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Have you seen the article about the child abuse survivor who beat up his abuser? According to this article, 43-year-old William Lynch confronted his abuser, 65-year-old priest Jerold Lindner, in the lobby of a retirement home. According to the article, Lynch asked his abuser if he knew who he was. When the abuser said no, Lynch basically beat the h@$% out of him – enough to send him to the hospital.

According to Lynch, Lindner raped both him and his brother at ages 7 and 5 and also forced them to perform sexual acts on each other. The article says that Lindner has been accused of sexually abusing others as well. It sounds like, other than being ostracized from him family, Lindner has never really paid for hurting so many children. Meanwhile, Lynch has “had nightmares for years, battled depression and alcoholism and had attempted suicide twice because of the priest’s abuse.”

Here is a quote from Lynch in that article:

Many times I thought of driving down to LA and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me…You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life. ~ William Lynch

I find this whole story sad. I like the part of the article quoting a psychologist who said that it is “normal for victims to fantasize about revenge without acting on it.” If you are burning up with rage, that is the course of action that I recommend rather than risking getting yourself thrown in jail for beating up your abuser.

Visualizing beating up my abusers has been very effective for me. Like Lynch, I have experienced lots of rage festering inside of me toward my abusers who, to my knowledge, never spent a day in jail for abusing children. Rather than take physical action like Lynch, I have chosen to “beat up my abusers” in my own head. I have found this to be a very healing exercise in which nobody (including me) gets hurt.

The beauty of it is that I don’t have to stop or worry about anyone trying to stop me. I can beat up, maim, and even “kill” my abusers over and over again in my head without doing any harm to anyone. I was actually a bit disturbed by how graphic these fantasies got at first, but I soon recognized that I was finally giving my anger and rage a voice. I did not need to involve another person for me to express my rage – I could do this successfully inside of my own head.

As for Lynch’s comment about his abuser destroying his life — Don’t let your abusers have that kind of power over you! Notice how the abuser did not even know who Lynch was after all of these years while Lynch probably never stopped thinking about his abuser. Choosing to work through therapy, process your pain, and heal is the way you resurrect your life. Our abusers definitely destroyed our innocence, but only we have the power to let them destroy our lives.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Orange Flowers (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Visualization is a powerful healing tool that I do not see used nearly often enough. My intuition drew me toward using this tool: I do not recall reading about it anywhere. Adding visualization to your healing toolbox will be very useful along your healing journey.

What do I mean by visualization? Let me explain by example.

I repressed most of my emotions from childhood, but I was most disconnected from my rage. I honestly did not believe that I had any anger at all. I used to joke that I had a very long fuse that only “blew” once a year. Most of the time, I consciously felt no anger, no matter how justified anger might have been in a situation. I was a walking doormat because of this.

My therapist assured me that I had anger to process, but I had no idea how to access it. I used a few tools and became aware of having rage inside of myself, but none of the tools I tried really helped me to work through it until I stumbled upon visualization.

While I was lying in my bed resting before falling asleep, I closed my eyes and “saw” myself as a young child about to be abused. I could see the basement clearly and my abuser about to harm the child me. Then, the adult me ran into the room and kicked the ever-living $@#% out of my abuser.

I allowed the visualization to get as graphic as it needed with no filters. Sometimes it would get very gory and disturbing, but this was just a sign of the depth of my rage. As I allowed the adult me to beat up my abusers and protect the child me, I could feel the rage pouring out of my soul. The more I did this, the less I struggled with anxiety. I began to feel more at peace.

This is just one example of the power of visualization. You can also use it to shape your future. For example, let’s say you struggle with binge eating. Visualize yourself as a person who is no longer enslaved to this disorder. See yourself wearing loose clothing, and think about how great you would feel. See yourself at rest and no longer needing to “stuff down” your emotions. Do this for just a few minutes and then stop. This plants a seed toward moving in that direction. Now that you have “seen” yourself freed from the disorder, you will begin moving toward that goal. You won’t be free overnight, but if you do this every day, just for a few minutes, you will move toward this reality.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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