process of recovery from abuse is long, demanding
and very individual. It requires and deserves much
support and safety from other people.
When one has been abused, remembering
your past is discovering who you are.
Recovery involves accepting, understanding
and releasing feelings. It entails connecting behaviour,
thoughts and feelings both in the past and in the
Recovery is learning about choice,
learning how to take care of yourself and learning
that it is OK to take care of yourself. It is learning
If you move the "yuck" out, there
is some room for joy.
The timing of recovery might not
be when you want. It is important to honour your
own process and realize that it is never ending.
core experiences [of child abuse] are disempowerment
and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore,
is based upon the empowerment of the survivor
and the creation of new connections [with people].
Recovery can take place only
within the context of relationships; it cannot
occur in isolation. In his/her renewed connections
with other people, the survivor recreates the
psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed
by the [abuse] experience..."
"Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central
task of the first stage is the establishment of
safety. The central task of the second stage is
remembrance and mourning. The central task of
the third stage is reconnection with ordinary
Judith Lewis Herman, M.D.
TUNNELS OF TEARS
Tunnels of tears
Tunnels of fears
I’ve been wandering through them
For innumerable years!
How did I enter?
And then access the centre
Of the place so filled with sadness and pain
I cannot be reached, not even by mentor
I’d like to turn and run
out of this place
But am unable to decide which direction to face.
The further I go the more lost I feel
I panic running here and there, quickening my
This does not alleviate any of
It confuses me thoroughly and brings me to tears.
Frustration, loneliness, fear and sadness
Exponentially increase along with the madness.
Is there a way out?
I’m beginning to doubt!
I feel quite insane but must not remain
Subjected to the horrendous memories that brought
So I beg of you, anyone,
Who has been touched by the sun
To show me the way to follow that light
So that I may perceive what it is like to be done.
A SHATTERED SOUL SURVIVES
Lightning struck her little heart
And Shattered it in two.
She was just a little girl
There was nothing she could do.
From that day on, she could not feel;
She could not trust or believe in you.
The Little girl with the broken heart
Was told not to tell a soul.
It had to be a secret
So no one else would know.
She suffered in her silence.
Her spirit as black as coal.
She could not smell the flowers.
For her, they didn't exist.
All things alive were dead to here;
She didn't know they weren't supposed to be.
This little girl made a plan
To protect herself by being strong.
DEATH OF THE HEART
The mother knew; she cried some tears.
But didn't attempt to stop HIM.
So the little girl with the broken heart
Became invisible over the years.
It didn't matter, the torture she'd endure.
She was determined to overcome her fears.
Her body was not sacred; it didn't belong to her.
It was for his distorted pleasure; her siblings
She's beaten, raped, threatened with death.
It was all part of HIS game.
She knew she'd never trust again.
She'd be okay: she'd see to it!
Guardian Angels rescued her.
She'll never forget that day.
Freedom at last: no more helpless suffering;
The truth, she shares with others.
She can't tell most people, though.
They won't believe or understand.
What Does the Future Hold?
Will This Ever Go Away?
The little girl, an adult she became.
No longer was she afraid.
He wouldn't dare touch her again.
So she used her voice and the mother was told.
But, the mother did not listen; she kept seeing
The adult child felt horribly betrayed.
Disbelief and Betrayal = Denial
"That's okay." The adult child said.
I will do it on my own.
So the healing began.
Someone believed her!
She wept with joy.
"Hooray for me! I am Okay!"
The years spun by for the adult child.
She was able to find peace in talking about it
With others who had disclosed the same.
Recovery from Hell came bit by bit.
She loves herself now.
She's no longer in that big, black pit.
Healing and Understanding Survival
That adult child, she's here today
With a message to all survivors:
Don't wait, speak out, take a stand;
Do it now; open those doors!
Embrace your children, talk to them.
Don't let child abuse ruin You and Yours!"
Discussion - The Process of Recovery
Remembering, feeling bad, feeling
guilty, accepting, hoping, naming it, believing
it and being believed, having someone listen without
judgment and telling are all part of the initial
process of recovery from abuse.
Recovery from abuse takes a long,
long time. It requires stamina, support and safety,
both internally and externally. Old habits must
A survivor must learn to trust, to
grieve, to breathe (if not, you cant
feel). It involves confrontation, changing
ones beliefs of self and the world, feelings
of confusion, rage, dealing with family and relationships,
learning how to take care of ones self, discovering
the power to choose and overcoming unreal and terminal
Survivors will encounter periods
of time where they feel guilty and have a fear of
not being loved. They feel that love is conditional.
They let go of whats not real, such as taking
care of everyone else, not taking care of themselves
and defining boundaries. They let go of the fantasies,
like everyone will love me and I
can get back what was lost.
There is utter despair when survivors
let go of dreams, and emotions like anger, fear
and sadness are felt. Its critical that a
survivor have all of these feelings. If you
can have these feelings, if you move the yuck
out, theres some room for joy. They
discover the power to choose.
Working through shame takes a long
time. Often a survivor takes two steps forward,
on step sideways. Recovery is intermittent. You
must do a lot of stuff you dont want to do.
Such as learning to accept that the timing of recovery
might not be when its wanted, honouring ones
own process and realizing that the process is never-ending.
There is a lot of secrecy in abuse.
In recovering, survivors break the secret and the
silence. They listen to their own voice, a voice
they have been taught not to hear, and give themselves
permission. They must unlearn their lives and what
theyve been taught. They must find out who
they are through gender identification, their physical
body, by retaking possession of their physical body
and by finding their personinity.
Elements of recovery can be concurrent,
intermittent, simultaneous, continual, not on linear
time and run as parallel processes. Survivors revisit
these elements with different intensities of emotion
and cognition throughout their recovery, and experience
a blending of feelings, thought and behaviour.
Recovery is accepting and releasing
feelings, connecting with behaviour and thought.
It is also remembering your past, discovering who
you are, and choosing how you will live.
ON THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY FROM ABUSE:
Bass, Ellen and Laura Davis. Beginning
to Heal: A First Book for Survivors of Child Sexual
Abuse. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Eller, Ti. How Can I forgive?
A Woman Sexually Abused as a Child Seeks Peace.
Canadian Baptist, November 1994, vol. 140 no. 9,
Green, Lilian. Ordinary Wonders:
Living Recovery From Sexual Abuse. Toronto: Womens
Kaye, Marcia. Nightmare of
Childhood Sexual Abuse Can Last A Lifetime But,
Increasingly, Adult Survivors Are Waking To Renewed
Hopes and Dreams. Canadian Living, March 1991,
vol. 16 no. 3, p. 143, 145-8.
Maltz, Wendy. Sexual Healing Journey:
A Guide For Survivors of Sexual Abuse. New York,
N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.
Masson, Suzanne. Breaking the
Silence: Recovery From Incest. Human Medicine,
January 1995, vol. 11 no. 1, p. 29-33.
Oksana, Chrystine. Safe Passage to
Healing: A Guide for Survivors of Ritual Abuse.
New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Sinclair, Donna. From Abuse
to Rebirth: Clergy Can Help Victims of Childhood
Sexual Abuse Start Fresh. United Church Observer,
October 1997, Vol. 61 no. 3, p.45-6.