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For some, understanding incest is a bit like peering through another's window. There are similarities to be found in the stranger's home - a bed, kitchen, and lavatory. One has to look more closely, and pay attention to details, to keep from bumping around in the unknown.

So it is with incest. Some doubt that sexual abuse happens in the numbers it does. Some feel that over-zealous mental health professionals with questionable ethics, or poor souls vying for more attention inflate our numbers. And this could be true, to a certain degree.

But those who are pondering sexual abuse as a child do not just sit around thinking, you know? I think I was sexually abused as a kid, and then get up and go fix dinner...

There are certain markers, if you will, that distinguishes the sexually abused from all others. Most notably, we have relationship problems. We have intimacy problems, and body issues. This might well sound pretty normal except for one small detail.

The degree.

The only place one might find a similar degree of emotional issues and dysfunctions would be in soldiers of war who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Some feel post traumatic stress disorder does not exist. But others find it entirely plausible that certain events can, and will, change the course of a lifetime forever.

Certainly it makes sense that extreme events would cause a person extreme emotional duress. It also makes sense then, that victims of incest and sexual abuse are extremists as well. Therein lies all our markers that belong only to the sexually abused. We share some powerful common denominators.

AN EXTREMIST'S WORLD...

Again, thanks for being here, and for educating yourself about incest and sexual abuse of children, and our "way of life". I, personally, am EXTREMELY glad for people such as yourself, who choose to learn instead of passing judgement. I truly feel that education is the best tool for every situation in life, but particularly where the unknown is concerned. Let me give you a quick 'in a nutshell' view of a few aspects and traits shared by all who are sexually abused.



THE EXTREMISTS!
The abused share extremism, but in every form. There is no in-between ground for us. We run hot. We run cold. But rarely will you find one of us who is lukewarm. We are either 'in your face' types, or rather mild and meek. Sometimes you may find some of us who live 'invisibly', barely making any mark at all on our world. (Guess you won't be having any problems putting me in the proper catagory!)


RELATIONSHIPS!
Here again - extremes. If the sexually abused had a dime for every co-dependent relationship we are/have been in, we could all afford topnotch therapy or a luxurious vacation! But unfortunately, since many of us were taught about LOVE by those who would abuse us, is it any wonder we get it wrong? As a child, we were taught to "give" our love to those who would TAKE IT. Many of our abusers positioned themselves so that we were completely dependent on them. Thus, the co-dependency thing...

The other form of extremism you'll find in our relationships are those who operate at the other end of the spectrum. Be nice, and call them obsessive/compulsive, or more simply put - the control freaks. Again, children learn what they live. And if you felt your childhood, was out of control, you might well (and somewhat understandably!) crave control in adulthood.

Also those abused as children may have an uncanny ability to 'tune' in to others. We are almost psychic. We had to be as children, since so much of our well-being relied on the moods of others, or our ability to pre-read others.

REPRESSION!
We may suppress memories, and more. Memories are funny things, because we hold the power to edit them. Our editor is called our PSYCHE. Somewhere inside ourselves, there is a 'valve' that is turned off or on, and is responsible for editing our memories for our wellbeing. When in extreme crisis, the valve closes our conscience, thus preventing the incoming 'messages' from harming our mental states to the point of insanity. When our psyches deem our character strong or capable of processing that information, it is re-presented to us in various forms (repressed memories?) until we deal with it. Then the repression stops.

We often repress much more than our memories. We may repress our emotions (devoid of emotion, like automatons), and our sense of self as well. (self? we were robbed of self as children, by being unable to stop or avert our abuse.)

BODY ISSUES!
Yes. We have them in all forms and fashions. Mirrors can be quite an issue. We may attempt to make ourselves unattractive, to prevent further abuses in life by gaining/losing weight, wearing inappropriate clothing, refusing to practice good hygiene, etc. My personal issue was hair. My mother used a hairbrush in her abuses, and it took me years to figure out why my hair was always untidy. I quite naturally shied away from hairbrushes.

And some of us practice self mutilation in various forms, when we are 'cycling' (my own term for being caught up in the grips of the past...). Most of us are what is known as cutters. We make incisions in our skin. Not only are there cosmetic concerns there, but physical ones as well. Most cutters do not cut as a means of suicide. It is difficult to explain adequately to laymen, but again, in a nutshell, one cuts to let out pain that's on the inside. The pain caused by the cutting brings the cutter back to the physical, and out of the mental - where the worst pain of all is.

I hope I did that justice.


SEX & INTIMACY!
Our sex lives may appear confusing also, but in fact are quite understandable when one considers what part the sex act plays in our psyches. Extremists that we are, it's either one or the other. We may act out sexually (those who are 'loose as a goose'!). But given the facts, consider that any affections we were shown as children usually revolved around being manipulated sexually.

At the other extreme, there are those who were abused who find sex and intimacy almost an impossibility. Instead of being pleasureable, I am assuming that those with clear minds can understand that sex could also be very traumatic for a victim who suffered sexual abuse in childhood.

I'll add a small note that there is another catagory that bleeds in and out of the other two - those who participate in sexual states, but with reserve. They dissociate from the act, which is then performed like an automaton. Enough about our sex lives...

PHOBIAS & TRIGGERS!
Certainly, most of us know what a phobia is - an abnormal fear. Triggers are elements/events that spur phobias. Why do our brains develope triggers and phobias?

First we must consider how the human brain works. Our minds (optimally) favor logic. In the brain's attempt to conceive and sort information, the concept must have three parts; a beginning, a middle, and an end. If these three parts are not present, the information cannot be completely processed, and the brain is not able to sort it out.

Many sexually abused in youth found it impossible to witness the abusive episodes, and left their tiny bodies by dissociating from their physical selves. Plus the abuse never stopped, or had an ending. So this open-ended event prevents logical processing by the brain. Phobias result and grow. Again, in a Taren Dawn nutshell, the brain needs certain elements to know how and where to catalog events, sort of like a computer file.

Triggers can be smells, events (like having a baby, or sex, etc), places, or objects (like hairbrushes). And triggers feed phobias. Abuse victims always have triggers, as well as phobias because the two are inseparable.

And I hope I did that justice too.

SANITY!
No doubt, one's mental health plays an important role in one's future. It's no small wonder then, that so many of us too quickly don the coat of insanity. Our circumstances would make the bravest and strongest question their sanity. No small wonder either that our suicide rates are higher than most. Death could seem more gentle than our world, quite seductively. Even the wrong answer is at least an answer.

Who can know the world's loss in human terms? How many artists and authors, bakers and candlestick makers is our world minus because of incest and sexual abuse? I pray not one more soul...please! Our world cannot bear it.

The rest of us victims/survivors are left to wander a society that views us much as a booger in its nose - turn of head and look away. Meanwhile, we feel like 'square pegs' in life's round holes.

We shouldn't doubt OUR sanity because the world is crazy. Crazy would be much, much easier...





*please feel free to inquire about my book, THE WEEPERS, BY TAREN DAWN D'HAUS





WHEN PEERING IN OTHERS' WINDOWS, REMEMBER JUST HOW MANY WINDOWS THERE ARE OUT THERE...

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