Categories
Healing from child abuse

What is Child Abuse and How Common Is It?

It is difficult to determine the exact numbers of children who are abused each year. Most cases are not reported to the authorities and once grown most people still keep the abuse secret. Surveys that have been done suggest that child abuse is very common, with some reports suggesting that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 8 boys are abused (ASCA 2004). The fact is that most people suffer some kind of abuse – it is just the type and level that varies. There are many different types of abuse. Gil (1983) describes the following categories: physical; sexual; neglect; emotional neglect; cruel and unusual punishment; corporal punishment and mental suffering.

Physical abuse is when a child is hit, pushed, whipped, bitten, punched, slapped or burned resulting in injuries that are left on their body. Some of these injuries such as scratches, burns, bruises and welts are visible. Others are internal, such as broken bones, fractures or haemorrhaging.

Sexual abuse is when any person, adult or child, forces, tricks, threatens or coerces a child to have any kind of sexual contact with him or her. It may be looking, exposing, talking, telling stories, viewing pornographic pictures or videos, touching, kissing, or full penetration. All of these are abusive. It should be recognised that even if the child consents it is not true consent as the abuser often uses manipulation, guilt, pressure and threats to influence the child, and the child often does not have the power to say no or knowledge of what the consequences will be.

Neglect is when a parent does not feed a child or provide the basic necessities such as clothing, shelter and medical attention when needed. Leaving a child alone when the child is not yet ready to care for him / herself is neglectful since it leaves a child in a potentially dangerous situation.

Emotional neglect is when parent’s don’t take an interest in their child, and do not talk to or hold and hug the youngster, and are generally emotionally unavailable to the child. Alcoholic parents are often neglectful of their children’s needs. Although emotional neglect or abuse may not leave physical scars it has serious consequences for the child.

Cruel and unusual punishment is another form of abuse. These are punishments, which are extreme and inappropriate to a child’s age and ability to understand. For instance locking a child in a closet, making a child duck squat for hours or go without food for long periods of time.

Corporal punishment resulting in injuries is also abuse. Corporal punishment is physical discipline and it includes excessive spanking, kicking or whipping which results in injuries. Spanking can become child abuse when it is done in an out of control way, with enough force to leave injuries. Using instruments to hit, spanking with a closed fist, hitting very young children, and hitting in vulnerable areas (face, head, stomach, back, and genitals) is abuse. Many feel that any physical discipline is abusive.

Mental suffering occurs when a child is psychologically abused. If a parent calls a child names, constantly belittles the child, blocks every effort on the part of the child to accept him or herself, this can cause mental suffering to the child. Threat of abandonment can also make the child anxious and afraid, and is another form of mental suffering.

Compiled many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith, summarised from:

  • ASCA, 2004, Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse website, www.asca.net.au
  • Gil E, 1983, Outgrowing the pain: a book for and about adults abused as children, Dell Pulishing, USA
Categories
Healing from child abuse

Impacts of Child Abuse

There are many impacts of abuse on children. If the child does not receive assistance to break free from these impacts they often carry over into adulthood. Bradley and Johnson-Marshall (1993) explain the following impacts:

Loss of childhood – abused children lose their sense of innocence, their sense that the world is a safe place. A sense of mistrust that persists develops with the abused child often expecting people to abuse them. They therefore do not let people close and often go inside themself, close down and withdraw. They begin to parent themself and protect themself as best they can. They may even try to parent their parents to gain a sense of safety. They cannot relax and enjoy their childhood. They may act inappropriately sexually or become withdrawn, confused and silent. They may become less intelligent than they were or more bookish if they find some safety and security in being alone.

Repetition of abuse – abused children have acutely low self esteem. They feel there must be something wrong with them because of what happened. This low self confidence makes meeting people and relationships difficult. It leads to difficulty in creating appropriate boundaries and recognizing their own needs. Abused children often accept more abuse as they grow, as they do not know any different and they may feel that it’s their fault some how. They can’t easily identify the kind of person or behaviour that is harmful to them; only that something doesn’t feel good. They become more likely to be bullied in school and abused in adult relationships. A sexually abused child is 4 times more likely to be sexually abused again than a non-abused child. Castine (1989) points out that 50% of the time daughters of alcoholic fathers marry alcoholics while Jorgensen and Jorgensen (1990) report that one out of every four children of alcoholics develop alcoholism themselves.

Blaming ourselves – children can’t bare to believe that those who are supposed to love them and care for them can be wrong, so they take responsibility for the abuse themself. Blaming themself gives them a sense of control. It’s easier to live with the guilt of themself having caused it than to accept that their caretakers could be so terrible. Abused children believe that they are bad. Some may try to hide their feelings of weakness by acting strong, while others will be cowardly and subservient. They live their lives afraid of being confronted at any time with their badness. This sense of badness may not be conscious; it may be suppressed however it affects all parts of a person’s life (this is what gets changed through therapy).

Emotional rigidity – the abused child carries their hurt and their damaged inner child with them as they grow. The emotional damage affects their development. They tend to become rigid, stuck in particular feelings, thinking or a particular way of looking at the world. They often can’t feel all emotions or express them and may be stuck in feelings such as happy or loving or angry or fear or complaining. Being stuck is a defense mechanism protecting them from feeling the other emotions that they see as threatening or that may result in re-experiencing an aspect of some earlier abuse. An adult who was abused as a child is often unable to be spontaneous. They do not see their rigidity, but are aware of a vague dissatisfaction with their life. They tend to see both people and situations as either positive or negative, good or bad, there is no middle ground. They may blame others unnecessarily and direct their bad feelings and suppressed anger at them.

Isolation – starts from a young age as abusive families often try to hide their dysfunction from others, siblings don’t talk about it and they compete for the attention of the parents. They may abuse each other as they try to cope with what has happened to them. They don’t bring friends home from school or venture out into the world for fear of someone discovering their secret. If an abused person feels they can’t deal with the emotions they’ve buried inside such as sadness, anger, and shame, they will often continue to isolate themselves as adults. They feel separate to others. They do not have a sense of a way out of their position and may over react to any situation which touches on a felt memory or when people seem like their abuser, or where the feeling is the same as when the abuse happened to them. They may act as if in danger and push people away even though they’re not in danger.

Control – Often abused children as adults feel a need for a strong sense of control. This is so that awkward, painful and difficult to handle emotions / feelings can be kept at bay. Giving up control means facing the pain, which they may feel is overwhelming and therefore must be denied. The need for control can show up in rigid demands that partners, children and others also hide their feelings and control their emotions carefully. It may show up in compulsive behaviour like obsessive cleanliness and tidiness, excessive fussiness, or a need to get things right at any cost whether at work or at home. This anxiousness or desperation can be sensed by others and often makes them feel uneasy around the abused person.

Dependence and insecurity – abused children and adults often have an external locus of evaluation. They judge themself on whether or not others love and accept them or on the size of their career success and assets. These people, who feel a need for someone else to nurture them, to tell them they’re okay, are often taken advantage of by others who see their desperate need and know they can do what ever they want to them and the abused person will put up with it, they won’t leave.

Ambivalence – abused children as adults are often ambivalent to what occurs to them. They learnt to be ambivalent while being abused. They didn’t want to dob in their parents as they wanted their love, feared their loss and the consequences of telling the truth. If the parent only abused them occasionally, they may have seen it as an occasional error to be put up with. They may have pretended that they liked the abuse or told themself that not making a fuss is better or that they might not be believed even if they did say something. Hence they learnt to accept it and just get on with life. They are ambivalent to the affect of this on the rest of their lives. They may never relax and feel safe with those they love. They may never allow themself to be emotionally supported for fear of the loved one becoming an abuser. They may believe that anything good can contain bad and vice versa. The result is apathy, not knowing what to choose or where to turn.

Identifying with the abuser – identifying with the abuser can make an abused child feel strong rather than a weak victim. They will therefore act strong using anger as their dominant emotion, blaming others for things. This is a defense against their underlying feeling of danger and the fear that they may be abused again. If they were sexually abused they may be sexual with other kids. This can be an angry gesture: it happened to me now you; it may be a confused way of trying to share the experience, trying to make sense of the pain and humiliation; or they may have felt the abuse was pleasurable and want to do it again; they may want their child friend to feel what they felt. Many kids who are abused are also cruel to or abuse siblings, kids, pets or wild animals. They may feel ashamed or guilty of this and beat themselves up. It’s really important to always remember it is not the child’s fault. They learnt what they lived, they know no different, be compassionate, do not abuse them further.

Abusing our bodies – abused children as adults often have a high level of self contempt and self loathing. They abuse their body by over or under eating; alcohol or drug abuse; physical abuse or ignoring their body’s needs. They may scar themself in an attempt to make themself less attractive to others or to punish themself.

Splitting and multiple personalities – if a child cannot cope with what happened to them they may go inside themselves, go somewhere else. People often report leaving their body and looking down upon the scene when being abused / watching from outside themselves. Everyone has sub-personalities, parts of themselves that are happy, sad, achievers, doers, relaxed, etc, but they are all a part of the one person – they make up me. Some people after extended abuse, however, can form almost whole or partial separate personalities. Their sense of ‘I’ is not always the same, the different personalities take control. They never know when they wake up who’s going to be there. This interrupts their memory as each personality has their own preference, skills and memories. The different personalities may or may not communicate and the person can feel horrible, trapped, unable to control them.

Continuing family abuse – when abused kids grow up they often repeat the pattern with their own children. They frequently fail to connect with their children emotionally and do not know how to behave appropriately so the cycle of abuse continues They may feel horrible about what is occurring, but do not know how to break free from it.

The impacts of abuse often go wider than just affecting the individual who was abused. There are also impacts on siblings who were not abused and on their partners, children and those they interact with in their adult life. The following information is offered for non-abused siblings. Recognise that it is normal for you to have felt glad not to be abused, but guilty that you weren’t and your brother or sister was or you may have been jealous of the attention they got and sought it out too – being afraid and eager at the same time. You may feel that you should have protected the abused sibling or at least protested. You may have tried to be perfect to avoid abuse and pointed out how much better you were than the other child as a way of trying to protect yourself. Remember you were a child. You coped the best you could. Don’t avoid the abused sibling now because of your guilt. They’ll probably value your friendship and you can both seek assistance in sorting through your issues and developing a closeness.

Partners of adults who were abused as kids may face all sorts of feelings. They may want to rescue their partner, trying to help them heal and protect them from hurt. This can be problematic as relationships always have some tense moments and both partners need to be able to express their feelings and get their needs met – don’t be silent about your needs as this will only cause problems down the track. The abused child as an adult may occasionally behave poorly trying to get the partner to treat them like their abuser did, provoking them. They are trying to feel familiar, comfortable as they are not used to always receiving love. They’re testing you to see if you really do love them and will accept them. If this pattern occurs talk about it, don’t abuse them.

Partners may feel a lot of confusion about what to do, how to handle it, they may get impatient or tired of their mate always being affected by the past and wish they would get over it. They may then feel guilty or ashamed of themselves for thinking this. Don’t bash yourself up over it. It’s normal for you to feel these things. Talk to your partner about your concerns or seek help or if your partner is open to it you can both seek help together. Accept your feelings of helplessness, your pain at seeing their hurt and your anger at their parents. It’s normal. It’s also normal for you to dislike interacting with his or her parents and not saying anything. However, if this is what your abused partner wants you need to respect their wishes. But look after yourself and vent your anger and frustration healthily when you leave from visiting their parents. You need to get out any negativity, sadness, anger, etc that you have inside about the situations. When you do this you’ll feel better, more in control and react less to what is occurring. You will be able to change the dynamics of how you interact with your partner.

Learn to own your feelings and behaviour and express yourself effectively with no blaming, no judgment, or criticisms. Learn to use I statements – when you do X, I feel Y and I’d prefer it if you could do Z. If you can do this, creating a safe space for them, with love and encouragement it creates the conditions required for your partner to consider facing their own issues. They have to be ready to change. If they’re not keep working on yourself so things don’t upset you so much and you can enjoy your life fully. This is the best thing you can do for both of you. When your partner does become ready to take action you’ll be able to show them what to do or point them to where they can get help. Remember that what we focus on expands so focus on the positive and create more of it! Be a role model for your partner. Don’t see them as sick, but as a healthy person yet to take action and break free of their symptoms.

Prepared many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith. Some content is summarised from:

  • Bradley R & Johnson Marshall C, 1993, A safe place to begin – working to recover from childhood sexual abuse, Thorsons, London.
  • Castine J, 1989, Recovery from rescuing, Health Communications Inc., Florida
Categories
Health

Welcome to my Health Blog.

golden heart
Listen to your heart, it will tell you what you need to do to find health, happiness and inner peace.

Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves, to maintain harmony and balance. But the way we live today interrupts these natural self-regulatory mechanisms. Many of us do not get enough sleep, rest or exercise. We eat foods that come in boxes or cans and wonder why we feel lethargic, anxious or disturbed. It is not natural to feel these ways but our bodies are coping with a range of toxins received in our food, our water and our air. We are constantly exposed to man-made chemicals and pollution from our lifestyles and homes. It does not have to be this way.

You can use natural cleaning products, grow your own food or buy it organically or from farmer’s markets. There’s much you can do – simply, easily to improve your health – drinking more water, eating more fruit and vegetables, less meat and complex packaged foods. It is up to each of us to honour the temple we have been given, our bodies, and the larger temple of Earth that we live upon. There are many ways to do this. In this section of my blog/website we will explore these issues. I hope you find it inspiring and helpful in assisting you with your health and wellbeing and that of your family and larger family’s vitality. We are all connected, all one big family here on Earth. No separateness, just oneness. What we do to ourselves, we do to all. When each of us takes action to heal and find peace, we help do this for the whole. Every step taken helps. It is worth the effort.

Categories
Sustainability

What is sustainability?

Caring for the Earth, living as sustainably as possible.
Caring for the Earth, living as sustainably as possible.

Channeled from Source/God/Universe/Whatever (25 May 2013).

Sustainability is not about going without. It is about living fully in your heart and in harmony with the Earth. It is a state of wholeness and harmony, not one of sacrifice and drudgery. Sustainability simply means to live in ways that do not deplete the Earth’s resources to a massive extent. It is choosing to live more simply, with what you need rather than continuously consuming more and more and more to fulfil unnecessary wants.

When we find peace within we no longer need to succeed, to have fancy gadgets to be trying to impress others with our stuff. We no longer have to compete or conquer anything or anyone. We have peace and simply choose to feel that, to do activities that bring us joy and align with our unique purpose.

Today’s consumerist society encourages us to use, use, use. To buy, buy, buy, but this just leads to waste, to debt, to feeling burdened and trapped by all our stuff, by wanting more and by feeling empty inside, unfulfilled, frantic and desperate, rushing around for no real purpose except going through the motions – Many feel like a hamster on a spinning wheel. They do the same thing day in day out, year after year and then wonder why they feel so lost. Reconnecting to your heart, to Spirit and freedom can help shift these feelings, this drudgery and help you find peace.

Channeled by Jodi-Anne (25 May 2013).

See more answers to pertinent life questions on the Life Insights page of this website.
Categories
Conscious Evolution

My 10 life principles.

These 10 life principles represent my intentions. I am not yet able to live according to them fully all the time, but I continue to work towards it, forgiving myself when I slip and realigning as required.

1.            I honour everyone and everything (including myself) – I harm nothing

I honour everyone and everything that I encounter in life. Acknowledging that everyone and everything is a part of God and is expressing its self in the most loving way that it knows how at this point in time. I know that a smile given can brighten any dark day and that energy given freely can inspire people to heal the deepest pain.

2.            I TRUST – I reject nothing

I TRUST the Universe, God / Goddess. I know that everything happens for a reason. Any challenges I face are here to help me learn and grow. I am grateful for all I experience. I know that I may not understand why something is happening now, but I know that in the future the reason will become clear as the connections and unfolding occurs in my life. I know I am safe and guided and that the Universe is a loving place. I surrender and trust.

3.            I stay open to see what unfolds – I judge nothing

I accept that anything that I judge as good or bad in another is a reflection of that issue inside me. I accept that anyone hurting another is expressing their internal pain and their need for love. I send them love and don’t react or take it personally. All who wound are wounded inside. I forgive all who I have reacted to in the past including my family and myself. I take responsibility for healing my wounds and not projecting them onto others. When I do unconsciously project, I observe, notice and learn from it, so that I don’t do that particular form of projection again.

4.            I feel the fear and do it anyway – I fear nothing

I know that anything that scares me is showing me an opportunity for growth. I take a deep breath and feel the feelings and hear the thoughts associated with the fear. I do whatever I need to do to calm myself down, heal the associated issues and then face the fear. I release the associated emotions. I know that ultimately nothing can hurt me as I am God expressed, as is everything else surrounding me. We are all one. I am not my body or my mind or my possessions – those are just things I’ve used to falsely define who I am.

5.            I let life unfold, listen, allow – I fight nothing

I let life unfold, following my inner guidance and synchronicities rather than trying to control or force things to happen. I trust that if something is difficult to do then I’m not meant to walk through that door right now. I trust that whatever flows and occurs easily is right on path and I should walk through those doors with an open heart and mind. I let God lead my life and let go of all desires. When something challenges me I look to the past – what event or person is it reminding me of? What is it triggering in me? Why? What do I need to do to heal that? Usually it’s just acknowledging it, release the associated emotions, let go of that event, defense mechanism, pattern and forgive. Having done that, what does the current situation now mean to me? Usually the challenge is gone and gratitude is there for the healing and learning the current situation has enabled me to do.

6.            I play – I do not get serious over anything

I take the time to enjoy life and the blessings all around me. I see the beauty in nature and in people. I surround myself with colour and light-filled friends who have the innocence of children and can play together in innocent and loving ways. I listen to and honour my inner child’s needs. I BE a loving parent to her. I thank her for surviving and enabling me to grow into who I am. She is amazing!

If I find myself caught in seriousness, I stop, observe what got me caught, breathe, relax my body, adjust my posture and laugh at the situation. I remind myself that ultimately it doesn’t matter. Doing this reduces the likelihood that I’ll get caught up by the same event in future as I’ll notice when it starts to happen earlier and earlier until it doesn’t catch me at all.

7.            I share, help, support – I don’t hide

I have the courage to share my story and experiences to help others heal. I honour them in their journey and provide them with tools to help them understand why they have developed the defense mechanisms and personality that they’ve used to survive their life. I provide tools to help them understand and accept themselves and their past – to see the purpose of it and get a glimpse at their unique purpose this lifetime. I trust that this will assist them to find greater self-love, which enables them to love others and the environment. This is my purpose this time on Earth – to enable people to heal, to love themselves, others and the environment – to FEEL, to live from their hearts. It is all connected – we need individual sustainability, as well as social and ecological sustainability.

I recognise when it is not appropriate to share my story and do not offer assistance unless it is requested. I may send energy and emotional support through empathetic facial expressions and body language, but I will not preach or push – no-one needs to be pushed (which is a form of judgment saying you should heal quicker). Most people are already pushing themselves.

I acknowledge that my impatience in the past and my desire to push others to heal was just my projection about wanting to be fully healed myself and feeling I needed to prove I was okay by showing I could help others change. I now accept that whether people change or do not change does not affect my self-worth. It is their choice and I do not control it. I trust that each person’s healing journey is unique and that God controls the timing and unfolding of it. Not me. I trust and let go.

8.            I speak my truth – I don’t lie

I speak my truth in all situations. I trust that speaking my truth with respect and honouring will enable the other person the best opportunity to understand me and respond appropriately. I accept that how the other person reacts is not my responsibility and is not within my control. I accept that even if someone does react with pain that it is a perfect response, for them at this time, and that whatever needs to unfold in the future will do so. I let go of the situation and trust the Universe. Ultimately there is no good or bad. There just is what is. I accept reality.

9.            I am grateful – I take nothing for granted

I am grateful for all the blessings in my life. I am grateful for my health, my home, my family, my friends, for nature that surrounds me, for the food I eat, for my work, for all that I encounter in this life and that helps me to heal and evolve. I am grateful for that which caused me pain and that which caused me joy. It all has helped me to become me. I am grateful for the future joys that I trust will come – a loving husband, children I love and nurture, and work that enables me to be of greatest service to the world. If those things don’t come I will do my best to accept it and trust that what does come is what is meant to be.

10.          I am humble – Ultimately I know nothing

I accept that what I think I know is only a fraction of what there really is to know about how the Universe works and that what I think I know may not be correct. It is only my interpretation of things, my truth. Others will have their own truth. I accept that my mind is actually one of my biggest gifts and challenges – I love to learn which is great – but I have used study as a way to hide from being myself and feeling my feelings. I have used qualifications and work as a way to try and prove to myself and others that I am okay. I know now that I don’t need to do that. I know now that I am okay without all those mind-related things. I am a unique expression of the I AM and I am perfect exactly as I am. I do not need to learn, change, heal or do anything else to be okay. I am okay. We are all okay. We are all perfect just the way we are. I honour the I AM-ness in all of us.

At the same time I don’t discredit the knowledge and skills I’ve developed throughout my life and my work career. I just hold them in perspective, knowing that they are not as important as my inner wisdom and knowing. I accept that my purpose may involve using the knowledge and skills that I’ve developed, which is ultimately the deep reason why I developed them in the first place. I don’t hide and stay small using humility as a way of avoiding taking the risk of shining my light. I know I am here to be of great service. I trust that process unfolds as it is meant to.

I have the courage to do what needs to be done. I trust that my pure desire to be of selfless service will show through. I let go of expecting abuse when I stand up – I know this is residue from my past and it will only clear by my continuing to stand up and finding that I’m okay, that no-one knocks me down, and that even if they try, I survive and I am okay. I am an Adult now. I accept and honour that. I also trust that if I am to die today or tomorrow that is okay, that I will have done whatever I needed to do this lifetime and that whoever assists me to die is not harming me but reuniting me with the divine and that is a gift whenever and however it occurs.

What are your 10 life principles? This is a great exercise to do to get clear on your values.

Categories
Healing from child abuse

Welcome to my healing from child abuse blog.

In this section we explore healing from child abuse and becoming a healthy, fully functioning adult. Those of us who suffer painful beginnings in life have to spend many years unravelling the knots we’ve been tied up into. We have to loosen these, drop the armour, shed the fear, grief, despair and rage, to access the peace and love that was our true birth right. Finding peace is possible after abuse. It just takes time as all the buried emotions and trauma need to be relived, felt and released from the body.

If it was too painful at the time of the events we escape through leaving our body, going somewhere else in our minds or a myriad of other distraction techniques. When we do this our body stores the trauma and waits till we’re ready to feel and release it. It’s buried in our cells, locked in our joints and muscles – it is the rigidity, the frozen energy that keeps us feeling stuck in fight or flight. It cannot be avoided. It has to be felt and released. In this section of the blog/website we discuss ways to do this, ways to cope during the painful stages of the healing journey and how to move through them to find peace and happiness.

Once you clean your house – your body – of the past, you can let the light shine in fully. You can see the beauty that was always there, hidden under the dust, cobwebs and shadows. Now we get to redecorate, to add bright colours and celebrate. This is the time of ecstatic joy and gratitude, gratitude for making it through, for the new feelings of bliss and oneness, for the lessons learnt, wisdom gained and love found. It’s my honour to provide insight and support to help people along this path and into their beautiful hearts.

Categories
Healing from child abuse

Behaviours of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA)

  1. Adult children of alcoholics guess at Alcoholwhat normal behaviour is.
  2. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  3. Adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy.
  5. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty having fun.
  6. Adult children of alcoholics take themselves very seriously.
  7. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. Adult children of alcoholics overreact to changes over which they have no control.
  9. Adult children of alcoholics constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  10. Adult children of alcoholics usually feel that they are different from other people.
  11. Adult children of alcoholics are super responsible or super irresponsible.
  12. Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
  13. Adult children of alcoholics are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviours or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.
  14. Adult children of alcoholics often isolate themselves and have few meaningful personal relationships.
  15. Adult children of alcoholics often have feelings of powerlessness.
  16. Adult children of alcoholics may strongly fear abandonment or criticism, retaining an abnormally strong, essentially unmet, need for approval and affection.

 

Compiled many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith from:

  • Ackerman RJ, 1987, Children of alcoholics – a guide for parents, educators & therapists, Simon & Schuster, Fireside
  • Geringer Woititz J, 1983, Adult children of alcoholics, Health Communications Inc.
  • Jorgensen DG & Jorgensen JA, 1990, Secrets told by children of alcoholics – what concerned adults need to know, Human Services Institute
Categories
Healing from child abuse

Stages of healing from child abuse

While every individual will go through their own healing experience there are common healing stages. People cycle through these healing stages, moving from one to another and back again, until they have released the past and can concentrate on their present and future unhindered.

1. Acknowledging that abuse occurred

  • Admitting it – no more denial

  • Acknowledging the impacts on you & your life

  • Dealing with the emotions & memories

  • Accepting yourself & your reactions as normal

  • Learning to trust your self & your intuition

2. Making the decision to heal

  • Choosing hope over resignation or despair

  • Making an active commitment to change

  • Putting aside other demands and allowing time to experience emotions, to think about the issues, and to get the necessary help & support

  • Allowing the painful emotions to come up and release – dealing with the chaotic nature of this on your day to day life

  • Finding support – from yourself & others

3. Talking to others about the abuse

  • Breaking the silence
  • Reducing shame & guilt by acknowledging out loud that you were abused & it wasn’t your fault
  • Choosing who to tell, what you want from them & dealing with their reactions

4. Placing responsibility where it belongs

  • Recognising the abuse was the abuser’s fault, not yours – you are not to blame at all. You were a child
  • You are not to blame if you went along with it – the abuser had power over you & you didn’t have all the information to decide objectively – you were a child
  • In the case of sexual abuse, you are not to blame if your body was aroused – it’s a normal bodily response. You’re not to blame if you felt positive feelings of intimacy with the abuser – they may have been nice & loving to you when others weren’t
  • Any problems that arose within the family as a result of the abuse were not your fault
  • Identify & understand how you were tricked, bribed, threatened or coerced by the abuser – you were used & abused
  • You are strong though – you have survived. You can heal & create the life you want!

5. Dealing with the loss and sadness

  • Feeling grief over – what happened to you, your loss of innocence & childhood, the loss of trust, sadness that the relationships weren’t the way you would have liked them to be, sadness over the impact of the abuse on you throughout your life
  • If you get depressed, get help to move through it
  • Feel all these feelings, talk to safe people about them, release the emotion – the intensity will pass

6. Expressing anger

  • Feeling anger over what happened
  • Expressing anger towards the abuser & others involved, rather than at yourself (This is done in safe & constructive ways in private, not necessarily with the actual people involved)
  • Letting go of the need for retaliation
  • Building self assertion & strength

7. Working through the difficulties caused by the abuse

  • Working through difficult physical, social, emotional & behavioural problems
  • Working through unhelpful beliefs about oneself, about abuse or about life in general

8. Building a future

  • Accepting the abuse happened & it is part of the past
  • Development of self acceptance & self respect
  • Acknowledging the wisdom & strengths you’ve gained from surviving the abuse
  • Overcoming residual feelings of vulnerability & lack of confidence
  • Dealing with fear & planning ways to take care of yourself in different situations
  • Setting goals & taking steps to create the life you want
  • Feeling more in control of your life

Summarised many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith from: MacDonald K, Lambie I & Simmonds L, 1995, Counselling for sexual abuse. A therapists guide for working with adults, children and families, Oxford University Press, London, pgs 30-43.

Art work is Jodi-Anne’s original art therapy drawings.