The first step to healing is recognizing that
you need help and then knowing that help is
available. It is important to know that you
are not alone.
Finances are often a major issue
in getting help. Help is available through many
resources, many of which are free. There are
self-help groups, books and literature, help
lines, counseling services, shelters, psychotherapy,
expressive therapies (art, music, voice, dance),
and body work.
There is often labeling and minimizing
of the survivor's abuse or its effects. Survivors
need courage to combat the ignorance they will
face in their recovery process. Society must
recognize that abuse survivors have talents,
feelings and ambitions.
A person can gain courage and
support to deal with these difficult issues
through reading recovery and self help books,
stories about individuals who have confronted
abuse, or books on specific abuse or psychological
Getting to know the issues can
help one to understand there are problems with
specific roots and there is the realistic expectation
Meeting others and sharing experiences
or joining recovery groups can lead to stronger
relationships and support.
Recovery often requires moving
outside your usual familiar territory and opening
up to other ideas.
Desperation is often the greatest
motivator. "I took a look inside and faced
my terrible ghosts because I realized I just
could no longer keep living the way I was."
(In) On my heart there is a burden
Past pain weighs it down
Retrieval of childhood memories
To go there creates feelings
of fear, pain and powerlessness.
Physical pain I can remember,
but to be invisible
was much, much better
To become a part of my environment.
Invisible to the naked eye.
The most fearful memories
are those of sexual abuse
I fear to face.
The guilt and shame was enough
to swallow me.
My child was creative
in order to endure the isolation.
But the overwhelming sadness
that lives in my child;
Should never have been silenced.
(Name of participant and associated
quilt square not known.
If this is your poem send me an e-mail
so that I may identify it in my records. Thank you
Come out of Your Shell
Come out of your shell
wherever you are.
Believe in yourself
that's who you are.
Take each day, day-by-day
make the demons go away!
Use Your Voice
I will bounce back
I am a survivor
Bring back the dreams
I once desired.
Believe in yourself
You have no choice
Speak your mind
And use your voice!
Discussion - How to Get Help When
You Have Been Abused
For abused individuals, the command
to be silent is very strong. Additionally, if the
abuse happens early in life, it results in a loss
of the ability to articulate. The abuse survivor
will be full of fear. They may be in denial about
what happened, and experience repression of the
abuse. They may be unable to recognize the reasons
for feeling this way. They may not know how they
will continue living. Although survivors of abuse
are able to function, others are not able to see
the pain. They may also experience flashbacks and
feelings of wanting to kill themselves.
Self recognition is the first step
toward healing. The physical and psychic wounds
must be revealed before help can be given. Society
must recognize and acknowledge that people need
help. However there are many barriers to accessing
help. Finances are a major issue. There is stigma
attached to accessing services from the Childrens
Aid Society or the psychiatric wards in hospitals.
Survivors may fear being labeled negatively and
worry about what others think. It is difficult to
know where to go.
- Self recognition must occur, then
a desire to get help. Individuals access spirituality
and a personal healing dynamic, finding context
for healing in their lives. For each individual,
this process will be different and evolving.
- Institutional help such as counseling,
therapy and education. Denial will commonly occur
before the recognition of abuse. Survivors fear
a loss of identity through being labeled and categorized.
- Must create a public awareness
that people are greater than the issue of abuse.
- Survivors must be offered healing
in an attitude of supportive, non-judgmental context.
Meeting others and sharing experiences
can lead to stronger relationships and supports.
Getting outside the cultural norms of abuse and
getting others to understand that this is not okay
is also important. Survivors must be aware of the
reality of abuse. This often requires that they
move outside of our context and open our minds to
other ideas. They must find context for life outside
of abuse through external sources, such as newspapers,
books, support groups and others.
Survivors can take courses relating
to the topic of abuse. They can access professional
help, art therapy, the sharing of ideas through
support groups in order to overcome societal restrictions
about speaking about their abuse. Survivors experience
feeling that they need help desperately, feeling
a sense of worthlessness or that there are problems
in their family. They may be unable to initially
recognize the abuse. They may experience the pressures
of family, or of different relationships.
Family and individual counseling
is available. Feminist theory is important for many,
as is finding the right therapist. Survivors have
the ability to try and work out issues. Writing
regularly in a journal may be helpful as well as
writing about what happened. We must recognize the
prevalence of the abusive behaviour that we have
inherited through generations. If people cannot
speak out because of blame and judgment, we can
remove this obstacle and tell people that they have
the potential to change.
ON HOW TO GET HELP WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED:
Bass, Ellen and Laura Davis. The
Courage To Heal: A Guide For Women Survivors of
Child Sexual Abuse. Rev. ed. New York: Harper Perennial
Central Agencies Sexual Abuse Treatment
Program, Childrens Aid Society Foundation
of Metro Toronto. When A Child Or Youth Is Sexually
Abused: A Guide For Youth, Parents and Caregivers.
Toronto: Central Agencies Sexual Abuse Treatment
Kinetic (distributor). Finding Out:
Incest and Family Sexual Abuse. Film. Canada: Distributed
by Kinetic, 25 min. 1984.
Maynard, Rona. Goal: Self-Help
For Sexual-Abuse Survivors: Aftermath Offers Hope
to Distraught Families. Chatelaine (Eng),
April 1992, vol. 65 no. 4, p. 52.
Morris, Paul and Susan Kerry. University
of Calgary, Dept. of Communications Media, Co-producers.
Child Sexual Abuse: The Untold Secret. Film, directed
by Susan Skerry. Canada: Distributed by The National
Film Board, 30 min. 1981.
Morrison, Jan. A Safe Place: Beyond
Sexual Abuse. Wheaton, Ill.: H. Shaw 1990.
Terkel, Susan Neiburg. Feeling Safe,
Feeling Strong: How to Avoid Sexual Abuse and What
to Do If It Happens To You. Minneapolis: Lerner
Publications Co. 1984.
Vancouver Society for Mail Survivors
of Sexual Abuse. From Disclosure to Justice. Film.
Canada: Distributed by National Film Board, 49 min.