Stages of Growth

by Karen Lison, M.A.

  1. I cannot manage my pain alone. I must seek help
  2. I acknowledge that something terrible happened. I know it is not my imagination; I was a victim of child sexual assault.
  3. I begin to recognize my feelings. There may be sadness, anger, fear, guilt, and shame. I allow myself to experience them all.
  4. I discuss the abuse thoroughly with my therapist. I completely re-experience and begin to deal with feelings appropriate for each incident of abuse that I can recall.
  5. I share feelings of shame with my survivors group.
  6. I begin to realize that I was probably acting appropriately at the time the abuse occurred. (That is, my reactions were appropriate; the abuse was not!)
  7. If there was a part of the molestation that was pleasurable to me, I am coming to terms with the fact of that pleasure and I am dealing with the guilt surrounding it.
  8. I perceive the connection between my molestation and my current behavioral patterns and relationships. I am beginning to develop some control over that connection.
  9. I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I confront my perpetrators.
  10. I am beginning to understand what I desire from relationships as I learn to trust my perceptions.
  11. I am able to enjoy intimacy.
  12. I develop a sense of self and my self-esteem has increased.
  13. My resistance to talking about the abuse (although not necessarily the details of it) has diminished.
  14. I realized that I have a choice as to whether or not I forgive my perpetrators. I have forgiven myself.
  15. I am in touch with past the anger, that detached from yet so that it is not a constant part of my feelings and a negative influence on my other feelings, my functioning, and my relationships with others. I no longer live in the past. I'm living the present and welcome the future with all its fears to, imperfections, and unpredictabilities.
  • taken from Secret Survivors by E. Sue Blume Copyright 1990 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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