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24 Stages of Growth for Survivors of Incest


1. I acknowledge that something terrible happened.  I know it is not my imagination.

2. I am aware on some level that something was done to me -- I was a victim of incest or sexual abuse during my childhood.

3. I recognize that I am, in fact, a survivor, in the sense that I am alive and have chosen life over self-inflicted death.

4. I recognize and begin to deal with feelings of being "contaminated" or "damaged."

5. I feel angry about being used and abused.

6. I experience rage at my non-protecting parent (usually mother).

7. I discuss the abuse thoroughly with therapist.

8. I tell a non-family member who previously did not know.

9. I tell a family member who previously did not know.

10. I completely re-experience and begin to deal with feelings appropriate for each incident of abuse.

11. I begin to give up my sense of responsibility for the abuse occurring.

12. I begin to recognize that I was probably acting appropriately at the time the abuse occurred.   (That is, my reactions were appropriate, the abuse was not.)

13. I am able to diminish my resistance to talking about the abuse, although maybe not the details of it, with others.

14. I am able to understand how the molestation has affected my current relationships and behavioral patterns.

15. If there was a part of the molestation that was sexually pleasurable to me, I am coming to terms with the fact of that pleasure and I am dealing with the guilt surrounding it.

16. If there were aspects of the molestation that I perceived as positive (such as a feeling of being special in the family) I am beginning to understand and deal with these feelings.

17. I perceive the connection between the molestation and current relationships and am developing some control around the connection.

18. I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I confront my perpetrator(s).

19.  I am beginning to understand what I desire from relationships, whether sexual or non-sexual.

20. I am able to enjoy intimacy.

21. I develop a sense of self and my self-esteem has increased.

22. I develop a sense of being somewhat at ease with the subject of my molestation and that of others.

23. I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I forgive my perpetrator(s).

24. I am in touch with past anger, but anger is not currently a constant part of my feelings in such a way that it negatively influences my other feelings, my functioning, and my relationships with others.

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