You Know You're a Survivor if...

During the 1st annual Making Daughters Safe Again retreat in April 2009, attendants filled out index cards by completing the statement, "You know you're a survivor of mother-daughter sexual abuse if...". Thank you to all of the wonderful women who wanted to share their responses on this web site to both educate the public and to provide a mirror for other survivors who may visit this page.

You know you're a survivor of mother-daughter sexual abuse if... had to search for weeks to find information on the issue. desperately want a mother. wish you could "buy" a good mother.

...the thought of baby-sitting children has ever freaked you out or made you question your sanity.

...the word "mother" gives you the creeps. question whether you will be a good mother. found teaching your own daughter how to use tampax traumatic.

...cats are your child of choice.

...people ask you about your mom or family and you just skip the subject because if you can't say something nice, you just don't want to say anything at all. are afraid of doing anything that would displease your mother. wonder if anyone else ever loathed her mother this much.

...interactions with your mother leave you feeling slimed. don't believe your memories. are always wondering whether it is true. traveled several miles to go to a MDSA retreat and you're still wondering if you are a mother-daughter sexual abuse survivor. wish you were held/protected as a child. have intimacy issues. don't like intrusion. have issues regarding your body. can't pee/shower/change clothes unless the bathroom/bedroom is locked and no one, including your dog, can be in the room you are in. don't know you have a right to say no to unwanted sex.

...your sex life is a wreck. don't have a clue who you are sexually. have problems with female relationships. don't know how to feel close to others. find it difficult to trust women as friends. are so intimidated by certain types of women that you can't say no to them or ask them to do anything, even if they are your assistant. trust no one. have little to no self-esteem. bolt from any and all emotional situations. think "upset" is an emotion. wonder how deep the wound can go. have sleep problems.

...your therapist knows what day of the week it is by the days you show up for your appointments. therapist has a rubber stamp with your name on it to put you on her schedule.

...the thought of being girly is scary. scares you. have no idea when Mother's Day is. are sad on Mother's Day. send black tulips to your mother for Mother's Day. send yourself a Mother's Day card.

...your house is the exact opposite of your mother's.

...every little kindness from others brings a tear to your eye.'re willing to face the past in order to be happy. takes you awhile to understand you're really strong inside, but when you do WATCH OUT!

* MDSA member artwork on this page: first piece by anonymous, second piece by Ameya