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Archive for November 29th, 2007

Looking out over ocean (c) Lynda Bernhardt

When people think about child abuse, they typically think about either physical or sexual abuse. Emotional abuse is also devastating for a child. Often the emotional abuse goes unnoticed because it leaves no scars on the body. Instead, the wounds are inflicted on the soul.

Here is something I wrote about emotional abuse before I started having flashbacks about the other abuses I suffered. This writing captures the suffering involved in emotional abuse.

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Everybody acknowledges the wounds of those who suffer physical abuse; nobody grieves for the wounded spirit. There are no made-for-TV movies about those whose spirits are crushed by words day after day. There are no books about the effects of being ignored for 18 years. If your heart bleeds instead of your flesh, nobody notices.

As long as you have food on the table and clothes on your back, people assume that your needs are met. But a person is more than a physical shell. There is a spirit inside that needs nurturing. If that spirit is crushed, then you become nothing more than an empty shell—a body that breathes and eats but doesn’t feel. The person that you were meant to be is stuffed down inside an intricate maze of emotional self-protection. It is a lonely place, and it is as much of a prison as a physical one—even more so, because people in physical prisons get paroled.

This is a life sentence, yet you did nothing wrong. Your sin was being born to parents who didn’t want you, who didn’t know how to love and nurture the person that you would have become. You look out at the world through a thick glass, knowing that you are different but not knowing why. Your head tells you that you don’t deserve this, but your heart screams that there must have been something wrong with you or you wouldn’t have been rejected from the day you were born. And the lonelier you get, the more scared you are to let anybody in. After all, if your own mother couldn’t love you, who could?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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