This group began as a safe place for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to speak out without fear of being judged or fear of retribution. I would also like to see it used as a teaching space - and invite anyone who has read something extremely helpful to share under Tree Climbers: Reading Recommendation.
Below is an excerpt from a book written in 1992 by Dr. Judith Herman entitled Trauma and Recovery which is available for free online.
While it deals with all sorts of trauma, from domestic violence to political terror, the same tenets apply to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. Abuse is abuse. An excerpt follows after the jump...
Link to Online Text:
|Tree Climbers is a community diary series for survivors of childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and those who support them.
Tree Climbers sustain each other, learn about childhood abuse, recover, and discover and create ways to protect children.
Trigger Warning - The next paragraph holds brutal words. Feel free to scroll past it.
In a typical diary, you might read of someone who survived the grooming (this does not mean hair brushing), the fondlings, the rapings, the beatings, the mutilations or the death threats perpetrated by a sadistic egocentric molester of an innocent. Criminals abuse their victims. For years. Families refuse to believe the victims. For years. Victims report being dead inside. For years. Families and society have stifled the voices of victims and magnified and perpetuated the abuse. For years. We weep. We rage. We heal. We inspire.
We invite you to climb or be lifted up in our safe tree with us. We have broad branches, sunshine, hammocks, cushions, and plenty of tissues. Comment on the diary, ask questions, and share your perspective or even your story. If you are too overwhelmed to speak, you can just witness. That's okay. A few of the Tree Climbers are as silent as a jury.
Tree Climbers Rule: Be kind.
No T r o l l s. When we were children, we had no power. But we are no longer children. Climbing trees is not healthy for trolls - everybody knows that. If you act like a troll in our tree, we will calmly watch while you become invisible.
Trauma and Recovery
Judith Herman, M. D.
New York: Basic Books, 1992
(About a six-hour read.)
THE ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.Link to Online Text:
The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner which undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.
The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called “doublethink,” and which mental health professionals, searching for a calm, precise language, call “dissociation.” It results in the protean, dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms of hysteria which Freud recognized a century ago as disguised communications about sexual abuse in childhood.
Witnesses as well as victims are subject to the dialectic of trauma. It is difficult for an observer to remain clearheaded and calm, to see more than a few fragments of the picture at one time, to retain all the pieces, and to fit them together. It is even more difficult to find a language that conveys fully and persuasively what one has seen. Those who attempt to describe the atrocities that they have witnessed also risk their own credibility. To speak publicly about one’s knowledge of atrocities is to invite the stigma that attaches to victim.
The knowledge of horrible events periodically intrudes into public awareness but is rarely retained for long. Denial, repression, and dissociation operate on a social as well as an individual level. The study of psychological trauma has an “underground” history. Like traumatized people, we have been cut off from the knowledge of our past. Like traumatized people, we need to understand the past in order to reclaim the present and the future. Therefore, an understanding of psychological trauma begins with rediscovering history. (cont'd)
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National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.4673.
9:27 AM PT: I thought I had put this in the diary - but notice I put it in the group email instead -
Thanks to SwedishJewfish who sent me this link - she is superfantabulous and just the best girlfriend one can have!