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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The Abused Addict: CSA info too important to miss!

Radio Show Recording with David Pittman and Rachel Grant – January 29th, 2014

The Abused Addict: One Man’s Journey of Recovery from Sexual Abuse

Discovering the Correlation Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Substance Abuse/Addiction

We cover not only abuse and addiction, but also issues with sexuality, access to counseling, sexual predators grooming kids for abuse, churches that protect sexual predators, creating support groups in your local areas and so much more! Please set aside some time to listen to what I genuinely believe is valuable information for both survivors of childhood sexual abuse and those that love them.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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When Does The Worst Day Of Your Life, Turn Into The Best?

In sharing my story, I often mention getting arrested and having to spend 30 days in jail for drug possession. The reason I do is to bring to attention how low my life had gotten due to the sexual abuse I endured as a child. I was in so much emotional pain, the only choice I saw was to try and cover the pain by ingesting as many narcotics as I could. This led to multiple arrests and the aforementioned time incarcerated. I didn’t even know until my last arrest report came out, but I had the following drugs in my system…cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine (speed), GHB, ketamine, and heroin…all at the same time! It was a miracle I was even alive.

At the time of the arrests it felt like it was the worst thing that could happen to me. That is until it was clear I was going to jail, the only issue was for how long. Then came the day when judgement was rendered, and that seemed like the worst thing that could happen. That is, until my first night in jail.

And so began one worst day after another. While there, I encountered times where I didn’t know if I was going to make it. On two occasions my life was threatened and was moved from one cell to another until they thought I was as safe as I was ever going to be. I spent each of those 30 days wondering if I would make it out alive and scared out of my mind.

Then came the day of my release. Truly one of the happiest days of my life. Over the next few months I slipped on and off the wagon of drugs. I woke up one day and realized that if I was ever going to hope to have any chance at a future I had to get clean…for good.

So my dad helped me with a home-style rehab. He put up with all the nasty things I said to him, he helped me as I got sick for a week and all the while wishing I was dead, or had a “fix”. I spent a total of two weeks of the “worst days” of my life going through withdrawals and all that comes with getting narcotics out of your system. Then after about a month, I was free from the drugs within my system, now I had to get the garbage I wanted out of my head. So I started attending NA, and with the help of my mom, a friend and an amazing sponsor, I was able to work through all I needed to and can say now, I’m 8 years clean.

So why am I telling you all the details of all of the “worst” days of my life? Because if it weren’t for all those worst days I wouldn’t be where I am now. Now I am happy to report my sobriety from narcotics. Today I am working with my fellow survivors of childhood sexual abuse and helping them to find their own healing path. Today I work with some of the most amazing people who give of their time and talents to help others. And “today” would not be if all those “worst” days had not happened.

I couldn’t see it at the time. I never foresaw where those days would lead. All I knew was I wanted to live, or at least didn’t want to die anymore, and so I did what my program taught me, I took one day at a time and stayed clean “just for today” and it eventually led to now.

I’m telling more of the details for my fellow survivors to know there is hope, there is healing, and the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT an oncoming train. If I can get to where I am now, they can too. Together we can truly heal. I’m living proof.

The other reason why I’m being so revealing is due to a comment made by one of our readers…It caused me to have one of those Ah-Ha moments and led to this article. So I wanted to share with you the genesis of my thoughts:

“Thank you _______ for the reminder to be the encouragement for those in pain, the cheerleader when they succeed, and the friend when they just need…This was because _______, thankfully, reminded us to not only respond with comments to those with good news or progress in their healing and life, but also when the news wasn’t so good or as uplifting. As a matter of fact, it’s those times most of all they need to hear from us that they are not alone and we are here for them.”

So with that in mind, remember to share the good, the bad and the ugly…in doing so you never know which of your fellow survivors you might be helping, and assisting them in turning one of their “worst” into a “best”.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Its All About Perspective, So Whats Yours?

As recovering addicts and/or survivors of childhood sexual abuse, we often compare what we went through to that of others. It’s human nature. We think to ourselves, well what they went through was so much worse than myself, what gives me the right to complain. Or conversely, we look at another and say, oh come on, that’s all? We constantly do this.

I remember sitting in my first few NA rooms, listening to story after story and thinking, I’m not like these folks at all. I’m no crackhead, walking the streets, selling my body for a $10 high. Or I would rationalize, I’ve NEVER shot junk in MY veins or shared a needle with a disease-riddled body. Then one day I heard a story not so different from mine. It’s what therapists and sponsors call “your moment of clarity”. It’s when you finally come to terms with your own addiction and figure out, an addict is an addict is an addict. It doesn’t matter what the drug is, or the background your come from or even what you’ve done to get high. It’s when you acknowledge that you have no control over the drugs that control you.

And being a survivor of CSA is no different. It doesn’t matter who abused you, how often it happened, what they did to you or they made you do to them. A survivor is a survivor is a survivor. One case is not “worse” or “lesser” than another. To illustrate let me share a story a trusted friend told me many years back. He asked me to answer what appeared to be a simple question.

Three scenarios:

First, a teen about to go on their very first prom date when, BAM! A huge zit appears at the very end of their nose. With no way to conceal and no time to heal, panic and anxiety set in.

Second, a young man has just been told by the Dean, his academics did not pass this semester and will be on probationary suspension for 1 term. How does he begin to explain this one to mom and dad? And did I mention, he’s on scholarship because they have no money to send him to college.

Third, a couple just received a $30,000.00 bill from the IRS. Evidently their CPA was didn’t file properly and no matter what, they are now liable for all monies, plus penalties. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it, they MUST pay and they don’t have enough savings to cover it. And oh yeah, their daughter just came home pregnant from college. Another two mouths to feed and bodies to keep warm and safe inside their home.

So the query is…which one is “worse”?

Being the bright young man I was at the time, I told him, oh this is easy! I’ve already had a “zit moment” that totally embarrassed me in high school. He or she will eventually forget all about that nonsense! As for the young man in school, I could relate. Got into some trouble in college and had to “sit out” a semester myself. No biggie! I went to Florida for that term, worked for my dad and when I’d “done my time and penance”, I reenrolled, finished up and graduated from the University! So the answer was clear, the couple with the 30k debt to the IRS. What a horrible position to be in. With no foreseeable way to pay, with a child and a grandchild returning “home” in need of mom and dads support, both emotionally and financially. This was a no-brainer.

Turns out, I was the only one with no brain! You see, we each “see” the prism of crisis through our own life experience. If we have already been through an event, we understand what lies on the other side. What potential outcomes there may be. Even what variety of options are available to us. But to each and every one of those folks, the situation before them was the “worst” they had ever faced at that point in their lives. With NO idea of how they were going to get through it. It’s truly relative when it comes to situational crisis. There is no such thing as a “bigger or lesser” problem. To whomever is going through what they are going through, at that moment, it’s the biggest challenge they’ve had to face.

So keep this in mind when working with others or when addressing your own struggles. Remember to be compassionate to those around you. And don’t forget to give yourself a break too. We all need some sympathy and empathy in our times of trials and tribulation.

One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. –Anonymous

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Do You Want A Future?

Truth is truth, right? And if it is so, then whether we agree with it or not, it’s still the truth. You may not agree with the concept of gravity, especially if you’re like me when you step on a scale. But if you step off a second floor balcony with no net to catch your fall, you will discover a hard, cement-tasting truth.

Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno and multiple other thinkers were at one time called heretics. In the end, what they found to be the truth went against ALL popular “scientific” notions of the day, religious beliefs or merely values held at the time.

I say this to bring to light the following truth I’ve discovered in my own life –

“You must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”

I know, I know, sounds like a psychobabble cliche, but just as we call something a “generalization”, there’s a reason, that’s because they are “generally” true. So this time, with a non-judgmental or preconceived notion, let me repeat and have you read it once more…

…”you must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”

I admit it sounds a bit ominous. And while it may be hard to hear, I’m merely trying to make a point, emphasizing the truth I discovered in my own life. It wasn’t until I went back to my past; the acknowledgment of the childhood sexual abuse that I endured from ages 12-15, that enabled me to begin to work through the issues of the present of that time. Once acknowledged and beginning to heal, I finally, for the first time in almost 10 years, began to see the potential of a future that lay ahead.

Once upon a time, I was heavily addicted to multiple narcotics to numb myself from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. This led to three arrests, jail time, fines, no drivers license for a year, loss of tens of thousands of dollars in wages from a career I was genuinely passionate about. And in varying degrees, it cost me a relationship of five years, another of four and even an earlier one of six years. This “past” was destroying my “present” and if something didn’t give, my “future” was going to be even more limited than it already was!

But my story is not an isolated one. It’s not even unique and definitely not as harsh, from my perspective, as some others have been through. But that’s just from my life view. We all have a different one.

So how do we do accomplish this task? How do we get from point A to point B? That is to say, how do we look into our past, into that abyss, without falling back in? Then how do we take that information, apply it to our present so that we have the opportunity to move on into a more positive future? A lot of questions with multiple choice answers, I know.

Even if you’re not an addict or alcoholic, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “admitting you have a problem is the first step.” And with survivors of CSA, this saying has some weight as well, just with a different angle. It’s not that we have to admit we have a problem, we have to admit that a horrible event and crime was perpetrated against us. And this is not an easy or small task. In fact, in my case, I made numerous trips to the place where I knew I had to address my abuser. I drove past it, I stopped at the driveway, heck one time I even got out of the car, was walking up the door of the church, when I turned around and drove back home. In total, it took me 6 trips to finally be able to speak out against my abuser. To tell the people in authority above him exactly what he was, what he was capable of, and the danger he posed to the very children he was charged with protecting.

And that last thing i just mentioned was the real motivation behind what i had to do. More than just my own self-serving, self-healing desires behind the action I knew I had to take, more important than shedding the light on the past…even more at stake was the future of the lives of his potential victims.

I know now I wasn’t his first victim, nor was I his last. And how I wished, prayed and pleaded that someone had come forward before he got to me. So now it was up to me. Now I had the strength to face the cold, hard truth. I knew if the young boys he had access to were to have any chance of a future free from the emotional, physical and spiritual torture I experienced, I was going to have to step up and tell the truth of what this monster is.

If I was to have any potential peace with my own future I had to make sure, to the best of my ability, that no other little boy in his life would be molested, abused or raped. And so I did just that. I acknowledged my past, I took action in the present, and I know now I have done all I could within my power to help those boys have a decent future. And in doing so, my future too is one of peace and healing.

So do whatever you need to enter your past in a healthy way. Whether through one-on-one counseling, group therapy or any other professional help you require. Seek it out so you can begin to “fix” your present. And by that I simply mean whatever will help you begin to heal, I know from personal experience nothing gets “fixed” to what it was before. But in doing this, by beginning to heal, you will have a chance to take back what was stolen from you and to have a future and peace you deserve.


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What’s Your Reason To Fly?

I witnessed something this morning that at first made me immensely sad. Initially I thought someone had thrown something at my sliding glass door. When I rose to see who had done it, instead I discovered a tiny blue bird lying on the ground at my feet. Its’ fragile body was twisted sideways and I could see its’ heart pounding from beneath its tattered feathers. As I got closer, it lowered its’ head, its’ heart began to beat slower and I almost started to tear up as I thought I was witnessing the end of this little creature’s life.

My dog was inside going nuts wanting to get to the bird, so I led her away, and truthfully, I really didn’t want to see it die. Strange thing, death. I did my internship at the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s office in the summer of 1996. I witnessed all manner of death that year. Every conceivable way a person could naturally or horrifically come to their end. The extreme ways in which one or more persons would look into the face of the evil inside to take another’s life. And yet, with the exception of the children’s deaths I saw, I accepted it as the natural occurrence of events, handled myself in a professional manner, and gained knowledge, insight and compassion in what turned out to be a transformative time of my life.

But for some odd reason, I don’t do well with the death of an animal. Especially if it’s been a pet of mine. Knowing this about me, understand why I just couldn’t watch this bird die. So I went back to the couch knowing it wouldn’t be long. I settled my dog down, gave it a few minutes and returned to what I knew was going to be a sad moment.

What I saw before me was remarkable. This brittle-boned fowl had managed to somehow shake the cobwebs out of its little bird-brain, straightened out its feathers, and was teetering back and forth like a heavyweight boxer would had just been given an almost knockout blow! Oh he was wavering back and forth, but he wasn’t down for the count just yet!

I sat down in awe as he fought with every instinct in his body and spirit to regain his composure and his life! As the minutes went on, the rocking back and forth stopped, his heart rate normalized, and eventually he even started to look around as if to say, “What the heck just happened to me?!”

At this point I opened the door, used my cane to scoop him up and onto the shrubs outside my patio so he would be free from ground predators like snakes, rats, etc. You know we have a few of those down here in south Florida.

As I placed him on the shrub, he even started to get his wings flapping. He wasn’t ready to take off yet, but you could tell it was only a matter of time and he was going to be just fine! I was so relieved! I lay back on the couch, watched him for the next 20 minutes and then, BAM, off like a rocket he shot! Flew away as if nothing happened!

This got me reflecting on the “sliding glass doors” that I’ve flown into! After all I have been through; after having been sexually abused as a child, addicted to narcotics in an attempt to numb my emotional pain, arrested, imprisoned, divorced, fired, kicked out, knocked down, and as we say in the south…”felt like I’d been rode hard and put up wet!” How on earth did I manage to do like that little bird? How did I shake off those cobwebs, dust myself off and get back on my feet again? One word – RESILIENT. The human spirit is amazing that way. Like those little birds’ instincts, so ours is to survive at all costs, no matter what’s happened to us.

For that little bird, he was born to fly and that’s what he knew he had to do again. I had to figure out my reason to “fly again”. All of our drive and reasons to push on, to fly again, have as many variables and possibilities as we are individuals. For me, mine is to keep other children from going through what I did and to help my fellow survivors begin to heal. I gain a little more altitude each time a person comes to me and says, “What can I do to better protect my child?” Or when a survivor says, “Thank you for telling your story. When I heard what you said, I knew I could move forward too.” Let me tell you something folks, I’ve done a lot of drugs, I’ve been as high as any addict out there. But for me now, there is no better “high”, no greater lift, then when you know you have helped someone struggling with what you’ve also been through.

So let’s all learn a little lesson from that tiny blue bird. Figure out your reason to fight like hell to survive, and no matter what happens…

…find your reason to fly.


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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