what stage of recovery are you in ?


i read an article about the stages of recovery from childhood sexual abuse, for me i feel like i'm on the second stage "something happend but"i'm not in denial anymore ,it's been a year and half sinse i remember when i first started to understand just a little bit the link between my struggle and suffering to my childhood abuse ,i i began to read books and articles online , and went to see a few therapist , just trying to be active on my journey towards healing,that been said i dont feel the courage nor the need to comfront my abuser ,i'm not even angry at him when i know that i should be furiouse!also i understand that some of the biggest steps i can take to heal is changing my behaviors of avoidance and isolation etc..and when one of my family member try to change me , i find my self coming up with all the excuses and i seem that i'm always trying to convince them that nothing is wrong with me , it's like i tell me self , i just should be doing this on my own , no body need to know they can't understand such things...i'm intrested to know if anyone eles feel the same way ..or in a diffrent stage...


i think, i hope, and i believe, i have reached the final stage of recovery.

there might be another one after this.
i don't know.
i am willing to bet that the work never ends.

but i feel really good, now, today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year, and i have been feeling this way for quite some time now. several years at least.

my problems are mostly external and mostly mundane.
the kind of problems that will never be solved and cannot be controlled.
common first world problems such as money, mortgage, marriage, marijuana, coffee, cigarettes, cars, career, accidents, anger, aging, injuries, injustice, employment, work, housework, traffic, teenage children, etc.

in other words luxury problems that are the same as everyone else i know.

my internal reactions (thought and feelings) are still influenced, but not governed, by my CSA issues,
but my external behaviour (lashing out, acting out, high-risk activity, compulsive actions) is under control.
whenever i get angry now, it is far less intense, far less frequent, far less damaging, and the anger does not last for very long.

it took a lot of focus, effort, research, therapy, prayer, support, counseling, love and labour to get to this stage.
not to mention 35 years.

brief history:
born 1961,
abuse, neglect, rejection, molestation and incest from 1967 until 1974,
crime and drug experimentation from 1973 until 1979,
violently raped by serial killer in 1977,
sexual confusion and self abuse (promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, perversion) from 1977 to 1988,
disclosure in 1981,
fake suicide attempt (cry for help) in 1982,
professional counseling and therapy begins and continues intermittently from 1982 until 1995,
successful married family man from 1991 to present,
minor relapse in 2010 (credit crisis, bankruptcy, separation) with minimal therapy,
conversion, spiritual salvation, recovery, reconciliation and redemption in 2011.
current status: cured?

still married with children,
still in love with the girl of my dreams and the love of my life and the mother of my children,
addictions: marijuana, coffee, cigarettes, porn, all presently under control,
no extreme bad behaviour, occasional rage, zero violence,
union member with financial and job security in my chosen profession.
i love my lifestyle.
full of joy and gratitude.

what more can i say?
there is hope.
if i can bounce back from hell,
anyone can.

do you have link to the article you mentioned?
i would be interested n reading it.


Hell if I know what stage of recovery I'm in (as V-V will attest). For me, doesn't really matter. I usually get along. Some days A LOT better than others, the "others" being the past fucking week of total despair. I'm sharing more of experience than strength and hope at the moment.

I guess you'll find the full spectrum here. Best I can say is that I've found it's okay on this site to be exactly who I am, exactly where I am...even if that's in a complete pit.

I can say I know what happened, exactly when it happened, and who the players were in the extended drama. My perp is dead. The woman whose abuse virtually handed me ready-made to him is still breathing for some damned reason. The school and church don't give a shit. I'm acutely aware of the damage done to me and to my life. For me, it's not fucking pretty.

And, well, just to moderate my comments a bit, that's where I am today.


Lancer said:
The school and church don't give a shit.

dear lancer, i sincerely urge you to find a new church.
a church that don't give a shit is not a church.
how are you doing these day, anyway?

Landscape said:
victor-victim said:
do you have link to the article you mentioned?

This is, I think, the article https://1in6.org/men/get-information/online-readings/recovery-and-therapy/stages-of-recovery/.

It talks about two different models. The first one resonated with me.

Be well.

thanks for the link, landscape, i am checking it out.


Staff member
Very interesting question. I have discussed this with my T and support group. I believe I am in the final stage of recovery. I have accepted the abuse and myself. I no longer let naysayers and those that have triggered the memories and flashbacks control me, I have accepted I have value and much to offer, I have accepted I must surround myself with kind and loving people and I also accept people can change once they accept their past and the baggage that comes with it. I think the diagnoses I received from two prominent hospitals and several highly respected medical professions of PTSD, dissociative fugue disorder as well as meetings with the church, the institution responsible for the abuse, gave the validation that led to acceptance. Another critical aspect was to surround myself with caring and kind people.

I will always be diligent to monitor myself and apply the coping mechanisms I have learned and not the old mechanisms of dissociation and loosing myself. My T and support group see me in a different position today than where I was two plus years ago.


i thought i would post those "stages of recovery" models here for the other brother survivors.

This model is described in detail in Mic Hunters Abused Boys, one of the first books written for men struggling with the effects of unwanted or abusive boyhood sexual experiences.

The model comes from Hunters experiences of helping men to sort out and overcome the effects of such experiences.

He found parallels with the stages of grieving the loss of an important person in ones life which makes sense, because harmful boyhood sexual experiences and their effects are often experienced as causing one to lose important aspects of oneself (for example, ones masculinity, confidence, trust, or enjoyment of life).

[font:Arial Black]Hunters Stages of Recovery[/font]

Based on many years of helping men to sort things out and make the lives they want.

1. Denial Nothing happened

Denial doesnt necessarily mean refusing to acknowledge something that is true, though this can be the case. Rather, it refers to a variety of ways that men can for very good reasons push memories of unwanted childhood sexual experiences out of their awareness. These ways range from completely blocking out or splitting off memories, without even realizing it, at one extreme, to intentionally, and often with great effort, trying to keep memories and reminders from breaking into consciousness, at the other.

Most men who have had such experiences, but havent yet sorted them out or dealt with their effects, find themselves somewhere in the middle. They have clues that something happened, or fragments of memory that pop into awareness, but these are quickly pushed away or blocked out whenever they come into awareness.

There are many reasons that men have for pushing such memories and related thoughts out of their minds. They can trigger unwanted feelings like anger, sadness, fear, or horror. They can trigger unwanted and disturbing thoughts about ones masculinity, about important people and relationships in ones life (past and present), and about what would happen if such memories and thoughts were not always pushed away. As discussed in stages of change, it is neither helpful nor respectful to push or try to convince a man to look at such memories or information which suggests that he may have had childhood sexual experiences that are causing him problems now.

On the other hand, as Hunter points out, it can be costly to keep such information out of awareness. In some cases, it uses cognitive resources that are needed for other purposes, like ones school work or job responsibilities. It can keep one in constant (if unacknolwedged) fear of experiencing any vulnerable emotions that could trigger unwanted feelings, thoughts and memories about the sexual experiences. This means being unable to experience or tolerate other peoples vulnerable emotions, which is necessary for caring about their suffering and doing the right thing to help.

Also, emotions tend to be a package deal. Disconnection from negative emotions usually means experiencing few positive ones either, or not even getting close to experiencing ones potential to have fun and be happy. Men in this situation often find themselves feeling like theyre going through the motions in important relationships with friends, family, girlfriends, wives and partners, even their children.

2. Bargaining Something happened, but

In this stage, men acknoweldge that something happened, but attempt to convince themselves (and others) that the experience wasnt harmful and hasnt caused them any problems even though it has.

This is not to say that men cant have unwanted or even abusive sexual experiences that do not cause problems in their lives. This is possible, for example, if the experience only happened once and the boys life was otherwise full of healthy and positive relationships with family, friends, and other authority figures.

Instead, this stage refers to the experiences of men who are, on the one hand, no longer pushing away the fact that they had a potentially harmful sexual experience, while, on the other hand, theyre not yet ready to deal with the impact it continues to have on them. These mixed feelings are often expressed in yes but thoughts and statements.

The ability to doubt the reality of what happened, or its effects on ones current life, can be very strong at this stage. Also common is pseudoforgiveness, in which, as Hunter puts it, the man attempts to move from denial straight into forgiveness without experiencing any of the emotions related to what happened. As Mike Lew puts it, True forgiveness does not arise from denial. It can only occur when there has been a complete understanding of what has happened, including the nature of the wrongs and where the responsibility lies.

Below are some common things said by men in this stage, from chapter 5 of Hunters book:
It didnt happen enough for it to matter.
I know what she did, and I wanted it.
I cant deny it happened, but its my fault that it happened.
She was just teaching me about sex.
I cant do anything about it now. Theres no sense in even talking about it.

One last obervation, and a suggestion, from Hunter:

When in the bargaining stage, many people find that a constant argument or civil war goes on in their heads: It really happened. No, it didnt. Yes, it did. This goes back and forth, seemingly forever. If you find this happening, you may find it useful to choose a side and write a letter to yourself or someone else arguing that point, making no attempt to be objective or to see both sides. Once that is done, write another letter arguing the opposite side. Pay attention to your body during the writing of each letter, and listen to what your emotions are telling you (Abused Boys, p.105).

3. Anger Something happened, and Im angry about it!

This is a third stage that many men experience. This stage begins when a man recognizes not only that something happened, but that it really did harm him.

For some men, this is the beginning of believing that what was done to them matters because they matter. For those who have squelched their anger, or been unable to feel it, this may be the first recognition that experiencing and expressing anger can be helpful and healthy.

For some, this opening to anger brings fear that they will lose control and hurt other people or themselves. This fear can be valid and healthy. In fact, realistic concerns about angers destructive potential tends to protect men from acting out violent thoughts and impulses that be triggered very suddenly.

Importantly, its almost impossible to be simultaneously angry about something done to you and blame yourself for it. For this reason, getting angry about what happened can bring relief from self-blaming thoughts. It can be the beginning of overcoming the tendency which is especially common in men to blame yourself for ways people took advantage of you when you were a child.

For many, the recognition that they are valuable human beings, and that what happened isnt their fault, can bring a huge sense of relief. Also, the anger may also provide a lot of energy and motivation to make positive changes in ones life. In these ways, this phase can bring a great deal of healing and progres.

At the same time, this can be a risky period. Anger may become a central player in ones emotional life. It can spill out in ways that are harmful to oneself or others. Or one may now feel justified and entitled to act in the same old angry ways one has for a long time, rather than taking responsibility for them. In addition to relief and empowerment, then, this stage can bring new challenges and responsibilities.

Another problem is that some men have trouble moving on from this stage. Whether consciously or not, they prefer anger to the sadness that is an essential part of recovery. Men especially are vulnerable to getting stuck in the anger phase, because they have been conditioned to feel safe and strong when they are angry, and fear that sadness equals weakness, even being a victim, though as described below, this is definitely not the case.

As Hunter points out, in this stage many men find that exercise is a great way to channel the energy of anger or vent angry feelings. Running, lifting weights, or playing active sports can not only channel the energy and help release the feelings, but increase ones senses of being strong and powerful. Finally, for some men hitting a punching bag, or even an old mattress, can be a safe way to release anger when it wells up inside.

4. Sadness Something happened, and it cost me a lot.

As Hunter writes, Sadness comes when a man realizes that he was wronged and that he has lost something that he can never retrieve. This is when the grieving phase of the overall grieving process described by these stages really kicks in.

Harmful unwanted or abusive childhood sexual experiences bring many losses of innocence, of trust in others, of belief in oneself, and of achievements that never happened thanks to the effects of the unwanted or abusive experiences.

Truly facing and reflecting on ones many losses can bring a great deal of sadness. Sadness is a totally legitimate and justified response to such losses. It can be painful to experience, but coming to know this sadness can bring great strength, and deep appreciation and understanding of the suffering that are part of so many peoples lives.

During this phase men can become very sensitive. Not only their own pain and suffering, but that other people, and pets or other animals, can feel very intense. They may cry easily.

Hunter observes, As a person moves through the sadness stage, he will notice how his tears change. At first, crying will be very difficult and painful. He may fight back the tears by holding his breath, not making any sound or shaming himself for needing to cry. Later in this stage, the tears will seem to come from somewhere very deep and are often accompanied by a sense of being a small child. There is often a sense of great loss and loneliness. Still later in the recovery process the tears are followed by a sense of healing, coming together, wholeness (Abused Boys, p.111).

In short, in this stage of recovery ones experiences of sadness become increasingly healing and strengthening.

Hunter and others have suggested several actvities that can help bring about this transformation. One is writing goodbye letters to things you have lost because of unwanted or abusive childhood experiences for example, the relationships you never had because of your shame and fear of intimacy, or the type of parents you never had, or the loss of your spontaneity (Abused Boys, p.111).

5. Acceptance Something happened, and I have healed from it.

Once again, a passage from Hunters book nicely sums up the essence of this stage:
The final stage of grieving begins to take place when the person who was wronged has acknowledged [what happened], felt as well as expressed the emotions he has about it, and begins to put it in proper perspective. He no longer blames himself or punishes himself for what he did or didnt do in order to cope He becomes less and less likely to see himself as helpless, hopeless, and defective. This will make him less vulnerable to further exploitation. He will begin to accept himself and treat himself with respect and affection. Although he will never forget what was done to him, he will be able to stop organizing his life around it. He will have a scar rather than an open wound (Abused Boys, p.113).

Acceptance here does not mean failing to see that what happened was harmful and wrong. Instead, it means accepting that the past cannot be changed, and coming to peace with it rather than remaining focused on pain or sadness, anger or resentment.

While it may be hard to imagine at the beginning of the recovery process, it really is possible to experience a sense of serenity about even the worst childhood experiences and the negative effects they once had.

The acceptance of this stage brings great strength and power. The strength and power come from having faced ones life head-on, having truly experienced the worst of the past, and having arrived at a way of being that is free from either running away from painful truths or getting caught up in them.

With acceptance, one can truly move on as a man of greater courage, strength, hope, and wisdom.


[font:Arial Black]Hermans Stages of Recovery[/font]

A three-stage model of recovery from traumatic experiences, including childhood sexual experiences.

In Trauma and Recovery Judith Herman presents a model which describes in detail the healing process of people who struggle with a combination of problems related to unwanted, abusive, or traumatic experiences in their past.

The problems may include:
Difficulty regulating emotions and impulses
Emotional numbing
Anger and aggression
Substance addictions
Behavioral addictions (porn, anonymous sex, gambling, etc.)
Self-harming behaviors (cutting, burning, etc.)
Dissociation (spacing out, blanking out, losing time, etc.)

Stage 1

The first stage of dealing with and overcoming such problems, and of any helpful therapy or counseling, is about:
Getting a road map of the healing process.
Setting treatment goals and learning about helpful approaches to reaching those goals.
Establishing safety and stability in ones body, ones relationships, and the rest of ones life.
Tapping into and developing ones own inner strengths, and any other potentially available resources for healing.
Learning how to regulate ones emotions and manage symptoms that cause suffering or make one feel unsafe.
Developing and strengthening skills for managing painful and unwanted experiences, and minimizing unhelpful responses to them.

Most important, the key to healing from traumatic experiences in childhood is achieving these stage-one goals of personal safety, genuine self-care, and healthy emotion-regulation capacities. Once these have become standard operating procedures, great progress and many new choices become possible.

Importantly, the first stage of recovery and treatment is not about discussing or processing memories of unwanted or abusive experiences, let alone recovering them. (For more on how the stages of recovery are related to memories of abuse, particularly recovered memories, see Personal Concerns & Questions on Dr. Jim Hoppers web page, Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse.)

Of course, everything is not always so perfectly ordered and sequential.

For example, during the first stage it may be necessary to discuss the contents of disturbing memories that are disrupting ones life. This may be required to help manage the memories, or to understand why it is hard to care for oneself (e.g., the abuser acted like or even said you were unworthy of care or love). However, in this case addressing memories is not the focus of therapy, but a means to achieving safety, stability, and greater ability to take care of oneself.

Depending on the person, the first stage of treatment may also involve:
Addressing problems with alcohol or drugs, depression, eating behaviors, physical health, panic attacks, and/or dissociation (e.g., spacing out, losing time).
Taking medication to reduce anxiety and/or depressive symptoms, for example serotonergic reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline (Zoloft) or paroxetine (Paxil).
Participating in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a treatment for people having serious problems with tolerating and regulating emotions, interpersonal effectiveness, and/or self-harming behaviors.

Common to All Stages

Throughout all stages of treatment, it is often necessary to address psychological themes and dynamics related to ones history of unwanted or abusive experiences.

As discussed in Principles of Therapy or Counseling, some of these are core issues that should determine the very nature and structure of treatment. These include:
Shame and guilt
Reenacting abusive patterns in current relationships

In the first stage of treatment, these themes and dynamics must be addressed when they are obstacles to safety, self-care, and regulating ones emotions and behavior. Therapy can help with recognizing habitual behavior patterns, beliefs, and motivations that maintain self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors outside of conscious awareness or reflection.

Increased awareness of these themes and dynamics brings greater understanding, greater ability to take responsibility for them, and greater capacities to choose new, healthier responses and actions. (Mindfulness meditation practices can also help cultivate such awareness and freedom; see Mindfulness and Kindness: Inner Sources of Freedom and Happiness.)

Stage 2

This stage of recovery and treatment is often referred to as remembrance and mourning.

The main work of stage two involves:
Reviewing and/or discussing memories to lessen their emotional intensity, to revise their meanings for ones life and identity, etc.
Working through grief about unwanted or abusive experiences and their negative effects on ones life.
Mourning or working through grief about good experiences that one did not have, but that all children deserve.

After establishing a solid foundation of understanding, safety, stability and self-regulation skills one can decide mindful of the potential pain and risks involved whether or not to engage in the work of stage two.

In fact, once the first stage of recovery has provided such a foundation, some people realize that thinking and talking about painful memories is not necessary to achieve their goals, at least in the short term. Some find that the memories are no longer disrupting their life and no longer of much interest to them. (And sometimes people need to teach their therapists about this!)

For those who choose to focus on disturbing memories, including because those memories are still disrupting their lives, several memory processing methods can be used during this stage.

In general, these methods involve re-experiencing the memories within a safe and healing therapy setting. They can be very effective at ending the influence of such memories in ones daily life.

Most importantly, there are very effective therapy methods that have been proven, through years of clinical experience and research, to bring great relief and healing by tranforming memories and responses to reminders of harmful childhood experiences.

(Please note: none of these methods erase memories, and they are not designed to recover memories. If you have personal questions about this issue, see Words of Caution II on Dr. Jim Hoppers web page, Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse.)

One of the most research-supported approaches for processing traumatic memories is EMDR. This method can rapidly transform traumatic memories into non-traumatic ones and you dont have to talk about them in detail, if at all, making it a great option for many men.

Again, the main point here is that there are effective and relatively rapid methods for dealing with intensely distressing memories. People do not have to be tortured by them for years.

Stage 3

The third stage of recovery focuses on reconnecting with people, meaningful activities, and other aspects of life.

The Bluefoot

Thank you for posting all this information, this will help me very much on my recovery road. I not sure yet what stage I am in 3 or 4 somewhere around there.