Sharing Thoughts From a Book I Found: Part One


In this society Child Sexual Abuse is not something people want to talk about so it can be very difficult to find reading material discussing it that is trustworthy and balanced. There are of course books written by survivors but in the phase I’m in right now it’s like I need a second opinion from a professional therapist or a third or fourth opinion for that matter.

It’s not about my trust in my therapist, it’s about my own questioning nature and operating in a kind of vacuum in my real life. I often think to myself that my therapist only believes me because she’s known me for 12 years and I often wonder what another therapist would think of my “story”.  I wonder how normal my particular issues with abuse are and I wonder if I’m a freak from time-to-time. My therapist would of course say that I’m not but I need secondary validation.

So, I was searching the internet for information linking child sexual abuse to compulsive masturbation (yes I’m jumping right in here) and a book came up with a few references. I was able to view some excerpts online and they were enough to get my attention. Again, there are things that people are not comfortable talking about so when I find something that does discuss it, I pay attention.

I was very skeptical as I always am with books about CSA (I will be referring to Child Sexual Abuse as CSA in this post). You never know what ideas a person might have or on which end of the spectrum an author will fall. The last book I tried to read on the subject was so full of hatred for men that I couldn’t take the book seriously. But I also don’t want a book where the author believes all that crap about false memory. I also need a book that a layperson can understand. So, it can be complicated.

I was able to check the book out so I could test it instead of buying it not knowing if it was any good and I have to say that so far the book has blown my mind. It’s a third edition textbook specifically written for therapists and that’s good because it’s in understandable language and it’s based on decades of experience of someone who treats survivors of CSA.

I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve found interesting, things that made me feel less freakish and things that gave me something to think about. I don’t know if I’ll write all of it one post or not but I haven’t finished the book yet so we’ll see.

I have a very strange fantasy life that I find embarrassing to discuss even with my therapist. She actually knows very little of this life because I feel so weird about it, but when I read part of this book it discussed magical thinking and it was the very first time someone talked about what I do. I’ll share it here:

“Some adult survivors of CSA elaborate such magical thinking into fantasies of imaginary friends and family. Imaginary friends are not uncommon in young children, but they tend to become less usual in adulthood. The survivor may develop an imaginary friend as an alter ego, a representation of the person he wishes to be and yet feels he can never becomeSurvivors may embellish such imaginary companions into imaginary families, including children, which allow them to have quasi-relationships without having to engage in them in reality.”

One of the important aspects of this excerpt is that it talks about an alter ego, not an alter in the sense of DID. Yes I have DID but I also do exactly what is mentioned in that paragraph (minus the imaginary children)! I had to read that paragraph twice because I couldn’t believe someone had heard of other people doing that! I can’t tell you how that felt!

The incident that led to my initial internet search had to do with my attempt to jog some memories loose by seeing if the stories of other survivors spoke to me at all. I asked my therapist if she thought that was okay and she did because I wasn’t trying to trigger myself, only see if anything that happened to others rang some sort of bell. It’s happened before when reading a news story about an abuser blowing on a child’s stomach, so that was my basis for trying it.

However, reading the stories of other survivors ended with me drenched in guilt and shame and confusion. My reaction was so disturbing that I haven’t even told my therapist about it. But…then I read this:

“A particularly disturbing feature for some survivors is becoming aroused when thinking about or re-experiencing their own sexual abuse or when hearing stories or seeing pictures of other children being sexually abused…Such inappropriate arousal may lead to compulsive masturbation or inappropriate sexual behavior. Survivors are often deeply disturbed by such sexual arousal, as it evokes old feelings of shame, guilt and self-blame.”

Again, this is something that no one wants to talk about so I was relieved to see it in print and respected the author for not flinching from it.

For myself, this is what happens when I try to to read stories from other survivors when there are aspects of their story that are along the lines of what may have happened to me. I don’t feel that way about all stories, only specific details that seem to resonate with me and the feeling has nothing to do with the victim I’m reading about, instead it’s more like I become a victim in my head and my body reacts to those specific details.

I can’t tell you how awful and sick I felt feeling that way when someone else had suffered! I was horrified at myself. But reading that made me feel a little less freakish…not completely but a little.

There are a couple of more points I’d like to share so I will break this up into two posts…

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, dissociative identity disorder, Incest, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Sharing Thoughts From a Book I Found: Part One

  1. Ashana M says:

    I think the kind of sexual arousal you talk about is perhaps, in part, a flashback–a physical memory of what was felt and what happened that jumps full-force back into the mind when triggered in the same way that terror and pain do. After all, abusers abuse in part by stimulating the child sexually as well as stimulating themselves. A physical response on the part of the child is part of the trauma. It’s difficult to deal with because we confuse sexual response with pleasure. For adults, a sexual experience usually is pleasant, but it isn’t pleasant for the child. It’s overwhelming, disgusting, confusing, and frightening. It can be all the more upsetting for the child if the abuser contends the child’s biologically programmed response is proof the child “likes it” and is the reason for the abuse to take place in the first place. Then, the child feels ashamed as well.

    Masturbation can be a way children who have been sexually abused have learned to get that feeling of arousal to stop, just as we try to get other unpleasant and overwhelming sensations to stop.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi Ashana,

      Yes, you’re absolutely right about abusers using a child’s natural response to stimuli to twist what’s happening and blame the child. It’s so wrong how they manipulate the vulnerable.

      I hadn’t thought of my own response in terms of a flashback, probably because I have yet to accept that anything beyond my initial memory happened but, the possibility makes sense nonetheless so I appreciate you saying it that way. If the book has shown me anything it’s that the complexities of abuse can take a long time to understand.

  2. kat says:

    you are searching out very important stuff to help you understand where you’ve been, and how it felt, and putting together as a kind of map to discover how you got to where you are now, and how that feels now too. this is super important therapy work in my mind, and will help you come to move forward and be more healthy. keep on working, but take breaks and don’t wear yourself out. hope we all can move forward one day!

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi kat,

      Yes it is important work and you’re so right about breaks. 🙂 I have a tendency to want to read, read, read so I’ve been more mindful this time of reading in chunks and then stopping for the day. Moving forward and healing would be great for all of us!

  3. sdmnw1976 says:

    Hi there,

    So, I guess I should fess up and first say that I have been following your blog since last year…in the last 18 months I have scoured the world wide web and of all the article/blogs that I have read, your’s is the closest I’ve found that matches my own experience. I too have been struggling with the infuriating uncertainty of remembering certain things that clearly point to CSA without concrete evidence…in fact, a couple of weeks ago I also came across “Counseling Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse” by Christiane Sanderson and thought it was a fantastic resource (compared to most of the literature that is available either online or in book/print form). After going back and reading all of your posts my hunch is that you and I have a lot in common (same age, married no kids, not working, even the things that you have posted about about your ‘religious activities/life’ have a ring of familiarity about them) and I would really like to…I don’t know…compare notes? Is that ok to say? I have never talked to another person this way (other than my therapist and my husband) and I will absolutely not be offended if you have no desire to do so. But if you do, i wouldn’t mind giving you my personal email address some could talk about this privately.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi,

      I know that there are lots of people who read abuse blogs but who don’t always comment because they aren’t comfortable etc. That’s no problem so don’t worry about it. I’m always glad if someone can get something out of the blog even if they never say a word. 🙂

      Do you have a Twitter account? I sometimes get direct messages there so people don’t have to worry about our conversations being viewed by everyone and my Twitter account is linked to my blog in the sense that it is anonymous.Let me know.

  4. Karen says:

    I’ve been meaning to respond to this for days. I’ve nothing much of consequence to say, but I thought this was both intellectually intriguing and personally moving. I’ll be looking into getting the book! xxxxx

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi Karen,

      The book has continued to be very interesting. Still reading it in chunks. It’s really hard to find this book so if you really end up wanting it and can’t find it let me know because I’m probably going to get it too.

  5. Ashamed says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I would like to read this book as well as any other info on this specific topic. Sorry if my writing is stilted – I’m nervous and also typing on a phone.

    I really admire your bravery and eloquence.

    I am 90% sure I wasn’t abused in this way but I have so many weird issues and some people have thought I have been abused. My current therapist has wondered based on some specific things. There is more I want to mention but I’m paranoid because I once got in trouble when someone read thoughts about my confusion and some memories in a journal, and I’m still paranoid about getting in “trouble”.

    I am really struggling with fear and shame even talking about the tip of the iceberg of sexual issues in therapy right now.

    thanks again!

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi Ashamed,

      Don’t worry about your writing, I understood what you meant. 🙂 I don’t know if you saw my reply to another reader so here’s the title of the book:\
      Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Christiane Sanderson.

      I know broaching the subject of sexual abuse and all of my myriad feelings was really hard in therapy but once I did it I was glad and it became easier to talk about it, though even now I still have a hard time verbalizing certain information to my therapist. My sincerest good luck to you on healing.

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