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Telling your story vs. learning to cope

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#16 widefront

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 05:34 PM

ok, i'm a victim of csa. for awhile i had to tell the details because i was remembering what happened and needed to get it out. now i don't need to do so anymore. however i do tell people i was molested because it had such a tremendous impact on who i am now. also i'm not ashamed of what happened anymore. i know now it wasn't my fault. just saying that i was molested seems to be enough for the people i say it to. i don't need to hide what happened anymore.

#17 Guest_dream of water_*

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 11:31 AM


Great question.  This is where my gf is.  Wondering.  In fact her therapist (a cognitive behavioural therapist) has asked her if at times she wishes she had never said anything.  She broke her silence almost a year ago.  I have experienced serious abuse of another kind, and talking about it has really helped me.  It's given me a whole new sense of calm and strength.  But that's me.  Talking didn't necessarily help my gf, especially in the months following her disclosure.  It has shattered so many of the things she told herself for years just to keep going in her life.  Confronting the issues around other people's cruelty has not been easy at all for her.  She's gone through a long "quiet" phase, also brought on by some key people's denial of her story.  Now she's starting to read the boards here, she's posted twice and I'm putting my faith in her instincts and the care of her therapist (who I've met ... she's wonderful).


(Edited by dream of water at 3:32 pm on Mar. 24, 2003)

#18 Guest__*

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 11:53 PM

Here's an article about this.

Adjustment to Trauma-Related Stress Helped by Repressive Coping Style
Joan Arehart-Treichel

Those who repress their anxiety seem to be better shielded against heart attacks and PTSD than those who experience anxiety or try to repress it but fail.

Ever since the 1970s, certain people have been known to be anxiety repressors. That is, their heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone, and other physiological measures reveal that they experience anxiety, yet they manage to repress conscious thoughts about their anxiety.

What’s more, persons who have had heart attacks are known to be in danger of both acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Thus, some Israeli researchers decided to conduct a study to find out how good an anxiety-repression coping style is at shielding patients from acute stress disorder and from PTSD. As they reported in the September/October Psychosomatic Medicine, the coping style seems to be effective.

Karni Ginzburg, Ph.D., a lecturer at Tel Aviv University School of Social Work; Zahava Solomon, Ph.D., a professor there; and Avi Bleich, M.D., chair of psychiatry, selected as their subjects more than 100 patients who had been hospitalized for a heart attack. While the subjects were hospitalized, they filled out a 58-item psychological questionnaire to reveal whether they were anxiety types (persons who feel anxious when threatened with dangerous situations), defensive types (individuals who try to repress their anxiety but fail), successful anxiety-repression types (individuals who tend to repress their anxiety and succeed at it), or low-anxiety types (persons who experience little anxiety when faced with threatening situations).

While in the hospital, the subjects were also assessed with the Stanford Acute Stress Reaction Questionnaire, which is based on DSM-IV criteria, to determine whether they were suffering from acute stress disorder. Seven months later, they were evaluated at home with the PTSD Inventory, a self-report questionnaire based on DSM-IV criteria, to determine whether they had PTSD.

As Ginzburg explained to Psychiatric News, clinical interviews are definitely preferred when a diagnosis of PTSD is made for clinical purposes. However, for their study purposes, they believed that their standardized self-report questionnaire was superior, not just because it was easier to administer, but because it had both high validity and high specificity.

After Ginzberg and her coworkers analyzed their data to categorize their subjects in one of the four stress-reaction groups, they determined how many subjects in each succumbed to either acute stress disorders or PTSD. This way they could see how the repressive-coping types compared with the other three types.

They found that 31 percent of their subjects were anxiety types, 26 percent were defensive types, 25 percent were successful anxiety-repression types, and 17 percent were low-anxiety types.

They found that 36 percent of the anxiety types, 21 percent of the defensive types, 4 percent of the successful anxiety-repression types, and none of the low-anxiety types experienced acute stress disorder.

They found that 19 percent of the anxiety types, 17 percent of the failed anxiety-repression types, 7 percent of the successful anxiety-repression types, and 20 percent of the low-anxiety types experienced PTSD.

When Psychiatric News asked Ginzburg whether there might be a contradiction between their finding that no low-anxiety subjects experienced acute stress disorder and their finding that 20 percent of them experienced PTSD, she replied that there was not. The reason, she explained, is that other researchers have found that levels of anxiety experienced immediately after a stressful event are only marginally predictive of whether a person will ultimately experience PTSD.

So, putting all these findings together, they suggest that "the repressive coping style may promote adjustment to traumatic stress, both in the short and longer term," Ginzburg and her coworkers concluded. In other words, this coping style appeared to be superior to both anxiety and defensiveness in preventing acute stress disorder, and superior to anxiety, defensiveness, and low anxiety in preventing PTSD.

The findings are useful to psychiatrists, Bleich told Psychiatric News, in that they "promote knowledge of the possible psychiatric consequences of myocardial infarction and suggest a direction for early intervention and therapy when needed."

The study was financed by the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Sarah Peleg Research Foundation.

The study, "Repressive Coping Style, Acute Stress Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Myocardial Infarction," is posted on the Web at http://www.psychosom.../cgi....somatic Medicine 2002 64 748[

#19 kiwi

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 04:48 PM

Hmmm. I think everyone is different. And also the kind of T you have will also determine, whether you tell all the details or none of them.
But i fully believe (when i can) that inorder to heal the wound, you need to wash out all of the infection and then get to the grit (ie the details) which need to be gently extracted, inorder for the wound to heal completly. And there will always be a scar, but a scar is easier to hide, and for those who don't want to hide it, a scar is easier to show/tell, rather than a disgusting open wound.

I have always had this feeling or intution that i need to tell (probably just the once) the actual r*pe. And i need to say and the words out loud ( i still can't).

Anyway thats my thoughts

#20 ladyshen92

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 10:24 AM

In a sick sick way, I envy the majority of you all. You all seem to be fortunate enough to remember your traumatic experiance. However I'm not. I remember the major details, the most disturbing ones, but not everything. Since it happened, I've remembered more over the last three years. Therfore I have never had a 'straight story' this upsets me because the person closest to me doesn't believe making it ten times harder to seek help through fear of being called a liar once more.
Any advice?


#21 Indiana79

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 01:25 PM

I'm not sure if this is ok to do or not. I just told my story b4 xmas. I feel awful. I've been going to therapy for a year, originally for other stuff well it's all related so it's all the same I guess. I've been trying to cope for 12 years and I've relived the trauma so many times I have no idea how I did it. I THOUGHT I would feel better once the story was out, at least in therapy, but I spent the first four days of the new year at home crying, feeling horrible and very alone. I've been here a lot, and it makes me feel less lonely. I know this is a process, but I just don't feel like I can participate in my own life right now. I feel really depressed, tired, I have trouble sleeping and working. I feel pretty angry too, I'm not even sure why or with whom. I know the rape has taken a huge part of my life, influenced all of my desicions, and keeping it inside me without asking for help has totally damaged my sense of self and my relationships with others, but I had no idea that speaking about it would leave me so devastated. I've a friend who worked through her own assault, and she tells me this is pretty much how it goes in therapy. I sought help because my coping was not helping, it was actually hurting, and I came into therapy very hopeful that if I did the work things might change, and that I might feel better. Now I don't know. I honestly don't know, because I feel a lot like I did 12 years ago after it happened, just tired and lonely and like I don't want to talk to anybody. Realizing how much this affects me, how much work is ahead of me, how much pain I've felt this whole time, how hard it is to communicate and relate to anyone is just overwhelming. I feel like someone just blew up my head and it's going to be a very uphill ride from here. And frankly, I'm not even sure it's worth it. BUT, this may very well be completely different to others who speak out. It's just not my case right now. I wish it were.

#22 memoire

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 06:49 PM

This is an amazing thread. I need to print it out and read carefully.

Focusing on how the abuse affects your life today and learning to cope in relation to that, identifying how abuse influences your thinking and actions and then effecting change in those areas will increase the quality of your life... It is work that must be done and I think it should be a focus in treatment and in the healing process.

I can't afford a therapist right now and have had less than helpful ones in the past. I want to try to do this work (cognitive-behavioral) on myself. I am finding that dwelling in the telling is stressing me out and definitely not moving me ahead. I have told my husband first, then friends, and I wrote a long, angry letter to my abuser which I may or may not mail. Now, I need to get to work on what is ahead for me. I feel alive, in pain, scared, sober (I used to be "high" on all my defenses, mild self-medication, religious and mystical manias.) but somehow hopeful.

For myself, because I can't go back to working in another field, it seems, I may have to invent some work that helps survivors and helps prevent abuse. That may be the only thing that will finally heal me, or is that another manifestation of the perfectionist, the achiever who is going to PROVE, if it kills her, that she is not nothing, not wrong?

#23 gizmo2

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 03:25 PM

for me talking about it helps because it makes me feel as if people are listening and that they care and that getting it out there and out of my head makes it more real to me

#24 msbella

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 08:21 PM

It took me many, many years after telling my mother (she didn't believe me) to come here and tell my story. I've carried part of this (her not believing) and two subsequent rapes since around in my head each and every day, analyzing, blaming myself trying to come to terms with it. I've written up through my 1st marriage. I stopped there so I could work through the thoughts and emotions that came with writing it out. I honestly don't know if I would have ever really accepted how the rapes affected me and began trying to change had I not written what I have. I know that I need to continue wrting, but have been putting off writing about my last marriage. It was extremely psychologically abusive, every single day for almost ten years. I feel if I don't write this, I will be stuck right where I am, and that's not where I want to be. I really wish I could hand write, but I have a disability that makes it extremely hard. I envy those that can hand write in beautiful journals, but am glad I can type.

#25 Bear1

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 02:14 PM

I told my story last week. It wasn't the first time but it was the first time I felt validated by the counselor. The first counselor I told had said to my mom that "one time was not enough" to cause me to behave the way I behaving. I felt crushed and felt like I had to lie to make it worse so that I felt validated. This time I have nothing to numb the pain. No self injury, no eating disorder. I told it and had to sit with the pain and feel like. It sucks but its starting to fade and I see myself getting stronger. If healing is like an onion than I see my progress. Layers are coming off but it still stinks...just like an onion.

#26 jbrook

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:41 PM

For me telling has been I nightmare the more I talk about it the worse the nightmares and flashbacks get. Also many of my memories are broken piece that come back to me in little chunks and the more I know the less I want to know. On the other hand while not dealing with it I have struggled with eating disorders and exstreme SI but when I tried to talk about it those didn't get any better it got worse... Its been over a year since I was willing to talk about the abuse in therapy but my T has been pushing the subject wanting me to open up again but I'm scared that I could not live threw that pain again....

#27 Lyla

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 07:44 AM

I used to feel there was a chasm in what I knew and felt, and what other people knew and thought about sexual abuse.

I felt conflicted when things happened to me, and it took a while for me to look at it from "a big picture" perspective. My initial attempts at therapy avoided this, and any dialogue on how violence had affected me.

Memories of the physical and sexual abuse were triggered by movies I would watch. More of the sexual abuse memories started resurfacing when I was 20, around certain people, who ended up being abusive.

I had trouble in relationships and that slowly resolved itself. I literally would try to block out things, and then I would stop sleeping at night.

The thing is, society, and what the professionals think are happening in my mind, could not be easily fixed by a pill. It's easy to say, "you're broken, now take this- you were never sexually abused."

This has been one of the more difficult conflicts to overcome. Silence can kill you. Therapy imposed silence is worse.

I would love for my memory to just go away but the problem is, it's worse to try to make yourself a blank slate.

Healing for me has been a process of coming out and just saying it, whether it be through activism (which is very important to me), or to another person in conversation.

My healing has come through expressing what I know, and sharing with others.

I can never give that up.

Edited by Lyla, 11 April 2011 - 12:13 PM.

#28 splath

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 06:13 PM

While I'm sure it's different for everyone, I think the idea of telling my story is definitely helpful. I haven't found anyone that I feel I can trust with everything that happened so far, so in the meantime I've been writing about it. This probably isn't as good, but I think it's helping some. Maybe it's that I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened - I don't want to say anything out loud until I know it's accurate, whereas it's easy to go back and edit what I've written. I think I'm also afraid that if I talk about it, people won't think it's valid, or they'll blame me for what happened.

#29 Activebystander89

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 10:31 PM


Right now I am trying to help an important person in my life. She was ganged up on by 3 dudes, and it has been almost 2 months since the incident. From collective experience, I know that that reporting it can help to begin the healing process, but she refuses to talk to anyone else. Our organization has a ridiculous amount of support systems, and it would not be hard at all for her to get help. She is in a deep state of depression and I'm pretty sure she thinks of suicide daily. There are enough people keeping tabs on her to where that possibility is minimized down to an extremely small percentage of occurring. She is also experiencing deep insomnia, panic/anxiety attacks, and horrifically vivid nightmares, in which she has told me that she See's herself or loved ones dying, maybe reliving the attack. She freaks the second she wakes up, I am there most of the time to hold and comfort her and tell her its all right. It is quite apparent that she has PTSD, which she refuses to acknowledge. She has told me directly that I am the only thing in her life that keeps her from going past the point of no return. I love this woman very dearly, and just want to help her get better as much as she can so she can have some semblance of a normal life. I will not always be able to be there for her, due to my duties and responsibilities, and I desperately need advice on how to get her to start talking to the right people and hopefully begin the healing process, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HELP ME!!!!!

- J

#30 HopeRedefined

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 08:40 PM

I experienced childhood sexual molestation from two family members and lost my virginity to rape. The rape happened when I was 16 and I overachieved and acted like everything was okay for years. I would get into relationships and force myself to have sex while fighting nausea the entire time. I tried counselling at 21, then again at 23, and again this year at 24. I was able to talk about everything in my life besides the abuse. My throat would close up, my brain would shut down. As hard as I pushed it wouldn't come out. I started cocktail waitressing earlier this year. I was getting touched on my breasts, butt, men would try to dance with me as I was walking by and refuse to let me go. It was awful and the bouncers wouldn't do anything about it. I started having anxiety attacks for the first time in my life, I would cry myself to sleep at night, and my personality totally shifted. It was like I was feeling what had happened for the first time. I managed to find another job but a few months too late. Now I come across as a zombie...I'm not sure if I lost my sense of self or if the facade I had been using for years finally crumbled. I DESPERATELY want there to be someone in my life who cares and is compassionate enough to handle this sort of thing. Someone who supports me, listens, doesn't blame me, and doesn't feel like this sort of thing is "too heavy". I am afraid that no man will be patient enough to earn my trust and don't believe that a man could handle dating a girl with so much baggage. In reality it feels like having someone there for me is the only way I'll begin to heal. Clearly trying to do it by myself hasn't been working. I told one counselor that I felt like my body was preventing me from talking about it. Like it knew that I would break all the way down and not be able to function well. I'm not sure where to go from here, but somehow going deeper into this seems like a huge risk.

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From: Telling your story vs. learning to cope

By Wil in Wil's Blog, on 05 June 2013 - 10:38 AM

I've just had a conversation about this with my T. It was good to hear her say that there's no 'right' way, or 'right' balance to this. I knew as much, but I needed the confirmation.

For me, it's gone in little steps, and very slowly (infuriatingly slowly, most of the time). And most of it has been more to do with me engaging with what happened, than about me telling somebody else. But I feel like I'm a good way down my healing path now.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with what was happening. But equally, I couldn't think of it, not the details, anyway. I so wanted to tell. I'd practice in my head for hours about what I could say, I'd gear myself up to say it...but I never managed it. I could never really imagine what would happen afterwards, though, even in an ideal world. I became a nervous wreck.

I had the opportunity in my teens to talk to a child psychologist about it, but as he could barely be bothered to remind himself of my name, let alone my case details, I couldn't disclose anything to him at all.

For ages, I couldn't think about it. Like literally, I'd try and think about it, and my mind would just shut off. I'd end up thinking round it, or more often than not, just switching off and zoning out completely.

By the time I was in my late teens I had every PTSD symptoms going, I was a mess, too paranoid to go out, never speaking to anyone, terribly agoraphobic. And I was getting psychosis with my depressive periods. I'd get totally fixated on little flashes of it, over and over again for days. Ugh. It was hard to tell what was real then. I spent a lot of time drinking it away. I cried loads, deeply and often. I think people knew that stuff had happened to me, but I could never admit any of it. I acted like the suggestion was almost funny. I was like this all through my twenties and early 30s.

When I was raped I tried to tell my mum. She didn't believe me. I didn't tell the police, I couldn't face it, and I assumed they wouldn't believe me either. I still regret this.

I saw psychs and MH staff periodically and accidentally but never admitted anything. They mostly acted like if I couldn't tell, then I was weak and silly, and that I deserved every bad feeling that I had. Ah, the caring profession......

Once a nurse asked me directly if anything had happened (I was haven't some trouble letting her do my smear). I was too shocked at being asked to tell her the truth. She was quite cross with me. Other girls, she said, have REAL problems. I felt for years that I'm missed an important opportunity here.

When I could think about it a little more, I started getting tics (saying No loudly, grunting, turning my head sharply) - the clearer the image, the stronger the tics were. I still get these, sometimes, but less so now. But it was important for me to get to this stage...

...cos the next one was actually being able to put everything (or at least, a lot of it) in the right order, in my head. I had some very bad MH episodes during this period, and for many months I felt completely obsessed and quite consumed by it. I really felt that that was all that was in me.

A couple of years ago I felt ready to get some help. I spoke to my pdoc - no details at all, just said that the CSA and R had happened.

Then I found PA! And read, and read, and read (I could hardly stop), and was totally overwhelmed by so many people trying to hard to work through their awful experiences. And I was more relived than I have words to express, to find that my feelings, my reactions, the things that had changed in me were not unusual at all. And I started posting, and received so much fantastic support. Honestly, this is what made the biggest difference to me.

Then I found a T. I've been going for about eight months now. I believe I have been lucky this time. I was very apprehensive at first, and distrustful. But I feel a thousand times more relaxed there now. My T knows my quirks. She knows never to touch me. She talks to me very clearly. She explains why she says things. She accepts what I tell her and never makes me feel bad or guilty about it. She looks for ways to move forward instead of dwelling on the past. She pushes me to be kind to myself, and teaches me how when I don't understand how this can done. she never compares me with anyone else. I needed all of this, but I didn't know that when I started seeing her.

First I talked about how I am now. And how I've coped so far. And then about the guilt. And then the anger. And sort of worked backwards, from the R to the CSA. And more recently, about other bad stuff that happened, that 'd not even thought of in that context before. If it's hard, I type it out and give it to her. Sometimes I give her posts I've made on PA. I think I'm finally able now to put the CSA away for now, which is a massive weight lifted from me, and inspires me to continue with T. I still have never told the gritty, revolting details, and I flit between thinking that I need to, that it's essential, and then thinking that it's unnecessary. If I ever choose to disclose, I will probably start by writing everything down and posting on here first, before sharing with my T. Actually, I think I'm starting to do this today....

I told a nurse, very recently. She was kind, and angry on my behalf. I had never thought that someone might react like that. If I did physical contact, I'd have hugged her.

I have no intention of telling anyone I know in RL. It's too late to tell my family now, and I think that just very recently, I've come to terms with this. I would never share it with anyone else. I can't think of a single reason why I would ever want to.

Source: Telling your story vs. learning to cope

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