Note: Blog post subject matter is discussed in more detail on the Athalonz Podcast.
When I started addressing my issues from being sexually abused as a child over 30 years ago, the statistics were about one in four girls and one in six boys were sexually assaulted sometime in their childhood. Today, the statistics are the same. These are estimates because it’s virtually impossible to ask every child and every adult if they are or were sexually assaulted. Also, some would not answer honestly.
If, when I was child, I were asked if was being abused, I would never had answered “yes”. I was too afraid of my abusers and believed it was my fault. If I were asked before I started dealing with my issues as an adult, I would have answered “no”. I didn’t remember most of my childhood and I viewed admitting something like that as a weakness. I had a suck-it-up mentality.
Even after I began to address my issues, I was very reluctant to admit to being abused. It’s a taboo subject, I was ashamed, and I perceived that most people don’t want to hear it. Plus, I was still afraid to admit it. I had a looming fear that if I spoke out, I would be in grave danger. I was still afraid of my abusers. Also, I didn’t want to be labeled as a victim or a head-case.
It’s only in the last few years where I’ve overcome my fears and started speaking out. Silence is what abusers want and they often get it with fear and shame. Abusers have a talent for making the abuse seem to be the fault of the abused.
I’ve read a good number of books on child abuse and healing from it. What I’ve learned is that most abusers were abuse victims. They deal with their issues by perpetrating the abuse that caused them pain on others; perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
This blog is asking perpetrators of abuse to, “Stop Abusing Kids”. They are better ways to deal with your issues. Seek help to deal with your pain. Join a 12-step program; get counseling; start journaling; remember how awful you felt when you were being abused; and acknowledge the pain of being abused has caused you. Be a better person than your abuser.
There are 12-step programs for a variety of addictions (alcohol, substance abuse, sex, eating disorders) and for living in household with an addict (Al-Anon). As I understand, most addictive behavior results from trying to subdue the anguish people feel about themselves. 12-step programs help with that and 12-step meetings are easy to find via an internet search.
As addicts go, I feel fortunate my addiction is to food and not alcohol or drugs. I thank my abusers for that since they often drugged me or gave me alcohol so I would be easier to abuse. As a result, I hate that feeling a being slightly drunk or when a sedative begins to kick in. So, alcohol and drugs were a non-starter for me.
Food was another story. I would eat to stuff my feelings only to feel worse about myself for over eating, for being fat, and for being ugly. It was very challenging for me to break out of that negative spiral, but through counseling and a 12-step eating addiction program; I learned how to stop the negative spiral.
I also feel fortunate that I turn my pain inward and I wanted to be different than my parents, so I ended the cycle of abuse in my family. The more I dealt with my own of issues of feeling like a worthless, stupid, ugly piece of crap that can’t do anything right, the better of a person I become.
It was not, and is not, easy to address my issues but it so worthwhile. I believe that if I can do, others can too. I also want to believe that most abusers are not bad people; they just do really bad things at times. So, I encourage all that are being abusive to others, whether it’s sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and/or bullying, be a better person, get help, and end the cycle of abuse.
To get started, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national hotline that operates 24/7 365 days per year. The number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Alternatively, visit their website at samhsa.gov.
I’ll post other organizations that can help in the coming weeks and months.
Here are the basic principles of a 12-step program and my personalized view of them.
Step 1 – Honesty
I have to be honest with myself that I am powerless over my issues which adversely affect me and my relationship with others.
Step 2 – Faith
I believe there is a higher power that guides my life and that my life has meaning.
Step 3 – Surrender
I have to surrender to the fact that I needed help, my way of handling things didn’t work, and to trust that a higher power would help me. Trust is big thing for me and is often difficult to do.
Step 4 – Soul Searching
This about finding my place in the universe, my purpose, my relationship with a higher power, what type of relationship I want with myself, and what type of relationships to I want with others.
Step 5 – Integrity
For me, integrity is about doing the right things for the right reasons, even if very challenging. My personal test is “If I don’t want people to know about something, then it's probably not being done with integrity”.
Step 6 – Acceptance
This is a hard one for me. With one of my core issues being “not able to do anything right”, I strive for perfection just to feel somewhat worthwhile. I never get to perfection, which strengthens the feelings of inadequacy. I have to work very hard to tone down the inadequacy feelings and turn up feeling good about myself for who I am and what I’ve accomplished.
Step 7 – Humility
I use to confuse humility with a sense of worth. Since I feel inadequate, I was humble no matter what I accomplished. I now understand humility to mean using my gifts to their fullest extent, not downplaying my gifts, knowing that my gifts are from the universe and are for the benefit of the universe, and accepting what comes from using my gifts.
Step 8 – Willingness
To me, this step is about being accountable for my actions, which includes identifying others that I’ve hurt because of my actions. It was fairly easy to identify others that I’ve hurt; it took a long time before I included myself on this list.
Step 9 – Forgiveness
To me, this step is about accepting the consequences of my actions and making amends to others identified in step 8. As a child abuse survivor, it would have helped my healing process immensely if my abusers would have acknowledged their actions.
Step 10 – Maintenance
This step is about maintaining spiritual progress in recovery.
Step 11 – Making Contact
This step is about finding meaning in my life as it relates to the higher power. For me, I rolled this into step 4.
Step 12 – Service
For me, this is about service to others but also to continue to heal myself. Writing these blogs I hope does both.
Please Support: Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation and/or other child abuse prevention organizations.
I am the CEO and Founder of Athalonz, LLC., I am a founding partner of the patent boutique law firm of Garlick & Markison, I am a survivor of child abuse, and I am an inventor on over 300 patents.
Athalonz is a technology company based in Mesa, AZ. It develops and sells athletic footwear, which incorporates its patented technology that leverages the laws of physics to improve athletic performance. Website: athalonz.com
Garlick & Markison is a patent law boutique firm that assists clients in building a patent business within their business using proprietary tools and techniques. Website: texaspatents.com
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