Moving out!

I’ve started a new blog! Check out what I’m up to and how I’m progressing at http://gleaningthefields.com I will also continue to post and crosspost here. Leah and I wanted this blog to be a safe place for women of faith to turn to when dealing with the devastation of sexual abuse, and we will continue to maintain this blog as a jumping off point for anyone researching this subject. Thareading all who have reached out to us. Please let us know if you are interested in guest posting, or linking up to us to share your own journey.

Crawling out

Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

- Portia Nelson

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Safety Plan

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My three youngest boys were physically and sexually abused for a long time. The two youngest, most likely from infancy. We found out that one of the ways their perpetrator insured compliance was by threatening them with a knife. As a result the two younger ones seem to think that to insure they get their way, or to ensure their safety, they must resort to violence. We have put together a safety plan for them to use whenever and wherever they may feel threatened. Keep in mind that “threatened” can be as insignificant as annoyed, all the way through bullied, to being violated. My boys don’t seem to be able to distinguish the difference.

There are seven steps, like seven days of the weeks, increasing in the amount of force needed to ensure protection.

1. Say “stop”
This is where it starts. Someone is annoying them, they have the right to say “stop.” This is where it would be appropriate for them to say how they feel, if the situation calls for it.
2. Ignore, or walk away
If the person doesn’t stop, they can choose to ignore them, or simply walk away, as long as the person offending them isn’t being dangerous.
3. Get help
If the person continues to annoy them, or won’t leave them alone, then, they are allowed to seek help from authorities or other grown-ups.
4. Run to get help
Running to get help is allowed of they are scared, or the person is starting to be insistent or get aggressive. I found it interesting that my boys objected and said they are not allowed to run indoors. I had to make it very clear that they are allowed as long as they feel they are in danger or have followed the above steps. They should always run TOWARDS help instead of away from it. Like towards school, neighbors, police, Church, parents, etc.
5. Scream for help
Again, I got objections to this, but I repeated the above.
6. Fight to get away
Interestingly, fighting seems to be their first instinct, even before saying stop. I gave them permission to fight if they are doing it to get away, are in danger and/or have already tried the steps above.
7. Tell, tell, tell
We have abolished secrets in our family. Nothing good comes from secrets. The boys are to tell of the incident to anyone and everyone until they are believed and protected. They know they must never be silent regarding their fears and worries. They have a right to be validated, believed and protected.

I Chose to be a Mother…

Now I choose to continue to be a mother, even though my children are tougher than I ever imagined. Even though I didn’t choose to have them victimized, nor did I choose to have them be born with disabilities. I choose to be their mother, and continue to nurture them as much as is humanly possible. I do not choose to do this because I’m afraid of going to hell if I don’t (indeed, there are days I can’t imagine hell being much worse than what I’m currently in), nor because it is my duty, not because I worry that no one else will want them, not because society tells me to, or even because I feel guilt and regret that their abuse occurred under my own roof. I choose to be my children’s mother, because I love them. I have choices. I refuse to be a victim. I choose them.

The following is a quote from the article, “Setting Personal Boundaries” “We always have a choice. The choices may seem to be awful – but in reality, allowing ourselves to buy into the illusion that we are trapped will have worse consequences in the long run. It may seem ridiculous to suggest that a parent can abandon or give a child up for adoption – but owning our choices no matter how outrageous is a step in owning responsibility for being co-creators in our life. If we are blaming and being the victim we will never be happy.”

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Brain Damage

http://www.mosac.net/default.asp?pageid=196&deptid=1
The lack of structure of “spring break” can be oppressive. Children who are severely emotionally disturbed need structure. Children with neurological deficits need structure. Coop them all up together in a small house with little to do and the fireworks go flying!

I was able to secure a sitter for the younger boys and decided to treat myself and go paint with friends. (I used to be an artist before all this mess ground career to a near halt.) I
got a ride from a good friend, she is a young mom of a six and four-year-old. She brought the kids with her, and we descended on the studio of a fellow artist and friend with enthusiasm and vigor. We painted for a good five hours. My friend’s children interrupted her two or three times after about three and a half hours of playing nicely together. Their interruptions were so tame in comparison to cacophony my own children create. On the ride home (about 30 min.) her angelic children chatted quietly in the back seat with us and each other. I was amazed! No crying, fighting, tantrums! No blood, no foul, they didn’t even make a mess!! I’ve known these kiddos for several years, they are the epitome of normalcy and the functional family. They are happy and well adjusted. They get tired, sometimes fight and cry and pout, but on such a mild undisruptive level, that I hardly pick them up on my radar. They seem right on target developmentally.

The experience really made me think, why are my kids so different?? I have two that are in the autism spectrum, three in the ADD spectrum, all with sensory and develop motor coordination deficits (that means they are loud and often clumsy), three are aggressive, all are impulsive, throw in a little dyslexia and learning disabilities, equals none of my four beloved boys are very successful socially, or particularly easy to raise. Why is it that four out of four came out with neurological deficits? Statistically, that is unlikely. While I thought I understood the negative effects of the three younger’s long-term, severe abuse, I couldn’t understand why all of them have organic disabilities. I believe there is a familial genetic component, but all of them? One, two, or maybe even three out of four is much more likely than 100%?? The fourth paragraph of this article hit me in the face, “The damage impacts the child’s social skills, impulsivity, and aggression.” I can’t think of any other words better describe the boys’ behavioral problems.

The effects of trauma and stress are so real, they caused permanent brain damage! It’s sad and scary, but it’s also so validating. There is good reason my boys are different. Now if we could just figure out how to healthily cope and provide appropriate accommodations and supports for their often invisible disabilities. Would it be easier if they were missing limbs?

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You’re Not Alone

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There have been a few books that have really helped me understand my journey to healing. I don’t believe in quick fixes, or free lunches, or get-rich-quick schemes. I believe in the law of he harvest, we reap what we sow. Yes, I’ve seen miracles, and I believe in miracles and gifts from God–the atonement being in the forefront. But most of us humans have to do things the ordinary, slow, hard, way. We cant and really mustn’t expect to get through the journey of mortality without some bumps and scratches along the way. Some of us get by with little scratches here and there. Others end up in ICU fighting for their lives (figuratively speaking but this can also be quite literally). The interesting thing is that often those with mere scratches feel the pain just as intensely and the ones in ICU! In fact, those in the intensive care unit are spared pain because they have the benefit of loss on consciousness, pain medication, and a dedicated team of professionals fighting for healing right along with them. Those with bumps, bruises, and often some invisible hurts are left to “man up” and continue to put one foot in front of another without the cheering squad.

I didn’t think I had a problem with forgiving myself when my therapist handed me this book. Logically, I know that I did the best I knew how–in fact, part of me knows that I’ve endured rather well. I am not completely without self esteem. Most of the time I know I have value and purpose. Most of the time I know that I’m loved, and forgiven. But I was surprised at what I learned from this book. I recommend it for anyone who isn’t perfect, and knows it. My only complaint is that it is written for an LDS audience and its message is truly applicable to anyone of faith. Just reading the introduction was validating and therapeutic. If you are not LDS, just gloss over the the strange jargon, the message is true and really helps shed common misperceptions that Christians in particular beat themselves with. Better yet, it offers solutions and exercises in clearing up your thinking. Instead of promising complete healing the author seeks to give more healing, more comfort, less disfunction and fear. Realistic solutions for real people, with real problems, who are just doing the best they can with what they have.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030HKYU6/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1590388577&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=139G8VW4NEYYGCR1X97R