One of the biggest obstacles an abuse survivor has to overcome is the deep knowing that there are people who will call them crazy.
Usually it is the people who are in some way caused pain or discomfort by their truth who say these things, but it is still a deeply ingrained fear for survivors, a hurdle we have to get over that is a result of conditioning by those that abused us.
“Don’t tell anyone. No one will believe you. This is all your fault. You are crazy.”
Here is what I’ve learned in my journey to defeat this block: First and foremost, I deserve to speak my truth even if it is not your truth.
Our world is full of “subjective truths.” Turn on the news on any given night and you will see plenty of subjective truths. The only way to solve this problem is to go to war, terrorize and hurt one another.
Violence as the only option is a deep truth for much of the world. Not my truth. Not a core foundational belief that governs the way I function in this world. I could spend my life trying to begrudge those their right to believe that truth.
My truth is my truth. Yours is yours.
My memories as an abuse survivor are mine. They are my truth. They may not be the same as the memories, the truth, of those that violated me.
Abuse survivors sometimes live life feeling as if they have a bull’s eye on their back. Until they heal the wounds of their childhood, predators, whether it be in the dating world or the person who sexually harasses others in the workplace, can smell them a mile away. They can sense that an unhealed survivor will be quiet as they wonder, once again, if what happened was somehow their fault.
I recently found an amazing massage therapist. He never remembered my name. Our sessions didn’t include any talking or personal chit-chat, but I didn’t care at all about his total inability to see me as a person because he worked magic on my stressed-out neck. I had eight sessions with him as he therapeutically and professionally worked to help me heal this problematic area of my body.
On the ninth visit at the end of the session, he finished by massaging my face. I thought it felt a little more gentle than usual, maybe more like caressing than massage. My mind was racing trying to figure out if I was being ridiculous, because this is what was programmed into my head by people who hurt me when I tried to speak up as a child.
“Stop! You are being ridiculous. No one will believe you. Look at you,” I couldn’t help myself. “It is all your fault-”
It wasn’t until I asked myself how a man would respond if he was doing this to him that I realized it wasn’t professional behavior and he would probably be getting punched out right now. To most people it would have taken a split second to realize something was horribly awry. It took me a few minutes to put these thoughts together.
Welcome to the mind of an abuse survivor.
My external, quiet passivity while frantically going through my internal survivor database trying to reconcile what was happening was taken by the massage therapist as permission to continue because next thing I knew he was rubbing his face on mine then tried to kiss me.
What transpired next was purely fight or flight. The survivor in me told me to get the hell out of here right now which in a total panicked frenzy is exactly what I did.
At that time in my healing journey, I was working through what my abused inner children still believed to be true and how my new found self-advocate would no longer allow any form of violations. As a result, it took me two days to reconcile what had happened, that I did not invite or encourage it in any way, that it was not my fault and to finally find my voice which resulted in my return to confront him face-to-face.
When I told this man he violated me, appalled he responded “I am not a sicko. I did not violate you. I was just expressing my love and affection.”
The man who had barely said two words to me in our prior 16 hours together and had to look at his chart to remember my name every time I came in, “was just expressing his love and affection.”
This was my first time using my voice to take care of me and my first time witnessing with profound clarity that truth is subjective.
After I reported him to the police and he was fired from his job, I guarantee you that he called me crazy when he told people what had happened.
Yes, please, call me crazy. Thank you.
The second deep truth for me in this journey is I did not heal for you.
The night my then three-year-old daughter snuggled into me as we said goodnight and whispered “Mommy, you are so angry all the time. I just want you to be happy.” was the night I knew I had a very serious problem that it was time to address.
My only goal in life then became to heal myself so I could be the parent my children deserve.
This morning in the car on the way to school my children and I were singing a song with particularly beautiful lyrics. My now eight-and-a-half-year-old daughter said “Mommy, I feel like crying for no reason.” to which I responded “Let ’em flow, baby!” then she looked at me and said “Mommy, I sometimes cry because I am so happy.”
As my own tears began to fall, I said “Happens to me everyday, sweetheart.”
I have now found a place of peace, love, joy and bliss that I never even imagined was possible. I did this for my children first then for me.
People ask me what I did to get here. When I tell them, some—mainly other survivors, people who are in deep pain, still too frightened to confront their own inner demons—call me crazy.
Yes, it was hard work. It was excruciatingly painful raking through the muck that was the first 26 years of my life but ultimately it brought me to this—I deserve to be happy and healthy.
When I first began Eastern Medicine-based acupuncture fertility treatments many years ago, I had chronic insomnia. My acupuncturist recommended the White Chestnut Bach Flower Remedy and after three days of use I was sleeping all the way through the night and singing its praises to anyone who would listen.
I recommended it to an number of people in my office who not only also were cured of their insomnia, but two women had also been suffering from menopause symptoms which were also magically relieved.
I have a vague idea how Bach Flower remedies work, but mostly it was just a miraculous cure for me.
Reliving my abuse, giving my inner children a voice, addressing my pain holistically, has been nothing short of a miracle cure for me.
I do not care who believes in what I have done. I do not care if my memories coincide with the way others remember things to have happened.
I care that my daughter now cries tears of joy. I care that there is a light in my son’s eyes for the first time since he joined our family at the age of four. I care that I now walk through life seeing love everywhere I go and feeling love for everyone and everything that crosses my path.
It does not matter to me anymore how I got here, all the whispers of “Crazy!” in my wake. I now deserve to leave the healing journey behind me.
I deserve to reap the rewards of my hard work. I deserve to be happy and healthy.
Author: Christie Del Vesco
Editor: Katarina Tavčar