For First Time Visitors

If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.

Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Aug 30, 2008

The Double Bind

A double bind, according to American Heritage Dictionary, is a situation in which a person must choose between equally unsatisfactory alternatives; a punishing and inescapable dilemma. A simplified definition is having two choices, each of which result in abuse or punishment to the victim. The first double bind of victims is living with the abuser or having no say in whether she is exposed to the abuser (a parent not believing or hearing a child tell that a caretaker is molesting her).

An earlier post speaks of the first split of "I hate you"/"I love you". A deep fear exists that the child will be abandoned by the abusive parent because of inability to meet her own survival needs of food, shelter, warmth. Security needs (safety) are rarely known during the lifetime of a trauma survivor. Until the adult works through the fear and is truly safe at the time of healing, chances are they will have never known complete safety. Remember that dissociation is locked by kindergarten age. Those children don't have a chance with powerful adults.

In inflicting trauma on a child who is groomed to be part of a child sex ring, one choice, for example, might be for the child to be naked and touch a little boy the way she is told (for kiddie porn) or have someone (or an animal) hurt her. Each double bind damages the psyche. The level of depression and hopelessness experienced by survivors runs very deep. Feeling so unempowered (even only as crossover emotions) can cause a victim to begin having suicidal thoughts as a child. They see it as their only way out.

The three danger responses of the body are fight, flight, or freeze. The child learns early there is no use trying to fight. Physical fleeing also results in harsh punishment. If they stay still (freeze), they are captive. This is where dissociation is the only safe way out. The child disengages mind from body to endure the ongoing victimization.