Preface: I am writing this to no one in particular only those who have been abused and anyone who cares about them.
This post is inspired by another blogger mentioning their difficulty with accepting their experience as abuse due to there being worse cases on record*. Well I have been abused as a child and take special issue with this topic. When I was going through therapy I too had trouble calling my experiences abuse knowing there were much worse out there than mine. But the objective should not centre around quantitative measuring of a person’s experiences, as though it were possible to say definitively that one person’s abuse cancels another’s out. It is not for anyone but the abused to say if they suffered. Only I know my own suffering.
Diminishing people by discounting their experiences is cruel and in itself abusive. I know there will be people who think abuse is simply a term for people ‘too sensitive’ to cope with reality but, they too, likely knew abuse and lack compassion for fellow sufferers. One needs to be shown compassion by someone else in order to have it for one’s self and others. I feel that being competitive with abuse is unhealthy and no way to move toward healing. There are plenty of things to be competitive over in life, abuse shouldn’t be one of them. Try ‘drumming up’ a bit of empathy for your fellow humans.
Validation in itself can be greatly healing. Knowing someone believes you and has compassion for you can help immensely. Hearing my psychologist tell me that I was abused freed me from the shame that had bound me to the past. In my mind I knew I’d been treated wrongly but hearing it was abuse just gave me permission to stop blaming myself for it. No longer did I have to feel like it was ‘my fault’ somehow that my mother abused me. I could say to my inner child that it wasn’t your(my) fault and you(I) were innocent. Children depend on their parents to give them love and protection. It is never the child’s fault when a parent chooses to emotionally, physically or sexually abuse a child.
As children we end up blaming ourselves for any abuse we suffer though as a survival mechanism. It is in a child’s survival interests to not blame the parent(s) but oneself because it allows the child to believe they have control over their situation-if only they can figure out how to behave/perform the ‘right’ way. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how the child behaves because an abuser will always come up with a reason for dishing out the abuse.
Most often abusers are adults who were abused as children themselves and know no other way to parent/behave around children. Abusive parents/relatives typically are one more link in the chain of inter generational abuse. It is not usually stoppable until therapy is sought and some level of recovery is achieved. To deny abuse is to give permission for its perpetuation.
Alice Miller, psychoanalyst and author, has a term she uses to describe the cycle of abuse in families: repetition compulsion. The idea behind repetition compulsion is we will act out what we experienced onto those we are in charge of caring for until the specific abuse is acknowledged consciously. This explains how abused people can end up abusing their own children while never being conscious of the damage they’re doing. Part of the issue with repetition compulsion is the identification with one’s abuser-another survival instinct for children. If one does not detach from identifying with their abuser they will rationalize it(the abuse) and continue to act it out onto the next generation.
I recommend anyone who has been abused who is having trouble accepting they were abused to readAlice
Miller‘s “For Your Own Good” or “The Body Never Lies“. She has written many books on child abuse and advocates strongly for children’s rights through her writing of psychoanalytical books. Her most recent book I am aware of is “The Body Never Lies” written in the late 2000s. If you read a few of her books you’ll realize she often repeats certain things in all of her books but I do not think it is a bad thing. She has her own style of writing and reiterating points in more than one book is fine in my opinion. It solidifies concepts and ideas at any rate. She might be a bit much for some people because she is relentlessly negative concerning parents-despite being one herself, but her messages are so valuable it would be worthwhile to read her books anyhow.
I hope that none of you( who’ve been abused) will tolerate anyone diminishing your experiences as abuse simply because the person is uncomfortable with it. Tough sh*t. When we were vulnerable children being abused it was uncomfortable for us too! You have the right to be safe and happy. Start with acknowledging what happened to you and not discounting it.
*Disclaimer: This post is written to no one in particular. It is a general statement only of my thoughts. No comments are intended to be directed at anyone specifically. Everything stated is of a general nature in its intention. Namaste.
May all beings be safe and free from harm.
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