I’ve written a fair bit about childhood sexual abuse. Children are young, small, and without resources. Grasping the innocence of those children is easily seen and understood. As adults, trauma survivors can more easily grasp the complex dynamics of being forced into abusive dynamics when still a small, young child.
But for some folks, trauma and abuse doesn’t stop in childhood. It may have started in childhood, but it might not have ended yet.
What about those situations where an adult is battling sexual abuse?
What if the adult dissociative survivor has younger parts still trapped in the roles of ongoing sexual abuse?
What if an adult gets raped or sexually assaulted?
What truths apply in these situations?
- Even as an adult, it is not your fault when any other person chooses to force or demand unwanted sexual interactions with you. This includes physical attacks, drugging, physical restraints, emotional blackmail, group attacks, weaponry, mind control, etc. There are numerous ways adults can be overpowered by other adults. It is absolutely wrong for anyone to use their force and power to harm you.
- As an adult, you have the ability to make choices and decisions that can create more safety for yourself. It takes courage to make new choices, but you have more options and resources now than you did as a child. Discover what’s available for you now.
- Breaking the pattern of long-term, chronic sexual abuse is possible. Difficult, yes, but definitely possible. You can do this. Yes, you can. You are allowed to be safe now.
- Chronic adult-aged sexual abuse usually has roots in childhood sexual abuse. Learning how to tolerate and endure long-term childhood sexual abuse creates patterns, skills, and beliefs that can be difficult to change later in life. It is not your fault that you had to learn how to comply with abuse. You did a brilliant job of surviving your early years of abuse. Don’t blame yourself for that. You were strong enough to survive the unthinkable.
- Even if you have Insiders in your system who participate in unwanted or unhealthy sexual activities, you can do the necessary system work with these parts to teach them new options, including how to create distance from sexual abusers. Your insiders are there to help and protect you. Encourage everyone to work towards safety for everyone.
- When you find the courage to listen to your system, to help those that are still battling abuser controls, and to forgive yourself for getting tangled in unwanted or unhealthy sexual activity, you can find deep peace, comfort, and healing.
- It’s not your fault that you and your Insiders are caught in adult-aged sexual abuse. However, it is your responsibility to fight for your freedom — including freedom for your whole system — and to heal the wounds of the insiders who were injured.
- Those terrible perps won’t want to let you go easily. You will have to battle for your freedom and safety, but you and your insiders can do this. You have the right to be safe, free, and unharmed.
- While adult-aged sexual abuse feels shameful, humiliating, and devastating, these horrific experiences do not define who you are. You can turn this trauma into triumph with the skills, strength, integrity, and courage that you have within yourselves. Life still holds a wide array of options for you. Work hard to make your life how you want it to be.
- You are beautiful, even if ugly things have happened — or are happening — to you. You are talented, skilled, strong, and vibrant. Your life has positive value and purpose. Find it!
Believe in yourself.
Fight for your freedom.
YOU are beautiful too.
Here’s a video, especially for Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse.
I hope this helps your heart.
I hope you’ve found this page to be encouraging. Read the words over and over again until you understand them.
Take this page to your therapist and talk as openly and honestly as you can.
Yes, you too can have safety and the freedom.
Be kind to yourself, and know that I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
so helpful. thank you.
For decades I blamed myself and felt shame for the abuse — physical, mental and sexual — abuse that I endured in my 20s. I was paralyzed with fear, terrorized, paralyzed and unable to escape. Yet I blamed myself because, after all, I was an adult and should have been able to control the situation. But the fear, terror and paralysis I now know were not the 20 y/o … it was my 3 and 4 y/o selves that told me to be quiet, not move, not say anything, not fight back, etc. Unfortunately, I did not know about my insiders back then to fully understand that I had no boundaries, no sense of worth, no understanding that I could escape because there was an adult me there to help this time. So I quietly, obediently endured.
I was away from that situation decades ago but I was not free of the guilt and shame that I felt. I continued the abuse by blaming myself for a very long time. Learning about my history and the incredible way that I coped through my insiders helped me to see that the legacy of abuse reaches deeply into an adult life. It does not have to define that life. You do not have to live a lifetime of abuse. We were powerless as children but we can find power in the resources available to us as adults, like this blog website, to free ourselves from that cycle of abuse.
Thank you for posting this. A lot of talk about childhood trauma but not much on being an adult caught up in sexual abuse as an adult. Most of the time shame and fear keep us stuck and afraid to try to escape. I did it and I am one proud woman for finding the courage to get out and not look back.
MissyMing, You say you are an ‘it’, well we do not accept any ‘s’ feelings at all we are a non s person. We tried to talk, write and deal with the issue. We were told the more we dealt with it, and became desensitized to it the easier it would get…Not True! Big Fat Lie!!! We just got more suicidal. So as far as your question or comment about being ready, I do not think for me that will ever happen. My parts are all secretive when we’re in one that’s all we are, all we know. So I’m self harm or suicidal state it’s very dangerous. Sometimes when I switch back it’s like “what was that about “…it doesn’t seem like anyone can ever help anyone. It’s so sad and scary when s young needy part is out trying to face the world. It’s all so painful. Our therapist is applying for us to go across the country and be in a DID Trauma hospital again. We were there 9 weeks last Dec-Feb. I don’t know if it will help us get to Know and work with parts better…we will NOT be doing any work on the ‘s’ topic at all! Not an option! Way too much pain and anger! And plenty of other issues to work on. My best wishes for healing for you, and it does help to feel understood. Thanks! Linda
Oh so much pain… I finally gave up trying to heal or talk about ‘s’ issues. I can’t even write the word. It is an immediate self-harm topic!
To me I think God made a huge mistake to create bodies and ‘s’…
It’s just a way for people to hurt people😭
** trigger warning — suicidal feelings **
Oh so much pain, I could write a book.my s abuse started very young then 11-13 was very bad. I was cutting and suicidal and often now I say I wish I would have ended my life then. So much pain I’m crying and can’t even continue to write.
Linda…hang in there!….keep taking deep breaths….wish i knew how to help you…but I know that sometimes just getting pieces of your stuff out somewhere – ANYWHERE – can help relieve the intense pressure Inside….a tiny bit of a pressure release valve so you can just keep putting one foot in front of the other – at least…..at least – KEEP SURVIVING!…….
I deal with SI in bouts…some I wonder if I am going to make it out of it…but I have – obviously….I am so disconnected from “s” that I am an “it”……the body WON’T go there – probably because I don’t know how to deal with that direction yet…..don’t know if I will EVER be “ready”…
how do you know when you are “ready”?….when you have reached the bottom?….but HOW bottom is bottom?…..when you just finally explode?….when you are completely filled with desperation and the issue is ALL that you can see?……or is it all “calm”?….I have no idea …..
……I am sorry for your pain….sorry for your struggle…..just KEEP SURVIVING and the other steps will eventually somehow fall into place….somehow….they WILL fall into place…..
I don’t feel or believe I’ll ever heal or be able to deal with “s” issues. As I’ve tried, I’ve just gotten way worse with self harm and suicidal tendencies have worsened. I feel too broken to fix!
I am in the same boat many times….I feel so sorry for hubby…he got an extremely short end of the stick in this marriage…..but somehow we are still together…..
I have finally seen “MY” pattern…SI gets in my face when I have gotten triggered too close to “something” Inside that feels extremely overwhelming – carrying massive confusion, fear and a sense of intense “betrayal” that is more than even my “now brain” can try to comprehend…. a SI part thinks her way is the only way out of the situation…I make myself “remember” that it is “SHE” who is overwhelmed – NOT the “WHOLE” me….and try to hang in there until she goes back down…I wish I knew how to help her – but I still don’t know her story…too many Inside “things” keep blocking it and it is very hard for my “brain” to process what it doesn’t “know”…..
It has all wreaked havoc with my Outside life – Outsiders barely tolerating ANYTHING that bubbles up from Inside – no matter how many times I have told them I am working my way through “PTSD”….all I need them to do when it hits hard is to give me some space and remind me to “breathe” …..The intense clash between Inside triggers and Outside is almost more than I can bear sometimes…I have lost count of the times I have cried while driving – begging God to “just take me home” before I get to work….but it has not happened….maybe for a reason???
I never knew that anyone could ever feel so “lost”….
Yet…as intense as mine is when I DON’T remember – I can only imagine, Linda, how rough yours is when you DO remember……
Keep hanging in there and don’t give up hope that we will find our way out of this intense maze…Even though what happened to us was NOT good in ANY infinite stretch of the imagination…somehow something “good” will come out of our “journey” OUT of it…. maybe one day we will be able to help someone else who is just starting their journey out of their own maze….I know that for me – if I am aware that there is even ONE person around who understands even a TINY bit of what is happening to me and is not condemning me for it – then the terror and the vulnerability of the episode can lessen….maybe it is like that for others, too……
I am more aware than ever that there are others in “Inside pain” (Red-Zoners) who are also forced to keep working on the Outside in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table….My heart aches for them…Trying to function as “normal” in the eyes of Outsiders when we feel like “anything but” is HARD, HARD, MOMENT BY MOMENT work!….I would be a multi-millionaire if I got paid for THAT work!!
BTW…..We had to watch a “Red-Zone/Green-Zone/chickens” work-place video that I did NOT like….it was about Red-Zoners – (i.e “problem people”) – needing to STOP being “defensive” because “they turn stupid” and “no longer are good problem solvers”…they are “destroying the collaboration of the the work-group”. The guy evidently is unable to recognize “survival-mode front brain-shut down” when it is in his face….the Red-Zoner is obviously NOT feeling “safe” in any sense….sorry – it ticked me off…..
If a Red-Zoner could ever have a chance to feel “safe, respected and valued” in the work-place WHILE they are on their journey out of their maze – Red-Zone episodes would lessen significantly and that company could have the greatest crew of dedicated, conscientious workers they ever laid their eyes on….but they don’t seem to want to take those steps….it is easier to just dismiss those with “issues”….
Sorry about the soap-box rant….I couldn’t tell THEM that – they would say I was being “defensive” and just prove their point…….
There are two men that are being abusive toward me… Trying desperately to stop this, not having much progress with this. Feel like this is my fault. I don’t want them or what they are doing to me. Want all of it to just stop. Don’t know how much more can be tolerated before we can no longer continue down this path.
Lizzie and PALS says
One of my absolute favorite blog posts that changed my life forever when I first read it. It’s true that you can get trapped with a predator from childhood and lasts into adulthood. I don’t boast that this was happening to me until I was 41, but I do boast that nearly a year ago, I literally escaped and while it’s been difficult to establish my own identity, my life after an extremely difficult year is turning to abundance!
I am happy to be free. I am happy to have my own life. I am happy my insider(s) who were going through that now get to be safe. I am especially happy that all our choices are now mine and life is full of hope and safety now.
Difficult to break those chains, but the rewards are immeasurable!!!
Lizzie and Pals
Congratulations you did it. It must feel strange Being in a new environment. I’m so proud of you I’m sure you’ll have your days but you have wish that you did not take the keep, Just because it’s difficult. Try to remind yourself what good has come of it,on those days. I can’t even express how excited I am for you to have escaped Such a horrible life. Congratulations once again
Hello Lizzie and PALS,
What a wonderful gift you have given to me today.
Your posting here is so strong, positive, life affirming and hopeful. Just love your final statement – “Difficult to break those chains, but the rewards are immeasurable!!!” What can I say – just wow!
You also brought to my attention this blog article at a time when I really needed to read it (or reread it – I am never sure if I have read every article or not or if someone in my system has). That is the magic of this space – folks make postings that really speak to others in their times of need. I am struggling with this issue, not in my current context (i.e., I am not in an abusive situation right now) but in understanding and, most importantly, forgiving myself for having been trapped in an abusing situation in the past. I have carried so much guilt and shame for having been so weak and ineffectual in dealing with the situation. I have blamed myself for the abuse and rapes. It is hard to grieve and let go when you feel that what happened was your fault. I have not successfully put it in context with my childhood abuse but I do know that one of my insiders (the one who carries the most trauma from my childhood) was there with me screaming in my head. I did not know what was going on because I did not know about my insiders back then. But I have a vivid memory of her anguish, screaming and pain. So, my guilt now extends to putting her through that horror again.
All a long way of saying thank you Lizzie and PALS. The magic touch of DD has given me a lot to think about and work on.
What about dissociative mothers who bring their outside children (their own children, not inside child parts) to rituals, and who participate in sexually abusing their children in the company of their own childhood abusers (the mother’s father, etc)?
Are the mothers of the outside children innocent victims themselves,( since she’s in the presence of her abusive father ) and, therefore, not responsible for their abusive, dissociative selves; or are they accountable, as the children’s mother, and adult abusive selves in front, for bringing the children and for participating in sexually abusing these children, over the course of many, many years?
Kathy Broady MSW says
Welcome to DiscussingDissociation, and wow… that’s a doozey of a first question!
Very complicated, but that’s a situation that I’ve had to address before.
First… it’s a big ol’ mix up and in some ways, it may seem that both of those things are true. But one side far outweighs the other, because at this point, we’re talking about an adult trauma survivor and young children survivors. I understand that adult-children can still be abused and controlled by their abuser-parents, (and that’s not ok), but… once actual young children are involved, things shift. Immediately. Because the outside children must be protected and their safety must take top priority.
And yes, the mother is absolutely accountable and responsible for her own children, and for her own behavior, and it is her responsibility to do whatever it takes to remove both herself AND her children from the abusive environment. She absolutely can NOT participate in ongoing abuse and trauma with the children, and that must stop.
In this kind of situation, with kind firmness, I work with the mother to see her responsibility to protect her own children and to make that the immediate focus of all clinical work. The adult-mother survivor has to find all the courage she can and she has to make strong and definite steps to leave the abusive situation she has been caught in. It’s not her fault she is in this situation, but it is her definite responsibility to get out of it. She HAS TO protect her own children and nothing else is more important. If she’s dissociative, she has to work REALLY hard to connect with the others in her system who know about the trauma, and the complications, and to build quick and strong internal cohesion to protect the children, and herself.
For me, I work to have ALL adults leave abusive situations. It is not okay for any adult children to stay sexually involved with their abusive parents. As adults, they absolutely must choose to leave those abusive relationships.
It’s even MORE NOT OK for the next generation of children to be handed over to organized abuse or for any parent to be actively involved with sexually abusing their own children. Absolutely not. That has to stop.
And I would hope, the mother of the children would be very invested in helping her kids to get the freedom, safety, and protection they need.
I have pretty strong views on this. Hope that helps.
Before I got married I kept getting into relationships where I was just used and then rejected…my brain knew that I needed to stay away from them….but there was a “supposed to…” wave that just over-rode all the logic and left me feeling disconnected, numb, voiceless, and powerless to even try to stop their using me…..it was all “supposed to…..” – even when they didn’t literally say those words…….I never could figure out why I went into directions that the “regular” me would not consider in a million years….but because I was “supposed to…..” ….I did…….thinking back over some of those times leaves me feeling horrified and ashamed of how I was…….but how do you stop what you don’t even realize is going on?…..you think you are only doing what you are “supposed to” do…….and you are not worth anything different…….I can see now how “parts” were connected to all of that….how sad that I didn’t know anything about “parts” back then…..how sad……..
Reblogged this on Me: Finding the Missing Pieces and commented:
thanks for this!
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for the reblog, Kat. I appreciate that, and welcome to Discussing Dissociation.
I wish you the best in your healing journey. Keep at it.
Reblogged this on Multi-Me and commented:
Excellent post! Well worth a read!
Kathy Broady says
Thank you for the reblog, manyofus and Multi-Me. Much appreciated!
I hope it provides comfort and support and HOPE to many survivors out there .
Please keep reading!
I cant red good enoff anemore to get it all
But the picshers are relly trigery and i dont want to look at the paje agan and i dont unerstan ane way
Thanks for the post Kathy. The point that sticks out the most for me is to not let what happened to me define who I am. That’s a tough one and I struggle with it daily. There is so much newness that has to happen in my thinking that it becomes overwhelming. Its nice to have this information laid out in such an accessible way.
Such an important powerful post. Thank you!
Kathy Broady says
Your welcome, Mandy.
Thanks for your comment. This is such a difficult topic…. One that most people don’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole! Your courage to look into these kinds of traumas is an inspiration to others.
I wish you the best in your healing journey. Keep up the good work! 🙂
Thank you, Kathy ?