Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime. She smiles. She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that. She eats up the attention.
Many abuse victims are just the opposite. We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us. Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.
Why is this? Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting? Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?
Staying at home seems so much safer.
If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection. Often, this centers around our looks. Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us. Our nose is too large or our hips too wide. We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.
If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.
We do not actually believe that will happen. But we fear it, all the same. Fear does not require a rational basis. Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.
Still, there is a clue here. We’ve known monsters. Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have. Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects. Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation.
That would undermine anyone’s confidence. But there may be an even more compelling reason why we shy away from social activities and public events. We were forced to navigate childhood without adult assistance.
Other children were taught how to deal with the challenges of growing up. We had obstacles put in our way. Other children were comforted and encouraged. We were threatened and shamed, or our needs ignored altogether.
That can leave abuse victims with a sense of inadequacy as adults.
Chances are our first reaction to a new experience will not be anticipation. Rather, it may be panic. What are we supposed to say? How are we supposed act? What if we make a mistake or fail to measure up?
Social interaction necessarily involves some uncertainty. No matter how hard we may try, we cannot plan out every moment. Viewed positively, this can be seen as exciting; viewed negatively, it can be seen as dangerous. The history of abuse will incline many victims toward the latter.
Under those circumstances, just making small talk can seem like an impossible task.
Revealing the Emptiness
Deep down, what we fear is revealing our emptiness. Forced since childhood to function above our grade level, we presume ourselves to be lacking in some fundamental way. Like children, we believe that deficiency to be visible to others.
What we fear is rejection not for our appearance but, more profoundly, for who we are, in effect, for having “deserved” our abuse. No child, of course, deserves abuse. Unfortunately, recognizing that intellectually does not mean we believe it.
Until we do, Kim Kardashian will have the red carpet to herself.
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42 responses to “Red Carpet”
I can relate to this.. we live in a society that largely looks at outward appearance.. Thank God He looks inward.. little by little we become more beautiful where it matters most 🙂
What a wonderful way of putting it! 🙂
WOW!!!! Anna you have surpassed yourself in speaking with such authority on this subject. Every single word is true (well, certainly true for me in my own experience) and I know that it is true for you too. But it’s not only that. We all (as abuse survivors/victors) know how it feels. But do we all know how to express it in words that are full of wisdom. articulate, fluent, and factually correct? No, not all of us are able to talk about our experiences in this way. Thank God that your ‘voice reclaimed’ speaks for those who find it difficult to articulate our very valid feelings. Anna – this is excellent!
Thank you so much, Sam. You bring tears to my eyes. ❤
Do I get to go out and buy a fancy dress now? Of course, it’s the shoes I really want!! ❤ ❤ ❤
hahahahahaha!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
Oh WOW, Anna–this really hit home. Even when I was younger and still strikingly attractive, I was petrified to be in a group–people pressing close, wanting to include me… My lovely exterior was the only thing I had going for me, a cover for that emptiness you describe. Now I don’t even have that–and being a recluse is definitely safer. I often think about what you wrote here, thought about it recently, in fact–that I never felt I received enough “supportive guidance” as to how to behave, respond with people. Oh, I got stern instructions–but that’s hardly the same thing; mostly I learned to be seen and not heard…because, “no one’s interested in what you think/feel/have to say”… Oh Lord, help me–at least with blogging, I can write whatever I feel. God bless you hugely, for your affirming posts–you’re our heroine (and angel 🙂 ) ❤
I’m glad the post struck a chord with you, Bella. It grieves me that you and many, many other other victims continue to feel such pain. The wounds of childhood can be deep and lasting. God though sees us wherever we are — even alone somewhere in a room. He knows our pain, and offers His love in exchange. May He bless you richly. ❤
Thank you much ❤
Kim Kardashian may get the public (superficial) accolades…but you are contributing something so valuable and authentic and life-enhancing…thanks for your efforts, your intentions, and your light 🙂
I’m at a loss for words. All I can do is thank you. This was my Oscar. ❤
An ‘Oscar’, may I add, that was well-deserved and long overdue! 🙂 And your ‘acceptance’ speech, pithy and to the point, something that other Oscar winners would do well to emulate. Well done Anna!
You are too funny. :)))
Well done – I’ll be linking this to my Mental Health Awareness post for April 2017 — related content for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Watch for a ping.
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
“It takes a village to transform a world!”
Thank you, Madelyn! I hope it does some good. ❤
That makes at least TWO of us!
Thank you, Anna. As usual, I have so much to take back to Him for for insight and application.
You are always so kind, David. Glad to be your sister. 🙂
Just read this again to refresh the insights I have been gleaning.
Anna, in your experience with others, have you found it hollow for victims to receive compliments? Is there a time not to encourage them ( I know this may sound odd.. but the Lord is speaking to me on some things and want to bounce them off you)?
It doesn’t sound odd to me, David. You’re only trying to be sensitive to the needs of those you serve. Both victims of child abuse and domestic abuse may have difficulty accepting compliments.
Here are some of the thought processes you may encounter:
“This is wrong. Mommy/Daddy tell me all the time how stupid/ugly I am.”
“I don’t deserve this compliment. The giver is only saying this to be ‘kind’.”
“I don’t deserve this compliment. I must somehow have misled the giver into complimenting me.”
“This is a sexual advance [welcome or not]. Men only have one motive.”
“The giver is wonderful!! I think I’m falling in love.”
You can’t control how what you say may be misinterpreted. You can control the setting. No matter how innocent your intentions, it is important not to counsel a victim without a second adult in the room, or the door open and another adult within earshot. This protects both the victim (male/female, adult/teen/child) and the minister. Even when a victim is grateful for counseling and strengthened by it, a vindictive family member may try to claim a minister fabricated the abuse charge and somehow brainwashed the victim into believing it.
I don’t know whether your church has guidelines for dealing with abuse victims. “Christian Counseling Ethics, A Handbook for Psychologists, Therapists and Pastors” by Randolph Scott is a good place to start. You can find this online at http://www.wtsbooks.com/common/pdf_links/9780830818921.pdf.
The are alot of other resources online re: abuse counseling. Here are a few:
Click to access Churchwide_Statement_On_Sexual_Abuse_2015April08.pdf
Click to access Ministry_With_Abused.pdf
I hope this is of some help to you.
Huge insight… thank you so much, Anna.
Thank you Anna that needed to be said and yes I very much agree. I remember standing up to Talk at a Woman’s group, I was shaking and nothing came out, I was so worried I would get it wrong.
I took a a few deep breaths and asked a few questions until I could continue with what I had planned to say, it still didn’t come out with much conviction but it was better than nothing.
Apart from being Abused as a Child and an Adult which I shared about with you before Anna, I’m also Dyslectic, I Thank God that I can write fluently on Post and Comments and some e-mails, I can’t write much at other times, yes I’m a cracked Vessel but God is the Supper Glue.
Christian Love Always – Anne.
I think what you’ve accomplished is nothing short of miraculous, Anne. ❤
Your sister in Christ
(and fellow cracked vessel),
I can relate to so many points you made in this piece. I was not abused as a child, but I was always full of anxiety, had very few friends, found it hard to talk, had low self esteem, no confidence, hated my looks, felt I wasn’t good enough and a failure at life.
I quit school early, because I just couldn’t stand being there, I would panic, it was hell going. I always thought people were looking at me. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 26. No one wanted me. I seldom left the house. Eventually I emerged from my shell, ever so slightly and I had a boyfriend. I was in love, but that turned out to be a one way relationship. I let him use me and I enabled him. I have followed that pattern with the other guys I have been with.
They all had control over me, each in their own way. There was only violence on one occasion, but mental abuse a plenty.
I did grow up in a dysfunctional family, there was no physical abuse other than minor things, it was more mental. It was not my parents, but my brother. I don’t blame them, and believe they did the best they could do.They felt a tremendous amount of guilt. I did not understand that when I was young, so I had resentment toward the preferential treatment of my brother.
There was always a tension between my mother and father as well, but that’s another story.
Life puts all kinds of challenges in our way, Kathy. Abuse is only one. And what some find effortless, others may find terrifying. Working through issues has helped me regain ownership of my life. I write these posts, in the hope they may in a small way help others. I still don’t have all the answers…and never expect to have them. But God walked with me, even when I did not realize it. That is the most important thing I can share. ❤
Thanks Anna. That’s so true. I do see a therapist, that helps, but I have a lot of issues to deal with, and my way with dealing with them, is not dealing with them.
You have the same Super Glue Anna that I have and your amazing.
When I was having quiet a few problems and unable to Blog every day, I saved your Posts and some other Bloggers Posts to reply to later but they are dated very much in the past now but perhaps Anna there are some you would like to share with me, if so please leave the links and I will respond, I always enjoy your Messages.
Blessings – Anne.
Oh, Anne. I am touched and honored, especially knowing what you’ve been through. I will give this some thought. Meanwhile, may God keep you in the palm of His hand. Love, A. ❤ ❤ ❤
Well done as always, thank you so much Anna for good sharing
And kisses to you always. ❤
Anna you are absolutely right is every word here. As a childhood abuse survivor, I have previously wanted to just sit in a dark corner. Even when someone told me they thought I was beautiful…..To me it was an insult; even with my own beloved husband. If he dared tell me how precious I was, to me I thought he was just being sympathetic ( something I don’t like). I know he said that because it’s true. All childhood abuse survivors or perhaps abuse survivors….You have to know you are beautiful, you are precious, you can do anything, you are able to forgive, you are able to heal and most importantly Just like everyone else we are all created in God’s image. I love you all out there and you are not alone.Smile today💞💞💞💞
It grieves me to hear that you were abused. I am sure, however, your encouragement will help others. God bless you. ❤
Thank you Anna. God bless
This rings true.
I worked in a mental health facility where a lot of my clients suffered some horrible abuses from early childhood well into adulthood and most of them are as you described.
However, I have known more than a few that work very hard to mask the pain by acting very much like a Kim K.
I had no idea about your background, Lady G. You’re right. While I may envy Kim Kardashian’s poise, it could well mask pain. I will make it a point to be more compassionate toward her in future.
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Reblogged this on Tristed Transition .
But we are the apple of God’s eyes