Over the past 10 years, many survivors have posted comments on blogs I have written (We Are Survivors Blog). I have taken many of the survivors’ public comments and am sharing them with you. Both their pain and hope for a better future are common threads.
Addressing these tales of abuse and suffering is how we recover. By making our voices heard and speaking out, we can begin to make a difference in this world. These comments reveal many of the common struggles survivors face every day.
Survivor #32: I am one of those who was mentally abused verbally during my childhood. “You’re stupid. You’ll never amount to anything. An education is not right for you. You’re not fit for any woman, etc.” Sometimes I have flashbacks even though I have been married to the same precious woman for 47 years. Mental abuse lasts a lifetime. You have to fight to keep back the echoes that degrade, dehumanize, and demoralize your character. I have learned the hard way that no one will ever care more than those who have themselves been abused. No one will ever understand the tears. They can only sympathize. I came from a home where I was not wanted because I was born with a cleft lip. I was a disgrace to my mother but my father got me the best surgeon in the country. However, I was used as a political football between my mother and father. My father blamed my mother, and she blamed him. Believe me, I understand abuse.
Survivor #33: When people ask me why I didn’t speak out as a child, my answer is because no one would listen. In my family, every now and again someone would say: “Remember you can always count on me if you have a problem. I will always be here for you.” Except that each and every time I tried to get help about matters I couldn’t help on my own, I got yelled at, hit, punished or humiliated to the core. This taught me very early on to keep my mouth shut, or my problems would be redoubled in a mean way. In any case, I never got to the point of telling the plain truth because I was simply silenced before I could get there. But because I was traumatized, I was all the same sent to a number of psychologists. My first therapist’s diagnosis, when I was seven-years-old, was “The child is too attached to her mother.” So, my abuser was safe to keep doing what he wanted. When my abuser died, I tried once again to say what he did to me. I was 15-years-old at the time. “I did not cry this morning when I was given the news,” I began, getting ready to explain why to the nth therapist of my life. But I never got there because I was accused of being unaffectionate. The point is that as a child, I knew all too well what kind of response I would get if I ever talked about my abuse. So, I didn’t push to get the outcome I was looking for. But when I finally did a couple of years ago (I will soon be 40), I got exactly the same reactions I knew I would get as a child. Had I been born 40 years earlier, my family would have shut me up in an asylum. They can’t do that now, but they still cut me out of any possible relationship with family, friends, and acquaintances. They believe I am crazy and out-of-control. In a way, it is refreshing to finally see everything more clearly. For the first time in my life, I am refusing to tell THEIR made-up story about my life.