Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Sexual Abuse: My Journey from Survivor to Thriver

Ellen Brown.pngToday’s guest blog is by Ellen Brown, certified professional coach in Cleveland, Ohio who works with clients, by phone, all over the country, to help them overcome their challenges with courage, hope and optimism. She is also a regular contributor to
My journey began about 11 years ago, when I was working as a home-based writer, and memories of sexual abuse and rape suddenly began flooding my consciousness. It was a good thing I was self-employed, at the time, because what happened over the course of the next few years sent me spiraling out of control.
In the beginning, I experienced intense flashbacks and body memories, which forced me to re-live the abuse that occurred when I was young. At times, I was blind-sided by waves of physical and emotional pain.
At first, I couldn’t believe what was happening to me, and hoped and prayed I was inventing these horrifying images. That the physical pain I was feeling was fake. That I was creating these fantasies. Because that was more comforting than believing that the people I trusted had betrayed me.
But the more I resisted, the more the memories persisted. On and on, like a nightmare that would seemingly never end.
The good news is that when I finally allowed myself to believe the memories were true, the flashbacks and body memories tapered off and eventually stopped. But there was still plenty to overcome. Over the course of the next several years, I did a great deal of healing, in therapy and support groups and with the help of my wonderfully loving husband, Jeff and some supportive survivor friends.
Dealing with Abuse Takes Time, But How Much Time?
They say that dealing with child abuse or any difficult loss takes time, and that’s true. But in my opinion, it doesn’t need to take THAT much time, and sometimes, if you’re not careful, it can take a lifetime to move beyond the pain. One day, I realized that my life was slipping away, and I had allowed my entire identity to become tied up in being a “survivor.”
At that point, I realized I had a choice. I could continue to wear my “survivor label” like a badge of honor and blame others for what I didn’t like about my life. Or I could take responsibility for my life, and realize that my past didn’t have to define me. Yes, I was a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, but I was so much MORE than that. I didn’t want to just survive, I wanted to THRIVE!
It was probably no coincidence that I began exploring my spirituality at this same time. I had never been religious, (and I’m still not) but suddenly I wanted to believe that all these memories had bubbled up for a reason, that there WAS, in fact, some divine plan. That something good would come of these horrible revelations.
Click here to continue reading Ellen’s story on

  • Shavon

    I am also a survivor of abuse, and I love the idea of helping others through similar situations. I am 28 yrs. old and from the age of 8 to 16 i dealt with abuse. I never recieved therapy, and my mother is still in denial about what happened. I moved far away, but my memories still haunt me. I have come a long way in my journey to heal, but I wonder will I ever be whole… Is it possible to move forward if the monster who raped me daily is still free to roam the earth?

  • drd

    I am so happy to hear that you became a thriver. A college friend of mine confided in me about a year ago, that like you, she suddenly began having flashbacks and became aware of abuse that happened to her as a child. Her abuse, she said, was carried out by priests, and she successfully sued for a settlement. The settlement, however, goes mostly to cover her therapy, which continues to uncover more and more abuse, each more odd and obscene than the scenes before. I am so worried that her therapist is just another in a long line of abusers for her. But she feels he is her life line, even though she has been with him for over seven years and still has severe physical and psychological flashbacks. Based on your experience, how can I express to her that I do validate the seriousness of her problems, but feel that she could move on if she perhaps changed her therapist. Thanks.

  • SG

    Shavon, I never understand why a parent would not believe a child. Abuse is just not something a child would make up. Children make up stories of fantasy not physical and emotional abuse. Shame on parents who believe their boyfriends and others over their own child.

  • Kathleen

    I was sexually abused by 2 of my brothers (I have 4) from 5 to about 15. My parents didn’t believe me either, and expected me to ‘get over it’.
    Both my abusers are still alive and free to roam the earth. I have forgiven one, because I believed him when he apologized to me. Also, he was the younger of the two (both older than me) and I felt he was drawn into it by the older one.
    The other is a different story. He said I lied, said it was my fault, etc., Did I mention he is my mother’s favorite? It is difficult, I wish I could give you a magic formula for getting over the rage you feel that your abuser is walking around like nothing happened.
    Don’t let that diminish or devalue you. You have strength because you survived. Lots of women who were sexually abused turn to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, a life of letting other men abuse them in all sorts of ways.
    Sexual abuse affects all of us differently, you will be as whole as you can be one day, I believe that with all my heart. There will always be a part of you that hurts, but realize you are NOT alone, that you did more than just ‘survive’. And by living a worthwhile life, you will NEVER give your abuser the satisfaction that he took more from you than he did.
    Warm regards,

  • Tanya

    First I would like to say I am sorry for anyone that had to endure sexual abuse or any abuse at that. It effects us our entire lives while these perpetrators live among us with no regards to what they have done. It hurts most to know that parents take the side of these perpetrators leaving the abused to suffer and struggle alone. I am 31 and have 2 children and couldn’t fathom them going through any suffering without me. I am so protective over them it’s painful to even allow them to sleep over anyone’s house. I don’t want to be too strict but I am so cautious I don’t want them to go through what i went through. How do you allow some freedom without worrying to death? My children tell me everything and I am confident it would be said if something were to happen(GOD FORBID)but to even imagine it could frightens me.

  • Maureen Meza

    If only more people would hear about this..

  • cheryl

    What do you do when your abuser won’t leave? What if he’s now a respected member of your religious community?
    And yep you guessed it he hasn’t changed a bit! He repulses me. I had to leave my religion just so I could be free of him and now that I have, he’s found out and is now sniffing around again. Sometimes I couldn’t even hold the holy scriptures without feeling as if he’d touched them first or written them so I would keep religious books in a different room – I just couldn’t look at them. It felt as if he was trying to mark his territory or violate me in someway using God as an excuse for his sexual gratification and for his friends (which is why I had never in my entire life attended religious gatherings). I can’t be religious in any way because of this man. I think once you have exhausted all other options is it time to go to the police?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment glo4ever

    I was a victim of abuse at about 4yrs.old to 14 yrs. One person who has helped me is God. Simply obeyed ; just write down a letter to the people who hurt you send it to them or if you don’t know where they are then still write it ; as soon as you begin to go through those doors again and write down how you felt and how you hated that . Healing will come. Forgiveness doesn’t make them right but it sets you free. Read the book ” The Gift Of Forgiveness ” This book helped me too.

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