May 10, 2009
This blog article is a tribute to the mothers out there in the world that have spent huge chunks of their lives fighting for the safety / healing of their children. These women are incredible spirits and are an inspiration to us all.
I know mothers who have absolutely gone the distance for their children. These women don’t get thanked often, but I do want to let them know that they are appreciated, recognized and deeply valued.
These mothers do a lot of things right.
- They listen attentively to their children, even if hearing the horror stories of abuse breaks their heart. They want to know what happened, and no matter how hard it is to hear, they listen to every single word.
- These mothers have clearly done a good job building communication with their children even before this point. Children have to know that it is ok to tell – “telling the secret” is often one of the biggest barriers in children getting help from their abuse. The children have to have someone safe to tell, someone they trust, someone that they can rely on to help them. If the mother hasn’t already built that kind of relationship with her children, she has drastically lowered the chances that her children will ever tell her their deepest secrets of abuse. Mothers that are approachable will
- These inspirational mothers do what it takes to protect their children from abusers, including leaving the perpetrator in whatever way is necessary – divorce, moving to another area of the country, going into a shelter, etc.
- They take assertive strong legal action against the perpetrator such as filing a report with child protective services, filing protective orders, pressing charges against the offender.
- They withstand the pressure from other friends and family members who may, for whatever reasons, oppose taking a strong stance against the perpetrator. These mothers know that protecting their children is more important than the approval of family members who want to hide embarrassing issues in the closet.
- These mothers are dedicated to finding helpful resources for their children’s therapy and treatment for sexual abuse. This is not always an easy task, and it might require a great deal of persistence, but these mothers will persist, for as long as it takes.
- These mothers sit with their children as they cry, they comfort their children after nightmares, they let their children cling to them when “being away from mommy” feels too scary. These mothers recognize that their children have been crime victims, that they have PTSD from their abuse, and that their neediness has skyrocketed. Good mothers let it be ok that their children need this extra time and attention to rebuild their emotional security again.
- These mothers are strong for their children, even when their heart is breaking. They get their own personal support system to help with their intense emotions (believe me, being the mother of an abused child is a highly emotional situation), and they find a way, place, and time to talk about their own grief and anger so that they can be present and available for their children.
- These mothers are brave enough to honestly assess the situation, and to look closely at how their children got tangled in an abusive situation. They learn from whatever mistakes were made, and correct them. They think back to see if there were any warning signs or high-risk factors that they missed, and learn how to handle things differently now that they are aware of the abuse. They figure out what to do in the future to keep their children safe from being abused in that particular way ever again.
- These mothers spend hours and hours of time with their children, even if they are acting-out and emotionally distraught from the abuse they suffered. The mothers temper their discipline with deep understanding that their children are acting out of their hurt, fear, pain, anger, etc. These moms realize that their children’s behavioral issues are not about the children being “bad”.
- These mothers provide new and positive activities for their children to help boost their tattered self-esteem and body image. They find recreational activities, or artistic activities, etc that give their children healthy feelings of acceptance, accomplishment, mastery, positive self-worth, creativity, growth, etc.
- Protective mothers will do everything in their power to help their children overcome the long-term negative effects of childhood sexual abuse. They are determined to not leave their children to suffer in silence and isolation. These mothers actively attend their needs, provide comfort, and help their children move forward as healthy, productive members of society.
Helping children recover from sexual abuse can be a long, difficult process, but if non-offending mothers are not willing to be protective and helpful for their children, the negative affects of the abuse can multiply and worsen through the years. Untreated sexual abuse issues lead to all kinds of additional complicating factors such as addictions, promiscuity, self harm, depression, anxiety, mental health issues, repeated involvement in destructive relationships, angry behavior, destructive behavior, sexual acting out, hospitalizations, additional abuse, dissociative disorders, etc. The cost of untreated sexual abuse truly multiplies exponentially over time.
Mothers that are willing to help and protect their children as close to the injury-point as possible are helping their children in the here-and-now, and creating a permanent and positive effect on their children’s lives. These mothers are also making a positive difference that can have a positive influence on society for years to come.
For those mothers that are willing to protect their children, here are my very best wishes that today is the most wonderful Mother’s Day for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping your children. You truly deserve a good day today!
Kathy Broady LCSW
May 9, 2009
For dissociative trauma survivors, Mother’s Day is often a painful time.
For survivors with dissociative identity disorder, mother issues are usually complex and difficult to sort out. Momma-trauma comes in a variety of forms.
For some survivors, their mothers were simply not there to protect them from the violent abuse of the father or other sadistic family members. These mothers were away at work, or away at the hospital, or too ill to tend properly to their children, or divorced from the fathers and living in separate homes, etc. Many of these mothers love their kids dearly, but still were unable to protect their children from trauma and abuse. Most of these mothers are not to blame for the abuse – many of them are absolutely horrified and deeply furious to find out, years later, how much abuse their children went through, and their feelings of guilt and shame are huge and overwhelming. None the less, their inability to protect their children creates mixed feelings for those children.
For some survivors, their mothers were too blind or too lost in their own denial to be willing and able to protect their children from abuse. These mothers do have some responsibility for their role in not protecting their children. These are the mothers that were in the home, and could have been instrumental and helpful for the protection of their children, but out of their own fear, denial or dissociation, refused to look, and refused to protect. These mothers let their own fear be bigger than their willingness to protect their children. These mothers may not have been directly used as accomplices, but their fears and unwillingness to protect would have most certainly been taken advantage of by the abusers.
For other survivors, their mothers were the abusers. These mothers were absolutely in the room at the time of the abuse, they caused physical pain, they did inappropriate sexual touch, and they played mind games on their children. These mothers are every bit as much a perpetrator as any other criminal.
So every year when Mother’s Day rolls around, it is difficult for survivors who grew up with mothers like that. It hurts. It’s confusing. The pain of what was longed for, but never given pierces the heart. The agony of wishing the mother had been willing to do something helpful grows cold out of the slow but torturous and accurate realization that the mother adamantly preferred apathy or self-protection over her children’s safety and welfare.
The heart-wrenching pain caused by an unattentive or abusing mother carries on for decades. The wounds do not heal quickly or easily. The hurt is felt for years and years.
It’s not right for mothers to cause such harm to their children. Those mothers are a disgrace. They are criminal. They are not “mothers”.
- Real mothers are good mothers that firmly protect their children from abuse, as much as that is humanly possible.
- Real mothers are good mothers who fight to get quality help and genuine safety for their children when someone else hurts their children.
- Real mothers are good mothers who do not complacently overlook or ignore the needs of their children.
- Real mothers are good mothers that put the needs of their young children over their own.
- Real mothers are good mothers that tend to the daily needs of their young children, and adjust with the various changes needed as their children get older.
- Real mothers are good mothers that work hard at being loyal, caring, kind, compassionate, loving, and giving to their children, forever and for always.
What kind of mother are you to your children?
If you are a trauma survivor…
- What kind of mother did you have?
- What affect has your mother had on your life?
- How did your mother fight to protect you?
- How did your mother contribute to your abuse?
- What thoughts and feelings do you have now, all these years later?
- What do you wish you could say to your mother, but couldn’t / wouldn’t say to her in real life?
Mothers and Mother’s Day.
So painful for so many people…..
Kathy Broady LCSW
April 25, 2009
Long-term, chronic, and severe child abuse causes a variety of medical and emotional issues for the survivors of such extensive abuse. Dissociative identity disorder (DID/MPD) is one long-term issue, but medical complications are extremely common as well.
In addition to addiction issues and mental health issues, most survivors find that they have numerous medical issues as either a direct or indirect result of their severe childhood sexual abuse.
INCREASED MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS
- Numerous medical complications or physical ailments from the years of internalized stress, anger, bodily harm, etc.
- Increased risk of stress related diseases, including depression, bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, etc
- Colitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, fibromyalgia, etc.
- Frequent headaches and migraines
- Numerous dental issues, including harm to the teeth, especially if the survivor experienced a lot of drugging
- A history of shaken baby syndrome, whiplash, broken bones, head injuries, etc.
- Bizarre illnesses or medical conditions that are difficult to explain or diagnose
- Inability to thrive – failure to grow
- Physical or mental impairment due to early childhood injuries
- Brain development affected – people who are severely sexually abused in childhood have permanent changes in their brains, specifically in the left hemisphere. These changes cause increased difficulties in the way they think, react, feel, and behave.
Long-term, severe, chronic child abuse causes long-term, severe, chronic medical issues, with both physical health and mental health.
Who pays for that?
One of the most frustrating negative effects of childhood sexual abuse is that the survivors as adults, on their own and struggling through each day, are left to manage the costs of their medical and mental health treatment by themselves, with minimal financial assistance from the people that actually caused the harm.
Going the legal route in terms of suing for damages is typically unrealistic. Besides, dissociative survivors often need long-term therapy and treatment prior to being ‘emotionally together enough’ to even consider a lawsuit. Either the survivors have not yet sorted out their trauma history / information in order to be able to present an organized, sequential legal suit, or they have too much internal conflict going on about what to tell, who to tell, etc. And, of course, being angry at the perpetrators is such a frightening thought that taking their perpetrators to court can be completely impossible.
So by the time dissociative survivors are able to deal with the legal world, they have already had to find a way to get years of therapy in the first place.
It’s so very frustrating to see the perpetrators walk away, comfortably well off after demolishing and destroying the lives of the survivors. Just like the pimps on the streets are comfortably rich in comparison to the beaten up, drug-addicted, stressed-out girls they sold on the corners, organized perpetrator groups are wealthy in comparison to the girls they’ve sold, abused, and used up.
Sometimes, perpetrator fathers will pay for therapy costs / medical bills as a quiet “under the table” compromise to their children. The “I’ll pay for your medical bills in exchange for your ongoing silence and not taking this to the public arena” exchange does happen, but it does not come without its own complications. Perpetrator fathers are very good at guilt-tripping their daughters, and having an ongoing connection to their perpetrator creates a constant tension and conflict in their healing process.
Insurance companies and disability policies are providing less and less coverage.
No one wants to pay for the crimes done by sex offenders, yet these offenders have created horrible life-long wounds for children all over the world.
One of the costs of long-term, severe child abuse for survivors is dealing with the complications of getting proper healing in the first place.
POOR MEDICAL AND THERAPEUTIC ASSISTANCE
- Excessive monies spent on medical bills, treatments, therapies, etc.
- Years of misdiagnosis, poor medical treatment, inappropriate therapies
- Hospitalization after hospitalization after hospitalization – It’s not at all uncommon for survivors with DID to have over psychiatric 30 hospitalizations in their lives.
- Costs to insurance, government medical funds, unpaid medical facilities, etc.
- Finding appropriate therapeutic help is extremely difficult, and too often non-existent, leaving the victims to suffer even longer
- Maintaining appropriate therapeutic help for the years it takes to overcome the depth of the damage is complicated and expensive. The treatment is heart wrenching and grueling work. And yet, intense therapy is required to improve a survivor’s devastated quality of life
- Expensive medications are often needed for years to assist with stability
- Psychiatric medications, though helpful in many ways, have many disturbing side effects that are also difficult to live with
- Psychiatric medications are not prescribed in an exact science type of way. Survivors will go through years of trial and error to find what works for them and when. Different doctors prescribe medications differently.
So who pays for all of this?
Unfortunately, for the most part, survivors have to pay for their own healing by themselves, which means more sacrifices made by people who have lost quite enough in their lives already.
Is that fair? Is that right?
No, that is not fair. No, it is not right. Not at all.
But it is typically the only way for survivors to get the healing they need.
Is your healing worth this for you?
Kathy Broady LCSW
April 15, 2009
April is Child Abuse Prevention month.
Education is one of the biggest factors in the prevention of child abuse. Those of you that have been sexually abused or physically abused know the effects of that abuse all too well. Child abuse can affect the entire life of the survivor, and the seriousness of its effects cannot be ignored.
If you are a trauma survivor, you can help to inform others about the seriousness of sexual abuse.
Are you the supportive loved one of a trauma survivor?
Are you the parent of an abused child?
Are you the spouse / partner of a trauma survivor?
Have you completed a Negative Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survey?
To help further understand the implications of treatment for childhood sexual abuse, AbuseConsultants.com would appreciate your participation in an educational survey, NICSA Survey. Your responses can be completely anonymous, and additional comments are welcomed.
Please go to AbuseConsultants.com and follow the links provided on the home page.
The following areas of impact are questioned on the NICSA Survey:
- Anger Issues
- Anxiety and Panic
- Bipolar Disorder
- Criminal Histories
- Damaged Relationships
- Destroyed Career
- Detachment from Self or Others
- DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder)
- Eating Disorders
- Experienced Losses in Life
- Increased Medical Complications
- Lack Parenting Skills
- Long Term Disability
- Loss of Education
- Mental Health Problems
- Mental Torment
- Numbness or lack of feeling in the body
- Ongoing Violence and Abuse
- Poor Coping Skills
- Poor Medical Assistance
- Poor Self Care
- Poor Therapeutic Relationships
- Poverty / Financial Devastation
- Self Destruction and Self Mutilation
- Self Esteem Issues
- Sexual Deviations
- Sexual Problems
- Sleep Complications
- Suicidal Ideation and Behavior
- Suicide / Death
Do you relate to any of these areas of impact?
Has your childhood sexual abuse complicated your life in any of these ways?
How severely has your abuse affected your life?
If only someone had been able to prevent the abuse from happening in your life…..
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 30, 2009
To all the Trauma Survivors Reading this blog –
I have some questions for you.
What kinds of things do you wish your parents had been able to do that would have protected you from sexual abuse?
What kinds of things would have helped prevent your being abused by people outside of the home?
If you were abused within the home, what would have helped you to get help from safe people outside of the home?
If you were to pass your words of wisdom to parents that are truly invested in keeping their children safe from sexual predators, what would you say to them?
Your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.
Kathy Broady LCSW