We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

The Response to Child Abuse Trauma

When children are abused, they begin to question themselves and their world because it destroys two essential beliefs:

  • Their sense of trust, and
  • Their sense of control over their lives.

Most victims must deal with the physical and emotional shockwaves of what happened, but also with the sense of helplessness, powerlessness, and a loss of control – not to mention the fact that most perpetrators are the victim’s own parents or caretakers!

Unlike the common response when victims are attacked by strangers—which is to retreat into a childlike state, and when the immediate danger has passed, to turn to an authority figure for help like a police officer or nurse—the child abuse victim lives with the perpetrator(s) and thus is silenced and receives no care. This is part of what makes child abuse so heinous.

What would help children and adult survivors is that when they finally do tell someone, the person hearing about the abuse should react in a normal fashion. That is, that the child’s or survivor’s reactions of anger, fear, frustration, guilt, and grief are normal for what they experienced. Anyone would react that way to a criminal act against their bodies. And yet, sadly, that is not the response the child or survivor receives. Instead, they are made to feel like something is wrong with them, the victims, instead of holding the perpetrators accountable.

Instead of blaming the victim, it is more helpful to say things like:

  • “You are safe now.”
  • “It wasn’t your fault.”
  • “You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”

In her book, “Trauma and Recovery”, Dr. Judith Herman states, “People who have endured horrible events suffer predictable psychological harm. There is a spectrum of traumatic disorders, ranging from the effects of a single overwhelming event to the more complicated effects of prolonged and repeated abuse. Established diagnostic concepts, especially the severe personality disorders diagnosed in women, have generally failed to recognize the impact of victimization.” So have most Americans who have been lucky enough not to have been abused as children.

Dealing with child abuse trauma means that survivors have to come face-to-face with the knowledge of the evil perpetrated against them. The sad reality is that the American public doesn’t want to know or doesn’t care about this unspeakable truth that exists for tens of millions of survivors. By speaking and writing publicly about America’s denial and lack of support for survivors, I am trying to turn that behavior around.  We have to start a dialogue and to support all survivors who work very hard to recover. I am committed to doing just that.

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Comments 10

Ptperez on Thursday, 11 June 2015 21:26

Dear Diane,
Thank you for continuing to chip away at the brick. The wall is thick, but little by little it can break.

0
Dear Diane, Thank you for continuing to chip away at the brick. The wall is thick, but little by little it can break.
Louiserands on Monday, 15 June 2015 00:13

I have been pretending that I'm ok and participating in this world when I haven't. I pretend to trust when I don't . The impact that has had on me is I'm disconnected. What's missing is true love.
The possibility I creat for myself is venerability and connection. The victory over the past is that I'm not a victim.

0
I have been pretending that I'm ok and participating in this world when I haven't. I pretend to trust when I don't . The impact that has had on me is I'm disconnected. What's missing is true love. The possibility I creat for myself is venerability and connection. The victory over the past is that I'm not a victim.
Diane on Monday, 15 June 2015 07:28

After 10 years of work, I am beginning to see the Brick Wall of Denial start to crumble a little, and that is a good sign. All of us working together to make our voices heard is what will make the difference.

0
After 10 years of work, I am beginning to see the Brick Wall of Denial start to crumble a little, and that is a good sign. All of us working together to make our voices heard is what will make the difference.
Diane on Monday, 15 June 2015 07:40

I'm happy that you are aware of those feelings (a lot of survivors aren't) as that is the beginning of recovery. Also, that you said you are not a victim. I support your efforts in healing and sharing the wonderful person that are with all of us.

0
I'm happy that you are aware of those feelings (a lot of survivors aren't) as that is the beginning of recovery. Also, that you said you are not a victim. I support your efforts in healing and sharing the wonderful person that are with all of us.
Shannyshans on Thursday, 18 June 2015 19:37

This is a true but sad point you make Diane, I am happy to join your fight in speaking up for Child abuse Survivors. For too long now I have been silenced which has added to the lifetime of pain and destruction I have put myself through in turn. Thanks for this post!

0
This is a true but sad point you make Diane, I am happy to join your fight in speaking up for Child abuse Survivors. For too long now I have been silenced which has added to the lifetime of pain and destruction I have put myself through in turn. Thanks for this post!
Diane on Friday, 19 June 2015 18:25

I appreciate your comments. This is the most insidious behavior of anything I've ever read about. The statistics are published year after year about child abuse, but the long-term impact on adult survivors is NEVER TALKED ABOUT, and the perpetrators go on their merry way. I have given over 100 presentations, walked the halls of Congress, and yet there is no public outcry about either child abuse or the hell we have to recover from which was not our doing. We will start providing services for survivors the end of this year (I'm assuming you have read about our work on this website), so by actually having a Center to acknowledge the struggle of survivors and provide a safe and caring atmosphere, we will be a visible entity in the community. One way you can help is to donate something to support our efforts. Another is to speak out without shame because you, nor any other survivor, did anything to deserve how you/we were treated. I wish you all the best.

0
I appreciate your comments. This is the most insidious behavior of anything I've ever read about. The statistics are published year after year about child abuse, but the long-term impact on adult survivors is NEVER TALKED ABOUT, and the perpetrators go on their merry way. I have given over 100 presentations, walked the halls of Congress, and yet there is no public outcry about either child abuse or the hell we have to recover from which was not our doing. We will start providing services for survivors the end of this year (I'm assuming you have read about our work on this website), so by actually having a Center to acknowledge the struggle of survivors and provide a safe and caring atmosphere, we will be a visible entity in the community. One way you can help is to donate something to support our efforts. Another is to speak out without shame because you, nor any other survivor, did anything to deserve how you/we were treated. I wish you all the best.
Secretary45 on Sunday, 28 June 2015 02:03

When my daughter was born I refused to let my dad anywhere near her. When she was three I told my mum why and that my dad had interfered with me as a child. she called me a liar and I became estranged from the whole family. They didnt believe me either. When my mum was dying she phoned me but I hung up. She was already dead to me. In the meantime I divorced my husband and he kept in touch with my family. Ten years later we remarried. Something he said about my past is bothering me. I have told him in graphic detail what my dad did to me. His opinion of my past was that he thought it was a moment of weakness and says if he had known the full story he would have been on my side? A moment of weakness is still child abuse! That sentance is bothering me. what a strange way of thinking? still. The family think I broke my mum's heart on her deathbed. It hurts.

0
When my daughter was born I refused to let my dad anywhere near her. When she was three I told my mum why and that my dad had interfered with me as a child. she called me a liar and I became estranged from the whole family. They didnt believe me either. When my mum was dying she phoned me but I hung up. She was already dead to me. In the meantime I divorced my husband and he kept in touch with my family. Ten years later we remarried. Something he said about my past is bothering me. I have told him in graphic detail what my dad did to me. His opinion of my past was that he thought it was a moment of weakness and says if he had known the full story he would have been on my side? A moment of weakness is still child abuse! That sentance is bothering me. what a strange way of thinking? still. The family think I broke my mum's heart on her deathbed. It hurts.
Diane on Monday, 29 June 2015 07:57

Sadly, what you described happens all over America. People refuse to look at reality and perpetrators go on their merry way. It is easier for them to chastise you for facing the crimes committed rather than confront the abuser. I call them "silent partners." It is difficult to understand your husband's comments. It is up to you how you want to address that. Your stance, though, with your mother, to some, may sound unreasonable, but the most important thing is that you were true to yourself. Once again, the focus has been on how your mother was affected by your not speaking to her rather than on her unwillingness to support you and the fact you were abused. I wish you all the best.

0
Sadly, what you described happens all over America. People refuse to look at reality and perpetrators go on their merry way. It is easier for them to chastise you for facing the crimes committed rather than confront the abuser. I call them "silent partners." It is difficult to understand your husband's comments. It is up to you how you want to address that. Your stance, though, with your mother, to some, may sound unreasonable, but the most important thing is that you were true to yourself. Once again, the focus has been on how your mother was affected by your not speaking to her rather than on her unwillingness to support you and the fact you were abused. I wish you all the best.
De Bruce on Monday, 29 June 2015 10:23

I dont even know where to begin. But Thank you Diane for this site and the opportunity to read and hopefully start to speak about their experiences.

0
I dont even know where to begin. But Thank you Diane for this site and the opportunity to read and hopefully start to speak about their experiences.
Diane on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 11:44

I firmly believe that when survivors get their voices back, this will be the next Civil Rights movement in America. I have been working for 10 years to get support for survivors. With our Center opening the end of this year, we will at last have a visible presence in the community. I hope you read the other parts of this website and will encourage people to donate to help us grow.

0
I firmly believe that when survivors get their voices back, this will be the next Civil Rights movement in America. I have been working for 10 years to get support for survivors. With our Center opening the end of this year, we will at last have a visible presence in the community. I hope you read the other parts of this website and will encourage people to donate to help us grow.

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