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Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 6 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

In my life, the guilt monster will often succeed through fear. Fear is all around me. The sexual abuse injected it deep into my being. Fear speaks to me in many ways.

* "Ah, here's another day. You can count on me. I’ll be with you every step."

* "Come on. Get it right. Make sure nothing bad happens. Be prepared. Protect yourself."

* "You know what can happen if you don’t fix the problems and the people who have them."

* "It might happen again."

Fear is a natural reflex for me and is one of the major lenses through which I see life. No wonder. Given what happened, it makes sense.

But to let fear rule is to stay stuck with the effects of the abuse. I refuse to do that. Owning up to my fears and feeling them helps. When I can name my fears, I begin to recognize them in daily life. If I can see them as they surface, I can move forward and refuse to allow them to determine my decisions.

If I can name my fears, I can learn to recognize them. 
If exposed, they have less hold on me.

Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 5 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

In a previous post, I described guilt as an octopus, seeking to capture and choke me. It has many tentacles. Anger is one. Fear is another.

As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, fear became my frequent companion. It skewed my world.

Fear became a strong influencer of my thoughts and the prime motivator of my behavior. I tried to become invisible whenever I could by not calling attention to myself or withdrawing from the crowds. When that wasn’t possible, I turned into a performing circus animal, trying desperately either to please or prove my right to exist through flawless achievement.

I couldn't rest. I couldn't have fun. I was hyper-alert, waiting for the next blow. I was a prisoner.

Is there a way out? I’m not sure. But I do believe strongly there is a way through. I can’t stop fear from coming, but I no longer have to let it rule unchallenged.

I can’t stop fear from coming, but I don't have to let it rule my heart.

Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 4 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

In my case, guilt can lead to anger. Anger is powerful. It often lurks unnoticed deep inside me. If I can learn to feel it, it will have less power over me.

Here is what anger says to me:

* "Don’t worry about me. I’m not really here. You feel down today. You’re irritable. You’re never content. You never will be."

* "Yep, it’s your fault. And whatever’s not your fault is someone else’s fault."

* "Keep driving. Keep working. Never rest. Never, ever be completely alone with your thoughts. Run. Stuff me inside."

* "Yes, you were abused, a victim of an evil crime. But don’t think about that, and don’t feel it. Above all, remember, I’m not here."

Oh, no. Anger, I know you’re here. I choose to accept you, and not be controlled by you. Perhaps I’ll learn from you some things I need to know. Maybe I can turn you around and use you to help me heal.

My anger is real. I can learn to accept it, and heal.

Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 3 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

Guilt is a monster. I like to think of it as an octopus. The problem is guilt, but it has many tentacles that seek to attach and squeeze the life out of me. For me, one of those tentacles is anger.

Why did this happen to me? At times, the anger boils in me. But often I don’t allow myself to feel it.

I have reason to be angry. No adult should do such a thing to a child, especially family members who are supposed to be trustworthy. I wasn’t allowed to get angry. Severe punishment was promised if I did. So I stuffed it.

And I kept on stuffing it.

I stuffed the anger leaks. I withdrew deep inside myself. I drove myself relentlessly in school and athletics. I turned my angst inward—on myself.

I couldn’t hold anger in all the time. I blamed myself when I couldn’t hold any more inside. Or I blamed others. Too often, I didn’t know I was angry and needed to feel it.

The abuse happened. It was wrong. A crime. Evil. Anger is a natural, appropriate response. If I can learn to feel it in healthy ways, it will have less hold on me.

Anger is a natural response to abuse. 
I can learn to feel my anger and deal with it.

Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 2 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

I know the abuse wasn't my fault. At least, I think it wasn’t. See, there I go again because I’ve been conditioned to feel guilty.

In the morning Guilt says, "Time to get going, you slouch. Yeah, you work hard, but you never seem to get it right, do you? If you were okay, things would go smoothly. Now get out and there and be perfect."

Guilt speaks throughout the day: "You failed again. You messed up here. You missed it there. If you would get it right, I would go away and you could enjoy peace."

At bedtime Guilt proclaims, "You’ve done it again, buddy. I hope you still feel me sitting on your shoulder, because I’m here. Better luck tomorrow. I’ll be waiting for you."

Guilt was thrust upon me by my perpetrators. I couldn’t resist it at the time, but I can now. I can tell Guilt to take a hike. I can’t stop it from knocking, but I don’t have to let it unpack its lethal suitcase.

Guilt is a liar. I don’t have to believe him.

Battling the Guilt Monster (Part 1 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I find myself constantly battling with guilt. I know the abuse was not my fault. So why did I still feel guilty?

At the time, I was a young child. I couldn’t stop what was happening to me. I wasn’t mature enough to reason it out and make sense of it. Actually, it didn’t make sense. The only thing I knew to do was take responsibility. Surely, this must be my fault. I must have messed up and caused this. I could have stopped this, or prevented it if I had only. . ..

That's not true. I was powerless. Adults exercised their power and took advantage of me. I was a victim.

Part of the evil, insidious nature of abuse is that it conditioned me to take responsibility for the feelings and actions of others. I still find myself apologizing for things that weren't my fault. It’s hard for me to detach my emotions and say, "That’s his decision. That’s about him. It’s not about me."

Abuse was the decision of my perpetrators. 
It was not my choice.

I Survived

(This blog post comes from Dr. Loren Due.)

My journey from childhood sexual abuse hasn't been easy. I survived, but more important, I am thriving. By sharing with others, others can learn that change and victorious living are possible. I thrive because I am inspired to help others make the changes necessary to experience the joy of doing what they were placed on this planet to do.

For most of my life, I was suspicious and isolated. I was shy, and even though people would say I was "cute," I never felt attractive. Even today when people say I don't look my age, I sometimes have trouble accepting the compliment. Although they say I'm handsome, I believe they're interested only in the money I earn. They only reason I look the way I do is because through all the drugs and sex I've experienced in my lifetime, God has kept me; I'm blessed to be alive.

—excerpted by permission from Teddy Bear: Stolen Innocence! by Dr. Loren Due, (Dr. Due Books, 2009), page 50.

My Past

(This post comes from Dr. Loren Due. He is a survivor of sexual abuse and this is his reflection on his life.)

One of the key lessons I learned is that the negative experiences of the past were turned into seeds of benefit that continue to bless me.

I decided early on that I would not be like my father, no matter what. . . .

While raising my son, I made the decision to support him and be strategically involved in all he did. I was active in my son's school life, making sure his teachers and administrators knew me. I volunteered my time for school activities and made sure I attended his games (basketball, football, and soccer) from elementary school through college no matter what was happening in my life. I missed only two games in sixteen years.

The kindest comment my son made to my current wife was that he felt I was the best dad he could ever ask for. It's such a joy when I give him a big hug and he responds. Through all my foolishness, he always knew I loved him.

—excerpted by permission from Teddy Bear: Stolen Innocence! by Dr. Loren Due, (Dr. Due Books, 2009), pages 46–47.

The Victim Is Never at Fault

(This blog post comes from Dr. Loren Due.)

Often the abuser will blame the victim for the abuse, but the victim is never at fault. This is particularly true for victims between birth and age 18.

When sexual perversion is unwanted physical or mental activity, enjoyed by the abuser but not consented to by the abused, how can the victim possibly be at fault?

The reasons for incest may seem different when we view each specific case, but let us not forget that the underlying reason for any sexual perversion is that the perpetrator's flesh has overwhelmed his spirit.

The most common reason for incest is that abuser—a parent or peer for the victim—more than likely was also a victim of sexual perversion. He or she did not find the healing and deliverance needed.

Parents who have not recovered from sexual abuse in their own lives are unable to provide healthy guidance within the family.

—excerpted by permission from Shhh . . . Don't Say a Word About This! by Dr. Loren Due, (Dr. Due Books, 2009), page 18.

Hope for the Perpetrator

(This blog post comes from Dr. Loren Due.)

Often people who have sexually assaulted another person live in great fear: not recognizing why they do ugly, vicious, hateful things but realizing that they cannot control themselves . . . .

Perpetrators, too, deal with pain of loss because until exposed, they must live in a make-believe world of being normal, when they know they are not behaving normally. As a result, they lose their self-respect. When they are exposed they stand to lose their freedom, their livelihood, and their future. They bear an underlying guilt and shame, often when they make excuses, cast blame, or try to live in denial of their horrific thoughts and deeds.

Nevertheless, there is hope for those individuals as well, if they are willing to acknowledge their lack of self-control and face up to the consequences of their actions.

—excerpted by permission from Shhh . . . Don't Say a Word About This! by Dr. Loren Due, (Dr. Due Books, 2009), pages 13.