there, my parents were not ones to give in, especially since the bible commanded you to love you "brother".

The next thing they did was force sibling on me. That included having to tell sibling that I loved them (forced) and to hug her and make up when we fought even though it was against my feelings (please see article on helping kids have their own boundaries), I wasn't allowed to have any feelings.

So by this point in my life I hated sibling. I could feel protective when other kids were against us and feel responsible for them, but a lot of the time I hated them.

My parents didn't get any better either. When sibling terrorized me, there was not relief, my parents didn't give sibling boundaries.

Then sibling learned how to act like them, following in my mothers footsteps shaming me for low intelligence and never doing anything right. It was also clear that mother preferred sibling, loved them more.

At what first seemed like my jealous opinion really came to be fairly factual evidence. Even to this day my Mother will spend an enormous amount of sibling for Christmas, while I will end up with things like a sweater.

The biggest problem with sibling aside from terrorizing behavior is that none of the things my parents have done has ever stopped hurting or in some way changed, it's never been fixed. It is so much pain to be that neglected.

So sibling never got a loving sister and I am fairly sure there is a lot of pain there in my rejection of them. For me everything about them is often painful. They are a reminder of all the hurts of my parents and the pain, and on top of that they frequently hurt me.

I pushed them away when I was much younger and I feel sad that I hurt them in that way, and sad about not being wanted myself. I understand what happened and how much it really had to do with my parents and not them.

But to get to the root of what happen I have to navigate through an unpleasant history.

So this is why it is confusing. Is sibling just holding onto that hurt and learned behaviors and is this something we can get through, or are they already too assimilated by my parents into practicing and being an abuser?


Exposing the Incest Family Secrets

Exposing the Incest Family Secrets Nov 19th, 2013 | By Christina Enevoldsen | Category: All Posts, Christina's Blog


by Christina Enevoldsen

When I started writing publicly about my healing from sexual abuse, I did it to validate my own history and journey and to inspire hope in other survivors. It’s been wonderfully empowering to record my triumphs and to share the process with thousands of fellow journeyers.

However, being so public about such intimate feelings and experiences has been costly. For the most part, I count it a bargain compared with the expense of silence, but that resolve isn’t always very convenient or comfortable.

One of the recent costs for being so vocal is a lawsuit from my parents. They are suing me for defamation of character and emotional distress. Through their case, they want to shut down OSA and silence my voice.

In the minds of my parents, they are the victims; I am the abuser.

My mother has said of me:

“She has always longed for attention and recognition and the negative recognition is so satisfying to her.”

“I regret to say that we raised her to be self centered and spoiled.”

“She is also without scruples, vicious, extreme and without boundaries or a conscience.”

In the suit, my mother describes several incidents from my life, even from my childhood, to demonstrate how awful I am. It’s clear to me that she believes I’ve been wicked from a very young age and that, though she did her best to instill goodness into me, she was overpowered by the evil in me and by my strong will. She was the victim; I was the abuser.

That’s an accusation I’ve heard internally for a long time. Years ago, when I broke the “no telling” rule, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was guilty. After disclosing my abuse to a roomful of people, I went to bed knowing I’d be punished. And that I deserved it.

A vague but persistent fear loomed over me. Anytime something bad happened to me, I felt shame. From haircuts gone wrong to being laid off at work to being rear ended in my car, I believed it was all the consequences for my badness. Every negative experience was confirmation that I was undeserving of love, pleasure, safety, respect, or comfort.

I believed that my parents deserved protection and that some unstoppable force was on their side so they couldn’t be opposed. They were completely justified in whatever they did to me since I was without any value or rights. There was no “abuse” since you can’t abuse a Nothing.

I believed that my parents deserved protection and that some unstoppable force was on their side so they couldn’t be opposed. They were completely justified in whatever they did to me since I was without any value or rights. There was no “abuse” since you can’t abuse a Nothing.

Though I’d already confronted some of those fears and false beliefs about telling, like most things in the healing process, there have been many layers to this. Another layer started to surface last year.

Before the lawsuit. I’d heard reports of my dad’s deteriorating body and mind. Though I felt sorry for him, his vulnerable position also angered me. My feelings confused me, but as I examined them, I discovered the source: I believed that I had to stop talking about my abuse now that my dad was in a weakened condition. Because my father was no longer physically, emotionally or mentally stronger than me, I feared that I was taking advantage of someone who couldn’t defend himself.

Once again, I felt like I was bad.

One of the most eerie parts of my dad’s sexual abuse was the glassy-eyed expression on his face. It was as though he didn’t even see me. I was just an object to be used, not a human being, not an innocent child, not his only daughter.

I was afraid that I was discounting his personhood in the same way he’d done to me and that it made me abusive. The truth is that telling my story isn’t abusive. Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.

My parents groomed me to accept an identify that made life easier for them–to protect my parents’ feelings and reputation and to be ignorant of my value so I wouldn’t complain or protest.

As I’ve faced the truth about my value and identity, I’ve also recognized more universal truths. I haven’t caused my parents’ emotional distress. My parents’ distress comes from their own failings and pain. To ask me to carry it for them is dysfunctional. To have expected that of me as a child was morally wrong.

If my abusers want to stop their pain, they must begin by acknowledging the truth—maybe not to the whole world, but at least within their own hearts and minds. I know the way they mistreated me wasn’t the beginning of their pain and if they were honest with themselves, they could have the same freedom and healing that I have. I don’t have the power to make them feel bad or good.

I know from my own life that there are two kinds of pain that come from the truth; there is the pain from dodging it and the pain of facing it. Refusing to deal with it leads to more pain. The more I ran from the truth, the more abuse I encountered—from others and from myself.

I know from my own life that there are two kinds of pain that come from the truth; there is the pain from dodging it and the pain of facing it. Refusing to deal with it leads to more pain. The more I ran from the truth, the more abuse I encountered—from others and from myself.

As I’ve faced my pain—the pain from things done to me and the pain I’ve caused others and myself—I’ve moved through it. On the other side of grieving is joy with life affirming decisions and behaviors.

A victim’s silence isn’t good for anyone. Those types of secrets are destructive to everyone who keeps them. TRUTH doesn’t destroy families and it doesn’t even destroy the abuser. For incest to occur in a family, it takes more than just an abuser and a victim. It’s part of an entire dysfunctional system. Exposing abuse gives the entire family an opportunity to heal and to learn more healthy and functional ways to relate to each other.

Unfortunately, when most families are confronted with the truth they don’t choose to heal. Instead, they blame the victim so they can continue in their dysfunctional ways. People don’t want to face their own internal demons so they demonize whoever triggers them.

When the truth is hidden, abuse flourishes. When the truth is revealed and accepted, it has the amazing ability to set people free. The lie is that pain can be avoided in the midst of abuse. But there will be pain. The question is: Will it be the continuing pain of destruction as a result of the lies or the diminishing pain of facing the lies so healing can occur?

Even if the rest of my family would benefit from my speaking out, I’m not doing it for them. I won’t be swayed by their feelings like I was as a child. I’m loyal to the truth and I’ll honor the truth with my life. I’ll continue to speak out for the little girl I used to be and for all the innocent children who were abused and are still being abused. All of us deserve a voice.


Real American Horror Story

There is nothing more dark and scary than the things that have go bump in the night for an abuse victim. And add on the nightmares and flash backs you are really living a real American horror story.

I thought it might be of interest to share my current perspective on nightmares and flashbacks. Also because suffering through them is trying and writing about it therapeutic.

I have mixed feelings about the experience with nightmares and flashbacks. First they can be completely traumatizing and cause great panic. In fact it's hard to go back to sleep.

Second I don't always know what incidents they are metaphors for, it's almost like an emotional imprint. You are very clear on the fact that something happened and that emotional imprint is the feeling of the experience and trauma you just may not have the whole picture yet.

Third I find myself strangely relieved to be having them. Sounds insane, but as an abuse victim you are constantly at risk of losing in your grasp of reality and your history. You may have suffered conditioning during your abuse and that often undermines self trust. Sometimes I think to myself "Did that really happen", "Did I misunderstand", "Are these symptoms the result of something else", and then I am jolted back to reality when I have the nightmares and flashbacks. It makes a pretty undeniable case for something having happened.

So I have mixed feelings about them. I am also having to explore what it looks like to help myself through them. It's a process, one I often wish I didn't have to go through.


Worry is a choice

Why Worry Is a Choice

By Deepak Chopra


Photo: Thinkstock/Stockbyte

The demands you put on yourself can create more pressure than you know how to handle. Deepak Chopra continues his series with new strategies to help you break the cycle of anxiety by changing the way you response to stress.

Anxiety is like a shortcut. When faced with uncertainty, the normal response is to stop, consider what might happen, and make a decision based on the best prediction you can make. But the anxious person doesn't go through this process; they jump right towards feeling afraid. No one enjoys uncertainty. There is always a tinge of anxiousness when you don't know what the future holds. But going straight into fear is the worst way to handle the situation because fear is almost never a good advisor. It blocks clear decision-making, and exaggerates the risks and dangers that might lie ahead.

If you are an anxious person, you need to stop making the leap into fear. But how do you do that? It requires a new way of approaching uncertainty. Life is always uncertain, and until you can embrace this fact, you will imagine risks, dangers, and threats that never materialize. Yet, suffering in your imagination is just as painful—perhaps more painful—since dealing with a crisis is always easier than waiting for one in a state of dread.

The Anxious Self

Many spiritual traditions speak of separation as the real cause of human misery. Separation can mean being apart from God, your soul, or the higher self. But the terminology isn’t important; even the word "spiritual" isn't crucial. What is crucial is that people are divided inside. One part of the self opposes another part. With guilt, the good fights against the bad. With anxiety, the strong part of the self is at war with the weak part.

When a situation arises that can be handled well, the strong part feels confident, competent, in charge and in control. When uncertainty crops up, the weak part feels afraid, helpless, and hopeless. Anxious people never settle this inner conflict. They are so divided that when they feel afraid, the weak part is "the real me." When they are not afraid, the strong part is "the real me." In fact, neither is the real self. The real self is beyond conflict; it is whole and at peace. So the long-term approach to anxiety is to rise above the inner war to find a self that is more whole.


Photo: Thinkstock/Stockbyte

When the self is divided and in conflict, there is always a hidden aspect of judgment against the self. Anxious people judge against themselves so much that they usually seek a stronger person to handle the uncertainties and difficulties that seem so overwhelming. It can certainly mask the problem for a while to marry a strong spouse or rely on a powerful parent. But finding a substitute isn't the same as finding yourself. Anxious people are blocked from finding themselves because they quickly run into self-judgment, and this makes them even more insecure. Self-judgment is the voice inside that says:

"You can't handle it. Remember the last time you fell apart? This time will be the same."

"You're too weak. Inside you're still a helpless child. Other people stand on their own, but not you."

"You aren't smart enough. Other people can find the right solution, but not you. You just stand there looking blank."

"You aren't good enough. All these fearful things are a punishment. You deserve what you get."

As you can see, to live with a divided self is misery and anxious people dread themselves more than their imaginary dangers. The main thing they dread is anxiety, of course, but anxiety is more than a bad sensation. It is rooted in the weak self that quickly jumps to conclusions. The first part of healing is to realize what is going on. The second part is to identify with the real you; then the war inside will be irrelevant.

Your real self is always present, but it's masked by the trappings of everyday existence. Whether you recognize it or not, everyone lives in a state of separation, which means the divided self is the one you identify with. People with anxiety have a tougher time than others, but even the healthiest and most secure person is divided. If you weren't, you would be in contact with God, the soul, or the higher self twenty-four hours a day. I mention this only to emphasize that moving out of the divided state doesn't happen overnight. Any anxious person needs to learn how to deal with fear and panic on a day-to-day basis while at the same time never losing sight of the long-range goal: finding the real self.

How to Move Towards Healing

You can't find something if you are looking in the wrong place. This holds especially true for the real self, because we all look for solutions from our divided self, and then we trust its answers. For anxious people, fear is actually a kind of solution. It provides a shortcut. It keeps the person vigilant. It gives the feeling of being concerned, engaged, and busy. And since fear is unwelcome, it drives people into all kinds of escapist activities. Every distraction from alcohol and drugs to television and movies is constantly available. It's no surprise that millions of people would rather accommodate their lives to being afraid rather than seeking authentic healing.

Yet real healing does exist. Because anxious people are insecure, they need to pursue a path to healing that reinforces itself. Outside help is valuable, of course, but anxious people tend to use stronger people as crutches. The trick here is to accept that self-healing is the only way. Once you can accept this truth, which is quite painful to anyone in a state of insecurity and fear. The next part is to keep reinforcing the process. Every day needs to be seen objectively as a step in the right direction.

One method is to keep a simple daily log to track the positive things you did to abate your anxiety. For the sake of being realistic, it's also good to record the negative things, but avoid the urge to become discouraging or self-pitying. Rather than keeping a full-fledged journal, which most people can't find the time to sustain after a few weeks or months, make your log a simple check list, ticking off what went right and what went wrong. You can insert comments if you like at the bottom of the page.


I stood up for myself, I spoke my mind.

I felt strong.

I had a moment of being real with someone.

I dealt with a panicky moment.

I started to feel anxious but it didn't progress.

I felt optimistic about myself.

I had hope for the future.

I felt some peace and calm.

I survived a difficult situation.

I appreciated myself; I congratulated myself.

I felt worthy; my esteem was high.

I didn't fall into my usual reaction.

I had a bright idea.

The world seemed like a safe place to be.

I felt accepted.

I didn't cling to anyone or use them as a crutch.

I faced a difficult choice.


I didn't stand up for myself; I wanted to speak my mind but didn't.

I felt weakness.

I didn't get real with anyone.

I suffered through one or more panic attacks.

I had a lot of low-level anxiety that didn't go away.

I felt pessimistic about myself.

The future looked hopeless.

I felt no peace and calm.

I caved in to a difficult situation.

I criticized myself and fell into self-judgment.

I felt unworthy; my esteem was low.

I related to people who made me feel bad about myself.

I gave in to someone else's negative views.

I didn't feel safe.

I felt rejected.

I was clingy.

I procrastinated and put off a difficult choice.

I wanted someone to rescue me.

I kept wishing that things would get better on their own.

If you decide to include the negative roster, be sure to note if the items you have checked off are improving. Negatives can be useful if they show you what you are moving away from, but they're not useful if you use them to fuel your self-judgment, since self-judgment is the root of the problem.

It's key to have more positive events than negative ones. Happiness is built up by having good days, not by reaching for an unattainable ideal in the future. The same is true for being non-anxious. You must find it today, as best you can. By paying attention to your anxiety one day at a time, the hidden healing processes in your mind and your body can begin to work, because you are giving them a real opening here and now.

In the end, however, the best healer is the real self. It is found by walking your own path, call it the path to self-awareness, God, or higher consciousness. The methods for discovery have been outlined in all the world's wisdom traditions. First and foremost, you need to make a real connection with the level of peace, silence, and security that lies beneath the turbulence of daily stress and strain. The most reliable method is meditation. If that seems unworkable, then sit for fifteen minutes twice a day in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe. Place your attention on your heart and simply be. If you notice that your thoughts have distracted you, breathe again and once more place your attention on your heart.

This technique will accustom you to being with yourself. Anxious people misjudge being alone. They identify it with fear, loneliness, and insecurity. That's perfectly understandable given their history of fear. But being alone is your ground state, the basis of your existence. It's not your enemy. It's not a danger zone. So take some time to undo the mistaken judgment that alone and lonely are the same. They aren't. The doorway to a lifetime of safety, security, and self-worth lies at the level of the real self, and you were


How to stop anxiety

I need this, especially going into the holidays!

Deepak Chopra: A Freer (Happier!) Way to Think

Deepak Chopra, co-founder of the Chopra Foundation and the author of God: A Story of Revelation, shows us how to bring lasting joy back into our lives.

By Deepak Chopra


Every day unwanted thoughts enter our minds: "What's wrong with me?" "I keep doing this to myself," "I'm stupid," "I'm all alone," "I never get a break" and "How will I ever get out of this?"' 'Our minds are vulnerable to negative thoughts, causing us doubt, worry, anxiety—and frequently, it's the same negative thoughts that return over and over.

Repetition is a sign that you need to change. A part of you is calling out to get your attention. These thoughts are like having a rock in your shoe. It's not reasonable to ask the rock to quit hurting you or to see it as your enemy. The pain the rock causes is only asking for a remedy.

The first step is making a decision, one that only you can make: to walk away from the false solutions and futile tactics that have kept you stuck in your mental misery. It's not the thoughts that are making you miserable; it's the lack of a viable strategy.

Psychologists have asserted for decades that there is a huge difference between having a negative thought and turning it into action. Yet this lesson never seems to sink in. Thoughts are just fleeting mental images. They have no consequences until you choose to make them important. Let's look more closely at the five choices that will help you take the mental rock out of your shoe.

1. Turn Negativity into Positive Action

If an obsessive thought is a cry for help—and it is—bring the help that's asked for. You wouldn't neglect a crying child, yet we all neglect our negative thoughts, which are the mental equivalent. Let's say you are in a difficult situation and you start thinking, "What's wrong with me?" or "How will I ever get out of this?" Acknowledge that you are feeling scared, which is the real event occurring in your mind. Don't push the anxiety away. Take a break and walk away from the immediate stress. Sit quietly and take some deep breaths. Do your best to center yourself.

Once you feel calm enough to address the situation, make a plan. Write down the possible steps you can take that will be positive, achievable actions. (The point here is to use the rational side of the brain rather than giving in to runaway emotion.) Once you have your list, put the positive actions in order of which to do first, second and third. Now take the first step. Turning an emotional event inside yourself into a set of rational steps is one of the best ways to rise above the level of the problem to the level of the solution.

2. Get a Healthy Outside Perspective

If a negative mental habit—like feeling insecure, scared or helpless—has been with you for a while, you need to check if your plan for action is workable. Seek outside validation. Go to someone you trust, preferably someone who displays the qualities you want to acquire (e.g., a firm sense of self, a lack of fear and plenty of self-reliance), and discuss the practical things you intend to do. I'm not talking about the kind of adviser who says things like "Get over it," "Everyone feels that way" or "Poor thing." Such statements are copouts. Seek someone who genuinely empathizes and can validate your plan to change.

3. Don't Indulge the Level of Futility

We've already discussed our propensity to keep doing what never worked in the first place. But futile tactics are insidious. They keep coming to mind over and over, despite their record of failure. The difficulty is that you have wired your brain, setting down a groove that is all too easy to fall back into. Grooves can be erased only by forming new grooves.

If you find yourself falling back into self-defeating thoughts, stop and say, "That's how I've been approaching the problem. And it doesn't work." You will have to do this more than once, and yet each time is useful. The more you stop indulging the level of futility, the more mental energy can be devoted to new tactics. Please note, I'm not saying that you should fight your old mental habits. That's a recipe for more misery, as all wars are. Your aim is simply to notice what doesn't work, which is a form of mindfulness or self-awareness.

4. Expand Your Awareness

When the mind is constricted, it becomes like a tight muscle—you can't expect it to move as long as it's cramped. The things that constrict the mind: old conditioning, outworn beliefs, ritualized thinking, habit, inertia, fear and low expectations. These are challenges you need to confront as honestly as possible.

Having a closed mind doesn't feel good, so whenever you detect any kind of inner discomfort, the first tactic should be to expand your awareness. Let's say that you feel resentment toward someone else. Clearly, that is a contracted mindset. If you were more open-minded, you'd start to tolerate that person, see their good side, and stop waiting for something new to blame and dislike them for.

In and of itself, open-mindedness solves all kinds of problems that are the result of narrow-mindedness. But to achieve it, you need to stop believing that being stuck, judgmental, opinionated and self-important ever works. You must learn to know yourself better, to follow the model of tolerant people rather than prejudiced ones, to turn away from victimization and so on. For years I've recommended meditation as the most effective way to expand awareness. Also useful are mindfulness, self-reflection, prayer, contemplation and counseling.

5. Take Full Responsibility

Your mind encompasses the best of yourself and the worst. It holds the greatest promises and the greatest threats. Our minds create our reality. Once you face this fact, it can be overwhelming. We all secretly want to escape responsibility for creating the situation we find ourselves in. We don't want to face painful truths. Change feels like risk. Our minds are used to projecting blame and judgment upon others. So much promise goes unfulfilled this way. In truth, the power to create your reality, which begins by building a mature self, opens the way to life's greatest joys.

6. Develop a Higher Vision of Your Life

It would be sheer drudgery if you took responsibility for only the bad things in your life. You are also responsible for the good things. If you have a vision for yourself, you can aim higher. The good things become more meaningful because you are heading for long-term fulfillment. This is much better than a string of short-term pleasures, nice as they may be. People without a vision can amass a lot of small pleasures. This kind of immediate gratification is everywhere in our society; distractions are a multi-billion-dollar business. Look at your daily quotient of idling around the Internet, video games, channel surfing, movies, snacking, shopping, and merely hanging around.

These distractions are hangovers from adolescence, when immaturity was a natural state. They drop away when life moves on and you undertake the project of building a self. The point isn't to become self-serious and reject having fun. The point is to aim for higher satisfactions that last. By developing a vision of what your life is about, you are asking, "Who am I?" and then turning your answer into positive actions.

7. Make Full Use of Your Successes

We began with the universal problem of mental misery, tracing it back to the mind being an enemy instead of an ally. When you start making your mind into a friend, each step forward needs to be reinforced. That's how the brain gets new neural pathways that last. Without reinforcement, your successes will seem to float away while your problems will seem to stick around. In reality, negativity has no power to defeat positivity. Both forces exist in everyone's mind. The real issue is to bring in as much light as you can. Negativity acquires its power through repetition, being unconscious, judging yourself and focusing on setbacks. Positivity gains its power by celebrating our successes, associating with people who are good role models, learning to be emotionally resilient, being objective about your situation and, above all else, acquiring self-awareness.

I realize that I've set out a plan for overcoming mental misery that sounds daunting if you are used to following futile tactics—most of which only postpone the day when you make a tremendous discovery, that you are not life's victim or fate's pawn. But you are the creative center of your own existence. The greatest power we have is the power to create reality. Mental misery denies you that power. Taking positive steps to turn our mind into an ally is the escape route everyone has been seeking for centuries. The essence of wisdom is to see that there is always a solution once you realize that the mind, which seems to create so much suffering, has infinite potential to create fulfillment instead.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Stop-Anxiety-and-Obsessive-Thoughts-Deepak-Chopra/3#ixzz2laxruC2C


True Self

I find that after years in an abusive family dynamic finding my voice and self difficult, it feels mired and murky at times. So when I come across a new way at looking at the puzzle of self (me) I am quite thrilled.

How to Tell the Difference Between Your True Self and Your Everyday Self

Deepak Chopra, as told to Leigh Newman


The co-founder of the Chopra Foundation and author of Spiritual Solutions: Answers to Life's Greatest Challenges shows us how to be our best, most aware selves.

It's important to be yourself. We're all told that, and it's true—we know the damage done by being false to ourselves and to others. But I'd like to suggest that to "be yourself" goes much deeper. Most people don't know how much wisdom and power resides in the self, which is not the everyday self that gets mixed up with all the business of life, but a deeper self, which I call, for simplicity's sake, the true self.

The true self isn't a familiar term to most people, although it is close to what religion calls your soul, the purest part of yourself. But religion depends upon faith, and that's not the issue here. You can actually test if you have such a true self. How? You know that sugar is sweet because you can taste it. Likewise, the true self has certain qualities that belong to it the way sweetness belongs to sugar. If you can experience these qualities, repeat them, learn to cultivate them and finally make them a natural part of yourself, the true self has come to life.

The trick is distinguishing what is your true self and what is not. If we had a switch that could turn off the everyday self and turn on the true self, matters would be much simpler. But human nature is divided. There are moments when you feel secure, accepted, peaceful and certain. At those moments, you are experiencing the true self. At other moments, you experience the opposite, and then you are in the grip of the everyday self, or the ego-self. The trouble is that both sides are convincing. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, crisis, doubts and insecurity, the true self might as well not exist. You are experiencing a different reality colored by the state of your mind.

At those dark, tough moments, try to get some outside perspective about what is happening. The qualities of the everyday self and the true self are actually very different:

1. The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion.

2. The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.

3. The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of "I, me, mine."

4. The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed.

5. The true self is love. The everyday self, lacking love, seeks it from outside sources.

Look at the qualities of the true self: self-reliant, evolutionary, loving, creative, knowing, accepting and peaceful. Whenever anyone is in crisis, whether the problem is a troubled marriage or difficulties at work or over money, they will make the best decisions if they utilize these qualities.

Sadly, we are more likely to be driven by selfishness, panic, uncertainty, impulsiveness, survival instincts and other qualities associated with the ego-self. That's how society trained us. We measure our worth by our achievements and possession. Money and status feed the ego, and society rewards those who play the game of getting and spending with skill and drive.

But look at the faulty choices millions of people make. They choose material rewards in the hope that money can buy happiness, or at least all the nice trappings of a happy life. They plunge into careers that offer success but end up with little inner fulfillment. Doesn't it make sense instead that the foundation for every choice should be the true self? The true self understands what you really want and what you really need to be joyful. It creates a much stronger, more expansive foundation for your life than any the ego-self can provide, since that is rooted in fear and insecurity.

Once you begin to recognize and encourage the qualities of the true self, your life will begin to change. You'll make better choices. You'll expand your awareness. You'll discover and encourage your purpose. You'll challenge yourself to meet new goals.

The greatest spiritual secret in the world is that every problem has a spiritual solution, not because every prayer is answered by a higher power, but because the true self, once discovered, is the source of creativity, intelligence and personal growth. No external solution has such power. The true self is the basis for being deeply optimistic about how life turns out and who you really are, behind the screen of doubt and confusion. The path to it isn't simply inspiring; it's the source of solutions that emerge from within.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Deepak-Chopra-The-Difference-Between-the-True-Self-and-Everyday-Self#ixzz2lavmYZ2e


The Etiquette of Christmas Estrangement


The Etiquette of Christmas Estrangement

Posted in Family Estrangement Topics, Holidays and Events by Fiona on December 19, 2010


Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.

~Amy Vanderbilt

Holidays stir the pot for many people who are estranged from their families, but Christmas seems particularly difficult. One of the reasons this may be so is because the very nature of Christmas is to reconnect in a spirit of generosity. We send cards, buy gifts, make plans to share meals and do things together. We generally continue to hold this view of the Christmas holiday, and do the things we are neatly programmed to do as part of our traditions and celebrations, and then bump into the blank spot on our Christmas list. The blank spot is the name of the person we are estranged from and they are definitely the most difficult person on our Christmas list to shop for.

“I’m estranged from my father, but as a gesture of good will I would like to send him a card. Is this okay?”

“I don’t want anything to do with my sister, but I feel terrible not acknowledging my niece and nephew. Can I send a gift?”

“I have been estranged from my grandmother for 4 years. She has sent me a gift should I send it right back unopened? Obviously I can’t accept a gift from someone I never want to speak to?”

“I am estranged from my mother and most of my extended family. They have now started freezing out my children. Should I buy them gifts and pretend they are from their family?”

~* ~

These are just a few of the comments and questions you are sending me, Dear Readers and at the risk of sounding like the Ann Landers of family estrangement, I am going to give you some things to ponder.

1-No two instances of family estrangement are the same. What works brilliantly for me, may backfire terribly for you in your family. Let’s start the advice giving by acknowledging that you know your family circumstances best and ultimately if something does not fit for you, it’s not a good idea for you. Trust yourself.

2- Check your motives. Think about why you want to give. Often we are triggered at Christmas time to reach out and connect with family members, even though it may not be in our best interests. Consider whether by sending a gift or a card you are opening a door that you’d really rather stayed shut. Consider what you feel. Is giving informed by guilt? By shame? By obligation? As the Amy Vanderbilt quote above suggests, if we’re doing something from the wrong feeling place, it is unlikely to ring true – and more importantly, is likely to leave us feeling badly.

-3 Consider your resilience. Think of the best/worst case scenarios. Consider whether you have the reserves and resilience to deal with them. If you extend yourself and make an overture and it is rejected, how are you going to feel? Can you give without having any expectations? This is not about being negative or thinking of the worst, it’s about giving from the heart and ensuring you can look after yourself if it goes sideways.

4- Yes, do think of the children! Family estrangement is grown up business. If it is possible to leave children out of it – please do. Something as simple as a card can make the difference between another generation learning to cope through distance and one which understands that difficulty in one relationship is not an excuse to obliterate all other connections too. Think really carefully about this one.

5- Graciousness and gratitude. If someone you are estranged from sends you a gift, consider the spirit it is offered in. Even if you do not desire any connection whatsoever, think about whether sending the gift back is a means of self-care, or a means of punishing the other person? Do the right thing. You’ll feel better for it.

6- Don’t fake it. If your family is not buying or giving for your children it hurts. It hurts them and it hurts you too. This is a BIG family estrangement owie – as the implications are enormous. We can live with knowing we will not have access to family, but it may break our hearts that our kids will grow up marinating in disconnection and distance.

Any time there is a special occasion involving children, we can find ourselves feeling very badly indeed for our kids, as well as for ourselves. This extends outward to extended family who do not feel able to connect with children or young people whom they love and care about, because they are estranged from their adults.

Despite all the pain and anger this may stir up, we need to be honest with our kids. Age appropriate honest. We don’t make excuses and lie for people. We also don’t demonize them. We need to let kids know that they will not get acknowledgment or gifts from certain people ie. grandparents, the way that their friends do, but that it doesn’t mean they aren’t important or loved. That’s right, we take the high moral ground around our children. We explain that there is pain, hurt feelings and disconnection AND that it doesn’t mean the missing family members don’t love and care for them. We give them an alternate story, that is capacity building and life enhancing. We give them a chance to break the legacy of estrangement.

7- Make new traditions and rituals which acknowledge disconnection and estrangement. Perhaps at the family Christmas meal a small toast or prayer can go out for all the family who are missing. Perhaps you burn a candle through the Christmas season to remember those who are absent. Acknowledging the existence of our family is affirming, even when we are not in relationship to them. Even when we are still angry and still hurting.

8- If you can give and you want to give, and you can manage to do it without expectation – give!



Calm Waters, Closed Mouths

A Personal Story about Calm Waters, Closed Mouths, and Other Ways Women Might Die

November 13, 2013 | by Akilah S. Richards


Cultural Zest

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” – Jane Austen

Speak on it, Jane!

In our society, where demure trumps direct and poised trumps impassioned — but only where women are concerned — it seems akin to murder or treason for a woman to speak up for herself in conversation with a male – more specifically, an older male.

Have you ever been defined through that calm waters lens?

You know the type, right?

That “Why does she always have to make turnips so uncomfortable for everybody by speaking out?” type. That “Aw hell, I hope no one says anything to get her riled up” type. That “Somebody needs to remind her that sometimes the best response is no response” type.

Does that type of woman live in your mirror?

Because for phoey sure, she is nowhere near mine.

And finally, after spending nearly the first half of my thirties trying to fabricate a just-let-it-go self, I have no intention of revisiting that inauthentic path.

I know my type, and I know that my job as an ever-evolving, sentient being is to protect and assert my Me-ness – to stand out without the intention of doing harm to anyone, including myself.

My type is not one to absorb what is needed to make other people more comfortable in their Them-ness.

This does not mean that I don’t exercise consideration, compassion, and assessment of my patterns and motives with the intention of refining my Me-ness should I feel like I handled someone without the regard and respect I myself would want.

Not at all.

I understand and value respect – reverence in some cases – but my type does not automatically serve up helpings of Yes’m and No’m to anyone just because they hold a particular position or because they’ve lived longer than I have.

And whenever that expectation of subservience is directed at me, I get all caged tiger-like. And from there, my mode of expression shifts from thoughtful and peace-focused, to all-out warrior woman mode. Seriously.

Such was the case recently, when an important male elder in my life tried to crack a whip at my mouth, and expected me not only to be still, but to accept what he was attempting to do.

Ask Siegfried and Roy about their homeboy, Montecore. The Gist of the Story

My husband and I left our daughters, ages nine and seven, with this elder and his wife while we went on a lunch date.

When we returned, we hung out at their house, as we usually do on Sundays, chatting and preparing for dinner.

About two hours after we’d been there, our nine-year-old asked if she could go outside to play with some neighborhood kids.

I said yes, but Male Elder called my daughter’s name, summoned her and her sister to him, and demanded that she tell her mother what happened.

I was confused.

My husband wasn’t in the same room as us, but I felt sure he didn’t know “what happened” either, or he would have discussed it with me.

I waited, deciding to just observe instead of question, for the moment.

My daughters followed his instructions, sat in front of me, and my oldest, Marley, began to speak.

Not three seconds into the sound of her voice, Male Elder interrupted her with verbal daggers such as liar, manipulator, and other terms I deemed grossly offensive and wholly inappropriate for a grown man to be hurling at a nine-year-old child.

It was then that I stepped out of observation mode.

“Can you please speak to me instead of her, as it seems you’re angry?” I asked in what I am sure what a calm and respectful tone.

His response, however, was neither calm nor respectful.

“No, let her tell you! But it better be the truth this time. Marley, you are digging yourself into a hole, and—” he chimed.

“Yes, but since it seems that your version of what happened is different than hers, I’d rather talk to the adult first, and I’ll speak with Marley after.”

“No, she can speak. Let her tell you. Marley, go ahead and tell your mother what happened when you were outside today,” he insisted.

Marley began to speak. And again, he chimed in with the accusations.

“Can you either tell me what happened, or let her speak without interruption, please.” Those were my words, verbatim.

Finally, he let her speak.

And no sooner than she had finished, her story accented by tidbits of information from her sister, he began to explain his version of the story, and why my daughters had to be lying.

His story didn’t sit well with me at all.

But I wasn’t there, and I’m not one of those delusional my-kid-can-do-no-wrong types, so I needed more information still.

I instructed my daughters to leave the room, after which he and I spent nearly thirty minutes sorting through details.

Eventually, I realized that he was not interested in what actually happened with my daughters outside that day, but wholly pre-occupied with validating what he thought had happened.

He went on about kids these days, and back in his day, and other get-off-my-lawn type diatribes.

He also (repeatedly) attempted to manage our conversation by telling me what I should not be questioning (his judgment) and what I should be doing (parenting my daughters in a way that shows respect for their elders).

I gave my opinion, respectfully.

But the more it deviated from what he “knew” happened, the more upset he got.

And when he commented about me not recognizing who my daughters really are, I got on my Jane Austen vibe and ditched calm waters for a perfectly natural human emotion: anger.

[Queue Jane Austen]

I went caged tiger on his donkey, and I meant every roar word that bellowed through my throat.

Have you been there?

Have you done your very best to utilize every social skill that your granny and your mama instilled in you, only to have that turnips get stomped on by someone else’s irrational idea of respect?

Those moments can be tricky, particularly if it’s an elder, and even more so if it’s a male.

In my case, the elder is of a very traditional British-Caribbean school of thought, wrought with sexist ideologies of head-nodding women whose greatest pride comes from the cleanliness of her living room floors and the sweet smell of whateverthehell coming from her kitchen.

I don’t even like cooking, and I take more pride in my UFC fighter knowledge than the cleanliness of my floors.

I’m that type.

And if you sing any verses from my type of song, and your method of self-expression seems to threaten the mindset of elders in your life, remember this in your caged-tiger moments:

Acquiescence is never your only option, nor is it synonymous with respect.

Self-expression is almost always a risk, but if a woman is not willing to risk expression, she will never truly know what she is made up of, nor will she be able to gain the respect of others.

You must speak up on your own behalf and be willing to rock the turnips out of any boat that is already rocking from disrespect and disregard for who you are and what you believe.

Calm waters can kill a woman, and you probably know a few women who’ve died inside from years of calm-water aspirations.

Surely, there are moments when the best thing to do is to shut up and wait for safety.

But don’t default to that logic, because your safety and your enslavement aren’t always the only two choices you have.

If you busy yourself with the art of tip-toeing around emotions and stroking other people’s irrational expectations, that duct tape of muted expression will remain firmly affixed to your mouth, and you will never be free to express what you need, nor command respect, let alone change.


Over Sensitive, Highly emotional

Overly Sensitive, Highly Emotional, and Other Feminine Flaws

September 24, 2013 | by Akilah S. Richards


Source: Mentoring through Menopause


That’s my (admittedly random) approximation of the number of times I’ve been called highly emotional or otherwise plastered with the overly sensitive label.

Though I disagree with the qualifiers, I’m in unabashed agreement with the adjectives.

For sure, I am both emotional and sensitive – traits that render me highly qualified to live, love, express, and explore as my authentic self.

How about you?

Do you find yourself dodging the punches as folks try to heal you of your apparent emotional ailments?

If you do, you’ve likely tried to process those opinions – you know, in the name of self-betterment and all – and you might even be working at becoming less sensitive and less emotional.

No prob.

Do your work; explore your experiences; see what you might see.

And as you do so, let me offer you some insights on the reasons people feel the need to label you, and your options for managing those labels.

The primary reason you get the label is because most people are uncomfortable with honesty.

Given the opportunity to express themselves, most people will not say what they actually feel.

Instead, they’ll say what they deem most appropriate, or they’ll keep it inside, and share it later with someone who has nothing to do with the situation.

Many of us grew up in environments that generally view honest verbal expression, particularly from women, as adversarial and even socially inappropriate. Opposition is unladylike, haven’t you heard?

When we women speak up for ourselves, or remove the filters from our emotional spaces, we are told we’re being complicated (I know you’ve heard that one!), or taking something “way too personal.”

Conversely, when most men speak up for themselves, they are apparently just saying how they feel.

There is a rather confusing dichotomy when it comes to women and expression.

On one hand, we’re told that men are not mind readers, and that they come from Venus (or is it Mars?) and therefore need us not to assume that they are intentionally doing or saying something that bothers us in some way.

On the other hand, when a woman does speak up for herself, whether in the home or in her professional space, she either gets the B-word label, or she’s overreacting to something, and therefore being overly emotional.

What’s a woman to do, then, if she values self-expression?

How can she address the emotion and have the other party focus less on the status of her emotional space, and more on the actual issue she’s asking them to address?

Generally speaking, the black-and-white approach to conversation is what’s deemed most appropriate.

We are taught to listen for details, run them through our filters and our knowledge, and then decide what category the information fits within our understanding.

When presented with gray-area elements like emotional responses or feeling versus thinking, we are often viewed as irrational, and even chemically imbalanced.

It’s insane how hormonal imbalances from things like PMS or pregnancy often get lumped in with the feminine trait of emotional processing. But with a bit of education, directed both inward and out to the intended recipients of our messages, we can perhaps shift the tide over time. A Dose of Truth Serum

If your version of highly emotional or overly sensitive includes a raised voice, physical assertions, and wailing, you’re increasing your chances of not being heard.

This is not about you fixing something that is wrong with you – quite the contrary. It’s about teaching the outside world how best to communicate with you.

As much as you and I might loathe this reality, we do care how our feelings are received. Hopefully, this caring is reserved for a select few, and if we keep it that way, and pay attention to our bellies and our breathing each time, we can lessen risk of us compromising ourselves amidst the dialogue.

With the reality of our desire to be heard in mind, and our insistence on the high value of our emotions, here are some ways you can train the label-hurlers who matter: Turn the Label into a Mirror

Recognize that someone’s assertion that you are being emotional is a feeling they are experiencing in that moment. Not so different from your feelings, save for the way they choose to express it.

You might let them know that you appreciate them telling you how they feel, and that their feelings matter to you.

Follow that up by asking them whether your feelings matter to them, and then move on from the reaction to the actual trigger.

The trigger is never (nope, ever) them calling you emotional; it’s the thing that got you to that emotional space to begin with.

That is where the work is, so try not to get distracted between the two. Identify What You Needed from the Dialogue

How did this start in the first place?

If you want to align your need to express your feelings with dialogue that results in your assertions being considered, you’ve got to stop trying to address the emotional trigger, and instead get familiar with your desired resulting actions.

I am not telling you to quiet yourself or to mute your feelings, but I am absolutely encouraging you to set a place at the table for someone besides you to eat.

When it comes to dialogue, quite often, we mislabel the goal of self-expression. Usually, the goal is not only about saying how we feel, but also about conveying what we prefer. The two are not the same – not even close.

Expression has no expectation. It is about letting out what is within, with the primary focus being the outward motion of the thing from creator to outside world.

Self-expression in dialogue, however, is almost always done with an expectation in mind. Were it not so, it wouldn’t matter to you that you kept getting the stink eye and the labels hurled at you whenever you say how you feel.

Define for yourself, what you need from the dialogue, and be willing to use that as the focal point of your communication.

How it makes you feel certainly matters, but what you want from the dialogue is the only part the other party can actually address.

Your feelings have already happened, and perhaps the other party cannot change that. But, what can they do from this point onward?

Explore that – the desired resulting action – at least as much as you explore how you felt about what they did or said.

There’s a space between the emotional trigger and the emotion it triggers. That space is small, and perhaps for most of us, improbable to reach.

However, the space between the emotion and our resulting action offers an open field of opportunity for us to address our feelings with our desired result in mind.

Continue to educate the people in your world on the necessity and benefits of emotional awareness and sensitivity.

Introspection and clarity on what you want to accomplish from your decision to express yourself is a great partner for that decision to express yourself.

Remember, no one is actually responsible for how you feel; that’s based on your past, your filters, and your own internal processes.

What they are responsible for is what you tell them, what you show them, and whether they choose to adjust their behavior based on what you say you want.

By all means, express yourself in conversation, but know what you want just as much as you know how you feel.

That way, you can meet your recipients where they are (the what you need part), without filtering yourself, but also without holding them accountable for your happiness.

What they choose to do with what you say is their choice, but how you feel every day is yours.


The OSA bookshelf


Courage_to_heal.jpgThe Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse [audio book available]

by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

This is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope to sexually abused women. The authors provide a map of the healing process, thoroughly explain the effects of abuse and suggest techniques for working through healing in a realistic but encouraging way. The last section of the book includes abuse stories from survivors.

“The environment in which you live—the people you see—affects your ability to make changes. People who are working to grow and change in their own lives will support you with encouragement and by example. People who are living out the pattern you’re trying to break will continually such you back in. Respect the power of influence.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I think I would have been lost without this book. It told me what stage of the healing process I was in, that what I was experiencing was normal and what to expect as I progressed. If I only had one book on sexual abuse, this is the one I’d choose.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

2_beyondbetrayal.jpgBeyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse

by Richard B. Gartner, Ph.D.

Beyond Betrayal is written specifically for male sexual abuse survivors who were abused by male or female perpetrators. This book explores the different types of abuse, revealing its profound impact on one’s self-concept of a man and the difficulties of developing intimate relationships.

“The world gives medals to men for subduing prey, not for being subdued. We’re told that the best men win. As a general once said, in war there’s no second prize. It’s clear: a real man can’t be a victim.

So if you were sexually abused, where does this leave you? As a boy, maybe you felt pulled apart. Your three images of man were caught up in an impossible conflict: Maybe you disliked the boy you were. Maybe you felt you couldn’t become the boy you wanted to be. And you very likely felt you couldn’t develop into the man the world expected you to become. These conflicts may have left you feeling cut off and lost. You were disconnected from the man you were becoming. You were detached from your self—the self who felt hope about growing up, the self with strength, will, determination, and a sense of discovery.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I know this book is meant for men, but I’ve gotten a lot out of it for myself. I wanted to read it so I could understand male survivors better, which I feel I do now, but was surprised how much applied to me.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

3_beginningtoheal.jpgBeginning to Heal: A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused As Children

by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

Beginning to Heal offers hope and guidance to men and women survivors of sexual abuse. This is based on The Courage to Heal by the same authors. This book takes you through the key stages of healing, from crisis times to breaking the silence, grief, and anger, to resolution and moving on.

“As a survivor of child sexual abuse you have a lot to grieve for. You grieve for the ways you were hurt. You grieve for not being protected, for the things you missed out on as a child. You grieve for the time and effort it takes to heal, for the relationships and happiness you have lost.

You may have to grieve for you lost faith or give up the idea that the abuser had your best interests at heart.

You may have to grieve for the fact that you don’t have suitable grandparents for your children, or a family you can depend on.

You must also grieve for the shattered image of a world that is fair and safe for children. You will grieve for your lost innocence and ability to trust.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book is intended for the beginning of the healing process, but I read it when I was more advanced in my healing. A lot of the passages were familiar since I’ve read The Courage to Heal so many times, yet it was still impactful since it’s in a more concentrated form. I also really liked the addition of men’s perspectives.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

067176716x.jpgRepressed Memories: A Journey of Recovery from Sexual Abuse

by Renee Fredrickson, Ph.D.

This book explains the causes of repressed memories, how to regain your memories, and how to use your memories to heal.

“The abuse is not only hidden from public view but from the view of the family members themselves. The family members believe the façade of normalcy because it is what they have grown up with. Anything that does not fit is buried or rationalized away. Anyone who tells the secrets or points out the sickness is punished or even exiled. The façade is maintained at the expense of individual family members.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book not only helped me to fill in the missing puzzle pieces of my past as I worked to recover forgotten memories, but helped me to see what was hidden in plain view. I didn’t think I had any memories of being abused until I saw through the examples in this book that I merely normalized many of my memories. It also explained the family system in a way that made so much sense. It was always such a mystery to me how my mother could betray me like she did until I read this book. This is my second favorite book on recovery from sexual abuse.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

secretsurvivors.jpgSecret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women

by E. Sue Blume

Secret Survivors shows how sexual abuse is often at the root of such problems as depression, sexual and eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and phobias and panic disorders. The author explains the natural, healthy needs that underlie the aftereffects and how to meet them in healthy ways.

“…In addition to social and gender-based circumstances, incest survivors often are prepared to be victims—or to fail to see the victimization. The incest survivor often knows things feel bad but does not know how bad they are or how much better they can be. And her choices are confined by her narrow field of expectations and her broad field of tolerance.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I felt like the author must have been following me around all my life and recording all the screwed up stuff I did. She explained so much of what led to my feelings and behaviors. I finally felt like I knew the reason for why I am how I am. Knowing where it came from made me feel less shame and enabled me to deal with the root of the issues so I didn’t have to repeat them.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

6_beyondsurvival.jpgBeyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Maureen Brady

Beyond Survival is a fifty-two-week journal of self-exploration, liberation and empowerment for male and female survivors of sexual abuse. It offers tools and techniques—from reading and writing to visualization and taking concrete action—that aids the healing process.

“For change to occur in us, we must be willing to enter the wilderness of the unknown and to wander in unfamiliar territory, directionless and often in the darkness. We must be willing to release our victim’s role. That was who we were. That is not who we are now.

We dread the feeling of “lostness” that goes along with being in the wilderness of our unknown self. Many of us were children forced into adult roles. We had to know how to take care of things. We tried to parent our parents so that they could grow up and help us. We don’t like to be the newcomer, the student, or the patient; we are more comfortable being the old-timer, the teacher, or the doctor.

But it is time to take our turn at being unformed, unsure, not confident. We deserve to be able to let ourselves fall into fragments and feel fragmented awhile. We do not need to keep every little thing under control. In fact, we find ourselves only by allowing some falling apart to happen.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was very helpful in sharing the same issues that I’ve read from dozens of other sources, yet it provided fresh insights I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t care for the workbook part of it. The questions didn’t seem helpful to me, but it was well worth reading anyway.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

7_silentlyseduced.jpgSilently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners

by Kenneth M. Adams, PH.D.

Through illustrative examples, Silently Seduced provides perceptive insight that helps male and female incest survivors understand what happened to them, how their lives and relationships continue to be affected and how to begin the process of recovery.

“Covert incest occurs when a child becomes the object of a parent’s affection, love, passion and preoccupation. The parent, motivated by loneliness and emptiness created by a chronically troubled marriage or relationship, makes the child a surrogate partner. The boundary between caring and incestuous love is crossed when the relationship with the child exists to meet the needs of the parent rather than those of the child.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I always knew I was a victim of incest in the physical sense, but I didn’t consider that I could also be a victim of emotional incest. When the molestation stopped I didn’t realize just how much my dad had made me his partner until I read this book. It was so eye opening. There were times when my dad would share things about his marital troubles and I would ask myself, “Why are you telling me this?” A part of me felt privileged by the information he would share or by the special treatment I received. I was daddy’s little girl. But I didn’t realize just how unhealthy that treatment was. Silently Seduced paints a clear picture of where the parent child relationship should be, not only physically, but emotionally.

Recommended by Bethany Ruck

ghostsinthebedroom.jpgGhosts in the Bedroom: A Guide for Partners of Incest Survivors

by Ken Graber, M.A.

This book provides comfort and guidance for partners in the process of recovery. The author draws from personal experience to show how partners can accept responsibility for their own issues, support the recovery of the sexual abuse survivor and work toward resolving relationship problems together.

“Remember that we are unconsciously attracted to others who remind us of our family of origin. If we recognize any dysfunction in the survivor, it is highly likely that we are also the products of a dysfunctional family and have problems of our own. Similarly, recognizing that survivors come from dysfunctional backgrounds probably means that they were attracted by some of the same dysfunctions in us. Recovery works best, not when the survivor is identified as the problem that needs fixing, but when both partner and survivor are committed to personal growth and working on their own issues. Common issues and relationship issues can be worked on together. If as partners we refuse to face our own problems and fail to work toward correcting our behavior and eliminating dysfunction in the relationship, then the survivor in recovery will be the one who outgrows us and leaves.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: As a survivor, this book helped me to understand my husband’s feelings during this sometimes traumatic time of healing. This book reminded me that this isn’t all about me and helped me to see my husband as a whole person instead of just as my biggest support.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I found this book helpful in articulating the role I could play in my wife’s process and giving me some idea of what to expect.

Recommended by Don Enevoldsen

9_theverballyabusiverelationship.gifThe Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond [audio book available]

by Patrica Evans

This book provides descriptions and examples of verbally abusive relationships, encouragement for the abused and guidelines for dealing with abusers.

“The verbal abuser especially undermines the partner’s self-perception. If the partner is told with gradually increasing frequency that she is illogical, too sensitive, always trying to start an argument, competitive, always has to be right, etc., she may become conditioned to accept more and more abuse while experiencing more and more self-doubt. This conditioning is like brainwashing. It may extend beyond herself to her family, her interests, and her most cherished ideals.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Though this book is specifically about verbal abuse, it thoroughly explains the use of power in relationships, therefore everyone would benefit from this, especially survivors of any type of abuse. I never recognized how verbally abusive my ex-husband was until reading this book. I wasn’t aware of how the patterns of abuse worked, so I still blamed myself somewhat. It was very liberating to understand these issues. Also, I recognized abusive tendencies in some of my behavior, so I was able to correct that. The author acknowledges verbal abuse is perpetrated by women onto men, though all her examples are of abuse perpetrated by men onto women.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

toxicfaith.jpgToxic Faith: Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse

by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

Toxic Faith uncovers the beliefs, characteristics and rules of an abusive religious system and shows how to break free of an unhealthy dependency on religion.

“When authority is well placed, it respects the individuals over whom it has authority. When it is not well placed, it is our responsibility to expose the abuse and be part of the solution. Christ challenged the religious authorities who turned away from God and toward rules developed by men. Christ stood up to those people and told them they were wrong. He tried to produce change by what he said and by how he lived. If we are to follow his example, we must intervene when abuse is part of submission. We must have the courage to follow Christ’s example and overturn the system, be it a marriage or an organization, if that system is wrong. Silent submission in the face of violence, dishonesty, and abuse will only allow that abuse to be passed on to new generations.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I was a part of a church that was spiritually abusive and didn’t even realize how unhealthy it was. I don’t think I could have faced the truth of my sexual abuse as long as I was in this dysfunctional spiritual atmosphere. This book helped me move through the healing process and recognize unhealthy patterns so I didn’t have to repeat them.

Recommendedby Christina Enevoldsen

11_boundaries.jpgBoundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life [audio book available]

by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Boundaries explains the purpose and benefits of boundaries and how to implement them. This book is a guide to improving your relationships, finding a path to freedom and regaining control of your life.

“Our real concern with others should not be “Are they doing what I would do or what I want them to do?” but “Are they really making a free choice?” When we accept others’ freedom, we don’t get angry, feel guilty, or withdraw our love when they set boundaries with us. When we accept others’ freedom, we feel better about our own.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Boundaries sound so limiting and confining, but living with boundaries is actually quite liberating. Reading this book really freed me of so much guilt that pretty much drove me to give my life away to whoever claimed my time, talent, energy or knowledge. I felt empowered for the first time in my life to say no with confidence, knowing that I was really saying yes to me.

This book isn’t specifically written for survivors of abuse, but since dealing with boundary issues is such an important part of recovery, this is an excellent source for survivors. Boundaries is written from a Christian perspective, but the information is useful to anyone.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

12_safepeople.jpgSafe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t [audio book available]

by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Safe People shows how to make wise decisions in relationships from friendships to romance. It teaches how to recognize what makes people trustworthy and includes twenty traits of unsafe people.

“Some people feel that they are entitled to trust. We often hear of someone saying, ‘So you don’t trust me.’ Or ‘Are you questioning my integrity?’ Or ‘You don’t believe me.’ They get defensive and angry because someone questions their actions, and they think they are above being questions or having to prove their trustworthiness. But none of us is above questioning, and to take offense at it is very prideful.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: I read this every couple of years because I see new things as my general base of knowledge increases and as I feel better and better about myself. It’s very validating and helps me feel more confident about the relationship decisions I make. It’s told through a biblical perspective, but it didn’t seem preachy.

Recommended by Christina Enevoldsen

Evicting-the-Perpetrator.jpgEvicting the Perpetrator: A Male Survivor Guide to Recovery From Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Ken Singer, MSW

Ken Singer LCSW’s release ‘Evicting the Perpetrator’ comes as a result of 30+ years experience working with sexual abuse victim/survivors as well as juvenile and adult abusers. The most recent book on the topic of male sexual assault and abuse, Mr. Singer’s approach is the only one that includes a discussion of how sexual trauma and abuse impacts the brain and the manner in which it restructures itself in response to the experiences. His ideas are expressed and articulated with the same spirit and intention that has guided his work as a clinical therapist: ‘in the hope of preventing more victims’, and to help others already touched by the hand of sexual abuse and assault, to overcome its legacy.

“This book is different from the many books published for adult survivors of sexual abuse. The symptoms and consequences of abuse have been written about many times, providing the good advice that “it wasn’t your (the survivor’s) fault. However, many survivors, especially men, may believe that it was their fault for ‘allowing’ the abuse to take place, not fighting back or not reporting the abuse. This feeling persists because, despite efforts by the survivors and others to reduce the sense of blame in the victims, the role of the abuser has not been examined for what it was. The goal of this book is to help survivors and those supporting them to understand how abusers are able to do what they do”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: As a survivor of both incest and rape, I have been working recovery solutions for 35+ years. Mr. Singer’s knowledge is appreciated as an invaluable cutting edge addition to current sexual abuse/assault recovery text. In my opinion it earns its place on the shelf beside others that have for decades inspired healing and recovery successes for survivors and their loved ones.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Healing-the-Shame-That-Binds-You.jpgHealing the Shame That Binds You

by John Bradshaw

In an emotionally revealing way Bradshaw shows is how toxic shame is the core problem in our compulsions, co-dependencies, addictions and the drive to super-achieve. We are bound by our shame. But drawing from 22 years experience as a counselor, he offers the techniques to heal the shame. Using affirmations, “inner voice” and feeling work, plus guided meditations and other useful healing techniques, he points the way to freedom from the shame of the past, offering vital recovery techniques.

“Because of its preverbal origins, shame is difficult to define. It is a healthy human power which can become a true sickness of the soul. There are two forms of shame: nourishing shame, and toxic/life destroying shame. Because toxic shame stays in hiding and covers itself up, we have to track it down by learning to recognize its many faces and its many distracting behavioral coverups”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was the first on the subject of shame that penetrated the heart of the matter and helped me to face what had become the core demon in my life. It helped me learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy shame, and helped me to put it in its rightful place in my life.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Victims-No-Longer.jpgVictims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse

by Mike Lew

The first book written specifically for men, Victims No Longer examines the changing cultural attitudes toward male survivors of incest and other sexual trauma. Now, in an expanded Second Edition, this invaluable resource continues to offer compassionate and practical advice, supported by personal anecdotes and statements of male survivors. Victims No Longer educates survivors and professionals about the recovery process – speaking to the pain, needs, fears, and hopes of the adult male survivor.

“The reality is that abuse exists. It is real and it is common. It takes many forms, some blatant and others more subtle. The spectrum of child abuse ranges from neglect to physical violence. It includes torture, beatings, verbal and psychological maltreatment, child pornography, and sexual abuse (ranging from seductive behavior to rape) Abuse appears in varying combinations, durations, and intensities. What all forms have in common is their devastating, long-term effects of the child.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Victims No Longer still stands as the most important resource for men healing from past sexual abuse, and is often referred to as the “Male Sexual Abuse Recovery Bible”. It helped set my feet on the recovery path, begin to identify, face and debunk the myths surrounding male sexual abuse, and ultimately to see my way out of the thick cloud of shame, fear and confusion and doubt.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Male-Victims-Of-Same-Sex-Abuse.jpgMale Victims Of Same-Sex Abuse: Addressing Their Sexual Response

by John M. Preble and A. Nicholas Groth

This text is specifically designed to help mature males who were victims of unwanted sexual advances understand his sexual reactions or responses and help him process the sexual aspects or dimensions of the experience(s). Sexual victimization of men and boys remains a taboo subject, and resources for this neglected population and the helping professionals that work with them are difficult to find. But this book aims at reducing stigma and increasing the understanding of sexual trauma in men.

“In dealing with the complex subject of human sexual behavior, it is important to separate out such issues as whether the sexual behavior is morally right or wrong, legally allowed or prohibited, psychologically harmless or harmful, physically safe or dangerous, and sexually pleasurable or not pleasurable. Although separate, these issues may overlap in some instances.”

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book gave me clear insight into the cultural misconceptions relating to the ‘sex-negative’ social perspectives of male sexuality, and helped clarify the distinctions between the respectful sexual engagement and exploitation.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Abused-Boys.jpgAbused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse

by Mic Hunter

This book has been referred to as a landmark in the field of child sexual abuse literature. Like ‘The Courage to Heal’ it is an essential book that helps anyone struggling with childhood trauma to find the hope and strength to recover and lead fulfilled adult lives.

“The effects of childhood sexual abuse are frequently lifelong and severe. They are so profound not only because sexuality is so personal but also because there is more than a sexual aspect to the abuse. Sexual abuse is also physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse. It affects all areas of life. In addition, sexual abuse is not accidental…. it is not something that happens to you, it is something that is done TO you, by someone, on purpose. Although the offender may not have intended to hurt you, he or she did intend to be sexual with you and thereby did you harm”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was an informative resource, and very educational in terms of how it defined sexual abuse and showed how I had ‘organized my life around the wound’ of sexual assault and abuse. If knowledge is power, then this book was invaluable instrumental in helping to restore the power that was misplaced through the experience of sexual abuse.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Thou-Shalt-Not-Be-Aware.jpgThou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal Of The Child

By Alice Miller

Originally published in 1984, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware” explodes Freud’s notions of “infantile sexuality” and helps to bring to the world’s attention the brutal reality of child abuse, changing forever our thoughts of “traditional” methods of child-rearing. Dr. Miller exposes the harsh truths behind children’s “fantasies” by examining case histories, works of literature, dreams, and the lives of such people as Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Gustave Flaubert, and Samuel Beckett. Now with a new preface by Lloyd de Mause and a new introduction by the author, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware” continues to bring an essential understanding to the confrontation and treatment of the devastating effects of child abuse.

“The general public tends to doubt the prevalence of sexual abuse of children by older siblings and adults and to deny its lasting effects, because the necessary repression of what one knew as a young child blocks any later insight into the subject. Furthermore, it is not in the best interest of adults, once they are in a position to take over the active role themselves, to uncover the motives behind their actions. But most important, the principles of “poisonous pedagogy” insist that parents’ actions toward their children be regarded exclusively as loving and beneficial and that children be denied the right to protest”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: This book was the first to open my eyes to the realization of the very real traumatizations of childhood, and how those served to form many of the complexes that later effected my own personal development.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

The-Mindful-Brain.jpgThe Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being

by Daniel J. Siegel

Leading neurobiologist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., presents a new framework for maintaining mental health and well-being. Three human experiences have been documented as promoting well-being: secure attachment, mindfulness meditation, and effective psychotherapy. Siegel’s unifying theory shows that the effects of these three experiences have a similar neural mechanism. Siegel uses theory, science, and anecdote to reveal how to transform the brain as well as promote well-being. The book is divided into four sections: Mind, Brain, and Awareness; Immersion in Direct Experience; Facets of the Mindful Brain; and Reflections on the Mindful Brain. Appendices include Reflection and Mindfulness Resources, Glossary and Terms, and Neural Notes on the Anatomy of the Brain. Siegel’s book stands out for its skillful weaving together of the interpersonal, the inner world, the latest science, and practical applications, all envisioned as a whole.

“Being aware of the fullness of our experience awakens us to the inner world of our mind and immerses us completely in our lives. This is a book about how the way we pay attention in the present moment can directly improve the functioning of body and brain, subjective mental life with its feelings and thoughts, and interpersonal relationships”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: The understanding of the role of the brain and the impact of trauma on its formation and function has been an incredible illuminating experience, and brought me to the next chapter in my recovery.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

Being-a-Brain-Wise-Therapist.jpgBeing a Brain-Wise Therapist: A Practical Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology

by Bonnie Badenoch

Neuroscientific discoveries have begun to illuminate the workings of the active brain in intricate detail. In easy-to-understand prose, Being a Brain-Wise Therapist reviews the basic principles about brain structure, function, and development, and explains the neurobiological correlates of some familiar diagnostic categories, such as depression, anxiety, dissociation, addiction, and other disorders conditions.

“The influence of parents on their children’s temperament takes us back to the main theme of this book: the impact of early attachment experiences on mental health. Even at the level of basic science, disturbances in the processes of regulation/integration are being recognized as the core of mental suffering. Whether we consider easily identifiable traumatic experiences or the subtler devastation of quiet but disturbed relationships with parents, the consequences for brain development can define the trajectory of a life”.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME PERSONALLY: Bonnie’s book took me to the next level of regaining that self who got buried under the avalanche of unhappy circumstances which led me to develop ideas and perceptions that served more to repress rather than release my true human potential. He work has helped birth a hope that there can be true freedom from the chains of the past.

Recommended by Ron Schulz

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Welcome to OSA

Overcoming Sexual Abuse inspires, empowers, educates & supports male and female survivors of sexual abuse. We hope you participate and share your stories, feelings, victories, defeats, insights, & hopes along the way to embracing your new life. If you know someone else who would benefit from joining us, invite them to come along.

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If you are trading silence or compliance for love, you are being cheated. When acceptance or love is withheld if you reveal secrets, the value of the relationship is just an illusion. Love cannot be earned, bought or traded–only freely given. You are worthy of love that doesn’t require you to protect your abuser or sacrifice yourself. — Christina Enevoldsen

Copyright © 2013 Overcoming Sexual Abuse

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Recipe cards to get your back on track


The creative Entrepreneur has an activity called Mastering your modes. And while it was created with entrepreneurs in mind I found it can be great for everyday.

The idea is that you make yourself a set of cards, one side has an image representing a struggle such as depression, and the other side has an image representing something you do that helps you move out of that depression. It's a great idea because we often forget the things that help us especially if we are in a slump.

You can look at the activity page using Google books, though I would recommend checking it out at your local library because many of the other activities can be used as a creative outlet and healing resource.





Set your heart free

I love Martha Beck articles this is another goodie from the self help queen:


Photo: Thinkstock

Not recognizing your options is different from not having any. It may be time to get the frank advice of an expert—your heart.

Sonya was stuck. Every time she came in for a session, she seemed more inextricably wedged into a life she hated. It wasn't that she lacked means: Born to wealth and privilege, Sonya had beauty, education, and the talent to become what she'd longed to be—a songwriter. But she couldn't take the steps that would make her dreams a reality.

"It's just too hard," Sonya sighed during one session. "I'm stuck in the life my parents want for me. I'll marry a rich man, have 1.7 kids, do what I'm told. I'm trapped. Completely trapped."

I couldn't help comparing Sonya's comments with another conversation I'd had when I was in Cambodia, doing interviews for a World Bank project. A vibrant man I'll call Khet told me about his experiences during the war-torn 1970s, when he'd been imprisoned, starved and sentenced to death.

"One night they told me I would be shot at sunrise," Khet said. "So, you see, I was completely free." I stopped him. How did he figure that one? Khet smiled. "Things could not be worse," he explained, "so I was free to take any opportunity that came."

And an opportunity did come. As he and some other prisoners were being led to the execution ground, Khet bolted, running for a weak spot in the wire fences. He fully expected to be shot, but the other prisoners distracted the guards enough to spoil their aim. Khet escaped into the jungle.

"You see? My fellow prisoners were free, too," he said. "No matter what happens to your body, madame, if your heart is free, you are free."

Most people think more like Sonya than like Khet. My clients routinely tell me they're deadlocked, hemmed in, blocked, controlled by circumstance. If you feel that way, it isn't because you don't have the option of charting an exciting, meaningful journey through life. Trust me, the options are there. You're at an impasse because you've been trained not to seize—or even recognize—the opportunities that lead to the fulfillment of your dreams. Your body is free but your heart is in prison.

Find out the one reason our hearts are imprisoned—and how to set them free

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Martha-Becks-Plan-to-Get-Unstuck-and-Follow-Your-Dreams/1#ixzz2ihC8bSLz



“Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.” - Aimee Mullins

I often feel trapped and sorry for myself in my present circumstances. I am navigating through a lot of adversity. I have PTSD, disassociation, flashback dreams and sometimes nightmares. I have anxiety and a lack of energy (it takes almost nothing to exhaust me mentally and emotionally).

Due to the trauma of childhood abuse and sexual abuse I have a lot of broken things to heal, and all those broken parts are a frustrating disability. I feel stuck, as if I wanted to fly but my feet were made of lead. My brain can still imagine flying, I can have dreams about flying and what a torture to wake up and remember that your feet are lead. You begin to tell yourself hopeless things like I will never recover from this, I will never have a normal life. All the things people who have encountered adversity or a major disability think.

You realize that you have to come to terms with where you are at in the moment, and it's hard. You don't want to be here!

Last night I had to come to terms with anxiety and stress that was beginning to manifest cold/flu symptoms. Was I frustrated that I had found myself reacting and being stressed? Yes! Nevertheless I had to be kind to myself and accept that yes I was that stressed and take care of myself. So I crawled into bed with tea and herbal remedies and decided to watch T.V to take my mind of everything. I found the Michael J Fox show and decided to try it. I loved it. Not only was it funny and soothing of my stress it was really comforting. Fox is playing a version of himself with Parkinson's disease and while it was clear what he must struggle with psychically on the day to day this character had a full life. He had a loving family, and even a career he returns to all while managing his Parkinson's. For me the takeaway was not just that people with disabilities can overcome all odds, it was that they can create a life for themselves with some rhythm of normalcy. Here adversity isn't something that has to be gotten over to have a life, life just wraps around it.


This is a hopeful feeling, and having this idea of a life with a disability and overcoming adversity is a powerful hopeful feeling.

Pairing this new way of thinking about adversity, with that powerful feeling I think of a passage from a Martha Beck article:

"The way to let go of your soul's desires, to achieve nonattachment, is not to go into "martyr mode" and expect a life of blunted appetites or unmet needs. Letting go is the natural result of trust—trust that the Force, or God, or whatever you want to call it, fulfills its own nature by answering your soul's requests, once you have articulated them. To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful "magic skills" that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition. If you can master it, you'll see your soul's desires being filled in ways that are often amazing, and sometimes flat-out miraculous."

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Your-Best-Life-Is-Waiting-by-Martha-Beck/4#ixzz2iZOPnWK8

This morning I have been expanding on this idea of having a full life with adversity, with disability when I found an article on Aimee Mullins, which included her TED talk. It is titled "Turning a Disability into a Superpower".

Being sexually abused feels like you slipped and fell into toxic waste and came out dimorphic and with no super powers. You still have to deal with the feeling that you might be a super freak because of your experiences, and will people alienate you? While it may not seem as obvious as missing legs in some ways the experience is the same. It's still a disability, it still makes you different.

Aimee starts her talk with how we first learn to view disability as children. She says that kids are naturally curious and they don't fear things until an adult steps in and tells them too. The adult may impede that natural curiosity and shut down the question asking. So in an effort to make children polite we might be teaching them to view things not with curiosity but in terms of what is different or normal and to be afraid of what is different.

You can watch her speak here:


One of my favorite quotes from this talk (see below) is where Aimee talks about the poetry of things. Poetry helps to re-imagine our worlds, and how we see things including disability.

"Poetry matters. Poetry is what elevates a banal and neglected object to a form of art. It can transform the thing that may make some people fearful to something they can look and look a little longer and maybe understand."

I feel a little less sorry for myself now, and more hopeful. I have some new lens with which to view my life through.


Yogurt on the walls; Parenting the inner child

One of my now favorite resources in the therapeutic recovery process is parenting articles! Confused? Often with abuse there are parts of you that are just stopped at a certain age. You find that there is a little girl that was abused has never really grown up, and she's still inside you. This is the inner child.

My tactics for dealing with this inner child in the past has included outright loathing and frustration. I hated her, she did everything wrong, was stubborn, and chaotic. She often made a mess of my life and truth be told she hated me too.

We didn't speak to one another.

Not until I read the section in Courage to heal about your inner child.

The chapter starts on page 129 of the book and is titled "The child within".

The story that struck me the most is on page 132 and called "Getting to know the child" by Eleanor.

This is how she describes first meeting her inner child:

"When I closed my eyes, I saw myself as a young girl walking down the road, with a machine gun, a should sash full of bullets, a couple grenades, and a knife in my cowgirl boots. My therapist noted that my child believes she has to take care of herself".

I did the writing exercise the book suggested, where you write to your inner child. I also appreciated how they authors say "If you don't feel any connection, allegiance, or tenderness toward the child ye, start with how you honestly feel. You can't write, " I love you, I'll take care of you," if that's a lie. Start with: " I'm willing to sit down and write to you even though I'm not quite sure you exist" or " I don't know how to love you". Any point of contact is a start".

There was quite a bit of honest dialogue when writing to my inner child and not all of it pretty. All the frustrations came out on both sides.

As I went along though we came to an easy truce, it wasn't love but an agreement to work together.

That is where the parenting articles come in.

While it is important to listen to the inner child and start the dialogue you are still the adult in this relationship and you are essentially parenting this part of yourself.

A while back I had read this really great article on parenting. I thought it was great. Check it out here:


Now fast forwarding a bit. It's amazing how you can read something and take away all these good ideas but not have that moment of "aha" or real understanding until later.

For me this was the other day. My inner child had essentially created a yogurt on the wall incident. They knew walls were not for painting, but they did it anyway. I came in chiding them with all this criticism, frustration, and judgment. In fact a day later I was still frustrated that they could not behave. I knew that doing that was not helping anything, but what was I supposed to do, they were supposed to behave! Somehow I thought back to the article, where the little girl does something she is not supposed to. Not out of spite, but because there was some need. AHA! So instead of continuing the punishment of my littler self I tried what the author of the article did. I said to little self "well I can see that there was some huge need behind this incident, okay. I hear you, lets look at the need." Also keeping in mind that walls are not for painting with yogurt how else can we meet this need?

There was an immediate inner shift. I realized that by doing things this way I might actually accomplish my goal of inner child painting where they are supposed to, in comparison to shaming them and not hearing the need which just incites depression and more yogurt on the wall.

I also realized that I was doing the complete opposite of what my parents would have done. And that in itself is huge because it never worked, it was what the inner child was expecting. The little girl in me was expecting to hear the mean Mommy and Daddy program, that would shame and punish her. I sadly usually provide in that area, because those messages about myself still run. So all the more revolutionary to try something different. And it works too!




This particular post is long overdue!

I had come across this resource a while ago and it is one of my favorites. It has been a huge comfort where the abuse is concerned.


I find that for those like me who come from a religious background that was misused there are some great thoughts on applying spirituality and relationships with parents, as well as dealing with family, issues of disclosure and more.

Here are their statements abut OSA:

Overcoming Sexual Abuse began as a mother & daughter team, Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany Ruck, survivors of childhood sexual abuse. When we looked for an online support group, our search turned up two types of groups: The first type was extremely supportive and nurturing, but lacked any belief in or commitment to actually getting better. It was merely a place to share struggles, yet without hope of finding a way out. The second type was very uplifting and encouraging, yet gave the impression that healing was a matter of determination and positive attitude. We knew from our own healing journey that all of those were necessary to heal, but we also knew that without practical answers and tools for recovery there would be no permanent improvement. Since we didn’t find what we were looking for, we started our own group and Overcoming Sexual Abuse was born.In our first year, we were overwhelmed by the response to Overcoming Sexual Abuse. We were amazed by the number of people, both men and women, who seemed eager for someone to bring up the topic so they could tell their own stories. Some of them had never told anyone of their abuse and others had shared their past, yet were still living with its crippling effects.

Though our journeys are far from over, we’re well on our way to embracing new life. The things we share are the tools we’ve picked up along the way, the truths we’ve found useful. The new life we’ve found is thrilling, exhilarating, sometimes scary, surprising and it’s ours! If you share our history, our sincere hope is that you join us along the healing path.


Christina Enevoldsen

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the truth. Truth is stability in a chaotic world; it stands solid in the midst of brokenness. Truth is safe.

As a kid, my hero was teen detective, Nancy Drew, who boldly investigated clues and lived to solve mysteries. Nothing fascinated her more than finding the truth. In my teen years, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple was my favorite amateur sleuth. A sweet, unassuming, grandmotherly-type, nobody could fool her. Miss Marple always saw past the deceits and facades, even when the police were stumped. I still enjoy crime novels and picture myself catching the thieves and murderers next to the fictional detectives.

Though I’ve always loved the truth, my childhood sexual abuse meant most of my life was based on lies and secrets. Instead of the criminals hiding the truth, it was my own mind concealing it. For years, I repressed the memory of my own abuse and denied my daughter’s abuse as well. I imagined myself an eagle-eye detective, yet the truth remained hidden to me.

My recovery from sexual abuse has been the discovery of truth. Telling the truth about my past was the first step in healing. Every step has come by overturning the lies the abuse taught me. Each painful feeling leads me to a clue; each haunting memory is a puzzle piece that leads me to the truth. The healing process reminds me of a murder mystery, except that my goal isn’t to find out “Whodunit?” Rather, it’s about “Who am I?” My restoration is the process of uncovering my distorted image to find my true, genuine self. I love truth.

I live in Scottsdale, Arizona with my husband, Don. We share two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren. My passion is writing and speaking about personal growth and inspiring people toward wholeness but I love quiet corners in my home where I enjoy reading, scented candles, and chai lattes.


Bethany RuckBethany Ruck

When I meet people and they ask what I do, I typically roll my eyes. I live in Hollywood – Land of the Superficial. I don’t want to be just a job title or a stepping stone to someone. I want people to ask who I am as a person. So, who am I? I’m a girl who’s pretty spunky at times – maybe even mischievous. Yes, I was sexually abused by my father, but that’s not who I am.

All my life I had grand ideas of who I wanted to be when I grew up. Then, I actually grew up and found myself stuck. I was living the 9 to 5 office life that my dad always wanted for me, all while dreaming of the day I could break free and let my creative juices spill over.

And one day it all happened. When I was 24 I finally made the decision to report my dad to authorities. It was my first “No” to him and oh, it felt good. I was no longer under his control and who he destined me to be. My “No” to my father was a big fat “YES” to my dreams and the life I always wanted to live. I could do what I wanted, be the person that I wanted. I was finally free to be me. I’m still in the process of finding who I am apart from what the abuse taught me, but this journey has been one that is well worth it.

The search for who I am has led me down that creative path I’d yearned for so long. I picked up my brushes again and got to work as a freelance makeup artist – something my dad said “No” to long-long ago. I’m finally being the me I’ve longed for, but was never allowed to be.

So, who am I? I’m Bethany Ruck – artist, jokester, performer, fighter, with a touch of eccentric. I love to push the barriers of creativity. Bring on the art! Everyday I get to ask myself, “What are we going to make today?”, and I think to myself, “Yes, I’m finally who I want to be.”


I thought the bonds of marriage and the bonds of blood were too strong to break. I didn’t see that the people who told me they loved me weren’t really loyal to me; they only used those bonds to hurt me. My life started to heal when I chose to be loyal to myself and to honor my bond with me. No marriage vows or family ties are more valuable than my life and well-being. — Christina Enevoldsen

Copyright © 2013 Overcoming Sexual Abuse


The family Photo album

blog-0901096001367697989.pngFrom my second blog project in addition to soosoft

Diary of an abused girl


Figuring out that you were abused as a child comes with what feels like a bubble burst. It's like choosing to wake up and seeing the world in the crooked fashion in which it really exists. People that you knew (family) are often not what you thought. It’s kind of devastating, and it starts you out on this process of looking at your life and wondering what now? Enter the Family photo album: what do I do with it? It’s a small item, but it’s a time capsule filled with photos of abusers and the people who rallied to support them and my own photos from childhood in which they can be found lurking in the background. I have thought of the perspective that someday amends might be made, so do I hang onto those photos till then? Maybe my kids will want to know for good or ill my story and history and who was in it. Right now I feel like I don’t want to keep photos of them, I feel like cutting them out of photos or burning the lot of them. When I am less angry and disgusted I look at the pictures as things that completely capture these people in all their glory. There is no denying who they are, rotten or otherwise, so why not leave them? They made an impact on my history and had a part in shaping it. In that way I would be curating the photos like a museum exhibit that simple presents the history as it is, not to necessarily glorify but tell the truth. Still I am not sure I want the photos in an album that says love, laughter, and family on the cover. I don’t feel like they deserve to be included in that. Perhaps I will archive them like the interesting and horrifying artifacts they are, that is assuming I don’t have any really bad moments between now and then and give into the liberating feeling that would come with burning them in a heap.


The Good Body


As a woman going through childhood abuse you suffer various side effects, one in particular is further agitated with a culture that belives you must be perfect and thin; body image.

In an abusive home part of the crazy making that goes on is the belittling of the body in an effort to gain control and make you feel shamed and without much confidence. You may hear things like, your fat, your butts big, that dress makes you look fat etc. If you are a child the control extends to everything about your body, how you dress everything.

It has taken years to make peace with my body, and I'm still not done. First came accepting my body shape especially my thighs and stomach and more recently my butt. For a long time I avoided any underwear that looked baggy, and I would even buy it a size small because the idea of going to medium or large was like a kiss of death. Anything that was not a thong was a granny panty.

The recent acceptence of my derriere started with being another year older and finally being sick of being un-comfortable, size too small was not cutting it any more. I was older, gaining more confidence and wanted to be comfortable. To hell with size too small! I've started to become more comfortable with my body and it's natural shape.

The book that started the journey to loving my body a little bit at a time is The Good Body by Eve Ensler. It's a great read.



blog-0825655001360810462.jpgPillows... sooosoft!

For me pillows are a thing of comfort and I have over six on my bed. I find that they provide a sort of barrier when I snuggle into them, as if nothing from the outside can get me. Having gone through childhood abuse (all four of its variations) that comfort factor is so important to me. Not only that I have the tendency to add way more blankets than the average person, even well into summer. The added weight being a feeling of security, I will freak out if the covers ride up, or an errant toe escapes and touches the air. That inner child still really believes that something will snatch at her in the dark. Did I mention I hate sleeping alone, the abundance of pillows really help!

The next point I am going to make for pillows being such an excellent therapeutic item in my life is that instead of throwing fine china (for the satisfying shattering noise that soothes anger) to release emotions, I can use a pillow and attack the couch with it. I used to feel silly doing this, even by myself, but it really works and helps channel my anger in a good way. Sometimes the pillow isn’t enough and I have to walk for a bit, angry I-pod list in tow, but it's always a good start for me to feel better.

It is always a private moment, and I have learned in therapy that it is perfectly fine to have a moment to yourself hitting the furniture with a pillow. Firstly because coming from abusive families not only are you never allowed to say your angry you are not allowed to show it, and you are hardly ever given privacy. Secondly I have found that when you have that "aha" moment of just how much you really were abused, yoga and breathing exercises along with anything else a Zen master may say, feel trite and do nothing to really help channel the anger along, at least I have found that to be true for myself. And I find that doing it this way, first starting with a pillow and then going for a walk I am usually ready to channel that anger in a useful way, such as putting up appropriate boundaries or deciding that I am too valuable to be abused anymore.


Intro/ test blog

I am a lover of all things soft and therapeutic, and I find that such things keep me going while working through a hard process to repair the broken parts of myself from childhood abuse, as well as make the days when I struggle with sensitivity better. I wanted to create a blog whre I can share all my therapeutic finds, tools, and the resources that have been a comfort to me.

In addition to therapeutic tools I would like to share thoughts on the healing process that other may relate to. I will post entries here as well as on the Holly Golightly google+ blog.

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