The original newsletter (pdf)
- ASCA Members from South Africa Speak!
- Poetry: “reflex-tions”, by Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán
- Possible Rotation C Topic: Revisiting Topics from Our Website
- ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment: Disinviting an ASCA Participant
- Step Elaboration: Step 7, by Rana Eschur
1. ASCA Members from South Africa Speak!
It has been a year since I started dealing with the incest, which stopped when I fell pregnant with my father’s child. It was at that time that I thought I was going crazy. I was desperately looking for help, so I started phoning around looking for help. When I phoned WMACA and spoke to Rana, she was a great deal of support, which I could not find anywhere else at the time. She then said WMACA would be starting a group for adult survivors of child abuse, which I think happened about four months ago.
I must say, if I look back, it has been one of the hardest yet most liberating experiences of my life. It has been hard in that I am forced to deal with what happened (the steps take you back to when the abuse was taking place). Memories and emotions have come back that I thought were long gone, but it has been made easier due to the fact that I am not alone. There are people who are around me who will love, understand, and support me through all of this.
When I talk about this being a liberating process, it has given me the opportunity to get to know the real me, not the person who was wounded by my father’s disease. I have also found healthier ways to be in the world, and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
I hope that gives you some idea of what the group has done for me.
Deeper awareness about the consequences and repercussions of being abused as a child—abuse in myself and other people affected—has filled me with compassion for these people.
I am impressed with the group content. I believe this information is backed by thorough research. It is written in an easy manner and is therefore not onerous to read or study.
I felt like a bit of a fake when I first joined the group and heard some of the members’ stories. As the group has progressed, I’ve realized how well-structured the course is, and because of this, I have been able to acknowledge what I’ve avoided for many years. Yes, I was emotionally abused as a child, and my family was seriously dysfunctional.
I am impressed with the level of facilitation. I have been in quite a few groups over the years. On occasion, I have been in groups where I have doubted the ability of the facilitator and have, as a consequence, felt very unsafe. I have always felt supported, secure, and safe in this group.
I am very impressed with Rana. She is articulate, sensitive and has obviously had sound training in facilitation.
My wish for the future of our group is that it will be a nucleus for many more such groups.
At the beginning of the year, I received a phone call from Rana asking me to join her on the radio to speak as an adult survivor. I heard from her about the start of the ASCA support group, which I immediately joined, primarily with the idea of becoming a facilitator. Having myself been through a long, difficult, and painful process of healing, my wish was to put something back in order to share the gifts that my own healing has brought and with the knowledge of just how difficult a process this is; that through my own healing, I could offer support and inspiration to others.
Personally, I have been able to effect even more of my own healing, finding nuances and subtler aspects that still lurked as a legacy of the childhood sexual abuse I experienced. Also, being witness in the group to others who share so many of the difficulties reminded me of my own struggles and brought me an ever-stronger affirmation of my recovery. It also enables me to truly appreciate just how daunting the recovery process can be and what a victory it really is to move into Thriver!
I find the ASCA programme to be remarkably positive and effective. I’ve seen the impact being part of the group has on the members and recall how isolated and alone I felt through much of my healing. It is evident that a group such as this makes a huge difference to the healing process and, from my observation, can actually accelerate the process. It has become a safe haven, a harbour in the storm, a place where we are free to be. Something especially encouraging for me is the focus on the positive aspects of self and a moving away from “victimhood” (or being stuck in the wound), which could result in going in endless circles for some, and never truly healing. ASCA definitely moves one through the different phases into something more liberated and whole.
Being a facilitator for the group has also furthered my growth. Facilitating requires objectivity and an ability to hold those in the group in their own truth, with love and acceptance, whatever their truth may be, or however it may differ from my own. This brings an ever-widening perspective to my own views and removes more barriers and restrictions in my life. It has also taught me tolerance and patience beyond what I believed myself capable of. From the experience, I have been able to become more ’detached’ (i.e. not self-absorbed) and observant, able to be more aware of the state of being of those in the group and how that might affect others. Initially, I found it required a high degree of concentration, but as I facilitate more meetings, I have been able to relax into the role, and it is something which I always look forward to doing.
The facilitator role is a key component of the programme, one which ensures the safety and consistency of the group and helps create the necessary safe space for healing, and for me, it’s an honour to be able to be doing this.
This is a letter to say: “Thank You”.
I had been EXTREMELY depressed, and the blackness surrounding my heart started surrounding my mind, and I realized that I was dying inside. My heart and my mind finally came to a standstill.
My mother and I don’t have a “communicational” connection; and my husband cannot understand me, help or support me emotionally. His favourite saying is, “Stop digging in the past, let bygones be bygones.”
I NEVER bought the Sarie magazine, but on Monday 7th May 2001, I bought one—at the time, I really didn’t know why—NOW I KNOW!
I was paging through the magazine and kept putting it down, then picking it up and turning the pages and putting it down again. Eventually, on the 6th attempt of emotionless paging-through, I got to page 75, and gosh, what a moment.
There I was (me, of all people) reading news bits on health (of all the things), and it honestly changed my life forever. I phoned you.
Something that really touched me when I phoned was your word at the end of the conversation (while I was still sobbing).
“Are you going to be OK?” You gave me your cell phone number to call you anytime I felt that I needed you. I could feel the warmth and true concern in your voice, and it really touched me. The sincerity in your voice was something that I’ve never experienced. The peace and calm that came over me was incredible.
My “adoption” process began. A genuine, loving, truly understanding, and warmhearted family of friends have adopted me—people who can TRULY relate to who I am, REALLY understand why I am the way I am, and with TRUE FEELINGS empathize and acknowledge my pain, confusion, shame, anger, and feelings of failure, blame and worthlessness.
I get my strength and willpower to face the world for the next week, in my group. I feel supported, loved, accepted and most of all WORTHY and alive.
This is the most difficult road to walk on. Sexual, emotional, and physical abuse have been part of my life for almost 20 years. I cannot expect to wake up one morning and be “cured” of my pain, confusion, shame, anger, and feelings of failure, blame, and worthlessness.
My journey to becoming a THRIVER is a rough and bumpy road, sometimes an uphill battle, sometimes a downhill slide, but so much easier, calmer and made possible because of the love and care I feel in my group.
I’ve been to three different psychologists over the years, but medical aid only covers a specific number of sessions. I cannot afford to pay for a therapist myself, but the group allows me to be a member unconditionally, so in my way, I contribute with small things to say “Thank You” for the availability of this group.
From the bottom of my heart, “Thank You for MY opportunity to be a member of a group like ASCA.” With a precious thank you from me.
To Everyone That Has Made ASCA Possible...
A huge THANK YOU.
I joined the group in April 2001 and since then I have grown so much. I now know that I am not crazy and that all my current circumstances, behaviors, and feelings can be traced to my childhood abuse.
I started to live a fuller life. I have more confidence and more feelings. I find that I am more present in my body and, consequently, in my life.
The major gifts that I have been given through attending the ASCA group are
- Complete acceptance of who and what I am.
- Safety and security within the group—this aspect of my life I have managed to extend to my workplace, home, and relationships.
- The power to change bad things for good. I have learned that I do not have to accept bad circumstances; I can make decisions to have the circumstances become good.
- Self-love and the ability to extend love to people around me without jeopardizing myself.
- The knowledge that I do not have to self-sabotage myself means I can self-soothe rather.
- AND most importantly of all—the knowledge that I am a survivor and will become a thriver—I AM NOT A VICTIM.
About the group environment...
I have found that there is a lot of love, acceptance, safety, security, encouragement, and courage shared in the group. For me, by being involved in the group, I not only learned about these things, I have also learned how to extend this firstly to myself and then to the people in my life.
Thank you to the facilitators and everyone who make this program possible—thank you for giving me back to me.
A grateful member of the group.
by Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Copyright 2001
daddy i know u never touched me
(at least not like that)
but u don’t need ta touch someone
in order ta make them feel uncomfortable
in their own home
daddy those times when we used ta lay tagether
in yr bed in our underwears
(like spoons one cuppin another)
they still with me
those nights u’d come home alcohol on yr breath
how yr elastic watchband would catch the hairs on my head
n pull them out
even as u tried ta pull away
(how u’d always apologize for bein so clumsy)
it’s why i still flinch whenever yr hand comes near
why i stopped drinkin three years ago
(well that n the rape
n the fact that i started sayin i "needed" a drink
instead of sayin i "wanted" one)
it’s why i always sober now
n why i want ta know exactly what’s goin on
at all times
wherever i am
whoever i’m with
daddy i want ta come ta u with open arms
but these fists r cramped
they won’t uncurl
3. Possible Rotation C Topic:
Revisiting Topics from Our Website
Are you aware that there are over 35 different topics listed and elaborated upon on our website for your meeting’s use in Rotation C Topic ASCA meetings? These topics and the accompanying narratives can be found in the ASCA Meeting Format and Support Materials manual.
To locate these suggested topics on our website, click the hyperlink “ASCA Meeting Format & Support Materials” from our home page or “Materials” on the bottom index bar of most pages. Either hyperlink will take you to the ASCA Meeting Format and Support Materials manual’s “Table of Contents.” The last listing in the “Table of Contents” is “Topics for Rotation C Meetings”. Click this hyperlink. It will bring you directly to the “Suggested Topics for Rotation C Meetings” page.
4. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment:
Disinviting an ASCA Participant
Under certain extreme conditions, the co-facilitators, in conjunction with the meeting membership, have the option, authority, and responsibility to disinvite and prohibit a survivor from participating in ASCA meetings. This has happened only three times since 1993. It is a strong and decisive action taken by the co-facilitators and the meeting membership to guarantee the ongoing safety of the group.
There are two basic conditions that trigger the process of disinviting someone from participating in ASCA meetings. First, the individual refuses to observe the meeting guidelines. In the past, this has focused on a survivor who also happens to be a perpetrator. The person has a need to discuss issues and personal dynamics connected with perpetrating abuse on others. Usually, the person is seeking help.
However, ASCA is a program for survivors of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or neglect. ASCA is not a program to assist people with their perpetration issues and behavior. Such a person needs assistance that ASCA is not designed to offer. This person needs to be referred to another appropriate program where he/she can receive the necessary help that they seek. If a person is presently perpetrating or has recently perpetrated abuse on a child or teenager, he/she is not an appropriate candidate for ASCA.
The second condition that triggers the process of disinviting is more difficult to articulate. It pertains to an ASCA participant who, in the big picture, is perpetrating some type of abuse, or taking advantage of the meeting, or taking advantage of some of its members. It might be a situation whereby the person consistently shares in a manner that is offensive and/or antagonistic to other members. Usually, the share is highly sexualized in nature. To many people within the group, the shares appear more in the service of titillating and harassing rather than to deal with and focus on past abuse. The confirmation of this dynamic is that many, if not most, people have the same negative reaction over a period of time to these repeated types of shares.
Another scenario involves a participant harassing a group member or members, possibly for dating purposes. The person’s boundaries are poor. The person may be taking advantage of the vulnerability of a group member or members. The person may try to ingratiate him/herself with a member of the group and then try to take advantage of the person.
When a difficult situation like any of the above occurs in the meeting, the co-facilitators should check out and discuss the situation between themselves and with other senior members of the ASCA meeting. To help clarify, gain perspective, and strategize options and possible interventions, the co-facilitators might consider contacting George Bilotta to discuss the situation. Dr. Bilotta can be a wonderful resource and helpful ally in such situations.
Co-facilitators always have the authority to ask a participant to leave a meeting at any time. To enact the process of disinviting and prohibiting the person from future ASCA meetings, the co-facilitators should take the meeting membership into counsel through a business meeting. When a person is officially disinvited from attending ASCA meetings, he or she should be given other local resources that might be useful. The disinvited person should also be told that if he/she tries to attend an ASCA meeting in the future, the co-facilitators will immediately and automatically call the police to have the person removed. It is the standard procedure—no ifs, ands, or buts.
The process of disinviting is a rare occurrence. Because most ASCA meetings are open to the general public, sometimes a person who is not an appropriate candidate for ASCA may appear in a meeting. Though the process of disinviting may raise anxiety, fears, and other distressing feelings, it is an opportune occasion to practice assertiveness, firmness, compassion, and courage. It is an opportunity to practice teamwork and collaboration. It is an invitation to stretch ourselves and grow.
5. Step Elaboration: Step 7
by Rana Eschur
“Step Elaboration” augments the material provided within our Survivor to Thriver manual.
Step 7: I can sense my inner child whose efforts to survive now can be appreciated.
It is so inconceivable for me to acknowledge that at the very depths of my pain is a wounded child. Being a child, you see, was too painful; there was too much violation, too much anger, too much blame, too much shame, too much guilt, too much hate, too much conflict, too much control, too much shouting, too much emotional turmoil—there was simply too much of everything! “Grow up!!! You are not a child anymore,” is branded onto my psyche—it’s tattooed on my mind.
So, maybe my total resistance and inability to call this part of myself “my inner child” is knowing that there is an absolute denial of me as a child!!
Have I forsaken my inner child?—maybe—let’s see what happens!
What I do acknowledge is that there is a highly neglected, deeply hurting, murderously angry, brutally betrayed, viciously self-loathing and completely abandoned part of myself that I negate, that I continuously disregard . . . but calling this part of me, my inner child, is simply to painful—this for me is inconceivable. My inner child is dead—I aborted her a long time ago and the hysterectomy that followed has left behind in its wake only a hallowed out ugly scar!
Is this denial extreme and irrevocable?—maybe—let’s see what happens!
I don’t remember there being a specific day in which I took my inner child’s life.
I poisoned her mind with hate and anger.
I butchered her heart, when I refused to give her the love she craved and that had been denied her so long.
I suffocated her, when I could not cast out her demons.
I murdered her innocence by denying her childhood.
I destroyed her hopes and dreams by negating them.
I exterminated her fairy tale world with a belief in no happy endings.
I massacred her self-esteem with the scorch from my blame’s bonfire.
I extinguished the wonder in her eyes and broke her smile.
I have a sense of her salted tears that kept falling like rain, while I became weary of feeling her pain.
She tried desperately to make me love her, until I hated her instead.
I killed her . . . and now she is living her death!
This forsaken part of myself hides within the dark recesses that devour my mind, and I surprisingly crave the blackness in which it lives. This “inner child” will continue to remain reviled until I can acknowledge how her pain is my own, and to do that is to risk the very ground I stand on! So, who is this “child” that hides in darkness, peeking fearfully from behind the black vale of me?
I hear her violently shriek with anger—”Who would I have been had you let me live?”
My inability to answer her question fills me with unfathomable sadness—I have no sense of who she might have been!—I have no comprehension of who I might have been, had I not killed her!
How could I when I have no recollection of the girl that used to be me!
So, in profound pain I answer: “Do you see me retching and trembling in the shame of my all?”
“I is broken?” she responds.
“I know . . .”
I am a gurgling infant . . . with big blue eyes.
I am an inquisitive toddler . . . with questioning blue eyes.
I am a sad and lonely, severed-from-hope, abused and abandoned young child . . . with pain filled blue eyes.
I am a full-of-rage, despairing, self-loathing, seeker-of-solace teenager . . . with deadening blue eyes.
And now I am an adult . . . with hope-filled blue eyes!
Selection editing note
Above, for clarity, the word “co-secretary” was replaced by “co-facilitator” as the current title used in ASCA meetings for the same role.