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24 Stages of Growth For Survivors of Incest

Developed by Karen Lison, M.A.
Based on the work of John Dean, Ph.D.
"Outcome Milestones for Treatment Evaluations", Copyright 1980

I acknowledge that something terrible happened. I know it is not my imagination.

I am aware on some level that something was done to me -- I was a victim of incest or sexual abuse during my childhood.

I recognize that I am, in fact, a survivor, in the sense that I am alive, and have chosen life over self-inflicted death.

I recognize and begin to deal with feelings of being "contaminated" or "damaged".

I feel angry about being used and abused.

I experience rage at my non-protecting parent ( usually the mother ) .

I discuss the abuse thoroughly with my therapist.

I tell a non-family member about the abuse.

I tell a family member who did not previously know.

I completely re-experience and begin to deal with feelings appropriate for each incident of abuse.

I begin to give up my sense of responsibility for the abuse occurring.

I begin to recognize that I was probably acting appropriately at the time the abuse occurred. ( That is, my reactions were appropriate, the abuse was not ).

I am able to understand how the molestation has affected my current relationships and behavioral patterns.

I am able to diminish my resistance to talking about the abuse, although maybe not the details of it, with others.

If there was a part of the molestation that was sexually pleasurable to me, I am coming to terms with the fact of that pleasure and I am dealing with the guilt surrounding it.

If there were aspects of the molestation that I perceived as positive ( such as a feeling of being special in the family ), I am beginning to understand and deal with those feelings.

I perceive the connection between the molestation and current relationships and am developing some control around the connection.

I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I confront my perpetrator(s).

I am beginning to understand what I desire from relationships, whether sexual or non-sexual.

I am able to enjoy intimacy.

I develop a sense of self and my self-esteem has increased.

I develop a sense of being somewhat at ease with the subject of my molestation and that of others.

I recognize that I have a choice as to whether or not I forgive my perpetrator(s).

I am in touch with past anger, but anger is not currently a constant part of my feelings in such a way that it negatively influences my other feelings, my functioning, and my relationships with others.