Written by Ann – Angels by Grace Pub. Feb. 1998
In my work as a counselor I have had the opportunity to work with many young people and their parents. Unfortunately, in my role I have also witnessed many children living in abusive or impoverished homes.
Some children have had to be removed from their own families for various reasons, including sexual abuse, deprivation of basic needs, neglect, severe cigarette burns, and other forms of physical abuse.
In many cases, sadly, the abuse took place by a biological parent or relative. It is not uncommon for the child to remain a victim into adulthood because his/her primary care-givers do not support her not take measures to ensure that these occurrences do not continue.
Care-givers can also have their own prior mistreatment that they have not dealt with. Fear, lack of compassion, lack of appropriate parenting skills, can also be a factor. At times their own denial that a problem exists that hurts the child will cause them to be unable, or unwilling to stand by the child. The child’s problems will then be magnified because she feels emotionally, and /or, physically abandoned.
A female acquaintance recently shared with me her own story of healing the wounds from years of physical and sexual abuse from her father.
For years she has held these secrets inside. Just like many children have said, “Because I was afraid.” Afraid that she would be blamed. Afraid that no one would believe her. Afraid that her Mom would not love her anymore and her mother wouldn’t be able to support the family, emotionally or financially.
She also stated that she feared what would happen to her family. Where would they live? Afraid that her father would beat her, afraid of the impact on the entire family.
She was afraid that her father would go back to jail, he had previously served a prison sentence for physically assaulting and attempting rape on a woman. She also stated that she felt guilty for the time her father did spend time in jail. He couldn’t hurt then.
She felt guilty for feeling grateful for her father’s jail time because his jail time made the rest of the family feel sad. Could she have come forward with her own truth and cause him to return to jail? She felt such enormous shame and guilt.
As she works with youngsters now, she can see where her thinking had been illogical. I reminded her that she was seeing through the eyes of a child. The child experience and lack of resources.
She explained that she wanted to go public with her story but asked me instead, to tell about her experiences. It is her desire to protect the privacy of each family member. She feels it would cause them suffering.
My acquaintance wants you, the readers, to understand the suffering and long lasting impact on her life that the scars carry. As she described to me the current trauma, a growing cancer inside her body, she gained strength and courage from being able to finally, step out of her isolating silence.
I also explained to her that she is one of the “lucky ones.” Through her faith in God, her strength, and personal resilience, she made it. She has made her life’s work helping children to have healthy self-esteem. She helps them to develop their own inner resources to become survivors.
With tremendous support from several close friends, her church, her therapist, and God’s help, she is finally healing.
Our children of today need to be listened to, heard, and understood. They do not have to suffer alone and in silence. The painful memories can haunt them forever. Children should not have to carry such a heavy burden through life by themselves. Help IS available!
Blessings to you.