Posts Tagged 'Sex'

Once upon a time…

Note: This post was going to be submitted for the Carnival Against Child Abuse, but it became more about trying to peel off another layer of scar material that was caused by the marriage.  It could be triggering, please read with care.

There was once a little girl who got hurt by the people who should have taken care of her.  This experience taught her about keeping secrets, packing the bad things into containers inside her head and to forget about most of the bad things altogether.  She became good at playing the parts and emotions that were acceptable to those around her.  Compartmentalisation and dissociation became her way of life.

As this girl grew, the dissociative walls became higher and more entrenched.  Her core beliefs were that she was a nuisance, stupid and ugly.  But she wasn’t a victim.  Oh no, she knew that bad stuff had happened, but she believed that it happened to every little girl, and no one else seemed to be complaining.  So when the girl became a woman and met a nice man, she didn’t tell him about the bad stuff; instead she listened to his stories of being abused by his sister when he was a boy.  She didn’t understand how that could have happened to this seemingly big, strong man.  It made him cry and she comforted him.

So began, what would become 8 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse for that woman – us.

In many ways, the man came into the relationship more honest and open than we did.  He said he’d been abused, we didn’t. We got so caught up in his past that we didn’t say anything about ours – we didn’t really consider it that bad or worthy of talking about anyway.  Abuse was what we had come to expect.  So when he raped us for the first time, we dissociated it away and considered it normal.  Besides, he was good to us – he gave us flowers, cooked for us and treated us with a form of delicate care (when in front of other people) we’d never experienced before.

A pattern developed over time, he would have a crisis of some sort and we would save him.  He needed us to be strong, so we were.  We were hardly innocent within this scenario.  The woman at work used to feel sorry for him as we appeared to pick on him and order him around.  I can understand why they would get this impression – he needed to be saved and we needed to be a saviour.  The weaker he became within his work and mental health, the stronger we had to be, and the more he would abuse us when no one was looking.  The strength we showed to the world was one of us organising our world to gain some control.  When we got behind closed doors there would be a dissociative switch to one who enjoyed the pain that he inflicted sexually and physically.  He became good at triggering our switches, so we built the walls inside our internal house higher and stronger.

About four years into the relationship, we were in a side impact car accident.  We sustained a mild concussion.  In that one instant, our lives changed forever. Our coping mechanisms fell apart.  Suddenly we were weak.  Suddenly he had to be strong, but he wasn’t able.

He had been intermittently seeing different therapists over the years, but had never seen one for more than three sessions.  They were always useless or changing their fees or playing games…   We realised we were in trouble and started counselling again.  He began to self-injure, often in front of us or because of us.  He was fired from his job for assaulting a supervisor.  We tried to be strong, but were slowly falling apart.

He got a job as a security officer – a job where he could “get some respect”.  We also changed jobs.  But nothing fixed the things that were happening in each of our heads or in that house.  We were two people who had serious mental health issues crashing into each other.  We became suicidal and were regularly assessed for danger, always to be released back into the care of the strong man who was now our husband.

On the 9th of February 2008, we attempted suicide.  It wasn’t our most serious attempt, but it landed us in A&E and then the secure psychiatric ward.  On the 10th of February 2008, the strong man took us home.  What followed is blurry, but I know M made a smart arse remark to him about how he needed to grow up.  He then showed us how strong he was by trying to kill us.  His level of violence scared him and he called our mother, screaming that he’d done it this time and it was all over.  The mother thought he’d killed us.  When she talked to us, she asked if we wanted someone to come up to be with us.  Sophie said “yes”.  With our family there, he couldn’t cope with what had happened, so left the house on the 14th of February 2008.

Looking back, I can see how our different issues collided to cause what happened.  If he’d married someone who wasn’t dissociative, this probably wouldn’t have happened.  We were so conditioned for abuse, if it hadn’t been him, it would’ve been someone very similar.  Could we have ever made it work?  I doubt it.  He was not interested in healing.  He paid lip-service to therapy, but wasn’t prepared to invest the time and energy.  I was too defensive and in deep denial.  I wasn’t prepared to heal myself, instead I was so caught up in his problems that he was all I could see.  My life became about fixing him.  He has refused to attend the court ordered counselling as part of the Protection Order, so I don’t think he’ll ever heal.  I hope he does and proves me wrong…

The following clip is one we did a year ago to try to work through the events surrounding the marriage.  It may trigger.

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Now playing: Powderfinger – Sunsets (acoustic)
via FoxyTunes

Demonising parts

I was talking to someone yesterday who got me thinking…  I’ve talked about S several times in this blog – she was born to protect the rest of the system from the sexual abuse and to cope with the psychological and physical abuse from the sister.  I’ve said that I respect her, but I’m also scared of her – what she holds and what she does.  I’m now wondering if is it possible for those factors to co-exist?

Yesterday, I became very aware that I have pigeon-holed S…  I am comfortable with labeling her as the “sexual one”, and the one who “lives and breathes sex”.  But what I forget when I say that, is that she is more than just “sex”.  She has shown this in the past by talking to other survivors and NOT turning the conversation to sex.  Another indication that she is more than what I imagine her to be, is one of her interactions with Kriss earlier this year.  Yes, that conversation involved sex, but it was discussing the past.  She was trying to heal.  I wonder how often I have put the brakes on her healing…

I’m not really sure how to deal with this information.  I know that I’m not ready to face what S holds.  I also know that I don’t have to re-experience every aspect of the past in order to heal from it.  But on some level, I will need to face what S had to do.  I truly admire her strength and courage.  She stood up to the sister when no one else could or would.  She has come forward at other times to help us when we’ve felt bullied, so I know she is more than sex.  But it’s so easy to pigeon-hole her with that label.  The ultimate in irony and hypocrisy – we HATE being labeled with a diagnosis, yet I gain comfort from labeling S.

Realistically, my next step should be to talk to Liz about S.  But this will bring up the whole sex issue.  I don’t think I can do that, there’s so much shame, disgust and rubbish tied to our ideas and feelings about sex that I don’t know if I can.  But I also know that I need to do something.  S is acting out in ways that are harmful, possibly as a way to gain some needed attention.  If I don’t act soon, how much damage will I do?  What is worse, finding out what it will take for S to be heard and healed, or ignoring it all?

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Now playing: Dixie Chicks – Wide open spaces
via FoxyTunes

Alone

The mother has gone and we’re alone.  It’s a very odd feeling after her being here for so long.  I knew there would be some reaction after she left, and there was.  It wasn’t tears, grief, or even relief; but rather a sense of wanting to “reclaim our territory”.  The house, body and reactions almost feel as if they belonged to the mother while she is here.  I know that this is our sense of wanting to be the perfect daughter for her, but it’s quite disconcerting to look back on it and realise what had happened.

While she was here, we tried so hard to appear “normal”, and we quite often succeeded.  She was much more accepting of the times when any form of normalcy was impossible.  This gave us hope that she was more accepting of us, but that hope was put under question yesterday when she stated that she is going to come off the anti-depressants that she’s been on for the last year.  Our fear is that this accepting attitude will disappear when the drugs wear off.  I know that the drugs have shown that she can be accepting, but that acceptance was covered up by her inability to cope with what life sent her way.  She hasn’t been in therapy or learned new skills to cope with life, so with the drug leaving her system, will those stressors mean that she will again not be able to cope?

When we got back from dropping the mother off at the airport, S ended up calling Matthew.  It turns out his intentions have changed from talking to his house mate, to something else.  This was the trigger for a night of self-injury.  We’ve just cleaned the house, mowed the lawns and did some gardening to distract and possibly punish ourselves for allowing S to come forward and act out.  Which of course infers that we have some control over the switching, which we don’t *sigh*.

We have a two week break from sessions with Liz as she goes on holiday.  She asked if we wanted to text her while she was away, we said “No, we’ll be fine”.  Liz said that she knew we would be fine because we were survivors and had the skills to ensure that no matter what happened, we will still function.  I think she has more faith in our ability to not self-destruct than we do.

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Now playing: Brooke Fraser – C S Lewis Song’
via FoxyTunes

Trying to eliminate the dirty feeling

I’m not sure if it’s because of our mild OCD tendencies or control issues, but when we get a sense that something is dirty because of any abuse or sexual context, we find it very hard to go back to it.  This is only when it pertains to something that has happened to us, if anyone tells us something about themselves, there’s no problem.  So it’s all about self-hatred and self-disgust.  This is what happened with this blog after our entry Dirty and disgusting.  There was a need to delete the blog and everything to do with the incident.  It had become dirty by association and needed to be eliminated.  This sort of thinking has meant that we’ve abandoned or destroyed all sorts of things over the years.  If we’re unable to compartmentalise and suppress the incidents, we need to get as much distance between us and any reminders as possible.

To try and eliminate the feeling about the blog, we tried to write an entry about a totally unrelated concept during lunch yesterday.  But, on the way home M pointed out how flawed the thinking was, so we had to delete it.  This brings us to this entry.  We’re trying to minimise the feeling of dirtiness by talking directly about it.  I don’t know if it will work or not, but it’s worth a try.  We may still need to change the layout or move the blog, I’m not sure.

When we’re like this, we have a tendency to throw up more walls, so our comments become more left field than usual (sorry Paul, you got the sharp end of an example of that); or are obviously without any sense of compassion as our “no affective response” protectors make their presence felt.  Usually I can stop the commenting when we’re at this level of functioning, but not always.  I suppose that’s a sign that our mental health is on a downward spiral, just need to find something to reverse the trend or find a plateau.

Dirty and disgusting

Note:  This post may trigger due to sexual references.

It’s not been a good day.  We were meant to go over to Tauranga to see the ocean, but the mother woke up with a cold, so those plans were cancelled.  This meant that we were left on our own for most of the day as the mother tried to sleep the cold away.  In the morning this was fine, we went out and cleared our mail from the post office and found that a series of DVDs we’d ordered from England had arrived a week earlier than expected – yay for Amazon.uk and the Royal Mail!  When we got home there was an email from our American friend.  In that two line email, he managed to make us feel dirty, disgusting and used.  He was manipulating us into trying to scare away his current housemate who thinks that dissociation is fun, he thought the way to do this was for S to talk to her and then have phone sex with her.

S was used to please women during the CSA.  She knows how to please women as well as men.  Our friend wanted to use that ability.  It’s been a long time since we’ve felt that used and manipulated.  We know it’s the wrong thing to do, but S feels an irresistible pull to please our friend by doing what he bids.  The only thing that stopped the phone call was the mother being in the house.

We hadn’t heard from him in over a week, so thought he was finished with us.  We’d talked honestly about something that happened a few weeks ago involving S acting in a self-injurious way and he’d reacted in such an odd and negative way, that we thought he was disgusted in us.  But now he is blatantly trying to use our dysfunction for his own needs.  It’s been a struggle not to self-injure today.  S badly wanted to act out.  We tried going to take photos, but there were too many people around.  We felt too dirty to be near other people.  Children were everywhere and we had this fear that we would contaminate them with our filth by being near them.

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Now playing: Death Cab for Cutie – I’ll follow you into the dark
via FoxyTunes

Broken heap on the floor

On Thursday we got a call from ACC.  After three months deliberation on our case, they made one minor change.  M asked how our corrections to the report had been factored into this decision.  ACC response – what corrections?  They had never received them, or lost them.  To put this into context, we started this process in February of last year, it’s gone through about five different variations on the report and now gone to mediation.  It took us two weeks and a lot of strength to write those corrections which involved correcting the details of our abuse and more devastatingly, writing anywhere for the first time that the father sexually abused us.  So this was highly confidential, soul destroying information… and they LOST it!  It could have ended up anywhere, anyone could have been reading it – it had our name, address and everything on it.

When I’ve told people this, their immediate response is “Oh no, do you have a copy on your computer?”  Yes, of course we do.  I know that’s the reasonable response you give to an adult.  But SO holds the secrets on that bit of paper and she is 7.  All she sees is that we should never have told the secrets cos it’s bad and lots of people read it and it’s bad and we’s get into trouble and we’s bad and evil and it all our fault.  It becomes a mantra that we’re bad and evil for telling.  W and SO are closely linked within the system.  SO gets upset and W will react.  This action meant a call to the mental health crisis line on Thursday night to stop the suicide.  In typical form with our interactions with this team, the connection was bad and they were going to call back.  They did eventually – on Saturday.  We had the usual conversation:

Crisis Line: You’re suicidal, lets bring you in for an assessment.
Us: No thanks, your only option is hospital and that isn’t an option for me.
Crisis Line: No, we also have community placements or agree to regular contact for a week to see how you’re going.  We can also get you in to see one of our community psychiatrists.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  Almost like they will be able to help.

Us: In my experience that has never happened.  I’ve been promised community placement, only to end up in the psychiatric ward.  I’ve had phone calls daily from your team and they’re more triggering than helpful.
Crisis Line: Well I’m sorry that has been your experience, let us know if we can help.

I know that those of you who haven’t experienced their services will say I’m being stupid for rejecting this assistance.  I know that they have saved many lives.  But our issues with authority and psychiatric hospitals mean that they are more likely to kill than save us.  We call them for the distraction, nothing more.

One of us called them again on Saturday night and we ended up being hauled in for an assessment.  It was hell.  We need peaceful surroundings and control when we’re suicidal.  But last night it was raining and there was international rugby on TV.  Those two factors meant that a great deal of the homeless had decided to be suicidal that night in order to watch the rugby, have a shower, get a meal and warm bed.  The shelters would’ve been overwhelmed, and they know that if you say you’re suicidal, they have to admit you.

We managed to get out of the hospital and get to the relative safety of home.  But we’re a mess.  The oddest things are triggering.  We know that people need to talk about how they cope with sex as a survivor.  But today, it’s too much.  It’s become about others not being safe – cos all sex hurts.

We’re in trouble and I don’t know how to fix it.


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