children know about love, security, play,
freedom, happiness, and fun.
not all children are safe.
is a known fact that children are being abused,
exploited, photographed, assaulted, and destroyed
on a daily basis by a myriad of sexual predators.
These children must be protected before the
effects of such horrific abuses devastate
them for a lifetime. They need safety from
their abusers in order to talk about the abuse,
to heal from the abuse, and to overcome the
damage that has been inflicted upon them.
child that is currently entrapped in an abusive
situation will continue to use the trauma-based
strategies necessary to cope with the abuse
instead of healthier, more productive coping
strategies. That child will learn about fear,
violence, self separation, agony, pain, mistrust,
rage, suicidal feelings, gagging, self destruction,
depression, helplessness, powerlessness, worthlessness,
internal dying, or even death itself.
will be no joy. There will be no laughter.
Emotional and physical pain will override
anything positive. Their brains will develop
differently. Their bodies will respond differently.
Their entire view of life, relationships,
people, the world, and themselves is shaped
by the abuse they experience.
need safety in order to develop a healthy
and productive lifestyle.
it continues, and it gets worse. Often a childhood
filled with abuse continues into a lifetime
filled with abuse. Sometimes it even continues
right into the next generation of children.
children are not given safety, they often
do not learn how to find it on their own,
no matter how old they become.
An important part of working with adults that
have been severely abused is to check thoroughly
about their current safety. Unfortunately,
all too often, people who have been severely
abused as children are still deeply tangled
in abusive relationships as an adult. This
comes in many different forms.
example, they might still be participating,
willingly or unwillingly, in a sexual relationship
with their childhood perpetrators. Thanks
to the phenomenal power of dissociation, fully
grown adults can be amnesiac to switching
to child parts who continue to be sexually
involved with parents who have sexually controlled
them for all of their lives. This situation
occurs far more common than one would expect.
example of current abuse is the ongoing involvement
in violent or abusive marriages and partnerships.
People who have not resolved their childhood
trauma issues are at high risk for having
adult relationships packed full of abusive
dynamics, many which parallel their childhood
abuse. This can be seen in the form of physically
violent partners, spouses that demand painful
sex, sexual compulsivity, sex being used as
a weapon, unfaithfulness, extreme sexual repression,
people continue to act out their childhood
sexual abuse, with or without their conscious
awareness, by repeating the patterns of the
original trauma bonds. For example, if children
are raped by a variety of offenders, as adults,
they may be extremely promiscuous, finding
new partners on a daily basis. Or, children
sold into pornography may grow up to run kiddie-based
brothels themselves. Adult survivors may have
a variety of serious relationships, yet continually
find that each relationship mimics the dynamics
of the original perpetrator relationship.
Other people continually harm their bodies
in the same manner that they were abused
for example, children that were cut during
sex by their perpetrators may continue to
cut themselves during sex for years into adulthood.
It is absolutely essential that any repeated
patterns of violence be addressed thoroughly
in the therapy process.
to this reenactment process, it is not uncommon
for adult survivors to be involved with prostitution,
sadism, masochism, violent sexual organizations,
pornography, etc. Of course, not all sexual
abuse survivors are involved with activities
that hurt other people, but the frequency
of the issue occurring means it must be thoroughly
checked out, repeatedly. Many times the host
personality of the dissociative person will
have no direct awareness of or recall about
their involvement in these other activities.
complicate matters further, some people are
born into or forced into participation in
a violent, well-organized group of some sort
or another during their early childhood. Depending
on the nature of the organization, the adult
person may not have been able to leave that
group. If they have been forced and pressured
to participate for most of their entire lifetime,
they will not necessarily have the skills
to leave that organization without extensive
support and therapeutic intervention. An absolutely
essential part of the therapeutic process
is to help that person gain freedom from such
injury, self induced abuse, and self-directed
violence also undermine safety and stability.
Self mutilation and self destruction come
in many forms, from cutting and burning, to
breaking bones, to crashing cars, or refusing
appropriate medication. When people are actively
and repeatedly involved with hurting themselves
to this degree, they are undermining their
healing process. However, self-harm is a near
unavoidable issue in the treatment of severe
sexual abuse and dissociative disorders. See
the SELF INJURY page for further information
about this issue.
dissociative folks, another serious area of
current abuse can be from the internal system
via the perpetrator introjects and other violent
parts. Although this is actually another form
of self-directed violence, most persons in
the earlier stages of dissociative treatment
will not view this abuse as coming from them.
They sincerely believe the other system parts
are as separate from them as other outside
people. One side of the system feels very
victimized by the others, feels powerless
to stop the abuse, is terrified of repeated
punishments from these others, and can be
amnesiac for the actual moments of self-harm.
The level of harm brought onto the person
during times like these can be extremely serious
and life threatening.
child and no adult will be able to make significant
progress in their emotional growth, stability,
and healing if they are living with or having
frequent contact with a perpetrator. Ongoing
abuse increases the seriousness and amount
of symptoms experienced by the victim. Neither
“hiding” the symptoms through
dissociation nor repressing the issues will
minimize the damage done in actual reality.
The constant anxiety level, the extreme stress,
the emotional paralysis or emotional chaos,
and the hypervigilence required to be prepared
for the next abusive incident interferes with
the ability to make treatment gains.
FIRST refers to the current level of violence
and abuse experienced by the person, from
either internal or external sources. A legitimate
perceived threat of harm can also be extremely
damaging. Since enormous crises, medical injuries,
emotional overwhelm, internal and external
detachment, and destabilization occur with
each violent episode, it is imperative that
therapists and support people consistently
pay attention to the safety level of the abused
as one would never expect a child that is
currently living in an abusive home to do
intensive therapy while being abused on a
regular basis, one should also not expect
an adult to do intensive memory work while
being abused on a frequent basis. People need
to feel safe in order to talk about the issues
of abuse. It matters not whether the abuse
is from an external or internal source. Safety
from abuse and violence must be attended to
is the very building block of therapy. Safety
is the opposite of abuse. Safety promotes
healing and growth; abuse promotes destruction
and death. Ensuring the person’s safety
is the first step in the therapeutic process.
It may be a very, very long step, but it is