Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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Together We Heal as Guest Blog On Rachel Grant Coaching – Part 2

Rachel Grant asked us to do a guest blog and our first two weeks are going to be a more thorough discussion of Abuse and Addiction. This is part two. Please go to the link to her site, read and share with us your thoughts. We want to thank Rachel for the opportunity to reach even more survivors and hopefully help them on their journey of healing.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-abused-addict-dulling-pain.html

Thank you all for your support of survivors everywhere.

David


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The Abused Addict – Dulling The Pain

Why me? Why did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? I am just a kid, why did you do this to me? These are just the start of questions that children begin to ask themselves when they fall prey to a sexual predator.

When dealing with issues of pain from childhood sexual abuse, people handle it in different ways; being a man, I can only tell you the struggles a boy and man goes though. Initially the greatest struggle was just in finding a resource for help to work through the psychological and emotional trauma. With so much abuse happening to women, it only goes to reason that the majority of available support is directed toward them. But support for men is out there, you might have to look a little harder for it but it’s there. Thus the increase in groups like “Together We Heal”, “SNAP”, “1in6.org”, “MaleSurvivor.org” and many others. But once found, the next steps can be even more challenging.

If the abuse occurs as a young boy and at the hands of a man, you struggle with the confusion of being aroused. While we may learn that physiologically there is virtually no way to stop an erection or even ejaculation, it does not diminish the damage done. As a boy or man you begin to question your sexuality. How could I have been aroused by this disgusting act? When you combine this with the still long-held homophobic rhetoric voiced by so many, the confusion gets compounded and magnified.

For myself, I “proved” my sexuality throughout college by having sex with as many women as I could. While this temporarily bolstered my ego, and reputation with the guys, all it really did was hurt many of the girls’ feelings and further hinder my ability to get at the root of my own pain.

When having promiscuous sex was not enough to keep my hurt and pain deep down enough in my psyche, I turned to alcohol and drugs. As I mentioned in the previous article, with drugs I could numb myself to the point where I not only didn’t feel any pain, I didn’t feel anything, except the high of the particular narcotic of the day.

I started off like most, waiting till I got off work and drank until I got that “buzzed” feeling. Over the next few years I would drink more and more until I would pass out each night. By drinking to that point, I made sure that while awake I was either too busy with work to think about the pain or too drunk to understand why I was drinking so much.

When alcohol was no longer strong enough I turned to drugs. I started with a club drug called ecstasy, once used by therapists for couples struggling to open up and communicate. It has become an abused “party” drug sometimes referred to as the “hug drug” for the utopia-like effect it gives you. Not only did I no longer feel emotional pain, but possibly of greater import, the “feeling”, however false it may have been, was as if everyone loved me, and this was something I craved above all else…the feeling of love and acceptance. But as any addict will tell you, the more drugs you do, the more you have to do to get the same level of high. The problem is you never do get that again.

So at this point I amplified the drug with another to try to extend its feeling with methamphetamine, commonly known as speed or crank. When this no longer did the trick I moved up to GHB. GHB is like ecstasy times ten. The extreme danger of this drug is that it slows your respiration and can do so to the point where you stop breathing altogether. What is so deadly about it, is once you reach a certain point, there is no way of reviving you. And I was doing as much as I could until I would pass out, coming close to overdosing on three occasions, that I can validate from others telling me…only God knows how many times I actually came close to death.

Eventually what occurred to me was what happens to almost all drug users and abusers. I got locked up and spent a month in jail for two convictions of drug possession. It was simultaneously the best thing that could have happened, the worst experience of my life, and probably saved me from ending up in a morgue. Having my freedom taken away, being totally humiliated, and my life threatened on two occasions while incarcerated, I realized finally where my life was headed if I didn’t stop taking drugs, so I went to NA and got the help I needed to get clean. I have remained sober for eight plus years now.

Once I got clean I had a whole new problem; I had to finally face all of this traumatic emotional pain without any filters, without any buffers. I had to face life on life’s terms; and life, for most of us, isn’t always kind and nice. It’s hard, and when you aren’t strong emotionally or mentally and don’t have the necessary tools to confront this issue, you don’t handle this easily. It was only with the support of an amazing family and equally incredible friends that I have been able to process this pain and conflict and be able to finally stand on my own two feet again, now with a clean mind and body.

This doesn’t mean that I am not still haunted daily by the memories of molestation and sexual assault, it just means that now I have the tools to handle this battle. Frederick Douglass was quoted as saying, “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” This has been true in my life. The damage done by my abuser, Frankie Wiley, was so terrible that the positive done to build me up the first twelve years of my life, he destroyed in just 2 1/2, and it’s taken thirty to just BEGIN to get my life back on the right track.

I have since learned that the damage done was much farther reaching than I could have ever imagined. I wondered why it felt like it was taking me longer to work through my struggles than others who had “been just abused or were just addicted to drugs.” I recently found a potential reason behind this.

A German medical research center has now documented that childhood trauma leaves a mark on the DNA of some victims. What they have determined is abused children are at a higher risk of anxiety, mood disorders, and PTSD as traumatic experience induces lasting changes to their gene regulation. This topic is too important not to give its own deserved article, so we will save it for next week. I just wanted to bring it to your attention as a survivor or supporter so you, as did I, might begin to grasp some of your “unexplained” struggles.

Due to the derailing of my youth, I now have fewer years left on this earth to do what I believe I was always meant to do…help others in some way. So I am going to spend what time I have left to do my best to 1) prevent what happened to me from happening to other children and 2) help other survivors begin the process of healing. I am one of the “lucky ones”, or at least so say the statistics–I should already be re-incarcerated, back on the streets looking for my latest high, or dead.

As I mentioned, I was arrested and spent a month in jail. But my experience with the justice system was the exception, not the rule. While I “did my time, learned my lesson and moved on,” within three years of being released, 67% of ex-prisoners re-offend and 52% are re-incarcerated, according to a study published in 2004. The rate of recidivism is so high in the United States that most inmates who enter the system are likely to reenter within a year of their release.

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world and of the roughly two million people occupying a cell, approximately 500,000 of them have been convicted of a drug offense. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.

If you are shocked by those numbers, wait until you hear how many addicts “fall off the wagon.” Relapse rates for addiction range from 40% to 60%, or 50% to 90% depending on which studies you read. These rates vary by definition of relapse, severity of addiction, which drug of addiction, length of treatment, and elapsed time from treatment discharge to assessment, as well as other factors. The point is clear, relapse happens more often than not.

But of all the statistics I am “fortunate” not to be a part of, the last is most important. For the year 2011, there were 40,239 drug induced deaths and 26,256 alcohol induced deaths. Again, I told you on three different occasions, I came close…but thankfully I am still here today to be a cautionary tale of how NOT to cope with your abuse.

So this is my hope. And by that word I don’t mean what I wish for to happen, I mean it’s what I know, count on and expect to happen…the original definition of the word hope. Look it up. I have hope to help others, I have hope that they will heal, I have hope to protect children. I now have a future that was once denied me due to a sexual predator. And you too can have this hope, this expectation, this new future … just reach out and you will find us here for you.

As I learned in NA, there is no greater advocate and no better person to help an addict than another addict. The reason is simple: they know what the other has been through. For this reason I look to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse to help me as I continue to heal. For this reason I look to other survivors to extend themselves to those fellow survivors not as far along in their healing process. For this reason I ask you now, if you are in a position to help someone who has been through what you have, think back to who it was that helped you and remember how crucial it was for you to get that help, to have that shoulder to lean on, to have an understanding ear that would listen and consider this simple statement:

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

References:
– MPI of Psychiatry, Munich Germany, 2003-2012
– Nature Neuroscience 2012
– Narcotics Anonymous, Blue Book
– Narcotics Anonymous, White Pamphlet
– National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
– Stocker, S.
– National Institute on Drug Abuse
– National Institute of Health
– U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
– International Centre for Prison Studies (18 Mar 2010). “Prison Brief – Highest to Lowest Rates”. World Prison Brief. London: King’s College London School of Law.
– John J. Gibbons and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach (June 2006). “Confronting Confinement”. Vera Institute of Justice
– Bureau of Justice Statistics US Department of Justice

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal


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The Abused Addict: The Ultimate Fight *Updated 2014*

This will be a little different than previous articles, in that, this is not so much solution based, as it is issue based. I want to bring to light an issue that many survivors of abuse have to deal with on a daily basis—Addiction—whether it is to alcohol, drugs or something else.

As an addict, you must first recognize that you are not “in control” and you are powerless to the addiction. And it is acknowledging that this “giving up control” enables the addict to begin their healing.

Meanwhile, as a survivor of abuse, while we are being abused we are also helpless and powerless and taking charge is empowering. Claiming power is a significant experience of healing. It enables us to reclaim what was taken from us when we were abused.

So, survivors who are also addicts have a razor thin line to walk (and just as sharp), of giving up control of addiction while regaining control from abuse.

Is it any wonder why so many fall back off the wagon, are never able to maintain a healthy mental/emotional/physical life, or even commit suicide?

We have these solutions that run simultaneous and contradictory to each other—the Ultimate Battle. This is why it’s so important to get professional help and seek the support from others such as AA/NA/SNAP and other support groups.

The statistics are remarkable. In a study of male survivors sexually abused as children, over 80% had a history of substance abuse. 75% of women in treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse report having been sexually abused. Another 10-study program found there was a direct correlation to CSA and substance abuse.

Now full disclosure, in all of the research I read, I was able to find one psychiatrist who did not believe there was a correlation, but he did not produce any statistics or empirical data to support his argument. So it is my conclusion, both from my personal life experience and studies from all over the globe, this is something we cannot ignore.

I read in another article, instead of looking down at addicts and asking them, “What is wrong with you?” wouldn’t it be a more productive question to ask, “What happened to you?”

Very few services exist to help with both issues: addictions and abuse. It needs to be understood that the two go hand in hand. The services which do exist are often inadequate, requiring the individual to heal only on the therapist’s terms, or to “get clean first, then we’ll talk.” Often, if you make one mistake, you’re out of the addiction program. This isn’t fair. Only one out of every 100 people make it, perhaps because of the programs themselves.

And this is what happened to me, I had to address my addiction first before I was able to even acknowledge my abuse and face it. As they say in NA, “face life on life’s terms.” Once I got clean from narcotics, I was finally able to reach out to Dr. Light and confront my abuser, Frankie Wiley.

Now in reclaiming my power over my abuser, the addiction is not the issue it once was, and that is because my primary reason for using drugs was to numb myself from the pain of the abuse.

Now that I have had my abuser removed from three jobs where he had power over kids, I have regained my power, but I KNOW that I will NEVER have power over the narcotics—they control me in such a negative way that I can never do them without extreme, awful consequences.

Just because this is what worked for me, does not mean it will be the direction a fellow survivor will have to take as a path to healing. Seek the professional help that is available to you—we have therapists here and there are many others out there with other groups—if not here, just get help somewhere.

As I said, this is not a solution article. I just wanted folks to know what many survivors have to deal with and if someone in your life is going through this, maybe it will help you better understand what they are going through. Remember, love is patient and kind, and that is ultimately what we need in the battle we face—patience and kindness … and true love.

Michael and Cheryl Irving, two psychotherapists said in an article what I have been saying and feeling for years so I thought it best just to quote them:

“Survivors need to value themselves, to be true to themselves. Survivors often find it hard to say no to anything, and survivors need to fit in, so they often say yes…We need to understand that treatment for addictions is slow and progressive. You cannot help addicts quickly or with some other drug…Healing from addictions and abuse is possible and they often go hand in hand. It takes time, it takes trust.”

References:

Dr. Michael Irving
Mrs. Cheryl Irving
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Mental Health Association in New York State
The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Addiction By Andrea Presnall, Argosy University
Dr. Stanton Peele

David Pittman Bio:

David spent years on a healing journey that continues to this very day. This led him to seek out groups specifically for men as well as those who had been through a similar trauma and ultimately inspired the foundation of Together We Heal, an organization focused on providing counseling and guidance for those who have suffered the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
As the Executive Director of TWH, David works to educate the public through speaking and collaborating with other groups to raise awareness and expose the sexual predator’s methods. TWH now works with therapists, counselors and groups aiding both men and women in their efforts to heal, grow and thrive. He is also the South Florida Area Support Group Leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

TWH follows the saying, “you may be just one person to the world, but to one person you could be the world.”


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Together We Heal has Guest Blog on Rachel Grant Coaching

Rachel Grant asked us to do a guest blog and our first two weeks are going to be a more thorough discussion of Abuse and Addiction. Please go to the link to her site, read and share with us your thoughts. We want to thank Rachel for the opportunity to reach even more survivors and hopefully help them on their journey of healing.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-abused-addict-ultimate-fight.html?m=1

Thank you all for your support of survivors everywhere.

David


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Healing Does Occur – Cale Harbour’s Story

From the FB page of Cale Harbour – He has asked that I post his story and to help “Together We Heal” as it helps others. Please take time to read his story of hope and healing.

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I keep wondering how to start this story. Earlier this year, my good friend David Pittman posted the remarkable story of his struggle being a victim of child sexual abuse. David and I have been good friends for many years and I want to show my support for the work he is doing. This strikes close to me because I too am a victim of this crime and by the same person that abused David. In actuality I was victimized two different times. The first occurrence was an instructor at a summer reading program. The other was a youth minister who started out counseling me to get over the first trauma. The specific details are no longer important. Fortunately, I was not left with severe trauma from these events. However, dealing with the emotions and putting everything into perspective took some time.

David summed up the practices of child predators quite well. They start with small remarks, gestures, comments, or questions. Then some touching and assurances that everything is fine. The interaction slowly progresses and becomes more intimate. This doesn’t happen all at once. It is a detailed, thought out strategy in order to slowly break down the defenses until they can manipulate the child into satisfying their desires.

I never thought about sharing this publically until recently. I was fortunate enough to marry a wonderful woman who served as the support I needed to finish healing and move forward. For me, this part of my life has very little impact on me today. However, in reading not only David Pittman’s story but also all the other responses to his story, it is obvious that this type of personal violation can leave scars and wounds that never truly heal. It is for this reason that I felt like sharing my past as a sign that this can be overcome. There is healing and life can move forward. To anyone who has suffered from this I want to say “Healing does occur”. The Bible tells us in Joel 2:25 that He can make up for the time the ‘Locusts’ have eaten away.

For everyone who reads this, please take a look at David Pittman’s various sites for “Together We Heal”.

together-we-heal.org – Visit the website
@together_weheal – Follow on Twitter

http://www.causes.com/causes/640477-together-we-heal – Join the TWH Cause

http://www.facebook.com/Togetherwehealorg – “Like” on FB
http://www.facebook.com/groups/togetherweheal – Join the TWH FB group

This is a group David started to be able to provide counseling and support to survivors who are in need. He can use all the support we can give.