pRon talks to Deanna Carpenter about her life as a survivor of childhood and adult domestic abuse. Deanna courageously shares her personal insights into this subject and we learn how she transforms from a victim to an advocate. /ppWell worth the listening/ppLinks/ppa href=’https://emerging’https://emergingfromthedark.com/a/ppFacebook: Its’s A Wrap With Rap/ppYou Tube : It’s A Wrap With Rap/pphttps;//rrapaport.podbean.com/p
Sometimes I find social media to be too much. Maybe instead something and I want to talk to the author but not in a public setting. Before I was ready to tell my story publicly I would see a post and as badly as I wanted to say something, I was too afraid of who would see it. That is why I have a text only number now.
You can text and I will respond, not some bot. You can also stay up-to-date on my podcast shows, news on programs and research, and inspirational messages from me.
One thing I both love and loathe about the internet are the memes. Sometimes they can be encouraging, most of the time they take a huge issue and and try to oversimplify it. For once though, the above is definitely an inspiration!
How many of us had a perfect childhood? One of my most hated memes are those that say “if you have <insert item or experience here>, your childhood was awesome”. NO, it still wasn’t awesome. I may have experienced a moment of happiness by having said item or experience, but at the end of the day, I still went home to abuse, neglect, and things no child should ever have to endure. I don’t want to stop those who did have awesome childhoods from celebrating, I just want acknowledgement that some of us had horrific ones.
However, I refuse to let my past define me. Has it influenced me? Of course it has. Before, I let my past influence me in a negative manner. I made bad choices based on the negative influence I allowed my past experience to have on me. Today though, I take those experiences and use them as a guide to a more positive life. How do I do this, well it wasn’t any easy road and there are still bad days, but let me share with you.
Every day I wake up. I look in the mirror and my first thought is often what I was told when I was growing up – that I wasn’t pretty and never would be. Instead of dwelling on that hurtful statement, I splash water on my face and say my affirmations. EVERY SINGLE DAY. And when I’m having a bad day, I say them throughout the day. I am a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman. I am loved. I deserve to be loved. Simple words right? At first I felt foolish saying these words. I said them, but I didn’t believe them. However, slowly, over the years, I have come to completely believe in them.
Through hard work, help and support from friends, and especially because I want to set a great example to my own children, I’ve grown. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public relations, and began a doctorate program in 2020. I started a podcast and non-profit organization. In 2020 I also began developing a research project regarding personalities and abuse. For the first time in my life I feel truly empowered.
My crown may be a little crooked, a little dented, and shows a bit of tarnish, but my crown is still sitting high upon my head. My eyes are clear and focused on the future. I stand straight and tall.
I may have been dealt a hand most people would have folded, but instead I bluffed my way until I received a hand I deserve. And now…now it is my time to shine!
Recently, I had a complete meltdown and almost ruined a relationship. I had to do some major reflection and I came to the following conclusion.
There are three types of people when discussing abuse; victim, survivor, or thriver.
VICTIM: noun. [vik-tim] A person who suffers in some way, who complains about his or her given circumstances and does not attempt to alter them. Victims are overwhelmed by their past and the abuse. The memories of abuse taint every decision they make, ever second of their lives including any kind of relationships.
SURVIVOR: noun. [ser-vayh-ver] One who stays alive and claws his or her way up from the pit, bloodied and exhausted, and who will continue to fight. Survivors are able to understand they need help to overcome the affects of abuse and seek out that help. They still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and not deserving good things, but recognizes the struggle. They share their story with those whom they feel safe with and understand the need to take care of themselves.
THRIVER: noun [thrayv-er] Not a real form of the word “thrive.” One who prospers and flourishes, expanding beyond confines and living life to the best degree possible. Thrivers accept life, grateful for their new life. They are able to tell others their story and understand by doing so, they are healing themselves each time.
So back to my meltdown. I thought I had made it to being a thriver. But after my meltdown and introspections, I realized I am still a survivor. I’ve made the decision to seek out more help and embrace that I have survived some major abuse but I’m still standing. I’m still living. I’m still making better choices for myself and my kids, every single day. And one day, I will be a thriver. One day I will be able to tell my story to anyone without having a panic attack.
Until that day, I will continue working on sharing my thoughts and feelings and not be afraid.
I recently received a message from a friend of mine. He told me about a young lady he met on a flight. He said she was obviously addicted the meth and was “tweeking” on the flight. She would not stop talking to him and during the short four hour flight, had told him her life story. He said, “it was very similar to yours, minus the addiction.” She told him about her abuse, multiple husbands, homelessness, etc. And yes, I’ve experienced all those as well. But what smacked me in the face was the truth; I never became an addict. Why not?
I spent several hours in my head. Why didn’t I follow the same path as so many in my shoes? I certainly had the chances to be an addict. I’ve heard from many people who not only overcame their abusive pasts but also addictions. I’ve heard from others who led typical “normal” lives then all of a sudden crashed because of past abuses. What is it inside of us directing us which way to go? Why do some of us struggle with addiction while others are able to lead somewhat normal lives?
I’ve felt like giving up a few times in my life. There have been moments of despair in which I contemplated just turning off all emotions and giving into the lure of numbness drugs offer, knowing it would ultimately lead me to a life back on the streets as well.
Am I only good for sex? This is a question I’ve often asked myself as well. I could have easily fallen back into the sex industry after escaping my abusive husband. But I didn’t.
Oh, I did many self-destructive things. There are times where I should have probably died. Decisions I made which I wish I could take back. But whatever it is inside of me that kept me from those roads, I thank it. And if I ever figure out what it is, I’ll be sure to share it. For if I can save one life, isn’t it worth it?
If you are in need of help, please ask. There are many out there who want to help you, but first you need to have the desire to help yourself. Addiction, abuse, or just help finding a healthier path – you can do it. Look at what you have survived so far in your life. I believe in you. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you know, and smarter than you think.
And when we sleep will you shelter me in your warm and darkened grave-
”Close My Eyes Forever”… Lita Ford/Ozzy Osbourne
Have you ever been in a room filled with people yet you feel completely alone? Often loneliness captures me. He shows me illusions of warmth and safety. He becomes my friend, confidant and lover. He wraps his arms around me as I rest my head on his chest. I feel safe and content for a time.
It isn’t always what it seems When you’re face to face with me
”Close My Eyes Forever”… Lita Ford/Ozzy Osbourne
Suddenly his arms become more like straight jacket, preventing me from reaching out to others. His kiss which I used to crave becomes a gag, not allowing me to scream for help. He completely cuts me off from the world around me. Everyone else continues on with their lives, oblivious to my plight. They fail to notice my smile never reaches my eyes.
You’re like a dagger And stick me in the heart And taste the blood from my blade
”Close My Eyes Forever”… Lita Ford/Ozzy Osbourne
He builds a wall around me. He encases my heart and soul in a box of stone. I am only able to watch those around me joke with friends, fall in love and LIVE their lives. I am trapped in a void of nothingness. My soul begs for freedom yet my mind cannot break the hold loneliness has on me.
If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain unchanged. If I close my eyes will it all remain the same.
”Close My Eyes Forever”… Lita Ford/Ozzy Osbourne
My mind shuts down my emotions. I cease to feel and only exist. I’ve fought him before and nothing ever changes. He finds his way back into my life. He continually thwarts my attempts at connecting with those around me. The walls he builds are impenetrable. I pray every for someone to come save me from this evil. Yet every night when I close my eyes, my soul is still alone. It remains in the cold darkness, untouched. Only in my dreams do things change. Only in that peaceful slumber do I experience closeness, friendship and love. Only in the darkness of night am I free of the darkness that owns my soul.
Now, most people have heard the term “stages of grief”. I find this is a misnomer. We do not go through stages. You don’t go from one to another. Sometimes you skip over one “stage”, sometimes you revert back to an earlier “stage”. In my mind, I see an abuse survivor’s path is more like this:
While I believe we share some of the grief stages, we go through more than that.
Acknowledgement – Whether you know at the time it is abuse, or it isn’t until later in life you realize it was abuse – the first step toward healing is acknowledgement. Not just the abuse though, you must acknowledge the impact it had on your life.
Blame/Anger/Guilt – Once you acknowledge your abuse, you may begin focus on blame and become angry. For many survivors, this means blaming ourselves. Our first step in anger and blame is turning it all towards ourselves. We blame ourselves: “if I hadn’t worn that”, “if I wouldn’t have said this”, “h/she was drunk and didn’t mean it”, “if I was good mom/dad wouldn’t do this”. We become angry at ourselves: “if I was stronger I could’ve stopped it”. This is when we need support – counseling – therapy. We need to learn how to properly lay the blame and work through the anger so we do not self destruct. Blame is and always should be placed on the abuser, not the survivor.
Depression/Self-Destruction – We, as survivors, have lost so much. Our childhoods, our innocence. We feel we are broken, unlovable, ugly, etc. Some of us have been hurt so deeply we cannot find a reason to continue. Please, seek out help if you are feeling suicidal or find yourself in a cycle of self-destruction. Medication, counseling, and surrounding yourself with those who support you are imperative.
Acceptance – Once you can accept the abuse happened and you were not to blame, you truly begin to heal. Accepting you were not allowed a “normal” childhood.
Mourning – It is important you give yourself time to mourn the loss of your childhood, your innocence. As survivors, we lost so much. We have a right to grieve those losses.
Forgiveness – not necessarily forgiving your abuser(s), but yourself. If you feel you need to forgive your abuse(s) for your own mental health, then that is your decision. No one should make you feel as if you need to forgive them though. It is a personal choice for each survivor to make on their own. However, you do need to forgive yourself. Part of the shame that goes with abuse is our bodies betraying us. Sometimes the abuse made us feel physically good, or we experienced an orgasm, or at that moment it made us feel loved. Sometimes, we were forced to do things to merely survive. Forgive yourself. Your body did not betray you. It had a physical reaction to outside stimuli. This was nothing you could control. Every child needs to feel loved. Do not blame yourself for wanting to be loved. Whatever you had to do to survive – forgive yourself. You were placed in a situation no child should experience. Whatever you did to survive it worked because you are still here. Forgive yourself. You were faced with impossible choices and you did what you had to do.
Learning to Love and Trust – We step out into the world. We learn to love and trust ourselves. We learn not everyone will hurt us. We learn to respect ourselves, our emotions, our bodies. We learn we are worthy of love and happiness.
As you walk your own path of healing, you may find yourself revisiting “stages” you thought you were finished with, but a smell/sound will trigger a memory and you find yourself going backwards. It’s ok. Recognize it and continue your path. Work through it again and move forward. There is no timetable, no right or wrong turn as long as you continue to work to improve yourself, to love yourself.
You may also find yourself going through something not listed here. That’s ok too. Each person’s path is different. By no means do I believe my list is inclusive and the end-all-be-all for every survivor. It is merely my list and I share it with the hope it will encourage others.
I have visited the “depression stage” more than I care to admit. I find myself mourning something new as I work through my own experiences. I find I forgive myself for new things I’ve acknowledged as I begin to open up more, talk more, share more with others.
Surviving, Healing, Thriving – it is a never-ending process. It is our life. The process does not have to be negative though, with the right frame of mind. Every time I acknowledge something new, I find myself feeling a greater sense of peace.
Hug yourself. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
The soul is a newly skinned hide, bloody and gross.
Work on it with manual discipline,
and the bitter tanning of acid and grief
You’ll become lovely and very strong
There is no timetable, no right or wrong turn as long as you continue to work to improve yourself, to love yourself.