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Everything is Connected!
In today’s podcast we will discuss another of the psychological impacts of childhood sexual abuse, social anxiety.
Anxiety is something everyone experiences over the course of their lives but for us, as children and young adults, we never heard anyone discussing it, nor had we any understanding of what we were feeling in most situations.
We believed we were just shy and understood that we took shyness to a whole other level. This allowed our anxiety to determine what, if any social settings we would attend and engage with. This had a crippling effect on each of us throughout our lives, leaving us further isolated and full of self-judgement and self-hatred. We could not understand why we felt so uncomfortable when asked to go somewhere or do something that may seem to others, a simple task, but the anxiety that arose in us was overpowering. This ensured we declined more invitations than we accepted.
Knowing that every unfamiliar situation was disproportionately frightening and embarrassing, meant we felt chronically self-conscious and could only conclude that our father was right to constantly tell us we were stupid. Regardless of how much we criticised ourselves, the thought of others doing the same felt life threatening to us.
The saddest thing about it was that although we hated how it made us feel to decline an invitation, the exclusion was easier to live with than joining in or challenging ourselves. We even got to a space that we convinced ourselves that we really didn’t want to attend different events. If we are to be honest with ourselves, we really didn’t see that we had an option.
It was only through researching for our book that we found that our extreme levels of anxiety were yet another impact from our abuse. We discovered that our behaviour was a normal response to what was happening to us and learning this allowed us over time, to either let it go or be honest with ourselves when declining an invitation.
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Joyce, June and Paula