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Friday, May 28, 2004 - 00:31
Due to the highly personal nature of you question you might find that you would obtain better results by conducting a poll to to assertain the levels of abuse in question. A few have already been conducted, here are the links:
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 07:20
Hi Dina, I think that you are doing all that you can right now!!!! Even though I don't have as much experience in the Family, since I left before my adolescense, I would still like to comment..
It is very difficult to continue being you now WITHOUT this old you haunting you. Just keep going with being you and think mainly about yourself. I noticed that I am more inclined to unselfish behaviour because I have to MAKE myself come first in situations (whereas most people do this without thinking) So do that, force yourself to think about your needs first! You are number one, not your husbands needs or your friends needs. That unwanted part of you will be there, but don't let it control you. You need to access it when you are calm and clear and take your time to make changes, you can't take it all on at once! What is also important for me, since I have difficulty accepting these parts, is to remind myself that even with these wounds I can still be loved. (This kind of unconditional love was unknown to us in our youth) Be gentle with yourself and kind. There is nothing undeserving about you, you have just been hurt and told so a million times. Your husband loves you and you should really love and accept yourself 100%. This will stop you from rejecting parts of yourself, and even though integrating parts of yourself, and letting go of other parts is painful (it means that you have to feel the wound again) you will be whole, and not so condemning. You will have accepted all of your being, even if some parts are less mature, some parts are struggling to find trust in humans again, and some parts are hurting so much that you can't imagine when it will be healed. Just remember that you are loved, and you aren't alone in the process. It is a process, so don't expect to do it all at once. You will grow stronger and you will be more and more of yourself!
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Monday, April 05, 2004 - 18:23
Hi, Dina. I am an American female several years older than you who also grew up in the Family. I ran away from The Family in 1991 in a third world country where I was still a minor. I did not have a safe place to go and until I managed to find and contact relatives in the USA and later was finally allowed to come to the USA I had a very bad time trying to stay alive while not being found by The Family.
You asked if anyone else here was ever sexually abused while in the Family.
Yes, I was sexually abused while in The Family. I have differing answers to the last two parts of your question -- "if so how did you get over it and move on with your life?". While I honestly have not gotten over having been sexually abused, I have "moved on with my life" in many ways. When I left I focused on trying to prove wrong the adults in The Family who had told me that I could never make it in the outside world and I have managed to get a great education and a great job. I have even learned how to make friends and acquaintances (and what is more complicated, how to tell which is which and not give the mere acquaintances a full OHR about my life ending with "so will you still accept me?").
What I have not yet learned is how to relate to the opposite sex. On top of having been severely sexually abused as a child and preadolescent in The Family, when I got out and I told my story The Family called me a lying slut, including a spokesperson who had a direct role in my being raped repeatedly and who at the time was my guardian. For me that compounded how painful the subject is and the difficulty to sort it out and deactivate whatever mechanisms that keep me as though imprisoned in the cage of a body and mind that are maimed as far as sexuality goes.
You write "If you have any experience with this or have any helpful advice at all, I need it."
I wish I had helpful advice to give. I feel I have found out how to survive myself but I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all matter. I have been in therapy for a long time and it has helped me with a number of things, and I even know rationally that I do not need to punish myself for what was done to me by staying unable to relate to guys.
But so far I have been unable to act as though that were true. I still feel I am a very ugly duckling in that sense. The more encompassing feeling of rejection was reinforced after the abuse by my being considered a "problem case" as a teenager in The Family because of my questions and lack of the proper attitude. I have been able to unlock so many of the other manacles I brought with me from my upbringing, but this has been a sticking point for me, maybe largely because wanting to be OK in that area of my life is not something that I can justify to myself in any way other than "I think it would be nice to love (romantically) and be requited" or "I would like to know the sense of belonging in a (salubrious) relationship." And I still struggle with feelings, however stupid I may know them to be or how strange they are likely to sound to someone who grew up without "One Wife," "The Girl Who Wouldn't" and "The Law of Love," that that is a "selfish" wish for something I don't "need." So I feel like I need to act very asexual around guys because who knows what one of them might try and I could be helpless (in reality, I now know so much more about how to defend myself, but the old childhood feelings of not being able to avoid unwanted things dies hard). Then if I am interested in a guy, I think that I am undeserving and not allowed to aspire to be deserving (my sheperds' voices ring in my head -- how dare you!) so I generally stay away.
I guess the bottom line of how I carry on is that even though it still returns to haunt me too, I have enough interests and friends filling my life in other ways. Moving on for me has meant that the balance of good days and hours is getting larger compared to the frightening times, and when the latter come, I remember the OK feelings and tell myself they will come again. I overall have a life I am very happy with, especially if I count all the things I look forward to doing when they are practical. I have identified things I enjoy and care about in life and I have good friends who see things from a perspective that is more like what larger society thinks about child abuse than what The Family thinks. Some are exers, some not. The non-exers know me and like me as like-minded equals as far as education and achievement are concerned, but they are also sympathetic and supportive about my "scars" when I need it and will point out to me how amazing it is that I have gotten this far and manage to go on.
Another thing that has changed living with the memories and what I thought I could or couldn't look forward to is this website. The vast majority of the exer friends that I do have, I met through this website. I have found out I am not alone. And I will never be alone again! I have realized that others have been through the same, and sometimes worse. They know that I am telling the truth. I have received so much support from the bonds this website has given me the opportunity to create.
Regarding your statement "As much as Iíve tried I canít forget it, nor can I forgive, so whatís next?" there have been some excellent articles on this site on the subject of forgiveness and the relevance of the perpatrator's behaviour, including this one one from Lauren:
and this one from Nancy:
For myself, I can't forget either, even though I have tried to drown the memories and pain and sorrow with things like food or alcohol until I was just causing myself more hurt with those maladaptive methods of coping. But when doing something like digging into an assignment at work or reading a book that captivates me or watching TV or a performance of my favorite artists, or hanging out with my friends and generally engaging in living a life where my choices count, I can turn my attention away from the bad memories (except for occasional intrusions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that I can't seem to help) and I can be quite OK, often for quite a while.
Finally, from my perspective, forgiveness is an entirely hypothetical question, and it will continue to be a moot point until the people involved changed their tune radically and expressed regret. They would have to admit in concrete truthful terms, not "we're sorry if a butterfly flapped a wing in the rainforest and you feel slighted because you are too sensitive" but more like "I did this and this to you when I was supposed to be your caretaker and I lied about it to try to discredit you." As far as they have made me aware, they think they did nothing wrong, and even if they did, it doesn't matter because they did it to me and I don't matter. All that matters is that The Family continue to exist and not be questioned, and all of the human carnage they leave in their wake should be ignored because what they are doing is so important (and what was that they accomplish again?). Zerby and other bigwigs who were responsible for the upbringing I received at the hands of their obedient followers are wrong to think that since they're the "Queen of Heaven" or whatever they don't owe amends to no-account throwaway me -- and to each of us they harmed.
I know other people who visit this site who I'm sure will give you much better answers, but that's my super-sized comment of the day for you. Good to have you on this site.
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| From dina|
Tuesday, April 06, 2004, 12:28
It encouraging to hear that despite your experiences you have done well in getting an education and getting a good job. I havenít done as well as you but I did do year 10 and then do a childcare course which has now enabled me to work in that field. I donít know if later Iíll be studying more but certainly not at present as I found doing even year 10 very difficult. Itís hard to skip grades 1 Ė 9 and just start at 10.
I have tried to move on with my life in pretty much the same way you just described, filling it with work, acquaintances, interest and pretty much anything that allows me not to think about the past, and if any of the above does not work, a lot of alcohol. But it scares me that when I stop for a moment to allow myself to think about anything, these memories just come flooding back. Does that mean that weíll never be able to be at peace with ourselves, that even though you move on with your life and attempt to make a new one for yourself that unwanted part of you will always be there?
I can identify with how much it must have hurt for your guardian to be involved, the blame falls more on him because he was the one who should have been protecting you the most. Though other guys did worse to me, Iím angriest at my step dad for his part in it.
I have also had a lot of trouble with relating to the opposite sex, and despite the fact that I am now married I still do. But at least I was very lucky to have met a very nice guy, who for some reason says he loves me despite all of my weirdness. He was very patient with me, understanding that I was frightened and even more then frightenedÖI was confused about sexual interaction. I found it very difficult to think of sex as a good thing, as something that would enrich our relationship, as during my past experiences with everything sexual, I was fighting to get away from it or counting the seconds until it was over. And even though I was hurt by the belief that sex is some sort of a duty that needs to be done as its just a biological need for a man and it is the females duty to fill that need (drilled in old sharing beliefsÖ and I hated men for being like this), I was unable to get that idea from my head (strangely enough I would even try to excuse in my mind forced sex experiences withÖ the guy couldnít help it). So whenever he (my soon to be husband) would try to approach me in that way, Iíd have a whole mixture of feelings topple all over me, Iíd feel angry, afraid, ashamed, and a whole lot of things that I couldnít even begin to name. But I also figured that if I didnít have sex with him he would leave me, but he didnít, and when we did start having a sexual relationship I found out that as well as emotional damage I had also received physical damage, muscles inside me had been torn and broken and now had to be repaired and still he waited patiently for this and didnít push me more then I could take.
I can still relate to feeling like an ugly duckling as you put it, most of the time I have trouble believing that he, my husband, loves me and also feel that he could have married someone better, someone who didnít come with as much emotional and physical baggage as myself. But I console myself with the knowledge that before we were married I laid it all out on the table for him, (as much as I could piece together anyway in my state of confusion) so he knew what he was getting himself into to. And as he often tells me when Iím depressed, he was fully warned and still made the decision to be with me. I hope that soon youíll find that someone youíre looking for who will be patient and understanding with you too.(reply to this comment)