This is a category of posts written by ace survivors, for ace survivors. More posts available on our #by ace survivors for ace survivors Tumblr tag.

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I don’t want to call it CSA

I don’t even want to write about this, but I want it to be written, and maybe, if I peel back the layers slow enough, I can explain why.

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I don’t like reading posts like this.  Not always.  That’s layer one.  Sometimes I get something out of them, and sometimes I don’t.  It’s hard to gauge what ratio of comfort to discomfort I’ll get from them — what will work as reassurance and what will just make me feel sick.  And I think that’s mostly a matter of how it’s all framed.  I guess I need a window into what’s happening as it’s being written, some kind of clue into what the author is experiencing as they’re sharing it, something to orient me, because otherwise, I tend to get sucked into the story itself, experiencing that and that only, stuck inside it without a context to step out into, and come away feeling worse.  I want to put up some kind of barrier there.  I want you to hear the author, me, thinking this through, as a sort of overlay, holding the subject at arm’s length.  I don’t know how to do this otherwise.

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Components of Resilience: Creativity & Adaptability

This is part four of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one of this series, I covered tenacity. In part two, I covered affect management and positive frameworks. In part three, I covered support network and discernment.

In this final post, I will cover creativity and adaptability. Compared to most of the other items, these two are fairly self-explanatory. Since I don’t have to focus on giving an overview, I’ll be focusing more on my own experiences this time. Warning: I will discuss parental abuse, including some major privacy violations, and invalidation/gaslighting. I allude to but do not mention other kinds of abuse, but mostly it’s just general trauma/recovery talk.

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Components of Resilience: Support Network & Discernment

Support networks are a crucial part of resilience, and may even perhaps be the most important factor. It’s not hard to find evidence of the health impacts of isolation or the protective effects of having supportive community. Those with strong support networks are less likely to develop PTSD and among those who still do, good support is likely to significantly reduce symptom severity.

In order to have a healthy support network, you need to be able to recognize what healthy relationships look like. If you can’t recognize when a relationship is becoming unhealthy, you can’t take steps to keep yourself safe.

Discernment is the skill of perceiving, understanding, and exercising good judgment. A person with “discerning tastes” is someone who has strong preferences about aesthetic quality, like a gourmand. The psychological use of the term is much broader—it is more related to perception and decision-making in general.

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Intersections: Being a Disabled, Non-Binary, Autistic, & Ace Survivor

When I was 14, I thought I was normal. Now, come the age of 20, I know that I had PTSD by then, caused by parental abuse, as well as an autistic spectrum disorder, as well as both dyslexia and dyscalculia. The last three I’ve had all my life, but were not diagnosed until I left home. The PTSD, as far as the therapist and I can track, started somewhere around the age of 8, about the same time as a dissociative disorder also came about. […]

In terms of other support… Being non-binary makes things really hard. Almost all of the help for victims of sexual assault — and everything bar criminal prosecutions in my area — are gendered. I don’t identify as a woman, so going to somewhere advertised for women is a big no for me, but I don’t identify as a man either. The general mental health care professionals are fine with my asexuality at first — but as soon as I bring up what happened it becomes something to be cured. And, well, my physical disabilities mean I can’t actually get to things such as group support for victims, or even most of the places where counselling is offered. The only ones who will come to places I can get to to meet with me are those referenced above, who want to use the therapy to make me a normal, straight girl (in their words), not to help me live my life.

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Asexuality, hypothyroidism, and PTSD

I think I may have mentioned before that I have hypothyroidism, but I haven’t really gone into detail about what that’s been like—or, especially, its interactions with PTSD and how asexuality complicates both.

I have no idea how long I have had thyroid problems. I was diagnosed at 23 or 24 (the diagnosis itself took a couple of months), but I had been having symptoms that could have been related for much longer than that. And the only reason they found out that I have hypothyroidism at all is because I decided to try some medication for PTSD, so they screened me for it (along with a bunch of other things, like diabetes). PTSD shares some of the same symptoms—poor memory and concentration, depression, and fatigue (from PTSD affecting the quality of sleep). Some of my other symptoms could have been explained by other factors, too—like dry skin could’ve been the result of living in a dry climate. So I think it went undiagnosed for a long time.

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Personal narrative from an anonymous author

My experiences have caused me to lose faith in the idea that people will come to understand and acknowledge my sexuality without an explicit statement that I am asexual. Even this statement rarely generates understanding or compassion from friends; usually I am met with confusion, discomfort, or even silent denial in the form of attempting to steer the conversation elsewhere.

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Triggers Everywhere: Refocusing in College After Trauma

College can be hard even when nothing traumatic happens to you – especially in a physical therapy doctorate program – but navigating hallways where you could pass your rapist at any moment is hard on another level. And on a small campus, where he’s popular and you’re not? It can feel like all you can do is brace yourself. Forget support systems or telling anyone his name.

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Violence Our Own Minds Play Out

It’s taken a while, but I came to realize I hid the lack of agency I feel I have in my life right now with these terrible fantasies – they were a way I could understand the feelings of entrapment, and also deal with my desire to have someone take care of me right now. It’s helped and I’m much better about reaffirming my identity and self-expression and not letting myself escape into the horrible feelings caused by my own mind.

I know this isn’t the traditional tale of sexual violence, but I wanted to share it. Sometimes we visit violence upon ourselves, not just by intentionally harming ourselves or putting ourselves in dangerous situations, but by perverting things we enjoy or letting our mind run away with our feelings. It’s important to recognize the violence our own mind is playing out and address it, or else our mind wanders away.

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An Ace Survivor’s Manifesto

I am allowed to occupy space in the universe, regardless of how “difficult” or “complicated” or “messy” I may be.

I am allowed to identify as a survivor or a victim or something else entirely. I am allowed to identify as asexual, even if I don’t know whether past experiences “caused” or “contributed to” my asexuality. I am allowed to use the words that work best for me.

Responsibility for my assault(s) lies with my attacker(s), not me, my sexual orientation, my relationship decisions, or my attitude toward or willingness to have sex.

I am not required to defend my sexual orientation because of my status as a survivor. I am not required to defend my status as a survivor because of my sexual orientation.

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When Sexual Abuse Comes in the Form of Words

One aspect of CSA that I don’t see discussed very often is sexually charged verbal abuse. My experience with this is as a CSA survivor specifically, but I could also see where it could potentially be an issue for adult survivors of sexual violence well.

In my own experience, the sexualized verbal abuse I was subjected to has actually been one of the hardest aspects to recover from long term.

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