If you have been a victim of child (sexual) abuse, the chances are that you will still be suffering from its impact throughout your adult life. Survivors can feel deep shame, guilt and self-blame. The fear, anger and resentments can eat away at our souls.
As a survivor of child abuse, there are times when its legacy has stopped me in my tracks, even brought me to my knees when I least expected it. Normal day-to-day events can act like triggers to a dark and murky world we try so desperately to escape.
Throughout our lifetime, many of us deal with the memories sporadically. I am just realising through blogging that I have already done a lot of work over the years on the child sexual abuse experiences, but not the rest.
The trauma from the physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my parents is as every bit painful as it was back then. I can honestly say that I have never yet found the courage to embrace and accept all that pain…..but, that’s for another post!
It might be a photo, a smell or seeing the vulnerability of a child, but at various points, memories trigger and we are suddenly back to the child within.
In recent weeks, I have been asking myself what has been helping to “get over” the sexual abuse legacy. Reading a blog today, has made me realise what a large part of that is.
Understandably, we recoil in horror at the thought of accepting everything that happened. I remember the intense anger, hurt and repulsion that I felt years ago. Acceptance was not something I could embrace. It is a long journey, a slow process; one that we should never try to rush beyond what feels comfortable/bearable. Beating up on ourselves for not getting there fast enough is never helpful.
Unfortunately, we can never erase the memories, or even how we felt. We can only work towards embracing the facts and search for healing through acceptance and forgiving ourselves. Trying to understand is futile. Our abuse was a senseless and disgusting act. We can never make sense of that.
Any kind of child abuse is never the fault of the victim. Often the victims can question their own actions – “why did I not fight back or run away? Why did I never tell someone or simply say no”? This mind-set can easily cause many of us to believe we are somehow responsible.
We must always remember that our abusers were the adults and we the vulnerable and defenceless children. Those abusive adults took advantage. We were not responsible for their abuse of a child.
We might never completely get over our abuse. Maybe we cannot repair all that damage. Perhaps there will be times throughout the rest of our lives when we need to sit with the trauma and subsequent depression. This is a sobering thought, but it can prepare and save us from further disappointment and hurt.