This is the second to last blog in the Child Abuse Survivors' Voices series. I hope reading about other survivors' experiences has been inspiring, comforting and helped you feel less isolated knowing that you are not alone out there.
Survivor #34: What I think every person can remember from childhood (abused or not abused) is being on the receiving end, being open to receive. Memories are likely more to do with what is going on outside of us rather than how we felt inside at the time. Children are not focused on themselves. Children are not narcissistic. Children are too dependent to think of themselves, how they feel about things. Sex is an adult behavior. It is entirely adult.
Survivor #35: I am not at all surprised that there are mothers who sexually abuse their children. My guess is that most are mentally ill. Publically, we as a society seem to acknowledge that men are capable of such horrendous violations of body and spirit. But, in most cases, mothers are not only aware of what is taking place, they support the abuse by their silence, by providing places and opportunities, and by providing alibis… “The child ‘lies’ all the time. He/she can’t be trusted.” In essence, they abandon their children to monsters. In some cases, fathers do likewise.
Survivor #36: I am just starting to do the hard work of reconciling the neglect and lack of attachment that I now know has caused me so much pain. I am really just now accepting that the neglect was very powerful. I always felt like “I wasn’t beaten or anything,” so parenting can’t have been what my problem was. Truthfully, I still struggle with it. I am learning that I dissociate a lot to cope, and really don’t know how to attach and connect with anyone. I’m terrified of what this will do to my own little girl who is five, and I already know what it’s done to my marriage in that it’s barely hanging on. I feel so totally helpless and like I’ll never be happy and I’ll end up completely alone. My marriage is disintegrating. I try to be present for my daughter, and am fighting to do that. But I usually lose that battle and can only withdraw into my own world where it’s both miserable and lonely. Poor me, right?!!
Survivor #37: Children who are abused have to “deal” with it somehow—both at the time of the abuse (which coincides with no many important developmental stages in the child’s body such as neural pathways and connections, bio-chemistry, hormone levels), and later in life (when one enters the “adult” world with all these adaptations that worked in the abusive situation, but which are often maladaptive in adult society). Therefore, the abuse can never be just swept under the rug, forgotten about, or lightly “gotten over” as it formed such a huge part of our development as a child and young adult. It was literally what we learned about life. To expect someone to be able to “just get over” childhood abuse, and be able to live a totally functional, healthy life with no support, is incredibly short-sighted. It is like plucking a person from a tiny Amazonian tribe, with their own unique language, out from their home village in the rainforest, and plunking them down in the middle of Times Square in New York and expecting them to “get on with it.” That little tribesman or woman wouldn’t last a week without someone to translate for them, help them find shelter, etc. And yet, survivors of child abuse are expected to take the emotional “language” they have learned in childhood, and somehow make it fit in the real world, or just learn a whole new emotional language and way of living from scratch on their own. Even for those of us who have no outward visible manifestations of the damage, we are still dealing with it silently, internally, and unless we get help, very often self-destructively. So much substance abuse and eating disorder is about this which can be effectively “hidden” for decades but which are a huge personal cost to the individual hiding them.