Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

May 07, 2010

the baggage of abuse

Candy, 25, is a survivor of child abuse and feels strongly inside that it is harmful to be forced to talk about abusive experiences once you have healed. She explains that being a survivor of abuse is shameful - it's not something you want the world to know about and if someone does find out about it you feel ashamed when they want to talk to you or other people about it.

"Sure, it's a personal badge of honor to have survived abuse," explains Candy, "but it is not a badge you wear in public. Also, feeling shameful is not the same in my mind as feeling ashamed because the former involves an element of disgust about someone abusing your body or mind, and the latter involves guilt for having done something you know was wrong."

"The abusers and predators of this world deliberately sniff out survivors of abuse and delight in exposing whatever hell they went through," sighs Candy. "They know - and you know - that you are a gentle, sensitive soul who is vulnerable to abuse. If you were not born like this - genetically predisposed to abuse - you would never have been abused in the first place."

"Nobody entirely forgets these things - you just learn to live with them - so you remain vulnerable, and especially so when you are going through some other life stress," says Candy. "When someone decides to rake up the past and accuse you of being 'in error' or 'unhealed' when you are dealing with normal stressful life situations, they are messing with your mind and don't know what hell they are unleashing."

"Similarly, to accuse formerly abused people of being 'in error' or 'unhealed' because they don't like being reminded of the abuse they once suffered - or have no desire whatsoever to return to any sort of relationship with their abusers - is grossly insensitive," says Candy. "And for someone to gloss over the abuse, discount it, deny it or infer in any way that it never happened, is just another form of abuse."

"It is very sad that those who wish to deny that the holocaust happened have forced the Jews to become fighters - continually reminding the world of the atrocities against them under the Nazi regime in Germany," sighs Candy. "It would be better for them, more healing for them, if they could be left alone to forget and get on with their lives."

"I can appreciate that there exist many abuse survivor support groups - some of which take to the streets on marches against domestic violence or violence against women generally," says Candy, "but, that sort of thing is also the result of ongoing abuse and a male dominated society's denial of the magnitude of the problem."

"Faced with denial from those around you - and ongoing abuse - you're forced into becoming a fighter," says Candy, 'but underlying the fighting spirit is a deep sense of shame."

"Because of this shame, many abused people don't tell anybody about it," explains Candy. "They heal themselves and hope that nobody ever discovers the shame of their past."

"When you're forced into a situation where someone wants to remind you of something that happened many years ago - something you've virtually forgotten," says Candy, "you re-experience the shame, and then you feel angry and abused all over again."

"Some people try to escape the shame of abuse by making huge changes in their lives - sometimes moving to the farthest reaches of the world," adds Candy, "but there's always something or someone there to remind you. And, if you try to make a new life before you've completely healed, you risk carrying that baggage with you."

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