Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 1 – A Slow Start

“Today you are YOU,
That is TRUER than true.
There is NO ONE alive
Who is YOUER than YOU!”

– Dr. Seuss

As abuse victims, most of us are familiar with failure. This is not necessarily because we have failed.

Many victims are successful in the work world. Work may actually help us to deal with the abuse we once endured. It can provide a focus for our energies, sometimes to the point of exhaustion [1].

What we experience, however, is a persistent feeling of having failed in the most important arena of all; having failed at love.

This feeling stems, in part, from a mistaken belief that we “deserved” the abuse to which we were subjected (surely, if we had been lovable, we would not have been abused, goes the thinking); and, in part, from the failed relationships resulting from that abuse.

But all human beings experience failure. Life is a process of trial and error for everyone. A baby tries to stand, and falls. S/he tries again, and falls again. Eventually though s/he learns to walk, then run.

A Slow Start

Some of us have a slow start. We may, in fact, have been advanced for our years – struggling to develop without the nurturing and encouragement we should, in all fairness, have been provided.

Still, for argument’s sake, let us say we make a slow start. That is no indication of how we will finish.

  • One little boy did not speak until comparatively late. His parents feared he was mentally impaired. A teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” The boy was expelled from secondary school for being “disruptive,” and was refused admittance to a prestigious university.
    We recognize now that Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. He is regarded as the father of modern physics [2].


With or without a “slow” start, we all experience rejection eventually.

  • Teachers quickly grew impatient with Thomas Edison’s inquisitiveness. One called Edison “addled.” Edison went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the light bulb.  Altogether, Edison held over 1000 patents.
  • Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook.
  • More than two dozen publishers rejected one children’s book, before it reached the public. The author, Dr. Seuss, ultimately wrote more than forty others, including such favorites as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

  • Over twenty publishers rejected the comic war novel M*A*S*H later made into a movie and popular television series.
  • Those figures pale in comparison with the 600 rejection slips Jack London received before becoming famous. London’s novel Call of the Wild is studied in high schools across America.
  • Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star for “lack of creativity”. The City of Burbank, CA rejected Disney’s proposal for a theme park on the grounds it would attract a bad crowd. Disneyland was built in Anaheim, CA instead. Burbank has still not recovered.

With the benefit of hindsight, we may laugh at these assessments today. But rejection can be extremely painful, undermining our confidence and depleting our resilience.

While we cannot prevent rejection, we can moderate our response to it.

Much as we may catastrophize rejection, in the end, it is merely an opinion. Rejection cannot compete with a Level 5 tornado…or even a drizzle, for that matter. You cannot grow tomatoes in it.

Nor is rejection the final say about our worth, our work product, or our talent. The opinion we have of ourselves is of much greater importance.  Plant your dreams firmly in that!

[1] Workaholism is a risk for abuse victims. Work can become all-consuming, drawing our attention away from unresolved issues relating to the abuse, but leaving us without time or energy for a personal life.

[2] The biblical patriarch, Abrahm (later called Abraham) is revered by three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He can, however, be said to have made a slow start. While he became a man of great faith, Abrahm did not always follow God’s instructions or trust God to address his needs. Nor did Abrahm always wait on God’s timing. Jesus, Himself, can be said to have made a “late” start in human terms, since He did not begin his ministry until the age of 30.

This series will continue next week with Part 2 – Bad Advice



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

3 responses to “Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 1 – A Slow Start

  1. Boy do I relate! I was the “slow” kid. I did not walk until I was 18 months old. One of our sons too. He was 11 months old before he got his first tooth! People would look say, “What? Not teeth, yet?” with the implied tone, “Is he retarded?” That son is a software engineer that is in high demand, today.

    I grew up with a poor self image that made me feel like a failure at love (and maybe still does). I was not the guy that the girls all hoped would be attracted to them, to say the least. I still find it hard to believe that any woman could love me. My father never showed any affection toward me that I remember of and to this day I have a hard time believing that Father God loves me.

    Yet, I get positive reinforcement from the ones who read and comment on my blog, but it seems that one “Aw S__t!” erases ten, “Atta Boy!” comments. :-/ Sister, I want to thank you for being a constant support to me with your comments on what I share. All the breaking you have gone through in this life has made you into something beautiful in the eyes of God and the rest of us who can see. You are a blessing to all who know you. ⭐

    Thank you,

    • You make me cry, Michael. I remember how you said your father made you memorize the names of all the bones in the body, while you were still a pre-schooler. That hardly sounds like a “slow” start to me!

      Our view of ourselves can be skewed for a lifetime by the poor opinions of those we love. Yet those opinions are likely to stem from insecurities that do not relate to us at all. A highly successful friend of mine grew up thinking of herself as someone with street smarts, but no real intellectual capacity. By accident, long after she’d become an adult, my friend came across her childhood report cards. She’d consistently earned straight A’s.

      As for your opinion of me, I can only say I am deeply grateful. I am the most ordinary of women. But God can use anyone and anything for His purposes. I think of what the biblical patriarch, Joseph, said to his brothers when they came to Egypt seeking food during a great famine (the very brothers, you will recall, who had sold him into slavery). “‘…[Y]ou meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…to save many people alive‘” (Gen. 50: 20).

      There is great hope for abuse victims everywhere in that statement.

      Your friend,

      Anna ❤

  2. Anna, Thank you for your reply to my comment. As usual you are very gracious.

    You wrote, “Our view of ourselves can be skewed for a lifetime by the poor opinions of those we love. Yet those opinions are likely to stem from insecurities that do not relate to us at all.”

    This is a great point. Our fathers fall short in what they give to us, the portrayal of who we are to them, for in most cases THAT was what was given them by their fathers. You can not give away what you do not have.

    Yes, my sister, what our close members meant for evil, God can turn even that to our good as He has done for you as you give hope to abuse victims everywhere.

    It is a joy to know you,
    Michael ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.