CPT Trauma Impact Statement:Why I think this trauma occurred

My homework this week is to write a more in depth impact statement. I did this already when I started CPT many months ago, but since it was a group, we were asked to be vague and not include any details of the trauma itself. Also, since I have endured multiple traumatic events over many years of my life, I am to focus on the sexual abuse for this portion. Here is the writing prompt:

Please write at least one page on why you think the traumatic event occurred. You are not being asked to write specifics about the traumatic event. write about what you have been thinking about the cause of the event. Also, consider the effects this traumatic event has had on your beliefs about yourself, others, and the the world in the following areas: safety, trust, power/control, esteem, and intimacy.

So let’s start with the cause. What caused AF to sexually abuse me? Seriously, what a question. Simple answer is he was as close to evil as a human can get. He was sick, a true pedophile, with narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies. My abuse started at birth, at day one he chose to own and control me to serve his personal needs. Why? It is actually very complicated. I like this site to explain the roots of pedophilia by Sam Vaknin, it sounds very much like the man(?) that raised me. I’ll add some excerpts below.

  • Contrary to media-propagated myths, most of them had not been sexually abused in childhood and the vast majority of pedophiles are also drawn to adults of the opposite sex. (I have no idea if AF was abused as a child. I do know he used the services of adult female prostitutes.)
  • Pedophiles seem to have narcissistic and antisocial (psychopathic) traits. They lack empathy for their victims and express no remorse for their actions. They are in denial and, being pathological confabulators, they rationalize their transgressions, claiming that the children were merely being educated for their own good and, anyhow, derived great pleasure from it. (I still hear his voice whispering, I know you like this…ugh, vomit)

 

  • Coupled with his lack of empathy, this recurrent inability to truly comprehend others cause the pedophile to objectify the targets of his lasciviousness. Pedophilia is, in essence, auto-erotic. The pedophile uses children’s bodies to masturbate with.

 

  • Illicit sex becomes the outlet for his urgent need to live dangerously and recklessly. (incest and prostitutes)
  • The pedophile is aware of society’s view of his actions as vile, corrupt, forbidden, evil, and decadent (especially if the pedophiliac act involves incest). He derives pleasure from the sleazy nature of his pursuits because it tends to sustain his view of himself as “bad”, “a failure”, “deserving of punishment”, and “guilty”.

 

  • In extreme (mercifully uncommon) cases, the pedophile projects these torturous feelings and self-perceptions onto his victims. The children defiled and abused by his sexual attentions thus become “rotten”, “bad objects”, guilty and punishable.  (In my case, it was emotional sadism for me, and animal cruelty for my pets)
  • The pedophile treats “his” chosen child as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. He finds the child’s submissiveness and gullibility gratifying. He frowns on any sign of personal autonomy and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from his family, school, peers, and from the rest of society and, thus, makes the child’s dependence on him total.
  • The pedophile is the guru at the center of a cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his “partner”. He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his child-mate. He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. He enforces discipline.
  • The child finds himself in a twilight zone. The pedophile imposes on him a shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, “enemies”, mythical narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted. The child is rendered the joint guardian of a horrible secret.
  • The pedophile’s control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse. His ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided. He alone determines rights and obligations and alters them at will.
  • The typical pedophile is a micro-manager. He exerts control over the minutest details and behaviors. He punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to his wishes and goals.
  • The pedophile does not respect the boundaries and privacy of the (often reluctant and terrified) child. He ignores his or her wishes and treats children as objects or instruments of gratification. He seeks to control both situations and people compulsively.
  • The pedophile acts in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes often. He alternates between emphasizing the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the looks, talents, traits, and skills (idealizes) of the child. He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations which legitimizes his subsequent abusive conduct.
  • Narcissistic pedophiles claim to be infallible, superior, talented, skillful, omnipotent, and omniscient. They often lie and confabulate to support these unfounded claims and to justify their actions. Most pedophiles suffer from cognitive deficits and reinterpret reality to fit their fantasies. (AF was actually intelligent, definitely above average, however his claims would have him be Einstein working as a technician, he was always just about to change the world, he could if he wanted to…)
  • The pedophile believes that he is in love with (or simply loves) the child. Sex is merely one way to communicate his affection and caring. (He told me this often, that he was the ONLY one that truly loved me)

 

  • The pedophile intrudes on the victim’s privacy, disrespects the child’s express wishes and personal boundaries and ignores his or her emotions, needs, and preferences. To the pedophile, “love” means enmeshment and clinging coupled with an overpowering separation anxiety (fear of being abandoned).
  • Consequently, pedophiles react badly to any perceived rejection by their victims. They turn on a dime and become dangerously vindictive, out to destroy the source of their mounting frustration. When the “relationship” looks hopeless, some pedophiles violently embark on a spree of self-destruction. (Not self destruction, he was out to destroy me until the day he died, my rejection of him was too much)

I am guessing the purpose of this exercise is to see if I think I am the cause of the sexual abuse. I don’t think that, unless simply by existing, by being born into the hands of a pedophile. I believe he had a target or targets before me and that he had some after me. I did not cause any of that. His emotional instability, his sickness, his need for control and illicit sex as described above, caused the abuse. Do I have some guilt for not screaming, not running away, for believing him, for loving him, for trusting him, for allowing him? Yes I do. But that didn’t cause the abuse. He started grooming me to be sexually abused, started isolating me before I had a chance to make any choice. Even when I was older, none of it was my fault. I managed the situation the best way I could at any given moment, always fearful of his punishments and what might happen. So let’s talk about the effects, as they are extensive and life altering, and I fear I may never recover completely from the emotional trauma during my developmental years.

Safety: I often feel unsafe even when I know intellectually that I am in fact safe. I battle anxiety daily. I feel safest when alone. I am often on edge and vigilant. I do not often take risks, am highly protective of my kids and judge others harshly that do not protect kids (allowing their kids to ride ATVs, watch adult movies, wear skimpy clothes, have social media accounts…) I struggle to do anything outside of my comfort zone, plagued by panic or flashbacks, or what seems like rational fears of ‘that could be too dangerous’. I am physically weak, from a spinal injury, which adds to my feeling of inadequacy, not being able to run away or protect myself. I often feel powerless and helpless each day, waiting for others to help me.

Trust: I do not trust people much at all, and what I do give them can be yanked away at any sign of trouble. I keep everyone at arms length, a protective wall. I have learned to trust some people with some things. Most of my trust is actually sadly negative. I trust people to lie to me and they all do. Some of this is supposed to be socially acceptable and I struggle to accept it. I am always vigilant for scams, stalkers, other potential abusers. If someone is kind to me I first ask why. I trust professional relationships more, like doctors and therapists, though not all of them pass the intelligence and integrity test. I have basically no trust within personal relationships, and basically have never had any other than my marriage. I could never share my horrible secrets with my friends as a kid, and when the secrets came out, all my friends abandoned me. I think on some level I am terrified to be tricked again, to care for another psychopath, even though I know that is not very likely.

Power/Control: This is huge for me. I hate surprises. I NEED control. I need lists, to think ahead, to plan, to be on top of every detail. I used to excel at this, never forgetting anything, obsessively checking my lists and calendars. Oddly the migraines ended my ability to do this and may have done me a favor, allowing me to let go a little. I am only comfortable in relationships or events where I am in control or in charge. I enjoy teaching or public speaking, but not random social mingling. Feeling powerless so often, I try to regain it by being in command. I am good at it. I like order. I like labeling and alphabetizing and color coding and sorting. I married a chaos maker, a piler, a throw it anywhere, don’t clean it up guy. That was hard enough but then being a Mom has overwhelmed me, losing control of my house, losing order, has been difficult. The kids are finally old enough to help out and it is feeling better, less like drowning. I am 100% comfortable with my kids because I am in charge of them, I understand the relationship. I fear how this will change as they get older and I lose that, they will become like everyone else, in that fuzzy area that confuses and troubles me, where control is shared. My marriage is a struggle full of control issues. Many other situations I simply avoid if I can’t control them.

Esteem: I lack esteem. Period. I lack a sense of self. I grew up as property, enmeshed with AF’s needs and feelings, never allowed to have my own. I still struggle to have my own now. I was still in overachiever mode up to the day AF died. And then it slowly faded away, my purpose and drive was gone. I am empty inside. I feel horribly broken and damaged, like I can work my entire life to rewire a few neurons and never gain an ounce of normalcy. The isolation, humiliation, unrealistic demands, put on me by AF were total and prevented me from forming a sense of self or attachment. I was him and did everything as and for him. I don’t feel I exist, and if I do, I am bad, disgusting, rotten and worthless. I try to stop the negative thoughts and voices I hear and recognize the triggers, but there are too many.

Intimacy: You can’t have intimacy without safety and trust, without giving up some control, without feeling you are worth it. I am working on this with my husband, my sister in law, and on some level even my mother in law. That’s it, no one else even makes the list. If anyone reaches out to me in kindness, I cry. I don’t feel worthy, and I suspect them of foul play. Close feelings always bring feelings of betrayal with them, the fear is overwhelming, and I push everyone away. I isolate myself, both out of fear and punishment. People generally do not react well to my inner thoughts and feelings, so I have learned to hide them, to put on a fake smile. I have online anonymous relationships with more intimacy than in real life at times. There can be days sometimes weeks when I can’t be touched, not a hug or even brushing past me in the kitchen, hardly can look at other people, the distress is so high. This includes my husband – the isolation will be complete at those times, I let no one in. I am starting to recognize the triggers to emotional flashbacks that starts this isolation, but I still struggle to pull myself out of it.

 

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8 thoughts on “CPT Trauma Impact Statement:Why I think this trauma occurred

  1. This has entirely too many layers for me to adequately cover all the points I would like to comment on, so I’ll just focus on a few things:

    1). This exercise DOES help confirm/validate that the perpetrator holds all the responsibility for this abuse happening. They were always the one that controlled the situation, and as an adult, their natural position should always have been to protect and comfort the child. No exceptions.

    2) “I feel safest when alone.” This statement is the one that took me years to acknowledge and accept, and, in truth, I still sometimes struggle with understanding how I ended up being someone that pushes everyone they love away. I make it nearly impossible for anyone to love me, by constantly rejecting and ignoring and turning away from them.

    When I finally woke up to the root cause (“I feel safest when alone”), then I had to intentionally and with great effort begin the process of feeling safe with people who have the ability to hurt me. (siblings, parents, children, spouse, etc). Learning to accept and understand that we often hurt the people we love the most, I’m still learning how to also feel safe around those people I love the most. If we perceive or experience any violation of their trust with us, then we retreat and go back to our default of “I feel safest when alone” mode. Isolation is the opposite of a healthy relationship, so we have to figure out how to work against our natural compulsion to isolate.

    3) When I went through some version of this exercise with my therapist, there were pages and pages of “why did this happen” scribbled and typed and hand-written, all over the place. I grew weary of the weight and volume of all that pain that lived on those pages. Eventually, with my therapist, (and her chosen path towards helping me evolve towards a healthier version of myself), she eventually asked me to answer the question “why did this happen” in five words or less.

    After having amassed pages and pages of pain, trying to understand “why did this happen”, and being asked to answer that question in five words or less, eventually my end result was this:

    “My father was weak.”

    He wasn’t that all-powerful and dangerously horrific and controlling monster that I was terrified all those years. In truth, he was weak and pathetic and didn’t have the ability or strength to protect his precious child, and instead, used his child as an instrument of his own depraved sexual urges, pretending to believe that it was outside of his control that he chose to demonstrate his love by destroying and hurting a sweet and innocent child. He was WEAK.

    He was a lot of things (dangerous, controlling, violent, abusive, terrifying), but above everything else, the truth is that he was exceptionally and overwhelmingly WEAK. When I finally made that realization, it helped me realize how incredibly strong I was, especially as a child having to deal with adult situations that should never have been any part of my world as a young child. It eventually helped me recognize how amazing it was that I had learned various techniques to survive an intolerable existence.

    All those coping mechanisms that helped me stay alive before, were now standing in the way of me being able to have intimate and trusting relationships with all the other people in my life. So, as we worked towards untangling the intricate mess of jumbled and mistaken truths that I had learned as a child, it helped me to always keep in the back of my mind that I was the strong one in this equation. He was weak. I was strong (now), so I was determined to find my way towards a healthier way of existing in the world, especially when it came to how I connected with the people in my life that I loved the most. It helped me get stronger and stronger every day, until I finally got to the place where I truly felt like I could let go of most of the negative and sorrowful feelings associated with being sexually abused by my own father (and others).

    None of it happened overnight, and some of it was really painful to work through, and yes, it affected my ability to engage and be present in my current day life (with kids, husband, other family members), but eventually, after continuing to move forward, I was finally able to answer that question of “why did this happen” with only four words. Technically, I could have only used three.

    “He was weak.”

    From this starting point, and continuing to build on the reality of “I am strong” (after all, I had survived something no child should ever have to bear, especially in a parenting environment where I should have been nurtured and protected and cherished), I was able to continue believing in and feeling my own strength. Over time, my strength continued to grow, (just as I know yours will).

    You’ve already demonstrated so many facets of your own strength. You constantly amaze me with your willingness to delve into the deep recesses of the pools of pain you’ve experienced, and also, by sharing some parts of that journey here in this open format. I guarantee you there are eyes on your words that sit silently behind the computer screen, by people who do not yet have the strength to speak out or engage in this conversation. Maybe they are borrowing your strength to make it through today, and they are silently watching your journey as a way of understanding their own pain. If answering the question of “why did this happen” helps us move forward, then we owe it to ourselves to find the answer that most resonates with our own set of circumstances.

    The warrior spirit in you may sometimes falter or grow weary, but you can never deny that you’ve already exhibited an extraordinary surge of power and strength. Keep moving forward, one discussion and one page at a time. I truly believe that we live in the slice of time where the victims of abuse are learning how to shift the power in their own stories. We are reclaiming our strength and power, and are sharing what we’re learning with others, so that they can grow strong again, too.

    Thank you for being willing to share this part of your story. You always remain in my prayers, and I am often encouraged by your willingness to continue your journey towards a healthier version of yourself. Layer by layer, you are uncovering the essence of the warrior spirit that still lives within you, (and also giving hope to those who are still struggling, even when sometimes that person is YOU). All of us need to hear the words you’re sharing, so thank you for being brave and aware enough to share the pieces of the puzzle with us. Together, we are regaining our strength and power. We deserve to live lives filled with love and tenderness and compassion. 🙂

    • Your comment brought me to tears, made me feel loved and gave me a sense of purpose and renewed my strength.

      I am sorry you understand the isolation of feeling safest when alone. I know this contributes to relationship issues, my loneliness and even depression because people are not wired to be alone. I will continue to fight against this, as you called it, default mode.

      He was weak. Wow. Yes he was. I will use that phrase as well, so simple yet it says so much.

      Thank you, hugs.

      • I don’t spend nearly as much time at the computer these days, but there are time I come across something when I have to put everything else on hold for a few moments, and just dive in and share my thoughts. This was one of those posts.

        A while back, after I commented on one of your blog posts, I remember you saying something very sweet, such as how you always feel encouraged when I comment, or something to that effect. The truth is, YOU are often the one that is the source of my own encouragement.

        I recognize many parts of your journey, and even though my own therapy work was about twenty years ago (or more?), the similarities are undeniable. I’m truly in admiration of your ability to not only work through the necessary steps to find your own strength and improve your ability to interact in the world, but the fact that you are also able to articulate those very vulnerable parts of the journey is just nothing short of incredible. I wish I had been that self-aware during my own journey, and it really does give me a huge sense of hope for the generations that will follow.

        As moms, we tend to grade everything about ourselves based on how well we perceive we are doing with our parenting (or our marriage, or our ability to interact with coworkers and hold a job, etc). So much always happening behind the scenes, when we do our best to try to blend in and not call attention to the struggle we face every day. Based on what I’ve seen in the short amount of time that I’ve known you through blogging, I would not be at all surprised if you end up writing that book we all talk about writing one day. You are not only clearly articulate and willing to educate yourself in order to keep advancing in your journey, but you also have the inside scoop on how our own experiences are the filter through which we view the world. You’re not afraid to tackle the complicated process of finding the tools that best help you work towards the version of yourself that you want to be, and even though we all experience set-backs and stumble now and again, you just keep bringing everything back into focus, and take another step forward. Again and again and again.

        And that’s how we not only SURVIVE, but we eventually get to that place where we realize that we’ve finally finished most of the heavy lifting, and now it’s our turn to relax and enjoy the benefits of all that hard work. You really are amazing, and thank YOU for helping us stay motivated, even on those days when we feel like we can’t move another inch. All it takes is the willingness to keep trying.

        We can do this. 🙂

        Hugs right back to you! Nancy

  2. Wow. This was tough for me to read. It took me several days to get through the first half. You are writing my story and we never met. I am so sorry you experienced all this. You are amazing sharing your journey. You are not alone but I understand feeling safer alone. I am also going to take ntexas99 phrase and change it for my situation. “My neighbor was weak.” For so many years I have thought of him as powerful. Now I get that he was really weak. It is no big deal to overpower a child. He was weak so he picked on those more than half his size. He was weak and his threats were the signs of a weakling. I am still processing all your wrote. Hugs. I wish our lives were different then I realize we would never connect on the internet if our lives were different. Paradox.

  3. Pingback: He Was WEAK | PTSD - Accepting, Coping, Thriving

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