Friday, October 28, 2011

On Abuse

On abuse:

"The younger the victim, the more vulnerable he is. The more developmental skills and life experiences uncontaminated by trauma a child has, the more he has to draw on in the face of trauma. When life goes well, and children are loved and protected, each day is like a deposit in a savings account. Neglect, repeated physical abuse or sexual assault...or other life-threatening events, make huge withdrawals on the account. The more a child has in the bank when the trauma occurs, the better the prognosis for a quick recovery. Small children who are repeatedly traumatized usually have few deposits and easily become emotionally bankrupt. 

In troubled families, the thinking around who is responsible is convoluted at best. Abusive parents externalize, blaming other people, places and things for their behavior. They compensate by controlling everyone around them. their heart of hearts...they feel out of control. They must blame others because it is too painful to take responsibility for their unhappiness. Children are easy targets because they cannot challenge their parent's thinking errors. Few children can argue when facing an enraged mother. Hearing accusations often enough, children come to believe that they are responsible for their parent's troubled behavior.

Feelings begin in the body, not in the mind. Many survivors say, "I know what happened wasn't my fault, but I still feel somewhat unlovable and damaged. My self-worth is measured by how other people see me. My head knows that is wrong, but my heart feels differently. Thinking comes much more easily to's still a big risk to feel. If I ever started to cry, I'd cry a river. If I ever felt the terror of it all, I'd disintegrate into nothingness."

Beyond teaching children to recognize and articulate their feelings, parents help children to contain and express feelings constructively. When children do not learn how to do this they may become overwhelmed by them, experiencing them as floods. They may come to fear or loathe their feelings.

Adults from abusive homes can also become pain-avoidant. Survivors attempt to control the people and events around them so that they will never feel pain again.

What is most tragic about pain-avoidant behavior is that it is a defense against something that has already happened and cannot be undone. A survivor cannot live fully in the present until he or she has the past in perspective. Sometimes being preoccupied and defensive about the pain waiting in the future is just a distraction from addressing the real pain in the past.

To be intimate is to risk pain. There are no guanantees. To miss years of loving to avoid the pain of loss is too high a price to pay.

When the losses engendered by trauma are fully mourned, the trauma loses its power over the survivor. Instead of the emotional breakdown they feared...survivors experience an emotional breakthrough! Completing the grieving process means divorcing the trauma from one's sense of identity and self-worth. 

(from the blog:

*I am currently looking to see if there is a link between fibro/chronic pain and childhood abuse. Also, I have really been struggling lately... i don't know if it's cuz my girls are the age I was when it was hell, or if it's cuz in breaking the cycle I see all I endured and who my mother is now.... I am going to look into some counseling and have an appt tomorrow to check into it. ~B

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