August 24, 2016

Escaping the Hands of the Abuser - Part 4

Today, we continue our series with Ivonne Meeuwsen. Get a first hand look at how life unfolded for Ivonne once she made up her mind to heal and thrive instead of just survive.

Post healing life struggles

After healing from my childhood of sexual abuse, I find myself out of therapy, happy to be me and happy to be alive. I have made it! So much for the good news. Because after taking stock of my life such as it is at this point, it isn't much to shout about. 


I am unemployed as I haven't been able to keep any job for longer than 2 years. Whenever I stayed that long, I parted with my employer with a bit of a row or a series of misunderstandings. I am never simply laid off: I always run into trouble with an 'authority figure'. It isn't difficult to connect the dots, dealing with someone in authority is a trigger in and of itself. But knowing that after years of therapy doesn't mean I get any of my old jobs back. Plus of course, I now have a spotty resumé, with large gaps in it during the time when therapy was too intense to combine with an odd job.

Education interrupted

As far as schooling goes: I was studying to be a teacher when I was 19 and hurriedly left for the USA. Needless to say, I didn't finish college. When I got back from the USA, I started studying psychology. That's when my depression hit, I started my healing journey and I started therapy which turned out to be a 10 year effort. Of course I didn't quite finish that psychology major. I'm pretty well educated in healing from child sexual abuse, but other than that I've not finished a thing.

No money

I'm unemployed which in any country means that money is in short supply. I'm not good at holding down a job, especially since that chip on my shoulder when it comes to authority figures is still there. Being unemployed in my country means you get a second chance. I enter a programme and finish my college level education so I can call myself an official social worker. After that, I also get a degree in coaching and things are looking up. I work with youngsters as a social worker. Many of the kids I work with have been sexually abused.

Yet another work related conflict

I'm working with teenagers who almost all of them have been sexually abused and the institute I'm working at doesn't have a programme pertaining to sexuality or abuse. I'm first surprised, then pro-active, creating programmes like 'the boyfriendtest' and a game called 'difficult words about sexuality'. Working with the youngsters comes naturally to me and my programmes are quite succesful in helping these kids turn their lives around. My bosses aren't as pleased as you might expect. 

I talk about sex too much?

Say what? I work with teenagers, many of whom have experienced sexual abuse and I'm not supposed to talk about sexuality with them? What the …? I'm seriously flabbergasted, and I even take them to court over firing me. The judge is with me: They have to pay me a healthy sum of money for firing me unjustly. 

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more

The old Bob Dylan classic goes through my head. I've had it. I'm done working within the establishment. I'm done abiding by anybody elses rules. I draw a line in the sand and stand my ground. I'm ready to take on the world. I start my own coaching practice and that's what I still do to this day. Over the years, I specialize more and more in everything pertaining to childhood sexual abuse. I never looked back.

Life can be a dream

I still have difficult times, to be sure. Life is not a fairytale and it's not meant to be 'happily ever after'. But I do better now I don't have to work within a system that doesn't go to the heart of the problem. I know a lot about childhood sexual abuse, both from personal experience and from my coaching practice. This is
the period of time in which I write my first book: I Thrive! Healing from Child Sexual Abuse. It takes me a few more years to find the courage to actually go to print with the book, but when I do it's an instant hit. Therapists and survivors alike have told me how much it has helped them understand what it is they are dealing with. 

I thrive!

My book comes out on my 49th birthday, 26th of February 2013. It's hard to believe that it's only been three and a half years since then… so much has happened. I've given sold out lectures about sexual abuse, my book has become mandatory reading for social workers, I've written 3 more books, all on topics related to child sexual abuse. I've become an expert on the topic and I offer masterclasses for therapists as well as organizing symposia, training sessions, and I offer supervision for therapists struggling with childhood sexual abuse. I thrive.

My mission

My mission is to promote healing. To let people know that healing is possible. You don't have a life sentence just because you've been sexually abused as a child. Yes, healing can be a long and arduous road. Healing takes time and often takes more than one therapy. But it can be done. Life can become about living, rather than just mere survival. Childhood sexual abuse can be overcome and it's worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort. 


Ivonne Meeuwsen is author of several books on child sexual abuse. Ivonne is a survivor herself of sexual abuse from the tender age of 12 until she was 19. In her book, I Thrive. Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, she relates her story, not just about the abuse, but about dealing with the long term effects of child sexual abuse. The book gives clear insight into all the major issues resulting from child sexual abuse: social anxiety, fear, dissociation, depression and more. She tells the story from the inside out, so people who have not been abused can gain insight and understanding, whereas people who have been there will find themselves saying, "Yes, that's how it was." 
Ivonne studied social work and coaching and has a thriving practice as an online coach, specializing in child sexual abuse. In addition, she organises symposia, trains and supervises therapists on healing from child sexual abuse.

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