Since it’s April…

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


6 thoughts on “Since it’s April…

  1. ((HUGE HUG)) Including emotional abuse, and hm severe childhood trauma (since there’s some stuff that can’t exactly be avoided but is definitely abusive/traumatic) ?

  2. Emotional abuse and childhood trauma are definitely included in these things. I experienced physical and emotional, but the emotional was much worse. It doesn’t fade like bruises and cuts do. Plus, it tends to ripple throughout every area of a person’s life.
    I would venture to say that emotional abuse is much worse than physical. Physical ends. It’s the emotional stuff that gives you nightmares for years.

  3. Emotional abuse when you are a child destroys basic concepts that every child is developing step by step in their minds. My example is the concept of “justice”
    I was so hurt about the fact that my mother would abuse me verbally and physically and my father would not intervene, that I was never able to believe that there was a justice that finally would provide redress. Nobody intervened, nobody stopped her, nobody rescued me, so how are you going to believe in good human nature if you are surviving in a concentration camp and nobody is stopping and punishing your torturers? The view of the world is for ever distorted, and you are always a little skeptic watching the grown ups’ creations and you never get to believe them completely. Is this wise? I don’t know, but is a consequence of parents brutality on their own children.

  4. I totally agree, Nora. That’s a great point and way of explaining it.

    I found the same to be true in my own life. I also find that I am a much more cynical person than those around me. Not as much as I was as a teen, because I’m learning that people can be truly nice without ulterior motives. People are also capable of great love, which is not something I believed at a young age.

    Although it is a depressing concept to people who didn’t experience this type of childhood, these traits make many of us excellent survivors. It can be very beneficial to know the worst in human nature and be able to spot all the small signs that point to disasters with people down the road. Those who haven’t survived trauma can’t understand hypervigilence at all.

  5. I’ve heard I’m a great survivor because of it, too:) The good thing that came out of such. I got emotional, but also something of a different version: back when I was just a kid first diagnosed with lupus, I got called “baby” for crying in the hospital by nurses who held me down to do stuff. It’s not something — hopefully — done today to kids or to me, but I’ve never forgotten. Stuff like that’s a different dimension, if you see what I mean. I’ve since then sort of made up with my mother who was having a hard time dealing, I know now — but back then it was horrific.

  6. JA,
    The things that happened to you as a child in the hospital is a betrayal of trust. It can be a form of violation and a trauma. I can understand how that would bother you.

    I was 18 when I had my daughter. I didn’t know enough to know that I should have run screaming from my doctor’s office before I was 4 weeks overdue. In the end, he almost killed me, essentially sterilized me, and permanently injured my daughter. In 18 1/2 hours of labor with an epidural that didn’t work and an almost 10 lb baby, the nurses scolded me for yelling and told me “you’re not in pain…that’s pressure you’re feeling”. Until one stuck me in the rear with a needle to prove it. I cursed them then, and it still pisses me off to think about it.

    I had a tough time getting over it, and I cannot trust doctors now. Luckily, the regulars seem to understand and don’t feel offended when I question and double check everything. But…I live by the fool me once motto.

    I know that it’s not the same as what happened to you, but it was horrible in itself. I can only imagine how much worse it would be as a kid.

    Know that your feelings are valid. If you feel it, it’s real…even if others can’t understand. No one else can understand if they’re not in your shoes.

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