Vivian Treadwell Shares Her Story


The stories you post on your website remind me all to well of mine and my siblings childhoods, sadly, this has taken a huge toll on our family cohesion, it has taken away who we all could have been, our self esteem (if there ever was any in the first place), our joy; i had to deal with bullies at school and then come home to verbal, emotion, physical, and sexual abuses, i’m not discounting any of my siblings here.

Life has been very difficult for me to face, most of my life i hid myself away from most humans because my mind just couldn’t handle facing the possibility of any more abuse coming my way.

My siblings refuse now to talk much about it even though i tell them it isn’t good for the self to keep it bottled up.

My father was very bad and was a severe alcoholic, my mother grew up abused so that’s all she knew, my grandmother was an abuser as well, an uncle or two, even strangers, omg, the list is almost endless.

I’m now 53 years old, i’m now trying to move on with my life knowing that the flashbacks will always be with me, meditation has helped a lot, so has seeing a therapist.

Just before i went back to adult high school to finish what i couldn’t when i was younger, i had a dream in which i seen my mothers face in a coffin with a bright white light shining on her face, i woke up crying knowing what it meant, within about 4 months maybe less she did die; then about 10 or 11 months after she passed she and my grandmother came into another dream of mine to give me a message, that being “we’re sorry for the things we did to you, and we’re sorry for the things we didn’t do for you, please tell your siblings our message (they didn’t speak to me with their mouths but with their minds); my grandmother had a huge smile on her face and held out her arms for a loving hug”, she was not capable of love while alive, so this tells me that they’ve learned a lot about love since they’ve passed on and i’m happy about that, their visit has given me enough courage to see a therapist and to go back to school, which i graduated in 2009(barely), i have now left my common law husband who has been an alcoholic almost his entire live because it’s just too painful living with him even though he has never ever hit me, i don’t want to be his baby sitter any longer, and now I’m trying to get a student grant to take a course in Office Assistant or something like that.

I still have a lot of trouble with flashbacks, anxiety, and fear, but I’m working on it, i don’t think I’ll ever be what is considered “normal”.

I’m wondering if you have any suggestions as i just can not fully bring myself out of this mental torture, although i have partially done so, i just cannot fully trust myself even though I’ve tried to change.

Dear Vivian:

I’m so sorry you were born into a family where sexual abuse continued from one generation to the next. It’s a common pattern for women who were sexually abused as children to marry a perpetrator (who was probably sexually abused too.) Thus the abuse continues – until someone like you comes along to break the cycle. I have so much respect for your determination to move on with your life. I know this is especially hard when your siblings refuse to validate your struggle.

The fear coursing through your gut is the emotion that goes with childhood trauma. It helps to remember that it is the child’s fear, not the adult’s. There is almost nothing in your present life that would cause that degree of fear. It’s best to be with the fear the way you would be with a frightened child or little animal. Also, watch for and learn about your “triggers,” those stimuli which are benign in your present, adult world, but remind your brain of a past terror and send you into a fear state. We want to do all we can to put the trauma where it belongs – in the past.

The chapter in “Confessions of a Trauma Therapist” called Guidelines For Healing will give you a lot of suggestions. Also, watch my short videos designed to help people recover from child sexual abuse. They’re posted on my website and on U-Tube.

As for being “normal,” we’ll never not have been abused. On the other hand, just the process of working on your healing makes you wise, compassionate and very, very strong. I can tell you’re already strong. After all, look what you survived!

I hope this helps.

Hats off to your bravery,




  1. ParsleyDaLion says:

    Vivian sounds like a very brave lady who has experienced pain for most of her life. I feel from reading her story that she is someone who also has great resilience and it is this resilience that will see her through these challenging times. I also hear the courage within her words that has brought her to exploration of her life.
    Vivian uses the word ‘normal’ I feel strongly there is no such thing as ‘normal’ everybody is an individual with their own set of values and issues. I would hate to be thought of as ‘normal’ ;0)
    that sounds a dull place to be. Vivian knows the true value’s of life and living, she has the empathy towards others because of her experiences that ‘normal’ people possibly cannot comprehend, Vivian is a survivor and I for one feel proud to have read about her story.

    • Vivian Treadwell says:

      Hi Parley:

      Thank you soooo much for your kind words, when i read the part where you said you were proud to have read my story it made me cry with happiness that others understand, again, thank you. It finally made it in Mary, thanks for keeping on it, lol. Here’s hoping that others may read my story and it helps them have courage.

    • Vivian Treadwell says:

      Thank you soooo much for your kind words my friend, they will help my continue on.

    • Vivian is indeed a brave person. We all have to understand whatever wounds we are left with. Understanding and working with ourselves (instead of beating up on ourselves for being so dumb, stupid, etc.) is what will help in our healing.

  2. Jennifer Roeder says:

    Dear Vivian, Thank you so much for sharing your story. It does help so much to tell and come out of hiding with it. This is he healing work, indeed. I’m SO sorry for your childhood suffering and wish so bad someone could have been there for you to take you away from it all. Im so sorry your mother couldnt have protected you from it all as she too was abused and it was all she knew. Am so glad for vision you had where your mother and gmother came to you extending love asking for forgiveness. What a gift! I understand living with the aftermath of trauma, as I was abused too growing up. We want to leave it all behind, and yet we live in flashbacks and fear. Relief comes when we care for ourselves by keeping our lives free of disrespect (like you letting go of your husband) and reaching for success (like you getting your degree and reaching higher from there.) You are doing it, Vivian–You are IN recovery and this is a lifelong process and yet, we get better every day as we share our story with others and let others assist us on our path. Please know that you are not alone. We all share in the same suffering and hence, struggles. And remember: “Normal” is just a setting on a washing machine. I salute you on your path. You survived, Jennifer

  3. Vivian Treadwell says:

    I have to report an absolute atrocity in my family this past weekend, OMG, i can not elaborate as there will be a court case in which i will probably be called as a witness against one of my family members, it is the worst thing yet in my family that i know of, and to boot i almost was arrested for b&e even though it’s one of my family members place, thank god i didn’t mean to do anything illegal and i will not be arrested for said occurrence, i’m at a total loss as to how to handle this situation, and i’m scared, but then again, i should be used to the feeling of fear shouldn’t i, 1 of my family members will be put into prison for many years because of this event, and it’s BAD, i’m very glad this person will be there for a long period, i just wish this problem within my family would STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

  4. Vivian Treadwell says:

    As far as i know i will not be called as a witness to the past event with my family member, but you don’t usually find out this type of thing until much later; i’m about to move into my own 1 bdrm apartment on June/01/2012 i really need to do it, i’m scratching by on the skin of my chin, lol.

  5. Vivian, I’m so glad to hear you’re moving into your own place. It’s so important to know you’re living in a safe place. You’ve been through too much horror and now it’s time to allow your whole body/mind to have the time to heal. That means knowing nobody is going to enter your safe place without your permission.
    Stay in touch with us so we know you’re safe.

    • Vivian Treadwell says:

      Thank you for your post Mary, tomorrow is my moving day and my son text me 1.5 hrs before the end of my last shift of the day asking if he, my daughter in-law, and my grandson could come and visit on my moving day around 2-3 pm, i said yes; i’m already starting to feel a little better about it although my body is hurting now, tomorrow will be a lot worse but i’m happy about it.
      Thank you everyone.

      • Vivian, thanks for keeping us “in the loop” about your situation. My blessings and (I’m sure) the good wishes of those who read this website go with you in this new chapter of your life.

        • Vivian Treadwell says:

          Thanks Mary and everyone for your continued support, it’s really great having my own place, i love the freedom, the only bad thing left at the moment are the family fights, some members of my family really really need long term therapy as i had 9 months of it, i KNOW it would work wonders, especially if they were to get the right therapist the 1st time round, i’m really sick to death of all this stupid squabbling.

          • I’m so glad you’ve got your own place. We really need to distance ourselves from family members who are still stuck in old patterns of violence and denial.
            Remember, dear Vivian, the most important thing is your healing. Like any wound, trauma wounds need a rest in order to heal. We can’t keep ripping the scab off just as the healing is beginning.

  6. Vivian Treadwell says:

    Thank you soooo much Mary for your continued kind and loving words, they do help you know; <<<<<>>>>> to everyone who needs them, lolol, i’m a huggy type person in real life, i try my emotional hardest to give out love and to give myself kindness at the same time, most times it’s not easy, but there are times when there are great rewards.

  7. Vivian Treadwell says:

    I’m sorry Mary that i didn’t understand what you meant by getting away from an abusive family member of origin, my brain is like that sometimes, slow to understand some things, gee, i wonder why, lolol.

    • Yes, Vivian, it’s important to remove yourself from your family in order to heal. It’s like healing a wound on your leg. If you keep using it and tearing off the scab it won’t heal. Your invisible wounds need the same period of rest.

      • Vivian Treadwell says:

        You’re right there Mary, thank you; hope things are going well for you.

      • Vivian Treadwell says:

        I find that i’m extremely scared of abusing my 3 grand children even though i know i never will, and i also don’t have that much energy which my family does not understand so i’m alone in my feelings, this fear i can’t seem to get past, have tried, i guess it’s an indication of the trauma i’ve been through, not sure what to do.

  8. Vivian Treadwell says:

    I hope everyone has had the most wonderful Christmas & New Year in your memory banks, mine has been pretty good.
    The best of 2013 to you all.

  9. Dear Vivian: You feel the way you feel. Just stay open and compassionate with yourself at this time of numbness. I don’t think we ever really know how we’ll feel until we’ve gone through the death of the perpetrator. You may feel just relieved.
    All the best, Mary

  10. Vivian Treadwell says:

    I was doing a bit of reading about PTSD, a whole whack of symptoms myself and my family have, holy cow man.

  11. Recently I learned a mantra that I find helpful and I think you will too.
    “May I be able to honour myself, be who I am in this world and express my power without fear.”

  12. Vivian Treadwell says:

    I feel the need to say Thank You to Mary for having certain comments removed that I needed removed, they were causing some hurt feelings and I’m sad about that, I’m happy they’re gone now, I will still express myself from time to time, it will be far less than before, thank you all so much for your support that you have given, it has helped me through some tough times.

  13. Vivian Treadwell says:

    Omg having a real big issue with flashbacks tonight but I’m staying on the earth lol, Mary’s insight and advice haven’t helped me along the way, thank you so much Mary.

  14. Vivian Treadwell says:

    Life path update:
    Found a very special man 2 years ago, about 2.5 months ago he had 2 in 1 surgery that saved his life, unfortunately it’s emotionally destroying him as he now has a long climb back to relative health and he’s so ashamed for me to see him in such a condition and doesn’t want to see me anymore, this is completely heartbreaking for him and me, all I can do is give him all the space he needs.

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