three cheers for time mag’s 2017 “person of the year”

There I am, on the cover of Time magazine… ūüėģ

Well, not literally, but, for all practical purposes,  That cover image feels like a representation of every single one of us who have broken the silence, and, me?  I am, a lonnng-time silence-breaker.

Ask my family.¬† I am their¬†despair,¬†their¬†distress, their¬†anguish…¬† (It’s damn trying, you know, putting up with an abusee who won’t just go along with,¬†the program…¬†)

Silence-kEEpers,¬†in case you haven’t figured it out by now?¬† You’re on the wrong side.¬† (This is bIg to me, having lived more decades than not being treated like the bad guy for reFuSiNg to honor the silence.)

And may I just say, YAAAYYYY, and, Bless us, the silence breakers.

Do I feel somehow vindicated?¬† Yes.¬† I do.¬† It may be a small victory, but don’t kid yourself:¬† it’s a victory.

Thank you, Time.



Posted in Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Child sexual abuse | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

be silent or be shunned

I found the following in an online stroll and, it really hit home:

“Learning that a relative was sexually abused in childhood can have profound effects on other family members. The disclosure can create a crisis even though the child victims are now adults. Family members who were not aware of the abuse are challenged to revise their perceptions of…the abuser, and relationships within the family. This can be disorienting, disruptive, and anxiety-provoking.” [1]

Shunned as I am by more family members than not, I sometimes feel akin to a disobedient member of an Amish community experiencing rituals of shaming.

Shunned (crop)My misdeed: I refuse to follow “the game plan” of concealing the family abuse. I will not, not talk about it. I will not “hide it” from generations coming up. I will, essentially, not box it and stuff it in an attic. It happens to be an essential part of my personal history — I made numerous suicide attempts because of it; had a nervous breakdown in my 40s because of it; and I have worked hard in therapy for decades now to overcome its damage —¬†I have a right to speak of it! (Should a holocaust survivor be expected to, Be silent, be still, you’re embarrassing us?!)

My own siblings, step-siblings, nieces & nephews are guided? directed? manuevered? encouraged?¬†in their complete-disbelief-of-the-abuse by some, “mere” denial-of-it by others, by one of my fellow abusees and sister, Elle.¬†Like a¬†sort of¬†family Don, Elle¬†— who I sincerely believe to be either a sociopath or to have a sociopath alter — uses her considerable¬†influence to¬†wave family reality away,¬†going so far as to¬†treat with revered status,¬†a¬†brother who sexually abused all three of us sisters plus at least one neighbor girl.

Being shunned for refusing to sweep my abuse under some hypothetical rug has been and, is, so mind-bogglingly incomprehensible to me that looking at photos of these family members recently made me feel physically ill, nauseous.

The quoted material above continues,

“Although the process whereby family members deal with sexual abuse of a family member can be distressing, painful, and sometimes divisive, it can be liberating and healing as well. This book is designed to help families have the latter experience, as it guides them through the crisis evoked by disclosure without denial, minimization, blaming, recrimination, or polarization within the family. The ideal is for family members to believe that the sexual abuse occurred and to support the victim’s right and need to integrate and resolve fear, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and grief. Also, the family is helped to view the abuser as a multidimensional person who committed a serious offense that requires being accountable, but who also needs treatment.” [1]

I wish that my family were so evolved as to be able to comprehend the above and, of hearts big enough to act on it.

If wishes were fishes… :-/



1 National Criminal Justice Reference Service online, abstract for D. B. Landry 1991 book, Family Fallout: A Handbook for Families of Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Safer Society Press, Brandon, VT, at , accessed July 26, 2015.


Posted in Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Healing from child sexual abuse | Leave a comment

hard chain to break

I’m single.¬† Not in a relationship.¬† (For, years and, years.)¬† So, my son has urged me to try online dating avenues.

This is the thing.

What being sexually abused as a child does to a woman… — What being sexually abused by an older brother you used to look up to, does to a child… — What seeing your father r-e-g-u-l-a-r-y¬†steer your sisters into his bedroom to¬†sexually abuse them does to¬†one… — What being¬†roofied¬†and raped as an adult does to a woman — What being raped by a guy you meet in a club and make the mistake of inviting home does to a woman…

Gosh, how to say this?

Um, there’s a lack of trust that ensues??¬† (Righteously so, folks.)¬† (Common-sense logically so.)¬† (Like, one would have to be an idiot or, severely dissociative [<- Been there, too…]¬†to “trust normally?”¬† I mean, C’mon.)

cartoon, your worst fear, by matt bors--fr dailykosDOTcom
Your Worst Fear
Not all men.¬† Just some.”
— Matt Bors cartoon.
Find political cartoonist Matt Bors on Facebook at ,
on Twitter at .

¬†Hard chain to break…

Posted in Child sexual abuse, Family history, Healing from child sexual abuse, Healing from rape, Healing from sexual assault, Pedophiles, PTSD, Rape, Sexual assault | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“all he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt to me one day

I’m 13; and, we’ve¬†returned from Memphis; and, we are living¬†with my mom’s sister Tanis¬†& her three kids-still-at-home; and, Aunt Tanis & my father¬†take an afternoon drive¬†one day¬†to return saying, they’ve married; and, a month?, two months? later,¬†my aunt¬†more sensibly¬†gives¬†my father¬†the boot.

“All he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt crankily¬†to me one day¬†as she¬†heads up¬†the townhouse stairs to her room, glass of whiskey in hand.¬† “Sex sex sex!” she sputters.

Wow.¬† “And he molests Sally & Sharon and he used to molest me,…” I venture.

“Well I don’t know anything about that,” Aunt Tanis says.¬† “But he shouldn’t beat you¬†like I saw with my own eyes¬†and if you want to go up to Social Services and report him I’ll back you up.¬†¬†You could get¬†foster home placement.”

I could get what?¬† I am stunned.¬† What is Social Services?¬† (What’s a foster home?)¬†¬†Wait a minute — I¬†don’t have to live with my father?!?

“You mean I wouldn’t have to live with Buck?!” I exclaim.¬† (Explanatory note:¬†¬†at our house there was no¬†“Father,” or, “Daddy,” or, “Dad;” the sibs & I¬†had instead, a “Buck,” our father¬†preferring this nickname¬†over¬†Father/Daddy/whatever, which, he said,¬†made him feel old.)

“Nope,” says Aunt Tanis emphatically.¬† She drank too much but, this was my favorite aunt, and, I admired that she worked and supported three kids by herself.¬† She seemed “smart.”¬† I trusted that she might indeed¬†know what she was talking about here.

And so, I learned where Social Services was located, walked in there one day, met with a staff-person, and spilled.

Everything:¬† Buck’s sexual abuse of us, Paul’s sexual abuse of us, Buck’s physical abuse of us, the horrors of Memphis — from endless sexual molestation to waking to¬†choke-holds in the middle of the night to Buck dumping poor Philip’s¬†remaining food¬†over his head when he didn’t finish his dinner to being left without adequate¬†groceries while Buck¬†was up north visiting our aunt to…¬†— every single thing.¬† I’d held it all inside for so long, convinced that the other grown-ups out there were¬†just as potentially dangerous as my father:¬† no refuge to be had:¬† be abused in your own home, or, be abused by strangers.


I wanted to live with Aunt Tanis.¬† My cousin Jaci, Aunt T.’s youngest daughter, pretended to want same and to¬†be working to¬†facilitate this but, I learned way¬†into adulthood,¬†in reality she had¬†adamantly nixed it.¬† (“I was¬†finally getting into the¬†popular crowd!¬† It would have just¬†ruined everything if you’d lived with us,” Jac explained far in the future.)

I was¬†placed with my mom’s brother’s family.


The shocker is, — well, to me it’s always been a shocker — a social worker interviewed the sibs¬†in my father’s presence.¬† Fearing for their lives, they denied any & all abuse.

Sally & Sharon & Philip would live with Buck for several more years to come.

Me, I would leave for Uncle Edward’s house,¬†the first of four foster homes.

Posted in Child abuse, Child sexual abuse, Family history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

little brides of Christ & the girl in the basement

I went to a Catholic school called Blessed Sacrament in first and second grades.¬† I loved it.¬† I¬†don’t have any of¬†the¬†mean-nun¬†memories so joked about.¬† The only scary part for me was when we were to have our first communion, be little brides of¬†Christ as the nuns smilingly called it.

First Communion Class, Holy Redeemer, 1958 Madison WI

Wisconsin State Historical Society photo:
1958 Holy Redeemer Communion Class, Madison, WI

This terrified me.

So much so that, I was good¬†and sick on the day I was to celebrate my own first communion with my Blessed Sacrament classmates.¬† Somehow, I was aware that brides “do married things” in bed with their husbands, and, I wanted no part of it.¬† Flat-out scared to death, I started the morning vomiting and got a reprieve.

Why was I so frightened?¬† OF, exactly, what?¬† (What did a 1950s seven-year-old know about ‚Äúthings‚ÄĚ married couples do in bed?)

Christ or no Christ, I just knew I wanted no part of any brides-&-husbands script.


Memories from¬†my first¬†couple of years of¬†elementary school include¬†this particularly bizarre one:¬† I am with my father at the home of a friend of his.¬† The friend¬†has just shown my father something in his basement, me in tow via my father’s hand, and we are walking back upstairs.¬† (I don’t know how old I¬†am — somewhere between five and, seven?¬† Eight, tops — but I am¬†young enough that, to hold my father’s hand, I have to reach upwards.)¬† The stairs are adjacent to the concrete basement wall and¬†my father is on the side nearest the wall.¬†¬†In my unobstructed¬†right field of vision, I see a naked little girl¬†tied to a vertical pole or column.¬† I can still “see” me climbing the stairs,¬†a surprised me¬†catching sight of¬†her there, a rope going from¬†her right wrist to around¬†a concrete column or, pole.

“Why is that little girl tied up there without any clothes on?” I ask my father.

“Mind your own business,” he says.

Fade out.

Posted in Child abuse, Child sexual abuse, Dissociative identity disorder (DID), Family history, Pedophiles | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

the dress girl and other mes

I honest to goodness thought there was just one of me.

I won’t go so far as to say, I thought I knew me…¬† Before my breakdown and even in the early years of my work with¬†Carol-the-trauma-therapist, I often felt quite befuddled by me (although, I¬†admit to having regarded¬†“the many sides” of me¬†as “quirky” and, a plus?¬† I.e., I was probably, not boring?).

But I did not think there was “more than one¬†of me to get to know,” so to speak, so imagine my surprise when Carol mentioned nasty phone calls I was making to her.

“Horrible,” she referenced them with a surprised face and¬†knit brows.¬† I had laughed —¬†ME?¬† I don’t think so.¬† Not my style.¬† I hadn’t made any phone calls to her let alone mean or nasty ones, good grief; What was she talking about?!

“So it wasn’t you,” she said.

“Nope, nada.¬† Why would I even do that?¬† I like you.”¬† (Well, most of the time.¬† True, she did tick me off now and then.)

“It sounded like you,” she persisted.¬† (And apparently the content was relevant.)¬† “Has this ever happened before,¬†has someone ever ‘thought’ you’d made calls to them that you had no memory of?”

Now I’m just merrily¬†giggling away.¬† Hee hee hee.¬† What a concept. ūüôā

We talked a little about dissociative identity disorder (DID).¬† I had never¬†had any experience of any other mes but me running the show, nope.¬† Well, okay, Dr.-Josephson-the-psychiatrist I’d seen a couple times¬†way¬†back in the early 1970s had one day¬†questioned¬†a casual statement I made that I’d walked to his office from campus “on auto-pilot,”¬†no memory of what I saw or heard along the way —¬†this was in response to his asking me about “the weather out there” or some such, I forget¬†—¬†leaning back¬†in his chair and hooting with laughter, saying, “Not possible.”¬† To which I, genuinely puzzled, had replied, “Oh, possible; I do it all the time.”

All the time?!”

I revised this.¬† “Maybe half the time, but at least half.”¬† Good grief, like, doesn’t everyone?¬† You know, sort of highway hypnosis but on foot.

Josephson answered in the negative.¬† Smiling at me though, like, What a neat idea, so when he next asked, “And just out of curiosity, where are you¬†when you’re on auto-pilot?,”¬†I didn’t feel threatened and confided, “You know, just, not there.”

Well he just seemed to love this.  What a creative girl I was [as opposed to, Oh gosh, we just might need to lock her up in the loony bin?]

“You’re simply ‘not there’ ,” he¬†repeats.


“For about half the time.”

“Uh-huh.”¬† I shrug my shoulders.¬† Big deal.¬† Like, who needs to “be there” to do a simple task like walk down the street, or, sit in a really boring class, or, just¬†sit with people¬†somewhere?

“I do,” he says.¬† “Most people probably do, or they’d walk into a tree or a parked car.”

Huh!  I guess I was more graceful than I thought.

“So, you’re not there in classes too, and social situations?”¬† He was thoughtful.¬† “What kind of grades do you get in the classes you’re not there in?”

“Yes to the first part of your question, and, As or Bs — you have to be there for hard classes; I’m never not there except for easy ones.”

He regarded me thoughtfully.  I can still see his face puzzling away.

Josephson was¬†a good doc.¬† Smart.¬† If I’d had health insurance or¬†could have otherwise afforded¬†it,¬†I would have continued to see him.¬† His was a¬†wonderfully easy-going manner, and,¬†although male, he behaved in such a completely non-threatening manner that¬†I felt safe.¬† I bet he could possibly have helped me.

I can’t even count the professionals I saw who were as helpful as a rock and, knew their business half as well.

But back to Carol-the-therapist and the bad phone calls.

“I didn’t do it,” I protested, laughing.¬† Gosh — who was this rogue client of Carol’s?¬† “I’m always ‘present’ on the phone.”¬† Oh wait a minute — Was I?!?¬† Drat.¬† Wow, if I could walk places and, sit in classes and get As & Bs¬†yet not¬†“be there,” Shoot…¬† Maybe I¬†could do other things, too, “not being there” —¬†like making phone calls?¬† But it seemed so far-fetched that I was still mentally merry, thinking things like,¬†Quite the accomplished gurl here, could this be showcased somewhere?¬† Ha ha ha.

Okay, there was that weird time¬†in the Rathskeller when brother Pete’s then-girlfriend Christine had claimed I’d said, “I wish I was dead,” to which Christine¬†had turned to me and said, “I’m glad you’re not dead;” to which I’d replied in irate astonishment, “Well Jeez Christine I’m glad I’m not dead either!¬† Where the heck did that come from?!;” to which Pete had said very gently, “You just said you wished you were dead.”¬† Which was preposterous, I had said no such thing.

Or, Had I?  What was going on here?  And it all stopped being funny.

Weeks, months, years of therapy with Carol pass and I work up the courage to indulge my love of dresses.¬† (Long ago I used to make them.¬† In my late teens, early 20s.¬† I sewed a lot back then.¬† Even on consignment¬†for a local boutique, at one point.)¬† I buy a dress, at the Gap.¬† I decide to return it though:¬† It really needs a belt, I decide, yet I don’t have one that quite works and, I don’t feel the dress is much of a bargain if I have to spend more to belt it.

So a week or so later¬†I¬†head back over to the Gap.¬† I’m at the register and I tell the cashier, “I’d like to return this, please,” and I hand her the dress¬†and the¬†receipt and,¬†hum dee dum,¬†she’s processing my return and, another clerk whispers (loudly) to her, “She’s worn that!¬† She was just¬†IN here, IN it, the other day!”

Well I never!¬† I am quite indignant.¬† “I have not worn the dress,” I say firmly, with¬†a glare in the direction of the offending clerk.¬†¬†But as the words come out of my mouth I suddenly know they are not true, as, like a deck of cards fanned out in front of me, I see a series of snapshot-like images in my head.¬† That’s the only way I can describe it.¬† Memories, clear as day, but in weird snapshot format.¬† Me, standing in¬†my apartment-complex¬†driveway about to cross the street, wearing the dress.¬† Me, browsing at the Gap, wearing the dress.¬† Me, in a dressing room at the Gap, taking off¬†the dress so as to try on a different one.

Oh my Lord.  I am blown away.

Thankfully, my cashier just pooh-poohs the other clerk and speedily processes my return and I am able to leave the store, because, I need to sit down somewhere, man.

So:¬† Dress girl.¬† Phone girl.¬† Girl who wishes she were dead.¬† (Person or persons “present” when¬†“I” walk places “on auto-pilot”…¬† Person or persons “present”¬†getting those “As & Bs in ‘easy’ classes” when¬†“I” am “absent?”…¬† [Complicated, huh? ūüôā ])

Carol-the-therapist and, literature on the subject¬†calls these ‚Äúdiscrete alters.‚Ä̬†¬†This seems¬†a misnomer to me — I would have to¬†classify most of¬†my own¬†“discrete alters’ ” doings as quite indiscrete, i.e. imprudent, lacking good judgment — but¬†ordinary discretion, or lack of it, is¬†not, of course,¬†what ‚Äúdiscrete‚ÄĚ here references.

One website reads pretty generically but clearly¬†on the subject, “In some people, dissociated memory and experience fragments are organized…into discrete ‘personalities’ or ‘identities’ which can be experienced internally as having separate experiences and histories.¬† Often personalities are so compartmentalized that they are not aware of each other‚Äôs existence.¬† This is called an ‘amnesic barrier,’…”


I can especially relate to the amnesic barrier idea, as, I tend to experience¬†my life memories as,¬†snapshots here, mostly brief videos there — i.e., in pieces, not as a continual flow, which certainly is suggestive of something amnesiac going on.

Meanwhile:¬† the Dress Girl wants to wear dresses (and makeup).¬† I’m pretty easygoing, so, I’m¬†working up¬†to accommodating her on that.¬† (In fact, more & more, I’m thinking, I might like to wear dresses & makeup, too. ūüôā )¬† The Phone Girl doesn’t feel comfortable? safe? whatever, expressing anger at? dissent with? confronting?, people, so, I¬†practice that one¬†in the safety¬†of Carol’s office.¬† (And interestingly, no more nasty phone calls to Carol…)¬† The Girl Who Wishes She Were Dead:¬† my last suicide attempt was in the mid-1990s and, it will stand AS my last:¬† I’m here for the duration now.¬† “You tried to¬†murder yourself!,” Carol sputtered.¬†¬†Angrily?¬† With tears in her eyes.¬† (This moved me greatly, notwithstanding that my first reaction was a giggle.)¬†¬†Yes, I did,¬†I register in surprise.¬† Horrified, Gasp.¬†¬†Yikes — I never looked at it that way before.¬†¬†(And, let me tell yoU, I am no murderer!¬† Indignation.)¬†¬†The person or persons “present” when¬†“I” walk¬†somewhere “on auto-pilot,” and,¬†who gets the grades in the¬†“easy” classes when¬†“I”¬†am¬†“absent:”¬† for these, I work on what may seem simple¬†to some but has not been for me —¬†“being present.”¬† Being more mindful, across the board:¬† mindful of where I¬†am;¬†mindful of my feelings; mindful of what I say; mindful of what I do.¬† Mindful, mindful, mindful.


I like to think of it all¬†as a¬†“What About Bob” [the 1991 comedy starring Bill Murray¬†& Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Frank Oz] thing:¬† Baby steps, baby steps…¬† They’ll get you there. ūüėČ

Posted in Dissociative identity disorder (DID), Healing from child abuse, Healing from child sexual abuse, PTSD | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

i don’t wear makeup. i don’t wear dresses.

I don‚Äôt wear makeup. I don‚Äôt wear dresses. I laughingly tell people, ‚ÄúHey, I grew up with three older brothers, got used to being ‚Äėone of the guys,‚Äô what can I say‚Ķ;‚ÄĚ or I grin and go, ‚ÄúI came of age during the Woodstock era, we hippie girls shunned makeup and that headset just stuck, I guess;‚ÄĚ or, I smile broadly and say, ‚ÄúOnce a tomboy always a tomboy‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

What I don’t say is, I’m afraid if I look too girly I’ll be assaulted.

What I don‚Äôt say is, Well actually, truth be told, The Dress Girl once [once that I know of anyway…] put makeup on and wore a dress to the mall some years back ‚Äď I don‚Äôt know what all she did there though except that, she did go into the Gap.

What I don‚Äôt say is, I want to wear dresses and I‚Äôm working up to it, I have two right now in my closet plus two skirts…

What I don’t say is, I would like to wear makeup if I feel like it but, it draws attention to a woman and that might increase my chances of getting assaulted.

At the same time, if anyone tries to sexually violate me again I swear to God I’ll take his eyeballs out with my bare fingers.

You could say I have mixed feelings.

Posted in Dissociative identity disorder (DID), Healing from child sexual abuse, Healing from rape, Healing from sexual assault, PTSD | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments