COPING WITH CRISIS
Crisis can hit at many points whilst you’re dealing with and recovering from sexual abuse. It can hit when :-
- You begin to realise what happened to you as a boy.
- You start getting memories about what happened to you.
- You begin to talk about what happened and it begins to ‘hit home’ how much you’ve been hurt.
- You start to get other memories you didn’t know were there.
- Other things go wrong in your life like relationship break-ups, financial difficulties, problems at work.
- Things remind you of the abuse, like having contact with the person who abused you, the death of the abuser, or significant anniversaries such as birthdays.
- Something very scary happens like you are the victim of an assault. This is scary in itself and can also be a powerful reminder of the past abuse.
Crisis can be a particular feature of the early stages of remembering and dealing with the abuse. It can feel at this point like everything is in chaos. But crisis is not confined to this stage. Along the way a crisis can be triggered by some of the events described above. Sometimes things can seem to get worse before they get better as the full extent of the hurt suffered becomes clearer. There’s no particular time limit to a crisis. It can be short and dramatic or last for a long time.
What happens in a Crisis?
It’s hard to imagine it going away, and it’s hard to see a way through it. You may feel :-
- Like you and your life are totally disorganised.
- That you can’t cope with things as you usually can.
- Tense and panicky most of the time.
- Extremely numb, like you can’t feel anything.
- Like you’re not safe.
It’s usually noticeable that one or more parts of your life are not working right and people around you may have commented upon this.
Where there’s a crisis there’s usually a feeling of being threatened. The threat may be obvious and physical such as the place you’re living not being particularly safe. Or it may be more subtle – as if your inner sense of yourself as a person and as a man is under threat. You feel like you can’t cope with the feeling of threat. Being abused as a boy can trigger a number of threats for you as a man:
- Starting to get memories can leave you feeling vulnerable. Men are usually brought up to think of themselves as ‘strong’. It can be a shock to think that this could have happened to you.
- If you’re having a lot of distress you may start to feel out of control. Again, boys are usually taught that they should ‘be in control’ and not ‘give in’ to emotions. Feeling out of control can be very scary.