Resolving Issues Stemming from Childhood Abuse

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1999

Dear Annette,

I was sexually abused by my dad starting when I was about 12 and it went on for a couple years. I have very explicit memories of the events, yet when I talked to my father he says that it never happened. I could see being confused if I were a four year old, but I not mistaken about memories from 12 to 14 years of age. I talked to my mother and she say she was not aware of anything going on.

I'm having a lot of problems dealing with this. I just want to get it behind me so I can start to live. Please help.


Dear Wanting to Live,

Some people have difficulty understanding or dealing with their feelings. Some have penned up their feelings so long that they no longer have feelings. Others have had no one to discuss their feelings with or they have been taught to keep quiet about their feelings out of fear or because they no one to turn to. There are others who feel guilt over specific feelings. This is especially true of people that were sexually abused, have been abandon by a parent/s, or have had a family member die or commit suicide. Some people have all or many of these problems.

Difficulty handling feelings causes emotional distress. Bottled-up feelings can cause a combination of these feelings: tenseness, stress, anger, depression, physical and mental breakdown, or suicide unless there is a healthy release. Allowing yourself to have feelings, understand them, and deal with them healthfully, puts you in control of you. It helps you to have good mental and physical health and helps you to help others to do the same with their feelings. This causes better relationships between those in your life and you.

There is a whole range of feelings one may assign an unhappy or horrible event. Some of these may be fear, shock, sadness, depression, numbness, unfeeling, perturbed, angry, or enraged. Sometimes, one can feel several of these feelings at once.

Other times we may believe that we should not have such feelings, because we are thinking these things about people we are supposed to love or care about. Feelings that get bottle up will eventually come back to haunt us or to explode or cause physical ailments with seemingly little provocation or no reason at all. Some would have us believe that feelings like anger should not be felt at all, because the would mean that we have lost control. Feeling anger is normal and natural. We all feel anger sometime, especially when we have been hurt.

Feelings, no matter what they are, can be expressed positively or negatively. Getting them out in the open and examine them, by ourselves and/or with the help of others or with a professional, is a positive move.

When feelings are stuffed, they are generally covered up by something. Some people choose to do this by using poor coping tools such eating food, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, sex, gambling, fighting, shopping, reading, sleeping, working, or hiding away from others.

The first thing that needs to be done is to face your feelings and the people which caused them. This can be done with your God and you. This is how it can be done!

Letter writing...

Writing is an awesome tool. You have the ability and time to think of exactly what you want to say. With a letter, no one is going to interrupt what you are saying. Also the reader is almost compelled to read every line because then need to see what you have written. The best thing about letter writing is that you can bear you deepest feelings letting then out of their bottled condition and air them out. You can have a good cry and/or be angry within the privacy of where you are writing the letter. You then ceremonially burn it while thinking about those awful feelings being burned with the letter, allowing yourself to be free of them. You also have the option of sending a copy to the person to whom you were writing if you think this would do any good.

Write a letter to your father. Express to him how you felt now and back then. How betrayed you felt because of his incestuous behavior. How angry it makes you because he will not own up to it today. Tell what you did to cope. Write all your feelings until they are all emptied out on the page.

Write another letter to your mother for not protecting you from your father. Tell her of how you wanted to tell her and couldn't, how you needed her. Tell her everything until it is all emptied out on the page.

Start by:

1. Get away by yourself without distractions. No music, TV, phone, or people.

2. Pray and ask the Lord to accompany you into your feelings. He will help you to pull up the thoughts and feelings you need to deal with. He will be your therapist, the best you will ever have!

3. You write your real, dark deepest thoughts, feelings, the should-have-beens and could-have-beens.

Write as fast as your pencil, pen, typewriter or computer can go.

Don't worry about grammar, writing full thoughts, pretty writing, or making mistakes. Don't erase, just cross mistakes out and go on.

No one will see this letter, just you, because this is for you!

You need to get out all the repressed feelings and get rid of them. They are killing you and your chance at happiness both here and your eternal life.

4. Write the letters that pertains to you, one at a time. Each on a separate day. Let a week go by and take on the next one. If this is done right it is exhausting business. Do not attempt this if you are ill, lacking energy, or are depressed.

5. The Lord will let you know when the letter is finished. Now, visually see yourself giving these miserable thoughts, problems, and feelings to the Lord to carry for you as you prayerfully ask Him to take them away from you. Now burn the letter and visualize the problems and feelings rising up with the smoke to God to deal with. See them go up in smoke...they are gone and the weight has been lifted from you.

6. Thank God that you are free!

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

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