The Healing Path

As we go along on this journey we will be sharing more of our stories.

My story is that of a victim of abuse, its a story not only of sexual abuse, but also of violence. It may offend your sensibilities, actually if you read our stories without feeling sad and angry, something is wrong. At times you may find it to be shocking and and deeply moving. I don’t share it for the shock value. In truth I will leave out some of the most gruesome details.

We are sharing our stories in order to open the door to a candid discussion of abuse.

Among victims is the tendancy to downplay their abuse. You might read our stories and think that your situation wasn’t as bad as ours. If you are a victim and can say that, fine. But even if perchance your story is not as emotionally, physically, or spiritually as painful as ours, you are still a victim.

Don’t fall into the trap of measuring your abuse against what happened in our lives. Measure it against your reaction to it, your feelings, your memories, your relationships and your self-esteem.

It was suggested to me once that rather than measuring my abuse against what happened in others lives, that I look closely at the following.I encourage you to do the same.

1. Measure your being a victim against your ability to trust people.

2.Measure it against your ability to have healthy, fun, open relationships, with both men and women.
3. Measure your victimization against the impact it had on one person-you.

Its okay to hurt if the hurting has a purpose, a direction and an end. By a journal and begin writing, recording your thoughts, feelings, experiences, insights and even prayers as we go along. I pray that as we journey together you too will find the healer, Jesus, the One who will meet you in your place of deepest hurt and need.

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8 thoughts on “The Healing Path

  1. I have definitely downplayed and still do downplay the pain I experienced as a child. I didn’t admit or label it ‘abuse’ until I was in my late 30’s.

    I’ve also done plenty of the ‘comparing’ thing. It hasn’t helped much and I don’t recommend it.

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  2. For someone who has seen abuse for a whole lifetime, some abusive behaviors seem normal, and we discount or rationalize the abuse. A counselor once related a technique to my wife and I to help sort through what is abusive… “Whatever you’re relating, whatever the issue, imagine if it were happening to your OWN child, would you intervene? Would you as a parent see this action as abusive?” it was great advice, and helps both of us see abuse for what it is. Our minds can be SO tricky sometimes… our beliefs can be accepted from childhood without ever having been questioned or re-evaluated.

    -vern-

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  3. Comparison is such a trap. There’s always someone who’s had it worse, or had it better. When we attempt to define abuse by someone else’s experiences, where do you define the edges of a frame of reference? You really can’t…

    I’m just in the beginning of seeing that much of what I experienced as a child was actually abuse, on a subtle level. I saw it as normal, I thought that hurting was normal, but as my eyes open and my heart opens, I realize that there are deep wounds from abuse that I’ve carried with me for so long just because I didn’t know to define it as abuse. It was on an emotional and spiritual level. There were no outward signs, just the inward pain that I was experiencing from the undercurrent of control and manipulation. And in the case of my relationship with my dad, abuse was less about him committing a harmful act, and more about omitting his love… controlling with his presence or lack thereof.

    I just thought it was the way things were. As I read through your criteria, its clear to me once again that what took place in childhood was destructive to me. But sometimes its hard to admit that we need, and it so much easier to downplay than to face the truth.

    Thank you for challenging me, and others who are reading along.

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  4. Vern that really turns the tables to think of my own children and how I want them to be treated. Thank you for posting that.

    Shannon I know exactly what you mean. It’s so tough. I wish I had better words to post. Maybe tamarshope will be able to add something here. She’s really good.

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  5. Vern, how very true, I was given the same advice at one time too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here my friend.

    When a child is raised in an abusive or dysfunctional family they have no way of recognizing the chaos and craziness that is going on around them. Since they are born into “one” family-not a unhealthy family as well as a healthy one so they can compare the two. Hence, we might not recognize the differences between functional and dysfunctional families.
    I had lived a lot of my life based on the choices I made as a confused, abused child with a distorted view of reality. We will need wisdom and insight to gain a truthful perspective on our past and present and to have an accurate context for changing our future.

    Shannon, my heart goes out to you. I hear your pain. I am so glad that you are recognizing that emotional or spiritual abuse is no less painful and is still abuse. Pain is pain. And when we hurt-we hurt.
    Often when a parent withholds their love….controlling with their presence or lack thereof its often referred to as emotional orphaning. Parents don’t have to be dead to orphan children. Some orphan their children by deliberately using emotional withdrawal or silence as punishment. Whether they choose to do this intentionally or unintentionally the effect is still the same.

    Shannon please remember, nothing that your parents did, or didn’t do in your father’s case, is a statement about your intrinsic worth. And nothing that your parents ever did or (didn’t do) disqualifies you from receiving all that God has for you.

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  6. Excellent point, Tamar.

    Thanks for pointing out the comparisons as they SHOULD be.

    And thanks, Vern, for sharing something that can help clarify abusive behaviors.

    It is true, victims DO rationalize their abuse. Not only that, but many times we can’t even feel the emotions for ourselves and what we have suffered that we naturally feel for others who suffer similar abuse.

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  7. Thank you all for the your words of wisdom and encouragement. I have a hard time acknowledging the pain that I suffered when I was a child. My brother-in-law malested me when I was 9 till I was 13. My dad was a preacher who was very concerned about his reputation and what others thought. He controlled me and my bothers and sisters by using shame. He often would tell us that if we mess up he would have to leave the ministry.

    I don’t remember him being very affectionate. I do remember being disappointed time and again because he would allow church members to interrupt any plans that we might have had.

    When I did tell my parents about the abuse they did nothing for me. I was told that my dad confronted the abuser but nothing ever happened to him.

    What I am trying to get right now is the truth that I was abused by my brother-in-law and my dad. I can see the affects of the abuse in the way I have learned to relate to others and my husband. I can’t feel the pain, and I keep making excusses for daddy. He is a good man and I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want to continue to relate in the same old ways either. I do want to heal.

    Thank you for letting me post.
    Elaine

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  8. Elaine, I am so sorry to hear about your abuse, your wounding and your pain…my heart aches for you and for what you endured….and the fact that your father was a minister only adds to the confusion and shame.

    And added to your shame was a father who was more concerned about his “flock” than his children~ that is a travesty…I’m not saying it to bash your father but to acknowledge that when you add religious abuse to the other abuse is it any wonder that as a woman you would struggle with shame-based identity.

    Sadly when people pleasing is a higher priority than obeying God (as in your fathers case) parents then become emotionally absent and unavailable to their children because they become addicted to evangelical hyperactivity. Or another name for it is “sanctified” workaholism!!

    Elaine, I pray that you will come to the place where you no longer make excuses for your father and rather will begin to understand that this is not “dishonoring” your father….in order to heal there are times when we need to look closely at our childhood and our parents…not to place the blame, but to better understand the impact they had on your life.

    Actually, I think will take some time and further write what I am trying to say when it comes to honoring your parents and making the connection of the years of accumulated pain and the impact our parents had on us….

    Thank you for reading along and taking the time to write…I hope that you will take some time to read more and share more of your journey with us…
    Blessings and hugs….

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