Thursday, February 06, 2003

Cost of Abuse

Cost of Abuse
© 1998-2003 AdvocateWeb
This article has be adapted with permission to fit the Jewish Community. 

Sometimes, people don't realize the degree of harm that is caused when a person is sexually/emotionally exploited by a "trusted helping professional" (mental health, medical, clergy, law enforcement, teacher, coach, etc.).    Time after time, in news articles, the focus is on the  professional's "misconduct".  This abuse isn't just a theoretical ethical "no no".  There's another side to each of these "professional misconduct" stories which is usually glossed over... the victim's story.  Victims pay a tremendous price for this abuse, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, socially, sexually, physically, and financially.  It's no wonder that an increasing number of States are criminalizing this abuse, as a serious felony offense and professional codes of ethics prohibit this abuse.  This is NOT a victimless crime.  When you encounter these stories of abuse, ask yourself a question:   "What about the victim?"

The Question:
Having been sexually/emotionally exploited by a helping professional, what has been the 'cost' of this abuse?  What has it taken from you?

The Answers:
  1. Words are insufficient to explain the cost of this exploitation on my life-and to my family, friends, subsequent therapy, etc. I try to write this over and over and I cannot find the words that convey my sorrow, grief, betrayal, anger, etc.
  2. I lost my identity. My sense of who I am was shattered.
  3. I lost all hope of recovering from childhood sexual abuse.
  4. I lost any hope that safety exists anywhere on this earth.
  5. I lost my connections to important people in my life- due to the extreme isolation.
  6. I lost the few good feelings I had about my body.
  7. I lost 99.9% of everything meaningful in life: trust, faith, value systems, 2 babies' lives, motherhood, family, friends, career, and a nearly successful attempt on my own life
  8. The abuse was a re-enactment of childhood abuse and It re-traumatized me to the core.
  9. He/She took my dignity and self-respect.
  10. He also took my ability to be physically close to and sexually intimate with my husband and my ability to go to synagogue without feeling sick to my stomach.
  11. I can honestly say that although sex was a regular part of my experience, 90% of the damage came from the long term emotional and verbal abuse.
  12. He/She has taken from me my trust in male doctors.
  13. He/She took my innocence, my love, and almost my soul.
  14. He/She has taken my peaceful nights of sleep - I still wake up with nightmares, and in tears.
  15. He/She did not take my integrity, my fire, or my spirit -- but if he would have been able to keep exploiting me, I'm sure he would have sucked every ounce of self respect out of my being. And called it love.
  16. Flashbacks awake... Nightmares asleep...He took away my definition of who I am.
  17. He/She ROBBED me of my courage, my trust in others, confidence in my own judgment and past healing by re-enacting the prior abuse.
  18. Sex was the weapon or means used to abuse us emotionally and spiritually.
  19. This abuse has cost me my friends and my family who just don't understand.
  20. His/Her abuse has cost me my freedom, my rights, my privileges, my trust in others and the mental health profession; and my freedom to be who I am.
  21. It cost me valuable years of my life, when I felt incapacitated to enjoy life or to be a vital member of a family consisting of members who needed me.
  22. It cost me the sense of being capable of protecting myself, of solving problems for myself. I realized I was unable to know soon enough what was profoundly dangerous to me, nor did the experience teach me how to do that other than by withdrawing from the world.
  23. It cost me my sense of who I was, of well-being, and hopes and dreams for the future.
  24. The experience placed me outside cultural expectations, leaving me with feelings of profound confusion. At the same time it separated me from important others as it was an experience beyond what those near and dear to me could comprehend.
  25. He/She stole away my faith that there is good in the world.  I don't know who I can trust any more, now that I've learned that the people I am "supposed" to trust CANNOT be trusted.
  26. I've lost my synagogue, all of my friends, all of my support at a time when I needed them the most.  I have to deal with this violation alone.
  27. He/She stole from me my faith in the office of rabbi, and the failure of the movement's leadership, also rabbis, to respond in a just and healing way has destroyed my faith in my chosen religion and very nearly my faith in God.
  28. I've lost my ability to do the work I loved. 
  29. I've lost the ability to take care of my house and yard; I'm not a good 'mother' to my cats anymore.
  30. I've lost all the waking hours from every day in my attempts to achieve justice and to heal; I've lost all the sleeping hours from every night to nightmares.
  31. I've lost my energy and motivation for life.
  32. I lose many many thousands of dollars every year in lost income and in healing expenses.
  33. The very foundations of all I held dear and sacred were undermined. The very principles I had grounded my life on were ripped out from under me, hurling me into dark chaos.
  34. I lost my synagogue, my friends, my support network, my ability to trust, my faith, and my sense of who I was.
  35. I was injured to the core, at every level of my being. It nearly cost me my physical life as well. I am determined to reclaim my life, and raise good out of the ashes of evil.
  36. My mind shattered, and picking up the pieces and putting them back together may take a lifetime.
  37. He/She stole my personhood, and never gave it back.  I thought I was going to be healed, but instead I was wounded almost to death.  I ended up in the hospital despairing of life again and again.
  38. It made me realise the difference between synagogue and God!   I lost synagogue, but not God.  I lost trust in Torah.  It hurt to my very core.  I feel bruised, discarded, ignored, violated, angry.  I lost, but also gained . . . my soul, my God.
  39. It is now terrifying to ask for help from any mental health professional.  I have to go to the profession that devestated me for help.  It is an impossible double-bind.
  40. I lost the joy in my life, my ability to trust myself and others, faith in God, my inner strength, respect for the synagogue, my identity.
  41. I lost belief in myself. I told myself that I could handle him/her, that I could stay out of danger, but I couldn't. I lost my self-determination and personal feelings of power.
  42. I have lost my sense of relationship with God and other Jews. For most of my life, God was my Source of strength, courage and unconditional acceptance. Because the abuse was from someone who represented God to me, my feelings of shame and betrayal have separated me from this Source.  And so many "Jews" don't or can't understand...
  43. It has cost me trust. I has made me wear a frown on my face and have a suspicious look in my eye. 
  44. It has cost me my innocence, my ability to think wonderful of life. 
  45. It has cost me myself. Who am I? I don't know. The "me" has been lost. Never to be seen or heard from again. Just plain gone. Now, I just "be" what everyone else wants me to be.....whatever, whomever that is.
  46. It has cost me my marriage, my family, my financial security, my trust in others, my sense of safety in the world, my sense of Self, my ability to feel joy, my desire to truly live.
  47. Most importantly, the abuse by my therapist has caused me to lose my belief in the God that I had always embraced, faith in something bigger than myself, hope that there will be more beyond this life. The man who was supposed to care for me has robbed me of my life and I am left with a hole where my heart once was.
  48. It has cost me and still costs me the joy in my life.  I still harbor hopes that he truly loved me and that someday it will all work out.
  49. It cost me the ability to think and trust my own rationality, my own intuition. He/She always said my intuition about his feelings for me were right on target... are they? Can I ever trust myself again? 
  50. * It took the reality out my life and replaced it with false hopes, false images of myself and others.  I no longer function with the hope that I can be something different, but rather must accept the trash I have become because of our relationship!
  51. It cost me 1) my sense of God as a presence and factor in people's actions, what kind of God did this man profess to follow, 2) my synagogue family, 3) most of my friends, 4) my good name, 5) my self respect, 6) the thought that I have a clue about peoples intentions and motives, 7) the trust of my husband and 8) all faith in fellow Jews in general, 9) the clergy in particular. 
  52. When I go out now, I almost always encounter at least one person who gives me that "oh you're THAT woman/man" look, and some men/women feel that they now have a right to hit on me because if I would sleep with my rabbi then why not them. So many things about me have changed due to this I don't have the time or enough space to list them all.
  53. The cost of abuse: Incalculable. Costs you the tiny bit of self-respect you had, your ability to trust/love anyone, including yourself, your soul. Your minute will to live.
  54. He/She shattered me, leaving permanent shards of glass in my psyche.
  55. I became spiritually, emotionally, and morally bankrupt. He/She took away my reasons to live. I've had to learn to live my life all over.
  56. He/She conspired to discredit me, and his/her brutal abuse ended up costing me the loss of my hospital. He/She is a deviant Registered Nurse, and he continues to provide "services" to female/male patients. What will he/she cost our society?
  57. My rabbi discarded me after he took away dignity, my integrity, my sense of spiritual wholeness. He/She left me with pain, terror, nightmares, shame and self-loathing.
  58. I feel like I am terminated. I was controlled, and then deleted. If I committed suicide, I would only be finishing the job he/She started.
  59. She/He was my coach, my mentor. Because of her/him I have lost my innocence, relationships with the people I love, my goals for the future, my spiritual wholeness, and all ability to be independent. Sh/Hee gained my complete love only to leave me broken and alone.

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