Self Destructive Behaviors of Incest Survivors
In the Beginning touched on the topic of our thoughts/beliefs, and the importance of reclaiming our thoughts as our own. So often in abusive situations, the offender uses lies and manipulations and half-truths to gain power and control over his intended victim. As survivors of abuse, it’s common place that these lies and half-truths become a regular part of our thought processes and belief systems, which is what makes up our perceptions of life, self, others, and so on. So our perceptions naturally lead to our actions/behaviors.
For myself, personally, after the last incest assault at age 12 I began acting out with dangerous and self destructive behaviors. I did not understand that even though the abuse stopped on the physical level, the internal damages were so severe, and I had no tools or skills to cope with the aftermath of the abuse. Alcohol was immediately needed to self-medicate and numb out the chaos of emotions that I felt. I was drinking myself into complete blackouts. I began hurting myself and started using drugs, downers mostly because my nervous system was shot. I was a complete and utter nervous wreck.
I thought if I just got drunk – or just took some Valium – it would make the pain go away, but the problem is when I sobered up… the pain was still there. From age 12 to 15, I tried so hard to get all the internal emotions under control. I was raging inside from the injustice. I had so much contempt for society and the adults who I turned to, over and over, for help as a little girl. I struggled with shame for what had happened. I struggled with hatred towards my father, my family, authority, society and myself. I was in so much pain and it was all coming from inside me. I felt dead and empty, and my loneliness and isolation grew each day. Nobody in my school understood me and most people shunned me. A deep depression was setting in, and my will to live was being sucked out of me.
By age 17 I was lost in a fog of booze, drugs, and severe depression. I moved to Dallas and tried to start over, and leave the past in Louisiana. I was in an abusive relationship that I wanted out of, and this person was stalking me and telling me he was going to kill me. I am now in my deepest darkest pit of personal hell, and I decided “enough is enough”. If anybody is going to kill me, it will be me. Not my father, not this crazy man stalking me, so I decided death was the best thing since nothing in life was right, or ever going to be right, or had ever been right so I didn’t have to be forced to live. I would end it. I turned on the gas stove and opened a bottle of honey wine and gave up my will to live.
Thank God! Something happened that night (one day I might share this with the world but for now it is deeply personal and I’m not ready to share it) that interrupted my last moments… and I did not take my life that night.
Thankfully, because right now I am living a great life filled with love. I have a beautiful family, and friends, and I am healthy, and – yes – I did find my place I had hoped for as a little girl. So thank God I did not kill myself. Yes, the incest recovery process was as hard as anything I’ve ever attempted to do, but what I learned about myself. What I was able to let go of and leave behind- tons of baggage that wasn’t mine. Even more baggage that was mine, I was able to leave it all behind to be truly free from that crap. Please do not commit suicide! I know how bad it can get, and I know how hard it is to dig out but – once you are out, really and truly out – life can be so wonderful. Please believe me, I know. I lived it and life can become so wonderful for you too.
I came to a place in my recovery where I was no longer a victim I was a survivor and then I came to a place as a survivor where I realized I was no longer a survivor either. I had evolved past being a survivor and having already reclaimed myself now I was evolving again and at a point of empowerment and pursuing dreams, truly being free and flourishing. This is why I identified so strongly with the Phoenix and even came up with the Phoenix acronym People Helping Others Evolve from Negative Incapacitating Xperience’s.
This is hard work – and often painful work – but it is a healing pain far different from the injury pain. So have courage and strength, because this hard work and this pain is a needed release and worth every minute you spend afterwards in peace and joy. Take a break from time to time and take ownership of the hard work you've done, and be proud for yourself. You are transforming from a wounded powerless victim into a vibrant healthy empowered survivor. You are reclaiming yourself, you are renewing yourself. You are healing, and that is painful but critically important. As you progress through the process, it does become easier for you. So take heart, and always remember this journey does get easier… and there is an end to the journey that leaves you whole and renewed.
Please see my page titled "Events/Updates/Workshops" for more detailed information on our Intensive Outpatient Therapy workshops/programs.
Books that helped me:
The Wounded Heart
Nobody’s Ever Cried for Me
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, you will rise up again whole and renewed!