Friday, June 19, 2009

DeafDeb,Living Well

Occasionally I fall into a subject matter or a website by accident. While so much has been written and discussed about all facets of domestic violence, victims of abuse, success survivors and everything that leads someone away from an abusive partner, one area that I was curious about and have not seen in the "mainstream" discussions is the deaf community and what resources are available for the deaf who have been abused.

I found a site named DAWWWN with information geared strictly for the hearing impaired, authored by a woman who calls herself "DeafDeb."

The first thing I did was read Deb's Story Page, her account of her life and the multiple types of abuses she suffered as a child and leading into adulthood. I will share just a portion and encourage readers to go to her site and read her story.
I'm happy to know that there are wonderful, giving people in the world, like DeafDeb who is also a gifted artist.

art by DeafDeb

Sometimes the best revenge is to live well, respect our healing and enjoy our triumphs. My story is meant to be one of hope and encouragement, but it may also serve as a warning.

Deafness contributed to my isolation and vulnerability as a child, even though I was only mildly deaf back then. Since I was often alone, I was an easy target for abuse. As my deafness increased, it became more and more difficult to get help. I am a survivor of multiple abuses by multiple perpetrators, compounded by psychiatric abuse. I have been on this healing journey for over 3 decades and have come a long way though I still deal with the after effects.

Anger and Shame

I've experienced so much anger because when I was 17, after about 10 unwanted sexual "encounters", including molestation when I was 4, 12, 13 and 14 by strangers, inappropriate touching at age 8 by my uncle who also terrorized me with his rages every time I visited, sexual shaming by a babysitter when I was 10, sexual assault when I was 11 by a gang of older neighborhood boys and a classmate, rape when I was 15 by my good friend's housemate...

At home I was neglected, emotionally abused and occasionally physically abused. My parents were preoccupied by serious problems of their own and could not protect me or help me cope, nor did they have any knowledge or understanding of my increasing deafness. They argued constantly. Both had painful childhoods with alcoholic parents. My father's mother killed herself when I was 3.

My mom had a tendency to fly into rages. I often didn't respond to her because I couldn't hear her, and that made her even more enraged. My friends couldn't understand, but even if there had been people around to listen, shame and deafness kept me in a state of silent torment (there were also a few years of not so silent torment).

Add to this intense isolation and a few more traumatic experiences like fire and divorce and living with a stressed out single parent. I stopped being able to sleep, flew into rages, destroyed property, dissociated and had weekly visits with a therapist who I never really trusted enough to confide in, nor did I know how to talk about what happened. I went into therapy voluntarily when I was 13, but it didn't help much. Then came the secondary wounding...


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