Courageous Healing Part 2

Courageous Healing Step Three

This is the most painful stage and the one most frequently returned to as the healing process continues.

3.) Loss of the Child ~~

Bargaining and Waiting which is caused by Guilt.

Now comes the bargaining stage.  This is when the victim takes an honest look at their lives and begins the waiting/bargaining stage.

The Effects of Abuse are Sometimes too much to Face

The Effects of Abuse are Sometimes too much to Face

By that is meant that a victim will often pray “Lord, if you make it better and take this pain away, I will never commit this sin again, or I will stop smoking etc.”  Concomitant with this bargaining and waiting for God to answer prayers to instantly heal us, is guilt.  Guilt that we were abused and guilt over the sins we have committed due to the abuse.  This is the stage, if you haven’t already done so, where your abuse past needs to be disclosed to a competent Confessor and or Spiritual Director.

Take your wounds to Confession and expose them for healing and use the “Place it on the Patent” Prayer.  Never give up, keep persevering in prayer and you will be healed.

Courageous Healing Steps One and Two

Courageous Healing ~~ Steps One and Two

1.) Prophesy of Simeon ~~

Denial, fear

Fear is what causes denial.  The fear that our memories might be right and the enormous devastating impact the abuse has had on our emotions, psyche and spiritual life produces the natural reaction of denial.

2.) Flight into Egypt ~~

Helplessness, which causes anger, rage, resentment with a desire for revenge, because of the unjust and unfairness of their abCourageous healing, courage to heal, sex abuse, sexual abuse, healing from sexual abuseuse.  This produces envy.

Once the individual has accepted that they were abused and has worked through their fear of the unknown, now life seems unmanageable.  They begin to feel the helplessness of being a child who was abused and as an adult, the flood of overwhelming emotions of rage and resentment takes over which produces a desire for revenge due to the unjust and unfair way they were treated.  It is when a person who was abused as a child begins to envy those who weren’t by looking at themselves through the eyes of the abuser. This is the most important step.  If this is not dealt with effectively, the person will slide back into denial and fear.  At this point, find a competent Confessor and or Spiritual Director.

Courageous Healing

Courageous Healing

Seven Sorrows of Mary ~~ The Seven Stages of HealingSex abuse, sexual abuse, healing fromm sex abuse, healing memories of sex abuse

It is interesting that the first three Sorrows of Mary deal with Our Lord’s Childhood and the last four with His Passion and Death.  The first three stages of healing are passive; the individual is simply aware of the abuse and is beginning to delve into how much interpersonal destruction was caused by the abuse.  The last four are active and require a solid foundation in a prayer life to get through.

1.) Prophesy of Simeon ~~ Denial, fear

2.) Flight into Egypt ~~ Helplessness, which causes anger, rage, resentment with a desire for revenge, because of the unjust and unfairness of their abuse.  This produces envy.

3.) Loss of the Child ~~  Bargaining and waiting which is caused by guilt

4.) Meeting on the way of the Cross ~~ Depression, working

5.) Jesus Dies ~~ Acceptance, resolving

6.) Piercing of His Heart/ Taking Down from Cross ~~Rebirth

7.) Burial ~~ Creating a new life

I will write more about how to work through each step and what to expect while you are in each one.

Open Letter to Priests

An Open Letter to Priests

Dear Fathers,

I am a Catholic survivor of incest and other childhood abuse.  I have been a recipient of Mental Health services and currently work in the Mental Health field with adults diagnosed with chronic mental illnesses.  I would like to share with you some of my experiences before I ask you to please stop sending women to counseling.

While I was working as an intern in two different places at once, one being a Veterinarian clinic and the other a counseling office, I was placed in a very difficult situation for any woman but especially difficult for one with my background.  The Veterinarian had a file at the Counselors office and I was able to read his clinical notes.  (Counseling notes do not have the privacy that the Seal of Confession offers.  HIPAA does not provide anywhere near the protection that the Seal does.)  This man had confessed to a beautiful, tall, blond, female Mental Health Nurse Practitioner that he mentally undresses the women who work in his clinic, suffers from ED and has anger issues.  She recommended that he “watch pornography to aid his manual stimulation to help overcome ED and go tanning to help with anger.”  I wish I was making this up, but I am not.  HE confessed to HER and SHE prescribed SIN.  SHE told HIM to watch pornography and masturbate and work on his anger in a tanning bed.  I wish this was an isolated incident, but sadly it was not.  All of her notes that I was privy to as I did her dictation offered advice along these lines.  She even suggested to a married couple that they watch porn to help a “dry patch” they were going through.

One of the men I care for with a chronic mental illness was receiving command hallucinations to corner and rape me.  He was admitted to the hospital where he was advised by the Psychologist who runs the floor to “watch porn in his room until the urge to rape is gone.”  Again, I wish to God this was a joke.  I have many more instances such as these to share, but I’ll leave it at these.

When I began actively healing from incest, the first person I turned to was my Priest in the Military.  He advised I go to counseling and stated he did not feel competent to help with such issues.  So I did; I started AMAC Counseling.  While in therapy I was taught to “embrace my anger as the fuel to get me through the healing process.”  As a Catholic with a basic Catholic High School education, I was taught that anger was one of the seven deadly sins.  So, during the week, I would “embrace my anger” and on weekends I would confess my sins of anger that I was committing because my Priest told me to go to counseling.  It was the same for compulsive sexual sins, hatred and addictive behaviors.  It seems the only thing that my counselors and Priests agreed on was forgiveness but even on that they were divided on what that was and how to go about it.  The confusion and guilt drove me to leave the Church for about a year because there was no way I could heal when the healing process included committing sins that I had to confess.  Something had to give, either I stop therapy or I stop going to Church; the two were incompatible.  I eventually did stop therapy when I was advised to burn my memories in a “fire cleansing ceremony”…Sex abuse, sexual abuse, sex abuse healing, spiritual healing, catholic healing, healing memories

When I turned to other Priests for help over the years, I was advised to go to therapy until I met one good Priest who led me through the healing process with only the Church and Saints as guides.

The women I have known that have gone to a Priest for help with abuse issues are usually going as a last resort instead of first recourse.  Please stop sending them back to therapy.  They are coming to you because you are a man of God, an ordained Priest an Alter Christus.

How can men and women who prescribe pornography as a remedy for sexual sins have true understanding and compassion for incest and sexual abuse survivors? 

One Sacramental Confession and hour of Adoration has more power to heal abuse wounds than months of therapy.  If a woman who was abused comes to you, she is looking for Christ.  Don’t send her back to the wolves.  With the statistics claiming that one in three women have been sexually abused as children, the chances are very good that you will have a few coming to you for help.  Give her the advice of the Church and Saints, not the garbage of hell.

If you, Father, can’t help us, who can?

In Christ

Natalie Anne

“The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods…The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.”
St John Vianney

The Mother of Sorrows, Mother of the Abused

The Mother of Sorrows, The Mother of those Sexually Abused

My mother, Mary, is very strange; if I bring her flowers, she says she does not want them; if I bring her cherries, she will not take them, and if I then ask her what she desires, she replies: “I desire thy heart, for I live on hearts.”
St. Joseph of Cupertino

One does not survive sexual abuse because they are weak.  Incest and sexual abuse survivors are the strongest women who have ever lived second only to Our Lady.  In Scripture we see Her standing at the foot of the Cross.  This speaks volumes about Her inner strength.  We do not read that she cried, screamed, fought the executioners etc., She stood.  She stood as a woman and mother, not devoid of inner suffering, but as a woman experiencing excruciating internal pain known only to her and God.  She witnessed the physical, emotional and psychological torture of her son.  She knew every bruise, punch, slap He underwent.  Imagine her sufferings during the scourging and the crowning of thorns.

Sex abuse healing, sex abuse, catholic sex abuse, sex abuse priests, healing memories

Mother of Sorrows,
Mother of those Sexually Abused

She knew and she stood in painful silence. 

Inner strength does not come from a life devoid of pain, but in a life that faces the source of the pain.  She did not hide her eyes from her crucified Son, she looked upon Him.  The source of her pain was the source of her strength.  As her daughters, we have the assurance that we too have the strength to look at the causes of our pain, the strength not to run, and the wisdom to know what we need.

When His heart was pierced and His body was removed from the cross, she held it in her arms and bandaged His wounds with the greatest care and tenderness.  If God Himself could trust Our Lady to bandage His wounds, so can we.  When the struggle to go on becomes too hard and the burden from the wounds is too much for us, we have a safe place to fall in the arms of Mary, the Mother of Sorrows.  As our Mother, She watched our abuse, she felt our pain as the wounds were being inflicted and now she longs to bandage them.  Every mother has experienced the pain of seeing their children refusing their help, don’t do that to Our Lady.

It is not enough just to know Mary is our Mother and to think and to talk about her as such.  She is your Mother and you are her child.  She loves you as if you were her only child in this world.  Treat her accordingly: tell her about everything that happens to you, honor her and love her.  No one will do it for you or as well as you, if you do not do it yourself.
St. Josemaría Escrivá

Dressing Modestly

Dressing Modestly for Survivors of Incest

“How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.”
St. Bernard, Confessor and Doctor of the Church

Two of the most common arguments against immodest dressing are around these lines:

  • Men rape/assault immodestly dressed women
  • Men have no respect for immodestly dressed women

These arguments have been used ad nauseam by both men and women to stress the importance of the virtue of modesty.  ModestySex absue, healing from memories, catholic sex abuse, spiritual healing, sex abuse, sexual abuse in women is vitally important, there is no argument there; there is, however, a serious problem with these arguments.  One only need to go out in public to witness how ineffective these arguments are as most women have heard them and most do not dress modestly.  Let’s look at these arguments from a victim’s/survivor’s point of view.  (If the statistics are correct that 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused as children, it is important to learn what motivates survivors and what has absolutely no effect on them.)

Some men rape/assault immodestly dressed women.  Yes, they do.  That is an undeniable fact.  That there are men who rape babies in diapers and little girls too young to tie their shoes is also another undeniable fact.  Threatening a woman who survived sexual assault as a child with rape because of her clothing is futile, a show of weakness and quite possibly an occasion of sin for her.  (Never underestimate the force of anger in victims.  Saying that a woman’s clothing controls a man’s actions puts the responsibility of her assault on her.  Provoking a woman’s anger is just as serious as women purposely inflaming a man’s lust.)  Women who have survived sexual abuse as children have experienced first-hand the brutality, force and utter degradation that a perverted man’s sex drive can inflict on the innocent.  They have been there, done that, got the scars and survived.  A man’s sex drive is no longer a threat to them!  A person cannot be threatened with something they already survived.  Threatening women with rape will not make them want to dress modestly.

Men have no respect for immodestly dressed women.  This argument is a promise of respect if they do dress modestly.   When dealing with childhood sexual abuse victims, respect is a foreign concept.  Their self respect was taken from them by a pervert’s sex drive; promising them respect from men in general is meaningless.  Since men usually cannot tell women what their respect does for them, and why they should work to get it, the fact they don’t have it really isn’t a problem. This argument also provokes the strongest reactions in survivors because they were so horribly disrespected as children and now they are being told that they will not be respected as a woman unless they do as a man says.  Big mistake!  Again, provoking the anger of a woman is just as serious as a woman enticing a man.

Both of these arguments fail miserably for several reasons, but one in particular makes them produce some volatile reactions in victims: they both center around men.  One is a threat of sexual assault and the other is a pointless promise of a vague concept men can’t explain. What sex abuse victims and survivors need to begin to see the beauty of modesty is not to hear about men’s reactions to their clothing, but to develop a deep love for Our Mother of Sorrows.  When a woman knows her mother loves and respects her, she will desire to imitate her.

Despise not yourselves, ye women; the Son of God was born of a woman.
St Augustine

The Problem with St. Maria Goretti

The Problem with St. Maria Goretti

“Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.”
- St. Augustine

This post is written more for those who come in contact with adults who survived sexual assault as children.  Several times over the years, I was told by friends and even Priests in Confession  to look to St. Maria Goretti and the other virgin martyrs as saints with whom I could connect.  While this may seem like good advice, and does come from people who genuinely want to help, there are some big problems with this.

sex abuse, healing sex abuse, sexual abuse, catholic sex absue, sex scandal in church, pedophile priests

St. Maria Goretti,
Ora Pro Nobis

I was nine years old when I was given the book “In Garments all Red” to read by my grandmother who wanted to teach me the importance of purity.   I now realize that my reaction to that book was not normal.  An intense feeling of disgust came over me because it was incomprehensible to me that Maria was so naïve to not know that  Alessandro was lying to her and he was using his ripped shirt as an excuse to get her alone.  I could not understand how a girl two years older than me would think that he honestly wanted her to sew his shirt.  It is now clear to me that nine year olds normally are not wise to the ways of pedophile men.  And her mother, how could her mother leave her two daughters alone when that man could have easy access to them?  And she fought her attacker; I didn’t fight mine when I was molested at five.  The memories of this abuse wouldn’t surface till I was 14, but the guilt I felt after reading about her fight made me feel very dirty.  And lastly, she was justification for my generalized fear and hatred of men; she was proof that it didn’t matter how modestly you were dressed, or how young you were, men wouldn’t just pressure you to sleep with them and get upset if you didn’t, they would kill you if you said no.

sex abuse healing, sex abuse, sexual abuse, catholic sex scandal, pedophile priests, priests sex scandal

Servant of God
Fr. Tolton

Since I have gone through the healing process and am now a survivor, I have a much different reaction about her life and death; I even have acquired a devotion to St. Maria Goretti.  However, she and the other virgin martyrs are not the right saints for victims of incest and childhood sexual assault.  She is, in my mind, a great saint for men because she shows to what brutal, animalistic levels they can sink when they allow themselves to become addicted to pornography.  In my opinion, women victims of incest and other childhood sexual trauma should be introduced to the gentle, adult male saints such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Peter of Alcantara, St. Joseph of Cupertino, The Cure of Ars, St. Jose-Maria, Servant of God Fr. Tolton, etc., not little girls who were slaughtered by adult men because they didn’t have sex with them.

“God assigns as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman.”
Blessed Pope John Paul II

Desire for Revenge

The Healing Process — Desire for Revenge

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. There is nothing kept secret that will not come to light.
Luke 8:17

There is a belief that women cannot move beyond a past hurt until the abuser knows just how badly they hurt them.  This belief keeps women trapped in a cycle of nursing wounds that never heal thinking that if the person who inflicted them would just acknowledge how bad they are she would feel better and be able to move on with her life.  Since the abuser will never truly understand how much pain she is in, this frustrates the woman more which leads to more pain, a deeper wound and eventually produces a desire for revenge in her.

Catholic Sexual Abuse, sex abuse, sexual abuse, Catholic healing, spiritual healing

Jesus Knows the Pain

She wants comfort from others and desperately looks for someone to not only fix her wounds, but to rescue her from herself.

There are two truths that will deliver her from this lie that she cannot heal until the abuser knows how bad they hurt her.  The first is that nothing is hidden with God.  All will be revealed and all will know her struggles and acknowledge her pain in the next life.  She will be rewarded by God Himself.  The second is that she is looking for something that will never happen.  No human can fully understand what another person is going through no matter how hard they try to explain it.  Giving into the desire for revenge, for wanting the abuser to hurt like you do, only increases your own pain.  Trusting that God will reward all according to what they deserve will allow you to begin to live in peace, free from lies that keep you trapped in a wounded existence.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’.”
Romans 12:19

Reliving Memories of Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse Memories

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
Sex abuse, sexual abuse, priests abusing children, catholic church, healing from sex abuse, spiritual healing

Allow Him into your Heart to Heal You

The emotional stress of reliving memories is grueling.  It is a labor of love for yourself, you are beginning to allow yourself to take control of your life and not be dictated to by your past and abusers.  Think of it as physical labor, the pain of labor cannot be seen by anyone else, it is a hidden pain known only to the woman.  The contractions increase to a point where a woman cannot go on, she simply does not have it in her to continue with this pain and it seems as if the pain will never end; she reaches her physical, emotional and psychological breaking point and then, always, just at that point when she truly cannot go on, she finds the strength where there is none and gives birth.  It is the same with healing; it will take you to the point where you cannot go on, no one sees the pain and you are unable to describe it.  You are alone, alone with Our Lord and it is up to you to ask Him to heal you and give you rest.

O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:8

Healing Memories — Finding Rest

Healing Memories — Finding Rest

I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Saint Augustine
Trust In Jesus

Trust In Jesus

The fierce emotions that rage when a painful wound is beginning to be uncovered can and do leave the victim in a state of physical and mental exhaustion.  It is now that your relationship with Jesus can begin to deepen and strengthen in ways you never imagined because it is the time for blind faith and trust in Him.  He is now the only one that can effectively heal these wounds, but the temptation to self medicate is stronger than it ever has been.

Victims of sex abuse, incest and other childhood abuse have an almost aversion to the concept of trust.  To trust is to be hurt.  It is safer to trust no one than to open ourselves up to being hurt again.  It is in these moments of utter despair, pain and overwhelming agony that a simple “Jesus, I trust in You” will produce the most beautiful effects in your soul.  It is in these moments of overwhelming pain that our deepest healing takes place when we turn to Jesus and let Him touch our most painful wounds.

Compare your wounds to the physical wounds of those healed by Our Lord in Scripture.  Most of them required Him to physically touch the wounds; it’s the same for emotional and psychological wounds.  It’s also important to notice that He never forced Himself on any of those He healed, He waited until they asked Him to heal them.  He is the perfect gentleman, He never goes where He’s not invited, but graciously accepts all invitations.

Hold fast to God, Who does not change.
St. Teresa of Avila