Elizabeth Joy on Sexual Abuse

Monday, Apr. 25th 2016 3:05 PM
What are the effects of sexual abuse? We’ll find out on this edition of Frank Relationships.

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FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: ELIZABETH JOY ON SEXUAL ABUSE
Guests: Elizabeth Joy
Date: April 25, 2016

Frank: What are the effects of sexual abuse? We’ll find out on this edition of Frank Relationships.

Yeah. As always, those are my babies. Thanks for getting daddy’s daughter today.

Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look in the relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.

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Greetings to my super duper co-host, Nancy Goldring.

Nancy: HI, Female Speaker.

Frank: The consummate generalist.

Nancy: Indeed.

Frank: Ha-ha. How’s it going?

N: Great, excellent.

Frank: Good.

Nancy: Thank you.

Frank: I see that smile is shining…

Nancy: Yes…

Frank; IN the studio today…

Nancy: Absolutely.

Frank: Thank you for that.

Nancy: You’re welcome.

Frank: We’re also joined by today’s visiting co-host, Rob Wright. How you doing, man?

Rob: I’m hanging in there, brother enjoying this beautiful weather.

Frank: Indeed, indeed.

Nancy: Welcome, Rob.

Rob: Thank you.

Frank: What’s up, Rob? Who are you and what do you do when you’re not being a co-host for my show?

Rob: Well brother, I am out there spreading the good work about financial literacy… Spreading the good word, showing folks how to save on their taxes and leave the legacy.

Frank: Alright. So how does one find you?

Rob: One finds me on the internet. You can find me via LinkedIn, Robert M. Wright at NYL Securities or they can find me on my website, robertwright.nylagent.com.

Frank: As is the case this week where Rob, there’s a visiting co-host guest host chair available each week here in the studio. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area or travelling to the D.C. area and want to join us, please give us a shout at frank@franklove.com and let me know.

Today’s guest is a licensed social worker. She’s a writer, trainer, and a liver. She’s lived with the experience and worked extensively with other victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse of all ages, genders and races, and she wants to educate. She wants to talk to you, me and everyone that we know about this silence series of events that plagues families, generations and communities.

So if you, like me, want to know how to identify sexual abuse, what the healing process looks like, and the long term effects, then stay tuned as your Frank Relationship Team talks with Elizabeth Joy. Welcome to the show, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me and thank you for being willing to talk about a very, very difficult topic.

Frank: You’re very welcome and thanks for all of the expertise and experience and openness that you’re going to bring.

Elizabeth: Absolutely.

Frank: Before we get too deep in your part of the interview, we’re going to just chat briefly. We like to run our mouths about what’s in the news, what’s just current, current events and things. So you got something for me, Nancy?

Nancy: Well I do, actually. I saw an article…

Frank: She did her homework.

Nancy: No, sometimes I get this thing right… So I saw this newscast that talked about Bill Clinton being a liability to Hilary on the campaign trail and it threw me into this place of… how often are we involved with people who… they’re great for our private life, but they’re not so great for our professional life. And so essentially the article in the newscast was saying that based on Bill’s history and some of the issues that kind of come with the trick bag called Bill Clinton is never really looking to good for Hilary.

Now personally don’t see that as something that would derail her campaign. I feel like if it was going to derail her campaign completely already would have, but has certainly does cast a kind of poll over it I some sense—I do think.

Frank: One thing you said that I call into question is whether he’s good for her personal life and I don’t know—

Nancy: Well, yeah…

Frank: I have no clue. I’m not saying good or bad.

Nancy: Well good of it well… I guess what I mean when I say that is that you can—if your life was only personal and life is not only personal. Then you might be able to choose your partner’s… I don’t want to say… more indiscriminately but you could choose them categorically. Well this is for this. This partner is for this need that I have or desire that I have for… maybe he’s an adventure and I like adventure so we click on that level. And so we roll together. And yet, you may not necessarily be able to take this guy to the office party.

Frank: Okay… Okay…

Nancy: I’m just saying… I’m just putting it out there… So I hear a little snickering over there with you…

Frank: Well you know… What comes up—what I think about is Michelle Obama.

Nancy: okay.

Frank: And I personally think she was Obama’s… Like his lucky charm. He would not have been as—he wouldn’t have been as whatever he was—

Nancy: Yeah, yeah…

Frank: —without her. She really brought something special to the table.

Nancy: Okay.

Frank: Particularly, in the black community.

Nancy: No question, no question.

Frank: Like people see her as a sister.

Nancy: Yeah, yes… Yes they do.

Rob: Absolutely.

Frank: And they—

Nancy: She’s definitely an asset to him.

Frank: Yeah.

Rob: Right.

Nancy: Personally and professionally.

Frank: I could see that.

Nancy: Yes, yes.

Frank: I believe that.

Nancy: Yes. I mean, if it’s a game, they’re running it. No question about it.

Frank: Yeah, yeah…

Nancy: So… But that’s the point. That is not necessarily the vibe evidently that atleast the media feels Bill Clinton is bringing to Hilary’s campaign.

Frank: Okay, alright.

Elizabeth: I think that depends on who you’re talking to.

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: And I think that even in the African-American community, it seems like… I don’t know, I think some folks gave Bill a…

Frank/Nancy: A pass…

Elizabeth: Yeah, a pass, almost like a—

Frank: A black card.

Elizabeth: A guest—right.

Nancy: Oh he definitely got a black card.

Elizabeth: For having such a real experience that was “relatable.”

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: So even though it’s certainly not behavior that any of us would condone, we also know many folks who have engaged in such behavior and it almost made him and them relatable in some ways as well…

Nancy: True.

Elizabeth: …versus the attempt at presenting this picture-perfect family. That’s the ideal model for America.

Nancy: That nobody seems to be able to uphold.

Elizabeth: No.

Frank: Do you know, speaking of Bill and Hilary, I… Mind you, these names I don’t know. But is it Connell who was the head of something… one of the House of Senator… something like that…

Nancy: Right… Senator [unclear]… Okay…

Frank: During the time when Bill was being hung up. And he apparently got—I mean really, I can be wrong about the names…

Nancy: Yes.

Frank: Please don’t… kill me if I’m wrong…

Nancy: Okay, okay…

Frank: But I think he’s being like…

Nancy: Indicted?

Frank: Something’s going on legally—

Nancy: Okay, okay…

Frank: —where he has been charged with molesting children or something like that….

Rob: I think I… You’re right about that…

Frank: Did I get it?

[Cross talking]

Rob: Yeah, Mitch Mcconnell.

Frank: Yes, so…

Nancy: Yes, heavy…

Frank: And he was one of the main people going after Clinton.

Rob: Absolutely.

Frank: And I’ve heard—there was some show… it was either scandal or house of cards that I was watching where whoever was being drugged to the mud, was like this is not—everybody does is, why are ya’ll after me? It was like and the person said “Well you got caught.”

Rob: Exactly.

Nancy: Oooh, yeah, yeah… Dang.

Frank: Whatever that means. Whatever that means. Anything else, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: There’s also… Nowadays there’s so much “new” which folks take everything that’s posted on social media is true which is scary. So again, don’t quote me on this but I have seen something floating around regarding an African-American teenage boy who was allegedly Bill Clinton’s son…

Frank: Wow.

Elizabeth: …who was born through an African-American prostitute from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Frank: But you—he’s a teenager? He’s a teenager now?

Elizabeth: Yes.

Frank: So this would have been… this would have happened after he got out of office because he’s—Bush had 8 years—

Elizabeth: 13 years old is the age.

Nancy: So this has since he’s been in the office…

Frank: Wow… Bill…

Elizabeth: And again, we’re looking at him like oh he’s keeping it real. He’s out here doing his thing or we looking at him and hold him accountable. You know what I mean? It’s [unclear] who you’re talking to—

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: —with how people look at that type of behavior, unfortunately.

Nancy: Right, right…

Frank: Jeff just grabbed the mic.

Nancy: Uh-oh.

Jeff: I was going to say something funny like if your wife wore those blue pantsuits, would you be looking [unclear]?

Frank: But you decided not to.

Jeff: You decided not to…

Rob: Okay.

Jeff: She used the word “accountable”. Accountable to who?

Frank/Nancy: Right, right…

Jeff: He’s not a public servant anymore.

Nancy: Well he’s—that takes me back to the whole thing about this… whether he is pulling down Hilary’s…

Jeff: Pantsuit.

Nancy: Thank you Jeff.

Frank: Perhaps a listener or two will remember Chris Rocks bit about Hilary…

Nancy: Oh I don’t know that…

Frank: Anybody?

Nancy: I don’t know it…

Frank: Oh man… He said, “Hilary was supposed to be the first person in line for Bill, basically giving him a certain treatment—

Nancy: Oh got it, got it…

Frank: —using saliva… That…

Nancy: And?

Frank: That was her job as the first lady. So that was…

Nancy: Well guess what? Oh I got news for you… His liaison with Monica in no way suggests that she was not on her job.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: Oh I was just going to go ahead and inject that myself but thank you for that.

Nancy; Yeah… Sure. There’s a whole study actually… I had to find it, I have it at home. I think it was atleast brought to my attention atleast for the first time by a man named Michael Dodd…

Frank: Okay.

Nancy: Who wrote this book and in his book he talks about this phenomenon amongst highly successful people where it is not a man thing. Men and women when they become super successful in life, they become more… It’s like their sexual energy is heightened and they express it. So for himself, he said that he and his wife have this kind of like set up where he catches himself when he feels like he’s moving in that direction? He feels pulled by that energy to express it in a way that’s incompatible with his commitment to his wife and he reigns it in. He said but most of the time, it’s this unconscious thing and it’s got to be done. I don’t want to say it’s got to be like the people are out of control but it’s part and parcel of becoming more successful in life.

Rob: Right.

Nancy: That energy gets stoked…

Elizabeth: Sounds like [unclear]…

Nancy: That too, that too…

Frank: Okay, well moving on, moving on… Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: Yes, sir.

Frank: Well we’ve got quite a topic for the day. Nancy, you want to ask the lead in question?

Nancy: Okay. So Elizabeth, we ask this question of all of our guests and in light of the topic you’re bringing us today, the question is: what advice can you give to a 25 year old couple who has a baby due in 2 months?

Elizabeth: The advice that I’d give would be it’s never too early to begin teaching your child inappropriate touch. I would inform them that studies show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18 with the caveat of understanding that sexual abuse is the most underreported crime. Therefore, that number is higher. I would add that there are reports and studies that show 40-60% of black girls are sexually abused by the age of 18 and I would add that 90% are abused by someone they know and trust and/or are family members.

Frank: And what is sexual abuse?

Elizabeth: That’s a very, very good question. Sexual abuse can include: actual penetration by other a body part or some other object but it does not have to. Sexual abuse can include forcing a child to watch pornography or any other activity that is not actual penetration. So even inappropriate touch, even with the clothes still on, all of that falls into the realm of sexual abuse. And I think just the misunderstanding about what actually is sexual abuse is another reason why it’s underreported because there are folks that I’ve met along the way that when they tell me their story, I’m like, “You were sexually abused.” But they don’t identify it as such.

Frank And when does it become sexual abuse meaning, if you have two kids, two 8-year olds or you have an 8 and a 12 year old touching or clothes on, bodies rubbing against each other, that sort of thing… When does it all become abuse? Help me delineate.

Nancy: Versus sexual exploration in children?

Frank: Versus… Yes, yes.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s again a very, very difficult piece to identify. I think the laws vary and of course you’ve got just the interpretation of events. There’s questions of what is it a consensual kind of an exploration kind of activity or did one pursue the other because there are actually quite a few situations in which juveniles are perpetrators upon other juveniles. And then of course the age difference come into play. There’s not one set age that says “okay, if you’re at the same age then it’s not sexual abuse” and it’s not to say that if you’re not the same age, that it is sexual abuse. There’s no clear answer to that. It’s sort of a moving target but it’s certainly one of the difficult pieces in working with folks in this situation is that that is hard to define and unfortunately I can’t give you an exact definition or cut-off if you will where that boundary lies.

Frank: I appreciate that. Where do you… Give me a story of children or just give me a story where you made a difference, where you identified sexual abuse possibly where it wasn’t and where you were able to shine some light.

Elizabeth: Wow. You know… The first story I think of—

Frank: What—when I say word, wasn’t. I mean, where it wasn’t… Where it wasn’t—

Elizabeth: Obvious?

Frank: —obvious, yes that’s what I mean.

Elizabeth: Yeah, well the first story I think of is my own.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: I grew up middle class. My father’s a police officer, my mother has always worked. We had everything we needed.

Frank: What State?

Elizabeth: And I think that’s—Ohio. Columbus, Ohio.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: And everything was fine if you actually know about my childhood, I’d tell you it was great. I never showed any signs of being sexually abused. I did well in school, I was well-adjusted. I was an outgoing child; I smiled a lot, I laughed a lot. But what was happening at home that no one knew was that I was being sexually abused by my oldest brother for a majority of my childhood—atleast age 8 to 13. I can’t exactly remember the very first time that it happened. But I can tell you that it happened multiple times over my childhood.

Frank: It’s worth noting your oldest—I got to say this, your oldest brother’s not here to defend himself or to give his share of the side of the story but we certainly welcome and appreciate yours. So, please continue.

Elizabeth: Sure. Absolutely. So… I went my entire childhood without telling. And this is how it goes… folks asked me what are the signs and there are signs that you can look for, but there are sometimes no signs—and that was the case for me. I did a very good job of faking it for a really long time and the light was finally shined by myself and finally finding the courage to tell. My first time telling was at 16 which unfortunately was not heard and then I again told at 28—at which time the storm came.

Frank: And were you faking it?

Elizabeth: My family slowly began to fall apart.

Frank: Okay. Were you faking it or were you ignorant? Meaning did you not even know or was it—did you know and just was trying to hide it?

Elizabeth: I knew that it wasn’t okay what was happening but it was also my big brother who I loved very much and other than this thing that was happening, I had a great childhood and he was really nice and we had fun together… He would pick me up from school because he was 8 years older than me, so… I was able to ride in the car with him and do stuff that because of our age difference, he was able to… There were things that we could go and do. He could drive and I couldn’t, things like that. So… Iand I loved him, and I still do love him.

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: So you know… you suck it up and you just really focus on what’s good because the other large percentage of the time everything was great.

Frank: Would you share with us whatever you’re willing to share with us about your experience with him?

Elizabeth: I still… There’s sometimes I have struggles… I don’t remember a lot of exact details but there are some that I do. I know that a lot of times that he would approach me to massage me and say he was… You know… Trying to help me to feel better.

Frank: Your shoulders, your feet…

Elizabeth: Yeah, he would start on my back and then eventually he would work his way to touch me in other spaces… and I remember back then, I mean I was young so I didn’t know. I’m an adult now and I’ve had sexual experiences. I remember my body would like start to get really intense and it would hurt so bad, it would just start really, really hurting really bad. And then I would finally turn away because I just couldn’t take it anymore. And that would be kind of how it ended. I didn’t know then but that was my young body not being able to even withstand what was my body was trying to proceed into what would be an orgasm.

This is another challenge with the sexual abuse and sexual abuse survivors is that your body does not know the difference between whether or not the person who’s touching you should or shouldn’t be touching you. Your body has not the mind to differentiate. So there can be and there are pleasurable feelings that happened even if you’re being perpetrated upon which brings a lot of guilt and confusion to especially a child, who in one part of your mind you know this isn’t right but on the other part of your body, your body is enjoying an experience to a certain extent.

Frank: And how has this manifested as an adult in those same sensations and in relationships?

Elizabeth: Well for myself, I have two pieces here. We have the sexual abuse as a child growing up. I was also raped at 16 by my high school teacher. So it’s hard for me to even differentiate when I look at the experiences I’ve had as an adult which one [unclear] hide to. I believe that a lot of the emotional challenges that I’ve had have everything to do with the sexual abuse because at a very early age and it was by someone I love and trust—of course, I trust my teacher as well. Some of the things that come out initially after my rape, at that time, I had just started having sex in high school and I do recall having major crying bouts and just flashbacks and just absolute craziness anytime I was intimately involved with anyone else.

Nancy: By choice, you mean.

Elizabeth: Correct.

Nancy: Yeah, okay.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And so those were some of the beginning pieces or the more obvious pieces. The emotional side is really the piece that is the most damaging and you really—you work your whole life. Those of us who found the courage to heal, you work your whole life to address the emotional piece, the trust, the violation of trust, the fear, the hypervigilance, even struggling. The challenge when you’ve been violate by someone you know and trust is that love in your mind and good now are connected and wired to negative experiences. So you get to a point where when someone is treating you positively, it invokes negative feelings.

So you’ve heard the questions “why do good girls like bad boys,” well a lot of good girls like bad boys because good girls can’t even tolerate the goodness of a good boy or a good man because it is a trigger of “I might be about to be violated. This is vulnerable because this is a good person and other good people have violated me.” So there’s this like re-wiring that happens in a way that it shouldn’t, an abnormal way in which now we’re relaxed when we’re in a situation with someone who is not so great for us but we know what’s coming and that’s easier than the threat of intimacy. When I say intimacy, I don’t just mean physical, I mean emotional intimacy.

Frank: In doing my part as the interviewer or atleast one of them, I’ve got a challenge on different things.

Elizabeth: Sure. Absolutely.

Frank: So where you said that about good girls liking bad boys and it has to do often bad boys bring bad experiences and that becomes kind of—or bad boys bring bad experiences or… Did you say good experiences and that becomes kind of just how certain young ladies who had certain experiences are prepared to receive those—

Nancy: Love affection…

Frank: Yeah, love and affection. Well, there are also young ladies who like bad boys because they are… That’s just what turns them on. They may not have had those kind of negative experiences and I think that’s worth noting also.

Nancy: More like a thrill-seeking thing…

Elizabeth: I would partially agree with you and I can tell you as a clinical therapist that if you’re dealing with someone who’s attracted to negative behavior, there’s some trauma behind that. Whether it’s something that has been resulted in low self esteem and so a person doesn’t see their worth but no one at their original core pre-violation, and it may not be sexual abuse. It may be that they didn’t have a father, it may be that their mother was abusive, it could be a lot of things… But no person at their core, their unviolated core is desiring mistreatment. There’s a reason for that. There’s always a reason for that. So I would just caution to say… And the challenge is when you talk to a woman who is not aware of her own reality, she may tell you that but that’s not really her reality.

Frank: But don’t we all have some trauma in our history?

Elizabeth: Yes.

Frank: I mean… If you can say everybody, right.

Nancy: Unavoidable.

Frank: Right. If you can say everybody’s got trauma, you can’t really point to trauma as the reason for someone acting a certain way.

Elizabeth: Well—

Nancy: I don’t know. I don’t know…

Elizabeth: Well then let me define trauma.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: Let me define trauma because this is critical. Okay, so we can have two people have the very same experience, and I actually even saw on an intervention once, there were two young sisters. They both were sexually abused. One ended up being addicted to drugs and took a really tough route, the other did not, right? You can have two people experience the same… Nearly the same perpetration or what have you and for one of them is “trauma” and the other is not. It is not for a professional or whoever to define trauma.

If you research the definition of trauma, there’s not like a list of violation that are listed there. It’s all about the reaction of a person. So some folks are more resilient and have experiences and their internal coping mechanisms are enough to be able to reconcile and process that in a way that does not overcome them and others are not. That’s where you have the difference in the outcomes and the symptoms.

Frank: I want to go back a few weeks. We did a show and I don’t remember exactly what the topic of the show was… But we did a show a few weeks ago where one of things that I said was there’s often a bit of sympathy. There’s a level of sympathy that people are able to get from saying that they were sexually abused. I’ve seen it and one of the examples I’ve brought up was Roseann Barr. This was 25, 30 years ago, something like that on Oprah, something like that… At some point and it seems like people are saying “me too, that happened to me too,” I don’t really hear many people say “that didn’t happen to me.” That’s one piece and so I wonder if you want to smack my hand on that or—

Elizabeth: Absolutely. You know that I do.

Frank: Okay. Well that’s cool, that’s cool. And the other is, I wonder how you feel about people who cry rape or say that they were raped but they weren’t… Or say that they were molested but they weren’t. Is that a heinous act?

Nancy: That’s worse.

Rob: Yeah, I think so.

Elizabeth: You got me some loaded questions there, brother.

Frank: Alright, well go… Do what you do whatever you will with them, you know… I’m here…

Elizabeth: Alright. Starting with the first piece about sympathy… I would disagree with you in that most of us receive sympathy. Because if we did, this wouldn’t be the most under reported crime.

Frank: Well I’m not saying most. Let me not—I didn’t say most… I said some people.

Elizabeth: Okay. So let me say his. A lot of us do not get sympathy. A lot of us are not only rejected by the community, we’re rejected by our family members. So I would say, we have to take into account I think when you deal with… celebrities, there’s always a difficult comparison there because folks treat celebrities different than everyday folks in general. But I can tell you that, it’s not a pretty world out here…

Frank: Yeah.

Elizabeth: For those of us who have had the courage to tell. When I was in high school and it came out that I was raped. All of my ‘friends” literally made pins that said “not guilty” and wore them to school in support of my rapist.

Nancy: Wow.

Elizabeth: I had to have atleast escort for my safety because he chose to rape me.

Nancy: I was going to ask you if he was prosecuted… So he wasn’t…

Elizabeth: He served 90 days in jail.

Frank: What happened? Please, as much as you’re willing to share, please share.

Elizabeth: Oh in that scenario?

Nancy/Frank: Yes.

Elizabeth: He basically groomed me. Flirted with me, made me feel like he liked me. If any of you can recall, being in high school like a lot of folks found it, everybody probably had atleast one teacher they thought they were cute and… [unclear] someone who was older that was talking to you, kind of like a cool thing. So I fell victim to that and I absolutely believed that my history of sexual abuse which there are statistics that show, once you’re abused once, the likelihood that you’re abused again is increasing.

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: So I didn’t think that had an impact on my psyche and me being certainly a perfect target for him. So he groomed me and eventually… sort of lured me into a situation in which once I kind of got to it and realized what was going on, I told him that I did not… I said no, I said no multiple times and he did not stop.

Frank: Was this at school? At his home? What?

Elizabeth: No, it was a hotel.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: He took me to a hotel, yeah. And so which was a huge piece in the evidence as far as my story being validated because one of the difficult things even for those who report, I think like only 3% of rapist are even ever will see jail or… incarcerated or convicted in any way. One of the issues is the evidence. And so, that was helpful for my evidence because there were documentations regarding the time that we were there and that his name was… They were able to collaborate evidence with my story. So…

Frank: Was that challenge—

Elizabeth: Anyway, I didn’t tell and it came out because he went and told the principal that he felt that a girl had an inappropriate crush on him which was very offensive to me at which time I said well let me tell you what really happened and since we’re going there…

Frank: Why did he do that? What was his story on why he did it?

Elizabeth: Apparently, he—I don’t know. Obviously I haven’t talked to him directly since the night this happened, which was in 1996. But I would’ve imagined he must have been feeling some guilt and was worried about what I would do so apparently, I’m just guessing—

Nancy: Pre-empt to strike.

Frank: Yeah, head [unclear]….

Elizabeth: Yeah, let me go first in that way, I have more credibility. So… But all that to say to your piece on sympathy, we don’t get it. Furthermore, when we do go to trial, attorneys actually attempt to not get female jurists because females are not empathetic at all to other females which is very interesting.

Nancy: Really….

Elizabeth: In rape cases, they really work hard to recruit non female jurists for this reason. I’m trying to think what you’re second point was… I missed the second one and I got the third one—

Frank: The second point was basically crying rape or crying…

Nancy: When you hadn’t been…

Elizabeth: Oh… I think that was the third one. There was one before that. But the crying rape absolutely of course… Well first of all, it’s worth mentioning that there are multiple—there are significant statistics that show especially with children that recanting is not necessarily an indicator that it did not happen. It’s actually quite common for a child to recant their stories when in fact the abuse did occur.

So it’s important to note that just because especially a child recants and even adult—because you have to understand that for us, we’re facing a community that’s not supportive. It’s already a horrible experience but to have the world be in the position to judge you, in this case is just emotionally—it’s the hardest part of it.

Quite frankly, being raped and sexually abused, the act itself was the easiest part of this journey for me. The response or the lack thereof of the community and family members, which I’ve lost my entire family over this, is the most traumatic part. If you can even find the courage to tell, sometimes you change your mind. So I want to make sure I’m clear on that. So for those who are not being honest, it’s absolutely crushing to me because I know the lifelong journey that you go through having had this experience. I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy. So considering the battle we have to bring awareness to this and have any sort of voice and empathy from the community for a person to not be honest about a situation like this is heartbreaking, to say the least.

Nancy: Yeah…

Frank: What I hear you saying is that those individuals who may not be honest about something having had happened, meaning they’re saying it happened and it really didn’t, they’re doing a disservice and to the individuals that did happen to.

Nancy: No question.

Frank: Is that correct?

Elizabeth: Absolutely.

Frank: Now—

Elizabeth: To the extreme. It’s already hard enough again to get folks to believe us. I mean, again, I’ve lost my whole family because no one believed me. Again, my story is not—I mean, people hear my story and they’re like “oh my god,” and I’m thinking “Really? This is common.” Thanks for your empathy but I’m amongst—there’s like more than 20 million survivors in the country. So yeah, it’s terrible.

Frank: No.

Elizabeth: People don’t believe us anyway. So that—each time someone falsely reports, it just gives everyone else that [unclear] to see… you see what I’m saying? It’s not really as bad as they say it is… And it gives folks the out and those of us who’s been through this, that’s the last thing we need.

Nancy: In my own experience, I suppose because it is—there’s so much more dialog about it now especially the childhood sexual abuse, people are coming forward even in adulthood to say “listen, this happened to me” even if it was a long time ago. And the last response that comes over me if someone says that they’ve been sexually abused, the last response I have is… No you weren’t or would you do or like a Gabriel union’s the post you have where she says and people so asked me what I was wearing and I was just like—really?

Elizabeth: Yes, yes…

Nancy: I want to believe that we have evolved around the topic and that we are embracing that it does happen… I somehow want to believe that we still don’t want to believe that it happens because it happens so much and that sex is such a deeply personal, visceral experience and we just—it’s just one of those things we just don’t want to believe in and it is one of those… And even the person to whom it happens, you want to forget it and you think if you can just put it out of your mind, it’ll go away…

Rob: But I wonder how much of this atmosphere has really created by the fact that we are so hurt that there are someone in our lives that has been hurt—

Nancy: Yes….

Rob: And we don’t want to actually acknowledge that that hurt happen because what can we actually do about it.

Frank: And it happened on our watch.

Rob: Exactly.

Nancy: And wait a minute…

Elizabeth: Yes, yes…

Nancy: And it’s someone we love hurting someone we love…

Rob: Exactly.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Nancy: God, what a conundrum.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I think that’s the root of the demise of my family. I don’t think my dad can reconcile and I know that he loves me but I don’t think he can reconcile because that’s his first born and he perpetrated on his baby girl, his only girl. I don’t think for him, even a police officer of 30 some years, I don’t think that he can reconcile it. I don’t think that he knows how to continue to love his children, both of them and I’ve never asked him not to love his son but I have wished for more accountability than has ever been brought up.

Even my other brother who is not a perpetrator but that’s his brother and I’m his sister, I—

Nancy: Sure.

Elizabeth: Folks just don’t know what to do knowing that a loved one did this kind of act to someone else especially when we’re talking family. I just think that folks don’t know how to deal with it, don’t want to believe that it’s real, and wouldn’t know how to reconcile again; what that means, how do I treat this person if they in fact do this to my loved one. And so, we’ll just ignore it and they don’t understand. Those responses are really the most significant source of trauma for a survivor is the lack of support that comes from the family and the community. It’s just traumatic to not be believed.

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: Because it took me 20 years to even find the courage to tell. And after all that, basically what I did was lose my family. So… I wouldn’t change it because I gained my life…

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: Even though I lost my family, so I would do it all over again but I got to tell you, had I known it was going to go this way, I might have never told. I had no idea that it would go the way it’s gone. But I’m thankful that I probably didn’t think it through as much as I should have because I wouldn’t have gotten to a place feeling otherwise… And many don’t. This is one of the issues, we’re talking about the effects of sexual abuse. There are so many women who have never reported, therefore never addressed it and when I say report, I’m not saying you necessarily tell the police. But they’ve never acknowledged it, they never spoke about it and never processed it. You go into a dating relationship and—let me go back and correct myself because I keep saying “women”… Men are sexually abused too. There are so many folks who are sexually abused and do not address it. So when you think about how relationships come to be, when you’ve been violated in such an intimate manner, there’s no way that that’s not affecting how you feel with dating, right?

Nancy: Right.

Elizabeth: So a lot of the struggles that we’re seeing out here is unresolved pain. It may not even be sexual abuse pain, it’s just pain. Stuff that folks haven’t dealt with, and my book is you survive now what is written for all trauma survivors because the reality is, when you have trauma and you have not addressed it, it does impact your life. As long as you don’t address it, it becomes sort of an identifying factor and a lot of folks don’t even realize that they think, “oh this is just me.” No, it’s not you. It’s the remnants and the residue left from unaddressed issues and it certainly plays out in relationships, in dating relationships, in parenting relationships, even in work relationships.

And so my whole effort in life is to help folks find the courage to address this because there is a better life. There is a way to get through it but you got to do work and I got to tell you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

Frank: We’re talking with licensed social worker, writer, trainer and aliver, Elizabeth Joy. She wants to talk to you, me and everyone that we know about sexual abuse, a silence series of events that plagues families, generations and communities.

Elizabeth, please tell our listeners how to find you and what you’re up to.

Elizabeth: Listeners can find me at my website. It’s survivorstoalivers.org but to save your fingers, you can just go to alivers.org. I am a life coach. I’m available to do coaching throughout the country, I do it via the internet. I also have a book called “You Survived Now” which includes the 6-stage model for healing that I developed for trauma survivors. I also literally, literally just launched an online support site for trauma survivors to be able to come to a space where we can come and talk about challenging reality of our past so that we can no longer be defined by it. Initially I am available for training and speaking. Of course, Survivors To Alivers has a Facebook page, that’s “Survivors To Alivers”.

Frank: Got it.

Nancy: Nice.

Frank: In an ideal world, what would need to happen in order for you and your oldest brother to sit down and be just happy siblings?

Elizabeth: Well for me, it’s been difficult because folks talk about the need for forgiveness and I’m certainly an advocate of forgiveness but I never really prior to this [unclear] thought about when you forgive someone who doesn’t want forgiveness and that’s been really hard to actually be willing to forgive someone who absolutely is not interested and accepting the forgiveness that I offer.

So for me, it would just be the acknowledgement of what happened. Folks should know that this is certainly just my story, not every sexual abuse survivor feels the way that I feel. I have been able to find empathy for my perpetrator. Not everyone gets to that point.

Nancy: Does he deny the abuse, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: He does. And it’s really interesting because the weird thing was like in my young 20s, I had this random moment. I don’t even know where it came from because I really wasn’t ready at that time. I confronted him once and at that time, he admitted it. He stated that—his explanation was that I was starting to like boys and he was trying to protect me from that and so that’s why he did it… Which i—I have professionally worked with perpetrators before so his answer is right in line with the typical type of mentality of a sexual predator. But then, once I told and the family knew years after that conversation, he has adamantly denied it. But he’s also a police officer, he’s a father, he’s a man in the church and all of that. So I can certainly understand why he wouldn’t want to because I’m guessing he would…

Nancy: He has a lot to lose now…

Elizabeth: Have the consequences that he does not prepare to deal with. So… I’ve carried the pain and the weight of the entire family and I guess it continues to be that way. But I can tell you that I’m not waiting anymore. I’ve moved on. We had a recent incident, a year and a half ago in which… we basically came to physical violence in which both my father and my brother physically violated me during a heated conversation about the abuse. At which time, that was kind of the end for me because I’ve done everything. I’ve gone to counselling, I’ve invited them to counselling, I’ve told the details of what happened, I’ve done everything I can to try to reconcile and save my family but obviously, it takes a team effort.

So the door’s always open for me but at the same time, I had to draw a line to say “I can’t keep chasing love and support anymore.” So for me, I’ve kind of drawn a line as far as whatever I’m going to make because I’ve made every effort that I’ve possibly can. I even went back to him after I confronted him about it because I got word back that he was offended regarding my approach, which I don’t know if there’s a book on there of how you’re supposed to confront your perpetrator BUT I even went back and apologized and said, “If I offended you in any way, I apologize,”—which is crazy. But I did it. So… The effort’s been made on my part, but the door’s open for him and it will require—I suppose it change in heart for him. And I hope that for him anyway because I cannot imagine—while I know no one can imagine my life—I cannot imagine being a perpetrator and knowing it and looking in the mirror everyday and knowing that you’re faking your whole life. I imagined that that’s a heavy weight to carry and I wish for freedom and healing for him.

Frank: I’m going to ask you the—because I’m looking for… I would like three points and they didn’t come out very clearly to me although everything that you said was powerful. What are three things you would like from your brother in an ideal world so that the two of you can be hand-in-hand and happy in your co-existence?

Elizabeth: Well, first of all, I don’t know that we can be hand-in-hand and happy.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: I don’t know what that looks like frankly…. And I don’t feel like I have three things. I have one [unclear].

Frank: Okay. And that—

Elizabeth: That is to acknowledge what you did.

Frank: Okay.

Elizabeth: Acknowledge what you did.

Frank: And so you’re—

Elizabeth: Even if we’re not able to continue a relationship, although I would love that because I’ve also lost relationships with my nieces and nephews who are his children because of his choices. He’s apparently given them false information about me and so they’ve chosen not to talk to me anymore and so I’ve lost everything… I would just like him to acknowledge me. I don’t have three things. I just have the one, really.

Nancy: So what do you do, Elizabeth within those situations where either the person who assaults is no longer available, they’ve gone, they died… how does a woman seek resolution or a man seek resolution from a crime like this when the perpetrator isn’t even available to offer the acknowledgement?

Frank: And maybe—

Nancy: What’s the road to healing?

Frank: Maybe not even available mentally…

Nancy: Yeah.

Frank: Maybe right in front of you, but not available.

Nancy: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Which is the case.

Frank: Okay so what you got?

Elizabeth: So… and this is a very great question. I tell folks all the time “Justice and healing are not equal.”

Nancy: Got it.

Frank: That is—

Elizabeth: There really is no justice.

Frank: Say that again, please. Say it again.

Elizabeth: Justice and healing are not equal even if somebody died a life sentence. It does not undo what was done to me. So the healing journey has nothing to do with justice, nothing to do with whether a person says I’m sorry or anything.

Nancy: Okay.

Elizabeth: Your healing journey and your freedom lies in your own hands. So it doesn’t matter whether a person’s alive, whether or not they apologize, or anything. You can have somebody go to prison for life, you can have them get the death sentence, you can have them quiet their eyes out and say they wish they had never done it. But if you don’t do your own healing work, you will still suffer everyday from your own emotional trauma. So the work is independent of any exterior person or situation. It’s a choice and that’s what becoming an aliver is all about is saying “I’m no longer defined by what happened to me.”

So it doesn’t matter what he does or said. I don’t sit and wait for that.

Nancy: Got it.

Elizabeth: Because my healing work is mine to do. Eh has nothing to do with my ability to be an aliver. And that’s the reason why I can say that I’m living a life I never thought I could live because there was a time when I was waiting for all that crap but I realized and I got it, right? So I did the work and again, it’s not attached to anyone else. And when you can get that, then you can let go because at some point you do have to let go of the pain and it doesn’t mean that you’re saying it’s okay, it doesn’t mean that you’re saying you forgot. You’re just saying that I’m bringing myself because there’s so much more to life and peace is real. Healing is real but it is an inside-job, 100% inside-job.

Frank: You said something commis—it goes hand in hand with the justice and healing that I asked you to repeat, that you said, that you nailed, thank you. You said you don’t always—reporting it or bringing it forth doesn’t always involve the police. That almost sounds like a crime probably to many people but I understand why you would say that. Please say more about that.

Elizabeth: Well, I mean the unfortunate reality is, again the numbers are there. You can a) report it and b) no one will ever even—no charges will even—no investigation will even happen if there’s not enough evidence; or you could report it, there’s an investigation and they don’t file; or you could report it, you go to trial and you lose. I mean, because the reality is these are hard to prosecute, the evidence factor is huge, the shaming factor is huge, the guilt factor is huge. And so the likelihood that you “get justice” if you will—is not there. it just isn’t. It’s just a reality of the situation. So… I encourage folks if they feel like that’s right for them, go for it. but don’t go for it as if that’s going to be the reason why you somehow put your life back together because in fact, the likelihood you’ll re-traumatize by the system itself is very high. So again, I encourage folks to focus on their healing, and if that individual, that mean “I need to go seek justice no matter what the outcome is” then great. But again, no matter what the outcome is, don’t speak it—

Nancy: Yeah, for some people, the justice and the healing are radically different.

Elizabeth: —you know for… Yeah, like you have to get that… Yeah. If you seek it with the thought that I’ve got to put this guy away or this girl away. If it doesn’t happen, then what? Right?

Frank: Yeah. That’s—

Nancy: Or if it does happen then what? Because I’m hearing you say is that you can put a guy under the jail but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve healed from the experience.

Elizabeth: Yeah because what’s enough? Is there enough for you violating my entire being? My soul, my spirit, my body? Like [unclear]…

Nancy: There it is…

Elizabeth: Is there a punishment for that?

Nancy: there it is… Yeah, we have a—

Elizabeth: Because it’s not going to change my reality.

Nancy: Right. We have a comment on the question sheet. I heard once that it said that rape and sexual abuse are crimes against the human spirit and when I heard that, I was just like “Ughhh… That’s so captures it. It nails it.” And how do you—what’s the road to healing from something like that? I don’t think—I had never heard of captured in that way before and when I heard it, it was like the whole ordeal… just I got it. it was like, I got it, I got what the problem is , I got it why it’s so difficult to heal from it. It just close the deal for me on what makes it such a deep and [unclear].

Frank: Can heal—

Elizabeth: If it violates your whole being—

Nancy: Being, yes.

Elizabeth: I mean, I don’t think about… You know, my body is fine. My body shows no evidence, right? But over the years, my spirit and soul—

Nancy: Right…

Elizabeth: —if there werea picture, they will be tattered, worn, with holes in it right?

Nancy: Got it.

Elizabeth: So it violates how you see yourself. It violates your self-worth, how you see the world… How you see that gender… You know what I mean? Like so…

Nancy: Sure.

Elizabeth: It’ pervasive. It doesn’t have any boundaries. And so, again this is why the healing works so important because your body heals… and for many folks, they don’t have any… people think rape and they think this woman just get beat up, you know… bloody and all that.

Nancy: Not all the tie.

Elizabeth: But a lot of times, there’s no physical evidence that even existed and I think that’s another reason why the community struggled to support because there’s no dead body, there’s no black eye. You can’t see anything. I looked the same way that I did the day before it happened though it’s hard for you to look at me and have empathy because you don’t see my pain because it’s internal.

Nancy: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Internal.

Frank: Would you give us—let’s say three points towards the healing process. Someone has experienced X, Y, and Z. How do you suggest that they heal though they go about initiating the healing process?

Rob: And in conjunction with that, what does the healing look like? And can someone actually heal?

Frank: Yeah. Okay.

Elizabeth: Yes. Well I’m going to add a couple more to that because what I did was develop a 6-stage model for healing which I combined professional experience and knowledge with my personal journey because even as a licensed social worker, I didn’t have answers for this. So I had to create the answers because they weren’t there. So first of all, you’ve got to identify that you’ve actually have a trauma, right? Second of all, you have to identify what’s your coping mechanisms have been. What typically happens is, we have this negative thing happen to us and we implement a coping mechanism to survive it. For those who is not traumatic to, you went to church, you pray, you talked to your friend or whatever and you’re fine. For those of us who became traumatic to, we started hoarding, we started shopping, we started hurting people, we started lying, we started drinking whatever our thing is right?

So in moving past that stage, you’ve got to reflect on how you responded to it, how it affected, how you see your life, how you see others, how you see the world. And the fourth stage, the [unclear] stage, you’re starting to do research and come up with a plan—

Frank: Wait a second. I’m sorry, I heard: identify the trauma, coping mechanisms, I didn’t hear a clear number 3.

Elizabeth: Number 3 is the deriver stage, revealing how the trauma—how you responded to the trauma and how it’s affected your life. Again, it’s crazy because folks don’t realize I forgot I had this dream that I was going to school and do this, this and that. Well that dream was lost when this happened, right? Or you know… You don’t even realize, you really hate men or you really struggled with parenting. You talk to your child kind of crazy, right? So being able to look in the mirror and see it has affected you. It’s critical because we got to know what work to do, right?

Frank: Yeah.

Elizabeth: We’re going to look in the mirror and figure out what has the impact been and then once we know that, then we can develop the plan for what we are going to address. So that’s addressing the people, places, thing in our lives and need to be adjusted. A lot of times, our negative “coping mechanisms” have some positive in it.

So for example, myself, I have been verbally aggressive at times as a negative coping mechanism. But positive in that is that I know how to speak up for myself, right? So it’s not that I completely get rid of that coping piece. It’s just that I need to tweak it in a way that’s positive, right?

Nancy: Okay.

Elizabeth: So in the fifth stage, you’re doing the work. As easy as that sounds, it’s not because change is hard. Change is scary. We live difficult lives but our life is predictable. So folks don’t change because change is scary. It’s easier to stay where you are no matter how painful it is than to wander off into this new space not knowing what it’ll be like. So just doing the work of healing in and of itself is a monster.

Nancy: And then the sixth?

Elizabeth: And then the sixth stage is the aliver stage which is after you go through this healing journey, you do this work, you learn how to deal with life’s circumstance because unfortunately, more stuff is going to happen, right? That’s just the reality of life. So you start to learn when things do go a certain way. Learn how to implement positive coping mechanisms from the beginning so that it doesn’t become another trauma that’s defined you and derailed you. And understand that becoming an aliver doesn’t necessarily you won’t have symptoms or flashbacks or whatever at times but it does mean I’m no longer defined by my experience.

Nancy: Okay.

Frank: And those are the 6 steps to a—How did you coin them? The 6 steps?

Elizabeth: The 6-Stage Healing Model.

Nancy: Got it.

Frank: Got ya.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Nancy: Thank you.

Frank: And I’m curious, how do you experience or enjoy—if at all—sex and intimacy now?

Elizabeth: Well I’ve come a long way. And again, the healing work has to be done because you’ve got to—essentially, that trauma that’s affected your mind and spirit and soul, you got to work through that. So that when you are intimate with someone, you know the intimacy, the physical intimacy is one piece but it’s the emotional intimacy, the ability to be vulnerable is really where the challenge is.

So I am able to be vulnerable emotionally and physically now. Of course, I’m able to be thoughtful about who it is that I’m dealing with and ensuring that it’s somebody that I want to interact in that way with. But it’s really been about addressing the pain so that it’s like re-wiring and that’s basically what I do as a life coach and therapist. I hope people re-wire their brain. Because when you have these experiences, there’s some miswiring that happens, right? So you got to go back in and make sure red went to red and yellow went to yellow and white went to white because that got mixed up, right?

So I’m at a point now where I can appreciate a good man. I can appreciate a gentleman and I’m no longer connecting in my psyche, that positive interaction and that vulnerability with a warning “Oh crap, I better run. Something bad is about to happen.”

So it’s the healing work again and redefining—and that’s why I mentioned understanding how it affected you. You got to be able to identify what am I thinking that causes me to be attracted to this type of person versus that type of person. What’s going on in my head that causes physical connection to equal pain, right? And so when we can work through that and redefine and re-wire that, you can then again be able to enjoy those experiences because we’re again backwired the way we were in the beginning.

Frank: We’ve been talking with licensed social worker, writer, trainer and aliver, Elizabeth Joy. She wants to talk to you, me and everyone that we know about sexual abuse, a silence series of events that plagues families, generations and communities.

Last time, Elizabeth, please tell our listeners how we can find you and what you’re up to.

Elizabeth: Again, you can find me in website survivorstoalivers.org or alivers.org. We also have a Facebook Page, that’s SurvivorsToAlivers. I am again just spreading the word. I’m speaking at conferences, I’m doing training, I’m available for life coaching, and my book is available which includes the 6-Stage Model but it also includes 23 exercises so it’s a self-help book that folks can use and walk themself through this journey. They can either do it with me through coaching. If they’re already in counselling, they can do it that way. They cna do it by themselves, whatever they’re comfortable with but it kind of gives our folks and opportunities as a road map to be able to reclaim life and this is what I do. Again, my work is not just with sexual abuse survivors. I work with folks who survived all types of trauma because after a while, they all start looking alike… Those struggles, and strengths of not having a father or being sexually abused or watching your mother being abused as a child—they all start to resonate and show themselves in negative forms. And so my goal and my life-calling is to help people to heal and know that life can be better, healing is real and there’s this thing called peace which I never knew about but its’ super awesome, amazing… and I just really encourage everybody to pursue it. people talk about being happy but really when you’re at peace, you’re automatically happy but happiness does not equal peace.

Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed the 6-stage healing model, defining sexual abuse and justice versus healing. I hope you’ve had as powerful experience as I’ve had talking with Elizabeth Joy about sexual abuse.

A special thanks to our visiting co-host Rob Wright.

Rob: Thank you.

Frank: As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that I hope you create a relation that’s as loving and accepting as possible.

Let us know what you think of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. If you’re listening via Blog Talk Radio, make sure you like us there and if via iTunes, make sure you subscribe so that you can receive each week’s show.

This is Frank love.
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