The Dirty Secret : Abuse in Families and the Scars it Leaves

Abuse in itself is any ugly word. For those of us who have been abused as children, just the word can make us think about the trauma which we once endured. My past does still haunt me, not as often as it used to, but definitely more than I would like it to.

The problem is how can we as adults protect our children from the abuse we suffered? And how can we heal from the pain of abuse. Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse. There are many types of abuse which can impact the life of a child for many years or even the rest of their lives.

In all actuality there are six types of abuse. These types are: physical, sexual, verbal, social, economic, and spiritual abuse. While a few of these are more likely to be linked to domestic violence than childhood abuse, I will however discuss briefly the symptoms of each type of abuse.

Physical abuse is just that. It includes hitting, smacking, striking another person in a harmful way. This can also be breaking things in a deliberate or forceful manner. This could be an abusive partner who smashes your Hummel collection because they know you love it.

Sexual abuse is any type of touching that is non consensual, unwanted and harmful towards another person. It can be forcing the other person to perform sexual acts on themselves or the perpetrator. Sexual abuse is typically performed by someone that the victim knows. This can be a parent, a relative, a neighbor, teacher or trusted family friend. Usually the predator will “groom” the victim, as in prepare them by setting the stage for what will happen next. This could be bribery, or threats.

Verbal abuse is yelling, name calling obscene language, deliberately using insults and putting the person down in a hurtful way. While there are many parents who yell at their spouse or children, many do not use insults or verbal assaults to get their point across.

Social abuse is not widely known about but is a sign of serious issues. Some signs of this type of abuse are isolation from friends, and family members. Usually there is a Co- dependency upon the partner for reassurance, monitoring their mail, and telephone calls. This type of abuse is usually synonymous with domestic/spousal abuse. For those who have a control freak for a spouse it is not easy to get out of the relationship. The couple will usually make the appearance that everything is fine.

Economic abuse is another type of abuse that is not widely discussed. This is when one of the partners in the relationship controls all of the finances and the other person has nothing without their permission or knowledge. It is a matter of control to keep the partner from leaving the relationship. This is also a common trait in domestic/spousal abuse relationships.

Spiritual Abuse is more common than people may think. Many abusive spouses will use only a few scriptures from the bible to justify their behaviors. The most common ones are about women being submissive to their husbands, and men being the head of households. For those who have grown up in a religious setting it may not seem strange to them. While I am not condemning religion I am condemning those who would use it to justify mistreating and abusing their spouse.

Abuse is a word that rings loudly in my ears when I hear it, or even see it in print. It is truly a powerful word for those of us who have suffered abuse at the hands of another. Abuse is not something which is easily forgotten.

As a child I was abused physically and mentally, I was beaten, verbally assaulted, neglected and sexually molested, and all by the time I was 6 years old. The abuse did not stop there. I didn’t know until I was much older that it was not normal for parents to hurt their children in the way that I was hurt. I was given black eyes, thrown across a bedroom into a wall, beaten with a belt, choked, threatened, kicked, punched and the list goes onâÂ?¦ The scary part about this was that in the era I grew up there wasn’t a concern about these things. People minded their own business and didn’t worry about other peoples families.

Unfortunately it continued throughout my life until I was able and willing to seek professional help. The abuse which occurred happened because my mother was a bad parent. The man she married, my step father was an abusive alcoholic. The abuse was against me primarily but on occasion when my step dad was drunk he would beat my mother. This was all within the first 8 years of my life.

I found myself in abusive relationships as an adult and in bad situations for lack of guidance by a decent set of parents. While I look back and realize that I made these bad choices because in many cases I didn’t know better, I know now how to make the right choice.

While it is understandable that no parent is perfect, and anyone can have a bad day, it is not justifiable to abuse a child. I can’t remember a day that went by that I was not yelled at, and insulted, told how worthless I was and what a mistake I was. I have yet to meet a parent that hasn’t had a slip of the tongue at least once in their life. When a situation like that does occur, it is recommended that you comfort your child, apologize, hug them and make sure that they know you love them. It is said that for every one negative thing you say to a child, that you will need to say 3 or 4 positive things to try and over shadow the past negativity. Obviously there are going to be a few incidents which occur during childhood, but the best thing that can be done is stressing to your child the importance that they have in your life and heart.

The worst part of being abused for a child is living in fear, or moment to moment. For me this fear has caused me in my adult life to compensate for the fear by planning 10 steps ahead of any possible situation. The fear of not knowing what is going to happen to me can really become overwhelming at times. I still to this day have issues with being afraid of being abandoned. Just to keep things in perspective, I am college graduate, working towards a Masters degree and yet sometimes I feel like my life is out of control.

The other aspect to keep in mind is that people/parents who abuse their child/children were more likely to have suffered abuse from their parents than those who do not abuse their children. Those who were abused as children are more likely to find themselves in abusive relationships as adults, as either the perpetrator or the victim.

The key to breaking the vicious cycle of abuse is not easy. This is something that I recommend seeking professional help for because of the dangerous impact it can have on your life. I have been seeing a therapist for several years now and I finally feel that after all these years I am finally getting somewhere.

Abuse can cause serious repercussions in your life/child’s life as they become an adult. It can cause serious issues with trust, drug problems, eating disorders, depression, and sexual issues. There are many issues that can come due to abuse but it is not the same for everyone. I have found that for me I have a serious issue dealing with emotions, surrounding love and good feelings. This has been something which I have been working on and have begun to make progress with.

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