February 24, 2013
Here is Doris and Morris. Of course.
Doris and Morris are the very best neighbors I have ever had. A horse, of course!
Doris is the pretty chestnut mare, and Morris is the beautiful black gelding.
Doris is younger, and spunky, and she happily canters over every afternoon for her very favorite treat — pieces of bread. Bread, bread, bread! Doris could eat a whole loaf of bread every single day. She also likes oatmeal, fresh grass, handfuls of hay, and chasing cows. Doris talks a lot — she creates a constant stream of pretty pony sounds every time she visits, proudly announcing her presence. Oh, and Doris the horse likes to run, of course!
Morris is an older, gentler soul. His knees are sore, so he walks over gingerly, lagging behind Doris. Morris likes hugs and brushings, and he will stand snuggled up close with his kind heart for as long as you’ll stand beside him. Even though feisty Doris sticks her nose out in front a lot of the time, snatching up as many treats as she can grab, Morris is still the boss, and he happily gives her a quick nip when she gets too pushy. Morris likes bread and oatmeal too, of course, but Ritz crackers, strawberries, and Granny Smith apples are special treats for him since silly ol’ Doris turns her nose away at those tasty nibbles.
Doris! Don’t get so pushy, Pushy!
Doris and Morris are particularly good neighbors. They don’t make any annoying noises. They don’t intrude on my space. They make no complaints. They are happy to come and visit, but they are willing to go on their way as well. They don’t spread gossip, and they don’t talk bad about me behind my back. They don’t stare, they don’t impose, they don’t do any damage, they don’t make any messes. Doris and Morris are just good company.
It’s hard to find good neighbors. And I really appreciate good neighbors.
What are your neighbors like? Are you fortunate enough to have good neighbors?
Have you had some difficult neighbors in the past?
Having good neighbors is important for everyone, of course, but for survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder, having good neighbors is particularly important. DID survivors need to feel safe where they live, and to not feel afraid, angry, or upset or confused by the people that live near them. Most trauma survivors have had far too many years of living near difficult people.
Healing from a childhood filled chaos requires stability. Calm. Quiet. No unnecessary dramas.
A big part of the healing process for trauma survivors is finding, creating, and maintaining a peaceful environment here-and-now in the current day. You need space to heal. Room to breathe. A place to rest. An area where you don’t have to look over your shoulder every few seconds.
So yes, where you live is fundamental to the kind of lifestyle you can have. Who your neighbors are matters. The absence of ongoing conflict is important. Having a place to unwind, relax, feel comfortable, and feel safe is essential.
Creating a safe inside world starts by experiencing a safe place in the outside world. For many DID survivors, living with a feeling of safety is a completely new concept. You might have to learn what safety is. The sooner, the better.
True enough, you can’t control the safety of most places in the external world, but your home is your own. It’s your space. You can’t change the craziness of the past, but as an adult, you can do something about now, the here-and-now. Safety for your whole internal system starts with making good decisions about your immediate worlds. It’s truly important to create your own personal safe places.
Do you live in a safe home?
Do you have good neighbors?
I certainly hope so. If not, what can you do about that?
I wish you all the very best in your healing journey.
and Doris and Morris too
Copywrite 2008 – 2013 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
May 19, 2012
Maizy is a quiet little cow. She talks when she wants to, but that’s not very often.
Maizy doesn’t like noise, and she doesn’t like crowds, and she doesn’t like bunches of people everywhere near and around.
Maizy isn’t that sure about people – she only likes one or two people, here and there. And even then, she’s not completely sure. People are not her favorite.
Mostly, Maizy likes her own space.
She likes to feel safe, and she likes to have plenty of distance away from the threat of anyone coming near. For Maizy, space equals safety. She knows she will be ok if no one is nearby.
Maizy likes anything that reminds her of unruffled freedom. She likes to watch birds fly in the air. She likes to watch horses run across fields. She likes to see puppies play and ducks swim in ponds and butterflies fluttering around.
Maizy also likes to watch kites flying in the sky. Kites up in the sky are very peaceful. They blow back and forth, floating and looking, and enjoying their own space up and away from everybody else. Kites get to see all kinds of things, and they get to lift up and away from the noise of the world. And kites come in all colors, and all shapes, and sizes, and there is no such thing as a bad kite or a wrong kite. Kites are just fun. Maizy loves kites!
But today, Maizy has a dilemma. Oh dear, oh dear.
Maizy heard about a kite day. On this kite day, all kinds of kites were going to go to the park and fly high in the air. There were going to be box kites, and round kites, and home-made kites, and tiger kites, and fish kites, and heart kites, and circle kites, and bear kites, and mermaid kites, and turtle kites, and rainbow kites. There were so many different kites coming to kite day that Maizy could hardly decide which ones to watch! Maizy was so excited!
A Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day all day would be perfect!
So what was the problem?
The problem, for Maizy, is that the kites came with oodles and gobs of people. People! Yuck! Maizy is not a fan of people! Maizy wanted to see the kites, but she didn’t want to see the people! If only the kites could fly by themselves over to the kite park…
Oh dear, oh dear. What was Maizy going to do?
Instead of feeling happy, Maizy was feeling very cranky. She was upset. She was angry. She did not want those noisy scary people to mess up her wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!
She stomped her foot.
“Go away, people!”
She stomped all four of her feet.
“Go away, go away, go away, go away! Don’t mess up my wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!”
But the people did not go away.
In fact, more and more people came. More and more of them!
Maizy had to stop and think. She couldn’t make all the people go away. As much she may have wanted to, she just wouldn’t be able to do it. There were just too many of them, of all shapes and sizes. There were as many people as there were kites. Maybe more! Those noisy people were just everywhere!
Would they bother her?
Would they hurt her?
Would they leave her alone?
Would they be kind to her?
Maizy had to make a decision. She really wanted to go see those beautiful kites, but she would have to be super duper brave to be near all those people. Hmmmm….
What was a Maizy to do…
Ok. Well. Hmmmm….
She thought and she thought and she thought.
She really didn’t want to miss it. She had already missed out on too many fun things because she was afraid to be around people.
Maizy finally decided she could be brave.
Maizy knew that while some people had been very mean to her in the past, she knew that some people could be nice.
She knew that she couldn’t always believe the worst about everyone.
Maizy knew that a whole bunch of people would probably walk right past her, and not really interact with her at all. Maizy liked that. She liked to be ignored by strangers. She was plenty happy for people to stay involved in their own lives and to leave her alone. Maybe just maybe she could quietly watch the kites from her own little spot, and not mingle with anyone else. She wouldn’t have to look at anyone. She wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. She could just look at the kites.
Maizy knew she didn’t have to miss out on fun stuff just because she didn’t like to be around people.
If she stayed mostly quiet to herself, and if she was polite to anyone she decided to speak to, Maizy figured that there was a very good chance that she could navigate her kite party without any big problems happening.
Maybe, just maybe, she could go see the kites and not be bothered or hurt by anyone at all.
And maybe just maybe, Maizy could have fun at her wonderful Fly-in-the-Sky-like-a-Kite Day!
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
May 1, 2012
I hope you are doing well today.
This will be a short post, but I made an important update to the Discussing Dissociation blog and wanted to be sure that you all knew about it.
I have been asked repeatedly about my views on integration. I’ve written posts and comments about this topic, but unfortunately, I didn’t create a “category” for these posts. So now, with the 170+ articles on this blog, these posts and comments are difficult to find. Of course! This means it’s time to simplify this topic search for everyone, and to make it simpler for the Discussing Dissociation readers to find these blog articles.
If you look on the right side of this page, scroll down until you see the Categories drop-down box. I’ve added the category “Integration – yes or no” to this feature.
This drop-box will link you to here.
I’m assuming, in all my many blatherings on this blog that I’ve made more comments about integration than just what is written in these two blog articles. However, this link is a good start. If anyone finds comments about integration in other articles, please let me know, so I can be sure to add that article to the category list as well.
In case you don’t have time to read the other articles at the moment, I’ll give you a quick summary of what I think about integration right here in this post.
Quick Thoughts about Integration – Kathy Broady’s Opinions:
Is integration necessary?
Is integration beneficial?
I doubt it.
Is integration the ultimate peak / proof of healing for dissociative trauma survivors?
Not at all.
Does integration need to be your treatment goal?
Not unless you say so. I wouldn’t ever ever make it a treatment goal for any of my clients.
If integration is not the treatment goal, what is?
Team work. Lowering the dissociative walls between internal people. Internal communication. Talking together. Not hiding information from each other. Building trust and genuine relationships within your system. Learning to genuinely love and care for each other.
Do you, Kathy, think that integration is possible?
Honestly? Not really. Not complete and “total” integration. I have not yet met anyone who integrated in such a way that they stayed integrated permanently for the rest of their life. I have not even met anyone that I would say has been integrated successfully for years of time. I have heard the stories of many such claims, and met some of these people, but in my opinion, none of the “integrated” people that I have ever talked with were able to literally demonstrate true integration. They were still very multiple in oh so many ways.
I’m not convinced that a person who has lived most of their entire life as a multiple can literally change their brain in such ways to become a singleton. Besides, what would be the point anyway?
Do you think that blending is possible?
Yes, absolutely. To me, blending and coming closely connected together in a co-conscious ways are very different from integration. Blending does not imply a complete union of absolutely everyone. It is perfectly natural, normal, and healthy for some of the splits to become more blended together, especially those parts that are already very close to each other. If their blending happens naturally, that is great. You cannot force blending to happen, and it doesn’t happen instantly. It is a very gradual process that happens over years of excellent therapy, healing work, and genuine external safety. If there is any kind of “forcing” or demanded blending under duress or coercion or deception, you can bet that those insiders will step back and separate again in the not so distant future.
Do you think that integration keeps you safe?
Ummmm…. No. In fact, I think that claims of integration can lead to the very opposite of safety. Why? Because I think that real and genuine integration so very rarely happens (if ever), that when someone begins to believe that they are integrated, this is the beginning of some really dangerous times. This typically means, in my experience, that some of the top layers of the system may have blended together, and/or learned how to work well together, but the darker under-layers of the system have hidden behind very thick dissociative walls. This is extremely dangerous because the dark parts are able to function without being noticed, and the top layers of the system are too busy being proud or protective of their integration and/or completely absorbed in their outside lives that they don’t notice the dark rumblings behind the wall.
Do you think that integrated multiples are safe leaders for other dissociative survivors?
No. Not that I have seen. In my opinion, it is much more likely that the alleged “integrated multiple” has very neatly hidden or shoved away their dark sides, even if they do not realize this. All the claims in the world of being integrated do not actually make someone integrated.
In fact, following the leadership of someone who alleges to be an “integrated multiple” can be extremely dangerous for others, especially for those who are newer in their healing process. You would be safer to run 100 miles in the other direction than to assume that an integrated multiple is “automatically” a safe person.
I know many of you will not like these statements, and it is ok if you disagree. I am not meaning to offend you. We each have our own opinion and our own experiences in life. Let me repeat this, because it is so very important. In my years of experience, “integrated multiples” have more often than not been used as lures, and in reality, they are people who have not completed HUGE areas of work, and they are not automatically “safe” people. Going further into this topic is an entirely different blog post, but in my opinion, there is a whole whopping lot of danger in this area. PLEASE be careful when you meet an “integrated multiple”.
I am very aware that there are many multiples who have had spiritually-based integrations. That is yet another complicated topic, to be discussed at another time.
Ok – this was going to be short (and of course, it’s not short!!), so I’ll stop at this point. I can feel the waters already getting stirred out there. Ah well. What is life without controversy, yes?
IF I thought integration was a great thing, I would certainly say so. I just haven’t seen it as such.
What about you?
Do you have any comments about integration?
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
December 21, 2010
Well…. it’s December 21, 2010. Although the weather here in Dallas was nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit today, this is the official first day of winter. It’s the Winter Solstice and on top of that, last night was the lunar eclipse. Did anyone see that? If you can actually enjoy the moon, it was pretty cool to see.
However, late last night while I was standing alone outside, quietly looking at the lunar eclipse, I could appreciate the beauty with my eyes, but my heart was feeling a sadness and heaviness for the other things that were happening in other parts of the world.
Winter Solstice represents a day of darkness that is full of trauma for too many dissociative trauma survivors. The night was far too scary, far too difficult, far too dark, far too long.
Many of you know what I am speaking of and I don’t have to go into the gory details for you to know the pain and anguish you have probably already been feeling all day.
If this kind of history applies to you, I am sorry that you had to experience such horrible atrocities in your lifetime. I can promise you it was not right nor good nor ok that you were required to participate in such darkness.
I wish the world was not so dark.
I wish that evil didn’t have such a hold on so many people.
I wish that kindness and gentleness could win all wars.
I wish those creeps that enjoy inflicting pain would inflict it on themselves, and leave the rest of us alone.
I wish it was just an ordinary night for you, and not a night of darkness.
I am sorry that you were hurt.
I wish they had never ever showed you any of their darkness.
I hope that you find freedom, safety and a lifetime of distance from their darkness.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 10, 2010
Lots of trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder are just starting their healing process. Other dissociative survivors are not new to their healing process, but they might realize that they haven’t yet covered all the basics.
DID therapy can feel huge, daunting, difficult, and overwhelming. There is so much to do and so many areas of work. For a broader overview of the many areas of DID healing, please refer to the article, “50 Treatment Issues for Dissociative Identity Disorder”.
For individuals building the foundation for their work with your dissociative system, here are some of the first things to do.
DID 101 involves:
1. Get to know your system. Build the courage to find and meet your insiders. Remember, they were formed and created to help you – even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are (or can be) on the same team. Who are your inside parts? What jobs do they have? What kinds of things are they able to do? It’s really ok for you to build positive relationships and actual friendships with your insiders. If this feels scary for you, explore those feelings. What makes it hard for you to get to know your insiders? What fears or resentments do you have? Understanding your resistance to these ideas is important.
2. Become more comfortable with your diagnosis. If you don’t understand what dissociative identity disorder (DID /MPD) is, be sure to speak more with your therapist or psychiatrist about what it means to be dissociative. There are lots of books, websites, blogs, articles, conferences, etc that can help to educate you about the basics about DID. Understanding DID will help take out some of the mystery and confusion for you.
3. Build a support system and capable treatment team. It is very helpful if you can surround yourself with a few other people that understand trauma dynamics, preferably at least one or two other people, besides your therapist and doctor that understand that you are working on healing from trauma. These support people don’t have to be experts in DID – if they are just willing to spend some time with you when you need a safe distraction from your healing work, that will be helpful. Please don’t lean on lay-support people for the heavy issues. Leave the complicated treatment issues for your therapist to work with – your support friends are not therapists, so be very careful about not pushing them too far or demanding too much of them.
4. Once you have recognized at least one or two other parts, work on building communication with these parts. Internal communication is one of the very most important factors in DID therapy, and the sooner you can interact cooperatively with your other parts, the better your healing progress will happen. Approximately twenty of the articles in the Discussing Dissociation blog reference tips for building internal communication. This link groups these articles together. Learning how to talk to your other parts is the most important factor in your healing.
5. Connecting with your internal landscape. What can you see inside? Can you see the other insiders? Do you have an internal safe place? Internal visualization work is an important skill as it builds a way to connect with your insiders. Even if you can’t see the others inside, there will likely be someone else who can. Maybe ask if that insider will draw a map of your system for you? The sooner you can see inside, the better. And of course, if you see insiders that are not in positive, healthy, clean living conditions, you and other helpers in your system will need to do something to help them.
6. Working on limiting or preventing self-destructive impulses and self-injurious behaviors. Learning how to address self-harm urges is particularly important for your stabilization and progression in therapy. You have already been hurt enough – adding more hurt may feel like it helps you to cope in the short-term, but using behaviors such as cutting or burning is not any more helpful than using a shot of whiskey or a hit of cocaine. Explore better ways to cope with your intense feelings, develop more grounding skills, build positive containment strategies, and methods to reconnect with the here-and-now. A grouping of articles about preventing self-injury can be found here.
7. Live in a safe place both inside and out. If you live in a violent environment, address this issue as quickly as you are able. If you are continuing to be abused or sexually assaulted in any way, your dissociative walls will stay strong, and your system will have greater trouble trusting you and your treatment team. Of course, when anyone is fearful of abusive repercussions, it is much harder to disclose the real issues. Dangerous environments can include everything from domestic violence, abusive parents, organized perpetrators, to internal system perpetrators and angry introjects. Building more and more current-day safety is vitally important for your overall healing process. If you aren’t safe, make this a priority in your therapy process. Building an internal safe place is also critically important. However, please remember that in order to build an internal safe place, you have to have a genuine belief that safety can happen, at least part of the time. Making an internal safe place for your insiders is much more difficult when you are still concerned about external safety.
8. Start building options for positive self-comfort, self-soothing activities. The therapy process can be so very painful and emotionally difficult. Having a variety of options to do that are comfortable, safe, gentle, soothing, and stabilizing is important. What can you do when you want to have a break from the hard work of therapy? What can you do when you need some quiet space to think – or to not think? When you are hurting, what can you do that will help you to feel better? Soothing your pain in ways that help your healing (vs. using self-destructive options) is an important skill to develop.
9. Create healthy options for expression of feeling and emotion – use art, music, journaling, collage, blogging, forum posting, sculpting, painting, poetry, play therapy, sand tray therapy, scrapbooking, etc. DID therapy involves processing a lot of flashbacks, violent images, intense feelings, overwhelming thoughts, body memories, body pain, etc. Building a repertoire of artistic avenues to describe your feelings and experiences will be very helpful. You might not always have words that you can use so it is important to find non-verbal ways to safely express what you feel.
10. Create your own personal space. In this space, let it be ok for your insiders to come out, to be themselves, to be out in the body, and to exist. Out in the world, and when you are around other people, most of your daily life will be about keeping your insiders tucked in and acting socially inappropriate. But somewhere in your private time, your insiders will need time to surface, to know that it is ok for them to come out. Having the freedom to switch without reprimand is important as each of your insiders will need to do some personalized healing work of their own.
Not 11. Please note: I am specifically not including memory work or skills to do memory work in my top then list of DID 101 skills. The reason for this is that if you are just beginning DID therapy, it can be very destabilizing to focus on heavy-duty memory work. Yes, of course, doing trauma work is an important part of your overall healing process, but in the beginning of this journey, you need to build these basic skills before you begin to put a lot of energy into memory work. It is much safer and more stabilizing to have these foundational therapy skills in place before focusing on the trauma content of DID therapy.
DID therapy is intense, long-term, exhausting, and difficult. But your healing is worth it. As you truly address the painful conflicts, unmet needs, and internal confusion caused by your years of trauma, abuse, and neglect, you will feel better within your own self.
I wish you the very best in your healing journey –
Kathy Broady LCSW
February 2, 2010
So “One Life to Live” is doing it again – they are bringing the concepts of DID / MPD, dissociation, dissociative splitting, programming, and mind control into the story line.
I haven’t quite decided what I think about this yet – I’m waiting to see where they go with it – but I did want to start an area open for discussion in case any of the readers of this blog have anything to say about it.
So far the show is showing a few elements that could be quite triggering to people that have been abused in this fashion. There are several scenes involving Jessica (remember the Jess-Tess-Bess trio from last year?) and her alleged “cult leader” father. So far, the cult-type dynamics have not yet been impressive in the way they have been portrayed, but once the show started showing mind control scenes, I’ve been more concerned.
If you have dissociative identity disorder and if you are sensitive to those kinds of issues, please know to be cautioned about watching these episodes or reading further down this blog.
On one hand, it’s good to raise the awareness in the general public that mind control happens. Yes, mind control abuse / programming trauma often involves a few of the elements portrayed – physical force, drugs, electrical shock, restraints, memory loss, emotional conflicts, creating of a new dissociated self – but, of course, being that this is daytime TV, the producers are making the scenarios much more watered-down than what is realistic.
However, they are still showing enough detail to get the point across.
Raising awareness and exposing that such atrocities happen in the first place is an important step in helping more and more trauma survivors have the courage to speak up about what has happened to them. Increased awareness of these kinds of abuses can help more survivors be willing to get help. More mental health professionals can become aware of the issues, and more treatment options can be created.
To the survivors of mind control abuse – please know you’re not crazy. You are not making it up. Mind control really does happen. It can wreak a lot of havoc in your life, but it does not have to have a permanent place in your life.
Mind control can be a very serious concern. It can have long-term effects on survivors, and it can completely affect your life. Mind control doesn’t have to be stronger than you as a person. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is bigger than you are. It is not.
Mind control can be beaten. Completely beaten.
It can be removed from your thinking. It can be busted into pieces. It can be eliminated from your life.
But that’s up to you. You might need some outside therapeutic assistance, but you absolutely can break any mind controls that exists within you.
Who you are as a person – your own human spirit, your own real self, your freedom of thought, your ability to think for yourself, your ability to evaluate and assess, your ability to learn new things, your ability to enjoy life, your ability to feel emotions, your ability to improvise, your creativity, your ability to reach out and connect to helpers, your spiritual strengths, your ability to love – all these things, and more, can beat all the best of mind control techniques.
Don’t ever believe that you have to stay stuck in programming.
You can be free from that.
You are a human person, not a robot or a machine, and your genuine human-ness can override any of your perpetrator’s efforts to dehumanize you.
Your real self can be so much stronger than your programmed self.
Have the courage to be who you really are. Have the courage to get away from any abusers that support or use mind control techniques. Have the courage to build a life of your own away from those who want to own you.
It’s your life – you can be in charge of that.
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 19, 2010
What an interesting phrase.
Externalizing responsibility is when someone fails to accept responsibility for the messes they make or for the problems they cause. It is also failing to accept responsibility for the situations they find themselves in.
Internalizing responsibility is personally taking on the responsibility for what happens (in the past, present, or future). It is accepting the responsibility for personal welfare or for consequences of actions instead of dumping the blame on others.
Do you externalize responsibility?
Do you internalize responsibility?
For dissociative trauma survivors, the issue of when to accept responsibility versus when to deflect responsibility is a very complicated topic.
Most DID survivors have had years of experience internalizing responsibility for the actions of their perpetrators, family members, abusers, etc. Abusive offenders are some of the world’s best at externalizing blame onto someone else, and most trauma survivors internalize that blame, guilt, shame within themselves. Purposeful and direct blaming of the victim, especially child victims, typically ends up with the victim feeling responsible for the abuse.
Having this convoluted, complicated history of who is or isn’t responsible makes “accepting responsibility” a very difficult topic for trauma survivors.
Survivors spend years of time blaming themselves for the abuse (internalizing responsibility). Survivors typically end up feeling like they were bad, or they did something to cause it, or it was because they were too pretty, or too available, or too easy, etc. Survivors were usually told by their abusers that they deserved the abuse, or they liked the abuse, or they wanted the abuse, or some variation of the sort.
Perpetrators know that if they verbally blame the victim, that victim will be more likely to internalize the responsibility for what happened. Perpetrators typically do not accept responsibility for their actions. The more the perpetrators push blame and responsibility onto the victim, the more the victim will internalize that responsibility and blame.
But typically, survivors are not responsible for being abused. At least, they are not responsible for what the abuser does. The abuser is responsible for what the abuser does.
However, it is very difficult for many trauma survivors to put the blame of their abuse back onto their perpetrator. Trauma survivors will argue with their therapists that their abusive loved ones were not at fault – that they cannot be considered a perpetrator – that they are not to be blamed.
How many of you refuse to believe that your father (or mother) sexually abused you even if other parts in your system have said this clearly?
How many of you refuse to blame your perpetrator, and instead will run in circles protecting your family member from being called a perpetrator?
How many of you will argue that you have no right to be angry with your father – perpetrator? How many of you will define criminal actions as “not a problem” in order to not assign responsibility to your loved one?
Children are not responsible for being abused. Adults are responsible anytime they have abused children. Children will internalize the blame, but they are not responsible for being abused.
What about when the trauma survivor is an adult? What if the adult survivor is being abused as an adult? Who’s responsible then?
Adult trauma survivors do get abused. There are thousands of domestic violence situations where adults are being abused on a regular basis. Rapes and date rape situations can happen to adult trauma survivors. Dissociative survivors can still be involved in the sex slave industry or other ongoing abuses even as an adult. Abuse certainly can happen into adult-hood.
Who is responsible in these situations?
Of course, the abusers are still responsible for their own abusive behavior. (The topic of recognizing who abusers are will be discussed in a different blog article.)
However, these issues are not simple once the victim is an adult who has to be responsible for their own selves and any dependents. If you are an adult trauma survivor caught in abuse, it is not your fault you are being abused, but it is your responsibility to get yourself out and away from this abuse.
These adult survivor victims are responsible to get the help they need to get out of their abusive situations. They do not cause the abuser to abuse, but they are responsible to learn how to protect themselves and to protect any children that may be involved in the situation. It is important to build and utilize enough resources for safety and protection that will make the abuse come to an end as quickly as possible.
Finding the Balance
The difficult part is internalizing the correct portion of the responsibility. Even adult trauma survivors well experienced in therapy will internalize responsibility that genuinely belongs to the abuser. Other adult trauma survivors will stay stuck completely in the victim role, refusing to accept responsibility for getting out of the mess they are in. Sometimes survivors will cause-create-instigate-perpetuate emotional conflicts that are of their own making, and yet, claim to be the victim of their circumstances (more on that topic another time…).
So think about it…
Internalizing responsibility vs. externalizing responsibility.
What really does belong to you?
What really does belong to someone else?
Are you taking on too much?
Are you acting like a victim in situations where you are actually responsible?
Kathy Broady LCSW
December 12, 2009
Do you know people that truly want to hurt you?
Do you know people that are willing to hurt you on purpose?
Do you know people that would hurt you over and over, again and again?
Did this happen to you when you were a child?
Is this experience still happening for you as an adult?
What a scary concept.
What a horrifying way to grow up.
It’s one thing to know that you have been hurt by mean people.
It’s a completely different thing to know that there are people that want to hurt you on purpose. And that they’ll do it – and that they have done it. And that they’ll do it again and again and again. As many times as they can, whenever they can.
That’s a completely different concept than to say, “I got hurt once.”
For something to be a “one of” experience, it can be terrible, but it’s a one-of. It doesn’t have to happen again. It happened. It’s over. That’s it.
But to know that there are vicious, sadistic people in the world who want to hurt you, and to know that these people are so incredibly cruel that they want to hurt you many times… and they will hurt you every chance they have…
THAT is a completely different situation.
There is no safety in that situation. There is no reason to believe it won’t happen again. There is not end in sight, and there is no place to rest. You can’t let your guard down. You can’t relax. You can’t stop preparing for the next time. You can’t get away from it.
There is danger, insatiable danger. Life becomes equal with danger.
How very different it feels when the perpetrators are insatiable. How very exhausting it feels when you know that you might have gotten through it today, but they’ll do it again tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.
Repeated, ongoing, incessant danger, trauma, abuse, and neglect changes a person.
It changes their view of the world.
It changes their view of themselves.
When your reality is knowing that abuse will be there, that the abusers are not going away, that the abuse will continue, that the abuse will always continue – that abused person has to learn a new way of survival.
In order to get away from the abuse for awhile – which of course, is important, because if you can’t mentally or emotionally escape the presence of the abuse or its effects, it would be far too much – many survivors create other selves.
If you can’t separate the abuse from you, separate yourself from the abuse.
Create a self that knows nothing of the abuse. Create a self that doesn’t worry or stress that the abuse will be around the next turn, or that it will happen again later tonight. Create a self that can enjoy the now, the day, the work, the school, etc. Create a self that can think about academic things, logical things, creative things, fun things, everyday normal things. Create a self that can enjoy petting a cat or enjoy sipping a cup of tea or reading a book or dancing to the radio.
In the situations of chronic, unending abuse scenarios, a survivor with the ability to dissociate and to split into other personalities is tapping into an absolutely incredible psychological defense. It makes a place to go in your head and in your life-experience where you can feel safe. It makes a place where you can be far from danger. It makes a place where you can get through the day without having to worry about being hurt five minutes from now.
I understand that creating this kind of separation from and denial of the abuse can, in the long run, become a troublesome issue when it becomes time to recognize the abuse in order to stop the abuse. But that point belongs in a different article.
At this point, I am just appreciating the value of being able to separate yourself from ongoing, repeated, unstoppable abuse (and the constant knowing of that abuse, and the constant fear of more abuse) by creating a place in your head that allows the abuse to be stopped.
This has been important. It has saved your sanity in many ways.
Living in constant fear, in constant worry, in constant dread, in constant hypervigilence of more pain and more abuse results in adding more and more problems to already existing problems. The body doesn’t do well under this kind of stress – medical illness increase, stomach issues increase, headaches increase, etc. When the body feels like it is constantly fighting for survival, it responds by secreting chemicals and hormones that it wouldn’t normally do if it felt safe. A body in constant fear is different from a body that feels safe.
Emotionally, the person who feels constant danger is going to have more depression, more anxiety, more self-injury, more extreme fear, more panic attacks, more mental health issues, etc.
Waiting in between blows has it own cost.
It doesn’t feel safe in these in between times. It feels on edge. It’s waiting. It’s wondering. It’s knowing it will happen again. It’s a long ways from feeling safe.
Having people in your life who want to and will hurt you over and over and over has affected you in more ways than you might realize.
It emphasizes, to me, the importance of learning what safety is, and what safety feels like.
It emphasizes how important it is to find someone in your life who doesn’t hurt you over and over.
It emphasizes how important it is to keep safe people safe – including both children and adults.
It emphasizes how important it is to not let anyone or anything interrupt your need to have someone genuinely be safe with you.
It also shows me how hard it is for DID survivors to believe that safety exists in the first place.
For Trauma Therapists:
As therapists, if we do nothing else, we need to provide a sense of safety for our clients.
We need to prove to our dissociative trauma clients that each time they show up in our presence, they will be safe.
We need to provide a consistent place of safety to counterbalance a life full of constant danger.
We need to be understanding, compassionate, patient, and gentle with their fears.
Sure, there is a place to confront and challenge, but do this in an atmosphere of safety. Make sure your clients know they will not be hurt, even if they are being confronted.
And if you meet a traumatized client who was able to feel safe with another therapist or another person, do NOT ruin or delete the sense of safety the survivor built with that other person. It is amazingly important that any sense of safety was built in the first place. That was not built easily, so respect the effort that went into that relationship. Don’t ever take that away from them.
Dissociative trauma survivors have not felt enough safety in their lives.
To destroy or damage or delete any sense of their safety causes them harm.
Build more safety for your clients – don’t take away what they had.
Safety is precious. The more, the better.
Kathy Broady LCSW
November 28, 2009
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in the US, and besides the wonderful traditional family meal and pleasant times with my kids, this time frame reminds me of something else.
Discussing Dissociation has been up and visible for nearly one year now. Yep, in a few days, it will be a year already!
Wow. Where has the time gone??!!!
There is truth to the saying that time flies, or is it because time flies when you’re having fun … or maybe I’m just getting older, lol.
Anyway, I’m being silly, but I do want to say today how much I appreciate all of you that have been readers here at this blog. The number of faithful, returning readers has been utterly amazing to me. If you look back through all the pages, you’ll see well over a thousand excellent comments from a wide variety of the readers. Wow! The input you all have made in this blog has brought it to life and given it a life-filled energy that I certainly couldn’t create on my own.
For the way each and every one of you have contributed to the positive, educational nature of this blog, I sincerely thank you. I truly appreciate your involvement, your thoughts, your comments, your questions. You’ve helped to make this little site a safe, comfortable community for dissociative trauma survivors. I think it’s a job well done, and once again, I do sincerely thank you for your part in this process. Writing a blog wouldn’t be nearly so fun without hearing comments from the readers! You all rock!
Many of you have questioned why I started this blog in the first place. The original reason is not as mysterious or worrisome as some of you may have thought. It’s a widely stated and highly recommended common practice for therapists to use blogs for marketing purposes. Marketing experts recommend to write what you know about, and to respond to the comments you receive. Blogs get quickly listed in search engines, and they are an easy, economical way for your target audience to get to know you, and to see what you do, and to become more familiar with the work that you do. It’s a simple as that. Check the blogosphere for blogs by therapists. You’ll see that most therapists write about their fields of work the same as I do.
I just happen to know about a very specialized topic – dissociative identity disorder. And my readers are a very distinct but wonderful population – dissociative trauma survivors or trauma therapists. (There aren’t very many of us out here — it’s no wonder that we are congregating together!) And yes, practically all of my blog articles have been very specific to DID, not that the topics couldn’t also apply to other populations, but the point of this blog is to “discuss dissociation” so I do tailor my articles to being about dissociative disorders, and the DID population. There’s no mystery there, lol. I think I’ve said that pretty upfront.
But something much bigger has been happening besides my having found a very effective marketing tool.
With all the positive sharing and support that has been created here, this blog has provided a deep sense of hope and healing for so many people. Having that absolute knowing that others are progressing along their healing journey as well, many survivors don’t have to feel so very alone. You might learn things from my articles, but you can also learn from each other, the same as I learn from you as well. It’s a wonderful circle of positive, helpful information, and that in itself is priceless.
Building a sense of safety, knowing you are not alone in your struggles, and learning from others who have been there too provide emotional foundations that so very crucial to healing and can augment your therapeutic process. Please remember, this blog is in no means a substitute for actual therapy, but it does provide a lot of educational support for survivors working on their own healing, or for therapists learning about working DID / MPD.
Again, you all have immensely helped to create that healing, informative atmosphere, and I am grateful for that.
We have to create and protect places of healing.
Even survivor-led blogs such as the truly incredible BTC blog have become targets for destruction by the “hazing / flaming / insaniacs” of the world. Do we really want the haters and gossipers to take over and ruin all the places of healing and support? How sad is this?!!
I know that you know there are predators and perpetrators out there in the world. For some of you, your abuse stopped years ago. For some of you, you are still smack dab in the middle of fighting your abusers. Some of you are being hassled and manipulated by internet predators (whether you know it or not), and some of you are safely away from any direct attack from anyone. No matter where you are in your life, there are abusers and predators out there in the world, (including those wolves in sheep’s clothing hiding within the dissociative population itself), so the importance of having safe retreats amongst all the danger and destruction is more important than you might realize.
Those of you that feel the loss of BTC’s blog can understand what I’m talking about. It’s a real shame that abusive people continue to ruin the good places and run off the good people. I think that is a tragedy. But it happens.
- Are you one that sits back quietly, doing nothing even though you see others destroying places of support?
- Do you believe the lies and negative gossip spread about helpers and healers?
- Are you so angry from your own abuse that you are willing to take that out on people who have helped you?
Surely the survivor population can see through the manipulations of abusers. You are adults now – you can start seeing through the tricks that are being played out there. Please remember to think for yourself the next time you hear some negative hogwash about someone who has dared to be a helper / healer. You can take a stand against that.
Complacency only allows abuse to continue.
Trauma survivors, I encourage you to ban together in protection of your valued and positive healing resources.
So many of you grew up without any safety or comfort or support. You learned to pull deep within yourself or to block out the world entirely. You survived it alone.
But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
Most of you are still learning about how important and helpful it is to have places of safe connection, genuine relationship, and gentle bonding. It may be scary to be around people, but building a positive, healing, trustworthy community is a way of overcoming the need to be isolated in order to avoid abuse.
Again, I challenge you to protect your places of healing. Protect those that are your helpers. Stand firm around your leaders that fight against abuse.
Don’t fall into the trap of complacency or destructive participation.
Your healing resources are depending on that.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
October 31, 2009
It’s Halloween weekend.
This is a difficult, heavy weekend for a lot of dissociative trauma survivors.
I’ll say right upfront – and please hear this clearly — that it is NOT a difficult or triggery weekend for every DID trauma survivor. To assume that every dissociative survivor has experienced the same kinds of abuse is completely wrong, and I will be the first trauma therapist to say that not everyone has gone through the dark sadistic abuses associated with the days most commonly known as Halloween.
If you can enjoy the fun sides of Halloween – bags of candy, apple-bobbing parties, carving pumpkins, or trick or treating in silly costumes — that is great news for you. Halloween is a non-abusive, non-holiday, safe-on-the-surface level social event for most people. For these folks, it is not intended to be anything more traumatic than seeing the pretense of gross plastic items stocked in the party aisles of a store. For the more courageous and daring, they will spend $20 at the locally created “Haunted House” – something quickly assembled much like a traveling carnival booth.
But for some dissociative trauma survivors, these days surrounding Halloween are very dark, and very scary, and filled with deep historical meaning. There are far too many triggers everywhere, and the hidden, layered symbols feel anything but safe.
For anyone who has experienced the horrors of organized ritual abuse, the days surrounding Halloween are very truly difficult. The nights are worse. The heaviness, the darkness, the pulls toward things not comfortable feels very disturbing and over-powering.
Many survivors feel scattered or disorganized within their system. Or they might feel like the internal dark ones are enveloping or surrounding them. Or they feel pulled to gory pictures, or negative thoughts, or self-injury. Images of gorging on food, or death and violence, or various sexual abuses might flood their mind. These snippets can be indicators of memory flashbacks, or pulls to participate in current day nightmares.
Even if you went there in the past, you don’t have to go there anymore.
Even if your insiders are remembering their past, remembering then is not the same as being there now.
DID survivors with an RA history might not feel like their usual selves during the time around Halloween. They might feel like isolating from their safe support people, and feel more drawn towards their abusers. They might feel pulls to go out, or to go to some unknown somewhere…
However, on days like this, staying home – literally staying indoors and refusing to leave the safety of your home – is often the very best thing you can do. Reassure your insiders that they do not have to participate in anything scary, and that they are allowed to be safe. They do not have to be hurt anymore. They do not have to be handed over to danger.
They can stay home in the safety of your home.
It might be a battle.
If you been ritually abused, it probably will be a battle.
You might have parts in your system who have experienced unspeakable horrors during this week of time. But the more you can protect them from ongoing abuse, and gently comfort them in regards to their past abuse, the better.
The days surrounding Halloween can be some of the most difficult, triggery days of the year.
However, I encourage you to use this time to get to know those parts of your system that have managed this for you. Listen to them, and let them tell you some of their life experiences. They will need the opportunity to heal from their trauma history as well. And yes, it will be very hard for you to hear their life stories, but they have the same right to begin having safety, comforts, healing, and protection just like the rest of you.
Even if you feel afraid – don’t leave your most traumatized parts stuck in their abuse because you are too afraid to work with them.
Even if you feel horrified – don’t turn your back on helping these parts simply because you are horrified about what they had to go through.
Ignoring their pain, or refusing to teach them about the lighter sides of life means that they are left neglected and stuck in the darkness.
That’s not ok.
They need your help, even if that is not how they are first saying it.
Be brave. Allow your whole system to heal and to experience safety. Don’t leave any of your insiders stuck in the darkness. It is not their fault they were abused in the darkness. They are there because they were forced to be there. It’s not their fault they were split off in that dark place. But they originally came from you, so they belong to you. Don’t let the darkness keep those parts, not even one of them. They need you and your help to get them out of that darkness.
They need you to have enough courage and willingness and compassion to allow them the same chance at healing that you are having.
So be kind to your insiders. Be willing to help the ones that have experienced the worst of the worst. Let everyone within your system find freedom – healing – safety – gentleness – acceptance.
Help them find the way out.
Kathy Broady LCSW