Read an Excerpt
Beginning to Heal (Revised Edition)
A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused As Children
Healing Is Possible
"There's nothing as wonderful as starting to heal, waking up in the morning and knowing that nobody can hurt you if you don't let them."
If you have been sexually abused, you are not alone. One out of three girls and one out of seven boys are abused by the time they reach eighteen. Sexually abused children come from every race, religion, and culture. They come from rich families and poor families. Abusers can be men or women, family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, counselors, priests or rabbis, baby-sitters, and strangers.
If you were abused as a child, you are probably still dealing with the effects in your life today. You may be having trouble at school, on the job, with relationships and sex, or in your family. You may feel bad about yourself or think something is wrong with you. These problems may be connected to the abuse you experienced while you were growing up.
The most important thing for you to know is that it is possible to heal from child sexual abuse. You don't have to live with the effects of abuse for the rest of your life. If you are willing to work hard and find good support, you can not only heal but thrive.
If you have been sexually abused, you are not alone.
Was I Abused?
You've probably heard a lot about sexual abuse, but you may not be sure if your experience fits the definition. Think back to when you were growing up. Did any of these things happen to you?
- Were you fondled or kissed in a way that felt bad to you?
- Were you ever touched unnecessarily on your private parts?
- Were you forced to touch someone else's private parts?
- Were you forced to have oral sex?
- Were you raped or was anything forced inside your vagina or anus?
- Were you forced to watch people have sex?
- Were you shown pornographic movies?
- Were you made to pose for sexual pictures?
- Were you made to sell your body for sex?
- Were you forced to abuse or hurt someone else?
If any of these things happened to you, then you were sexually abused.
Does My Experience Really Count?
Sometimes survivors think that what happened to them isn't bad enough to qualify as abuse. They say things like, "It wasn't incest -- he was just a friend of the family," or "It only happened once," or "It was just my brother and he was only a year older than me." But your pain counts.
The fact that someone else has suffered from abuse that was worse than yours does not lessen your suffering. The important thing in defining abuse is not the physical act that took place. It's how you felt as a child. An abuser used power to manipulate and control you. Your trust was shattered and the world stopped being safe. You felt terrified, hurt, ashamed, or confused.
Even abuse that isn't physical can leave deep scars. Your uncle walked naked around the house making sexual comments about your body. Your mother told you in detail about her sex life. These acts, though not directly physical, hurt you.
It doesn't matter how often you were abused. A father can stick his hand in his daughter's underwear in thirty seconds. After that the world is not the same.
The Healing Process
This book is about the healing process. Healing begins when you recognize that you were abused. And it leads to the satisfying experience of thriving.
If you are willing to work hard and find good support, you can not only heal but thrive.
Survivors have taught us that there are recognizable stages in the healing process. This book will give you a map so you can see where you are, what you've already done, and what still lies ahead.
We've presented the stages of healing in a particular order, but you may not experience them that way. You may spend time focusing intensely on the abuse. Then your attention may shift more to your current life. When something in your life changes -- you start a relationship, leave home, or have a child -- you may deal with the abuse again, from a new vantage point. Each time, you learn more, feel more, and make more lasting changes.
This book will give you a map of the healing process, so you can see where you are, what you've already done, and what still lies ahead.
The further along you are in the healing process, the more you'll be able to take care of yourself along the way. You'll be able to laugh, to experience pleasure along with the pain. You won't change your history, but it will no longer keep you from having a satisfying, full life.
There is no clear end to the healing process. It's a way of growing that continues throughout our lives.
You deserve this healing.Beginning to Heal (Revised Edition)
A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused As Children. Copyright © by Ellen Bass. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.