The Lasting Effects Of Child Abuse

I was hit with an odd feeling yesterday. I was thinking about my sisters and their actions at the wedding, their actions these last six years – no, wait, their actions since childhood really. In a total shock to me, I think I am starting to feel forgiveness for my sisters, not so much for their actions but for them personally. This is taking my quite by surprise. But as I started analyzing what I was feeling, I started to realize that their actions were most-likely a product of the long-lasting affects of child abuse.

We were all sexually abused as children, some of us by one man, some of us by two. Two of us admit what happened to us while the other who just can’t seem to. It’s hard to say who got the worst of it as we never talked about it with each other, not in any detail. I, personally, have never spoken or written about what actually happened to me. The truth is – it doesn’t matter. Whether it was minor or major, our futures were forever changed and even laid out at the moment we were abused. Abuse is purely a selfish act – gratification only for the abuser, an abuser who clearly isn’t thinking about the child and what that child will be dealing with for the rest of his or her life.

As I look at my sisters, I see patterns. Abuse affects everyone differently. For Sandy, it’s denial. She won’t admit anything happened to her, even though I have caught some slips that she has made, like when she told me our brother apologized to her. She’s says our brother never touched her but I believe he did. Along with her denial exists her inability to let anyone in, she seems withdrawn from emotion. And if you challenge her with an opposing opinion, well apparently she estranges from you, as I found out a few years ago. After how close we were, her reaction really stunned me. Was she upset because I had finally found my voice, my strength? Honestly, I still don’t understand it.  How does family, my own blood, turn me away for wanting my parents to be healthy and live longer?  I will never understand it.

My sister Sharon, abused by our father, became strong-minded and outspoken. You didn’t dare challenge her!  But I did one day, and again, estranged. I think they were so used to seeing me as weak that it stunned them when I started standing up for myself and my opinions. As soon as they noticed I had strength and couldn’t be walked on anymore, they couldn’t handle it. But can I truly be mad about it?  After all, I truly believe that our childhoods molded us, for good or for bad. It warped our sense of love, of sex, and of relationships.

For me, it gave me low-self esteem, body issues, shyness. In a sense, I was taught to be quiet, to never question, to not be seen, to be a perfectionist. I was weak for most of my life, until a few years ago. Honestly, I don’t know that I would change what happened with the family incident. It brought out my strength and courage. My sisters took things to a bad place but I took things to a good place.

Once I saw their childish actions at the wedding – the “ignore” game – it made it so easy for me to finally move on. It actually make me feel sorry for them. I mean what kind of 50-year-old adult plays the ignore game? It’s something I can’t comprehend. I have to just shake my head because it is just so ridiculous. It showed me that their lives must not be very good. To play games like that, to try to hurt someone and bring them down – only miserable or psychologically imbalanced people do such an immature thing. Sharon is the instigator and Sandy is the follower.

I honestly can’t even be mad anymore. When I think of what must being going on in their heads, in their lives, it makes their actions more forgivable. I can’t imagine what each must be dealing with, no doubt originally caused by the childhood abuse. And looking at it in those terms, I can’t be mad. I now instead feel sad that they clearly have not dealt with the abuse. And knowing that the abuse affected them in such ways, that is a terrible thing. I can’t blame them for their reactions to the abuse. I don’t have to like who they are now, but I understand how it happened. It’s easier to forgive when you know the underlying cause. They didn’t estrange from me; they estranged from what they didn’t know how to handle.

I actually think I wish them well now. I hope that some day they can start to heal.

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13 thoughts on “The Lasting Effects Of Child Abuse

  1. Yes, I agree that writing, especially journaling can help. I have found that it need not always be about the abuse; anything about current feelings does the trick for me. One of my blog’s pages is on journalling– I do drawings in my journal and record dreams, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Give it time my dear. There was a time I couldn’t write about much. My post yesterday with the unsent letter to my brother was a major step for me! I never thought I could write it and yet somehow yesterday, it all came out.

      Just do what feels right for you. Whatever you need will come in its own time. In the mean time, I am with you and supporting you my friend! HUGS!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you for speaking out, for using your voice. I’m also a survivor of abuse, and my voiced has been silenced for over 40 years. I admire you. And I admire the fact that you are able to forgive your sisters on some level.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am 43 and my voice was silenced for the most part for 39 of those. It feels good now to be able to talk about it and share about it. I have never spoken to my brother about what he did though. I don’t now if I will ever be able to. There’re parts of me that want to but other parts know I am so very fearful of that confrontation. All these years later, does it matter? The fact is – yes, it does! He should known what it did to me, how it affected me. I just don’t know if I will ever have THAT kind of strength. I hope that you are finding your own strength as well. I am with you all the way. HUGS!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Although, you are trying to forgive and I congratulate you,I still feel some frustration and anger in your writings. My eldest sister claims to have forgotten everything about our parents and foster care. It’s her way of dealing with the past. I, on the other hand, remember too much, even though I was only 2 when the bad things started happening. My biggest issue with my past is that I was taken from foster care to be adopted into a very messed up family; alcoholic father, abusive brother and extremely strict and hateful mother. She chose to “move on” from me because she couldn’t stand “hearing so many bad things about herself, her son and her husband.” Who are all dead, by the way. I’m the one that is still alive and I matter so little to her. She would rather keep her memories than her daughter. So, basically, I feel your anger and I am very proud of you that you have gotten to the point where you are trying to forgive your sisters. I have yet to get to that point…and I’m not sure I ever truly wish to.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There is nothing wrong with not being able to – I truly believe that. I was positive I would never get there. I’m not entirely sure if that is where I am heading, but I am definitely looking at things in a different way. I think everything has it’s own timing. Be strong and know that I am thinking of you. What you have been through brings a lot of pain and confusion to sort through – it is a process. I believe in you!! Hugs!

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Healing is a process that we all go through at our own rate. I am glad you are writing and sharing this with others. I think writing is a good example of how we can overcome those events in our lives that caused us to be stagnant. I appreciate your posts and wish you well in your journeys. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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