Cyanea jellyfish, North Sea, Author Ole Kils firstname.lastname@example.org (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License)
Jellyfish are equipped with stinging tentacles used to paralyze, capture, and kill their prey. The largest known specimen, the lion’s mane or giant jelly, has tentacles which can reach 120 feet in length. That is longer than a blue whale.
The sting of a jellyfish can be agony. In humans, that sting can cause burning and blistering of the skin, difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, chest pain, abdominal cramps, vomiting, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and collapse.
The tentacles can sting, even after a jellyfish has died.
The Tentacles of Abuse
Like jellyfish, abuse has long tentacles. Rather than extending into deep water, those tentacles extend across the years. But their sting can still be agony. Like the tentacles of jellyfish, the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.
Whether we suffer with physical ailments and visible scars or with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, the wounds stemming from our abuse are severe and real. We are not weak. We are not malingering.
It is, in some ways, easier when our wounds can be seen by the naked eye. Burns are recognizable as such. By contrast, the wounds of many abuse victims cannot be bandaged or sutured. Invisible, those wounds can yet be deadly.
Because it was inflicted early in our lives, while we were most vulnerable, the damage done by abuse is long-lasting and multi-faceted. Victims must endure it for decades, across the full range of life activities. This can be exhausting.
Eventually, we may feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, as if we were drowning; may feel trapped by our past, despite our best efforts; may feel wrongly that ending our lives is the only way out. Continue reading