This is for those who cope with past abuse by harming themselves. Those people who make sense of a senseless world by turning their anger on themselves. People who feel they have somehow become human-magnets drawing abusive people to them.
I remember it well. How I felt when each new abuser found me and stepped all over me and my right to be treated with some shred of compassion, respect or even just a few manners. It had no effect on me initially. I shrugged and accepted it. It didn’t matter. *I* didn’t matter so of course nothing anyone did to me was of any importance. I was numb. I went through life as an observer just watching and shrugging.
It’s easier to stay damaged. It doesn’t hurt half as much as healing.
With healing comes awareness of the truth. Some people do become aware of the truth without healing but, for all of us, the truth is incredibly painful and hard to digest. People did things that were ILLEGAL and they got away with it! People did things that were WRONG in so many ways it’s almost impossible to accept such things can happen. How can this be true when the sun still shines, the abuser lives on untouched in any way and people laugh? How can the world go on? How can people laugh and love and live as if none of this is happening or has ever happened?
How does the world, how DARE the world, go on as if nothing is wrong when such unspeakable, such outrageous, such unacceptable things are happening every day?
Once I knew the truth I started trying protect myself, trying to avoid being a victim again, but I failed. I continued to be abused. Every new abuse triggered more anger, frustration, despair, hopelessness.
Why me? What is wrong with me that these people find me and do these things to me? I must be asking for it somehow, some way, I must be.
So many emotions. All of them negative. All of them triggering a powerful drive that swirled around inside my body and head. A nameless force that pounded with powerful fists at my ribs, my skull, hammering at me to get out but trapped. A force that would swiftly focus intense rage onto me for trapping it inside me.
I remember coping with it as a small child by lying in my bed and tossing my head violently from side to side trying to make my brain hit the walls of my skull. It scrambled my ability to think or feel and I would go numb and calm. Once I was older, and there were no longer adults around to question or punish me, I graduated to more active attacks on myself.
In some ways I was lucky. My self harm was fairly tame all things considered. I drew blood but not often. The back of ones head does not bleed easily no matter how many times you slam it against a wall.
Things got better and better with time, knowledge, training but every now and then an abuser would slip through my defenses and leave me, literally, banging my head against a wall.
One day two abusers slipped through my defenses, sailed under my radar, and almost got one of my children.
I had much clearer sight, much better thinking skills, when it came to my children. There was no way I could believe they could ever be, in any way whatsoever, at fault for what an abuser tried to do to them. They were not magnets who drew abusers because of some unknown flaw.
Suddenly all the pieces fell together and I realised something that took my breath away.
EVERYONE IS ABUSIVE!
Everyone abuses someone some time in their life whether they want to or not. It is impossible to make it through life without slashing someone’s self-esteem, coercing someone to do some thing they don’t want to do, forcing your will on someone or taking something from someone they don’t want you to take!
There is a thousand word essay in that concept so I won’t go into it here. I will just give one example.
When my kids were little I used to grab them and kiss or hug or pat them when I felt like it. I was showing them affection or so I believed. When they protested it did not register with me so I ignored their feeble objections and continued to indulge my need to hug and kiss and pat them. I did not realise that, having been starved of affection all my life, my need for it was greater than theirs and I was over the top with it.
As they grew older my son managed to train me out of this behaviour somehow although I don’t think he did it consciously. He just managed to be out of reach or to make me feel awkward so I gradually ceased doing it to him. This made me focus more on my daughter and shower all my affection on her.
Thankfully, however, I trained my children well. They know abuse when they see it and they don’t accept it. Not even from me.
One day my daughter reached breaking point and she snapped at me.
“Stop it Mum!” she spat at me one day, “You are molesting me!”
I laughed. She stared me down. I started to protest but she was angry. She cut me off.
“You always taught me this is my body and nobody has a right to touch it in any way I am not comfortable with. I am not comfortable with you constantly grabbing, patting and kissing me. I have asked you to stop doing it a million times and you won’t stop. You are molesting me!”
Half of me was offended and outraged. The other half of me saw instantly that she was right and I was so proud of her for seeing through my excuses and having the strength to stand up for her rights. I stopped molesting her there and then.
She graciously permits me to slobber all over her on my birthday, if I’m down and she wants to cheer me up, or if she is in an especially good mood. I make the most of those times hehehe.
Every time we plant a kiss on a child who is trying to avoid it we are molesting that child!
Every time we force a child to accept a kiss or hug they don’t want we are teaching them they have no right to say no to being molestated!
As adults we draw a fine line that children do not understand. We think forcing kisses and hugs on children is OK – it’s affection and everyone knows affection is good.
Children do not discriminate between being forced to accept a kiss on the cheek and being forced to accept a touch on their genitals. Every paedophile believes he is giving his victims affection.
I realised it simply is not possible to get through life without running into the occasional seriously abusive personality. They are everywhere! In work places, sales teams, political parties, in every profession, race, culture and so on.
Abuse is like rain. It falls all over this world all the time. It can be a misty fog or a downpour but it is out there and everyone runs into it sooner or later.
The difference between people who have been abused as children and people who have not is the people who were not abused have an umbrella. The umbrella is made up of information (like the knowledge that they do not have to accept touch they are not comfortable with), skills (like the ability to assert oneself and demand the abuser stop), and strategies for coping with the various types of abuse (such as seeking help, if necessary, to put a stop to abuse).
An umbrella keeps people dry when abuse comes their way. The spitting of “normal” abuse does not touch people with an umbrella – they may scarcely even realise it was spitting. The first fat drops of a serious abuse attempt may wet them but they will swiftly open their umbrella and it will protect them from being saturated by abuse.
Victims of childhood abuse have no umbrella. The rain hits them – every last little drop of it. If they do get their umbrella they don’t focus on how much rain it protects them from. They only see the first fat drops landing on them and they think they are still abuse magnets.
Victims of childhood abuse simply don’t realise – it isn’t them – it’s the world that has something terribly wrong with it. It’s infested with a plague of abusers.
Having said that – it isn’t all black and hopeless. The world is filled with wonderful human beings too. Generous, loving, caring people who are like sunshine brightening the world and even, sometimes, drying up the rain. For every person who will abuse you there are others who will do you no harm and some who will even try to help you.
These days I appreciate the people who do me no harm, bask in the sunshine of the people who do me good, put my umbrella up when rain comes and know it’s not my fault the rain exists. It never was.