Healing wrong

Questions and discussion about sexual or other abuse or assault, and support and help for survivors.
Forum rules
This area of the boards is expressly for support and help for those who are currently in or have survived abuse or assault. It is also for those seeking information or discussion about abuse or assault. Please make every effort in this space to be supportive and sensitive. Posts in this area may or do describe abuse or assault explicitly.

This area of the boards is also not an area where those who are themselves abusing anyone or who have abused or assaulted someone may post about doing that or seek support. We are not qualified to provide that kind of help, and that also would make a space like this feel profoundly unsafe for those who are being or who have been abused. If you have both been abused and are abusing, we can only discuss harm done to you: we cannot discuss you yourself doing harm to others. If you are someone engaging in abuse who would like help, you can start by seeking out a mental healthcare provider.
Acacia_04
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Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

Hi guys. I'm like 100% new here so sorry if this isn't what's normally here, lol.

I'm just looking to see if anyone's had a similar experience to me. I was sexually abused when I was younger, don't really wanna go into much detail on it, but ever since then I've like... Almost compulsively sought out unhealthy relationships, mostly with older guys. Don't wanna go into a lot of detail with that either, but I'm just reaching out to see if anyone's had a similar experience post-abuse. I hear so much about becoming completely non sexual and scared of sex after abuse that I feel like I'm, like... Healing wrong by doing the opposite, yknow? (And I know it is, like, wrong and unhealthy, and I'm not asking to be healed from it or anything, I get that this isn't therapy lmao). Just trying to see if anyone can relate.
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Carly »

Hey Acacia_04 -- welcome to Scarleteen.

I feel comfortable sharing with you that I have had a very similar experience coping and healing from my own childhood sexual abuse that went on for years. Because I never really felt uninterested in sex, it made me question if what happened was all that bad in the first place; based on what I had heard in media and otherwise, I assumed that a "true" victim would be scared or uncomfortable with sex after the harm caused and was in denial about what happened for a very long time. Something I learned when I was a bit older is that there is no one single narrative to describe everyone's experience - it's just impossible. I realized that, though sex was never an issue for me, the effects of my abuse would reflect very obviously and painfully in other ways that impacted my self-esteem and my relationships. Healing can look very different from person to person; I personally feel that I've healed some parts of myself through having consensual sexual relationships with people I love and trust, exploring my sexuality, and creating boundaries.

So while I don't believe that you're healing incorrectly by not having an aversion to sex, something I do want to point out is that you said yourself that you compulsively seek relationships you know are unhealthy or inappropriate... and that is something I do think is an issue and something I wonder could prevent you from healing completely and/or get you into potentially emotionally dangerous situations. You're right, this is isn't therapy... but we can continue to talk about this and sort through it if you're willing to share more with us. If you're willing, can you talk more about the compulsivity you feel like you're identifying for yourself?
Acacia_04
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

Nice to hear that someone has a similar experience. Honestly the compulsion is triggered by like.. a million different things? Remembering the abuse, having low self esteem in the moment, getting angry, even just like being bored sometimes. And I almost always feel better immediately after the relationships which sucks bc like,, then there's no real motivation to stop. I sometimes get like a "crash" some time after (usually like 12-24 hours after) which sucks, but then I feel bad so I act out again, etc. You're right about dangerous situations, though, I've like... Definitely been in some of those lol. Sorry if my tone sounds weird, I don't like that I'm doing it to myself but it's hard to take it super seriously, y'know? Then I just feel bad.
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Acacia_04,

Would you say that when you're seeking out those situations, you're seeking out something that either feels exciting or validating to you in some way? And are there other things in your day to day life that bring you intense, positive emotions?

Since you mentioned therapy, are you currently seeking any kind of mental healthcare? And did you ever receive any kind of supports for healing from the abuse?
Acacia_04
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

Yeahhh that's mostly the reason that I do it. It's weirdly validating like you said bc some of the people like,, like that I've been abused lmao. It feels gross typing it out now but in the moment I usually don't care, y'know? I don't have much else like going on in my life besides school and this, so I don't get intense experiences often, especially positive. I haven't told anyone irl about the abuse besides a few friends, so there hasn't been any healing or mental health care for me like,, ever? My friends are pretty cool about letting me vent to them every so often but thats about it lol
Heather
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Heather »

I also want to chime in here that there's really no such thing as healing "wrong." All of our journeys with healing are very different, and often winding, and it can tend to take us instinctively trying and doing a lot of things to feel out our way to healing, especially if and when we aren't also getting some kind of therapeutic support.

So, before anything else, I hope you can start letting go of this idea you are doing or have done this wrong, and instead focus on finding a way to both live and heal that simply leaves you feeling better than what you've been doing, you know?

My friend and colleague Kimberly Dark, also a survivor, said some really amazing things about exactly some of this in an interview one of our writers did with her this week here I think might be helpful for you: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/abus ... r_light_in
ST: You are an abuse and incest survivor. How did you get through, especially through childhood and adolescence? What has your own healing journey looked like? What does it look like for you now?

KD: I am an abuse survivor and incest survivor, that is true!

I want to say first of all, that in any way that you figure out how to survive a situation that might make you not want to live? Any way that you come to do that is the right way.

This is such an important thing to hear because we see different coping mechanisms and it is kind of like there is a hierarchy, right? Like, yeah, if you can manage to do it, it is really great to take a walk in nature and learn to breathe deeply and do a little yoga every time somebody is horrible to you. But that is a lot to expect from ourselves. Other things work, too.

I think it is important, actually, to develop some really good habits, and I think that as a teenager I started doing that and I want to tell you — I’m in my 50’s now and I’m glad I had those habits because surviving things like child abuse or child sexual abuse is not a thing you just do once and then it is done.

I write about these topics and I talk about these topics and trauma is a thing that heals, but also, you revisit it again for new insight. You revisit it with the self of the day and hopefully, each new version of ourselves has more resources. It is different revisiting my incest experience when I was in my 20’s, then in my 30’s, then in my 40’s and then in my 50’s and good habits like exercise and yoga and connection with nature are really, really super important. So, whenever you can make those habits, do that because there are going to be times that you can’t make good conscious choices, but good habits can carry you through.

Those are the good habits but let me also just be really honest about how I got through this time period: I tried to kill myself a few times in the year that I was thirteen and I’m glad I survived that time period. One of the ways I did it was by smoking a lot of pot. Now, I don’t think this is a great thing to do in the long-term, but I think it is a fantastic thing to do if it looks like the option that is going to keep you alive until you see the light of another day.

I did a bunch of other drugs too, but pot was kind of a daily way to keep the assholes at bay in my life. I also stayed really focused on the fact if I could wait out the difficult times, I was going to be around than those people who hurt me. They were all older than me and this is a really important thing to hold on to and that is: You have a life that extends beyond most of the adults that hurt you. That is powerful, it is powerful as long as you survive it too.

Any of the things that let us live are good. It’s a paradox. I did things that were harmful to my body, but at the time, they helped me live. We have to be careful and keep an eye on the prize of surviving beyond the assholes! Whatever it is that you are doing: You are brilliant, your choices are valid, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that a label like “addict” or “anorexic” or “self-harm” —that any of those things are the sum of who you are. They absolutely are not!

You can change, and change, and change again.

You gotta stick around, and sometimes it is a weird jumble of strategies that gets you there. That doesn’t make you weird or crazy, it is really actually brilliant to figure out how to survive difficult things, because here is the thing: as much as we like to think, we should have control over what happens to us, it isn’t true. We can make choices but you know, sometimes even choices that look like they are going to be good choices end up being full of a bunch of shitheads that don’t treat you with the dignity that you deserve.
So, that is what my healing journey looks like, and it goes up and down. I do my best to be honest about my experiences and to connect with others, and to help form relationships that allow collective actions against things like sexism and racism and child abuse.

That is one of the themes of my last book Damaged Like Me, is that when you are traumatized you need help but then later once you have a few resources it is totally possible to be part of a positive force that influences the whole community, society, world in which we live.
Do you want help looking into some in-person survivor/mental health support?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Acacia_04
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

Wow. That article is the most seen I've felt in,, a while. And if you've got any support ideas that're cheap and I can do without my parents permission, that'd be great, yeah.
Heather
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Heather »

Kimberly is so amazing. She just GETS IT.

And sure. Are you open to letting us know what general part of Florida you're in? If you are but you're not comfortable doing it on the boards, you can drop it to us via the contact link in the bottom lower right (the red-outlined box) of this page.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Acacia_04
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

I'm in Lee County, if that's specific enough?
Sam W
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Sam W »

It is!

This looks to be the main survivors resource in the area: https://actabuse.com/services/rape-crisis-shelter/. The hotline is going to be free, and if having privacy on the phone is tricky for you we can brainstorm ways to get you some. It looks like their services, including one on one counseling and groups, are all free of charge, but that in-person services are pretty limited right now thanks to the pandemic. From what I can tell you'd be meeting with a counselor via ZOOM. Is that doable for you?
Acacia_04
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Acacia_04 »

It is! Thank you thank you thank you. I was thinking of what you said earlier too, about having positive experiences in my day to day life. I wanna have more that aren't these relationships but I'm not really,, sure how to get them, y'know? I'm not great at making/keeping friends outside of people I've known since, like, elementary school, and I'm not really into sports or a lot of the clubs at school so I'm just kinda... Bored. A lot. Again, I know this board isn't gonna fix all my problems, just something you made me think of lol
Heather
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Re: Healing wrong

Unread post by Heather »

I'm so glad the boards here and that resource both feel like good starting points for you! :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
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