I WAITED! (trigger warning)

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I recently moved and,  like anyone else who has ever moved, I came a cross a box I had forgotten about.  Before I knew it I was lost in the past;  reading and reading and reading and remembering.  I sat there a couple of hours later shaking my head at a past that should never have happened to me or to anyone else. This time though I am reading it as a mere observer and I give many, many thanks to many years of good counseling and therapist and hard work  for the ability to do that.  It was still painful.  I still felt the loss of a childhood I never had.  It was not the trigger it would have been a few years ago.

Therapy notes, letters, and many written words that never made it into my book, Can You Hear Me Now?  made a surprise appearance in my garage that day! Just as the past makes its surprise appearance for survivors of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, and yes even war veterans everywhere.  Post traumatic stress is for children too.

There are approximately 315 million people in the United States and  approximately 95 MILLION of them are adults “abused” as children.  There are an unspeakable number of children experiencing what you are about to read.  Children live this for years.  Can you really turn away because it is too difficult to see? Hear? Acknowledge and say…  NO MORE! I guarantee you looked at a child this week who is living with sexual abuse.  I guarantee you looked at an adult who is sexually abusing a child.  Did you recognize them?  You would be surprised at who they are.

This was written many years ago in counseling when I could not bring myself to talk aloud about my own life.  I think it’s worth sharing.

I WAITED!

I waited in the dark.  I feign sleep terrified of what the darkness will bring to me.  I waited for the hushed viciousness of a voice that is no longer human to my ears.  I waited for the face that becomes grotesque and monstrous in the dark. I waited, for hands that will crawl over my body like the slime of snakes and worms and rot.   I consider poking my eyes out so that I can’t see when it comes into my room.  I know it will come.  I waited in the dark like a hunted animal sweating and shivering.  It’s not cold. It’s summer.

I can’t scream out for help as I hear more than see the door knob turn.  I try but it dies, dry in my throat, not even a croak.  And then, stealthy, it comes to me.  I wait knowing there is no escape.  I wait knowing there will be pain.  I wait knowing no one cares.  I wait knowing no one can stop this. I waited while it chuckles quietly at my compliance.

Now I wait for the screaming I hear in my head to stop.

We all wait for that.

As the Holidays Approach – Just two days~just one Second~~Guest writer

My Friend Renee Hutchinson is the founder and President of THE BABY JAMES FOUNDATION.   Renee wrote this last year but as the holidays approach I believe it is a timely and thoughtful reminder.  Thank you for allowing me to share this my friend. Real Stories from real people.  I love it!   XOXO   Annie

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AS I SIT HERE  thinking of this being the first Holiday without some family (blood and not blood family) members we lost this year it got me thinking.  You know how you are so down and all of a sudden its like someone reaches out and speaks to you?  Well, I believe exactly that just happened and she is telling me to write exactly what I am feeling and thinking.  She is telling me my story, this story, the very one in my head will help someone out there.  That person may not even be an abused child, or even a family member of one that I reach this time.

This goes back to my childhood. A time when my family was dysfunctional. A time where spending holidays with both parents just did not happen. In fact spending time with my father ( I only remember one time) ended in a way I don’t care to share for this story.  A time where behind closed doors things was different. Sure when it came Christmas time I remember my mother seeing to it us kids had Christmas. It may not have been much but she did. Yes I remember that Shaun Cassidy album, the purse that I wouldn’t carry today even though I thought it was gorgeous then.  However, things with her wasn’t always remembered for that either. With all of this evilness I lived during my childhood though, and all that dysfunction there are things that I do remember and now it comes to me how blessed I was as a child.

I don’t remember every holiday with my maternal grandparents and family. But I do remember the ones I cherished the most being with them.  My grandparents, aunts, and uncles always seen to it (that) me and my siblings had holidays to remember. No they didn’t spend a fortune in material items, but they did in caring.  It’s from this time in my life that I believe I learned to care for others.  A time in my life that all the violence and yelling going on in our home just didn’t seem to matter.  This is a time of my life that I became very grateful for growing up.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas we would get together at my maternal grandparents. The house would be filled with meals cooking, laughter, children yelling with joy.  The aroma you could smell from miles away in that home.  Was a time when Aunt Dottie was still among us.  I was the oldest, and most of my cousins was much younger than me.  I loved being the oldest and playing with them, helping them in any way I could.

Christmas was slightly different than Thanksgiving. Grandpa would drag out all the decorations and the train set.  If it wasn’t already set up, my uncles would help him set the train set up. Grandma took take great pride in her nativity scene and manger.  Those three items we always knew to never touch but our eyes always lit up seeing them.  Grandpa would set all of us grand-kids around the train to watch for hours as it goes around and around. Everyone of us loved it, and for the first time sat there without moving.  I remember certain gifts at that time in my life that to this day I cherish in my head. The books, crossword books, and diary that my Uncle Jim and Aunt Dee got me.  I didn’t even care how much or how they got those items but looking back I do know they got them with love.  I remember the year I was so into art and drawing. Aunt Janelle took grandma shopping to help pick items I could use.  That year I got art supplies from my grandparents, Uncle Larry and Aunt Janelle. After opening them Aunt Janelle sat down with me and showed me a few tips on drawing.  See Aunt Janelle has always been a great artist in our family. In fact among grandma’s house she took pride hanging Aunt Janelle’s work.  Uncle Pat always would fix my plate and set me at a table to start eating. Before meals it was Uncle Pat that would help me sneak as many of those grapes as I wanted, no matter how long I ended up in the bathroom afterwards.

Aunt Dottie and I was close growing up and each time she would walk in the door Christmas day everything stopped so I could run and hug her. Then rushing to get my cousins Teri and Chris usually getting told “Give her time to get their coats off”.  It would usually end up me taking one of their coats off because I just couldn’t wait to get them in the living room to play.  John, Eric and Brian was so close in age it was like the two of them was almost twins.  Where you seen one you always seen the other getting into some kind of trouble.  Aunt Janelle and Uncle Larry waited to have children and when they had Jennifer I remember my grandparents being so happy they finally was giving them a grandchild.  She turned out to be the family ballerina.  Then there was Shannon, Bradley, & Nathon that I just had to be a mother hen over.

Each and every one of those holidays in that home to this day I remember and cherish and blessed to have the memories in my life today.  No one can take those memories from me, and it shows me how even though I had a rough life, someone out there wasn’t blessed enough to have family that cared enough to show they just care.  Even if it was for two days out of the year, it was those two days where there was no fighting, no yelling, no hitting, no nothing but caring. It was those two days of the year that brings me here today to say I was blessed to have someone that cared. I am sure they wanted to do more and couldn’t. Those two days of the year means more then ever to me today.  Yes I always had my grandparents and if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I would be today.  However, those two days I would be taught to care for others. I would be able to pretend everything was okay those two days.  I can now say when someone mentions how much I care for others, that I learned from not only my grandparents but my aunts and  uncles.  Something they all showed me back long ago when I was a young child.  Back before we lost Aunt Dottie and everything changed.  I can now tell abused children I come in contact with that no matter how bad things are, there are always someone that cares.

If you learn nothing else in this: learn to care. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t even have to spend anything.  I don’t mean just for family but people around you.  You will never know how much that brief minute, brief second will change a person’s life years after you are gone.  You will never know how much that person would wish just to have the brief second back.  You will never know how that one second that person, that one person that has no one else, that one person that cries themselves to sleep will say “I am blessed for that memory and second.”

I can only hope and pray that my siblings and cousins can remember just one second of these two days.  I can only pray that they learned how to care and think of others feelings.

I can only pray other’s around me had just one second, just one memory of knowing somenoe cares. I can only pray everyone around me knows I care.   But do know I have feelings as well, just as every caring person out there does. Don’t be so quick to take advantage or take for granted of those who care.  There may be one of those days you wish for that second.
Feel free to tag, or share this. For my wish this Holiday season is to let others know someone out there cares, as well teach a lesson in caring.

Renee Hutchinson, Founder and President Baby James Foundation

https://www.facebook.com/babyjamesfoundation

 http://babyjamesfoundation.org/

 

Relationships and the Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

 

Where did our roadmap into the future come from?  Who taught us how to navigate? How to love? Who to trust? When to trust? Secrecy and keeping thoughts and feeling to ourselves became our true reality.  Imagine yourself as a child, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, and then being introduced to a ferocious and violent act—an act that serves to not only damage one’s physical body and mental/cognitive mind-set, but also disrupt one’s spiritual being.  And yes, it is all these things without being beaten.  I believe violence compounds the problem.

Wounded attachment is an insidious component that I have seen repeatedly in my work with adult survivors of childhood sexual assault. What is wounded attachment? It’s the unconscious way of being attracted or attached to someone or something that reminds the survivor of or reinforces the wound/trauma, or in this case the sexual assault. At its core, it’s the way in which survivors subconsciously seek out relationships that reinforce the wounded aspect of themselves. (Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, June 2013)

A neglected and abused child often develops a confused attachment style when they are raised in an environment of inconsistent or unavailable attention.  This is especially true when the parent or caretaker is abusive, intrusive, neglectful or otherwise dangerous.  These children can go on to become adults who make poor partners later on in life since they are prone to acting out against themselves or others.  We (survivors) often have such high levels of abandonment and trust issues that without intervention relationships become caught in a revolving door of different version of the same relationship.

Survivors of Childhood Sexual or Physical abuse also learn to ignore his or her own needs.  As adults survivors tend to be fiercely independent and will not admit to needing others. Early training that our needs, wants and requirements don’t matter or are no importance are difficult to overcome, even when you are aware of the faulty thinking.

There can be great frustration in trying to be perfect and not getting what you need, often times not knowing what you need.  A relationship can then end in a self-fulfilling prophecy of the very abandonment the survivor fears most.  Partners leave in frustration.

They might also remain single and avoid relationships altogether. (Note: singleness does not imply a person is avoidant; finding a good partner takes a certain measure of good fortune!)

This avoidance is where I’ve been finding my own self the last few years.  It’s lonely. There is so much pain in a failed relationship.  And failure.  Society doesn’t look at you and say, oh that person wasn’t right for you.  They say things like “Too bad you couldn’t make it work.”

Then there are your own children.  Are you saying enough?  Are you saying too much?  Should you say anything at all?  What are the boundaries?  Who is showing me how to be a good parent? What if they grow up and never talk to you again?

Relationships are based on how we attach to others.  Expressing your feelings, ability to nurture, comfort and feeling connected.  Some of us struggle with the connectedness part.  If you spent your formative years running away from feelings that overwhelmed you, who tells you that you don’t have to run when you don’t even know your are still sprinting away from the very thing you want the most?

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/wounds/bonding.htm  is a marvelous self-help site that talks about the wounds you have as a grown wounded child.

Instead of relationship issues many articles and those in the mental health field call it an attachment disorder.  It’s a painful label.  However it seems that without labels no one knows how to talk about what the problem is.

I like to think about attachment/relationship issues and my dog.  My dog, Simon, was a 15 month old rescue.  He’d been poorly fed, abused and beaten up not only by the past owner but by the other dogs.  Simon was on his way to being euthanized.  No hope for him.  He was terrified of people, other dogs, cats and even puppies.  A look his way and he would cower and urinate where he stood.  My heart went out to this creature.

I took him home for 5 days.  “Only 5 days,” I said.  “If there is no improvement I can’t keep him.”

I bought him some chew bones, food and a ball.   He stared at the chew bones.  He didn’t eat.  He didn’t know what to do with the ball.  I stayed with him for those five days.  He jumped when I moved.  He watched everything around him and whimpered when my cat went to check out the house quest.  I spoke to him quietly and played soft music in the background.

I kept Simon. He will be 8 years old this month. I had him for two years before he let me scratch his belly.  He learned to trust and he learned to love.  If my English Shepherd can do, I have to hope we all can.

We need to be able to set healthy boundaries, understand and respect them.   It matters for our personal safety, and growth as well as healthy relationships whether it be family, friends, co-workers, or partners.

We were given a bad roadmap to our future.  Let’s lose it and get a new one. We’ve been alone too long.

 

Annie O’Sullivan

Author, Can You Hear Me Now?

 

TELLING IS HEALING, by Guest Malisia McKinney

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I’ve often felt sadden when I heard of stories of men and women whom were physically and or sexually abused as children. I never considered the courage it took to come forward until I began to face the reality of my own childhood. At 34 my memories and the trauma from the abuse caught up with me. The world I had built for everyone to see started to crash and I could no longer pretend. I read stories about survivors because, in fact, I was one of them. Those stories were a link to a world I tried to keep secret,but, within those articles I found a little of myself in the story of each man and woman. Each story brought me closer to letting myself out of the cage my abusers had placed me in.

From the beginning the abuser gives us a crash course in keeping THEIR secret and what might happen if we tell . I was sexually and physically abused by my mother and other family members. My mother use to say to me, “If you tell anyone they will take you away and kill you. They will believe your evil and (you) made me do it! I grew up thinking people would hate me if I told.

When we hold the secrets of abuse it pours out to many aspects of our lives. For example. I was very distant in my relationships and often found myself alone.  This was due to holding in such deep emotional pain I was unable to give to anyone else. All my efforts were spent trying to just hold myself together.

I remember the first time I told. I was shaking on the inside and wondered if my world would end.  In fact, my world did end! My posture changed! I no longer had severe headaches! The world my abuser built for me came down and I slowly crawled out from the rubble. I began to grow into who I was meant to be before the abuse shadowed everything in my life. The best thing I have done for myself was come forward with my abuser’s secrets.

I stress the fact the secrets don’t belong to us. We did nothing wrong.

The abuser forms the bond of secrecy by making us believe we caused the abuse and/or we should protect them if we love them. I’m now 39 and looking back I see great change.  When I told my truth, my story and released myself from my abuser’s secrets I have grown into the woman I was meant to be.  I have been able to have a relationship for the first time.

Telling is healing. As long as I held the secrets I was unable to have emotions in fear all that I was holding in might burst out. The hardest thing for me was not loving another,but being loved. I didn’t believe I deserved to be loved like everyone else. I can honestly say 4 years after telling for the first time, I am able to receive love. As I write this tears of humbleness roll down my face.  At 39 for the first time I was able to lay my head in the lap of the one I love and sleep. It felt like the first real sleep I ever had. Being a survivor of abuse you struggle with being able to trust, that’s why it is so important to find a healthy support system. No, it’s not going to be easy, but I promise the outcome is worth the effort. If you at first don’t get what you need when you disclose the abuse keep telling until you find those who will listen.

It’s so important to have our pain validated because for so long we had to pretend it wasn’t happening to survive. Remember you are not alone there is a group of courageous men and women survivors on the same journey who will gladly take your hand and lead you out of that cage. We spent our childhood carrying someone else’s secrets and lies,but as adults we can unpack what doesn’t belong to us and embrace life on our terms without fear.            Malisia McKinney October 2014

Broken Until Spoken read in in 78 Countries!

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Pretty exciting!  Hope everyone had a great long weekend.  Back to work in the morning for me.  Working on a new video project.  Stay tuned!  Also don’t miss BlogTalk Can You Hear Me Now?  this Thursday 6:30  Great show planned.  Stop by and have a look!  Michael Broussard of Ask a Sex Abuse Survivor brings his show off the road onto our blog talk internet radio show!  Follow the link for preview.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/can-you-hear-me-now-annie-osullivan/2014/10/17/can-you-hear-me-now-annie-guest-michael-broussard-of-ask-a-sex-abuse-survivor

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!

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It’s hard to find inspiration and feel good words sometimes.  So tonight I am just going to talk to you about real life. Happening right now. Today! I am going to talk to you from my heart and hope you hear me. Just like my book, Can You Hear Me Now?  I and those like me want to be heard.  Stories like this one I’m going to share remind me of that need to be heard and why.

I recently heard from a very good friend and it was not good news.  The story is not uncommon.  The story is indeed an outrage! I want to share it with you.  I want you to get mad and call your congressman, senator and other person who cares about your votes.

A 15-year-old girl tells her Aunt and Uncle that her Mother and guardian are beating her and selling her to men.  She has bruises.  Old and new.  She doesn’t want to go home. Would you? She is ready to tell anyone who will listen and help her.  This is the oldest problem.  Her Mother and guardian are furious.  A police officer that she tried to tell says “Do you really want to get your Momma into trouble?”  I could scream in anger myself!  Why is it this childs fault her “Momma” is going to be in trouble?  So they send her home.  Or try to.  She won’t go.  She runs off back to the Aunts house.  Why?  If she goes home now they will beat her for telling.  This is a given.  Not they might beat her.  THEY WILL BEAT HER!

Her aunt is calling authorities for help.  She is warned, you could be charged with parental interference, and harboring a runaway.  The local phone numbers she can call for an emergency of this type (child abuse) is only open 8am to 5pm.  They suggest that the child needs to go home.

I was this kid.  No hope of getting out.  Suicide was never far from my thoughts as a way out.  I feared for my life most days.  Though I was a terrible student, school was a haven where I could be happy for a few hours.  A reprieve from my realities at home. I would run away.  Authorities would drag me home without question.  It’s an uncomfortable question isn’t it?  Why are you running?

So many of us work so hard to change the worlds thinking so that children can come forward just like this one did.  She is hitting a wall that protects the very people who are hurting her

WOULD YOU SEND YOUR NIECE HOME?  Lets pretend this is not some young girl you don’t know.  Lets pretend this is some young girl or boy that you love and whom you believe.

There are 319 million people in the United States at last count.  There are approximately (by conservative count) 95 million sexually abused and exploited humans in the United States today.  69 million voted Obama into office in 2008.  We have power to change this.  We have power to not just make new laws but to enforce the ones we have.  There is power in numbers if we can just pull ourselves together and do the common sense thing.  95 million people voting and talking can NOT be ignored.

According to the National Cancer institute  there we 232,670 new cases of breast cancer in 2014.  Every year in the United states there are more than 3 million reports of Child abuse involving over 6 million children.  Breast cancer is considered epidemic and a problem (and it is, I’m not here to bash breast cancer) I’m simply asking you o do the math.

See those pictures?  That’s me standing next to a redwood tree I used to sleep in when I would run away.   See the gruesome cartoon?  That’s me too.  with all the things that went on behind closed doors.  I ran away all the time.  Don’t let kids like this have to run away to escape.

What would you do if this was you the child came to?

What would you do if this was your niece or nephew?

Who will even be sharing this post with a story that is difficult to think about, and harder to ask your friends to think about.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN THEY COME TO YOU AND YOU HAVE TO BREAK A LAW TO HELP THEM

What will we all do if you turn away?