Life Is Like a Book. 



Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship

Worth reading from off the web!

womanInDespairPXfreeThere are three essential elements to an abusive relationship:

1.  Consistent occurrences of power and control over another

2.  Chronic feelings and displays of disrespect

3.  Unhealthy attachment mistaken for love

Abusers are highly deceptive and the victim, as well as others, have no idea that he is being abusive at all.  He purposefully undermines his victim’s individuality and confidence by dominating conversations and suppressing her identity, making her into a mere object for his purposes. He minimizes anything about her, including her opinions, accomplishments, concerns, feelings, or desires.  This causes her to do the same and she learns to minimize herself as well.

Abuse and respect are polar opposites

He has a chronic attitude of disrespect towards his partner.  A respectful relationship is not abusive and an abusive relationship does not contain respect. An abuser views his partner as his property, which allows him to feel powerful and in charge.

It is essential for an abuser to feel this way because he has a fragile ego and delicate sense of self. Without feeling more powerful than his partner he feels weak and vulnerable. Feeling any sense of vulnerability taps into his sense of powerlessness which he is unwilling to experience for any reason. As long as he sees himself in the “one up” position his fragile ego is kept at bay.

Abuse is caused by the belief system of the abuser. The abuser has developed a deeply ingrained sense of superiority and entitlement which does not go away by learning how to manage anger or resolve conflicts. Abusers use anger to control. They engage in conflicts to abuse their partner; show their superiority; and keep intimacy away. Since intimacy requires vulnerability, a feeling abusers avoid at all costs, they have no interest in developing such closeness.

Abuse is not the same as conflict. A conflict involves a difference of opinion. Abuse involves the need for the abuser to stifle the feelings, thoughts, opinions, and values of the abused. An abuser refuses to accept any accountability or responsibility for any of the problems in the relationship. His hallmark attitude is one of superiority and blame. It is not the conflict that is the problem. The abuser caused the conflict in the first place. There can be no resolution.

There is no way to “approach their partner appropriately,” or “pick the right time to address something.”

Abusers can choose any reason to blame his victim for an abusive incident. Abusers abuse because they choose to. It is the abusive mindset that allows them to abuse for a number of reasons:

(1) They are unhappy and they don’t know what to do with their emotions.

(2) They dump their rage and shame on others.

(3) They may have a narcissistic or anti-social personality disorders.

(4) They feel in control, powerful, strong, and superior, which helps them keep all weak, needy, and vulnerable emotions hidden.

(5) Some people abuse because they were taught this as children and operate out of this inner working relationship dynamic.

Whether abuse is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, or some rendition of all of these, there are some basic components of abuse; these are: blame, criticism, neglect, oppression, minimization, rigidity, ridicule, lies, invalidation, lack of accountability, no remorse, no apologies, repeated name calling, double standards, violence, and a consistent lack of empathy.

Realize that abuse, like addiction, is a chronic “disease” that progresses with time, meaning it only gets worse.

Can an abuser be cured?

Of course anything is possible.

Here are the signs that an abuser is changing:

  • he is willing to be accountable to his spouse and others;
  •  he is willing to never have a sense of entitlement in any relationship, for any reason,
  •  he shows self-reflection and insight;
  • he stops blaming others or minimizing, justifying, or rationalizing his own attitudes and behaviors;
  • he listens to and validates others, including his spouse;
  • while he is never going to be perfect, when he messes up, he apologizes, shows insight into what he did wrong, shows remorse, and changes.

 

Abusers in recovery are just like alcoholics in recovery

Alcoholics can never even have one drink ever again in order to maintain sobriety. Abusers can’t be like “normal” people who may be rude or disrespectful at times. Recovery for an abuser needs to be different from what comes natural for the partner. Coddling an abuser and showing him empathy only exacerbates his entitlement. Recovery for an abuser requires that he does not allow himself to ever be rude, disrespectful, entitled, or invalidating ever again. Instead, he is humble and compassionate at all times. No excuses.

About Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Whittier, California (www.lifelinecounseling.org).

Edited for readability   Source: Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship | The Recovery Expert

How The Work Works – the work of Byron katie

UNSHAKEABLE INNER PEACE

Worth reading! From Off the web!



Many people in many traditions have spoken about a state of continuous and unshakable inner peace, in which the mind delights in everything that happens. Byron Katie calls this “loving what is.” It is the mind’s natural state. Through the self-inquiry of The Work, people can return to it as often as they wish, and eventually it becomes constant. Suffering is optional.

THE CAUSE OF ALL SUFFERING

The initial insight, as in cognitive psychology, is that all human suffering is caused by believing our stressful thoughts. As the philosopher Epictetus said, “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” Byron Katie puts it this way: “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.”

ENDING SUFFERING

It’s not possible to end stress or suffering by substituting positive thoughts for negative thoughts. This may work to some extent, but eventually the mind will outsmart you. There is a whole underworld of unexamined thoughts that will override the positive thoughts that you’re trying to believe. Ultimately it’s not possible to let go of our negative thoughts, because we can’t control the mind. When we look deeply into the mind, we see that we aren’t creating thoughts in the first place. We aren’t thinking; we are being thought.

Suffering can be alleviated and ultimately ended by questioning our stressful thoughts. The Work provides a simple and powerful method for doing this. Byron Katie says, “I didn’t let go of my stressful thoughts. I questioned them, and then they let go of me.”

THE JUDGE-YOUR-NEIGHBOR WORKSHEET

One of the brilliant innovations of Byron Katie is the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This allows people to identify the thoughts and stories that cause their suffering. The first step in doing The Work is to fill out a Worksheet. “Though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.”

The stressful thoughts to be identified on a Worksheet are about someone else, not about yourself; hence the term “Judge-Your-Neighbor.” This is sometimes difficult for people, since we have been taught not to judge, though we do it all the time. When you do The Work, you see who you are in a stressful situation by seeing who you think other people are. Byron Katie explains this in the following way: “Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.”

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

1. Is it true? People are encouraged to meditate on this question and go deeper than answers that seem obvious but that bring them stress or suffering. “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me—is it true?” Most people’s automatic response is “Yes,” indignantly or sadly. After someone truly contemplates the question, the answer may still be yes but there may be a slight weakening of the ego’s position. Or maybe the person sees clearly and shockingly that the statement isn’t true. It may be something they have believed for years and decades.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? If their answer to the first question is yes, this second question gives people another chance to examine the stressful thought and to go deeper into the open mind, which in Zen is called the “don’t-know mind.” Yes is still a valid answer.

3. How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought? This question allows people to see the cause-and-effect of believing their stressful thoughts—to witness what happened, what they felt, said, and did, when they believed the thought in that They are encouraged to inhabit the situation they were remembering in the first statement on their Worksheet and trace, in detail, the physical sensations and the emotions caused when they believe “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me.” Someone might say, for example, “I feel anger in my belly. My face flushes. I start to talk louder. I see my husband as neglectful. I become antagonistic. I try to convince him. I see him as the enemy,” and so on. These specific reactions are clear evidence of how unuseful, even damaging, this belief is to the person believing it. Whether they answered “yes” or “no” to the first two questions, they get to see how the thought leads them away from connection with the other person.

4. Who would you be without the thought? This is a question outside the realm of cognitive psychology. It allows people to see reality without the superimposition of their own belief. It gives them a vivid glimpse into what life is like without a problem. They become the seer, the listener, egoless, receiving the other person without blame, demands, expectations, or anything but an open mind. This question has resulted in very powerfully transformative experiences, even for people whose response to questions one and two were “Yes.”

THE TURNAROUNDS

After the mind has educated itself about a particular stressful thought through the four questions of The Work, people are invited to turn the thought around. The turnaround is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believed was true. Sometimes there may be just one turnaround; sometimes there are two or three turnarounds to one of the statements on the Worksheet (turnarounds to the opposite, to the self, and to the other). For example, the statement in that situation, “my husband should listen to me” can be turned around to “My husband shouldn’t listen to me,” and also to “I should listen to me,” and finally to “I should listen to my husband.”

Once people find a turnaround, they are invited to contemplate specific examples of how the turnaround is true in their lives, how it is as true as or truer than their original statement. This grounds the turnaround in actual experience and further weakens the power of the stressful thought over the mind. For some people, just one deep session of inquiry is enough to completely unravel a belief, so that it doesn’t occur again, or if it does, the response is amusement rather than stress.

Often, after fully contemplating the turnarounds, people who have answered “Yes” to questions one and two, if they are asked the questions again, will answer “No,” often with a smile or a laugh.

When we are suffering in any given moment, we are in a trance, hypnotized.

 The Work wakes us up.

How to Meditate – in 5 Minutes!

Meditation Apps To Calm Stress And Boost Mood

Worth Reading from Off the Web! By Natasha Baker

In a bad mood but not sure why? New smart phone apps provide short guided meditations designed to help you return to a positive state of mind.

Stop, Breathe & Think, a free iPhone app, prompts people to check how they are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically and will recommend three guided meditations between five and 10 minutes long.

“We wanted to give people a friendly and accessible tool to develop these skills – something they could easily integrate into their daily routine,” said Jamie Price, executive director of Tools for Peace, a California-based non-profit company that developed the app.

It aims to help people feel more grounded, calmer and happier, he added, and to recognize emotions and impulses and to react positively.

“The recommended meditations are meant to be a support, to help you deal with whatever is going on from the perspective of kindness and compassion, and with a greater sense of being positively connected,” Price said in an interview.

It includes 15-guided meditations based on Tibetan teachings. Users can track their progress including how long they have meditated and how settled they feel every day.

Canadian singer K.D. Lang, who serves on the group’s board, said she used the app as a reset button for stressful days.

“Our goal is that after using this app people learn how to become calm, and approach their everyday life from the perspective of kindness and compassion,” she said.

A similar free app called Headspace, which is available for iPhone and Android, also teaches meditation and provides a free ten-day program that leads users through short guided meditations.

It also features specialized meditations to improve sleep or reduce stress or other problems, as well as paid programs. Users can track their progress day-by-day in a dashboard and set reminders to keep on top of their practices.

Studies have shown the positive benefits of meditation, including research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that it may be helpful for reducing anxiety and depression.

Buddhify This $5 app describes itself as “the urban meditation app for modern life,” and was named the number-one health app by UK news outlet The Sun. App Store reviewers rave about the app’s clear, simple design and relaxing guided meditations. Customize your meditation to your location: It offers tailored guides for when you’re at home, walking or at the gym.

Mindfulness Meditation By Mental Workout  This best-selling iPhone app by Mental Workout, designed by renowned meditation teacher and psychotherapist Stephan Bodian, provides guided meditations for both beginners and more experienced mindfulness practitioners. The app features an eight-week program, inspiration talks, body scans and relaxation instructions. According to one App Store reviewer, the app is the best way to learn mindfulness “short of finding your own personal meditation teacher.”

Simply Being  Short guided meditations, with or without music and nature sounds, for relaxation and presence are the focus of this $0.99 app. Perfect for beginners looking for something simple, Simply Being is highly rated for being user-friendly and customizable.

If you want to learn how to be “mindful” or to “meditate”, and you want it NOW, get the app GPS for the Soul or Insight Timer. I love them!

Article Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/meditation-apps-stress-positive-thinking-mood_n_4639232.html#slide=start

We don’t get to Choose our Souls’s Path…

 

IMG_1050

...So what makes us think we can control another’s path?

So much time spent trying to figure out what to do, given (insert problem HERE). What if it were simpler?

What if everything was a game of Charades – That the observations, the interpretations, and the conclusions – were based on the subtle clues exposed to us in Life?

Find the threads – the patterns in your life! They want to teach you something. Can you open to that? And that?

What have you learned? Share your insights with me!

 

More Posts

Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression? 

Worth reading – From Off The Web!

Depression on My Mind

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?

There’s George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It’s a Wonderful Life. Then there’s Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.
Let’s not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can’t keep his halo on straight, can’t sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Do They Know It’s Christmas about people starving in Africa.

If you have depression like me, you’re probably already dealing with your own Christmas drama. The last thing you need is to watch a drunk father jump off a bridge on Christmas Eve. But there are lessons to be learned from these poor souls and how they pulled through.

They found gratitude. George Bailey’s gratitude came from seeing what the world would  have been like had he not been born. Scrooge’s gratitude came in a dream, when he saw how his selfishness infected those who crossed his path and how he still had a chance to change.

These are all stories of hope and gratitude – two of the most powerful antidotes to depression. For me, antidepressants are necessary and easy but they don’t give me hope and gratitude. That’s an inside job. The antidepressants give me the ability to feel hope and gratitude but I must do the footwork and find it.

This has been a particularly difficult holiday season for me. Hope and gratitude have not come easily for me. I have had to search for it. I finally found it last weekend when I got off my pity pot and volunteered at a local bike charity, that gave away of 900 bicycles to kids who probably aren’t going to have much else under their trees.

Those three short hours of watching kids pick out the bike of their dreams filled me with hope and gratitude – hope that there still is big beautiful world out there and gratitude that I had been relieved of the bondage of my sadness.
I wish I could tell you that there’s an angel who will lift you out of your black hole. I wish Santa could take away your pain with a present under the tree. But this is real life – not the movies. Depression is real. But if we take our medications and do some footwork, we just might find some hope and gratitude.

For me this holiday season, that’s all I really want.

About Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a reporter for The Palm Beach Post for 29 years and in 2006, began writing a column.

Source: Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression? | Depression on My Mind

The Effects Of Sexual Abuse

– WORTH READING from Off the Web!

a_losided_gaze_by_imaginaryevfan-d3j8gvt“I was four when my father first molested me,” says Dana (her name, like others in this story, has been changed for the protection of privacy), a 36-year-old program administrator in Berkeley, California. Her face and voice expressionless, she continues: “It started with fondling. He’d bounce me up and down on his lap, or make me play hide-and-seek, and then molest me when he caught me. I got very good at hiding, but it didn’t help. By the time I was 12, he was raping me several times a month.”

Until she was an adult, Dana told no one about this abuse. “My father said, “If you tell, I’ll tell everyone it was all your fault,” she says flatly. “I was sure they would all believe him. My father was a successful businessman; our family looked completely normal from the outside.”

Dana left home when she was 18; she was married at 20. “Joe was the most non-male man I’d ever met,” she recalls with just a hint of a smile. “He created a real sense of safety for me. He was completely passive, easy to control. When I told him about my father, he was very understanding. I thought that being safe for the first time in my life would be enough to make me happy.”

But eight years and two children later, the marriage ended. “I just wasn’t able to be there, emotionally or sexually,” Dana says. “In eight years I think we had sex 15 times. To the day we got divorced, we never had an argument, but we didn’t share much happiness either.” She adds, “You see how I talk about all this, without any feeling? That’s how I coped with being molested: all through my childhood, I was detached, unemotional. My mother tells me she never saw me shed a tear after I was eight years old. Shutting down was the best I could do as a child. But it just didn’t work for me as a wife.”

A 1985 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times concluded that at least 22% of all Americans–27% of all women and 16% of men–have been victims of child sexual abuse. Like Dana, most of these children never told anyone: only 3% of the abuse was ever reported to police or other agencies.

Incestuous abuse is any kind of exploitative sexual contact between relatives that occurred before the victim turned 18 years old, and it accounted for 23% of the abuse victims in the study. 41% were molested by friends or acquaintances; 27% by strangers. Two-thirds of those victimized were girls and 93% of their abusers were men. Not all abuse involves intercourse but the effects are similarly devastating.

The Psychological Effect

Untreated sexual abuse,” says Padma Moyer, MFCC, a San Francisco therapist who works with adults survivors of incest, “is a time bomb. Sometimes it ticks so quietly that even the victim doesn’t hear it. But if it isn’t defused, eventually there’s an explosion.”

The fallout from this explosion was reported in the book, Father-Daughter Incest (Harvard University Press, 1982), by Judith Herman. She found that 65% of adult incest survivors suffered from severe depression; 55% had sexual problems; 35% became promiscuous; 20% became alcoholics and/or drug addicts. For many adults who were molested as children, self-destructive behavior is the only visible clue that abuse has occurred. Selective amnesia is common among survivors, whose memories may be blocked by years of threats to “keep Daddy’s secret–or else,” and by the tendency of the childhood psyche to repress traumatic experiences.

Marriage is the spark that ignites the time bomb within many survivors, says Eugene Porter, MFCC, an Oakland, California therapist who counsels couples in which one or both partners is an incest survivor. “Making the commitment to marriage brings up all the issues connected with the betrayal of being molested: intimacy, trust, sexuality,” concludes Ms. Moyer. “And when marriage is perceived as an obligation to take care of their partners’ sexual needs, it recapitulates their worst childhood experiences–being trapped and unable to say no.”

If the abuse hasn’t been resolved, victims blame themselves for the molestation, Mr. Porter says. And the resulting disturbances – depression, anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem–often put a strain on the spouse. “On the one hand the spouse feels the urge to cure the survivor; on the other, there’s a resentment about having to take care of this vulnerable, fragile, often withdrawn partner,” he continues. Survivors often have difficulty forming close emotional relationships and trusting their partners. Many female survivors project the rage they feel toward their fathers onto their husbands.

Mark, 35, a copywriter in Oakland, California and his wife Ellen, 31, an accountant, says: “When Ellen and I first got together she told me she’d been molested by her brother all through her childhood. Neither of us knew at the time how much that would affect our relationship. All I knew was that every time we started feeling close to each other, Ellen would freak out: she’d accuse me of cheating on her; she’d say she knew I was planning to dump her; she’d start threatening to leave me before I could hurt her. Then she’d go into a deep depression,” Mark sighs. “Meanwhile, I was getting hurt, because no matter how I tried, I couldn’t convince her that I loved her. Finally, Ellen started seeing a therapist. Then she figured out that she was afraid to trust me; she thought I’d betray her the way her brother had.” When Ellen first asked Mark to see a therapist with her, mark was resistant. “I thought it was her problem,” he recalls. But eventually Mark agreed and now says that therapy saved their marriage. “She started being able to distinguish me from her brother,” he says, ” so she could interpret our interaction as it was–not as a replay of what he’d done to her. That took the pressure off me. I stopped feeling like it was my job to prove that she was entitled to be loved. We’re a lot more relaxed and loving now.”

Sexual Problems

Sex is a particularly problematic area of marriage for molestation survivors, whose most traumatic memories involve sexual acts.

Jane, a 35-year-old nurse in Oakland, California remembers almost nothing of her childhood years. But she knows that both of her sisters were raped repeatedly by their father, and her own out-of-control behavior and nightmares have convinced her that she, too, was sexually abused. “Before I got married, I’d sleep with anybody,” she says. “But with my husbands, I was totally disinterested in sex.” Sighing deeply, she adds, “I’ve never been able to believe that there’s any reason to make love besides that it’s how men use you. I’ve never had an orgasm. I’ve never been able to say no to a man, and I’ve never felt close or cared for.”

Many incest survivors have “flashbacks” while making love, says Julie Robbins, LCSW, a therapist specializing in child and adult survivors of sexual abuse. Women who had orgasms while being abused as children may punish their bodies for “enjoying” the abuse, becoming non-orgasmic, obese, or anorexic as adults, she says.

Some male survivors suffer impotence, most often under circumstances reminiscent of their molestation. “Men who have been molested, particularly by their mothers,” says Mr. Porter, “experience a tremendous amount of guilt. Society thinks of mothers as sacrosanct, virginal, so the self-blame among these men is acute. Also, mothers who molest often transmit an expectation of fidelity to their victim sons, which distorts male survivors’ view of what fidelity means. One patient of mine thought he was abnormal and deceptive because he occasionally fantasized about women other than his wife. Another was totally compulsive about sex as a reaction to his molestation by his mother, who had been quite insistent that she be his ‘only one.’”

Alcohol and drugs are used to dull sexual responsiveness, a well as the pain of repressed or remembered abuse.

“Until I started therapy last year at the age of 36,” says Laura, a legal secretary in San Mateo, California, “I had no idea why I could never undress in front of my husband, let alone have sex with him, unless I was completely drunk. Or, why I used to get smashed at parties, or whenever there were any strange men around. Now my memories are coming back; I know that my father was messing with me and I know I used drinking to keep myself from realizing why I’ve been so terrified of men all my life. But now I have two problems to deal with: being molested, and being an alcoholic.”

Breaking the Cycle

Perhaps the most devastating effect of childhood sexual abuse is that it has proven to be a key link in the multigenerational chain of emotional, physical, and sexual violence. Parents United, the nationwide incest treatment agency in San Jose, California reports that 80% of the sexually abusive parents, and 60% of the physically abusive parents they treat, were themselves molested as children. And, it is highly likely that children of untreated survivors of molestation will also be abused, both in and outside of their families. Eighty percent of the molested children treated at Parents United have mothers who were sexually abused.

How can adults who have suffered the anguish of childhood sexual abuse do the same thing to other children that was done to them?

Some molesters have sex with children because low self-esteem (due to self-blame for their childhood molestation) convinces them that no adult will willingly have sex with them.

Many women who were abused perpetuate the cycle – not necessarily by molesting their children, but by putting them at risk. “If a female survivor’s feelings and memories remain unconscious,” says Ms. Moyer ,”and she doesn’t examine the family dynamic in which she grew up, she may choose a husband like her perpetrator, and create a family like her own family. In that way, she may inadvertently lay the groundwork for her children to be abused.”

The tragic repercussions of multigenerational abuse can be prevented. In the past 10 years, researchers and therapists across the country have developed specialized treatment techniques that can help to heal the wounds of childhood sexual abuse, and thereby lessen its impact on future generations. “When people deal with what happened to them, and the pain of it,” says Ms. Moyer, “they’re much less likely to re-enact it.”

Therapy

Mr. Porter advises survivors of sexual abuse who are considering marriage and/or child rearing to tell their partners that they’ve been molested before proceeding. Therapy for one or both partners, and relationship counseling is recommended. “In my experience,” he says, “most women tell their fiancées; most men don’t. But the first step toward establishing healthy family is establishing honesty within the couple. Often the safest way to disclose is to come in as a couple and work it through together in the safety of a therapist’s office.”

What can a couple expect from the therapeutic process? The “disclosure phase,” Mr. Porter says – the breaking of the secret – often precipitates a good deal of stress in the relationship. The survivor worries about being rejected; the spouse feels confused and disoriented, wondering how he or she should feel, should treat their partner, etc. And, while feeling bad for the partner, they may also feel anger–a “why didn’t you tell me?” reaction. Therapy can help navigate these complex responses.

Spouses of survivors who must have ongoing relationships with their abusers often experience a range of intense emotions. “The first time I met Ellen’s brother,” says Mark, “I wanted to murder him…slowly and painfully. It was the strangest feeling to realize that this man was not only the person who had hurt the woman I love, this was also a man who had sex with my wife. Neither Ellen nor I could stand to be around him. First we stopped going to family gatherings; then we moved to California, partly to get away from him.” Ms. Moyer says that the relationship between an incest survivor and the person who molested her is usually either non-existent or problematic. “Survivors whose offenders are still living,” she says, “have a variety of ways of coping with that relationship. Many simply cut off contact. Many have minimal contact.”

Ms. Moyer states that counseling offers other great benefits. “It’s a stressful thing to go through,” she says, ” but it can also be a time of building a bridge of intimacy that can bring incredible love and solidarity.”

Dana began therapy shortly after her divorce in 1980, to work through the aftermath of the abuse she suffered from her father. A few years later, she was married for a second time. “This time around, marriage is really working for me!” she asserts.

“And I can safely say that being in therapy made all the difference. It’s been very painful, but worth every teardrop. For the first time, I went beyond knowing in my head that the incest happened – I connected with my feelings about it. Now, I don’t’ retreat emotionally the way I used to. I’ve learned to say no, and strangely enough, that’s helped me to become more sexual. I used to just do it and not be there, but now I’m able to acknowledge I’m a sexual person.”

But the greatest reward of the healing process she has gone through, Dana says, is watching her two children grow up happy and healthy. “I’ve taught them they have control.”

Working through this issue makes it possible to make conscious choices and to break old patterns. Says Ms. Moyer: “People who work to heal from child sexual abuse are changing the legacies of future generations.”

Edited for readability from:  meredithmaran.com/mag_bride_abused.htm

Meredith Maran is the author of many books including My Lie: A True Story of False Memory. She’s on twitter @meredithmaran