As children, we were 'victims' of abuse. Now adults, we are 'survivors'. The term "survivor" suggests that we have lived through, transcended, gone on in spite of what was done to us. We may not have entirely overcome the effects of the abuse, but we have kept ourselves going.
On this page:
Moving past denial
Realising it wasn't our fault
Understanding how it affected us
Making a decision to heal
Beginning to feel
Boys get abused too
Moving past denial ..
We tend to minimise what happened to us: we pretend that it didn't matter, that it doesn't matter. We deny the damage it did, or we deny ourselves the sense of injustice we so rightly deserve. For whatever reason, many survivors do not acknowledge their experiences as abusive. Our families, communities, and even government, join us in this unwillingness to accept abuse for what it is. To accept it, we first need to understand it: what it is, how and why it happens, and what its signs and symptoms are. Abuse takes many forms, all of which are harmful to a child's emotional development.
Realising that it wasn't our fault ..
So many of us blame ourselves for what happened. And that is exactly what our abusers intended. Documented and researched "grooming techniques" are used by many abusers around the world, to manipulate their victims into feeling responsible in some way for the abuse. A child who feels it is their own fault, or that they "should have" stopped the abuse somehow, is unlikely to tell anyone about the abuse. Abusers know this and use it to their advantage.
Understanding how it affected us ..
Childhood abuse, regardless of how we felt about it then or now, still has considerable impact on the way we live our lives today. Many of us are unaware of the huge influence that childhood abuse continues to have in our adult lives. By understanding the connection, we will find it easier to deal with these related issues.
Making a decision to heal ..
There comes a point when being a survivor isn't enough. Perhaps it's one step forward, two steps back. Or, if we're lucky, two steps forward, one step back! But when we are tired of 'the way it is', and we want a different life - that's when we decide to heal, and to move from 'survivor' to 'thriver'.
Beginning to feel ..
As children, we learnt that we couldn't trust our emotions. We felt fear and anger but that couldn't stop the abuse. As a result, many of us have lost touch with our emotions, finding it easier to disconnect, rather than feel at all. Part of healing is safely learning to feel and express every emotion within us.
Boys get abused too ..
People have all sorts of misconceptions about boys being abused. Boys are abused as much as girls, if not more (statistics indicate that 90% of boys do not tell anyone about their abuse). Our social attitudes can add to their trauma. We need to open our eyes and our minds, because the boys, and the men that they become, deserve to heal too.