Archive for April 2nd, 2011
It has been estimated that 20-40 percent of girls and 2-9 percent of boys are sexually or physically abused by the time they reach eighteen. These are probably conservative estimates since many incidents of abuse are never reported. People who abuse children do so in order to meet their own needs. Abusers do not have the child’s best interest in mind. The abuse of a child can never be the child’s fault.
Survivors of childhood abuse may go for years without experiencing symptoms associated with the trauma. However, it is not unusual to find oneself as an adult experiencing memories that have not been present since childhood. These memories may be triggered unexpectedly by any number of seemingly unrelated events, as well as by more familiar events. Some of these triggers include specific sounds, smells, tastes, words, facial expressions, as well as feelings of fear, helplessness, or despair.
Abusive families tend to be chaotic and unpredictable. Rules that apply one day don’t apply the next. Promises are neither kept nor remembered. Expectations vary from one day to the next. Parents may be strict at times and indifferent at others. In addition, emotional expression is frequently forbidden and discussion about the abuse is usually nonexistent. Family members are usually expected to keep problems a secret, thus preventing anyone from seeking help. All of these factors leave children feeling insecure, frustrated, and angry. Children often feel there must be something wrong with them which make their parents behave this way. Mistrust of others, difficulty with emotional expression, and difficulties with intimate relationships carry over into adulthood.
Below are some suggestions that may offer some guidance on coping with childhood abuse:
1. Get Help.
In most abusive families children tend to learn to doubt their own intuition and emotional reactions. Often outside support provides an objective perspective and much-needed affirmation which will help you learn to trust your own reactions. Help or support from individual counseling or self-help groups may be beneficial. The following websites can offer some additional information:
-The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network http://www.rainn.org/ -Survivors of Incest Anonymous http://www.siawso.org/ -Adult Survivors of Child Abuse http://www.ascasupport.org/
2. Learn to Identify and Express Emotions.
Growing up in an abusive family often results in an exaggerated attention to others’ feelings and a denial of your own feelings and experiences. While this often results in very good sensitivity to others, we may have neglected sensitivity to ourselves. Stop each day and identify emotions that are being or have been experienced. What triggered them? How might you affirm or respond to them? Try keeping a daily feelings journal.
3. Allow Yourself to Feel Angry About What Happened.
Forgiveness is a very reasonable last step in recovery, but it is a horrible first step. Placing the responsibility for what happened during childhood where it belongs, i.e., with the responsible adults, allows to us feel less guilt and shame and more nurturance and acceptance toward ourselves. It is usually helpful to find productive ways to vent anger. This can be done in support groups or with good friends. Try writing a letter to one or both parents and then tearing up the letter.
4. Practice Taking Good Care of Yourself.
Frequently, survivors of abusive have an exaggerated sense of responsibility. They tend to overwork and forget to take care of themselves. Try identifying the things that are enjoyable, and then give permission to do at least one of these per day. Work on balancing the things that must be done with the things we want to do. Balance is a key word for people who’ve grown up in abusive families.
Sometimes talking with a counselor may be helpful. A counselor would be able to assist in the self discovery process, help process feelings and go over coping techniques.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )