I think one of the worst effects of child abuse is its ability to make its survivors second guess everything. At one time or another all of these feelings/thoughts have ran through my head – Did it really happen, I could have stopped it if I really wanted to, it was my fault, I was asking for it, etc. It has left me with feelings of guilt shame and a hell of a lot of pain; it has crippled any self-esteem that I was left with. To add to all of this I have had so many people tell me to move on, get over it, that it wasn’t that bad or worse things could have happen to me just look at the news. For all you people out there that are saying this to someone who has been abuse – shame on you! This is not help it is hurting the person even more. For everyone that has been abused and has to listen to this – I feel for you – also know that what they are saying is garbage.
Last week I pick up a wonderful book at the bookstore – Secret Survivors – Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women by E. Sue Blume. Usually I don’t purchase books from the bookstore without first having read them from the library or borrowing from the therapist office, but something drew me to this book almost from the start and I brought it impulsively. I’m so glad I did.
It starts with an Incest Survivor’s Aftereffects Checklist of 34 things. I have 27 of the 34 including – Fear of the dark, gagging sensitivity, need to be invisible, shutting down in a crisis, trust issues, the need to produce so that I can be loved, feeling crazy, sexual issues – Sex = dirty, and more. It was amazing that as I was going through the list I didn’t even know that I had some of these aftereffects until I read them here and started crying.
Finally, someone else understands what I am going through and is able to put into words what I can’t even find the thoughts for. Here’s what I have so far:
- Incest is a violation of not just the body but of the bond of trust and love that should be between a child and a family member/caretaker. This child is depending on this person. This makes it much more damaging than abuse by a stranger. This dependency is what causes the real damage but also give the abuser the needed domination they need to abuse the child. Because the child is dependent the feel that they have no choice it the matter.
- Continually abuse is seems like a life sentence to a child. Remember in a child’s mind 6 months is forever. Abuse that goes on for years is beyond what a child’s brain can process.
- Resistance is futile – the word “NO” carries little to no weight with an abuser. As much as my abuser hurt me, I needed my family. I know that speaking up would destroy my family, so I decided to keep quiet and let it go on. Yes I protected my abuser, and by doing so I kept his secret and started to carry the shame and blame that rightly belonged to him. I now know that I wasn’t really given any choice in what happened to me. I should not carry either the blame or the shame. He was the adult and I was the child.
To be continued…