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So I've been offered a place on a group/course thing for

(19 Posts)
mindalina Tue 16-Sep-08 10:29:25

survivors of sexual abuse. I am starting to think it's a really bad idea and that I don't want to drag it all up again and actually it will just make things worse for me because mostly I am managing to forget/ignore it and getting by just fine on the whole.

Does anyone have any experience of a group like this? Does it make things better or worse? Will it make things worse at first but then get much better?

Argh I am really confused and tbh feel like I don't want to give the damn issue any headspace at all, but am so worried the ostrich approach will bite me in the arse in years to come. Please help.

nickytwotimes Tue 16-Sep-08 10:34:39

Worse at first, but far,far, far better in the future!
Give it your best shot. These things don't go away. It will come back your whole life if you don't address the issues and a group is ideal as it tackles the isolation head on.
ALl the best. It is worth the hard work. I'd not be here if it hadn't been for group therapy.

catweazle Tue 16-Sep-08 12:26:03

I had group therapy (not for sexual abuse mind) for 2 years. At first I hated it and wouldn't speak but at the end I was so much better. Don't know why it works but it does.

mindalina Tue 16-Sep-08 12:43:38

Thanks for your answers. I'm just scared it will be a case of one step forward, two steps back. I feel like I've only just got on top of things after pnd completely floored me and I am terrified of feeling like that again.

run4it Tue 16-Sep-08 20:38:17

I did separate counselling, but would actually quite like the kind of thing you're going on. As with any treatment for this, I think it's all fairly grim and much worse at first, but you do end up a bit better afterwards. i think it would be nice (although also very scary!) to be in a group - makes it all a bit more 'normal' and less isolating - I find the worse thing is now, when I don't know many people who had the same kind of stuff happen, and although i can talk to my dh i still find I'm trying very hard to be 'normal' so don't want to drag it up all the time, but I do still need to deal with it in some way. PND was basically what brought it all back for me - but there we go... Thinking of you anyway... Put it this way, go three or four times and if after that you hate it and objectively don't think it's doing much good, then you can always quit...

mindalina Wed 17-Sep-08 09:42:02

Ah thanks run4it. I keep thinking separate counselling would be better so it's good to hear from someone who has been down that route. I have been told that while I need to talk to the woman who runs the group about what happened to me, I am under no oblgation to talk about specifics in the group itself, which is reassuring. I find it very hard to think about let alone talk about, so can't bear the idea of telling everything to a bunch of strangers.

run4it Wed 17-Sep-08 20:32:48

well, separate counselling is good in one way as it gives you no option but to talk about it or just sit there in silence, but I think sometimes it's just as useful to know other people who are in a similar situation - i think the worst thing is feeling isolated, because you just end up feeling like a freak (well, i do anyway).

I did all the ostrich type stuff, having dealt with everything years ago, but with PND it did come back to bite me, so based on that experience I think you're probably better off dealing with it proactively when your life is going pretty much ok, rather than have it bite you in the arse and then have to deal with it all when you don't feel up to it (if that all makes sense). I think you need to work out what you want from the group sessions. Talking about specifics is hard, but you might find it useful, and not quite as hard, to concentrate on talking about how you feel about the stuff that happened,how it makes you think/feel about yourself as a person, is it reasonable to feel the way you do, are you being too hard on yourself, has it affected your interpersonal skills/relationships - if you could manage to discuss those kind of things in a group situation, you'd probably find lots of people feeling the same way, which makes it all more normal and easier to deal with, I think.

With the woman who runs the group you could always write down the stuff that happened if it is too hard to get out verbally.

I think now I've got to the stage that I can think about it all fairly easily (though still get some nightmares and flashbacks) and I can accept none of it was my fault. that was very hard work, but it's a good position to have got to. I wish you the very best of luck with it all, and will keep an eye on the thread if you want to talk.

mindalina Fri 19-Sep-08 09:35:48

Makes me feel a bit sick to think about what happened tbh. Not sure writing it down would be easier than talking it through, at least once it's said I don't have to look at it again iyswim.

How long would you say it took from starting the counselling to feeling ok with it? I've never had flashbacks, but nightmares have been more frequent lately - I guess that's just another indication I should get it sorted asap.

Thanks for talking to me about this. I really appreciate it. Don't know anyone in rl whose been through something similar - or at least no-one who's willing to talk about it. DP not much help, think he doesn't like to think about it too much. I can understand that I suppose, but it's hard not to be able to talk to him.

run4it Fri 19-Sep-08 19:26:59

I guess about 6 months from starting counselling to feeling ok most of the time - I went to counselling about every two weeks at first, then gradually longer intervals - I think there was about 6 months between my last two appointments. I learnt a lot of techniques (ways of thinking, approaching things etc) so when PND set me off again this time I didn't need to go to counselling, I knew how to work through it all myself. It took about three months to feel ok this time, but I had two sets of stuff to work through, so all very complex...

I don't mind talking to you about it - I know what it's like needing someone to sound off against. It's also awful thinking you're the only one you know - makes me feel like a bit of a freak at times! Guess that's why I'm happy to answer this thread - I have been really, really bad with it all at various points of my life. The odds are you know plenty of people in RL, but everyone is too busy hiding it because lots of people aren't very good at dealing with it. I find I tend to keep a fairly big emotional distance from a lot of people, because I got into the habit of hiding things so much as a kid and teenager - it's a hard pattern to break.

I'm on ADs at the moment, which have really helped - like I said it was PND that kicked it all off again for me, but threw a major wobble about my wonderful past, and ended up being even rougher. don't be afraid to talk to your gp about going on ADs if you find it's getting pretty rough. I went on them after I was dateraped many years ago (also had the child abuse thing in the past, which made me even rougher), and found they did give me space to think more clearly.

I think if you're having nightmares then you do need to do some shape or form of counselling, because it's your brain's way of telling you that you need to do something with it. Have woken my DH several times by punching him in my sleep... TBH, if you get to a point of acceptance/resolution, you would find that you could talk about it (not necessarily full and specific detail, but general gist) in an objective way without cracking up - I think that's the indicator that it's just a grotty past, same as lots of people have and that it's not all you are. If you're hating talking and thinking about it, it means it still affects you, and something like a bereavement or PND could strike and trigger off a really bad patch, like it did with me.

Sorry you can't talk to your DP. Mine is willing to talk to me if I need to talk, but I want to feel normal, and like we have a normal life, so I don't talk to him as much as I should. Might be worth trying to sit him down and explaining that not talking makes you feel worse, because you need to be accepted the way you are, grotty past and all. I know from having to talk to my DH again (had told him all originally, but hadn't talked about it for years, but major wobble meant I was not really functioning very well in our relationship) it did make us closer, and it really helped me.

Anyway, very long and rambling, but I hope it's been of some help.

BlaDeBla Fri 19-Sep-08 19:34:07

I have been in a group therapy situation with lots of people who have been sexually abused. Sadly it was not for me, and the more reasonable people left and were replaced by (mostly men) with increasingly serious problems.

If it is a good group, it could help. I don't do well in groups. The NHS like groups because they are much cheaper than individual therapy.

If you are just at the start of your theraputic involvement, it is probably worth a go. You are certainly not alone!

mindalina Sat 20-Sep-08 09:29:28

BlaDeBla that sounds really awful. I've been assured it's a woman only closed group, so hopefully wouldn't run into that sort of problem - I definitely couldn't talk about it in a mixed group I don't think.

I have done a couple of groups before, one for pnd and one for anxiety, which were helpful to an extent, but I guess addressed symptoms rather than the actual cause. I think I am ok with the group therapy concept on the whole.

I was put on ADs (citalopram) for the pnd and anxiety, and found them a great help to get out of that hole to a place where I could start helping myself, iyswim, but they weren't magic for me, found a lot of anger coming out while I was on them. Maybe again that's symptomatic, I don't know. At the moment I'm taking the contraceptive pill to keep me level emotionally - sounds a bit hmm but is working for me so what the hell.

I can't talk to DP because his sister had some similar and very severe issues when they were younger, and I think it stirs up a lot of stuff he'd rather not think about. I'm ok with that, the last thing I want is to get better at his expense. He was the very first person I told about it, and gave me, I dunno, the strength almost to actually be able to talk to the doctor about it, so that's something I'm very grateful for.

The nightmares are a really weird thing. They don't happen often, and they are not explicit or flashbacks or anything like that, just containing the abuser (my mum's ex-husband - though I've never told her what happened) and have a threatening air to them. The sort of dream that sticks with you for a couple of days, making you feel faintly uneasy. The oddest thing was that I was doing fine for ages, then I had this odd dream one morning which really shook me up, and lo when my mother arrived to pick up my son for the night, she said actually she'd gone to see him that morning around the time I had the dream shock - make of that what you will. It really shook me up.

I see what you are saying about acceptance - as I mentioned my SIL has had some similar problems and when she talks about them you can tell she is very comfortable, if that makes sense, not embarassed or ashamed, just very matter-of-fact. Whereas I cannot keep eye contact with someone if I talk about it, I feel sick and nervous and scared.

I'm really grateful to everyone who's replied to me, especially you Run4It. I think really I knew I had to do this, for my own sake, and you have made me feel a lot less worried about it just being a negative thing. Thank you.

DrHorrible Sat 20-Sep-08 09:31:47

I know an MNer who goes to a group thingy - I will email her a link

mindalina Sat 20-Sep-08 09:33:35

Can I ask how you feel about the person[s] who abused you? Only I hate him, hate him like I didn't realise it was possible to hate someone. If I thought I could kill him and not go to prison for it, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I can't imagine that hatred ever going away, but people always say forgiveness is an important part of resolving these things.

TBH, I don't want to forgive him. He doesn't deserve it. I want him to be in pain and to suffer. (I am aware this makes me sound a leeetle bit mental...) I just honestly can't imagine ever feeling anything but hatred and revulsion and the desire to see him suffer. I guess that's not an especially healthy way to feel but I dunno.

mindalina Sat 20-Sep-08 09:33:49

Thanks DrHorrible

Squirdle Sat 20-Sep-08 21:28:23

Hello Mindalina, i'm the one who Dr Horrible said already attends a group much the same as the one you have mentioned. Bear with me as I am sending this from my mobile (charger probs!) So yes I do go to a group like this and I can't lie, it's emotionally draining. When I first started, I felt physically sick the whole week before. BUT, it has helped me. I can talk about what happened to me more now and I am now on the road to recovery. It helps that you don't need to explain why you are there. I have never gone into detail about my abuse, i simply don't need to. It will help you for as long as you need it. It hasn't been easy but I know that I'm not alone iyswim. Where in the country do you live (vaguely)? I'm in Hampshire.

Squirdle Sat 20-Sep-08 21:28:32

Hello Mindalina, i'm the one who Dr Horrible said already attends a group much the same as the one you have mentioned. Bear with me as I am sending this from my mobile (charger probs!) So yes I do go to a group like this and I can't lie, it's emotionally draining. When I first started, I felt physically sick the whole week before. BUT, it has helped me. I can talk about what happened to me more now and I am now on the road to recovery. It helps that you don't need to explain why you are there. I have never gone into detail about my abuse, i simply don't need to. It will help you for as long as you need it. It hasn't been easy but I know that I'm not alone iyswim. Where in the country do you live (vaguely)? I'm in Hampshire.

run4it Sun 21-Sep-08 07:34:00

hi, mindalina, I don't really feel anything about either of the guys - I did used to hate them both, but I feel like I've thought everything I could ever think and I've no emotion left when I think about it all any more. It's not that I've forgiven though - I can't do that, because I think everyone has their own choices to make, and they knowingly made the ones they did. Personally I don't think that's forgivable. It's just that the fire has gone out of it all now - they aren't worth the mental effort. I just concentrate on me, and on the people I care about, and try not to give them much head space.

mindalina Wed 24-Sep-08 10:29:34

Well I have my individual assessment today with the ladies who run the group.

Thanks again for your messages which have reassured me that I am doing the right thing even if it doesn't feel like it now!

Squirdle I'm in W Sussex. I have done a couple of group things now, for anxiety & pnd, and have to say the people who are in charge of that sort of thing round here seem very nice. I hope that this will be as helpful to me as the others.

Run4it, I can identify with what you're saying about forgiveness. I don't think I can ever forgive or forget, I just want to be rid of the sick feeling and the sadness.

Fingers crossed

run4it Wed 24-Sep-08 21:04:54

best of luck! I think in order to forgive someone they have to see that they have done wrong, and try and make amends - it's not just a one way street, so there's no need to feel bad about not being able to forgive unless all the other conditions are met. You'll probably have a rough couple of months, so will need to have your strategies for dealing with it (i favour walking with an mp3 myself) and if it feels like it's getting too much consider ADs just to get you through the worst bit - they can just help you get to a place where you can find perspective. Take care - there's lots of us out there, so you'll never be really alone with it.

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