This post talks explicitly about child abuse so carries a trigger warning as I appreciate this may prove difficult reading for some. I don’t personally believe child abuse should be skirted round. I don’t think words should be used that soften the reality of abuse, to make it more palatable…there is nothing worse in my view- and by worse, I mean, nothing more painful and traumatic in life than child abuse. I am a child abuse survivor. If I hadn’t suffered a breakdown after my previously repressed abuse memories came flooding back, SummerSHINES wouldn’t exist.
I would not be so motivated to write, and my writing would not be quite the same in substance or style without the trauma history I have. It has all made me ‘me’. Child abuse is something that never goes away. It affects your whole life. You never ‘forget’. You also never reach a point where you are “over it” or where you have “moved on”.
I prefer terminology such as moving forward, transforming, developing a post-trauma identity, or reaching a state of acceptance, rather than “getting over it” “moving on” or “leaving it in the past”.
Child abuse can never be left. Not that survivors don’t want to leave it behind. OF COURSE WE DO (!) But adult emotional recovery from childhood abuse does not have a beginning, a middle, and a definite end.
An abuse survivor will spend a lifetime in search of an ever increasing state of peace. But there is no end point.
In running (which I started doing in January) there are recognised couch to 5k apps to help you achieve that goal. 5k is seen as a desirable destination point. When you reach 5k you may be happy with that, or you may want to progress further to 10k, then a half marathon, then a full marathon. However far you wish to aspire to go there are regular marker points of distance…then you can work on running faster with no stops or walking intervals. There really is no limit except your desires and physical capacity.
With recovery from child abuse I don’t know if there are any psychological recovery equivalents to couch to 5k and beyond.
It is a fluid process. It is a daily focus. It is a constant background life theme that affects your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and decisions.
If I didn’t have this background life vision of transforming myself after childhood trauma into a brighter and shinier Summer, I am sure I may tire of blogging so much.
My purpose informs my writing, and it is rare I deviate from my summerSHINES theme which is post-traumatic growth, and the daily challenges of working towards that goal.
Recovery from childhood abuse is work. It isn’t play. It isn’t self-indulgence. It isn’t choosing to “stay stuck,” to “play the victim,” to “get the sympathy vote,” or “to manipulate people” to ensure they endlessly support us, which is what I think some people think about survivors who publicly talk about their abuse.
Societal attitudes towards child abuse victims can be cruel, cold and heartless. Luckily most people are not like that-but disrupting the status quo by openly blogging or speaking about your experiences DOES make our audience of people feel uncomfortable.
Today I posted this on my Facebook together with a photograph of a letter from my Dad refuting my allegations.
I am sharing this on Facebook with the message that child abuse happens. It happened to me.
When you confront your abusers you hope they will admit their wrong doing. They very rarely ever do. Self preservation comes above anything where child abuse is concerned. An abuser will NOT admit to previous criminal behaviour, so you are left with an abuser who is refuting the truth just like my dad did here. This is an excerpt from his typed out letter to me. The fact he typed it a…nd didn’t hand write it speaks volumes. No way could he have written these words in his own hand. He knows full well he is lying. He distanced himself from the truth by typing it out, as though he is writing some formal letter to someone he has no emotional relationship with. He seems to forget I am his daughter. Although to be fair, appropriate treatment and respect towards his daughter was lost years ago. I don’t know why I expected anything else but instinctual self-preservation. This is what abusers do. They lie to self-protect, and the victim is left to make sense of this utter refusal to accept just how much that person or people destroyed your life. This is a life lesson on child abuse, learned the hard way by a victim. (Me) 💙 If you want to share this post-this real-life letter from an abuser to his victim, please do. People need to talk about child abuse. It will be happening right now to children you know. That is the shocking reality of this silent epidemic. 💙
I hope the shock tactics will get people’s attention.
This morning I did something really positive. I went through the memory box of all the stuff associated with my parents-all the letters from them (some of which I threw away as they were meaningless to me) and things I’d written at different stages of my breakdown.
I am sharing them on this blog as they no longer hold the same emotional resonance. I did not feel anything negative when I looked through everything. The items did not turn my stomach or make my eyes well up with tears or anything. I remained serene and ok with it all-and THAT demonstrates post-traumatic growth in me. For me to be able to look at triggering items and not feel emotional is a HUGE step forward and an indicator of how much my healing is progressing.
Yesterday I went to a place where I used to go a lot with my parents but I did not feel upset or awkward. I was there with a friend and her kids and I just enjoyed their company and did not let anything from the past intrude enough to spoil my enjoyment of being out in nature.
That is post-traumatic growth in abundance right there. :)
Does this mean I’ve smashed the psychological equivalent of couch to 5k? I don’t know, as there are no standardised markers of healing.
We all have to judge ourselves, against ourselves-and definitely not against other people.
This recovery process is LONG. But I am comfortable sharing some of these personal items as they no longer have the same emotional chokehold over me.
Everything photographed and included from now is evidence of what happened-what I felt-how I overcame it-and what exactly I was up against.
This I hope will bring home to you, whoever is reading this, the reality of what summerSHINES is all about. This is specifically what my blog sprang up from.
It sprang up from pain, and I am moving towards success-a future where I can take more and more of an active role in the media to publicly discuss the issues I’ve faced and how I’ve overcome them. That makes me so proud!
But this stuff pictured below is some of what inspired it…the abuse of truth, the abuse of respect, the abuse of boundaries, the abuse of privacy, the abuse of morals, in my case the abuse of religion, and sadly also the abuse of innocence.
That is what abuse is. All of that stuff which created a paper trail, some of which is this…
Bedtime bear. What I’d cuddle at night time.
Here are two trauma work exercises I did-writing with my non dominant hand (my left) to access the childlike parts of me to allow them a voice. I was surprised what came out when I wrote.
No names or personal identifiers are published here to protect his anonymity. Because I’m a nice ex-daughter like that…but this is his handwriting.
Am I really a daughter with a loving dad? He seemed to think so.
One more time…the typed out letter from a father to a daughter, trying to pretend he didn’t do it.
And my empowering song lyrics…music I used to listen to to fire me up…plus a poem x