Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Roots of Pedophilia

This is as if someone is describing my father perfectly, I have highlighted the uncanny parts.

When I realized my father belonged in this category........it was very painful for me....he often asked me to have friends spend the night.

The Roots of Pedophilia

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin




Pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children and act on their sexual fantasies. It is a startling fact that the etiology of this paraphilia is unknown. Pedophiles comes from all walks of life and have no common socio-economic background. Contrary to media-propagated myths, most of them had not been sexually abused in childhood and the vast majority of pedophiles are also drawn to adults of the opposite sex (are heterosexuals).

Only a few belong to the Exclusive Type - the ones who are tempted solely by kids. Nine tenths of all pedophiles are male. They are fascinated by preteen females, teenage males, or (more rarely) both.

Moreover, at least one fifth (and probably more) of the population have pedophiliac fantasies. The prevalence of child pornography and child prostitution prove it. Pedophiles start out as "normal" people and are profoundly shocked and distressed to discover their illicit sexual preference for the prepubertal. The process and mechanisms of transition from socially acceptable sexuality to much-condemned (and criminal) pedophilia are still largely mysterious.

Pedophiles seem to have narcissistic and antisocial (psychopathic) traits. They lack empathy for their victims and express no remorse for their actions. They are in denial and, being pathological confabulators, they rationalize their transgressions, claiming that the children were merely being educated for their own good and, anyhow, derived great pleasure from it.

The pedophile's ego-syntony rests on his alloplastic defenses. He generally tends to blame others (or the world or the "system") for his misfortunes, failures, and deficiencies. Pedophiles frequently accuse their victims of acting promiscuously, of "coming on to them", of actively tempting, provoking, and luring (or even trapping) them.

The pedophile - similar to the autistic patient - misinterprets the child's body language and inter-personal cues. His social communication skills are impaired and he fails to adjust information gained to the surrounding circumstances (for instance, to the kid's age and maturity).

Coupled with his lack of empathy, this recurrent inability to truly comprehend others cause the pedophile to objectify the targets of his lasciviousness. Pedophilia is, in essence, auto-erotic. The pedophile uses children's bodies to masturbate with. Hence the success of the Internet among pedophiles: it offers disembodied, anonymous, masturbatory sex. Children in cyberspace are mere representations - often nothing more than erotic photos and screen names.

It is crucial to realize that pedophiles are not enticed by the children themselves, by their bodies, or by their budding and nubile sexuality (remember Nabokov's Lolita?). Rather, pedophiles are drawn to what children symbolize, to what preadolescents stand for and represent. With the advent of Feminism and gender-equality, women have lost their traditional role as socially-acceptable and permissible sexual "child-substitutes" (except in Japan). This social upheaval may account for the rise in pedophilia across the world.



To the pedophile ...

I. Sex with children is "free" and "daring"

Sex with subteens implies freedom of action with impunity. It enhances the pedophile's magical sense of omnipotence and immunity. By defying the authority of the state and the edicts of his culture and society, the pedophile experiences an adrenaline rush to which he gradually becomes addicted. Illicit sex becomes the outlet for his urgent need to live dangerously and recklessly.

The pedophile is on a quest to reassert control over his life. Studies have consistently shown that pedophilia is associated with anomic states (war, famine, epidemics) and with major life crises (failure, relocation, infidelity of spouse, separation, divorce, unemployment, bankruptcy, illness, death of the offender's nearest and dearest).

It is likely - though hitherto unsubstantiated by research - that the typical pedophile is depressive and with a borderline personality (low organization and fuzzy personal boundaries). Pedophiles are reckless and emotionally labile. The pedophile's sense of self-worth is volatile and dysregulated. He is likely to suffer from abandonment anxiety and be a codependent or counterdependent.

Paradoxically, it is by seemingly losing control in one aspect of his life (sex) that the pedophile re-acquires a sense of mastery. The same mechanism is at work in the development of eating disorders. An inhibitory deficit is somehow magically perceived as omnipotence.

II. Sex with children is corrupt and decadent

The pedophile makes frequent (though unconscious) use of projection and projective identification in his relationships with children. He makes his victims treat him the way he views himself - or attributes to them traits and behaviors that are truly his.

The pedophile is aware of society's view of his actions as vile, corrupt, forbidden, evil, and decadent (especially if the pedophiliac act involves incest). He derives pleasure from the sleazy nature of his pursuits because it tends to sustain his view of himself as "bad", "a failure", "deserving of punishment", and "guilty".

In extreme (mercifully uncommon) cases, the pedophile projects these torturous feelings and self-perceptions onto his victims. The children defiled and abused by his sexual attentions thus become "rotten", "bad objects", guilty and punishable. This leads to sexual sadism, lust rape, and snuff murders.

III. Sex with children is a reenactment of a painful past

Many pedophile truly bond with their prey. To them, children are the reification of innocence, genuineness, trust, and faithfulness - qualities that the pedophile wishes to nostalgically recapture.

The relationship with the child provides the pedophile with a "safe passage" to his own, repressed and fearful, inner child. Through his victim, the pedophile gains access to his suppressed and thwarted emotions. It is a fantasy-like second chance to reenact his childhood, this time benignly. The pedophile's dream to make peace with his past comes true transforming the interaction with the child to an exercise in wish fulfillment.

IV. Sex with children is a shared psychosis

The pedophile treats "his" chosen child as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. He finds the child's submissiveness and gullibility gratifying. He frowns on any sign of personal autonomy and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from his family, school, peers, and from the rest of society and, thus, makes the child's dependence on him total.

To the pedophile, the child is a "transitional object" - a training ground on which to exercise his adult relationship skills. The pedophile erroneously feels that the child will never betray and abandon him, therefore guaranteeing "object constancy".

The pedophile stealthily but unfailingly exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological makeup of his victim. The child may have low self-esteem, a fluctuating sense of self-worth, primitive defence mechanisms, phobias, mental health problems, a disability, a history of failure, bad relations with parents, siblings, teachers, or peers, or a tendency to blame herself, or to feel inadequate (autoplastic neurosis). The kid may come from an abusive family or environment which conditioned her or him to expect abuse as inevitable and "normal". In extreme and rare cases the victim is a masochist, possessed of an urge to seek ill-treatment and pain.

The pedophile is the guru at the center of a cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his "partner". He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his child-mate. He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. He enforces discipline.

The child finds himself in a twilight zone. The pedophile imposes on him a shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, "enemies", mythical narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted. The child is rendered the joint guardian of a horrible secret.

The pedophile's control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse. His ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided. He alone determines rights and obligations and alters them at will.

The typical pedophile is a micro-manager. He exerts control over the minutest details and behaviors. He punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to his wishes and goals.

The pedophile does not respect the boundaries and privacy of the (often reluctant and terrified) child. He ignores his or her wishes and treats children as objects or instruments of gratification. He seeks to control both situations and people compulsively.

The pedophile acts in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes often. He alternates between emphasizing the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the looks, talents, traits, and skills (idealizes) of the child. He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations which legitimizes his subsequent abusive conduct.

Narcissistic pedophiles claim to be infallible, superior, talented, skillful, omnipotent, and omniscient. They often lie and confabulate to support these unfounded claims and to justify their actions. Most pedophiles suffer from cognitive deficits and reinterpret reality to fit their fantasies.

In extreme cases, the pedophile feels above the law any kind of law. This grandiose and haughty conviction leads to criminal acts, incestuous or polygamous relationships, and recurrent friction with the authorities.

(continued below)


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V. The pedophile regards sex with children as an ego-booster

Subteen children are, by definition, "inferior". They are physically weaker, dependent on others for the fulfillment of many of their needs, cognitively and emotionally immature, and easily manipulated. Their fund of knowledge is limited and their skills restricted. His relationships with children buttress the pedophile's twin grandiose delusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Compared to his victims, the pedophiles is always the stronger, the wiser, the most skillful and well-informed.

VI. Sex with children guarantees companionship

Inevitably, the pedophile considers his child-victims to be his best friends and companions. Pedophiles are lonely, erotomanic, people.

The pedophile believes that he is in love with (or simply loves) the child. Sex is merely one way to communicate his affection and caring. But there are other venues.

To show his keen interest, the common pedophile keeps calling the child, dropping by, writing e-mails, giving gifts, providing services, doing unsolicited errands "on the kid's behalf", getting into relationships with the preteen's parents, friends, teachers, and peers, and, in general, making himself available (stalking) at all times. The pedophile feels free to make legal, financial, and emotional decisions for the child.

The pedophile intrudes on the victim's privacy, disrespects the child's express wishes and personal boundaries and ignores his or her emotions, needs, and preferences. To the pedophile, "love" means enmeshment and clinging coupled with an overpowering separation anxiety (fear of being abandoned).

Moreover, no amount of denials, chastising, threats, and even outright hostile actions convince the erotomaniac that the child not in love with him. He knows better and will make the world see the light as well. The child and his guardians are simply unaware of what is good for the kid. The pedophile determinedly sees it as his or her task to bring life and happiness into the child's dreary and unhappy existence.

Thus, regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the pedophile is convinced that his feelings are reciprocated - in other words, that the child is equally infatuated with him or her. He interprets everything the child does (or refrains from doing) as coded messages confessing to and conveying the child's interest in and eternal devotion to the pedophile and to the "relationship".

Some (by no means all) pedophiles are socially-inapt, awkward, schizoid, and suffer from a host of mood and anxiety disorders. They may also be legitimately involved with the child (e.g., stepfather, former spouse, teacher, gym instructor, sibling) - or with his parents (for instance, a former boyfriend, a one night stand, colleagues or co-workers). They are driven by their all-consuming loneliness and all-pervasive fantasies.

Consequently, pedophiles react badly to any perceived rejection by their victims. They turn on a dime and become dangerously vindictive, out to destroy the source of their mounting frustration. When the "relationship" looks hopeless, some pedophiles violently embark on a spree of self-destruction.

Pedophilia is to some extent a culture-bound syndrome, defined as it is by the chronological age of the child involved. Ephebophilia, for instance - the exclusive sexual infatuation with teenagers - is not considered to be a form of pedophilia (or even paraphilia).

In some cultures, societies and countries (Afghanistan, for instance) the age of consent is as low as 12. The marriageable age in Britain until the end of the nineteenth century was 10. Pedophilia is a common and socially-condoned practice in certain tribal societies and isolated communities (the Island of Pitcairn).

It would, therefore, be wise to redefine pedophilia as an attraction to or sexual acts with prepubescent children or with people of the equivalent mental age (e.g., retarded) in contravention of social, legal, and cultural accepted practices.


Also Read

Sex or Gender

The Narcissist's Family

The Pathology of Love

The Natural Roots of Sexuality

Parenting - The Irrational Vocation

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos

The Offspring of Aeolus: On the Incest Taboo

"Faultless Nation" by Cal Thomas


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Denial



This is from a website called Primalworks. We are all so affected by denial, and when we get out of our own, and we accept what has happened to us, we often see that those we love are still very much in it. Letting go is about releasing the inner bond to that wish for them to ever change. I think that change such as this would require intrinsic change...something not everyone is willing to do.

Sexual Problems - Part 3: Denial

Trauma, by its very nature, is a denial. It is a necessary, protective denial of the violation that is happening at the moment of abuse. The overwhelming, painful stimulus is hidden away from consciousness so as not to "blow" the circuits of the system.

Traumatic repression works like a fuse in the electrical circuitry of a home. A blown fuse only protects the house temporarily until the electrical overload problem is corrected. Similarly, repression acts as a temporary band-aid until the traumatic overload can be brought out of repressive denial and expressed in a release of feelings.

The healing cycle of trauma and release can be seen in animals. If they are under attack and cannot successfully flee or fight, they may freeze in protective shock. If they escape and find themselves in a safe environment, they will release the energy of the terror and pain by shaking, running, stretching, and making sound. If they do this, they will not be traumatized, and they will return to a state of physical and emotional balance. If they do not do this, the trauma will remain lodged in their systems, and will interfere with bodymind functioning.

The natural response to systemic overload is to encapsulate excess energy and release it later. First there is a natural denial of the pain (trauma) and then a natural acceptance of it (feeling awareness and emotional release).

But what happens if, after a traumatic incident, there is no safe environment within which to reverse the denial and release the pain? What if the person who is abusing you is the one that is supposed to be your protector?

In modern society, most parents and caretakers are emotionally crippled by dysfunction from their own traumas. This neurotic condition is so widespread that it has become normal - though not healthy. This appearance of normality doesn't change the fact that these caretakers unwittingly inflict trauma on their own children and therefore cannot be the safe haven needed for its release. If trauma cannot be released, it stays in the system. The longer trauma stays in the system, the more it gets entrenched. A soft "imprint" in the clay of our minds will become rock hard.

Although denial is the hallmark of repressed trauma, denial is often intensified with sexual abuse because sex itself is a repressed subject in this society. Sex is a general taboo, and even more so to those children who have been sexually abused. Society says, "Don't think about it and don't talk about it." This societal repression adds to traumatic repression and sends the painful incident further below consciousness.

Sometimes children are sexually abused by people they love, need, and admire, in ways that seem like affection. In this type of abuse, a child's body may feel good - as well as confused and uncomfortable. Regardless of any positive feelings, the incidents always have to be kept secret and cannot be shared with others. Like all things shameful and bad, they have to be hidden and denied.

Sexually abused children are often threatened with humiliation, isolation, punishment, injury to family members, damnation - or death - if they tell. They are often told that "it never happened," or that no one will believe them. On top of their natural traumatic denial, they are overtly forced to deny reality. Young children have malleable, developing minds, and they will often doubt themselves when confronted by the power of a seemingly all-powerful abuser. Natural denial is further reinforced.

Sexual abuse often causes severe trauma due to its invasive, shocking nature. The more severe a trauma is, the more severe the repression of memory - and the denial. The passage of time erodes the recall of normal childhood memory, traumatic repression inhibits it further, and the severe repression of sexual abuse can block memory completely. The earlier the abuse, the more likely the victim will experience complete "amnesia."

Highly charged, traumatic memories may disappear from everyday consciousness, but they remain in the system, pressing for release. They make their appearance in dreams, neurotic behaviour, and puzzling physical symptoms. They are like messengers knocking on the door of our denial, needing to be heard. Until we open the door of our denial, we cannot fully heal.

When it comes to sexual problems and childhood sexual abuse, the layers of denial are many. There is natural traumatic denial, shock-level denial, abuser threat denial, self-esteem denial, family denial, professional denial, and societal denial. When someone with sexual problems begins to consider the possibility of childhood sexual abuse, acceptance of that possibility is often blocked on many levels.

Sexual abuse usually undermines a person's confidence and leaves them feeling worthless, intrinsically bad, and less than human. In spite of the evidence, symptoms, feelings, and memory flashes, sexual abuse survivors often think they are "making it up." With their confidence shattered, they feel bad - even evil - for thinking such things. If they can't believe it themselves, they are not likely to risk the shame of "exposing" themselves to an unbelieving public of doctors, psychiatrists, friends, and family. As their painful, dysfunctional symptoms continue, they often conclude that they are fundamentally or genetically flawed. It's as if they are still in the grips of their abuser.

But nature cannot be fooled. No matter what the trauma is, or how old it is, the organism looks for a safe environment in which to release it. A responsible, experienced primal integration therapist can be that safe environment. Having accepted much of their own traumatic denials, therapists can offer the acceptance within which denial will melt.

If you have sexual problems and symptoms that point to childhood sexual abuse, finding the safe environment of the right therapist can be the first step in healing. Then the process can begin to unfold.

Defenses

This is a list I have found helpful in understanding my family of origin, and also myself.

Defenses.
Following is a list of defenses and some information about them. The list is not exhaustive, but covers the big ones.

Displacement -- One way to avoid the risk associated with feeling unpleasant emotions is to displace them, or put them somewhere other than where they belong. A common example is being angry at your boss. Displaying that anger could cost you your job. You might be afraid that you can not contain it, but also afraid of what will happen if you express it toward your boss. You might instead express it, but redirect it toward some other, safer source, such as your partner or best friend. You yell at them and pick a fight. They will forgive you or ignore it, and then you are able to express your anger but without risking your job.

Sublimation -- Related to displacement is sublimation, or the healthy redirection of an emotion. Instead of punching your boss when angry with him, instead of taking out your anger on your friends, you go to the gym and punch a punching bag. Other examples include turning the painful loss of a child into a campaign to increase child safety laws, turning a generally high degree of aggression into professional football, and turning the pain and resentment of a physical injury into a drive to overcome a disability.

Projection -- Projection is something we all do. It is the act of taking something of ourselves and placing it outside of us, onto others; sometimes we project positive and sometimes negative aspects of ourselves. Sometimes we project things we don't want to acknowledge about ourselves, and so we turn it around and put it on others (i.e., "It's not that I made a stupid mistake, it's that you are critical of everything I do!"). Sometimes it is simply our experiences (i.e., "My father was a reasonable man when we disagreed, so if I use reason with my boss we can work out our disagreement").

The problem with projecting negative aspects of ourselves is that we still suffer under them. In the above example, instead of feeling inadequate (our true feeling) we suffer with the feeling that everyone is critical of us. While we escape feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability, we nonetheless still suffer and feel uneasy. The more energy you put into avoiding the realization that you have weaknesses, the more difficult it eventually is to face them. This is the main defense mechanism of paranoid and anti-social personalities.

Rationalization -- Rationalization is often called the "sour grapes defense." This comes from one of Aesop's fables. The fox wanted some grapes, but could not reach them. This caused him to feel pain, as he could not have what he wanted. He rationalized, "They were probably sour anyway" to turn them into something he didn't really want, and thus couldn't really be upset about not getting. It is an intellectual way to diminish pain or guilt. The old "They're 50% less fat so I can eat twice as many" routine is the same. You make up a "logical" argument to avoid guilt.

Fantasy -- Fantasy can be a good or a pathological defense. Fantasizing involves creating an inner world when the real world becomes too painful, difficult, or stressful. Thinking about your upcoming vacation when work gets stressful is a healthy use of fantasy. However, if you don't solve problems, but only daydream about them being solved for you, if you avoid potentially problematic responsibilities and only fantasize about having rewarding challenges and experiences, fantasy becomes too much.

Intellectualization -- Related to rationalization, intellectualization involves removing the emotion from emotional experiences, and discussing painful events in detached, uncaring, sterile ways. Someone who intellectualizes becomes very distant from their feelings, and when asked to describe their feelings may find it difficult. They may understand all the words that describe feelings, but have no idea what they really feel.

Denial -- Denial is the simplest defense to understand. It is simply the refusal to acknowledge what has, is, or will happen. "My partner didn't have an affair, but was simply traveling for work a lot." A related defense is Minimizing. When you minimize you technically accept what happened, but only in a "watered down" form. "Sure, I have been drinking a bit too much lately, but it's only due to stresses at work; I don't really have a drinking problem since this is situational and not an inner weakness or something."

Repression/Suppression -- Repression is often thought of as the parent of all defenses. Repression involves putting painful thoughts and memories out of our minds and forgetting them. All defenses do this to some extent. Traditionally, repression is unconsciously "forgetting," that is, forgetting and not even realizing that you are doing it. You have no conscious memory or knowledge of that which is repressed. Suppression is when you consciously forget something, or make the choice to avoid thinking about it.

The problem with repression is that the memory, feeling, or insight repressed doesn't go away. It continues to effect us because our unconscious gives it a life of its own. It becomes all the more powerful because we repress it, and it can effect our decisions, reactions, etc... in ways that we don't see but others may.

Withdrawal -- Withdrawal is a more severe form of defense. It entails removing yourself from events, stimuli, interactions, etc... that could remind you of painful thoughts and feelings. Withdrawal takes several forms, such as silence, running away, and drinking and drug use. Talking to friends could prompt them to ask about painful events, so you avoid them. Television, books, coworkers, etc... can all remind you of unpleasant feelings, so you avoid them. Paired with fantasy, it can be paralyzing. Withdrawal inevitably leads to strong feelings of loneliness and alienation, however, which generally means you feel more pain.

Reaction-Formation -- This is one of the most difficult defenses for some people to understand. When we have a reaction that is too painful or threatening to feel (such as intense hate for someone with power over us), we turn it into the opposite (intense liking for that person). That way, we aren't threatened by the feeling, or even the awareness of the feeling. Like denial and repression, you can begin to do this automatically and as a result never know what your true feelings are.

Summary -- Defenses are ultimately something we do to protect ourselves from pain. While we all use them when troubled, we generally come to a point when we face our problems and don't have to rely so heavily on our defenses to protect us. Defenses become unhealthy when we refuse to face our true experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

Dispatches from the Front Lines

Dispatches from the Front Lines
Articles and Essays written by Andrew Vachss

A Man who stands up for abused children, which is so essential in their journey from VICTIM to SURVIVOR. For those of you still having a hard time doing this for your abused child, niece, nephew, etc, take notes.

Sports Parents: Protecting Your Child

Protecting Your Child

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Posted: Wednesday September 08, 1999 06:19 PM

Photo illustration by Amy Guip, Photographs by llinois Department of Corrections; San Bernardino Sheriff's Office; Shreveport Times; Pasadena Star-News; Allegheny County Police; Phoenix Sheriff's Office

By Don Yeager

Discuss this topic on the message board.

Sports Illustrated It would be easy, while reading about the likes of Norman Watson and Michael Hughes, to forget that the overwhelming majority of coaches on America's youth sports fields are there for all the right reasons. These coaches should be thanked, not subjected to a witch hunt. Nevertheless, a number of coaches have been convicted of child molestation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI and the mothers and fathers of some victims offer the following tips to help parents protect their children:

DO A BACKGROUND CHECK
Ask your league (or school) whether it does criminal-history or any other types of background checks on coaches. If it doesn't, ask why not. Many states and cities have policies allowing volunteer organizations that serve children to have criminal checks run for free by police. (If your state or city has no such policy, a criminal check by police should cost no more than $40 per coach.) Some states make their registry of sex offenders available on the Internet. Checks shouldn't be limited to criminal records, however. If the coach has coached in other leagues, call those leagues to make sure he wasn't accused of any sexual improprieties.

DON'T TURN YOUR CHILD'S COACH INTO A BABYSITTER
Don't drop your child off at games and practices and leave. Studies show that men predisposed to molest children often prey first on those regularly left unattended by parents. By being present, you let the coach know you are actively involved in your child's life.

DON'T FALL FOR FLATTERY
Be wary of any coach who says he's the one person who can help your oh-so-gifted child develop into a star or who spends an unusually large amount of time with the child "because he's such a wonderful kid." The coach may be trying to win your trust and groom your child for seduction.

TALK TO YOUR CHILD AND THEN LISTEN
Describe for your son or daughter what you consider inappropriate behavior by a coach (improper touching of his players, showing them pornographic material and so on). Make sure your child knows that if a coach says, "You can't tell your mom or dad" about something the coach is doing, the first thing the child should do is tell Mom or Dad. Assure your child that he or she will never get in trouble with you for telling the truth. If your child's interest in his sport or team suddenly diminishes for no apparent reason, ask why.

BEWARE OF COACHES BEARING GIFTS
"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," Watson said from prison when asked whether he had any words of caution for parents. Watson took his player-victims to the mall and bought them games, clothes and athletic equipment. "All that should have been a sign," the FBI's Roger Young says. "That's not normal behavior for a nonparent."

STAY INFORMED
Some coaches don't want parents to know where the team will be staying on a road trip. These coaches often say that the presence of parents hinders team development. Bad sign. Demand to know. Also, ask what the arrangements are for showering after games and practices. There's generally no reason for children to be nude in the presence of the coach and no reason for the coach to be naked in the presence of a child.

Discuss this topic on the Sports Parents message board.

Issue date: September 13, 1999

Affidavit: Polygamist Ranch Rife with Sexual Abuse

Affidavit: Polygamist Ranch Rife with Sexual Abuse

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All Things Considered,

April 8, 2008 · A culture of child sexual abuse existed at a West Texas ranch run by polygamists that was searched by police last week, state child welfare officials allege in court documents released Tuesday.

The raid – which resulted in more than 400 youngsters being taken into protective custody – occurred after a 16-year-old girl reported she was beaten and raped. The documents also provide new details about her conversations with police.

An affidavit filed by state officials depicts a religious culture rife with sexual abuse of young teenage girls. Texas Child welfare officials allege that for generations, women in the polygamist group were taught to prepare themselves and their daughters for sexual relations with older men as soon as they reached puberty.

"Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the (Yearn for Zion) Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them," stated the affidavit signed by Lynn McFadden, an investigative supervisor with the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The court documents also describe a desperate 16-year-old girl's whispered calls to authorities. Using a borrowed cell phone, she told of being raped by her 50-year-old "spiritual husband," and then beaten until her ribs were broken and she had to be taken to an emergency room. The girl, who is alleged to have given birth to a child at the age of 15, has still not been located by authorities.

Patrick Crimmins of Texas Child Protective Services says, "That investigation determined that there was either abuse or neglect that already occurred, or abuse or neglect that could be occurring in the particular household that we were investigating. This household happened to be very, very massive and contained not two or three or four children, but more than 400."

The occupation and search began Friday, and the Associated Press reported that at least two FBI agents were seen entering the back entrance of the compound's 80-foot-high temple on Tuesday.

The homes at the ranch run by the polygamist group, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, consist of large three-story buildings, each with scores of bedrooms. Outbuildings are scattered around the ranch, and the gleaming white temple sits in the center.

The women and children who lived there had been virtually isolated from direct contact with people outside the faith. They're now being housed in former Army barracks inside a historic Western Fort built in 1867, which is surrounded by TV trucks, white dishes pointed at the sky.

The raid and removal of children was unprecedented in scope, but not in context. During a standoff with U.S. officials in 1993, David Koresh released all of the children from the Branch Davidian religious sect's complex in Waco, Texas, that were not his own. But the action in El Dorado is on a scale many times the size of that intervention.

To remove and take custody of 401 children from different families, the state must have cause. A state judge has granted Child Protective Services temporary custody, which gives the agency 14 days to put together its evidence and go to court.

Because the state took every female child from the ranch, it is likely to argue that the parents' polygamist beliefs constitute jeopardy for under-age sexual abuse. Lawyers for the polygamist group filed a motion this weekend protesting that the search warrant was too broad and too vague, thus unconstitutional.

A news conference Tuesday became a little testy as some reporters asked Child Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner what right the state had to take so many children from so many families.

"You're ripping families apart and you're not explaining to us what is the real reason for it," one reporter asked.

Meisner replied, "I can tell you it that it was certainly enough that a district judge in the state of Texas determined that these children were at risk, and judges in Texas don't take those accusations lightly."

Merrill Jessop, a presiding elder of the polygamist group, also complained about the children's removal.

"There needs to be a public outcry. The hauling off of women and children matches anything in Russia and Germany," Jessop told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Two members of the polygamist group were arrested at the ranch earlier this week, one charged with interfering with police and the other with destroying evidence.

Responding To Child Sexual Abuse

For me in my own life, friends who are now my chosen family have often said the very things I have needed to hear from my blood family. Here is a great piece on responding.


Responding To Child Sexual Abuse


No. 28; Updated July 2004

When a child tells an adult that he or she has been sexually abused, the adult may feel uncomfortable and may not know what to say or do. The following guidelines should be used when responding to children who say they have been sexually abused:

What to Say
If a child even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don't make judgmental comments.

  • Show that you understand and take seriously what the child is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have found that children who are listened to and understood do much better than those who are not. The response to the disclosure of sexual abuse is critical to the child's ability to resolve and heal the trauma of sexual abuse.
  • Assure the child that they did the right thing in telling. A child who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret. The child may feel frightened if the abuser has threatened to harm the child or other family members as punishment for telling the secret.
  • Tell the child that he or she is not to blame for the sexual abuse. Most children in attempting to make sense out of the abuse will believe that somehow they caused it or may even view it as a form of punishment for imagined or real wrongdoings.
  • Finally, offer the child protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to Do
Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney's office. Individuals reporting in good faith are immune from prosecution. The agency receiving the report will conduct an evaluation and will take action to protect the child.

Parents should consult with their pediatrician or family physician, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse. The examining doctor will evaluate the child's condition and treat any physical problem related to the abuse, gather evidence to help protect the child, and reassure the child that he or she is all right.

Children who have been sexually abused should have an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them, and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary for the child to deal with the trauma of the abuse. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also provide support to other family members who may be upset by the abuse.

While most allegations of sexual abuse made by children are true, some false accusations may arise in custody disputes and in other situations. Occasionally, the court will ask a child and adolescent psychiatrist to help determine whether the child is telling the truth, or whether it will hurt the child to speak in court about the abuse.

When a child is asked as to testify, special considerations--such as videotaping, frequent breaks, exclusion of spectators, and the option not to look at the accused--make the experience much less stressful.

Adults, because of their maturity and knowledge, are always the ones to blame when they abuse children. The abused children should never be blamed.

When a child tells someone about sexual abuse, a supportive, caring response is the first step in getting help for the child and reestablishing their trust in adults.

Additional/related Facts for Families,
#5 Child Abuse: The Hidden Bruises
#24 When to Seek Help for Your Child
#9 Child Sexual Abuse
#70 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation

PTSD and The Family

PTSD and The Family

The entire family is profoundly affected when any family member experiences psychological trauma and suffers posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some traumas are directly experienced by only one family member, but other family members may experience shock, fear, anger, and pain in their own unique ways simply because they care about and are connected to the survivor.�

Living with an individual who has PTSD does not automatically cause PTSD, but it can produce "vicarious" or "secondary" traumatization. Whether family members live together or apart, are in contact often or rarely, and feel close or distant emotionally from one another, PTSD affects each member of the family in several ways:�

  • Family members may feel hurt, alienated, frustrated, or discouraged, if the survivor loses interest in family or intimate activities and is easily angered or emotionally isolated and detached. Family memers often end up feeling angry or distant toward the survivor, especially if he or she seems unable to relax and be companionable without being irritable, tense, anxious, worried, distractible, or controlling, overprotective, and demanding.
  • Even if the trauma occurred decades ago, survivors may act -- and family members may feel -- as if the trauma never stops happening. They may feel as if they're living in a warzone or a disaster if the survivor is excessively on-guard, tense, or easily startled or enraged. Family members can find themselves avoiding activities or people and becoming isolated from each other and from friends outside the family. They may feel that they have no one to talk to, and that no one that can understand.
  • They may find it very difficult to have a cooperative discussion with the survivor about important plans and decisions for the future, because s/he feels there is no future to look forward to, because s/he has difficulty listening and concentrating without becoming distracted, tense, or anxious, or because s/he becomes angry and overly suspicious toward the family member or toward others (hypervigilant). They may find it very difficult to discuss personal or family problems, because the survivor becomes either controlling, demanding, or overprotective, or unreasonably anxious and fearful about problems becoming terrible catastrophes.�
  • Family members may become overinvolved with their children's lives due to feeling lonely and in need of some positive emotional feedback, or feeling that the partner can't be counted on as a reliable and responsible parent. For the survivor, this "discounting" of the partner as a co-parent often is due to hypervigilance and guilt because of trauma experiences involving children The partner may feel s/he must be the sole caregiver to their children if the survivor is uninvolved with their children (often due to trauma-related anxiety or guilt) or is overly critical, angry, or even abusive.�
  • They may find their sleep disrupted by the trauma survivor's sleep problems (reluctance to sleep at night, restlessness while sleeping, severe nightmares, or episodes of violent "sleepwalking." Family members also often find themselves having terrifying nightmares, afraid to go to sleep, or difficulty getting a full and restful night's sleep, as if they are reliving the survivor's trauma in their own feelings and sleep.�
  • Ordinary activities, such as going shopping or to a movie, or taking a drive in the car, may feel like reliving of past trauma when the survivor experiences trauma memories or flashbacks. The survivor may go into "survival mode" or on "automatic pilot," suddenly and without explanation shutting down emotionally, becoming pressured and angry, or going away abruptly and leaving family members feeling shocked, stranded, helpless, and worried.�
  • Trauma survivors with PTSD often struggle with intense anger or rage, and can have difficulty coping with an impulse to lash out verbally or physically -- especially if their trauma involved physical abuse or assault, war, domestic or community violence, or being humiliated, shamed and betrayed by people they needed to trust. Family members can feel frightened of and betrayed by the survivor, despite feeling love and concern.�
  • Addiction exposes family members to emotional, financial, and (less often, but not uncommonly) domestic violence problems. Survivors experiencing PTSD may seek relief and escape with alcohol or other drugs, or through addictive behaviors such as gambling, workaholism, overeating or refusing to eat (bulimia and anorexia). Addictions offer false hope to the survivor, by seeming to help for a short time but then making PTSD's symptoms of fear, anxiety, tension, anger, and emotional numbness far worse. Addictions may be very obvious, such as when binge drinking or daily use of drugs occurs. However they may involve lighter or less frequent episodes of "using" that are a problem because the survivor is dependent ("hooked") on the habit and can't cope without it.�
  • When suicide is a danger, family members face these unavoidable strains:
    worry ("How can I know is suicide is going to happen, and what can I do to prevent it?"), guilt ("Am I doing something to make her/him feel so terrible, and should I be doing something to make her/him feel better?"), grief ("I have to prepare myself every day for losing her/him. In many ways I feel and have to live my life as if s/he's already gone."), and anger ("How can s/he be so selfish and uncaring?"). Trauma survivors with PTSD are more prone to contemplate and attempt suicide than similar people who have not experienced trauma or are not suffering from PTSD. For the family there is good and bad news in this respect. The good news is that very few trauma survivors, even those with PTSD, actually attempt or complete suicide. The bad news is that family members with a loved with PTSD often must deal with the survivor?s feeling sufficiently discouraged, depressed, and even self- blame and self-loathing to seriously and frequently contemplate suicide.�

What can families of trauma survivors with PTSD do to care for themselves and the survivor?�

  • Continue to learn more about PTSD by attending classes, viewing films, or reading books.
  • Encourage, but don't pressure, the survivor to seek counseling from a PTSD specialist.�
  • Seek personal, child, couples, or family counseling if troubled by "secondary" trauma reactions such as anxiety, fears, anger, addiction, or problems in school, work, or intimacy.�
  • Take classes on stress and anger management, couples communication, or parenting.�
  • Stay involved in positive relationships, in productive work and education, and with enjoyable pasttimes.�

If physical (domestic) violence actually is occurring, family members such as spouses, children, or elders must be protected from harm.�

A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet
The information on this Web page is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. All information contained on this pages is in the public domain, and may be copied and distributed without restriction.

PTSD and Relationships



Trauma survivors with PTSD often experience problems in their intimate and family relationships or close friendships. PTSD involves symptoms that interfere with trust, emotional closeness, communication, responsible assertiveness, and effective problem solving:

Loss of interest in social or sexual activities, and feeling distant from others, as well as feeling emotionally numb. Partners, friends, or family members may feel hurt, alienated, or discouraged, and then become angry or distant toward the survivor.

Feeling irritable, on-guard, easily startled, worried, or anxious may lead survivors to be unable to relax, socialize, or be intimate without being tense or demanding. Significant others may feel pressured, tense, and controlled as a result.

Difficulty falling or staying asleep and severe nightmares prevent both the survivor and partner from sleeping restfully, and may make sleeping together difficult.

Trauma memories, trauma reminders or flashbacks, and the attempt to avoid such memories or reminders, can make living with a survivor feel like living in a war zone or living in constant threat of vague but terrible danger. Living with an individual who has PTSD does not automatically cause PTSD; but it can produce "vicarious" or "secondary" traumatization, which is almost like having PTSD.

Reliving trauma memories, avoiding trauma reminders, and struggling with fear and anger greatly interferes with survivors' abilities to concentrate, listen carefully, and make cooperative decisions -- so problems often go unresolved for a long time. Significant others may come to feel that dialogue and teamwork are impossible.

Survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse, rape, domestic violence, combat, or terrorism, genocide, torture, kidnapping or being a prisoner of war, often report feeling a lasting sense of terror, horror, vulnerability and betrayal that interferes with relationships:

Feeling close, trusting, and emotionally or sexually intimate may seem a dangerous "letting down of my guard" because of past traumas -- although the survivor often actually feels a strong bond of love or friendship in current healthy relationships.

Having been victimized and exposed to rage and violence, survivors often struggle with intense anger and impulses that usually are suppressed by avoiding closeness or by adopting an attitude of criticism or dissatisfaction with loved ones and friends. Intimate relationships may have episodes of verbal or physical violence.

Survivors may be overly dependent upon or overprotective of partners, family members, friends, or support persons (such as healthcare providers or therapists).

Alcohol abuse and substance addiction -- as an attempt to cope with PTSD -- can destroy intimacy or friendships

In the first weeks and months following the traumatic event, survivors of disasters, terrible accidents or illnesses, or community violence often feel an unexpected sense of anger, detachment, or anxiety in intimate, family, and friendship relationships. Most are able to resume their prior level of intimacy and involvement in relationships, but the 5-10% who develop PTSD often experience lasting problems with relatedness and intimacy.

Yet many trauma survivors do not experience PTSD, and many couples, families, or friendships with an individual who has PTSD do not experience severe relational problems. Successful intimate relationships require:

Creating a personal support network to cope with PTSD while maintaining or rebuilding family and friend relationships with dedication, perserverance, hard work, and commitment

Sharing feelings honestly and openly with an attitude of respect and compassion

Continual practice to strengthen cooperative problem-solving and communication

Infusions of playfulness, spontaneity, relaxation, and mutual enjoyment

For many trauma survivors, intimate, family, and friend relationships are extremely beneficial, providing companionship and belongingness as an antidote to isolation, self-esteem as an antidote to depression and guilt, opportunities to make a positive contribution to reduce feelings of failure or alienation, and practical and emotional support when coping with life stressors.

As with all psychological disturbances, especially those that impair social, psychological or emotional functioning, it is best to seek treatment from a professional who has expertise in both treating couples or family issues and PTSD. Many therapists with this expertise are members of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, whose membership directory contains a geographical listing indicating those who treat couples or family issues and PTSD. Types of professional help that survivors find helpful for relationships include:

Individual and group psychotherapy for their own PTSD

Anger and Stress Management, and Assertiveness Training

Couples Communication Classes and Individual and Group Therapies

Family Education Classes and Family Therapy

A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet
The information on this Web page is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. All information contained on this page is in the public domain, and may be copied and distributed without restriction.

Family members, What We Would Like You to Know About Us

Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse:
What We Would Like You to Know About Us.

1. We grew up feeling very isolated and vulnerable, a feeling that continues into our adult lives.

2. Our early development has been interrupted by abuse, which either holds us back or pushes us ahead developmentally.

3. Sexual abuse has influenced all parts of our lives. Not dealing with it is like ignoring an open wound. Our communication style, our self-confidence, and our trust levels are affected.

4. Putting thoughts and feelings related to our abuse "on the back burner" does not make them go away. The only way out is to go through these emotions and process them.

5. Our interest in sexual activity will usually decline while we are dealing with this early trauma. This is because:
we are working on separating the past from the present.
pleasure and pain can sometimes be experienced simultaneously.
it is important for us to be in control, since control is what we lacked as children.
Sometimes we need a lot of space. Pressuring us to have sex will only increase our tension.

6. We often experience physical discomforts, pains, and disorders that are related to our emotions.

7. We often appear to be extremely strong while we are falling apart inside.

8. There is nothing wrong with us as survivors -- something wrong was DONE to us.

9. Sometimes others get impatient with us for not "getting past it" sooner. Remember, we are feeling overwhelmed, and what we need is your patience and support. Right now, it is very important for us to concentrate on the past. We are trying to reorganize our whole outlook on the world; this won't happen overnight.

10. Your support is extremely important to us. Remember; we have been trained to hold things in. We have been trained NOT to tell about the abuse. We did not tell sooner for a variety of reasons: we were fearful about how you would react, what might happen, etc. We have been threatened verbally and/or nonverbally to keep us quiet, and we live with that fear.

11. Feeling sorry for us does not really help because we add your pain to our own.

12. There are many different kinds of people who are offenders. It does not matter that they are charming or attractive or wealthy. Anybody -- from any social class or ethnic background, with any level of education-- may be an offender. Sexual abuse is repetitive, so be aware of offenders with whom you have contact. Do not let them continue the cycle of abuse with the next generation of children.

13. We might not want or be able to talk with you about our therapy.

14. We are afraid we might push you away with all our emotional reactions. You can help by: listening, reassuring us that you are not leaving, not pressuring us, touching (WITH PERMISSION) in a nonsexual way.

15. Our therapy does not break up relationships - it sometimes causes them to change as we change. Therapy often brings issues to the surface that were already present.

16. Grieving is a part of our healing process as we say goodbye to parts of ourselves.

From Triumph over Darkness by Wendy Ann Wood, M.A.
copyright Wendy Ann Wood 1993

Facts for Families

Child Sexual Abuse

No. 9; Updated July 2004

Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult. The problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the child should receive professional help. The long-term emotional and psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to the child.

Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. When sexual abuse has occurred, a child can develop a variety of distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.

The child of five or older who knows and cares for the abuser becomes trapped between affection or loyalty for the person, and the sense that the sexual activities are terribly wrong. If the child tries to break away from the sexual relationship, the abuser may threaten the child with violence or loss of love. When sexual abuse occurs within the family, the child may fear the anger, jealousy or shame of other family members, or be afraid the family will break up if the secret is told.

A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.

Some children who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms. Some sexually abused children become child abusers or prostitutes, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood.

Often there are no obvious physical signs of child sexual abuse. Some signs can only be detected on physical exam by a physician.

Sexually abused children may develop the following:

  • unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature
  • sleep problems or nightmares
  • depression or withdrawal from friends or family
  • seductiveness
  • statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area
  • refusal to go to school
  • delinquency/conduct problems
  • secretiveness
  • aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies
  • unusual aggressiveness, or
  • suicidal behavior

Child sexual abusers can make the child extremely fearful of telling, and only when a special effort has helped the child to feel safe, can the child talk freely. If a child says that he or she has been molested, parents should try to remain calm and reassure the child that what happened was not their fault. Parents should seek a medical examination and psychiatric consultation.

Parents can prevent or lessen the chance of sexual abuse by:

  • Telling children that if someone tries to touch your body and do things that make you feel funny, say NO to that person and tell me right away
  • Teaching children that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults and to authority, for example, don't tell children to, Always do everything the teacher or baby-sitter tells you to do
  • Encouraging professional prevention programs in the local school system

Sexually abused children and their families need immediate professional evaluation and treatment. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can help abused children regain a sense of self-esteem, cope with feelings of guilt about the abuse, and begin the process of overcoming the trauma. Such treatment can help reduce the risk that the child will develop serious problems as an adult.

For additional information see Facts for Families:
#4 The Depressed Child
#5 Child Abuse
#10 Teen Suicide
#28 Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
#62 Talking to Your Kids about Sex
#73 Self-Injury in Adolescents
#00 Definition of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Excerpts from Your Child on Sexual Abuse
Many parents are unsure or squeamish about bringing up sexual matters, especially with their children. Yet, there are ways of laying the groundwork so that you can talk to your child without scaring her. Establish an open dialogue about sexual issues early on. If you introduce the subject of sex in a discussion of abuse, there is the danger that the idea of sex may become automatically linked in your child’s mind with danger and anxiety.
If you have fostered in your child a sense of ownership regarding her body, she will likely have an instinct about what is okay for her body and what is not. You build on her natural sense of ownerships of her body by letting her pick out her own clothes or wash herself in her own way. Also, avoid pushing her to kiss or hug other adults when she clearly does not want to.
Finally, when parents treat their children’s bodies with respect, children tent to demand that others treat their bodies in a similar manner. Children who are consistently hit, grabbed, or physically punished at home may feel that adults are entitled to misuse their bodies simply because they are bigger.

SAFETY

SAFETY.

I love this picture. A vulnerable child, in total safety. Nothing like what I experienced. Beautiful.
Namaste!!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

b r e a t h e

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Imagine A Woman

The Original Eight Stanza Poem...

Imagine a Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

IMG_0373Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past's influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

“Imagine a Woman” © Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995
Excerpt: Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself (Conari, 1999)
Available in English: Postcard and poster formats.
Available in Spanish: Postcard format.
"Mannequin" © Patricia Lynn Reilly, 2006
http://www.imagineAwoman.com

When You Are Still Struggling


I want to be a realistic voice for anyone still struggling. I think no matter how far along you get in therapy or healing, there will always be days when you just struggle. This is part of life. I think too many times we think of 'healing' as 'curing' or erasing damage. That is not possible. We all have issues, whether we have abuse in our past or not. Life, to me, is a series of steps in a grand process.
For instance, lately, I have struggled with feeling a gaping sadness. I, in cutting off my family of origin, am still grieving that loss. I did not realize that although I did the very best thing for me, took the healthiest step I could take, it still hurts. I still FEEL the pain and loss. Just because it is the right decision, that does not mean it is easy. My husband says sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do. I repressed many feelings about my aunt and uncle for instance. The truth is that I wish so much that they would have defended me when they found of what my father had done. I wish my uncle had stood up for me in the now. But that's not what he did. And I don't do the whole still-associating-with-my-abuser-thing, on any level. I've been journeying about this a lot, and I have to say, I am feeling better and better as I let the lid loosen over my emotions about it.
So when I met my husband, I knew the answer for me in my life was to create my own damn family. He comes from a huge close knit family. That's what we did. We are still creating extended family of choice. Friends who are true family. I'm not saying everyone should have a baby at 22. BUT for me, it was the path. Having children and learning to trust my husband is the greatest gift. I encourage you to learn to trust a partner. Do not live with one foot out of the proverbial door, waiting for that other shoe to drop. Investigate why you do that and heal it. It feels so amazing to let that go and be intimately attached. True, no one can save you but yourself, BUT I also say people are mirrors and can reflect of true divinity and potential to us. Many survivors suffer from an on my own mentality. makes sense, but not what I believe we all truly need. Take that risk, the risk it takes to blossom. The truth is, we need others, we need love. We need to love. We need to trust. Take the risk, leap, and trust that the net will appear. I hope your net is strong, full of jewels, and very comfy!
To struggle is so hard. It's a dynamic thing so it does not last forever, and if it is for you, get to therapy, think about meds, do what you need to do to heal. Namaste.