What changes have you seen as a result of recovery work – at home, with children, at work, in relationships, with family of origin? How is your life moving forward?
What do you want the newcomer to know?
ROUNDTABLE QUESTIONSON SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION
· In your mind, what is the difference between spirituality and religion/spiritual and religious practices?
· What challenges did you experience while discovering and creating conscious contact with your Higher Power?
· Who or what was the negative Higher Power that you consciously or unconsciously gave your life to prior to finding a loving Higher Power in recovery?
· How did a negative Higher Power come to inhabit your psyche?
· Why is a loving Higher Power essential to your recovery?
· What does the term loving Higher Power or Higher Power mean to you today/Who or what is your Higher Power (please describe Its qualities and the meanings your Higher Power has for you)?
· Some say that a loving Higher Power gives impetus to miracles in one’s life. What miracles has a loving Higher Power wrought in your life?
· What practices help you to create conscious contact with your loving Higher Power?
· What do you give to your Higher Power and why?
· In the midst of a PTSD trigger or triggers, what do you do to remember/restore Higher Power’s presence in your life?
· What role does trust and faith play in your relationship with a loving Higher Power?
· Why does surrender or consciously giving oneself to a loving Higher Power mean for you and why is it important in your recovery?
· What do you look forward to as a result of your growing relationship with the loving Higher Power of your understanding?
- Why do survivors need to create safety and support systems in order to heal?
- How does safety look different in recovery than it did prior to recovery/What internal and external safety qualities are necessary for recovery from the wounds of incest and abuse?
- How are safety/support systems built?
- What role does internal parts dialogue and active reparenting play in the creation of safety?
- Why does true safety feel dangerous to survivors at times?
- What is the relationship between safety, remembering and working with the emotional content of memories/how does safety help one stop running from memories?
- How does the creation of safety reorient one’s relationship with challenging emotions and life situations?
- What’s the connection between safety and a loving Higher Power?
- In terms of survivor healing, what’s the connection between fellowship, step-work and service work in building a strong support network?
- Why is inner child/inner parts work an essential aspect of your recovery?
- Who is/are your inner children and/or other parts/personalities?
- What challenges/difficulties did you face when first beginning to work with your inner children/parts? How did you establish contact with your inner child(ren)/parts?
- What do you do to help your inner child(ren)/parts cope with the pain and trauma they contain?
- How do you work with inner parts that are critical or who engage in “ism” reactions?
- What’s hardest for the adult you about doing inner child(ren)/parts work?
- What’s a sample of an inner child(ren)/parts dialogue you’d care to share that helped both you and your inner child(ren)/parts to cope with a PTSD trigger?
- How do you bring your inner child(ren) and parts into your step work?
- What gifts have you received as a result of doing inner child(ren)/parts work?
Codependency occurs as a result of boundary violations. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, in what ways were your physical, emotional/mental, spiritual, relational and sexual boundaries violated?
· How did merging with the wishes, needs and demands of others make surviving in an abusive family easier for you while you remained under the family’s influence?
· How did the development of codependent survivor tendencies such as forfeiting needs, rights, preferences and boundaries affect your ability to engage in healthy, mutually affirming adult relationships with your self and others?
· How does codependency contribute to family environments where abuse can occur and continue to occur after it has been pointed out to caregivers?
· In what ways have emotional relationship PTSD triggers affected your ability to set healthy boundaries and how have you learned to work with these challenges?
· What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced and some of the solutions you employ and why while doing internal codependency work with various adult and/or child parts?
· What are a couple of the Codependent Coping Behaviors that have created difficulties for you and how have you come to let go of those methods of response?
*Codependency & Boundaries: Additional Questions For Growth & Consideration
1) Why are incest survivors vulnerable to codependency?
2) What are some of the traits of codependency?
3) Why does codependency make it difficult for one to concentrate on their recovery?
4) What are boundaries?
5) What is the connection between co-dependency and boundaries?
6) How does the incest survivor start to establish boundaries?
7) How does establishing boundaries lessen our codependency on other people, places and things?
8) What do we sacrifice by being codependent?
9) Are there any gains from being codependent?
10) What are setting boundaries so important to recovery?
11) What is the first step in establishing boundaries?12) How do I deal with people who do not like my boundaries?
Working with Triggers & Emotional Relationship PTSD
Issues: How to Become Your Best Friend When Panic
1. What is a PTSD trigger and what forms can PTSD trigger responses take?
2. How does doing survivor healing work open up triggers and suppressed emotions from the past?
3. What are one or two of the common PTSD triggers you experience and how do they affect you (shape your responses, decisions, actions, emotions/thoughts)?
4. What have the consequences of ignoring the PTSD trigger responses you experience?
5. How do you work with PTSD triggers/what are helpful methods for coping with trigger responses?
6. Why do trigger responses tend to attach to present tense situations and people and why is returning feelings and memories to their source an important part of working with trigger responses?
7. How do you work with triggered inner kids and/or other parts of self that are triggered?
8. How do you integrate PTSD trauma trigger work with your 12-step work? For instance, how do you apply 12 step concepts of powerlessness, admitting the effects of childhood abuse and unmanageability from step one, or treating yourself with respect, compassion and acceptance from step 6 to your recovery process with emotional trauma triggers?
- Healing the Body/Mind Split
1. How/why does sexual abuse cause survivors to freeze or disown their bodies or various body parts?
2. What is a body memory and what are some of the ways you experience body memories?
3. What are some of the trauma repetition behaviors you’ve engaged in as an adult, (such as self mutilation, inflicting harm, eating disorders, lack of self care) as a result of your abuse and how did you begin to get to the underlying mental/emotional roots of those behaviors?
4. How do you tell the difference between an emotional body memory and actual physical illness?
5. Put another way, how do you know when pain is a body memory or actual physical pain?
6. Body memories often occur as a result of various trauma triggers. What are some of your body memory triggers and how do they express in your body?
7. In addition to stirring up physical responses, body memories also stir up certain types of emotions and thoughts. What are some of the emotions and thoughts you experience when having body memories?
8. What does it mean to you to give frozen body parts a voice?
9. What is the connection between your sexual abuse body memories and your inner children/child?
10. How do you re-parent your inner children when working with the huge emotional responses that working with frozen body parts and body memories can release?
11. How has working with the 12 steps helped you to deal with sexual/physical abuse body memories?
12. What other recovery tools do you use when dealing with sexual abuse body memories?What are some of the other safe and effective methods you use to process body memories that you may not have shared thus far?
1) Why do you think one develops ism's?
2) Why do you think your isms were created?
3) Did they help or hurt you growing up? In what ways?
4) How did your ism's assist or hurt your recovery?
5) When or did you notice them starting to create problems in your overall life?
6) When you entered recovery how did you manage your ism's?
7) How did you manage your ism's concurrently with your SIA recovery?
8) Did you have any problems managing the two?
9) What do you do now to manage stress instead of turning to your ism's?
10) Do you see any role now for your ism's in your recovery?
11) How do the 12 Steps fit into your recovery? (you can focus on the 12 Steps as a whole or one particular step)
12) How do the 12 Promises fit into your recovery?
Exploration of Two Issues: Covert Incest & Problems for the Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor Created by Family Members that Were Not Sexual Perpetrators: questions for consideration.
1. Covert childhood sexual abuse can be difficult to identify and pinpoint, please explain more about direct and indirect incest and the nature of the covert incest you experienced and the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual forms it may have taken.
2. What has your process been like in identifying this type of abuse and in believing the feelings of the wounded child within you? Have you spent time doubting yourself due to a lack of overt incest memories or other tangible evidence of incest or questioning your sexuality?
3. What incest symptoms do you identify with as a result of the covert incest you experienced?
4. Did you blame yourself either in the past or presently for any of your responses to covert incest?
5. As is often the case in overt and covert sexual abuse, conflicting feelings are often aroused in the victim. What was the nature of your emotional response to the perpetrator because of the abuse and how do you feel about your perpetrator(s) today?
6. If you have confronted your abuser, describe the process that led up to the event and what it has been like afterwards for you.
7. What are some of supportive or loving statements that you might make, or have made, to the confused, wounded child within who experienced and stored the feelings related to the covert sexual abuse?
8. What have been some of your most valuable supports or tools that you have used during your recovery from covert childhood sexual abuse?
9. Were there other forms of abuse or neglect operating in your family of origin?
10. How did your non-sexually abusive parent and/or other family members respond to you and what were some of the ways those responses contributed to the impact of your sexual abuse on you?
11. At what point were you at in your recovery process when you became aware that other forms of abuse and neglect in your family of origin had an impact upon you?
12. Are there any other common trauma reaction, arousal, blocking, splitting, abstinence, shame or repetition responses that you experience as a result of your relationship with non-sexually abusive family members
13. How did the overall milieu of sexual abuse and non-sexual abuse affect your sense of identity and purpose in life?
14. To what degree was codependency present in your family of origin and to what degree had you or have you recreated that codependency in your adult relationships?
15. Describe what your relationship is like with your non-sexually abusive family members today and any recovery tools you’ve used to work out your relationships with those family members.
WHEN MOTHERS ARE PERPETRATORS
- What was the nature of the abuse that you received from your mother?
- · What other types of abuse (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) did you experience from your mother?
- · How did the abuse affect your perceptions of who you are, both as a young person and as an adult?
- · What life challenges have occurred for you as a result of your abuse, and how did you minimize or run from those challenges prior to recovery?
- · How has the abuse you received from your mother affected your capacity to engage in and form healthy intimate other relationships?
- · What aspects of your abuse have been most difficult for you to show up for in recovery, and why?
- · At SIA meetings, a majority of participants are usually women. How have you managed to work with the trauma triggering that occurs at meetings and avoid turning women at meetings into perpetrators when you’re triggered?
- · What solutions and recovery tools have proven to be most helpful for your recovery?
- · As a person who has been involved with recovery for sometime, what do you want others who’ve survived mother abuse to know about themselves and life’s possibilities?
In the SIA pamphlet “Ways We Denied,” it is noted, “We have often gone to extremes to avoid feeling anger. Most often we have exchanged guilt for anger and paid a very high price since guilt evokes self-destructive behavior in many incest victims.” Please share with us the prices you’ve paid or self destructive behaviors fueled by avoiding anger.
Describe how sexual child abuse impacted the way in which you have used and expressed anger in the world and/or how you responded to the expression of anger from others.
Anger is a natural and healthy response to abuse but many survivors tend to become anger anorexics (no anger at all) or rage-aholics (anger all the time). Do you fit into either of these categories, and what were some of your reactions to your anger and/or the anger of others?
Do you believe there are “healthy” and “unhealthy” expressions of anger? What would you consider to be healthy expressions of anger? What would you consider to be unhealthy expressions of anger?
What “healthy” techniques have you used to work with anger (examples: deep breathing, singing, beating pillows, going to the airport to scream in car while planes fly overhead, gardening, dancing hard, etc. etc.)
How does it feel when you work with anger (before, during, after)?
What are some of the issues you’ve faced in owning and working with your anger?
What are some of the messages that come up when you feel or express anger? Have they changed when you work with anger? How?
Were there emotions and/or memories hidden or contained behind your anger and how did you show up for them?
A new type of SIA meeting has emerged in the last three years. It’s called an Anger and Feeling Release meeting. Have you attended one of these meetings? What has been your experience in the meetings?
Has owning and expressing your anger toward your perpetrators affected levels, intensity or expression of anger towards yourself? Has it helped you to let go of anger and resentment towards yourself?Do you feel that owning and expressing anger has helped your healing processes? In what ways? Has the expression of anger empowered you as an individual?
STEPS ONE - THREE
1. Why has working the steps in SIA been an essential part of your recovery and healing processes?
Step 1 reads, “We admitted we were powerless over the abuse, and the effects of the abuse, and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
2. In terms of the first part of the step, please describe why it is important to admit to oneself that childhood sexual abuse survivors are powerless over the abuse.
3. What challenges emerged for you as you worked this part of the step and what did you learn about how to show up for yourself in this process.
4. In what ways had childhood sexual abuse made your life unmanageable?
5. What deeper forms of unmanageability did you discover beneath the various ways you used to run from the emotions and memories associated with the abuse and how did you begin showing up for them?
Step Two reads, we “Came to believe that a loving Higher Power greater than ourselves could restore hope, healing and sanity.” This step implies that believing in a Higher Power can restore one’s capacity to dream, grow and self-actualize. Therefore, it also implies that before finding a loving Higher Power of our understanding that we lived with the opposite: a negative, non-supportive Higher Power that stripped us of dreams, belief in ourselves and our possibilities.
6. Please describe the negative Higher Power whose insanities you lived by prior to working the Steps in SIA. Additionally, what were some of the beliefs and responses you engaged in that kept you connected to a negative Higher Power?
7. Please share with us your journey into a connection with a loving Higher Power that was greater than yourself and some of the issues you experienced and worked with while creating a conscious connection with a loving Higher Power.
8. Why is a loving Higher Power an essential aspect of your recovery from childhood sexual abuse and does it need to be a God or Goddess in the religious sense of these terms?
Step Three reads we “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a loving Higher Power as we understood Higher Power. Some say that the will we give to a loving Higher Power consists of our thoughts and emotions and that turning our lives over means turning our behaviors over to Higher Power.
9. What are some of the challenges you faced in turning your will, need for control, along with thoughts, feelings and behaviors over to Higher Power?
10. What helped you to take the leap of faith that giving oneself to a loving Higher Power implies and how did you carry that out?
11. Those who work the Steps in SIA say that the first three steps are critical to healing from the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. They say that working the first three steps initially shifted their lives and often try to work the first three steps on a daily basis. What’s differences did working the first three steps make in your life and do you try to work the first three Steps daily and if so why?
The Role of Working Steps 4-6 in Healing from the Wounds of Childhood Sexual Abuse
As one long-time member of SIA notes, “Step-work has taken me more deeply into myself. Step questions, inventories and the sharing of my writing with my recovery partners, sponsor, and therapist have opened my awareness in profound ways to how the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured affected me. Moreover, Step work has given me the gift of acceptance. It’s helped me to let go of blaming myself for the profound effects abuse has had upon my psyche, my behaviors, and the way I view myself and others. Step work has gifted me with tools to use when I inevitably slip into victim responses. They’ve provide a means for growing a loving inner parent whose support and unconditional acceptance I can count upon at all times. Working the Steps has allowed me to move out of victim responses and into unlimited dreams and possibilities. Without the insights that SIA Step work has provided me with, I doubt I’d be here today, because life was too painful to endure.”
Today’s Roundtable discussion will focus upon the critical role that working Steps 4-6 play in recovering from the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. Steps 4-6 refine our capacities to grow a loving inner parent and healthy adult self, thereby allowing us to begin moving out of isolation and begin taking increased responsibility for our lives. They provide a means for further acknowledging the effects that unexpressed trauma feelings had upon us as children and continue to exert upon our thoughts and actions. Steps 4-6 assist us in this effort by helping us to learn to trust again and end long years of self-imposed isolation. These steps require that we engage in a courageous moral inventory in order to more fully understand the coping mechanisms we developed as children to deal with the abuse. They help us to more clearly see the behavioral responses that no longer serve the cultivation of a loving/healthy adult. In effect, Steps 4-6, move us further toward the promised end of shame and self-blame. They restore our humanity and allow us to walk with our heads held high. As was said in the description for the last Roundtable, working these Steps opens the doorway to original self and thereby allows each of us to reclaim the infinite possibilities we came into this world with.
Step 4 reads, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, the abuse, and its effects on our lives. We have no more secrets.” And this brings us to our first question:
1. What fears about yourself did you have to begin to acknowledge as you began walking into your Fourth Step work? Put another way, how did your tremendous hurt cause you to neglect and abuse yourself and others?
2. What victimage assumptions about yourself had you continued to reinforce prior to working Step 4?
3. Many who have worked the Steps in SIA repeatedly say that Step 4 has brought greater self awareness: awareness of our dreams, talents, joys, values, morals, accomplishments, triumphs, boundaries set, inspirations, favorite foods, colors, vocations, and many other positive aspects of themselves. As a result of your Step 4 work, what values and discoveries about who you are, what you want and what you are capable of have occurred?
4. How did working Step 4 alter your need to control yourself and others?
Step 5 reads, “We admitted to a loving Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being our strengths and weaknesses.”
5. Why was it essential to admit what you discovered about yourself in Step 4 to a loving Higher Power, yourself and another human being, especially in terms of being able to be honest with yourself and others?
6. Step 5 is often referred to as a shame-buster. How did working the step help you to begin a deeper letting go of shame and self-blame and begin to forgive yourself for all your past actions and reactions to the abuse? Also, if you could, please describe some of the specific types of shame, self-blame and guilt that working Step 5 has assisted you with.
Step 6 reads, we “Were entirely ready to have a loving Higher Power help us remove all the debilitating consequences of the abuse and became willing to treat ourselves with respect, compassion and acceptance.”
7. Step 6 is often described by people who have worked the SIA steps repeatedly as a Step 5 “housecleaning,” implying that there is more we become in touch with after sharing our 4th Steps with ourselves and others. What new discoveries about yourself and/or particular challenges did you experience as you became ready to be more honest with yourself and take more responsibility for living your life as an empowered adult?
8. In what ways did trust grow in yourself as a result of working Step 6 and how did that growth of trust enable you to take more responsibility for working through the dysfunctional coping mechanisms caused by your abuse?
9. What’s the relationship between working Step 6 and building internal trust between one’s inner child or children and one’s adult self, and why is that trust important in order to take responsibility for one’s life?