When abuse happens

With the seemingly increasing numbers of people coming forward to disclose sexual abuse in their childhood, it seems timely to think about this further.

It is not uncommon for survivors of abuse to see themselves as in some way ‘bad’ and ‘deserving’ of such atrocious acts: ‘I must have been so awful as a child to have deserved to be treated like this.’ I hear these words time and time again, ‘it was punishment for this awful thing I must have done,’ even though people have no memory of what this awful thing was. The reason there is no memory for it is because there was no reason; we have no control over the families we are born into, we have no control over the genetic profile we are born with, the communities and even country that we are born into. When abuse happens in childhood, and this is really important, it is not the child’s fault. No child should have to go through this. We need only take a moment and think about a 5, 6 or 7 year old to see what they are not capable of to realise how untrue the belief around one’s badness at that same age is.

Accepting and believing one’s total lack of control and power when abuse has happened is the first step to recovery. Trying to develop compassion for the self is one way in which to do this, but this takes courage. Life at the best of times is really tricky, but with courage and support we can develop kindness, understanding, warmth and compassion, and we can learn ways to manage what can be really overwhelming emotions. We can try to forge a more hopeful path ahead for ourselves, one that we have chosen, that is of our making and that is in our best interests. Compassion focused therapy is one way in which we can attend to ourselves. If the issues I’ve raised sound familiar to you and you would like to discuss it further then give me a call or email, perhaps therapy might be a way to help you move forward with your life rather than be burdened by your past.