Every day there are new stories, every paper, every city, every state. This is just my small effort to remind you that the children are not the only victims when a child is abused.
All of us have stories; our lives twist and turn in ways that are unique to each person. Each human, from birth to death will experience events in life that alter their path. If we’re among the fortunate, we travel through our days without much disruption. Life throws circumstance in the path, people rise above, they learn, they become stronger. Some times though, things are put in our paths that are so difficult to overcome that they stop someone dead. Emotional death is not as kind as a physical one. A person void of emotion or so detached from it is little more than a shell. A person can become ghost with a soul.
I know this, because this is an accurate description of a long period in my life. If I am honest, it’s an accurate description of most of my life. In some situations the instinctive preservation overrides normal emotional reactions. This is how people survive captivity, it’s how people cope with war, it is even as common as the way the brain of a doctor processes the loss of a patient. Detachment is a survival method that requires no intention, it’s automatic and present at birth.
Suffering at the hands of another is often the impetus of unhealthy detachment. Many times that journey to bridge that emotional chasm is one fraught with detours and restarts. It is with those things in mind, that I begin my story. Truth is difficult to process. At times it’s difficult to put forth. I have come to the conclusion that my disclosure is necessary on my travel to healing.
Personal experiences mold our perception of the world. A revelation? Of course not, it’s common knowledge. Little understanding of the human psyche is needed to accept the idea that we change and alter our thoughts and behavior based on what know of the world. Two people can also experience the same environment and draw differing conclusions. In example, my brothers do not share the same account of our family history as I do. Older siblings often see things that the younger ones may never even know about. My mother left my father when I was four, I am not even sure that my brothers know that. Because of our age difference, I know and remember.
Family was not the source of my pain. Family usually brings pain of one sort or another. I am a mother though and I do hold my parents partially responsible for not knowing that something was up. Youthful innocence can not be stolen and leave no mark. Changes seep out all over you when you’re a child. Trauma bubbles up, and if a person is paying attention, they notice. Mother and father did not notice. I believe they should have. How they could not, is still beyond me. The realization that they did not know, did not come until my adult hood. I am grateful for that understanding though, because it has made me determined not to miss any signs of distress in my own children. I do not, in any way, blame my parents. They did not know, or understand. Period.
My parents were afflicted with a healthy dose of “Lack of supervision”. That sums up my parents contribution to the abuse that I have suffered. Raising my kids now, I am better armed through education, resources and awareness of child abuse.
People often turn their bad into good, for that reason I have work with abused children. It helps that I really do get it. I understand in ways that others never can. I know that lost look in their eyes. Stopping the cycle of abuse is the primary reason I am willing to risk heartache to work with kids who are deeply wounded. There is no qualifier for abuse. If the person experiencing it feels pain, physically or otherwise at the hands of another, then it is possible abuse. In example, many of the children I have worked with over my life also have mental health diagnoses. Personal experience tells me that they are more subject to abuse because their issues make life more difficult for parents.
Parents who were abused are more likely to abuse. The official term for this is “generational abuse”, my personal problem with using that term, is that when I hear it, I ‘hear’ intent. I doubt that it is ever intentional. This cycle though, is why I have worked with these children so many times before. It’s also why I am aching to return.
I step in and in one small way attempt to break that chain. Chains like that are familiar to me, for much to my disgrace, over periods of difficulties at times I’ve abused my own children. My definition of abuse is likely stronger than what some people hold. High standards for the treatment of children are the rule of thumb here at home. I fall short, and sometimes I fall far short. The difference is, I know it and I’m sorry. I make great effort to set things right when I fail to keep them emotionally safe.
For the abusers, I hold hope. I have learned a better way. Most people can, but it takes work. Society needs to understand that it’s a cycle that needs to break. Putting people in jail is necessary, and no one should be excused for what they do to a child, yet it’s not enough. Rehabilitation needs to happen for the children as well as the perpetrator. Without intense therapy, many victims will grow up and victimize.
Media does a disservice in these cases. How does a person step out of a cycle when they are met at every turn with people who believe they are monsters? Abusers are not always monsters; some times they are people just like me.
People who lose their way.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a great burden”- Philo of Alexandrea
Facebooks “Prevent Child Abuse” Group