I am pleased to have guest blogger Patty Hite from the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse writing for Emerging from Broken today. We are continuing with a series of posts on the subject of anger in relation to abuse. As always on this blog, please feel welcome to post your comments, thoughts and contributions.
~ Darlene Ouimet, founder of Emerging from Broken
Memoirs of a Mad Survivor by Patty Hite
I am a Mad Survivor. Not crazy mad, just angry. And not insanely angry to where I view life and everyday thru gray colored lenses, with bitterness and uncontrollable rage. For the most part, I am fulfilled and overflowing with love for myself and life. I wake up happy and I go to bed happy. I am free from nightmares and flashbacks that used to be so painful that I thought having a knife in my heart would feel better.
I am proud to confess that I am angry about abuse. All abuse. I was sexually abused as a child and sexually, physically and emotionally abused when I married Satan (that’s what I call my ex). Most of what I know about abuse was shown to me by him. In fact, when I read or hear the word abuser, I picture him as the perfect example of what an abuser is. This is why I have devoted my life to healing and it is why I do everything I can to tell others about the dangers and damage abuse causes, as well as help those who want to heal. It is why I am angry. But it is a healthy and justifiable anger that is constantly on my heart and in my mind.
I am angry at every adult who harms a child. I am angry because they chose to do it. And no, I don’t care if they were drunk, drugged or a child of abuse themselves. They chose it. They thought about how and they knew when. They watched that child’s every move. They knew the weakness in that child and they knew what tactic to use in order to abuse them. Should they use force or should they manipulate the child with love and affection? Should they threaten the child or should they blame the child? Yes, I am angry. I didn’t deserve it and neither did you.
I get angry when those who should be supportive and comforting, tell us to forgive, forget and put it behind us. I also get angry when these same family and friends tell us to not get angry. Why can’t I be angry? I was abused! I was beaten and forced to have sex. It was so traumatic for me that I had to leave my body in order to survive. I spent most of my life in fear and learning how to love myself. Yet, I should not be angry about it and at the ones who did it?
The same people who don’t want to hear about my abuse are the same ones who try to stop me from being angry. It’s because of THEIR fear, that they try to stop us from being angry. Fear of exposure, fear of losing control over us, fear of rocking their boat. They feel safe as long as they can keep us in a child frame of mind, under their control. What about how I feel? Why can’t I feel safe? What I don’t understand is why our loved ones aren’t angry. Why aren’t they angry that I was abused?
I’m sure some of you who are reading this are wondering why I am still angry after all the years I’ve spent in healing from abuse. (30 years to be exact) And some of you are wondering if I am really healthy, since I talk about anger and the importance of being angry at our abusers. How can I say I have forgiven my abusers but still be angry at them?
It is because of healing, that I am able to be angry. I spent most of my life obeying the same false beliefs that you listened to. “Put anger aside and move on.” Healing from abuse doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t mean excusing the abuse and it doesn’t mean that we stop being angry. Trying to stop my anger about abuse is like trying to stop a moving train with my body. It can’t happen and it will never happen. I choose to remain angry about every man, woman and child who has, is or will be abused. It’s the nature of the beast, the nature of a Mad Survivor.
I know, I am stepping on some toes, because we were taught that anger should not be expressed, it is not lady- like and anger will eat us up. Yet, anger is an emotion that we need to express. We need to get angry about our abuse, about our abusers, about those who didn’t protect us and at those who tell us to stuff our anger. It’s the only way that internal boundaries will surround us to protect and guard us from future abuse. It’s like a fence that has signs posted “ Do Not Touch or You Will Be Prosecuted” “Warning: No Abuse Allowed” “Warning: I Hit Back.”
This is a list of things I USED to get angry about before healing: The cashier for talking too much and taking too long. (She isn’t being paid to talk!) The little boy who let his dog pee in my yard. (I don’t let my dog pee in your yard, why are you letting your dog pee in mine?) The guy in the mustang who has his music up loud. (Where’s the cops when you need them?) The butcher who took another customer before me ( I was here first!) The couple in church who didn’t tithe (God’s gonna get them).
Silly things. I mean, come on! If I wasn’t such a nice girl, I could have slapped these people without thinking twice. If I would have told my friends about them, they would have encouraged me and told me that I had every right to be angry and upset. Yet, when it comes to something as devastating as abuse, we are told to not be angry because it will eat us up inside. And we listen to these people. Why? Most of the time we don’t even question it, we just obey because it has been so ingrained in us that anger is a bad thing.
My question to every Survivor is this: Is love a bad thing? What about compassion, sadness, or joy? They are all emotions. Are we supposed to pick and choose certain ones and discard the others? Should we toss love aside and not cry or jump around with joy? It makes no sense to me to use some and squash another. Because of this, I will continue to express my anger. It is my emotion, it is my right and I am giving myself permission to do so. It is said that anger is the backbone of healing. I say, anger is my backbone.
Patty Hite is one of four facilitators of Overcoming Sexual Abuse. A survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of five years. She’s blessed with four children and five grandchildren.