When facing your history is your worst fear

Survivors face many rebuilding roadblocks, one of these is facing our past. We’ve lived so long trying to bury and ignore what’s happened, that we feel facing the harms is more than we can handle. This is true for most of the survivors I’ve spoken with over the years.

Keep in mind that the term ‘Survivors’ in this discussion is those persons who have endured physical and/or sexual harm as children, but also those who have experienced dominance and fear so intense it included weapons threats or personal violations for teens and adults as well. Whether we are discussing acts from childhood or acts in adult relationships, this fear of actually verbalizing what happened can be the worst challenge you face because you are intentionally putting yourself in that memory. Most have endured the aftermath in the behavior of ignoring, moving on with their lives or simply refusing to deal with it at all. Unfortunately, this typically causes us to misuse substances from illicit drugs to alcohol in order to silence that fear. However, when you sober up or crash from your high that fear is still pounding inside.

This is where some of these suggestions might help:

If the fear you are carrying is causing distress enough that you have to be high or intoxicated, chances are it’s also affecting any sense of a healthy relationship so those closest to you will also be influenced by forcing yourself to live with the experiences.

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP – highly recommends connecting with a therapist. In the past five years, our therapists/psychiatrists have become more informed about the Trauma Care client. While connecting with other survivors in online support groups is a very useful tool, perhaps this is not a service option for you or maybe you need a more one on one process to help you face the worst of those fears; helping you get a foundation started and ensure local resources in your area.

There is absolutely NO right or wrong process of rebuilding!! Everyone experiences things in a different way. We all have different tolerances of pain and fear so while one act might be quite traumatic for one person, it might be less impactful for someone else.

If you are a survivor of childhood physical or sexual harm, your emotional growth and life development are halted. There are behaviors, emotional responses, learning capabilities that are stunted because the sense of continuous fear rewires our frontal-lobe development which is our decision making, perception, and emotional control brain function. If all of this is not able to develop in a healthy pattern, we become stunted in these areas and it will affect almost every survivor far into adulthood; often until they allow themselves to face those harmful situations.

It’s important to understand you could do nothing to protect yourself then, but today you can not only defend yourself physically but emotionally as well. You can decide when you think about these situations and how you react when you do. You can control when you express suppressed emotions and how this causes reactions to others around you. You can face the fear because if you are in a safe environment today, then the harm is only a memory. It cannot hurt you. It will allow that child who couldn’t scream, cry, fight back or run back then to do all of those things today. You will begin to see your child self as an incredible hero for helping you stay alive to build and live the life you want today. You will feel empowered as you face these fears one by one. Don’t rush through because it will overwhelm you and can cause your reactions to become harmful or erratic towards others or yourself.

If you are an adult there are going to be some differences in your recovery. You have built life experiences and knowledge. However, if from an adverse childhood these may not be healthy experiences so your depression, anxiety, defenses and parenting is different from those with healthy, strong, positive upbringing. Many adults who’ve experienced childhood harm learn to build up a resilience to these violent or hurtful acts. You can tolerate more or might even believe, there is nothing this person can do that is worse than what you’ve gone through already. DO NOT DISMISS THE DEEP FEAR THAT EXISTS EVEN IF YOU COME FROM THE BEST ENVIRONMENT.

An adult’s sense of guilt and shame is different because you had options. They were probably not good options, but they were there. Anyone can become a victim of adult violence or sexual harm. It is not about anything you have done to cause these acts, but rather it’s the choice of the person who is causing this suffering to act against you in these hurtful ways. If it is typical domestic violence, which involves financial, emotional, sexual, physical and life-threatening control; perhaps you if you hadn’t done this or done this better they would not hurt you, so you keep trying. You may feel guilty about how it is affecting your children, even if they’re not in the home at the time. They come home or see you again; someone’s crying, someone’s hurt, someone’s angry. They feel this and absorb it as something they did that caused it to happen.

In facing your fears it is learning how to look at the real options you had at that time. Did family or friends support you or offer to help you? Was there any service that would have helped you get on your feet and keep your children? Could you have provided a home, food, and necessities for yourself and them without that other person? Could you really walk away and start your life over, maybe with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back? It’s important to understand how and why people stay in harmful, dominating, controlling situations and then forgive yourself because you probably made the best choice you could at that time in the given options you had.

Regardless if you are a childhood survivor, an adult survivor, a survivor of human trafficking and captivity; the best you can do is get safe and start working towards your own rebuilding. It is not about how others feel you should do this or that, it’s about you and what you need to process so that you can live the life you deserve. The most important part is for you to truly feel like you are in a safe place in your life. Many postpone for years, some decades until we have a steady income, our kids are grown, we have a home, or are in a stable loving relationship before they can even think about what’s happened. This is why most childhood survivors don’t reveal anything happened until their mid 30’s or older. It takes time and you have to be ready because life challenges will cause distractions which will halt your progress.

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP is a survivor recovery and rebuilding resource and we are very happy to be of help. We are just ONE of the thousands across the country, so our best advice is to be cautious because it is YOUR recovery. You have to use whatever method or many methods best suit you. You may need various tools from various resources, and coping strategies that will help you face your worst fears then conquer over it. The focus is strictly on your getting better, getting healthier, preventing future harm, and helping your children deal with any problems they may be struggling with because of either harm to them or harm inside their environment.

We are starting a collaboration with the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, (NAASCA). You will see more on our developing ‘Survivors World’ Zoom Meetings. The NAASCA website is primarily for adult survivors. They can connect you with other survivors across the country and around the world. Their leading survivors are strong advocates and peers who have gone through or are still going through their recovery, so it’s one of many great support systems. Remember that a qualified, trusted therapist is also important, especially if you are trying to face some really extreme fears. No one can tell you how bad your fear, anger, sadness is because only you have endured the experience.

You will see below some tools which I found useful in my ten focused years of rebuilding. Many of these tools I still use today, because this is a long journey. Many of us find that fear and darkness, difficulty concentrating, or completing small tasks are a continuing challenge. This is something that has helped me understand my tolerances, the rewiring of my perceptions and acceptable “normal” pattern of life. It’s helped me help many others, so I do hope it will help those reading this blog.

recovery steps

When you choose it’s time to face your worst fears, focus on all that is positive in your life. Keep in mind that the simplest of safety, shelter, food, employment, healthcare; all of this is positive because you are making it happen for you.

Your dreams matter!! Your wellness matters!! YOU MATTER!!

Thanks for reading

‘Trish’ McKnight

Advocate/Survivor

Published by @Trecia_Ann

Recently, Facebook locked and removed my decade long creation of work and public profile, which focused my work as an advocate, speaker, mentor, and creator of more than a few programs used throughout Illinois, but also shared nationally and some have reached international platforms. So.... let's start fresh and see where it goes! Please see the writings on this blog dating back into 2011, created after the publication of 'My Justice'. There are two specifically, which have been tagged and shared by many....."Judging Eyes" and "Triggers; what they are and how to handle them" I am a survivor of over thirty years trapped inside the silence and brutality of Family Facilitated Violence, Torture, and Child Sex Trafficking. In Feb. 2011, I chose to publish the secrets and the horrors endured; the many levels of destruction and decay which the community around me witnessed, ignored, condemned and blamed regardless of the injuries and tortures endured. It all became the learned patterns of self-hatred and tolerance which was a huge factor in my adult life. Have you endured childhood harm, or endured terroristic types of abuses? Did you feel unworthy of life, breathing, love or respect? Did you feel as if no one ever really saw you, heard you, or seemed to care about the silent cruelties of your existence? It wasn't until I honestly began a strong focus on healing myself, which took years of researching credible data and published research surrounding the lasting effects of abuse, violence, sexual harm, and human trafficking that I began to understand who I was and why there were many traits and tragedies that influenced my adult choices, relationships, the chaos deep in my soul and the behaviors used to survive. It seemed to control everything inside me and it was filled with pain, and tragedy. The research became my rebuilding journey and my road to advocacy, creating legislative changes, sitting as an active member and providing testimony in the creation of area task force operations, victim/survivor services, trauma informed awareness for law enforcement, educators, social services, healthcare and community providers. I began that research of understanding myself in 2008, wrote the memoir "My Justice' in 2010, began working to change statutes in my home state in 2013, became a Certified DV Advocate and Panel Member of DV Offender Education Program in 2015, which then initiated a decade long career as a trusted, confidential advocate, and a highly skilled and knowledgeable speaker/educator on the topic of Assessment, Family/Survivor Rebuilding, Trauma Informed Care & Response, with the primary focus on family/relationship acts of terroristic abuses and/or human trafficking. Beginning in January 2010 there have been developed programs and connected resources for men, women, children, and families who endured these same types of tragedies. Unfortunately, our human society still has barriers to seek help or speak openly about these types of tragedies, especially if it happened in our homes and families. The laws to protect from such harms were enacted for children in 1963, as an amendment to the Social Security Act. Domestic Violence was not a topic until 1995, when then Senator Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which has since been adapted to provide shelters, counseling, protection orders, and rebuilding services for ALL persons regardless of gender or identity. Although slavery was brought to an end by the historical act of President Abraham Lincoln, we unfortunately have millions of human beings still being traded, sold, controlled and trapped in a hellish evil, which often begins by a parent or intimate partner. Legislation didn't arise regarding the term 'Human Trafficking' until the turn of the new millennium. Protection for victims of human trafficking was signed into law as the 'Trafficking In Persons Act of 2000', which with modern day social media it quickly became a new hot-topic point, which then sparked the creation of Trauma Informed Care, Rebuilding & Trauma Therapy, and thus adult survivors began speaking out about the dark terrifying reality of Child Sex Trafficking. Today many use the term, Modern Day Slavery, and we have multi-faceted task force operations and rescue resources working around the globe to end this new form of human slavery. We also have a few hundred thousand or more who are adult survivors of histories involving Parental Child Sex Trafficking. In one recent study from 2018, they found 85% of these victims were trafficked by parents in trade for drugs, family needs, or basic human survival. As I look back on the career that grew from my own personal need to understand the chaos in my head, the constant failed relationships and almost murderous acts committed against me; as I deal with increasing health problems that includes multiples of head and spinal cord traumas; the most important goal for me from day one of this extremely personal experience; the healing and rebuilding of my own children and grandchildren who were all continued generational victims of the trauma influenced behaviors and choices that resulted from the destruction enforced by my mother and stepfather many decades ago. The little girl, 'Trecia Ann', she survived pure evil as an entire community witnessed, shamed, blamed, and dismissed the visible decay and rot, stench and filth covered, battered and intoxicated body of a young girl who was publicly exploited and shared in the bars of that small town, in her home with boys she attended school with and adult men from the local coalmine. It was as if they all got a thrill from watching her respond to the ring of that little brass bell. They laughed, molested, raped, and purchased for a few bucks or a few beers the sexual use of that young girl right in full public view! Her mother held the power to stop it all, but rather enjoyed having a 'slave' to cook, clean, care for the family as well as entertain the sadistic alcoholic man she chose to marry. Today, I'm so honored and proud to have that little girl's spirit with me. It is through the use of my lived experience, along with a decade of research, and at least five certifications in prevention, response, and trauma; I've assisted a few hundred survivors through the multilevel process of rebuilding and reclaiming their voice, their safety, their freedom! I've trained law enforcement, healthcare, childrens service investigators, our school educators, and co-presented in trainings with some outstanding experts in the field. For the many I've assisted or empowered, they continue becoming thriving survivors, advocates, authors, speakers, and most important of all; they are healing their children and grandchildren! It is a truly beautiful experience and I am so amazed to have been a spark, a resource, or a friend in their life reclaiming freedom. The adult children of generations past have broken through the glass ceiling and finally there is a hint of change in the world. "A lifetime filled with daily torture, tragedy, and pain creates someone completely different than we should have been. We feel that person inside, but our lives are altered by the emotional and physical suffering. We cover it up and hide it deep inside through substance abuse, which falsely helps us believe we are doing fine. The extreme physical and emotional injuries leave our mental and physical selves terribly impacted. Thankfully there is more information and resources of help available today for all types of adverse or traumatic experiences. We have specialized therapeutic help and healthcare professionals developing new ways to identify and assist persons harmed or at risk of harm. We have so much more to do, so please help by having casual open conversations with your friends, family, coworkers, leaders, and especially our kids. Teach them early how to avoid both online and in person harms. Encourage adults and kids both to use the BDA Buddy Skills 2.0, which you will find through my list of assessments and prevention strategies. "My Justice' was written through my own beginning of acknowledging and releasing the personal destruction of the girl once known as 'Trecia Ann'. It is not an easy read, but it has opened many eyes about the reality of evil that occurs inside our homes, against those too small to protect themselves or understand what's happening. It was published to release the thick layers of trauma, sex trafficking, and disfiguring neglect. It is the voice of the enslaved child who existed only to answer the ring of 'his' bell, and the enforced burden to keep my own private terrorist alive. 'My Justice' is NOT SUGGESTED FOR ANYONE UNDER 16 years of age. It discusses the permanently wounding life and the cycle of destruction that held me in tolerating ridicule, control, and violence in my adult relationships. This truth was published to inspire others to take an in-depth look at their life and behaviors as a result of their past, in hopes they too will better understand their suffering today, the continued relationships with the parents and family who inflicted those harms, and finally breaking free from that pain so they can reclaim their voice and their true sense of freedom! We always have the opportunity to learn that we are worthy, capable, incredibly strong, compassionate, and filled with endless possibilities. It is a choice. It is a conscious decision to dig into our trauma, take ownership of our own failures, the harm our choices have caused, and the work we need to do to change it and succeed for ourselves and our families. It is such an honor to have 'My Justice' used at the collegiate level for psychology classes, upcoming therapists, and educators. Today my life is very blessed. I'm finally safe, feel truly loved, finally feeling the magic of life! Always choose to see your star and how it shines on others in your journey. My greatest power only began to show when I first made the choice to end the violent relationships and behaviors around my children; to give them something better, something SAFE!! In choosing to share my own story, I've also gone the serious extra step to educate myself through years of research, attending training opportunities, and collaborating with other advocate resources focused in human resilience and healing from abuse, sexual harm, and sex trafficking. Today there are experts digging deep to recreate help and healing. I've chosen to use my past as a way to inspire a greater good and; hopefully, somehow change the cycle of tragedy in our homes so that we empower our kids to live a more positive path. The best education we can give is healing our survivors of traumatic experiences so we understand what they felt then and what they wish they would have had available; those who could have and should have said something. We can change things for our life today, but best of all in healing our wounds, we give communities a supportive working strategy in assisting the people in our lives. One step at a time, one caring soul at a time, we can give them a path to changing our human society as a whole. This is a tell-all, which was written in the midst of my third nervous breakdown as I struggled to put all my distorted pieces back together, and help my children understand how the violence I tolerated against me invaded their well-being. My children have always been my world, but my behaviors, lack of healthy parenting and life skills, and an inability to remain stable have caused another generation of suffering for my grandchildren. This is a very difficult thing to watch and the continued tragedies that seem to keep affecting the choices in my family. Writing this book was only the beginning of trying to release all that has haunted me for so many years. I have finally removed his thick, cruel, coal-stained hand which trapped me in fear for decades. Those hands and his evil, her housemaid and caregiver; created a slave, and that slave submitted to horrific and brutal attacks but always felt it was her burden to bear. I lived with that hand holding me down, continually terrorizing and silencing, stealing my voice to protect their pure evil. Throughout decades the dysfunction caused by the chaos inside my head would affect every relationship, my children, and cast a shadow of darkness on everything good in my life. Living in the true spirit of freedom, I have now become a strong advocate against the life cycle of human destruction. If we want to control our life and achievements today, then we cannot live stuck in the tragedy of hardships and pain. Life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to see what you can do and what you can achieve, to find out what is important to you. We all become adults. We all have a burden to bear. Stand up and keep moving, keep living, keep dreaming. You have two choices in recreating and rebuilding yourself. Do you stay stuck in the dark shadows of your past? Do you dig deep and find that spirit that kept you alive so that you can become the proud, strong, capable, resilient, kind human being? Which do you choose and how will that choice affect your children and theirs? We can be supportive, and provide resources and suggest help so that families suffering from addiction or past trauma can find a recovery balance to rebuild their family into a more positive life pattern. We will recover, we will rebuild, we will conquer the pains of yesterday to live in the true sense of life, freedom, and safety today. Patricia 'Trish' McKnight Author: 'My Justice' Fndr/CEO: Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP Mentor/Advocate/Speaker/Survivor

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