What Do You Want From Me?

In light of some recent events, I just have this on my heart to write. It’s probably going to be all over the place and disjointed but here goes!

Times change and people change, right? That’s always been my understanding. Until I changed and it has freaked some people out.

I want to paint a picture: ALL of my life I have tried desperately to be happy go lucky and fun loving. Some of that came with a cost. Parties, events  and gatherings.. let me just have a drink or two and everything will be just fine. It will settle my anxiety and nobody will know Im terrified. Times when I couldn’t have a drink to take off the edge, I would tell jokes or make fun of myself; anything to lighten things up.

Then comes the recollection of the sexual abuse. In order to get better I knew I had to stop drinking. Period. So I did. Every now and again I might have a drink but it’s rare.

I also knew I needed to find myself. And what I’ve discovered is that while I enjoy being around groups of people, that I’m also fine by myself. Instead of busting into a party wide open or into an event or meeting wired up, I come in, get a feel for what’s going on and then engage in whatever’s happening. If I was mad or upset, I would either leave or let someone know for sure. People have asked me: why are you quiet? Are you mad? What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you talking, etc. Because maybe I’m thinking before I speak now? Or maybe I’m listening?  Maybe I’m distracted? It could be any of those. Then I think, it would be so much easier to go back to the old wide open, center of attention me. But that’s just not healthy for me.

I just want everyone to please exercise patience with me. I promise I will tell you if something is wrong. But I need your support and I hope I can count on that because I love all of my family and friends dearly and don’t want to hurt anyone.

I read somewhere ” I have shed my skin so many times, the graveyards must be full of the people I used to be”  and that’s the truth.

I simply ask you to love me for who I am… please? Not who I was. And if you can’t, I understand. But just because I understand doesn’t mean that you can try to force me into the box you have for me. I don’t fit in boxes..

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Have a Heart for Others

Have a Heart for Others

I am always encouraged that despite all of the evil going on in this world, there are so many people that show love to others. Today, I experienced an individual that has gone through a truly life altering traumatic experience step up and stand up for a child’s safety. When it could have been very easy to mind her own business and deal with her own grief, she thought about this child and her safety. It truly brought me to tears.

Out of my journey, I have been privileged to meet survivors of all ages at various stages of healing. I readily admit that sometimes I feel incredibly overwhelmed when listening to someone’s story. Not because I don’t want to hear it. Just because my heart breaks a little each time someone tells me about their experience with childhood sexual abuse. But I know I need to overcome those feelings because I feel like I’m being led to mentor and love on these survivors. Having someone who will show up no matter what – even when bad decisions have been made, or hurtful words have been said – can shift the way that survivors approach life and help them achieve their full potential. I was the recipient of great mentors in my journey and I know that without them, my results would have not been the same. Hearing a voice saying “it’s not your fault” or “I believe you” builds self worth and creates a bond like no other.  My ability as a survivor mentor to paint a real picture of past struggles, and pain gives rise to hope, to those who are hopeless.

S.C. Lourie wrote: “We were never meant to hold our hurts in. Out of everything, this Is one of the most damaging things we’ve been taught. But we are enduring. We are intelligent. We can unlearn.”

Over the past couple of years, there has been a handful of folks, 5 to be exact, that were sexually abused by the same person that abused me. Which rings true of the statistic that abusers rarely have one victim. That’s why acting responsibly is so important. I know that it’s asking a lot, but you  may be the only voice that child has. Bystander intervention is tough

Here is some wonderful information from the Darkness to Light website www.d2l.org

Disclosure, discovery, and suspicions of sexual abuse provide opportunities to intervene on behalf of a child.

 

 

DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Disclosure of sexual abuse means a child has chosen you as the person he or she trusts enough to tell. It is the moment when children learn whether others can be trusted to stand up for them.

DON’T OVERREACT

If a child breaks an arm or runs a high fever, you know to stay calm and where to seek help because you’ve mentally prepared yourself. Reacting to child sexual abuse is the same.

When you react to disclosure with anger or disbelief, the child will likely:

  • Feel even more ashamed and guilty.
  • Shut down.
  • Change or retract the story, when, in fact, abuse is actually occurring.
  • Change the story to match your questions so future telling’s appear to be “coached.” This can be very harmful if the case goes to court.

Very few reported incidents of child sexual abuse are false.

Offer Support

Think through your response before you react. You’ll be able to respond in a more supportive manner.

  • Believe the child and make sure the child knows it.
  • Thank the child for telling you and praise the child’s courage.
  • Encourage the child to talk, but don’t ask leading questions about details. Asking about details can alter the child’s memory of events. If you must ask questions to keep the child talking, ask open-ended ones like “What happened next?”
  • Seek the help of a professional who is trained to interview the child about sexual abuse. Professional guidance could be critical to the child’s healing and to any criminal prosecution.
  • Assure the child that it’s your responsibility to protect him or her and that you’ll do all you can.
  • Report or take action in all cases of suspected abuse, both inside and outside the immediate family.
  • Don’t panic. Sexually abused children who receive support and psychological help can and do heal.

Try not to show anger toward the offender, who may be someone the child loves. You can add to the child’s burden by showing how upset you are.

 

DISCOVERY OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Discovery of sexual abuse means you’ve witnessed a sexually abusive act by an adult or youth with a child, or you know by some other means that abuse has taken place.

Report your discovery immediately to law enforcement.

  • Tell the child’s name and where he or she lives.
  • Tell where you are at the present time, where the child is, and where the offender is, if known.
  • Tell what the child said to you.
  • Tell what interactions you saw between the alleged offender and the child.
  • Tell what other behaviors, if any, you’ve observed in the alleged offender.
  • Tell what signs in the child you’ve seen.
  • Tell what access the alleged offender has to the child.

And remember, if you discover child pornography, you’ve discovered sexual abuse. Child pornography is illegal.

 

SUSPICION OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Suspicion of sexual abuse means you’ve seen signs in a child, or you’ve witnessed boundary violations by adults or other youth toward a child.

Set limits. Ask questions.

If you are a “bystander” who witnesses a boundary violation, or sees a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it’s not important to know the intentions of the person who crossed the boundary. What is important is that you reinforce the boundary – even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting.

Describe the Behavior

“It’s against policy for you to be in the classroom alone with a student.”

Set a Limit

“You need to take your conversation to the student lounge.”

Move On

“I’m on my way there, now, so I’ll walk with you.”

Offenders are rarely caught in the act of abusing a child, but they’re often seen breaking rules and pressing boundaries.

Know the policies for reporting disclosures, discoveries, and suspicion in your organization.

  • All 50 states require that professionals who work with children report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Some states require that anyone with suspicions report it. Information about each state’s requirements is available at the Child Welfare Information Gateway http://www.childwelfare.gov.
  • If you are a professional who works with children (e.g., a teacher; a nurse), there are special procedures and reporting requirements you must follow. Your employer should provide mandated reporting training.

Know the agencies that handle reports of abuse.

Two agencies handle most reports of child abuse: Child Protective Services (in some states this agency has a different name) and law enforcement.Some states designate Child Protective Services as the agency that accepts reports of suspected child abuse. Others designate law enforcement. Some do not designate or designate both. Many states have toll-free lines that accept reports of abuse from the entire state. To find out where to make a report in your state, identify the Child Abuse Reporting Numbers at The Child Welfare Information Gateway website, www.childwelfare.gov. If the legal system does not provide adequate protection for a child, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime at www.ncvc.org or call 1-800-FYI-CALL for referral information.

Have a heart for others…especially our children.

Love and peace,

Kriquette

 

 

It’s Never Too Late

  • If you would have told me that at the age of 43, I would go through such a huge transformation, I would have thought you were crazy. I had convinced myself that most of the big changes had happened and I was just cruising along. Then, what started off as a normal day, it quickly plummeted into a nightmare. Sitting in that field, with my head in my hands, not sure of what was going to happen to my life as I knew it. I realized how dysfunctional my idea of normal was. Right then and there, I knew I had a choice. I could continue to live a life that was shadowed by secrets and darkness or I could deal with it.
    I chose to deal with it. Frequently during my journey, I would beat myself up about “wasting my life”. What I learned was that it’s not wasted time at all. All of the experiences, good and bad both deposited something inside of me. Those experiences and challenges have sharpened me into who I am today. I like to think that I have risen from the ashes.
    Please don’t ever think that “it’s too late” to deal with anything. It’s not. It has been so worth all of the pain and grief that I have felt. I don’t feel like I am always waiting for something bad to happen and more importantly I see my challenges as opportunities not punishment. “She picked up the pieces of her life and created something beautiful from that day forth. She shone like the sun and changed the definition of broken”- Randall M Core

 

Astonish the World

Astonish the World

 

“My wish is that you continue. Continue to be who you are and how you are. To astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” – Maya Angelou

Full disclosure…it’s really easy to get discouraged and down. I don’t always do a great job of pulling things off with a smile. The old me, the one in denial, would use humor to cover any negative feelings. When I finally admitted to myself that I was a victim of sexual abuse and that I had suffered unspeakable acts, I truly saw myself as who I was. I wasn’t the person that I had conjured up in my head and showed to everyone. I was Damaged.  Shameful. Guilty. Violated. Terrorized. Anxious. Depressed. Angry. Sad. Hurt. Powerless. Dirty. Worthless.  Scared. Alone. Helpless. Hopeless. Physically in  Pain. Mentally exhausted. Tired. Grieving. Ugly. Lost. Without Purpose. Overwhelmed. I was all of these things. That’s really hard to accept. The first time I put that in writing, it broke my heart but it also liberated me. With the grace of God, counseling, prayer ministry and the unwavering support of my family and friends, I am in a much better place today. I am striving to do what Maya Angelou said. Instead of focusing on what happened to me, I focus on helping others. It doesn’t matter to me who you are, you are worthy of kindness. Of course, I do focus on survivors-from any trauma because I know how important it is to be validated by someone else. It’s important that we all know that it’s ok not to be ok all of the time.  It’s equally important to know that you matter, you are loved and the world is a better place because you are in it.

Astonish the world with your acts of kindness….sounds like a good plan to me!

 

The Act of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an action. It is the action of releasing a man of his deserved punishments and obligations. Legitimate forgiveness is only possible when the victim can look the offender in the eyes and with honesty say ” I hereby extend God’s mercy to you and waive any further punishment you rightly deseve and eliminate any further restitutions or reparations you may owe to me. Your debt is entirely and fully gone. You are free of any further liability in this matter.”

Forgiveness plays a huge role in healing. Forgiving the person that did that to me. Forgiving myself- the abuse was not my fault. I know there is hope for healing. I can’t say that one task is easier than the other. because they are not. I have forgiven my abuser; I have also forgiven MYSELF.

In order to do this, you must first, be honest with yourself. You have to acknowledge the problem before you can apply the solution. Secondly, you have to allow yourself to heal. Third, and one of the most important things is to really SEE the new you.

It’s not that you are forgetting what happened (don’t remind yourself of it either) but you have to see through the past and surge forward into the new phases of your life.

By forgiving myself and the abuser, my soul feels much lighter and I don’t carry around this heavy feeling of guilt . I have been amazed at how much better my outlook on life is as is my determination to heal and be able to continue to help others.

I found a quote a couple of years ago, that really resonated with me, right after I began my journey. In fact, it is taped on my desk, right under my keyboard. “Death brings forgiveness, but real forgiveness before the dying is immeasurable”

I challenge you to try to forgive….it’s definately been an uplifting experience for me. Always remember:” You are not alone!”

Through the Eyes of A 5 Year Old

As I travel through this journey, I often think that as I am telling my story, it may be difficult for people to see this through my eyes as a 5 year old. Yes, I am telling you the story and the struggles, but it was so different through the eyes of a 5 year old. As I address this issue, I have been down many roads and one of the roads has been the road of forgiveness and self empowerment.  I have written in my journal about how it possibly could have been if I would have told someone. I am going to share some of it with you in hopes that it will help you gain a better perspective of the emotional war that goes on inside a child’s brain. I firmly believe that a lot of outcomes would be so much better and more positive, if we can just get our children to disclose to someone they trust. In my child’s mind, I chose to shut out a lot of people and things. I didn’t allow the people that cared about me the opportunity to take care of me. I had preconceived ideas of what others thought.

Here are some of my thoughts about what it would have been like if I would have allowed the people that cared about me to help and take care of me. This is what I think they would have said to me:

“You are so brave! I believe you and will do everything within my power to make sure that no one hurts you like that again. I am sorry that you were hurt. But please know that now I can help you…together we will go through this hurtful time.  I don’t want you to have to pretend to be brave all of the time. If something really hurts you or your feelings, it’s okay to cry. Crying doesn’t mean that you are being a baby. Crying is not a bad thing. Keeping all those feelings inside can be a bad thing. It can cause you to be angry and sometimes mean.  Please don’t think that it is expected for you to always keep your head up and move forward.   I so want for you to feel cared for and loved all of the time. I don’t want you to feel like you are a burden to me; you are not. Sacrifices are made for you, but in a loving way. You are worth the sacrifices. Years from now, when you look back on these days, I want you to remember laughter and tears, but mostly love. I don’t want you to hold back on doing things you want to do because you are afraid and need guidance. I will help you. Talk to me. Tell me what you want to do. I want you to have as many experiences as you can. Just know that all experiences are not going to be pleasant, but that is how we learn and grow. I will not let you do something that will be dangerous or that I know will hurt you, I will not leave you with people that are dangerous and will hurt you. I am looking out for you. While you are very wise at 5 years old, you shouldn’t have to worry all the time about protecting yourself and other people. Let me help you.”

“You are a blessing. You are part of the family. You are the completion of this family circle. I see you when you are trying to be invisible. It hurts me to see you isolate yourself. It hurts me to see you make jokes about hurtful things because I know that deep down you are hurting. I want to hold your hand and tell you that everything will be all right. I will protect you from hurtful and evil things. I want you to be able to lay down the hurt, the grief and the fear; let me help you. But I need your help, I need you to tell me when you are afraid, I need you to trust. I want to help you and be there for you but sometimes I am unsure of what to do.”

And that my friends, is how it could have been. We cannot expect our loved ones to read our minds. We must tell them how we feel and what we need. As a five year old that was so afraid and so ashamed, I didn’t feel like I had the right to be loved and cared for. But the bright side to this story, is that I had a wonderful, loving family. I truly believe that even though they NEVER KNEW, their love for me helped me to be able to stand on my own two feet and keep going when I felt like there was no hope. They always believed in me and loved me no matter the circumstances. I just wish that I could have truly received all of the love that was offered to me instead of being afraid of it.  This is one of the many reasons that I want to help stop child sexual abuse. Children should be able to be GENUINE in their relationships and be able to trust without having that trust broken. Children should be able to laugh and play and cry and learn and dream without FEAR.  Let’s protect our children! It’s our job as adults!

My life changed in an instant, my innocence is gone…help me make my journey count by protecting our precious, innocent children. Together WE CAN.

 

Pushing Back the Dark

I am often asked, does it ever just go away? At this point in my journey, I can’t answer that question; I have a lot of work to do. The effects of child sexual abuse started when I was 5 and I didn’t start to deal with it until I was 44. The therapeutic process is a grueling one. You have to learn to trust the therapist/counselor, alongside whom you will later venture into a dark forest haunted by the monsters of your childhood nightmares. This trauma-work stage is the longest part of therapy, and your energies are directed towards facing overwhelming fears. A mourning period follows, during which you wade through a swamp of despair and emptiness, aware of all the losses you suffered as a result of having been sexually abused: loss of the ideal family you were supposed to have, loss of self-worth, loss of naivety, loss of the ability to play, to concentrate, and many more. There is little strength left over for dealing with the realities of the rest of the world. You shed the identity of ‘victim’ and even that of ‘survivor’ and become a ‘thriver’. The effect of this is devastating to our spouses.

Some husbands feel betrayed when told about the abuse, either when told about it or when faced with the difficulties which arise during therapy. Also, when partners are unable to rescue the survivor from past or present crises, they may feel guilty and inadequate. Being unable to match their own unrealistic expectations of themselves can be disillusioning. Many express their distress, at some time during the survivor’s healing process. Some spouses grow angry with the survivor for not ‘doing therapy’ quickly enough, prolonging the nightmare that their lives have become. Some want to leave the relationship and consider divorce. The slow pace of the healing process can result in unbearable frustration on the part of even the most supportive spouse. Moreover, the duration of therapy can become a serious drain on the family’s financial resources, from the direct costs of therapy itself, or indirectly, through lost income when the survivor finds herself temporarily unable to function in the work environment. In spite of the difficulties, many husbands are proud of their wives for the courage and determination they show in working to overcome the damage caused by the abuse. My husband has been a wonderful advocate for me, and I will be forever thankful.

It’s a work in progress…pushing back the dark!

Scars

I recently saw something that resonated with me: “My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. Scars remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has left me stronger and more resilient.”- Author Unknown. When people think about scars, in our mind we see scabbing, jagged edges, disfigurement, sometimes discoloring of the skin. It’s rarely a pleasant thought.

As more time passes, I become more proud of the scars I have. Not all of my wounds are visible. They are a part of me and an even bigger part of my healing. As a victim of child sexual abuse, as many victims of child sexual abuse do, I tend to isolate myself. The isolation creates a huge festering wound that cannot and will not heal if I don’t tell my story. An untold story can lead to other things. If you don’t tell the story, it will come out, just not in words, but in damaging actions.  The wounds that have partially healed will tear open and bleed.

A huge part of my journey has been to realize that God loves me through the darkness and into the light. 1Peter 3:18 ESV says “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” I very much believe that what I went through led me down a path so that I could help others. If it wasn’t for God and the people he put in my life, I would never be brave enough to tell my story. I try to stand tall, even when my knees are shaking.

I am striving to serve as an agent of hope, healing, caring and love. Maybe I can give a voice to those who cannot speak and usher in healing. As I do that, my scars taken on an astounding beauty.  Our community can help heal others by preventing child sexual abuse, learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking about it, recognizing the signs and reacting responsibly. Your actions will help close these wounds and protect our victims. It will give victims the bravery to tell their story and begin to heal. You can help to be agent of change. The children and the victims need you! Let God use you to serve others…that’s what he wants.

Just Get Over It

Sometimes I feel like when speaking with people about my journey, they are thinking “why don’t you just get over it already?” As an older survivor, it seems that we should be able to move on already. At times, I feel very inadequate because I am not where I want to be in this journey. I don’t think that “getting over it” is being healed from the trauma of child sexual abuse. I also don’t think that one has survived child sexual abuse, I think that one survives. The pain I felt from child sexual abuse 43 years ago still manifest themselves as if it happened TODAY.

Life changing events can be a trigger for painful memories. The death of a parent, spouse, or a good friend can make you feel more isolated and vulnerable. Having too few distractions can give the trauma front and center in your mind. You never know when these vivid, scary memories will creep into your mind and sear your soul. You just have to take it as it comes and deal with it the best you can. Each survivor has coping mechanisms, some healthy and some unhealthy. You just really have to focus on going the healthy route. It’s very rarely the easiest route, nor does it feel like the “safest” route. But in the end, your healing depends on healthy coping mechanisms.

Remain hopeful. Isaiah 40:31- “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings and like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. You can come out on the other side, you can be happy, you can have successful relationships. It just takes prayer, perseverance and the support of family and friends. You don’t have to “get over it”, you just have to heal. “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29.

I continue to have hope, not only for myself but for the other 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse. I feel like if it can be ok for me, then it can be ok. We can continue this fight and push the darkness away…just watch us do it!

 

You Can’t Keep Me Down

Recently, I did a presentation on Darkness to Light, the child sexual abuse prevention program at an elementary school. This had been on my schedule for some time and when I first agreed to do it, I knew that it could possibly be a trigger for some unsettling memories. This particular school happened to be the one I was attending while I was being sexually abused.

As I headed to the school, a flood of memories came rushing back.  When I parked my car, I became paralyzed with fear and anxiety. The shame and the guilt were thrust in my face, I began to cry. I have always tried to be a strong person, and not reach out for any help. But this day was an exception. I reached out to my husband, some friends and some of the pastoral staff at The Bridge. I really thought I was going to be unable to do the presentation. One text I received said “God will give you both PEACE and the WORDS!” The ability to reach out, be reassured and  put it in God’s hands, allowed me to stopped crying, dry my tears and say “I’m gonna do this!”

I took a deep breath, walked in and began my presentation. The abuse didn’t occur at school.  I had a very kind, loving teacher that year, she had no idea what was going on with me; no one knew. But she made an effort to connect with me and was a very positive influence. Before my presentation, I told the teachers about my experience. Most importantly, I reminded them how valuable they are in a child’s life. The kind words, the reassurance they offer can make a big difference in every child, but especially one that is being abused. I know it made a difference to me…