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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How Long Have I Felt Alone?

Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.

This desperate pursuit eventually had me asking many questions about myself and my life.

Is that why I spent so many years seeking intimacy through empty sexual encounters?

Is that why I would take enough narcotics to drop a work mule and then get out on the road looking for party after party, person after person, hook-up after hook-up, connection after connection.

After I reread that last sentence it dawned on me. It’s that’s word, “connection”. I was looking for a true connection but in the most vile of environments, from the least genuine of people, and in the sketchiest of places with the most dangerous of drugs.

Sadly, when I’d meet a decent person, I’d find a way to sabotage whatever connection was made.

Over the last few years I’ve learned there are different types of “survivors” of CSA. First, there’s the type who grew up with abuse being so much a part of their lives, having no memory of life without it, that it was their “norm”. The second type consists of those who had, up until the abuse began, some sort of “regular” childhood. Once the abuse began, everything changed. Either they became withdrawn or they acted out, with combinations and variations of the two.

From listening to fellow survivors stories, It’s been my understanding that it depended on how old they were when the abuse began, how many years it lasted, who their abuser(s) were, plus a multitude of other factors. But please don’t misunderstand, whether the abuse occurred once or a thousand times, victims are left feeling alone.

To anyone looking at my life, I gave the appearance as if all was fantastic in my world! It would seem as if nothing so evil and certainly crimes so heinous could not be happening to me. After all, my abuser had total control over me. He was in the position of both male AND spiritual authority over me. In essence, he had possession of my mind, body and soul. He convinced me that no one would believe me anyway. And on top of that, the time and place where I grew up, we did not talk about anything negative and we certainly didn’t tell anyone else outside the family about such things. Who am I kidding, we didn’t even tell our family.

For the three years the sexual abuse occurred, no one knew what my youth minister, Frankie Wiley was doing to me, or to any of the boys he was molesting, abusing and raping at the same time. And since all of us felt we were the only ones to which it was happening, we felt completely alone. As I said, a feeling that would become more familiar than any other, and the driving force behind my desire to be loved, to be wanted, to feel “warm and fuzzy”, as the sex and narcotics both temporarily and falsely made me feel.

So as victims of these crimes, what do we do with this feeling of being “alone”? I have described how I dealt with it for the better part of 30 years. In doing so, I destroyed multiple careers, many relationships and almost lost my life.

Once I finally got clean and removed the fog of narcotics hanging over me, I was able to seek the help of one-on-one counseling and support groups that taught me proper coping skills. Now I know what to do when “triggered” or when I become overcome with the guilt, shame and self-blame associated with being sexually abused. I was also very fortunate to have a family willing to help me when I came forward about the abuse. Not everyone is so lucky. They assisted me in getting clean by keeping food in my belly and a roof over my head while I got my head clear.

I’m so thankful for all those who have helped me in the past and still help me to this day. And the reason I’m telling you all of this is to let my fellow survivors and their loved ones know what I’ve learned…help, healing and recovery are all possible.

As many of you know, I’m now married to the most amazing woman who loves me for who I am. Together, we work with victims and survivors. We see their healing begin and are witness to lives changing on a weekly basis.

I am now even able to be an active member of a church again. Having been abused by a minister, I had sworn at one time never to darken the doors of any religious institution. In my heart at that time, I believed God had allowed this and I hated Him for it. I eventually understood there was only one person to blame for the pain; my abuser, Frankie Wiley. And I see clearly now from his actions, he is not a Christian. A true Christian would not sexually abuse multiple boys at various churches over decades of time. Nor should I discount my belief because of what this sexual predator did to me and so many other little boys. I have decided not to allow his crimes to prevent me from receiving joy and peace from my belief.

My life now is one I had not dreamed possible. But when I opened my mind and heart to hope and healing, I began to finally experience what is possible for us all.

And that’s why I want all survivors to know THIS story, MY story, can be THEIR story. Turning your life into one that is both productive and fulfilling is within your reach, if only you’ll reach out to those willing to help you.

We are here to help. And together, we can truly heal.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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September 11, 2014 – Big Changes on a Big Day in Our Collective History

Once again, we were given the honor of speaking out on behalf of both drug addicts and survivors of childhood sexual abuse in recovery. We discuss the struggles of both, the ability to find a healing path and what to do in those moments of feeling “stuck“.

When you have a moment, please take some time to listen in on this invaluable information that I know can help begin a transformative time in your life if you have challenges with one or both.

The dialogue between myself and Misa Leonessa Garavaglia brought up some great points toward finding a healing path. Please do listen and let us know if we can help.

Healing Addiction, Part 1- Addiction and Child Sexual Abuse

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/beyondabuseradio/2014/09/12/healing-addiction-part-1-child-sexual-abuse-and-addiction


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The Invisible Hand On Your Mouth

Trigger Warning due to description of childhood sexual abuse

It’s an indelible memory seared into our minds and branded onto our souls. At least for those of us who were sexually abused as children. It’s a memory we can’t shake. At some point, many of us experienced having our abuser(s) hand(s) over our mouths to keep us quiet during the acts of abuse. They didn’t want anyone to hear our cries of agony. The tragedy is that years, even decades later we feel like it’s still there, like there’s some invisible hand still covering our mouths and cries for help.

Ironically we are often asked, “why didn’t you say something then? Why didn’t you tell someone what was happening?” For anyone who has experienced true fear, and I’m not talking about horror movie scared, I’m talking about terror beyond description. Those who’ve experienced this level of intimidation and panic know exactly what I mean when I say we were going through fear that completely freezes you dead in your tracks. It prevents you from completing even the simplest of tasks. The ones that others take for granted.

Sure our friends could go to mom and dad about a bully down the street, or the weird guy at the end of the block, or the teacher who was mean to them in school. But those seem benign to us in comparison.

For us, we couldn’t do the most mundane of acts – Like driving down a road we grew up on. Or walking in the doors of a church/synagogue/mosque where our abuser held all the cards and wielded total autonomy.

Much has been written in other places, and here, about the plethora of reasons children don’t talk about sexual abuse, so I won’t beat that dead horse. What I will tell you is that it’s real, and all the reasons explained in the various media and online outlets are valid. And it’s the reason why, to us, we felt trapped and incapable of speaking out.

The reason I bring it up now is for my fellow survivors who might not have spoken yet. And to help their loved ones understand a little better.

It’s that damned “hand”. And it’s both literal and metaphorical.

We felt the actual hand covering our mouths, sometimes even our noses, to the point we couldn’t breathe. Grasping for air, grasping for help, wanting to cry out but knowing any such action would be met with harsher penalties by the abuser.

When you are a child, those in authority have all the power. We felt powerless to stop them, or so we thought. When we were children, there were no talk shows discussing childhood sexual abuse. There were no support groups to turn to for guidance or shelter. There was nothing.

We thought to ourselves, even if we speak up, who would believe us? A child making accusations about a so-called “pillar of the community”. Or worse yet, about our parents! No one in their right minds would believe us. Or so we we’re told, and possibly in many cases it might have even been true…no one would’ve believed us.

So we did the only thing we could, just hang on long enough to survive. And most of us did. Sadly a few didn’t. We witnessed some of our closest friends take their own lives, or tumble down the road of alcoholism and addiction to the point it cost them their lives. Everyone else said, “I just don’t understand why Jimmy or Susie did that. They had their whole lives in front of them.”

What they didn’t know, was their lives had been destroyed by the hand of sexual abuse. They had no coping mechanisms or tools to effectively cope with the abuse. And due to the lack of guidance, they self-medicated, and when the pain went beyond what they thought they could bare, they ended what they felt was a meaningless life.

I know these feelings of utter despair. I know them because I also, like a couple of people I lost, felt as though life was no longer worth living. And while my feeble attempts to “accidentally” overdose were unsuccessful, my life went spiraling out of control.

Oddly enough it was what most people would consider a horrible event, my arrests and time incarcerated, that most likely saved my life. Had it not been for being locked-up, I would probably have continued to abuse narcotics until I eventually overdosed with no return.

Thankfully I did get clean, I did learn through counseling how to utilize proper coping skills to work though the pain of the abuse. And now I have a life I never dreamed possible. I have the most amazing and loving wife. And together we work with survivors and their loved ones in ways that make me feel both honored to help and humbled with rewards beyond this life or words. And I’ve been able to actually enjoy my life free of narcotics and can finally “feel” the experiences of my life.

And I tell you all of this to let my fellow survivors and their loved ones know this is all possible for them too. If I can survive what I did, and now have a life not of just surviving, but thriving, they can too! All that is required is to reach out and receive the help that’s available.

As I so often say…together, we can truly heal…

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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What Are You Scared Of?

Aristotle taught us that “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil”.

So why do I bring up fear? Because it’s a universal human emotion. And it’s one that survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) either still experience, or did at the time when we were being abused. I remember the pain of my fear. I remember with brutal clarity the shaking of my body, the angst, the sadness, the torture in my heart knowing as nighttime got closer, so also came “that time”. Aristotle’s words ring loud and clear to me. It was the anticipation of the abuse, the anticipation of Frankie Wiley‘s evil ways that I knew were coming that scared me to death. Me, an undersized, little 12 year old who knew the man I trusted as my spiritual leader and male role model, was about to torture me in ways I could never have conceived in my wildest nightmares. I would make excuses to stay up, to avoid the bed at all costs. But in the end, the result was always the same. And no matter which bed I was in, he would get what he wanted.

We’re told as children, “there’s no such thing as monsters”. But survivors of CSA know monsters are all too real, and they are cloaked in the skin of kindness, relatives, teachers, clergy and all manner of those we knew, trusted and loved. That’s what tears apart the lives of those who manage to make it through to adulthood. That’s why so many turn to narcotics, alcohol, promiscuity, or anything else to make us feel loved, or safe or that will give us some level of peace, if only for a moment.

That’s why if we seem, at times, disgusted and angered beyond control, by the disbelief or inaction of those who can do something about it and choose not to, understand this…”To attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.” You see, as children we have seen falsehood at its worst and therefore know truth beyond what we should. So we have little tolerance for those who don’t or won’t see the same truth, the only truth, that the monsters are real and we MUST do something to prevent them from hurting more children.

Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, penned these words, “A world is supported by four things … the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing … without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.”

Right now we don’t see rulers, or should I say leaders, who have the learning, justice, righteousness or bravery to do what should be done. To step up and fight for these children now or for those of us then.

I was reminded not long ago about an animal trick. You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? This same person said the difference between animals and humans is that a human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might evade the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.

And survivors of CSA know about this maneuver. You know what I’m talking about, that trick we would play to be able to endure the torture of sexual abuse. We would lay as still as we could, as quiet as we could, and wait until our “captor” was gone in the hopes of it never happening again, but it always did. And this is where our fear is rooted.

So when we begin to feel fear coming over us, remember this, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

I cited Herbert again to remind my fellow survivors of the strength we all have. That we have survived this long is amazing. This proves how much inner strength we have and what we are capable of achieving. Or as an unknown author stated, “On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%…and that’s pretty good.”

To quote one of my favorite shows, Downton Abbey, a character named Miss Baxter says to her new found friend Mr. Molseley, “There are things in my past that made me afraid, but I’m not afraid any more. I’m not sure what will happen, but whatever it is, it’s better than being afraid.”

And to those who’ve never been through what we have, we sigh a collective “thank God”. But now we need you to join us in this fight. Those who oppose us are many and powerful and without your help and numbers we won’t be able to get the results needed to protect the children of today and tomorrow.

So be the Dad, the Mom, the parent and the leaders you are all capable of being and help us to protect all children.

As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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3 Steps to Let Go of the Pain of Sexual Abuse

This December 18th, at 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET, I have the honor of facilitating a free teleseminar with my friend, colleague and fellow advocate, Rachel Grant.

 

Do you feel worthless, undeserving, unfixable, or unlovable? Are you ready to let go of the pain of sexual abuse?

If you are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken and burdened by the past, this 90 minute teleseminar is for you. You will be taught the three steps you need to take in order to let go of the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Rachel will also share with you her secret to becoming a ‘beyond survivor’.

You will learn:

• Why sexual abuse is akin to an unhealed wound and the steps required to healing that wound.
• How your brain processes experiences and how this affects your thinking, feelings, and behavior.
• To challenge the false beliefs that keep you disconnected from your genuine self.
• To develop new ways of thinking in order to shift your focus, listen to yourself, and to use affirmations that really work.
• 3 steps, rooted in science, which will lead you out of the pain of abuse.

 

Sign up for this free teleseminar at:

http://rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond

If you are not able to join us live, go ahead and register and you will receive the recording.

This call is perfect for you if:

You are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and are frustrated because it seems nothing you do is helping.

You desire to reconnect to your genuine self in order to move on with your life and be the person you were meant to be.

 

It is my hope and desire for you to be able to make radical and amazing changes as you take back your life and realize your ability to make powerful choices about who you are and how you live.

Please don’t miss the opportunity to join us and gain this invaluable information. As I mentioned, Rachel is not only a colleague, she is also my friend. I know how much she has helped me and I know she can help you too.

 

Register: http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond


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Waiting To Be Found.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), I have been searching for sometime to figure out a way to summarize the challenges survivors face. But due to the levels of pain and varieties of struggles each individual confronts, it seemed like this wasn’t possible. That is until I was watching, of all things a tv show, when I had a moment of clarity. A young lady had been kidnapped and was all alone. While listening to the dialogue of the actors and imagining how a real kidnap victim must feel it hit me like a ton of bricks…

The loneliest feeling in the world…is waiting to be found.

And there it was. My own personal struggle was wrapped up in that one, simple but excruciatingly painful statement. Survivors of CSA know this feeling. We live in constant fear of people learning what we are currently going through or have been through. We live in perpetual terror that our deepest, darkest secret will be exposed. Our fear, shame and guilt is compounded daily in our hearts, it weakens our spirits and like a weight, its sits on and sinks into our thoughts – emotionally, mentally and at times even physically. It feels like an wrecking ball holding us down, preventing us from moving, from doing anything or going anywhere.

The tv show I was watching showed the kidnap victim left to die, held down by spikes in the desert, hands and feet bound to those spikes. She was all alone, in the middle of nowhere, with no help in sight. And during this time, she had no idea if she would ever be found, or if she would die alone, with this horrific secret.

And in that story is the analogous representation of the degree of despair felt by survivors of CSA. We have that same sense of abandonment, of being all alone, all the while, we need and we want more than ANYTHING, for someone, ANYONE, to FIND OUT and to FIND US!

In its simplest terms, what we need is much like the moment a child has a parent rip off a bandage from a banged up knee or elbow. When a band-aid is pulled off it hurts like hell, but then when done, there is this immense sense of relief. And the growing sense of relief is so much more powerful than the instant moment of pain. Thats not to say we don’t get that band-aid ripped off over and over again when we relive the experience by telling our story, or testifying in court or being deposed, but by engaging on a healing path, we can find a way to move froward productively. Just as a survivor feels extreme emotional trauma in the moments/hours/days surrounding the time people learn the truth about their abuse, once the initial pain subsides, the healing can begin.

I know I have said this before, and I’ll continue to say it until there’s no breath left in my lungs. If you are or have been a victim of CSA, reach out now. You are not alone. You may have been left in the desert, but you now have people looking for you and available to help you. If not with TWH, find someone, some group, somewhere. They are all around and willing to help you. And may we all find the peace we deserve.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal