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Adult Survivors Of Incest

We can only truly survive incest if we acknowledge it's effects on us as adults.  Discover how it impacts on their core identity and how they relate to everyone they encounter.  

Many adult survivors of incest have undergone therapy. Some have joined support groups and even confronted the perpetrator. No matter how much healing they do they are never truly healed. The effects of what happened is so deeply embedded in them that it becomes a part of their core identity.

They can, on an intellectual logical level, put judgement aside. With compassion they know that the person who did this to them is a deeply wounded soul. In itself, though, that is not enough to set them free to be whole again.

When we are whole we are safe to embrace all parts of ourselves. Those parts that we had to give up to protect ourselves and to survive childhood. To take back joy, taking risks, being curious, spontaneous, dreaming, playfulness and just being who we are.

They will think that they have released all attachment to the perpetrator. To what happened.

As they get on with their lives and particularly as they age they cannot help looking back on that little child that they once were. Feeling so sorry that the joy and spontaneity of childhood was stolen from them.

Some of them will wonder what could have been if they had had a secure safe environment to develop and grow. Knowing that they are loved unconditionally. Wondering perhaps if they would have made different choices about friendships and other relationships. And whether they would have performed any different at school.

All children want to feel safe, secure and loved. Secure and safe in their physical environment. Secure and safe knowing that they have an identity and are seen and heard as an individual.

Children look to their parents or caregivers to provide unconditional love. To meet their physical, emotional and mental needs.

When a parent or caretaker uses the child for their own sexual gratification they are meeting their own needs. They are de-humanizing the child. The child is there to fulfill their needs and thus becomes an object. Because the parent is an authority figure the child is powerless.

Adult survivors of incest have an underlying core belief about themselves and the environment:-

“I am nothing”
“My needs are not important”
“I have no needs”
“I am here to serve”
“I don’t deserve love”
“I am not good enough”
”I am not safe”
“I have no choices”
“It is not safe to be vulnerable”
“Intimacy is dangerous”
“It is not safe to trust”

Whenever adult survivors of incest are in situations where they are uncomfortable these old beliefs re-surface unconsciously again and again and again…. They become their default setting. They are expressed in their interactions with others. Socially, in the workplace or with their intimate partners.

They can express these beliefs in 1 or 2 ways:-

Being passive

Not expressing opinions
Afraid of disagreeing with others
To ask for what theywant
Looking to others to make decisions and tell them what to do

This person will look to their partner to make them happy. They don't take responsibility for their own happiness. They may also have no boundaries.

Being controlling, domineering and striving for perfection

They are terrified of opening themselves up to vulnerability
They keep their feelings to themselves, won’t cry openly or show any softness
They often have a tendency to be seen to be perfect
Whether it is the work they do, their appearance or their home

The underlying emotion beneath these behaviours is fear.  Of rejection and abandonment.

The perpetrator may have made the child feel “special”, perhaps singling them out for special attention. Told them that the family would fall apart if they told anyone.
The burden of responsibility for the happiness of the whole family, therefore, rests with them. And they have to diminish themselves to survive.

The stretch for adult survivors of incest is to recognize when those feelings come up. When they realize that they are sucking into those old patterns of thought they need to tell themselves that those feelings belong in the past. They were what the little you thought and believed. To acknowledge that you survived and they do not belong in the here and now.

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