Moving Beyond Child Abuse Without Alcohol

Moving Beyond Child Abuse Without Alcohol

RISE welcomes Melissa, Public Relations Coordinator for St. Jude Retreats, a residential retreat program for those looking to overcome alcohol and drugs. Melissa offers her perspective on why so many survivors use alcohol to escape the trauma of abuse and how to break this cycle. Experiencing child abuse, whether sexual or physical, can perpetuate trauma throughout a person’s life. In their teen and adult years, the abused child may display acts of outrage, anger, or even act out abusively toward others. Can these acts of violence against a child cause them to become alcoholics? According to a recent study, 31% of the 196 patients in an alcohol treatment program were exposed to child abuse at some point in their lives. So why do victims of abuse turn to alcohol? Child abuse victims often drink to seek relief from their troubled lives. People can have very high expectations of alcohol – it can remove stress, take away problems or make them forget their sorrows. Unfortunately, these effects are only temporary leading people to drink to oblivion in an attempt to permanently numb themselves to their pain. In many cases, people justify this choice to turn to quick relief–based solutions rather than tackling their emotional issues head on. Over time, this expedient method of addressing painful situations becomes their practiced method and thus the “alcoholic” is born. By turning to alcohol at those crucial, difficult moments in life rather than fully solving their problems, few adequate paths leading out of their current situation are ever created. Some will begin to actually define themselves by their fight against the injustices of their painful lives (while remaining unwilling to change it). Mentally, it may be hard for child abuse victims to talk to a therapist about incidents that occurred in the past. The memories may be too vivid, or cause extreme stress or anxiety. Turning to alcohol, or other “addictive” behaviors, creates a self-limiting perspective that can keep the person at a constant low level of satisfaction or happiness. Often this “low value happiness” creates an empty feeling of wanting more while offering the person a simple, temporary happiness that allows them to avoid dealing with the larger issues. They give up looking for problem-solving options and cycle endlessly through painful emotional events, relationships and circumstances and accept this as the standard. Relief is truly the counter force to pain, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental. This cycle of low value happiness can be broken. It is possible to move past these destructive habits and attain a better level of happiness, creating new possibilities and an overall better outlook on life. The person must be willing to change, mature and problem solve...

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Damaged Child – Lisa’s Story

I am almost 50 and am just recently learning how to deal with my abuse and how to be a survivor I was abused by my brother at a young age. He is 10 years older than me so my parents would let him babysit me. I’m not really sure of the time frame but I do know that it was before I was 10. We (he) did get caught by my mother and that was what put an end to it. To the best of my knowledge he never received any help, and I know that I didn’t. It was never even discussed. My parents died when I was 14/15, so I never had the chance to learn anything about it after I began acknowledging it. I had a hard time, did some bad things; drugs, drinking, and subsequently was disowned by the rest of my surviving family. That includes my brother, his wife, my aunt and uncle who finished “raising” me, and my grandmother. My brother went on to sexually abuse his daughter and to behave in all kinds if deviant sexual behavior. Luckily she did get help at 17 and now, at 34, is much better adjusted than myself. My point in my story is that it is of the utmost importance to talk and educate about this. It should not be a silent secret. So much potential damage to the child my be avoided if help is sought quickly. Lawmakers need to address this issue and change laws. Don’t be afraid to speak out. Read more survivor’s stories… Read our Commenting...

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The Aftermath – You Can Win This Battle Too

The Aftermath – You Can Win This Battle Too

What happens to us – the sexually abused children – while and when we grow up? How does the abuse affect us? We often have difficulties trusting other people and we are always cautious. We sometimes cannot really love another person, because we just don’t know how. We are likely to use drugs, alcohol, pills etc. just to forget the abuse and to escape from the stress and pressure in our life. We can easily fall in love (with our image of love actually) because deep within we want to be loved too. We are likely to go into casual sexual relationships because we want to have positive sex experience and to forget the bad one. We get easily depressed, frustrated or desperate because we don`t really powerful and strong enough to manage the life challenges. We are likely to hate sex sometimes because we connect the thought of it with the abusive sexual experience in the past. We often think that nobody understands us because we cannot be completely honest to anyone. We often think we are not pretty/handsome or clever or strong enough and this is the reason for our low self-esteem sometimes. We often feel helpless and we are likely to believe that life is unfair because the abuse happened to us in the first place. We often end up in bad or abusive relationships because we are always looking for love, and sometimes in all the wrong places. We are likely to be abused again in our adulthood because we already have the “victim-thinking” and we think nobody can help us, or we are sometimes just promiscuous which leads us to dangerous social relationships again. We often do not understand what’s the reason for the many mistakes we have done in our life. We often live our life feeling guilty for what happened or because we didn’t tell about it. We are constantly afraid that probably our silence made others to suffer (other possible victims of the abuser), and that we didn’t prevent this from happening to others. We are likely to feel constantly ashamed of ourselves in case our body actually responded to the abuse, not realizing that this is just a physical body response to sexual stimulation. We often don’t think that it was really an abuse, especially if it was not physically painful. We are likely to minimize the damage and the facts. We sometimes try to forget the abuse by trying to keep our minds busy – reading, writing, movies, sports or other causes. We are likely to get involved in “bigger” causes – political, animal rescue, Red Cross volunteering etc. – and this is something like a “rescuer-syndrome.” When helping...

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How They Made Us Remain Silent

How They Made Us Remain Silent

If you are a survivor of a child sexual abuse, you will recognize the words of your abuser in some of the following sentences. All abusers use a range of tactics to keep children silent and to make sure they will never tell. “This is our secret.” “I would never hurt you. I love you.” “This is just a game, there is nothing wrong with it.” “You make me do this.” “It is your fault.” “You want this.” “You enjoy it, see – you like it.” “Nobody will believe you if you tell.” “You are not innocent any more.” “You are not God’s child any more.” “You belong to me.” “Your parents will hate you and will leave you if they find out.” “You or your family will be hurt if you tell.” “You will be taken away from your family to a foster care where this will be happening to you again.” “You will ruin your family if you tell.” “You can trust me. I am the only one who cares about you.” “I love you. This is why I do this to you.” “This is how you express your feelings when you love someone.” “You are old enough now, every child have to go through this in a way to grow up.” “We are friends. All friends play such games.” “Everybody will think that you are gay if you tell.” “Everybody will think that you are a whore if you tell.” “Nobody will love you ever if they know your dirty secret.” “You are dirty now, you have to be ashamed of yourself.” “If you do not tell, I will stop.” “If you tell, I will do worst to you.” “You deserve this, you have to be punished for being a bad child.” “I am only trying to protect you from others like me, because out there there’s worst than me, so you can be only safe with me.” “I am the only one who understands you.” “I am the only one who loves you.” “If you do not obey, you will be hurt.” “Do not be a bad girl/boy. Do what I tell you.” “If you don’t do what I tell you, I will tell your parents/friends/family/teachers etc. ” There are many reasons for children to justify their silence. Depending on the tactics used by the abuser, every child sees things differently but the common thing is that usually children don’t tell anyone about the abuse until they grow up. And even then most victims remain silent. And it is a fact that most of the child abuse cases are never reported and are kept in the shadows of victim’s mind forever because of the ”successful”...

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Abused by Robinson

The following post is graciously shared by Geoff Smith, a survivor, whose testimony in the 2010 trial of Father James Robinson helped convict and sentence the priest to 21 years in jail for molestation. It is the first post from his own blog, www.abusedbyrobinson.com, which he began after the trial in an effort to tell his story and reach out to other Survivors.   Having been abused as a child I’ve spent all my life looking over my shoulder, searching for the reasons for what happened to me. I’m now 61 and have had a wonderful life. I’m married to Jill, I have three step children and three grandchildren. I am so proud of them all. I’ve made many mistakes, said many things that I can’t take back and hurt some of the closest people in my life. I have had a life of anger and I now realise I’ve got a big mouth. But, the most important thing that I’ve learned over many years is that I am not as hard as I thought I was. All my life I have been wearing armour to protect myself from other people. Yet through these last two years I have had to come to terms with my past, my relationship with my brothers and my mother. My father is dead. He died never being proud of anything that I ever did and I couldn’t do anything to make him proud. Over the last three years I’ve done, in my opinion, two of the proudest things that I could have ever done as a man and a son. But my dad is dead and I can’t tell him. I saved a life and I went to court for justice; not only for me, but for the other five “victims.” I have spent months awake; worrying, crying, traumatized by events beyond my control. I got through it, coming out of the darkness a better person. The aim of this blog is to tell the world what happened to me; the truth, not just a piece of fiction. I am determined to fight for the abuse to stop. Today, child abuse is at a greater level than ever. Ok, the TV and the internet help to get the message out, but they are also the vehicle of its distribution. I believe that it is getting worse. I hope that my story will help people come to terms with what happened to them, give them strength to come forward. You are not alone. I know, take it from someone who knows; you are not alone. I have never had one day counselling, enough people have tried to get me to. But to me that...

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