Week 3: Stage 1, Step 2: I have determined that I was abused as a child

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We will finish up the poll by tomorrow, but it looks like the majority have decided to go ahead with having our group here on the forum.  I look forward to discussing the next step and related activities.  So on to......

I have determined that I was physically, sexually or emotionally abused as a child.
Step Two asks you to determine and then acknowledge to yourself that you were abused as a child and that the effects of the abuse may be causing some of your difficulties as an adult.  Many of you who are in the process of recalling memories of your past may not yet have objective evidence of the abuse, and you may never find outside validation or corroboration of what happened.  Instead, your evidence may be more intuitive.  Even in the absence of "hard evidence," these intuitive feelings are significant and should not be dismissed.  Many abuse survivors were either too traumatized or psychologically incapable of organizing memories into words and images that can be recollected years later.  If this is where you are in your recovery now, continue to work this step to clarify the kind of abuse you suffered.  If you need to, refer to the section on "False Memories, Real Memories," in Chapter One.
An important sub-goal in this step is learning to accept your feelings about the abuse, whatever they may be at this time.  These feelings may not make complete sense to you, but they are there for a reason.  In the same way that the pain from a bruise tells you of a physical injury, the feelings associated with your abuse signal an internal emotional bruise.  Instead of ignoring the feelings, you should try to figure out what those feelings are telling you.  As a survivor, you probably had your feelings invalidated by your parents or abusers, so not recognizing your feelings as valid now may be an old pattern you want to break. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt when it comes to verifying your feelings. You will need time and help to sort out what happened, free of  the denial and distortion of the past.
At this point, the connection between your abuse and your current problems as an adult may be very tenuous.  It will take more work on the subsequent steps in Stage One before you can firmly establish this link.  In the meantime, keep an open mind as you explore the reality of your abuse and let the meanings emerge with the new information and understanding that you develop.
1.   Write down the date that you first acknowledged the abuse to yourself.  Thisdate will signify the beginning of your recovery.  Remember it well, as you will want to honor this date in subsequent years when you are enjoying the fruits of your labor.
2.   Over the course of a week or two, look over any old family albums andphotographs or home movies you may have.  Just leave them around the house so that you can look at them and think about them at your leisure.  If you have no photographic records of the past, try some visualization exercises, such as imagining taking a walk though your childhood home, your relatives' houses or your old school.
3.   If you enjoy art, draw a picture of your parents and family members.  Draw apicture of yourself as a child.  Include as much detail as you can recall.  If the words to describe the abuse episodes are still escaping you, try drawing pictures of whatever memory fragments you have of the abuse.  More details of the visual images will probably come to you as you continue to sketch out what happened, and eventually the descriptive words will follow.
4.   You might consider writing your autobiography, starting with your earliestmemory and working forward to the present.  If you can, make a trip back to your hometown to research your autobiography.  Interview the people who knew you as a child and ask them about their memories and perceptions of you back then.  Just let the impressions, memories and feelings wash over you.  Write them down in your journal for future reference.
5.   Start recording your dreams and nightmares in your journal.  A week or solater,  reread them and write down any impressions, specific feelings or images that come to you.  Don't worry if everything seems disconnected.  As you add the feeling and image details to the picture of your childhood, the whole picture will start to take shape.
6.   In ASCA meetings, share your acknowledgement about being abused as a childand your feelings about this realization.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 04:01:54 AM by C. »