As one long-time member of SIA notes, “Step-work has taken me more deeply into myself. Step questions, inventories and the sharing of my writing with my recovery partners, sponsor, and therapist have opened my awareness in profound ways to how the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured affected me. Moreover, Step work has given me the gift of acceptance. It’s helped me to let go of blaming myself for the profound effects abuse has had upon my psyche, my behaviors, and the way I view myself and others. Step work has gifted me with tools to use when I inevitably slip into victim responses. They’ve provide a means for growing a loving inner parent whose support and unconditional acceptance I can count upon at all times. Working the Steps has allowed me to move out of victim responses and into unlimited dreams and possibilities. Without the insights that SIA Step work has provided me with, I doubt I’d be here today, because life was too painful to endure.”

Today’s Roundtable discussion will focus upon the critical role that working Steps 4-6 play in recovering from the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. Steps 4-6 refine our capacities to grow a loving inner parent and healthy adult self, thereby allowing us to begin moving out of isolation and begin taking increased responsibility for our lives. They provide a means for further acknowledging the effects that unexpressed trauma feelings had upon us as children and continue to exert upon our thoughts and actions. Steps 4-6 assist us in this effort by helping us to learn to trust again and end long years of self-imposed isolation. These steps require that we engage in a courageous moral inventory in order to more fully understand the coping mechanisms we developed as children to deal with the abuse. They help us to more clearly see the behavioral responses that no longer serve the cultivation of a loving/healthy adult. In effect, Steps 4-6, move us further toward the promised end of shame and self-blame. They restore our humanity and allow us to walk with our heads held high. As was said in the description for the last Roundtable, working these Steps opens the doorway to original self and thereby allows each of us to reclaim the infinite possibilities we came into this world with.


Step 4 reads:

“We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, the abuse, and its effects on our lives. We have no more secrets.”

And this brings us to our first question:

  • What fears about yourself did you have to begin to acknowledge as you began walking into your Fourth Step work? Put another way, how did your tremendous hurt cause you to neglect and abuse yourself and others?
  • What victimage assumptions about yourself had you continued to reinforce prior to working Step 4?
  • Many who have worked the Steps in SIA repeatedly say that Step 4 has brought greater self awareness: awareness of our dreams, talents, joys, values, morals, accomplishments, triumphs, boundaries set, inspirations, favorite foods, colors, vocations, and many other positive aspects of themselves. As a result of your Step 4 work, what values and discoveries about who you are, what you want and what you are capable of have occurred?
  • How did working Step 4 alter your need to control yourself and others?

Step 5 reads:

“We admitted to a loving Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being our strengths and weaknesses.”

  • Why was it essential to admit what you discovered about yourself in Step 4 to a loving Higher Power, yourself and another human being, especially in terms of being able to be honest with yourself and others?
  • Step 5 is often referred to as a shame-buster. How did working the step help you to begin a deeper letting go of shame and self-blame and begin to forgive yourself for all your past actions and reactions to the abuse?
  • Also, if you could, please describe some of the specific types of shame, self-blame and guilt that working Step 5 has assisted you with.

Step 6 reads:

“We’re entirely ready to have a loving Higher Power help us remove all the debilitating consequences of the abuse and became willing to treat ourselves with respect, compassion and acceptance.”

Step 6 is often described by people who have worked the SIA steps repeatedly as a Step 5 “housecleaning,” implying that there is more we become in touch with after sharing our 4th Steps with ourselves and others.

  • What new discoveries about yourself and/or particular challenges did you experience as you became ready to be more honest with yourself and take more responsibility for living your life as an empowered adult?
  • In what ways did trust grow in yourself as a result of working Step 6 and how did that growth of trust enable you to take more responsibility for working through the dysfunctional coping mechanisms caused by your abuse?
  • What’s the relationship between working Step 6 and building internal trust between one’s inner child or children and one’s adult self, and why is that trust important in order to take responsibility for one’s life?