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We Were Abused Children-How Do We Recover?

Sure, there are rare cases where kids suffer continuous, extensive abuse over multiple years, but the vast majority of abused children have experienced at most, a few traumatic sexual or violent abuse events over the course of 18 years of childhood.  I don't mean to minimize what you may have suffered...even one traumatic event is too much.  As tragic as it is, the biggest tragedy is the way we often ruin decades of our lives by not facing it, putting it in perspective and putting it behind us.  Recovery is possible for all of us if we want it enough to work for it.

Face The Abuse:  As adults who were abused as children, our first step to recovery is to face the abuse.  This requires more than reliving the emotions which most of us are already way too good at.  When we face the abuse, we also have to face facts about the abuse.  Fact:  We were not in the wrong and did nothing to deserve this treatment.  Fact:  Our abusers were wrong and unconcerned about how their abuse might hurt us.  Fact:  However extensive the abuse's over, now.  Fact:  Despite how we feel now, we can recover and lead a normal, well-adjusted life.  When we face the facts about our abuse, we make it possible to put the right perspective on it.  

Put It In Perspective:  Most of us can't escape our emotions long enough to see our experiences objectively.  Maybe it's the advantage of age, but I look back on my childhood and see many traumas far more emotionally devastating than when I was abused.  I had broken bones, cuts, major illnesses and all kinds of other experiences that greatly outweighed the abuse I experienced in the home, whether is was the domestic violence or molestation.  Now, my father was a violent drunk, so I'm not saying the abuse was mild...just that it was only part of the trauma I experienced as a child.  When we let a few events from our childhood define us, we lose perspective.  We can regain some of it by remembering all the other traumas. 

Another way to gain a better perspective is to consider how much of your childhood was actually traumatic, compared to the normal, happy, playful times.  I suspect my actual total time witnessing abuse (or receiving it) was less than 20 hours.  I'll add in another 92 hours of thinking about it and worrying about the next time, for a total of about a week (waking time).  Now, if you think this is a small amount of abuse, understand it's possible to be raped 40 time in 20 hours, so, if your abuse was more than that, you're in the rare case category.  So, counting the time I spent thinking about it, I was abused one week out of 18 years (936 weeks), or 1/10 of 1 % of the time.  The rest of the time was baseball, choir, girlfriends, fishing, football, pets, etc.  I don't know about you, but I'm not going to let a tiny percentage of my childhood ruin my experience of life, no matter how painful those times were.  That's perspective!      

Do You Want To Be Well?  There are some questions we need to ask ourselves if a few incidents that happened years ago are the focus of our lives, today.  The first one is, do we want to be well?  You might want to ask yourself if you're deriving some benefit from the emotional drama of having been abused.  Look!  Don't accuse me of taking your pain lightly...I don't even know you.  This is between you and be honest.  Do you feel an emotional gain from the attention and sympathy involved with having been abused?  Do you use the past abuse as an excuse to escape difficult situations or tasks?  Do you blame the abuse for bad habits?  Do you blame the abuse for your abuse of others?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be that you don't want to recover...that you see what you're getting from the "abused" label as more valuable than what you would get out of recovery. 

To make sure you're truly motivated for recovery, begin to imagine what life would be like if this limitation weren't there.  What would you try?  How would it feel to not need anyone's sympathy?   What if you were free of your addictions and bad habits?  What would it be like to love fully, without inhibitions.  What if you respected yourself enough to treat all others with dignity?  The more we focus our minds on the benefits and joys and freedoms of a recovered life, the more we're driven toward recovery.  This is the kind of life we can have if we're willing to put our abuse behind us.

Put It Behind You:  Our past abuse will not stay in the past until we face it, put it in perspective and decide we truly want to be well.  That's because putting the abuse behind us requires mental and emotional discipline.  Every time a memory comes in we have to push it out with a more powerful, positive thought.  Over time (usually years), the abuse memories carry few emotions and no power over us.  After many years, the memories actually seem as though it were someone else, they are so foreign to your experience of life.  This is the kind of life I hope and pray for anyone who has suffered childhood traumas like mine.  It is neither fast nor easy, but it's lasting and rewarding...isn't that worth working for?

I want you to know there is someone who can help, who loves you and wants only the best for you. That someone is God. If you want help from God, just click on Help Me God.

What have you done that helped you move on from abuse?

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