Archive for August 8th, 2008

This week, I have been talking about the stress of returning to your hometown in which you experienced child abuse. Even though I have been healing from my child abuse issues since 2003 and, for the most part, live a life that is free from my past abuse, I experience a terrible regression in my healing whenever I return to my hometown, as I did recently. I do not recommend returning to your hometown where your child abuse took place unless you have a very good reason to do so.

How do you decide what is a good enough reason to return to your hometown? Bottom line – The good coming out of the trip needs to outweigh the damage that you do to yourself by retraumatizing yourself. If the good does not outweigh the bad, then choose not to return to your hometown. It is simply not worth the h@#$ you put yourself through.

The reason I returned to my hometown recently was to visit my grandmother. This is my father’s mother (the “good” parent). She is in her nineties. She is ailing physically, and she has been lonely since my grandfather died a few years ago. I thought the joy it would bring her to see both me and my son would outweigh the pain that I put myself through to make the trip. This time, I was wrong.

My grandmother wanted us to leave within an hour of our arrival. She used to keep us there for hours, constantly bringing up new subjects to delay our departure. This time, our visit was clearly a burden. She just wanted to go back to bed.

I have had several people tell me that elderly people cannot handle long visits, and I get that. The problem is that I put myself through h@#$ for two weeks for that visit, and it was not worth it. The joy she experienced did not outweigh the price I paid to give her that visit – suicidal urges, weight gain, terror, depression, and despair.

Some child abuse survivors return to their hometowns in order to face down their demons. There was a good example of this in the movie Forrest Gump. Sexual abuse survivor Jenny goes back to her old house and throws things at it before collapsing in tears on the ground. Facing down your demons like that can be cathartic, but you need to set aside lots of time afterward to process your emotions before you are going to feel better.

Returning to your hometown to confront your abuser is also a good reason to go. While it is not necessary to confront your abuser in order to heal from child abuse, many abuse survivors find the experience to be very empowering.

I still have people (mostly friends) who I care about that are living in my hometown. I still plan to see them on occasion, just not in my hometown. I met some of them in a location that was a good halfway point. I would love to do that more often. In that way, I get the joy of interacting with people I care about without having to put myself through two weeks of h@#$ to make it happen.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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