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 .
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. Continue reading