Adult survivors of childhood abuse

“I am continually amazed at how often someone who was abused will begin by telling me they had a happy childhood or how richly loved they felt by their mother and father, even though the history indicates that nothing could be further from the truth. A child would rather have a bad parent than no parent, and even more would rather be a bad kid than face the wickedness of the parent he is dependent upon. How is a child to survive if he fully admits that his life is in the hands of someone who will neither protect him against harm nor provide for his legitimate relational desires?” (Allender, D. B. (1995) - The Wounded Heart. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.)
How can a child know something is wrong if they have nothing to compare it to? For a child who lives in abuse, is daily humiliated, subjected to violence, and forced to participate in sexual acts, the routine becomes their “normal”. To us, this “normal” is evil and abusive but if that is all you have ever known, you see it as “just the way it was”. This is sometimes why it takes years for an adult victim of childhood abuse to fully see that the world they grew up in was not normal at all.  They may face multiple issues throughout their adult life and just not realize that those issues can be traced back to their childhood abuse. For many, at some point, a tiny inner voice begins to whisper in their soul that it is not right that Mom lets this happen, Dad should not be touching me this way, the constant drinking and violence is not how life should be in a loving family. Sadly, sometimes the child turns these feelings inward and they start to believe that if only they had gotten a better grade at school, or if they had worked harder to make Mom happy, or if they had been quieter so Dad wouldn’t notice them that things would have been better. A child cannot change a dysfunctional family and being led to think they are responsible for the problems and they can change things only leads them to an experience of powerlessness. Assigning a child to such an adult role only leads this child to eventually realize that no matter how intelligent, competent, talented or beautiful, they could never change the trajectory of their dysfunctional family and they are left feeling like they can never do anything good enough in their life.
Many times the deep powerlessness that many victims of childhood abuse feel has left deep scars that carry into adulthood. It’s like a rock in our shoe that nags until you remove that rock and gain relief. Sometimes the first step in working toward relief is talking to someone about your abuse. If you have been a victim of childhood abuse, Crisis Services of North Alabama offers confidential crisis counseling, support groups and other services at no charge. You may contact your local Jackson County office at 256.574-5826 for an appointment or our 24 hour HELPline at 256.716.1000.

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