Weakness vs. Strength - Our Side of Suicide

Image courtesy of Our Side of Suicide

Some abuse victims want as adults only to forget their past.  That is an entirely legitimate response, and their prerogative.

By contrast, a surprising number of us want to use our suffering to ease the suffering of others.  We want to make something purposeful – even beautiful – out of what was painful and ugly.  That is a lofty goal which may or may not be achievable [1].

In either case, a few things should be clear.

A Strong Spirit

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40: 29).

Those who somehow survive abuse – physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and neglect or domestic violence – have a strong spirit.  This is true no matter the scars we carry forward from abuse or the fears abuse bequeathed to us. We would not otherwise be here.

To say that we are strong does not denigrate the abuse victims who did not survive.  Even heroes are mortal.  If anything, we are their witness regarding the horrors inflicted on abuse victims (not to mention the  long-term consequences of abuse).


Abuse can be multi-layered.  While we may consider a single individual responsible for our abuse, many are likely to have contributed to it.

The abuse of a first individual will begin the lesson that we are undeserving of love and concern.  As others follow in the same footsteps, we come to believe this untruth.

Then there are those in our lives who could have intervened, but for reasons of their own did not.  This is another aspect of the tragedy of abuse.  While a non-offending parent may wield less power in the family dynamic than an offending-parent, an adult is always more powerful than a child.

We had every right to look for rescue to the adults aware of our situation.


And still we make excuses for the loved ones who abandoned, battered, and raped us.

They didn’t understand the harm they were doing.  They led hard lives, were under a great deal of strain.  It was our fault.  We deserved it.  We were disobedient, rebellious.  We expected too much.  We complained too often.  We were too pretty, too flirtatious.  Deep down, they “really” cared.

Excuse after excuse after excuse…none sufficient to justify abuse.


Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4: 23).

Strength and kindness are not at odds with each other.  That is a mistake bullies and abusers make.  A strong man need not beat up a weaker one – let alone an unarmed woman or a harmless child – to demonstrate his power.

Small acts of kindness – from a grandparent, a teacher, a friend, even a stranger – nourish the hope natural to the soul.  These can remain with us long afterwards and may be what, in the end, saves our sanity.


Outsiders are far more likely to recognize and respond to abuse than the members of a family of origin who tolerated it.

In the abusive family setting, non-family members are often looked on as hostile and dangerous.  What goes on in the home – the abuse secret – “must” be kept from them.  Even as adults, we may feel that outsiders will not understand what we endured.  Better to leave them in the dark, we assume.

But the reaction of an outsider to the circumstances we were forced to endure can actually help us to see that we were victimized children (or that our own victimized children require intervention only we can provide).


Family members may deny for decades the abuse we experienced. They may convince themselves we are lying, vindictive, or unhinged in disclosing (or, as they might say, fabricating) the abuse.  However, those protesting our version of events most loudly may be the very ones most in denial.

Lies by those who actively participated in our abuse can be even more destructive.  This kind of duality – experiencing pain and violation, while being told we are loved – is crazy-making [2].  No wonder we have difficulty establishing and sustaining supportive relationships later in life.

Making Sense of Things

The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation” (Psalm 118: 14).

Abuse victims often spend years trying to make sense of themselves and their lives.

The abuse which so heavily impacted us may have taken place while we were still too young to understand it.  Even if the details of our abuse are lost to memory, its ripple effects can continue to the present day. Dissociation, for those of us subject to it, can wreak yet more havoc.

It takes strength on our part, but finding the truth is worth the effort.

[1]  This observation is not meant to discourage abuse victims. Rather, it is intended to emphasize how far we have come, and persuade us to be patient with ourselves and our efforts.

[2]  Other examples of crazy-making behavior can be found at Life Hack, “Ten Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships” by Mandy Kloppers,; and Verbal Abuse Journals, “CrazyMaking: Domestic Abuse Intended to Cause Self-Doubt”,

Originally posted 3/13/16



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

21 responses to “Strength

  1. “crazy-making” is very illustrative word usage.

  2. Wednesday I was listening as a childhood classmate said to me she had to watch me be bullied on the school playground as the teacher allowed it. As a teacher in the past, I never allowed that trash.

    On Sunday, August 8, 2021, ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse wrote:

    > Anna Waldherr posted: ” Image courtesy of Our Side of Suicide > Some > abuse victims want as adults only to forget their past. That is an > entirely legitimate response, and their prerogative. By contrast, a surpr” >

  3. This is a very powerful post. It accurately describes the experience of those who have been abused.
    Abuse is so damaging – and also so confusing. It changes us inside, and leaves so many questions. And yet the human spirit is strong. We find we are survivors. and though there are still scars, we can take back our life and, with God’s help, make it something beautiful.

  4. A great and very important contribution to the problem, thank you very much for sharing, I wish you all the best, Marie

  5. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    There is no excuse for abuse nor is there ever a reason. And true, some victims of abuse rise through it and become stronger but others succumb and need assistance and encouragement as well as charity and understanding. Lamentably others end up becoming abusers. The problem of abuse has to be addressed with education and love.

    • As you say, Francisco. The situation is complex b/c human beings are complex. Abuse is never though justifiable. The trend toward normalizing all behaviors feeds into pedophilia.

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera

        All behaviours cannot and should not be normalised as not all behaviours are positive, acceptable or desired. It is due time for society to realise that good people are not equal to bad ones. We are all equal under God’s sun but by their fruits we shall know them.

  6. Allan Halton

    “By contrast, a surprising number of us want to use our suffering to ease the suffering of others.”

    So true, Anna, and I think it applies to the whole range of troubles and injustices that come our way in this life.

    Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 
    Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God
    . (2 Cor 1:3,4)

  7. Great words! Thank you for being here, caring and giving back. xoxoxoxo

  8. Pingback: Strength – NarrowPathMinistries

  9. Reblogged this on lovehappinessandpeace and commented:
    A Must read for those who have suffered sexual abuse.

  10. I need to read this to be educated with the challenges of those who are abused and the dynamic of those enabling abusers and betrayers to those abused. So sad! TY

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