Archive for February 11th, 2011

I have spent the last couple of day responding to a reader’s question about how to deal with judgmental people and the stigma of child abuse. You can read both blog entries here and here.

Getting over the stigma of child abuse starts inside of yourself. You need to believe in yourself. You need to love and accept yourself and your history of child abuse. You need to reach a place of recognizing that you were a victim of child abuse when you were a kid, but you are a survivor of child abuse as an adult.

You are a warrior, and nobody has the right to mock you for overcoming something that is much, much harder than just about anything else a person can experience. Yes, other atrocities happen in life, but few involve being tortured by a person who is physically four times your size, and few require you to figure out how to survive that trauma with the mind of a child, not an adult. The deck is stacked against the abused child, but we managed to survive it, anyhow. Not only that, we managed to survive it without becoming a heartless monster like our abusers. We managed to hold onto our true essence – our compassion, empathy, and tender hearts – against all odds. Anyone who mocks rather than admires this about a child abuse survivor is ignorant, woefully uneducated, or just plain evil.

The only opinion of yourself that really matters is your own. (If you have faith, I would also add that your higher power’s opinion should matter as well.) Only you (and your higher power) truly know where you have been, and only you know how hard you have worked to heal from the trauma that you did not ask for. The only person you need to convince of your self-worth is yourself. Once you really believe in yourself, you will no longer care about any sort of stigma in having endured what you did. In fact, you are likely to choose not to be around judgmental people, and you will also likely find yourself putting them in their place for making sweeping judgments about you.

You also need to believe in yourself regarding the steps you have taken to help yourself heal. I don’t keep it a secret that I was in therapy for a few years and still keep my therapist on my speed-dial just I case I need him. I wouldn’t feel ashamed of doing the same for my oncologist if I had cancer, so why should I be ashamed of doing this for the child abuse, which is a “cancer of the spirit”?

Nobody messes with me about my history of child abuse or stigmatizes me to my face. They know better than that! If they choose to talk behind my back, I really don’t care because that is their problem, not mine.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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