Many adults who seek psychotherapy have experienced (and survived) childhood abuse in some form.
Whether abuse is physical, sexual or emotional – whether sudden or ongoing, obvious or subtle, intentional or not, children are hurt, and the pain inside often keeps going into adulthood.
When people have been abused they may try to deal with it by:
- blocking out the experience – stopping feeling, avoiding thinking, pushing the memory down; pretending they’re not in their body, or that it happened to someone else;
- minimising what happened – “it didn’t really happen,” “it wasn’t really abuse,” “it could have been worse”;
- excusing (rescuing) – “she didn’t mean to hurt me,” “he was a good dad in many ways.”
Whenever a more powerful individual misuses another for their own ends, that is abuse.
Children often conclude that because they didn’t prevent it, stop it, or even know it was abuse (and how could they, they were children), that they were to blame – “It must have been my fault”, and they decide deep down that they are bad.
Abuse is not “brought on” or “deserved” by the victim. It is not their fault.
They are not bad.
When people carry this “secret” into adulthood, or when they try to keep this secret even from themselves, it can have a very negative effect on their self-esteem and relationships. Feeling helpless, ashamed, confused and afraid, people can lose hope in themselves and their ability to live a happy and fulfilled life.
It is possible to address the negative consequences of past experiences.
Victims of abuse do not have to remain victims.
In a safe environment, and with the knowledge and support of a gentle and respectful therapist, our childhood experiences can be faced and the process of healing begun.
a relationship in which the past is faced in the present
in order to ensure the future.