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 19, 2008

Lets talk parts

Any woman might have the roles of mother, daughter, sister, manager or employee, soccer mom, and wife. A man might be policeman, baseball coach, father, son, brother, husband. Don't each of us adapt our personalities in some way depending on who we are at the moment? A man is going to act very differently at work than he is with friends in a bar. And different when he goes home to his wife. These are generally subtle shifts with some crossover for each role we have in life. And of course we remember ourselves in each role. Most of us also can relate to releasing our inner child when we are having fun. In this respect, all of us have parts. We are multiples without amnesia.

When there is a dissociative split to compartmentalize the trauma of a child being hurt by someone who loves them--and the abuse continues--so does the dissociative split. For children with DID (remember this is decided usually by age 6), the personality develops as fragmented. Many roles in the child's life become compartmentalized by amnesia, meaning the child (and later the adult) does not know of this splitting, nor the teenager, nor the adult. Some children may begin to heal when an abuser moves out of the home or is arrested. Safety is a factor for healing.

People with DID spend three to four decades of their lives (on average) before realizing they are dissociative. I can attest to this statistic since most of my clients with DID were between 35 and 45 with some younger and a few older. The survivor art shown at left is what it feels like when someone becomes aware she has DID. For me personally, as a therapist, and in witnessing survivor art and hearing other survivors' stories, this depiction "hits home". Anything leaking through the amnesia is terrifying to feel. It's not uncommon for the person to feel crazy. It doesn't help that society reinforces that message!