I tried out working as a figurant, it was a scene in the movie The song of names, the scene took place in the 50s, so we got makeovers and costumes, which was so fun. I love movies so much and being part of creating one was really exciting.
How to talk to someone or be close to someone who went through childhood sexual abuse
Probably each person who went through childhood sexual abuse has a different approach to this topic and has different needs and wishes regarding how other people relate to their trauma.
These are my wishes and thoughts about this:
1 Give empathy! There was a time when the person was in a situation where he or she received 0 empathy and 0 care from another person, the perpetrator. He or she experienced a tremendous amount of pain but never got any empathy. After the person discovers about the trauma, in order to heal it will be essential to receive empathy from many different people in many different ways.
2 Be curious, don’t be distant! To me it was very important to have conversations that are open and where we can talk about any aspect of my life that was impacted by the trauma. It was also important to me to share my healing journey, especially my most freeing and beautiful moments. In many of my conversations the other person shared something in their life or added something to my healing and I think moments like that can be really really precious.
3 Don’t underestimate the trauma! Any kind of sexual trauma has very serious consequences, please be aware of the significance of it.
4 Don’t connect the person to the abuse! It is very important to know that the person who experienced the abuse never chose about it in any way. The trauma will have many consequences and it will impact the life of the person, but the fact that she or he was abused says nothing about her or him.
5 Don’t put the person in a box! Probably everyone has an idea about what a person would look like or act like who was abused at some point in their life. In many cases these assumptions are just not right about that specific person.
6 Don’t make predictions! I think it’s natural to make predictions about someone’s healing path or time or needed therapy methods or to try to predict the challenges they will face. But every trauma is different and every person is different and I think these kind of predictions can be incorrect and harmful.
7 See beyond the trauma! Yes, a trauma is a very significant part of a person’s life, but it’s not the only thing about him or her. Probably there are many things about the person that has nothing to do with the abuse and that’s him or her too!
8 Let us speak! I think this is the most natural human behavior: if something happens, we talk about it and we have feelings about it. We do these when the event that happened was significant, insignificant, good or bad. Just as any other person about any event we deserve the same way to talk about our trauma whenever we want to, whatever we want to and in whatever form or way we want to.
9 Be patient and understanding! There can be many situations, social, sexual, work related, etc. where the person who experienced the abuse in the past is not able to participate in something, be fully present or accomplish something because of the trauma. Please understand that in these situations the person is not unmotivated or neglectful, but at the moment he or she doesn’t have the ability to participate in the situation.
10 Include us! Someone who was never abused can be very shocked when the person shares his or her abuse story. I think it’s a natural first reaction to think in a distancing way of the person telling about the abuse: to think that the person has a very different life and a very different life path and it can seem very difficult or impossible to connect with someone who seems so far away.
I think it is a very different life and very different life path, but there are so many things that people – with or without abuse in their pasts – can have in common. And it is possible for people with different pasts become close.
How to heal from the trauma
Every trauma is unique and every healing journey is unique. I think there is no way to tell what could help someone who went through childhood sexual abuse, hopefully the person will instinctively search for people, art, information or experience that could help while getting a lot of support from friends, family members and also professionals.
This is how I dealt with the trauma throughout my life:
3-4 I experienced the trauma.
5-8 I knew what happened and I knew that it was a bad thing that happened to me, but I didn’t have a perspective on it, I didn’t know how big of an impact it will have on my life. I also didn’t know what is most people’s view on the topic or how often it happens.
8-15 I think somewhere around 8 I realized how bad it actually was, it was a feeling of facing reality, as if something heavy drops inside you. The trauma was so much to understand, I had to temporarily move into a fantasy world. In this time period I was living in my own world, which was a very idealistic, fairy tale-like inside world. I spent a lot of time just looking at nature or animals, doing creative activities, like writing poems or drawing.
In this period my memories about the abuse started to fade. They became less approachable each day. They went from a clear memory to a incomprehensible dull feeling to eventually nothing.
15-22 At 15 I noticed, I’m so much inside my own little world, I’m not doing all the fun things a 15 year old girl could do, why is that? I thought to myself, I want to change that! I want to be social and I want to experience, search for new interests and just live a full life. Little by little I found people, experiences and interests that slowly built me up. I chose a career that I really liked and started my studies. Everything was going really well, until…
22 I was at the end of my studies, I was doing really well, I had great friends and a great relationship, I was about to move out on my own and start working. I could have been really satisfied and happy with my situation, but I wasn’t at all. I was so frustrated and so scared and so confused. It felt like everything is falling apart and nothing makes sense. The only thing I was sure about that I have to move away on my own and become independent.
23 I moved away and started to live on my own. Not much after this I finished my studies and was ready to start working. Moving away helped a lot, but I was still feeling very confused and frustrated about starting my life. I started to apply for jobs, but I knew something is wrong.
24 I realized through many very embarrassing unsuccessful attempts that I can’t work in a traditional way. It made me so anxious I just wanted to run out of the workplace after a few hours, I knew I had to do something else. I had no idea why this was happening, especially because I had no problem with going to school, I assumed, something is wrong with me..
I thought the best I can do is to find a way of working that doesn’t make me anxious. After some searching I found freelancing, I never thought of it before, but I tried and I really liked it so I decided to go with it.
When my issues with work settled and I was working happily for online clients I also started to do some soul searching, I thought a lot about myself and life and my past. I found a creative energy inside me that I never knew about. It was a very difficult time, but I knew I was on a right track and doing a job that I love made me very satisfied and gave me the energy to deal with my deepest hardest feelings.
25 I started to have a thought popping up in my mind without any context from time to time: I was sexually abused as a child. It was just a thought without any context or any memory, just the sentence on it’s own. I thought this is crazy, why am I thinking about this? Nothing happened to me.. And I just ignored it for a while. But as time passed the thought became more frequent and had more emotional impact on me. It got to a point where I had to face it. I stopped and said to myself, alright, I don’t know why I have this thought but it’s clear it’s something important. I enabled myself to think about it and I gave permission for any thought or feeling to come up. I also left the question open inside me: did it actually happen or I have this thought for some other reason.
From that point my memories came back to me. It was an extremely challenging and painful process with many uncertainty at each point. I healed so much in so many ways. I will discuss the process in detail in my next post.
So, I decided to do a little series here about childhood sexual abuse, how to prevent it, how to heal from it or how to be there for someone who experienced the abuse.
These are all my personal thoughts based on my experience and research, I hope it can help!
What can you do to prevent it?
1 Talk about sex and sexuality with your children from the beginning openly. Affirm them that they decide about their bodies and warn them about sex offenders. Talk with them about what is a healthy sexual act/relationship and what is not. The more they are informed and comfortable with talking about the topic it is less likely that they will be abused.
2 Teach them critical thinking, teach them that not all adults should be trusted, most importantly teach them to trust their own judgement and empower them to make their own decisions (that are appropriate to their age)
3 Believe them and listen to them. If they try to tell about an abuse, listen to it, ask more about it. They might try to tell about it in a symbolic/metaphoric way.
4 You can’t predict in any way if someone is a sex offender or not. In many cases the perpetrator is someone who the people around never thought could be an abuser. The perpetrator can be anyone, someone you knew for a long time, someone who acts kindly, or has a respectable career.
5 Look out for signs, there are so many recognizable signs on children who are sexually abused that you can spot. The signs, consequences vary, but here are some: escaping into daydreaming or fantasies, nightmares, the feeling of being insignificant, difficulties to speak about them self, copying the abusive behavior of the perpetrator and acting hurtful, manipulative or sexually abusive to others.
When the abuse is happening the child doesn’t understand it yet, so at this point they can be cheerful most of the time.
I got hired for some initial work by the founder of Kevin For Good, it’s a campaign for making the world a better place. The face of the campaign is Kevin, a small adorable robot.
If the initial work goes well I will be responsable for designing a Kevin toy that can be sold and a portion of the profit will go for good causes. How awesome is that, I want to work on this project so much.
This scene sticked with me from the movie Eames, the architect and the painter, where she talks about life at the Eames Office.
I think that in our modern lives we want to separate everything, our work, our home and family life, entertainment, social life. And sometimes I feel that these things are not only separated from each other but they are also so far from our true selves, especially work.
I want a type of life like Charles and Ray Eames had, I want my work, home, friends, family and everything I do to jumble up into one big random fulfilling mess.
I’ve recently found a new band that I really like. I think it’s a pretty basic hippy style band, but I didn’t know their songs up to now. Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros, so great music, so cool videos. Maybe I’ll try to learn some of their songs.
2017 resolutions: travel somewhere on my own, buy a ukulele and learn to play on it