Before we can build something, we first have to make sure the foundations are solid.
We need understand the nature of abuse, and the long term damage caused by it. We need to look honestly at the extent of the damage which has been done to us, and how that has manifested in our lives. An inventory is just that– a taking stock. if you had a store that had been damaged in an earthquake, you would need to look at the extent of that damage before you could re-open.
That is all this is, a look at the reality of the situation, neither good or bad, just a checklist.
We need to look at every aspect of our being, see what is still working ok, what is damaged beyond repair, and what, with some work can be restored.
There is no doubt that all childhood sexual abuse is devastating.
If the perpetrator is a clergyman,someone you were taught to trust, then the effects can be far greater. But they are not insurmountable! You can recover. You will need to work at it of course, and can I suggest that you put as much effort into your recovery as you have put into surviving all these years.
Use the checklist that you create to measure your progress, re-visit it at times, “where are you now?” to see the progress you are making will encourage you to continue.
Lets start looking at the details. Do not be afraid, this is just an inventory, better for you to see, and then you can be empowered further.
**IMPORTANT – if your abuse is very recent you may need to consider being checked out by a doctor. Do you have someone that you can trust and who you can talk to about this? If you are injured, bruised, bleeding or in any internal pain, it may be important to ensure that you are not in any immediate physical danger from your attack.
A good place to start in this process of taking stock is with the most obvious area: you the physical person.
Start by making a list of things about your body and a good way to focus on this is to start at the toes and work your way up, thinking about each part of you.
Are you in pain in any part of your body?
Are you scarred or carrying an old injury?
Do you have any medical conditions or pains and niggles that might be worth investigating? Or do you have known medical conditions that you don’t manage as effectively as you might?
Do you have medication that you need to take but often don’t?
Has this abuse left you with eating issues, are you nourishing your body enough?
What about addictions – are you suffering with an addiction as a result of your traumatic experience?
How about sleeping patterns, are these damaged as a result of your abuse as well.
Do you have enough clothes? Are you warm or cold, when do you feel most comfortable?
Do you have episodes when your heart races, you feel dizzy, nauseous, sweaty palms?
How is your cycle, if you are a woman?
Do you feel the need to cut or hurt yourself – how are you managing this?
Body and mind go hand in hand very often, clearly survivors know only too well that abuse to the body results in damage to the mind as well. So in taking stock of where you mind is now, some questions might be:
What are your moods – do they fluctuate, are you more often than not depressed, do you cry a lot of the time?
Do you find that you ‘zone out’ sometimes and can’t remember what you were doing or thinking?
Have you found yourself coming to in strange places?
Do you think you dissociate from the world around you?
Are you aware of voices in your head and if so what do they say to you?
Are you aware of other sides to your personality, perhaps even manifesting as completely separate characters?
Do you have panic attacks, are you paranoid, do you continually check for safety or worry about cleanliness?
Do you have moments of intense anger that you either let out or keep buried?
Do you self-harm and if so what does it give you?
Have you ever considered taking your own life or attempted it? Were you supported with this?
What do you think about yourself now that this has happened?
Do you worry that you led your attacker on, do you believe that you did something to deserve this?
Do you believe that you are a bad person, because you are not sure if you did something to encourage them?
Do you feel that you are not worthy of love, nourishment, care, support, encouragement, relationships, friendships, children, food, attention, compliments, kindness etc?
Do you feel unloveable?
Do you like yourself or any part of you, what do you consider to be your best characteristics?
Do you feel that you need to keep who you are away from others in case they think you are a fraud?
Did you experience people not believing you and now you believe that you are in fact a liar?
Are you unsure what your sexual orientation is as a result of your attack?
Are you frightened to explore your sexuality?
Do you worry that you will be judged about your persuasion?
Does the idea of having sex frighten you?
Do you feel bad about your sexual feelings, do you worry if they are normal or not?
Do you worry what is normal?
Do you find that you are attracted to things that you think you should not be for example, the opposite sex or children or clergy?
Do you think that love = sex or vice versa?
Do you feel that you are addicted to sex or are you finding that relationships finish because you do not want to be intimate with someone?
—TO BE CONTINUED—