“Most people have been mistreated to one degree or another in their lives, but the experience of being mistreated alone does not cause someone to develop a victim’s outlook. It is only when a person is abused and then left to deal with it on their own that the victim mentality begins to form. The abused child begins to organize his/her world around the wound.” Mic Hunter author of “Abused Boys the Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse”
This is so true and it is such a good point. In my experience this is not about any one kind of abuse; this statement is true for all types of abuse. It is also important to understand that it does not matter how many times we experienced a trauma or traumatic event. If we did not have help to deal with it at the time, the consequences are deeper, greater and more difficult to live with. When we are children, we have no choice but or organize our world around the abuse. We have to accept it somehow; there is no other option. When we can’t fathom the “why” did this happen we can easily sink into depression, develop behavior problems, physical illnesses, nightmares and all sorts of other manifestations result. When we can’t make sense of what happened or is happening we find other ways to cope.
In my case, coping methods often caused new problems, and I developed coping methods to deal with coping methods, all because I thought they kept me safer; I had childhood depressions, I got physically ill, I withdrew, I made up stories to get attention. (which made it easy for everyone to say that I was the problem in the first place) I was too young to deal with the abuse myself and when my thinking started to derail, (as it is bound to do when we are coping with overwhelming burdens on our own) it just got worse.
Not being seen as an individual who had emotional needs, just by itself, is cause to develop coping methods. If not being heard, not having a voice or trying to have a voice and having no impact is devastating to an adult, how much more so devastating would it be to a child? It is no wonder that we develop coping methods. It is understandable that depression, eating disorders, ill health, stomach aches, nightmares, nervous habits and behavior problems develop.
I tell a story (Psychological abuse ~ How Self Doubt Grows) about how I was not protected from a psychologically abusive teacher when I was in grade five which clearly represents the progression of the struggle to be heard and protected. I had to deal with and process this psychological abuse on my own. I didn’t come up with TRUE conclusions. I sunk into a depression and got really sick. Because this situation was not dealt when it started, the teacher, the abuser, got away with it and her devaluing attitude and psychological abuse towards me got worse. I concluded that my only course of action was to ‘try harder’ to win her favor.
Abusers enjoy watching their victims struggle to suck up to them. As a victim I thought it would work to bend myself into a pretzel for the controller or the person who was abusing me (this is true for physical abuse, sexual abuse and all psychological abuse) and as a victim I believed when it didn’t work that I just needed to try harder, work harder to find the right “key” the right way to prove that I was worthy of the abusers love. Abusers become like a puppet master, enjoying the game of seeing just how far the victim will go to please the abuser. Just how much of the spirit of this victim can the abuser break? It is as though the abuser establishes their own value by how much control the victim gives them and how hard the victim tries to be what they want, but it never ends. It is never enough. These puppet masters always want more.
When I began the process of looking at the things that happened to me and how I processed them as a child, and then looked at how my belief system developed, I realized that in some ways it was the after effects that were the most damaging in the long term. So many of the beliefs that I adopted as the truth, were developed because no one helped me deal with anything. As children we cannot deal with any kind of abuse or devaluing behavior on our own with any kind of effectiveness. As adults we must remember that we were merely children and it was not our defect, nor are we to blame, that we could not overcome the traumatic event on our own.
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