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Making the decision to heal from sexual abuse is a life-changing process. Many choose not to, because it’s like having to relive the traumas all over again. Why be victimized twice or even dozens of times? It’s easier to rely on the coping mechanisms you’ve created over time. For a child, I believe there are really only four ways to deal with this kind of trauma.

Minimizing- thinking your dad was a little angry last night, when in reality he had beaten you and your mother.

Denying- either you pretend that the abuse never happened, so you don’t have to tell anyone or explain how you let it happen to you, or you deny that what happened back then, has any effect on your life now. (Most don’t realize the effects until their 30’s or 40’s.)

Rationalizing- "he was too drunk, to remember rolling me over and climbing on top of me last night"

And Forgetting- Now this is a good one. It’s very common for children to TRY to forget the abuse. Some children can even forget the abuse, while it’s happening to them now. Many survivors report floating above their bodies, during an event, it’s a way for the child’s mind to say, this is not happening to me. Common ways of ESCAPING are Addictions and Dissociation: Examples are Addictions (alcohol, prostitution/sex, drugs, and food addictions/disorders, lying, self-injury, stealing, gambling and religion.) The other main escape is to Dissociate.

Many survivors, especially sexual survivors, first become aware of a dissociative disorder because they experience PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms, usually triggered by an important event in their life which has triggered the same coping mechanisms as the original life-threatening trauma. The following are common dissociative disorders:

Dissociative amnesia, Dissociative fugue, Depersonalization disorder, Dissociative identity disorder, Dissociative disorder NOS.

To understand the common thoughts by professionals on dissociation, it’s helpful to imagine a sliding scale with disorders on it. On the left side, are more normal responses but on the right side would be disorders used to handle traumas as children, that were reinforced into coping devices over time. Beginning on the scale's left with say, daydreaming, then highway hypnosis, then maybe PTSD, amnesia, dissoc. fugue, DDNOS, DID and finally Poly DID (having over 100 alters) on the right side of the scale.There is a wide range of experiences in between. Some people with MPD can hold highly responsible jobs, contributing to society in a variety of professions, the arts, and public service. To co-workers, neighbors, and others with whom they interact daily, they apparently function NORMALLY. They often have very high positions or run companies because they are so good at juggling many projects at once. They can be very prolific.(DID) MPD is often referred to as a highly creative survival technique, therefore uncommon as well. Following are a few helpful definitions for those with loved ones or friends in therapy, these are not strictly clinical definitions, but should help you a little to understand them.



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