I was a sex toy for him. By late adolescence, I felt so degraded and worthless I set out to prove I was of value. I'd go to bars, flirt, drink, and see how many guys I could attract. It was a vicious cycle because in the moment I would feel invincible yet it ultimately only eroded what little esteem I had. In many ways, by participating in my husband's sexual fantasies I was repeating my cycle of thinking it made me desirable to him, yet feeling humiliated for myself. I was now an adult allowing myself to be victimized. I have struggled a lot with signs of posttraumatic stress, particularly with an inability to manage my emotions. My fear and anxiety only fueled greater victimization because I was too frightened to set boundaries and didn't think I was worthy of having them. We hope they will change yours too. We want you to be empowered to change, to heal, to balance. Come with us on this journey. Welcome to the new and healthier you! As you read through this article, we ask you to consider how you feel. See table 1 where we have listed questions for you to ask yourself. If you answer yes to any of these questions, we hope you will take the time to read this article. TABLE 1: HOW DO I FEEL? Do I feel as if I don't have the energy to do the things I want to do daily? Do I feel tired when I wake up in the morning? While I have survived and thrived at the consulting firm, MANY people have been fired trying. It's amazing to me that, as an employee of over two years, I'm considered one of the veterans at the office.

Over the course of two years, I've seen a lot of new, bright-eyed candidates shadow the office and take in all the lights and sounds. There's bumping music everywhere in the office, bells going off when someone closes a lead and lots of enticing activity. At first glance, it looks like a super fun place to work at. But, then, reality hits on the first day. Everyone starts by either writing search engine content or making sales calls. They are tasked to do one of these things all day, every day. The grind of sitting there and making over 200 phone calls every day gets really old, really quickly. Your first day involves you sitting there with nothing happening and no sales appointments to show for it, because you still suck at the job, AND you likely got cursed at on the phone already. I'd often use alcohol to numb myself. My recovery as a sexual abuse survivor actually began prior to my knowing that I was dealing with sex addiction. I know now that I had been objectified as a child by my dad. There was no overt sexual abuse by him but there was covert sexualization just by the feelings that I got when I would wear a dress. I didn't like those feelings so I continued to want to be a boy. By being a tomboy I could get my dad's attention and affection, but as a pretty girl I felt that he was uncomfortable with me. At about age twelve I discovered some pornography in my parents' bedroom. I remember feeling afraid and somehow dirty. I think of my family life as abusive from the standpoint that it was sexually neglectful. No one ever talked about sex, and it was taboo. Do I feel as if I need a nap during the day, such as right after lunch? Am I in pain when I wake up, or do I feel pain throughout the day?

Is it hard to find the energy to exercise? Am I frustrated with my weight? Do I feel like I am taking too many pills? Do I feel like I need more sleep? How do I feel after eating my food? Do I get tired? Does my pain get worse? Are my meals healthy? Not really fun anymore, huh? You look for any excuse to get distracted. You take several bathroom breaks, because you've been drinking a lot of water. You take coffee trips to get yourself motivated through caffeination. You go outside for a breather, but there's only fresh air for so long. If you don't make 200 cold calls, you'll have a good discussion with the boss on your second day. Many people have come and gone before the end of their first day. I really don't try to explain my work environment anymore. It's just so out of the ordinary. No one would understand why I'm in this job. The only education I even got about my own body and reproductive system was at school in the sixth grade, and I was so ashamed during the class that I couldn't really listen or learn. Everything about my body--sexual feelings, romantic desires, and even menstruation--was shameful and had to be denied at any cost.

I believe these things are a part of my history that set me up to tolerate my partner's sexual acting out and to be abused sexually by him. When the only way you are validated by a significant other who is supposed to love you is through sex, you can develop a twisted belief that sex is love. It can set you up for your own sexual acting out and/or be the reason that you are attracted to a man who acts out sexually, allowing you to be exploited by him. Jacque, who was sexually abused by her brother for four to six years while growing up, resumed her role as a sexual victim in her adult life. She agreed to participate in some of her husband's addictive behavior such as performing sexually at a club. She struggled with honoring herself and her desire not to participate, but she craved validation from her husband. Many women feel ashamed about what they have willingly engaged in sexually to placate a partner. Women such as Jenny struggle with any sense of what feels good to them sexually, as sex is not okay--it is simply an act they engage in, hoping for love. What does that look like? Does my food come in a frozen box? Do I cook or mainly microwave? I really don't eat anything, but do I feel like I continue to gain weight? Do I feel constipated? Do I only go to the bathroom every few days? Do I crave sweets all of the time? I've had bad habits my whole life. Can I still change? Do I feel anxious all of the time? Why would you choose to get to work at 5:30 am and not leave the office before 6 pm some days? Why would you place yourself under such strict standards?

Who would want to work at a place that's this stressful and time-consuming? We run interviews every single week at the office, and there are always people that show up. We'll have weeks where over 50 people apply for a job! Nevertheless, we're only able to find a few good kernels of corn in the sea of. Because, out of those 50 people that apply for the job that week, half of them won't RSVP for the interview. Half of the people who do RSVP won't show up, and only a handful will actually dress sharp and act sharp in the interview. Studies reported by INC. Magazine show that 85% of people lie on their resumes and 81% of people lie during the job interview. To grow up with addiction and/or sexual abuse means you learned to distrust your own perceptions. As children share their thoughts with adults, they are frequently discounted and so they spend their entire lives doubting the truth of their own experiences and pretending they were never hurt. They stop trusting their own intuition or their own version of reality. That is as damaging as the violation itself and certainly is trauma in the making. When both addiction and sex abuse occur during childhood, dysfunctional beliefs and needed defenses--such as not talking about your feelings, not trusting others, not asking for help, and so on--are doubly reinforced. For example, if you are raised in a situation where there is either addiction or abuse, you will have difficulty trusting others. But if you are raised in a situation where both occur, you will have even greater difficulty trusting others, as there is a synergistic effect. One plus one does not equal two; Those raised in households with either addiction or abuse will have a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior. Those raised in households with both addiction and abuse will have an even higher tolerance for inappropriate and hurtful behavior. Do I have difficulty with my memory? Do I forget where I park my car?