It’s Child Abuse Awareness Month. And, since I’m a survivor, I wanted to post a reminder to everyone that the effects don’t stop when the child leaves the abusive situation. The emotional and physical effects last the rest of the person’s life.
Not only have I survived an abusive childhood, I’ve worked online in support groups and with other adult survivors. Even in their seventies, people find the strength to speak out for the first time and start a healing process that they sometimes don’t realize they needed. When this happens, they’re often eager to tell their stories to someone who will take them seriously and treat them with respect.
You don’t have to be an expert to help. Just take the time to listen and be honest. They only need to know that it sounds as horrible as they felt it was, and that they weren’t to blame because it was outside their control. If you know someone who as abused as a child, don’t tell them to get over it, as much as you may want to. This just adds you to the list of people who they cannot trust with their feelings.
Also, if the person is talking about suicide, take them seriously. You can’t fix them, but you point them in the direction of help when they need it most.
If you’re married to an abuse survivor, watch for signs of their getting too involved with others emotionally–especially abused children. I worked to help get a group of kids out of an extreme situation. It was expensive, emotionally exhausting, and took two frustrating years. I don’t regret it, but the emotional toll literally put me into a tailspin because it brought up a host of old feelings. I wouldn’t fail to help another child in the future, but I know how to protect myself now.
I’m also going to be blogging about the topic this month. I look forward to seeing you there https://angelacameron.wordpress.com