Let me start by saying this is not really my story to tell–I was never abused in any way and I have no first-hand experience with being the abused child. But this IS the story I’ve heard all my life. I know what happens When an Abused Child Grows Up. And I know what that means to them. And I know how critical it is to their future.
There’s a saying: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and while there’s some truth to that, the strength to grow past abuse is monumental. And I wish no one had or be that strong. To prevent abuse is a choice. To break the cycle is a promise. And, for parents facing the effect of a child that’s been abused and to children who’ve been abused, I want them to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And this is what it looks like.
When an Abused Child Grows Up – A Choice and A Promise
- They Look Normal. No one can tell they’ve been abused–unless they tell someone. Children need to know that there is not a scarlet letter on their forehead. And that no one knows.
- They Are Careful. Whether or not they realize it, children who have been abused are aware of the potential for it to happen again. And they are on guard for it. Always.
- They Are Wonderful. Just because they were abused does not make them any less of a person. And they can be and do ANYTHING they want.
- They are Not a Statistic. They do not have to be boiled-down to the numbers and lost in a sea of others that experienced “the same thing”. Because all of their experiences are unique, including the abuse.
- They Have Not Been Labeled. Unless they label themselves. Again, no one knows. And no one has to.
- The Abuse was an Experience. And like all experiences, it can be put behind them, it is not THEM. They are not the abused. They are the person that was abused. That is an important distinction.
That’s the crux right there. They have a choice–to accept the abuse for what it was and move on, or let it continue to hurt them. They can (and some do, but certainly not the vast majority) repeat the offense. But they can choose not to. They can choose to be bigger people and watch for the signs they experienced. And share what they learned with others so that there’s a cycle of PREVENTION that starts. Just because a person was abused does not have to be the thing that changed them for the worse. And I think, sometimes, it’s hard to see that when you’re the person that was abused. Even as an adult. But I know that people can be beautiful, wonderful, and perfect, despite the fact that they were traumatized. Despite the fact that they were changed. Because, perhaps, they can make the choice to be something better than what the abuser tried to turn them into.
I want every child who’s been abused to make a promise. A promise to themselves and to their future children, that the abuse stops with them. Not only that the abuse will not be repeated, but that the abused child will stop others from abusing their children–and that they will educate their children to educate their children and so forth. There’s something teachable here that should be passed on and on–in perpetuity. A different kind of cycle that they should promise to create. To stop the abuse. Forever. And be on guard–for always.
Again, there’s a story here, but it’s not mine to share. If you believe a child is being abused, please call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. Do not walk on by.
If you would like to learn more about preventing child abuse, identifying it, and healing from it, please read through our blogger series for Child Abuse Prevention Month. I’ve joined with a ton of other very awesome bloggers to bring you all their stories. You can all their stories here at Beauty Through Imperfection’s landing page.