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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Abused as a Child: Permanently Damaged?

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: May 14th 2008

 Many people have responded to a posting called "The Deleterious Effects of Child Abuse. The article can be found on the link below:

/poc/view_index.php?idx=119&d=1&w=5&e=45

What is concerning about some of the responses to the article is that those who suffered abuse at the hands of parents when they were children seem to be convinced that they are permanently scarred and damaged. I have also had patients who, in reliving the memories of trauma at the hands of parents responded with despair because they were certain that they were forever damaged. What I want to emphasize is that this does not have to be true.

We know that child abuse certainly causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is carried into adulthood for those who experienced repeated beatings and were the targets of cursing.
There is no doubt that child abuse results in things such as low self esteem, depression and anxiety, startle responses with very little stimulation, lack of trust in other people, and other distressing emotional side effects tied directly to the abuse.

It is also true that psychotherapy can do a lot to mitigate these after effects of the abuse. In fact, over the years, I witnessed great improvement in functioning among those who entered psychotherapy because of their depression and misery as young men and women. Today, many of these people overcame their symptoms and are married, working and fully productive people in the areas of family, intimacy and work.

Rather than clinging stubbornly to the conviction that life is hopeless, those who have suffered child abuse can enter psychotherapy and start to rebuild their lives.

There are many types of therapy that help people:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
3. Exposure Therapy
4. Psychodynamic Therapy also known as "talk therapy."
5. Psychoanalysis

One of the most interesting types of treatment for PTSD and phobias of all kinds is #3, Exposure Therapy.

In exposure therapy a patient is gradually introduced to the original types of circumstances in which the original trauma occurred. One variation of this is what is called Systematic Desensitization. In Systematic Desensitization a patient is put into a state of total relaxation and then gradually asked to imagine scenarios that they tend to find stressful. The patient is asked to close their eyes, become totally relaxed and is then asked to imagine those situations. When they are able to imagine the formerly stress inducing situation without experiencing any symptoms, the therapist then moves on to the second most stress inducing situation for that person. As therapist and patient move along for weeks or months, they gradually move into imagining those memories that are most traumatic and stressful. Now, desensitized to lesser situations, the patient is asked to remember the most traumatizing memories. If stress is experienced the process is stopped and restarted at a later time. Ultimately, the time comes when the patient can remember and imagine the original traumas without discomfort.

Recently, a similar type of treatment was used on an experimental basis with Iraqi veterans suffering form PTSD. In the experiment, the veterans were exposed to "Vi ritual Reality" with technology that allowed them to see and hear the original types of sounds and images that they experienced on the battle field. The results of the experiment were very positive. These results are only preliminary because the numbers of subjects was limited but further research will be conducted and there is real hope for the future.

The point I want to convey to everyone who has suffered from abuse, PTSD and Phobias is that there is very effective help available and every reason to feel optimistic about the future. In other words, in my opinion, there is no reason to feel "permanently scarred" by events over which you had no control

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Spouse of abuse victim - Sharron - Mar 16th 2015

    Doctor

    Please tell me any advice you can offer the spouse of an abuse victim.  My husband was physicqlly,  verbally,  and emotionally abused and traumatized by his alcoholic mentally ill father.  He has confided some stories in me.  I do not pressure him to do this.  We have been married 10 years now and we still have fights over things that "trigger" past memories and feelings for him...things i am totally oblivious too and that when he gets upset or mad about i just dont understand them at all.  Apparently,  his father used to play mind games on him and sometimes he thinks i am doing the same thing.  I cant believe he would think i could do this.  He will tell me that my saying a certain phrase or even a look can make him get upset and we end up fighting over stupid stuff that is just ludicrous.  He is on anti depressant therepay and went through several years of counseling.  Whill he ever forget some of these triggers or will they always be there....wrecking havoc on our marriage?  I grew up in a loving family and really feel no relation to anything he went through. He also has such an avoidant personality and doesnt want to discuss or explore any of our issues.  He suffers also from paranoia about others not liking him...Help me understand! 

    Abused husband need help - Ann - Feb 20th 2015

    I am married to a man who was emotional and physically abused as a child to late teenager.  We have been married for 27 years and he started falling apart about 12 years ago.  He kept losing great jobs, very depressed, and our sex livfe went to once a month if I.m lucky. I have tried to get him to go to thearpy and he just won,t go.  I am very lonely and he is always so down and negative.  I was a very happy person but I'm not anymore and I want to be.  Any advise...

    my mother abused me - - Jan 11th 2015

    My mother abused me until the day she died, when I was sixteen. She was cruel in ways that most people can't even imagine. My father didn't care, nobody ever cared. Many relatives and neighbors saw and heard what I was going through, but they didn't care. I asked for help several times, but nothing changed, nobody helped me......... I am the liar and the crazy one. Nobody has ever wanted to help me, I've never had any kind of love, no one to trust. I am an adult now but I feel so isolated. I can't even mention what I have been through because nobody understands or believes me. My mother killed herself in an awful way, but this tragedy seems to have no importance at all. People don't think that her suicide could mean that there was something wrong in my family. How do I survive with this huge huge huge devastation inside me? I feel ok only when I forget who I am.

    permanent - claudio - Jan 11th 2015

    permanent physical damage is done to and during the development of the pre-frontal cortex and the physical mechanisms in the brain for hormone regulation.

    this "doctor" doesn't know what they are talking about.

    Hi Guys - Michelle - Dec 9th 2014

    I\\\'ve been abused as well. The closer I got in my relationship with Jesus Christ, following Him, the better I got. His Atonement can heal and cleanse anyone of anything. Therapy sounds great. I personally like talking with trusted friends and telling God what hurts me and just let myself cry. I prayed for all of you that commented. Bless you all in the best of ways!

    Much Love

     

    Bad parents - Steve Lawrence - Jul 25th 2014

    The pain and lonelyness never leave even when married, what little trust I have has been very hard won. Rejection , childhood beatings and verbal bullying by your mum and mainly dad F--ks you up for life.You have to dig so deep it's exhausting.

    Abused in all ways, and molested - Sunshine - Jun 24th 2014

    I just can't believe that after 50 years I am still suffering from all the childhood abuse, neglect, and child molestation. For years I have been trying to fix all my problems and just can't seem to get rid of this very empty and sad feeling in my heart. When I was 4 years old (1961), I saw my mother putting wet clothes into a machine (clothes wringer) and out of curiousity, I decided to put my hand in the machine because I was just curious, my had went right through it and my long hair did too, I was stuck and began to cry, my mother came running into the kitchen and pulled me by my hair and pulled my arm out, she began to curse at me and kept pulling my hair and sent me to bed without eating anything. When I was 7 years old, we were all in the park watching a ballgame and it began to thunder and lightning, mom told us (6 of us) to hold on and run, somehow my brother let my hand go and I got lost. For two hours I am crying in a tunnel in Central Park when a family came through that tunnel and asked me for my parents, they took me to the police station, cops took me to my house, and when they knocked on the door, mom grabbed me by my hair again and in front of the police she smacked me in the face so hard and called me so many horrible names. I thought she would hug me and kiss me because I had been found but instead she beat me up and made me go to bed without eating again. Mom would leave us with some woman who had a bunch of sons and one big daughter. One day the lady made me wash the dishes and her older son (14) stood behind me and started to rub my behind and he told me not to move or say anything or he will kill me, I heard him upzip his pants as he continued to rub his thing on my butt. When he was finished he went and grabbed a tiny kitty cat and through it out the window to the back yard, he then ran downstairs and pulled the cats eyes out and came and told me if I ever say anything he would do the same thing to me. One day I decided to tell my mother and she smacked me in the face and called me a dramatic little liar. My mother had 6 children, 5 daughters and a son. I was the only one of all 6 of them who ever got hit. One day she sent me to the store and I went to hang out with my friends for a while instead, when I got home (20 minutes later) she had a dog chain in her hands and she just started swinging it at me and cursing me out calling me a hoe and all sorts of bad names. She did not stop until she saw blood coming down my forehead and my thigh, and she told me that I better never say anything because she would put me in an orphanage. She kept us from our dad, and when he would come around on our birthdays, easter, and Christmas, she made us through the gifts away. I remember when I was 8 years old he came with a beautiful doll for me and I fell in love with the doll, mom took the doll and hit me in the face with the doll and tossed it out the window. My brother was so neglected that he began using drugs at the age of 10 years old and by the time he was 13 he was a full blown junkie, stealing from her and her husband and she kept making excuses for my brother and covering up for him. By the time my brother was 29 years old he was diagnosed HIV positive and passed away when he was 39 years old. I ended up being a teen runaway and married a boy I did not even really know just to get away from this crazy and bitter woman. She then shipped two of my younger sisters to some family member they did not even know in PR, my baby sister who was just 14 years old was pregnant and mom got her an apartment and then moved away with her husband and took the daughter that she showed all the love to. Yeah, out of 6 of us my mother had this deep love for my second sister and I do not know why. She took her to hair salons while we had to do paper curlers and she took her to the dentist and bought her tooth brushes while we never went to the dentist or ever had a tooth brush or tooth paste. Anyway, I had five children myself and am guilty of at the very least not hugging my children ever or even really bonding with any of them because I had no idea how, I was never ever hugged or told that I was loved, NEVER and so how was I to do it with my children? I did not ever beat them, or call them names, or left them with anyone, and as a matter of fact, I was afraid to leave them with anyone and so I decided to stay at home and raise my children in severe poverty. I love my children but was never in love like I see some parents. I think that I was a little too permissive but not too much. I married once, divorced after 3 years, got into another relationship that lasted 11 years, and then for some reason became weaker in mind and got into yet a third relationship with a man who almost killed me. Today, I have been single for 15 years and just can't seem to get rid of the anger towards my mother because even though I had the man that beat me arrested, and decided to go on and get my high school diploma and two college degrees, my mother does not acknowledge me and on the contrary calls me a loser. All of my children have graduated high school and most got college degrees and she calls them losers too. Now, the sister that she favored is a crack head and coke fiend and my mother will give her anything. How do I get rid of this anger and bitterness that I still find myself feeling and keeping me from being happy? My sisters call me gossiper and over dramatic when I bring this topic up because one thing we were supposed to learn as children is to shut your mouths up. My brother killed my grandfather in a robbery gone bad and that was kept secret and forbidden to talk about.

    Silence - - Jun 14th 2014

    As a child between the ages of 6-12 for some reason adults would fondle me.  One time my parents went to visit friends and i was riding a bike with my brother and there was a man out there with us.  I had never seen him in my life when he told my brother to go around and when he came back he was going to show him serhing cool. As soon as my brother left he kneeled down and put his fingers in my panties.  Of course it felt good and he would ask me if it did and i would say yes.  For me it wasn't anything sexual it just felt good.  i ask myself now did i knw what he was doing was wrong.  Why didn't i tell my parents, i wonder now.  This is the first time i've ever said anything.

    Pain - - Apr 26th 2014
    The pain never goes away-------

    It's a long road - Long Term Effects - Jul 18th 2013

    I was abused by my father and my mother.  I was abused by my father physically and verbally.  I was abused by my mother verbally but indirectly.  They both neglected me.

    I have seven brothers and sisters.  Not all of us were physically abused.  I got it the worst.  Next was my older brother, who is eight years older than I am.  We look something alike and even share the exact same birth date.  We must have reminded my father of someone whom he hated, but I don't know whom.

    No one else got it physically as much.  But my father had rages and would take his anger out on all of us.  We knew that his anger was misplaced.  His life was frustrating for all kinds of reasons, but having eight kids was probably a primary reason.  We knew it was his fault if it was anyone's.  His and my mother's, anyway.

    We, of course, abused each other a lot, too.  As siblings, we learned from our parents.  If there's one good thing about having so many siblings, it's that we weren't able to be as totally controlled by our parents as children from smaller homes might have been able to.

    We are all late-bloomers.  We are all very intelligent but all have motivation problems.  We are not the nicest people in the world and we are prone to depression.  We have all but one managed to receive college degrees from various levels of schools, but not without complications and difficulties.  I got a scholarship to a prestigious university and lost it.  My therapist tells me that I was responding to messages that I was not good enough.

    The types of abuse we were exposed to as children ran the gamut from physical abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, control, opportunity prevention, domestic imprisonment, servitude, dissuasion from independence, life goals, and self-reliance, and religious oppression.  Dating was never encouraged, and, in fact, was discouraged mostly.  Things got worse as you went down the line.  My parents got tougher on the younger kids as the older ones made too many mistakes for them to tolerate and my parents basically preemptively forced me into preemptive isolation.  I was never allowed to date.  Once I achieved the dating age of sixteen, when it was acceptable, I was harassed out of wanting to do it.

    When I was sixteen, I proved my father right about me by getting into a car accident with a bad kid and I broke both of my legs and couldn't play sports anymore.  The leg breaking did, however, fix a physical deformity: I had always walked before with my feet pointed outward, which my father hated and for which he often beat me, abused me and yelled at me.  Now that my feet pointed straight, I was actually happy that I had been so fortunate to have had both of my femurs horrifically broken in a car accident.

    The boys were treated worse because, well, boys were seen as the cause of ill behavior while girls were seen as more innocent, but the girls were almost as badly traumatized throughout childhood.  However, the blessing of being a girl in my house was that independence was fostered.  Girls could do whatever they wanted in terms of career, while boys had to be something specific, of my father's choosing, and were generally treated as though they weren't good enough to become anything anyway.

    The treatment, of course, was not uniform among the children.  Some children got away with very little direct abuse, although the lack of opportunity, money, and future eventually would reach them.  Those who were beaten, myself and my one brother, were boys.  Girls were never beaten in a one-sided manner.  If there were blows, girls hitting back could be tolerated, while a boy hitting back meant even worse punishment.

    In the middle of a beating, I ran outside thinking that it might be safer to go outside and, perhaps, keep my father from beating me if he was afraid of what the neighbors would think.  He took the belt that he was whipping me with and wrapped it around my neck and began to choke me.  This was because I was picking on my little brother--the youngest, who was protected, who was never beated and who was doted on.  This may be because he is the only one who was left-handed like my father.  I don't know why he never got hit or abused by my parents, but it inspired jealousy in me and I would pick on him.  I learned not to pick on him after this.  My father was clearly demonstrating that my little brother was better than I was, worthy of his love and was not to be subjected to the treatment that I had earned.  My father dragged me back into the house with the belt around my neck.  I thought he was going to kill me and I wanted to die.  I was afraid to die, but actually, disappointed that he didn't kill me. 

    In some ways, I still am disappointed that he didn't kill me.

    At school, however, I was a different kid.  I was generally well-behaved and, perhaps, overly social.  I liked to make people laugh and I had and still have a sharp sense of humor, excellent timing, a strong sense of irony and have been known since childhood for my quick and hilarious one-liners.  Making life easier for me and my siblings by making them laugh and being funny when my father wasn't around, perhaps, saved me.

    I had good grades up until high school and got them back again my second time around in college.  The first time I went to college, I failed out. 

    It was so that I could prove again that I was not good enough. 

    As a gradeschooler, I had a paper route and my customers loved me.  I would collect all day long on Saturday and visit wth my neighbors and talk to them and chat and sometimes to chores for extra tips.  In the winters, I would be first on their list for shoveling driveways and they paid me well and took care of me.  I got a lot of self-esteem from them.  My father sensed this and wished to take it away.  He would tell me that I must have all the neighbors fooled because he knew who I really was.  It worked.  I began to enjoy my newpaper job less and less and eventually gave it up in order to try to be good at sports in another effort to try to get my dad to like me.

    I was never good at sports and sports is my dad's life.

    My brothers who got the most love were the best at sports.  But they paid a price, too.  None of us were big enough to move on to professional sports and the one who was the best in sports never adjusted well to adult life.  He was always something of an enigma.  He graduated from college but never did that well in life.  He, apparently, had problems with self-esteem and drive like all of us, but he kept it all wrapped up inside.  He eventually had a stroke in his mid 40's and now lives a life as physically paralyzed as he was emotionally.  The left side of his body does not function at all and he takes stacks of medications to get through even one depression-filled day at a nursing home.  He is not yet even fifty years old and his life is long over.

    As for me, I have struggled emotionally.  I have also finished law school in a decent rank among my classmates and hold a decent job.  I am married and have a daughter on the way.

    From the outside looking in, one can say that I've left child abuse behind me.  But it never leaves you.

    I have been going to therapy for years and I find it to be helpful, but of course, I can't have my past erased and a new one given to me.  I can't ever see what my potential really was.

    I have battled lifelong with depression, anxiety, weight issues, smoking, paranoia and lack of motivation.

    I will get better in spurts.  Law school was amazing for me.  I am no longer vulnerable to stupid, paranoid, nonsensical \\

    healing does bring peace but it takes too long - survivor - Jan 2nd 2013

    my first memory is when i was maybe 3 years old, being terrorized by my 'loving' parents because i was sick and couldn't sleep. so i cried and for some reason that nighttime attack was different because it stood out - maybe that's when i finally broke and started believing i didn't deserve any different. anyways we kids were put through hell until my parents' marriage broke up and they couldn't blame each other about our injuries. even when there were hand-shaped welts though no one ever did anything about any of it - our bruises were conveniently lied away with 'they're  so stupid and clumsy, they're always falling down.'

    i was in therapy for a few years but then the money ran out. before it did i learned that when i was able to work through the traumas and heal them, they lost their power over me. yes there were new ones ready to take their place but the memories of whatever i was able to heal eventually faded away once i'd been able to do the healing. i am very frustrated with how dam long this healing takes - why so dam much time??? i never asked to be born into hell, why should my punishment continue with me paying for my horrible parents' behavior for my whole life??? :(

     

    My life - David Landis - Dec 26th 2012

    I was beaten by my mother every day of my life until I was 18. My sister was treated even worse by her. She would wrap her hands into my sister's hair and smash her face into the kitchen cabinets and then call her friends and brag about how hard she had beaten us. We got bet with bats, belts ( the buckle side) and the "club" that my dad MADE for her to use on us.  We would have to kneel in front of her so that she could slap our faces and we were not allowed to flinch. If we did flinch then we got beat. We were not allowed to have friends, go on dates, listen to music or watch a telivision program of our choice. We could not go into the refigerator without asking if we did we were theives and we were beaten. I was told I was ugly, stupid, retarded, a lazy son of a bi**h who would never amount to anything.( Her words not mine.)The teachers at school  wondered why I went from a good student to a failing one. My mother destroyed our self confidence so that she could control us. It worked. I have failed at everything I have ever tried to do I have no self esteem I think I am ugly and stupid and I didn't amount to a lot. Compared to my mother everything else in my life has been a cake walk. No one can ever treat me as badly as my own mother did so when you say that abuse does not cause failure I beg to differ.

    question - tom - Jun 26th 2012

    I know of a little child who was abused by his dad and knew about it and could not rescue him. I realized, too late that this boy was continually abused for 20 years. I cannot help this person now and it breaks my heart. How do I get him the professional help he needs? Thank you.

    "Abused as a child" - - May 2nd 2012

    I'd have to say that this doctor must not have been raised in an abusive home or gone through any form of abuse for him to believe one can forget. I personally went through physical and emotional abuse from my mother throughout my entire life and I'm 32 years old now. I finally realized how much control she had over my life and how fearful I am of her still to this day therefore I decided to cut all ties to her and anyone associated with her which meant cutting ties to my siblings and step father. The memories of an axe handle busting my lip wide open and leaving egg sized knots on my head will never leave me; trim board beatings will stay with me as well. This comment angers me because unless you experienced abuse first hand NO ONE will ever know what it's like to be in the mind of an abused child.

    Clinging Stubbornly - - Mar 23rd 2012

    Dr. Schwartz,

    I do not believe that adults who were abused as children choose to "cling stubbornly to the conviction that life is hopeless". I do believe such a comment denotes hostility toward the victims and ofcourse, suggests what a wonderful psychotherapist you think you are in that you could cure victims if only they would listen to you. Boy, what a form of control if not, subtle abuse.

    Something for you to think about in your pratice. This is truly an example of being emotionally careless and blaming the victim.

     

     

     

     

     

    still a failure - amanda - Feb 18th 2012

    I know my abuse has alasting affect on me.

    My mother was a single mom with 3 kids, I am the oldest. One of the earliest memories I have of abuse was when I was sitting in the front middle seat of my moms car.It was my favorite seat but had no seat belt. My mom got mad I wouldnt move so she slammed on the brakes & my face hit the radio very very hard, this was on the way to kindergarten. She later told me she abused me frequently & the "worst" was "holding a pillow over your face when you were 3"

    She eventually got married & the abuse was toned down to beatings on bottoms,backs, hands if we covered our backside, with belts, hangers, anything nearby. My stepfather would masturbate while i took baths in my moms master bathroom... i didnt even know what he was doing. My stepbrother, on my fathers side sexually abused me from the ages of 6 to 11 until I protested to my mother not to visit my father anymore. My mother continued to let my baby sister visit & she was sexually assaulted at the age of 4. Guilt I will carry with me for the rest of my life, I cant believe I didnt think she was being molested as well..

    I have little little scars all over my face, I didnt realize til I started taking good care of my skin.Those scars are from belt buckles, & God knows what else.

    I had my child at 21 & I have realized that if i dont TRY hard i can lose it. Anger & frustration comes way too easy to me. Luckily my boyfriend is always near by & takes over when I get easily annoyed. He doesnt understand why  I am easily aggitated though. Counting to 10 is a lifesaver, I  just wish i wasnt quick to frustration. I feel like a bad person & i have always tried to be so good.

    my story - Theresa - Sep 1st 2011

    I remember the pain of being hit with the belt, so bad that in 8th grade I went to the principal, there was no denying that beating, but there were many others. I remember the day I started my period,my Mother told me that I was now old(I was 12) enough to have a child but hoped I waited until I was older. I remember a favorite pink halter top my sister had given me in the 70s, an age I had little to 'halter', I loved that shirt. My Aunt and Uncle came over. I remember my Mother tearing it off me on my grandmother's lawn. I was shirtless and about 13. I remember the constant name calling   we were sluts, whores, bitches and my Father was our'whoremaster'. I remember a lonely time at home with my Father, my sisters had all grown and moved away and my Mother worked several hours away because "I was mean to her"

     I remember being accused of trouble in their marriage....they were married for 19 years before I was even born. I remember my Father telling me that he wished he had been younger when I was born so he could have enjoyed me. I ran away at 15. I just wanted to get away from my Mother. I was 30 before I could tell her that I had been molested as a child by a family member and her response was 'you cant prove it' I remember after my Father passed away, my Mother telling me that my Father never liked me. I remember my Mother favoring my sisters and their children and always remembering them on holidays, and we got a card....sometimes. I remember the extreme anger I felt at her. She would drive me out of my mind and never shut up....for hours. There was no getting away.

    I remember waking up on a Saturday morning as a child, to my Mother emptying all my drawers and the contents of my closet onto my bedroom floor and tell me to bend my f*ing back and clean it. I remember seeing my sisters get beaten. I remember my Mother saying that she wished I was in jail so she would at least know where I was (I hadnt even committed a crime!!!) I remember her befriending my first husband when she would get mad at me, just to make it hurt and add distrust and disloyalty to the issue and to make me need her.

    She is almost 81 now, has had a series of strokes and is in a nursung home. I feel bad when she passes. I feel bad that she is sick. I do make an effort to see and call her. She called me after about 5 years of avoiding all that I 'remember' and a few days after she had has strokes and asked if this was 'her little girl' I guess it was.....stunted by the years and years of abuse. I will probably always remember how I feel about her today and I will always resent what I lost, or never really received at all.

    Yes, but we can help the next generation of children - - Feb 2nd 2011

    It's wishful thinking to believe that this stuff ever goes away. I am pushing 40 and have had some success and happiness in my adult life. If the pain of my childhood abuse was going to go away, it would have gone away already. I second the opinion that people should not be given false hope on their chances of forgiving and forgetting this. It runs too deep.

    To the person who asked if their abuse could be causing health problems today - the answer is yes. Look up adverse childhood experience (ACE) studies. Research is showing that childhood abuse has long term physical and psychological effects, is correlated with poorer health outcome and increased risk for serious disease, and may even change the way that the victims' genes are expressed (see epigenetics and childhood abuse).

    As victims of childhood abuse, we can learn to manage the pain that we live with day to day. We don't need to throw in the towel and let it ovewhelm us - that is not what I am saying. Certain techniques - exercise, therapy, SSRIs, ect. - can help us to be functional in our adult years, so that we may achieve success in our careers/aspirations and build functional families.

    But will any of these therapies erase the psychological pain? Unlikely. I think it is a relief to understand that. It allows us to reframe the problem and takes away the pressure that we put on ourselves to magically 'heal' one away, that is, to walk away good as new, as if we had never been abused but wiser for the experience. That is what many of us secretly hope for and I think it just adds to our pain and frustration when year after year goes by and there is no magic bullet, no great epiphany or eureka moment where we succeed in intellectualizing the pain away.

    It's better to look at childhood abuse effects for what they really are: a problem for life. If that is too depressing then do something to stop it from spreading to the next generation. Make a commitment to yourself to become a loving parent. If you don't know how, get help in the way of counselling or parenting classes. If you don't have kids, look out for them and be their advocate, whether through political action, or education or looking out for a child that seems just a bit too sad. What's been done to us can't be undone but I think doing our part to reduce child abuse in the world can bring us a lot of relief.

    Sexually and Emotionally Abused 26yrs old - CONFUSED - Dec 8th 2010

    After finding this website and reading most or all of the comments I have one of my own. I am going thru a rough patch and unable to cope with all that is coming out, even with psychotherapy, talking, co-workers. Nothing, I eventaually feel alone, depressed, and angry. I have recently been diagnosed with POST TRAUMATIC STRESS! I knew I was not a normal child growing up, as most and and in my teen's let me not go there but I did co-depend in my boy cousin me14 him 23 and ended up having my wonderful two daughters. In my heart growing up around 18, 19 I knew my uncle had touch me (when I was 7 or 8yrs old)because the memory is so vivid and real, and as I recall the night I woke up and saw him I still get shaky and not able to accept it. My mother not knowing for yrs it was her brother I had to attend to family functions and act normal around him, while inside the alchole took care of me (drinking since I was 15) Now back to present my two daughters sexually abused by their teen uncle and me trying to fix my past is slowing draining me out... my mother is aware of what her brother did to me just recently and she is unable to accept it, I have spoken to her but unfortuantly I have been emotionally abused as well by my mother she is not accepting or wanting to convience herself to believe and her words are "you never spoke, so why now"!!!!

    I have found that Therapy and not only professional but anyone who is willing to listen and not judge has to be better then letting the pain keep eating me inside. For those who believe counseling is a waste I use to beleive the same but I rather pay someone to help me because what they do is no different from a stranger the differeance is, am I really going to listed to just anyone? I haven't in the past. I've convienced myself that if no-one can help at least a psychotherapist can do something and now not just for me but for my daughters.

    My question is, why does our brain repress it? Why does mme thinking about it while alert my thinking about dosen't let me go all the way all, I actually remember the room, the side of the bed im lying in, why when I think about it I get all shaky and upset like if living it all over?

    With All Due Respect....... - - Nov 17th 2010

    With all due respect, I think you underestimate the devastation wreaked upon us survivors of extreme child abuse. I have spent over 35 years working hard to overcome the horrific effects of my parents' abuses, and even though I have slowly progressed throughout these years, I still often suffer from depression and anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome and social phobias and fear and PTSD. And I do mean I have spent an inordinate amount of energy--almost as a full-time job--working on cognitive changes and all manner of therapies. It is depressing to work so very, very hard and still not feel as if I can join in with the rest of the world by behaving in a "normal" fashion. (I realize that "normal" covers a gamut of possibilities, but I think you understand what I mean.)

    Please do not offer pie-in-the-sky false hopes. It is better to tell the truth.

    Destruction - Susan - Oct 6th 2010

     

    Sorry, but the scars are permanant and nothing helps except a dose of amnesia. I am nearing 60 years old.  Putting it out of the mind is a trick I have learned.  Here is why:

     

    Something From This List Is What We Heard  Every Day*  Of Our Childhood

     From  Both, In No Particular Order

    Repeated

    OVER AND OVER AND OVER to me and Jack:

     

    In addition to having our hair pulled, his fingers forced into our mouth and pulled hard by our cheek, and/or chased and hit with a strap or open hand.  We never knew what we actually did wrong. Some days, though, he “loved us up” (his words), but it could change in a minute.

     

    From Him, generally gritting and baring his teeth:

     

    Children shall be seen and not heard

        Children shall be seen and not heard

        Children shall be seen and not heard

        Children shall be seen and not heard

        Children shall be seen and not heard

    You can’t make a silks* purse out of a sow’s ear (*sic—it is silk)

    You dirty little rotten bastards

    You are devils from hell

    You are little devils

    You’re wild Indians

    Jimmy’s a darling child

    Jimmy can play in a six-foot square for hours, just like me

    You are diabolical

    There IS a God...

    There IS a God in Heaven...

    You are despicable

    You are no good

    You no good son of a bitch

    You are going to end up in jail

    You will burn in hell

    You are rotten to the core

    Everybody knows what you are

        Everybody knows what you are

        Everybody knows what you are

        Everybody knows what you are

        Everybody knows what you are

    Your teachers know what you are

    The nuns know what you are

    The priest knows what you are

    The neighbors know what you are

    God knows what you are

    You are neurotic, just like your mother

    You are lascivious

    You will end up pregnant

    You are vain

    You sniveling little snot nose

    You are a little snot nose

    Tramp

    Susan’s a tramp ( just turned 15 when this started )

    Jack is emotionally disturbed

    Susan is neurotic

    Your mother is frigid

        Your mother is frigid

        Your mother is frigid

        Your mother is frigid

    I’m a little guy, but…

         I’m a little guy, but…

         I’m a little guy, but…

         I’m a little guy, but…

         I’m a little guy, but…

         I’m a little guy, but…

    Shhhshhhshhhshhh

    Don’t talk

    Don’t look

    Don’t look at the cop

    Don’t say anything

    Don’t you look at me

    Avert your eyes

    She is primping

    Miss Prim

    I am going to beat you with the strap

    CaPEEEEEEEZZZZio (* 8 years old when this started-wanted ballet shoes)

    Don’t cry

    I will lose my job and then you will all be out on the street

    You don’t deserve it (always something good, positive, or beneficial)

    You deserve it (always something bad, hurtful, or harmful)

    He is a great big boy (about somebody else’s kid, with glowing smile)

    She’s a good girl (about somebody else’s kid, with glowing smile)

    She’s a saint (about somebody else’s kid, with glowing smile)

    He’s a good boy (about somebody else’s kid, with glowing smile)

    My student,__________(with glowing smile), did, or said, or is ______(something great)

    I have a degree

    I am educated

    I am more educated than all of you

    You can’t... (do ANY thing except domestic chores, yard work)

    You are psychosomatic 

    There is something wrong with you

    She wants to be the center of attention

    You’re insolent

    You’re incorrigible

    You’re going to end up in reform school

     

     

    From Her, generally screaming it-- or at the least, whining:

     

    Children ruin your life

    I am going to leave

    I am going to leave here

    I am going to leave all of you here

    I am going to leave here and get on with my life

    I am going to get on with my life

    Wait until your father gets home

    You will get a beating

    Have you no shame?

    Have you no pride?

    You are devils

    You are little buggers

    You are beautiful

    You are smart

    You will be put into white slavery

    You’ll get raped

    You’ll get raped if you go (wherever; college, etc)

    You’ll get raped if you go alone…

    You’ll get killed

    You’ll get killed if you go

    You’ll get killed if you go alone …

    You’ll get killed if you play with older kids

    Older kids kill younger kids

    You’ll get hurt

    No

    No

    No

    No

    No

    No

    No

    No

    You’ll get sick

    Watch the street crossings and traffic

    Just like Marie Molvannie

    Just like Marie Mol-ol-ol-ol-ol-ol-vane-nie

    He’s “kaaav-own-eeee” (sic, gavone)

    He’s a shrimp

    He’s short

    He is a sawed off runt

    He is a low life

    He is a low life dago

    He is a dago dog

    You’re just like your father

         just like your father

         just like your father

         just like your father

    He is just like his mother

         just like his mother

         just like his mother

         just like his mother

    You are just like his family

         just like his family

         just like his family

         just like his family

    He is just like his Aunt Betty

    Aunt Betty had a still in her bathtub

    Aunt Betty cried when Mussolini died

    Aunt Betty was insane

    Henry The Eighth beheaded Ann Boleyn

    Henry The Eighth had syphilis

    Henry The Eighth was insane

    Hitler had syphilis

    Hitler committed suicide

    Hitler was insane

    Uncle Jack is a Rhodes Scholar

    MY father.....(is, did, whatever--something great)..., NOT like your father.

    MY mother.....( is, did, whatever--something great)..., NOT like that Marie Molvanie.

    She’s just a dumb-dumb clerk

    He’s a Doctor !

    You have to be smart to be a doctor

    Only doctors are respectable

    No, you can’t be a doctor (with a sigh)... you have to be smart to be a doctor

    No, you can’t be a doctor (with a sigh)...you have to be good in math to be a doctor

     

     

    All of this was in addition to the almost daily references to and lectures on “ending up pregnant.” Having a child is the MOST VILE and WORST thing that could ever happen to me. Ever.

     

    What was horrendous about this was that his “wonderful students” were our peer group.  He was the town's Recreation Director and dealt with kids from the second grade up. 

    We honestly believed our teachers and all the kids “knew what we were.”  We felt that were not as good as anyone else – and could never, no matter what we did, ever measure up, especially in the areas of personal integrity, morals, or responsible thinking and behaviors.  She  further propagated this war on our self esteem and self efficacy by not allowing us to do anything independently.  She, to this day, will force herself into a conversation between the siblings, generally with a resounding but fearful NO! No! No! No!  Does not matter to her what the matter is about.  She must control it.

     

    He got a baseball scholarship to college but he never threw a ball around with my brothers.  He attended  only one Little League game of Jimmy’s.  Jimmy was 7 years old.  Jimmy struck out.  He growled at Jimmy with disgust, “You stink.”  And left.  Worthless kid. However, he would also pit Jack and me against Jimmy by calling Jimmy a “Darling child”  after calling us devils or something close.

     

    He had Timmy following him around as he did his Dept of Recreation duties.  He stopped at the town pool (nothing to do with rec. dept) and in a hushed tone, told Timmy, “Don’t call me dad.”  Worthless kid. 

     

    The Community Pool. Another cringe.  He would bring us and immediately get lost on the left side of the deep end where the teenagers stayed. They laid their towels there also, as he also did. We were not welcome.  Me and John.   Go away.  These kids are worth something, and they know what you two are, so stay away.  We dove off the boards- both low and high—very near to where the teen area was.  He would not acknowledge us. Once, someone even asked who those little kids doing all of those great dives were.  I saw him shrug and look away. I whispered to John, “Let’s go.”  We went back to the other end, other side, where we were supposed to be.

     

    He attended one diving practice after hearing about me from others.  I was so nervous - I wanted to dive  at my best—but over-extended on an inward dive, layout position, that I hit the board.  He watched me surface; I looked up at him.  He looked backed at me with disgust and left. He waited for me in the car outside.  He said nothing. He never once asked me if I was alright. Ever.  I had mangled my hips and heels.  I went to the doctor’s office on my bike the next day.  I was 12.  I had proved him right.  I was a  worthless kid.

     

    Many times, after he would state his educational superiority, we would ask about college.  He would immediately stop talking and look off into space. We never ever received a  response.  It became clear early college was not to be an option for us (the money?), yet, college was the only way to respectability according to her. She would stop short of encouraging a college education for us.  Always mixed signals.  We were all too worthless, but more importantly, inept, to excel at anything.  Ever. 

     

    Her  attitude was: Don’t ... (I don’t want you to be disappointed).

     

    It was mostly her all along after we reached adulthood.  He left after Uncle Ed died and left no money to her.

     

    The trend continues.  I left when I was almost 21 years old.  I have never been forgiven for it.  My siblings were tortured further because of it.  She has succeeded in indoctrinating Tim and Mary to be hateful and disrespectful to me. It is the exact same disrespect Jack and I suffered.  I did not realize it until now, but it was her that did the most damage.  Although I still unwillingly cringe when I see certain places (e.g. Capezio Shoes, a church, and many more) or hear many words (e.g. God, church, deserve, devil, neurotic, and MANY more)  resulting from him, it was—and still is—the mixed signals from her that have done the most damage.  If she cannot control you, she will hate you. She hates me.

     

    My brother Jack came down with a SEVERE case of paranoid schizophrenia in his twenties.  He died in his thirties.

    talk to me - Anne - Sep 12th 2010

    If anyone would like to talk about their childhood abuse, email me at anneimal72@hotmail.com.  No one understands what I have been through because they haven't walked a mile in my shoes.  It would be nice to chat with someone who has been through the same thing; i.e., witnessing their father physically and verbally abusing their mother and being physically and verbally abused by their father.  My father still abuses my mother and the bastard is 73 years old.  He will never change.  The anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress is the worst it has ever been for me.  I am 37 and it bothers me more now than it ever had.

    Anne

    I know there are permanent, lasting effects - - Jul 31st 2010

    I was abused starting at age 3 (at least that's the earliest I can remember).  Beaten so bad I had welts and hid in the dark closet.  It only got worse and more often from then on.  The yelling, cursing, hitting, etc....  I thought when I grew up and moved out it would be all better.  Yes, it's always been very hard for me to trust people.  I married a nice man all except for one thing--he yells and gets mad at things and doesn't understand that the yelling rattles my nerves, upsets me greatly and makes me completely on edge just like when I was a child.  We never had children and I think that's another one of the permanent scars.  It never seemed like the right time to have children, but I think subconsciously there was an underlying reason--like maybe I was never good enough to have them.  My husband was physically and emotionally abused as a child too.  I've tried to tell him that we can't repeat the behavior with the yelling he does at home, but he only stops for a while.  Couseling is out of the question--he would never go.  I just want the peace I expected after I finally grew up.  My mother is dead and sometimes I'm actually glad, but sometimes I'm sad and wish for a normal childhood--she was the abuser while dad turned a blind eye. 

    Remembering A Painful Past... - Crystal - Jun 12th 2010

    I've spent my entire adult life battling severe bouts of depression off-and-on.  I mean really severe.  I once took 3 months of vacation from my job with a doctor's written excuse of depression and slept the entire time.  Well, five years later, now, the severe depression has hit me again.  So, I went to see a psychiatrist two weeks ago and told him about some of my current stressors; losing my job, 3 teenagers that drive me crazy, you know all the regular things people face.  Then, we got into my past.  What about my past?  What's your first memory, he asked me.  Uhh.  Toddling, and I mean "Toddling" down the hall in our house, stopping at the bathroom and watching my dad hold my mom in a headlock with her head over the sink because she was bleeding too much and getting it all over the floor.  I watched him punch her over and over and over in the face.  I started to cry and scream.  He wound his hand up in her long, dark hair and turned her face so I could see her.  Her face was nothing but blood.  My mommy's blood face.  He beat her my entire life.  He tried to pull her eye out with his finger.  He tried to drown her in the toilet.  He shot her.  I watched him, as a child, burn the skin off her face with a cigarette.  My mom died when I was 13 and she was 39.  I held her hand as she died.  I believe that her brain just could not take any more beatings.  Guess what he told me the night she died.  He said, "You will have to learn to take you Mom's place.  You will have to learn to do everything that she did".  I guess, in a way, I did.  I learned to take the beatings too.  I have scars from the top of my back to the bottom where he beat me with the belt buckle end of his belt.  You know, it's not what he did to me that is so hard for me.  It's what he did to her.  And the fact that even though I was a child, I tried to help, but I just couldn't.  I couldn't help.  The neighbors wouldn't help.  I asked them.  I ran to their house once and told them my daddy was killing my mommy.  They did nothing.  I think the hardest part for me was the helplessness.  How do I ever get over this.  My psychiatrist says it's PTSD.  It's locked in my brain.  There are times I lay down at night and try to go to sleep and I see him pulling out her eye over and over and over.  It's debilitating.  What do I do?  I promise you this is a true story.  People tell me that if they didn't know me, they wouldn't believe it.  I have brothers and sisters that would tell you the exact same things.  And I have only scratched the surface of the things he did.  Is there really any hope for me?   

    just a few questions - - Jun 5th 2010

    I was abused when I was 2 years old. My whole body was covered in bruises. I am wondering if there are long term effects that could affect me now. I have freguent headaches on my left side of my head. My right side of the body is way more accident prone. I have depression really bad. The bruises were way worse on the left side of my head. I seen the pictures. Could there be head damage affecting me now?

    trying to deal - - Apr 6th 2010

    I’m 23 years old and I just want to feel normal. I was sexually abused at a very young age. maybe three or so I don’t remember but i remember the trauma .. Because i was so young Im not sure who it was.. i always thought it was an uncle but upon meeting him again something told me it wasn’t him.. i have random memories of my childhood that lead me to think it was my father which i never had a relationship with after my parents divorced. its hard not knowing how it began but i also had other abusers at the age of seven which I do remember. I always thought that because of my previous abuse i initiate the later abuses but looking at a child of that age I could never imagine a child being the cause of that pain although I feel like maybe I played a role because I was looking to fill an emotion that resembled the care that I knew… I feel like there’s a rational side to me that understands it wasn’t my fault, and all the effects that it has on my life and I try to control them but the truth is that im in so much pain.. i cant have a normal relationship.. i have never been abused in a relationship .. i guess because of my experiences im careful about who im with but im emotionally closed off i don’t know what love is .. I don’t allow any one to get close it scares me.. I feel like good man have come in to my life but i don’t know how to love them..& i cheat, sabotage, withdraw, everything as soon as i feel like I’m showing emotion. I guess i don’t want to feel vulnerable

    Abused as a child - Monica - Apr 2nd 2010

    I am 19 years old and I remember being abused as a child. 6 months ago, I developed an anxiety disorder. I never understood why. Now I know it must have been because of the abuse I suffered as a child. My mom was always very hard on me, and would mostly hit me if I got a bad grade in school. I remember being in Kindergarten and her trying to teach me something, I didnt understand well and she took my fingers and bend them down and called me worthless and stupid. That's the first time I remember getting abused. I also remember times when she'd help me with homework, and I'd get something wrong, she would constantly hit me on the back/face/arms and pull my long hair. I would always try to hold in my tears, because crying would get me into even more trouble. During this time, my dad would be at work and would have no clue about what is going on at home. I remember being in 5th grade and my mom asking me how I did on my math test, I confessed that I didn't do very good. She layed me down on her lap and hit me as hard as she could over and over. It was in front of a window, and the blinds were open, I was scared the neighbors would see me and would get my mom in trouble. I also had proper shelter, food, and clothes, but never the support I needed from my parents. I was always put down and called worthless, always told that I would never amount to anything. I also remember being abused throughout highschool. The day before Valentines Day was the worst abuse I ever had gone through. My mom got mad at me the night before because of a necklace I got from my aunt in Italy that I was going to give away. She found out I was going to give it away and she flipped out. She kept telling me she was going to kill me for this, and although she didn't mean it , it sure seemed like she was. She hit me over and over all over my body, and she'd pull my hair. She went inside my room and threw everything out. She threw away my makeup because I looked like a "whore" with it on and she threw all my clothes out of the closet so I could fold them. I had hand marks all over my arms and on my face too. She told me I cannot go out on Valentines day with my boyfriend, I didnt even want to go because I was too embarrassed to even go to school with marks on my body. I ended up wearing long sleeves the next day to school to cover up my bruises. That was the worst I've ever had because she hit me at least 40 times, she just would not stop. I met a guy I fell in love with in highschool, one who I am still with, and one who knows everything about me except the fact that I got abused as a child. It's very hard for me to talk about and I've never told anyone about this in my life. It's this weight I cannot get rid of. He's the closest person in my life and I know I should tell him but I don't want him feeling bad for me. I'm not sure how to tell him, Is it important that I tell him the truth? I would also like to talk to someone, someone who went through the same things I did as a child. I never shared this with anyone, and I'd like someone to be there for me, someone who knows what I went through.

    I no longer live at home, and I went away for college. My mother is sick with MS, and I am there for her even though I have anger about what she did when i was a child. I never tried to speak to her about this, Would it be better for me if I spoke to her?

    Also, I do not want to repeat this cycle. I do not want my kids to go through this, and I've heard that when you get abused, you will one day be the abuser, what can i do to prevent this?

    I'm sorry its so long, life story.... i know. lol I want serious answers only.

    Free Help 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline - - Mar 10th 2010

    All, 

    There is free help out their, like I described above here is the number

    1-800-799-7233.  I just discovered the magnitude that childhood abuse causes, I am 30 years old and have had abusive parents all my life.  My dad is more of a problem than my mom.  For the first time I called the Domestic Violence Hotline and talked for like an hour, and I felt wonderful afterwords.  In addition there are local behavior health facilities in your town that offer help on a sliding scale income basis.  There is help out there but you have to spend some time and energy to find it.  In addition I plan to attend a local support group to help my situation.  My leadership style is to never give up on anyone, but on the other hand the abuser has to be held accountable for their actions.  You have to understand two things about abuse, one is abused people are the new generation of abusers, and two you have to admit in front of someone that you are an abuser aswell because abuse is a learned behavior if you want the cycle to stop.  I personally believe that I can be totally fixed first and I also believe my parents can be fixed aswell!  I believe the doctor is spot on,  but I also think he is treding in uncharted territory which has not been communicated around the doc community very much.

    Hope this info fuels people to fight back hard as they can!

    Future Successful Musician 

    Wayne

    My boyfriend was abused as a child... - savingsakura - Feb 28th 2010

    He is 43 yrs old, a widower for 4 years in a 20 year marriage, and a father of 5... we have been dating for nearly 3 years (long distance) and have broken up many times.  I love him very much and he loves me, however, issues between us has caused our recent break-up.  He wants to continue to be friends because we enjoy talking to each other.  Since, he has opened up to me about his childhood sexual abuse and neglect.  His absenteed father and mother who suffered with mental illness often left him alone to fend for himself.  He was sexually molested by his older half-brother, witnessed incest, violence, hunger, mother institutionized (restrained), bed-wetting to age 18 years old, hid under the bed....all as a child.  His earliest recollect of molestation is 5 yrs to 8 yrs. old.

    During his marriage he experienced chronic infidelity and gave hospice care to his young wife of 37 years old.  Violence was norm and his wife suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia.

    He confided in me all this and no one else, even to his wife of 20 years.  I had an opposite experience growing up, not perfect but, memorable.  He believes that it will be difficult to find a therapist that he can trust.  My question is..... will I be able to help him?  We are friends today but, we have hurtful feelings as a result of the relationship. 

    During the relationship he was a perfect gentleman and continues to be... he is the most wonderful person, but he has torment inside..  What can you suggest I do to help him?  Therapy? 

    With Jesus all Things are Possible - - Feb 2nd 2010

    I went through so much stuff when I was growing up it even makes the most seasoned person shutter with fear (they always say "Poor Baby") I have found no one that can counsel me with all the junk I went through. There is no human that can help me. So I gave it all to Jesus. He holds my hand each day. Yes, I slip a lot and look at the dark part of my past - the stuff that happaned was not my fault, I was innocent. But it should not happen to any child. He just holds my hand all the tighter and whispers in my ear to turmn to him and not look at the darkness in my past. I am 47 years old and the pain is quite real. But with Jesus help I can make it through the days with a smile and a laugh. I am trying to learn to be a good wife and mother at this time. It takes a lot of work. My current project is to learn to trust others an submit myself to my husband in love. Well I hope you all get better soon. God bless you all.

    growing up - - Jan 13th 2010

    I'm 23 years old and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  The worst part of the whole thing has been the fact that I never judged the man who did it.  I was very small when it began and I assimilated it as a normal part of everyday life.  I remember being so hurt and confused, devastated even, when it stopped.  I have always engaged in masochistic behavior; I have always had inappropriate relations (real or imagined) with much older men.  I have hurt myself constantly, sabotoged my own life, all because I thought I deserved it.  The older I get, the more I realize that I have to deal with what happened to me.  I am heartbroken to realize how prevalent this problem is.  I feel that my abuser molded me as a human being- I in some way belong to him, my psychological creator.  All I want is to feel whole-- my rational mind acknowledges my destructive patterns, my reactive self rules my actions though, in the real world. 

    When I was nineteen I worked in a healthfood store.  A strange-looking hippie woman I had never seen, nor would see again gently pulled me aside in the isle. "You're dealing with something that happened when you were a little girl," she said it so matter of factly, I was terrified someone could hear her; I was terrified that she could tell just by looking at me.  she told me to go down to the playground and choose a little girl.  "watch her," she said, "And ask yourself if it could be her fault."  I cried so hard that day, just sitting on a park bench near the sandbox...  I have no idea who that lady was, and I cannot deny how freaking weird that moment was, but that was the best advice I ever received.

    It was not our fault, no matter what you've been told, no matter what you've told yourself.  I am glad that I understand what so many people have been through.  I am not through grieving for the strange, dark childhood that I cannot recover or change.  I wish that we can all show our faces proudly someday, in the broad daylight.  I wish that we could come together and create a world where the perpetual motion of these abusive patterns is finally stopped.  I don't know how to be close to another person.  I wish this isolation ends; I still have hope that I will learn someday how to truly love another. 

    DEEP DARK PAIN - Diane Reynolds - Jan 4th 2010

    I'm a 42 year old female who also was abused from the age of 8 to 16. I live with this horrible thought every second of every day. I have so many issues way to many to even discuss. I think it's unfair that we the victims have to pay to get help. I don't have insurance nor can I afford it. I need help and feel like my life will never be what I want it to be because of the pain I carry every day. I would love to talk to someone and try to start the healing process but without money or insurance you suffer yet once again. I would LOVE to cause my abuser as much pain as he has caused me. He has always worked with and around children. The sad part of all this is he's probably still doing this to many others. He was my judo coach who i trusted and that's when it all started. I feel like he has control of me after all these years. IT NEVER GOES AWAY!!!!!!!!

    u do not know - - Dec 6th 2009

    if u were not abused sexually as a child u do not know what we that were abused sexually have gone through. i am 53 yrs old and very much child like. my innocence was taked away. i am not childish but childlike and being childlike is aok with me.

    Molested as a child - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Nov 12th 2009

    Hello Molested,

    I do not believe you are damaged or traumatized "beyond repair." I urge you to take a number of steps:

    1. There are support groups for women who were raped and abused either during childhood or adulthood.

    2. Psychotherapy is a wonderful way for you to begin working on all the terrible feeling you have resulting from the repeated rapes.

    Please go for help.

    Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    molested from age 6-17 - - Nov 12th 2009

    I was abused for years by my biological dad.  I was tramatized beyond repair i sometimes think.  I was married to an alcoholic for years and finally came to my senses.  I am now remarried to a very good man but he also has his issues but by in large he is a good man.  I still have many issues.  I am now 46.  I always feel alone no matter what.  I am easily hurt emotionally.  I never feel good enough.  I fear abandonment so much. 

    I wasnt a good mom for years.  I hollered at my child alot.  I am trying very hard to recover,  if i can recover.  I try hard to see the good in things.  Sometimes its so hard though.  I am down in the dumps alot. 

    Counseling - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Sep 25th 2009

    Adam, it is true that psychotherapists charge for office visits. However, they, too, have bills such as office rent, home rent or mortgage, children to pay for, and a host of other bills just like everyone else. It is also true that, for their efforts they would like to earn some profit. However, it is mistaken to relegate psychotherapy to uselessness because they charge for their services. 

    Two of the major issues that emerge in psychotherapy are 1. Money and, 2. Sexuality. Just as you attribute selfishness to psychotherapist, so do many patients who want to have sex with their therapist who refuses. 

    Psychotherapy is a human relationship marked by all of the human desires, demands and disappointments that affect everyone. The difference between the outside world and the world within therapy is that the patient to client has the opportunity to learn how to relate in a healthy way. What does that mean?

    It means that, unlike the terrible abuses, sexual, physical and verbal that may have been perpetrated by adults on them when they were young, the patient discovers that here, in psychotherapy, is a person who does not behave with cruelty and sadism. In point of fact, the therapy becomes a place where the patient, perhaps for the very first time, discovers that they are safe and secure.

    This is why psychotherapy does work to help those who were abused and traumatized. As someone who has worked in the field of psychiatry and mental health for thirty years, I can report that people, thanks to therapy, do recover, even from what were some of the worst types of abuse. As one client said to me a long time ago after completing therapy with me, "Thank you, you give people their lives back." 

    I point this out not to give myself a "pat on the back, but to demonstrate that myself and other therapists do succeed in helping people to recover. No, it does not happen with every patient and not all therapists are equal. However, on the whole, I believe that people can enter psychotherapy with confidence that they will be helped.

    Dr. Schwartz

    why counseling rarely works - Adam Rinkleff - Sep 25th 2009

    Counseling is expensive, and since victims of abuse tend to not trust others, they are inclined to feel that paying lots of money for counseling is probably just another way of being taken advantage of. Meanwhile, counselors are entirely unsympathetic to this, and tend to justify why they deserve to get paid so much, or why the victim can afford to pay, but all that does is ignore the simple fact that merely paying for counseling is extremely deterimental to the entire counselling process. Do you think I want to pay you so that you will listen to me talk about being abused as a child, and how that has caused so many problems for me in later life? How can I believe you genuinely care, if I have to pay you to listen? How can I ever feel better about myself, when I have to pay people to pretend they care? I'm supposed to help you make your new car payments, while I am struggling to pay rent? Ultimately, my point here is that mental-health issues will never be widely treatable, until the medical community stops treating this as a for-profit business. Meanwhile, victims of abuse simply continue to suffer.

    Abused Victim NO MORE!! - - Sep 22nd 2009

    52 year old female, born again christian!married 34 years one child, 2 grandchildren, Husband is mentally and physically disabled ,caregiver and disabled myself. Childhood molestation from the age of 3-12, father was a minister of the occult and used me from an early age to contact the spirits,no connection.. Mother was an alcoholic ,brother a drug abuser.Brutally raped at the age of 17 made the papers, court and sentenced was pronounced on the attacker. 60 lbs overweight, health issues, unable to have mobility due to back injury.Just found my half sister first time in my life talk to her about a week ago, I see my grand daughters being verberlly and physically man handled by their father who is 275 lbs. When he grabs a 4 year olds arm and jerks her towards him and with such anger yells in her face it hits the fan sort of speak with me!!. Between finding my sister and this going on with grandchildren,I want to be in advocate against all kinds of ABUSE. I have never felt like I mattered but an object.We must fight back!!!

    Money? - Carrie - Sep 3rd 2009

    What can you do if you don't have money for counseling?

    It is not that easy... - - Aug 25th 2009

    I believe that there might be help for getting over this, but is not that easy. People who has not gone thru it can NOT understand it. Like it or not, that is a fact.Different people have different views of the same subject, but one thing is true; thise memories will be there. About this therapy your saying; i doubt that i can think about my past without having some kind of panic attack! If that is something like that, i will give all the money i have to get that treatment...but again, i doubt it works. It is hard to get over things that go so deep inside your soul, and i am not trying to be drammatic, but i have gone thru it and it comes back everytime i have a memorie coming back...everytime i see a father and a child showing love, every father`s day, every time i hear about abuse...And it did not even take sexual abuse to do that to me, i can`t imagine what people that has been sexually abused by their parents go thru, but i certainly am not gonna try to tell them that they are not trying hard enought to get over it, because i dont believe anyone wants to live with that.

    Bullying - Allan N. Schwartz, Phd - Apr 20th 2009

    Hello Just stating my views, The problem with what you are saying is that only people who have been through the same thing can understand how that person feels. This is something I do not agree with. One does NOT have to have been through the troubles and traumas of another in order to be able to help. People have the capacity to understand, empathize, apply somewhat similar circumstances to, etc. What, only a woman can help female patients? Only a father can help boys? Only an MD who survived cancer can help cancer patients? You agree that is not so.There is something else you are not understanding about this article. Many survivors of abuse and bullying have told me, with regret, that they are "permanently damaged." I happen to believe that it is possible to overcome the most damaging happenings of a person's life. For example, I have know survivors of the Holocaust and who went on to live productive lives. There are things we can do to overcome these over whelming hurts. That is why there are therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. I know that you meant well but you are taking the message the wrong way. There are ways to overcome adversity.

    Dr. Schwartz

    Just stating how I feel. - - Apr 19th 2009

    When you say in your article, I don't remember word for word, however I find it basically saying people don't have to live with the stress of being abused everyday. Or deal with the guilt or sudden sadness of being abused also. I myself was abused as a child from the age of 7 to 12. However, Dr. I know you're qualified for helping these people but have you ever lived any of this abuse. If so, it surprises me that it hasn't become a big part of your life. If not, and please know I'm not trying to tell you how to do you job, then how do you really understand how these people are feeling. Someone take away your innocence for so many years is an unexplainable hurt. Resorting to things that help me deal with it, sure it's my choice and I know it's the wrong choices. But it still helps me cope.  I guess what I'm trying to say is your article comes across to me as if you're trying to say that you can get over abuse and move on from it. But you can't. You learn to live with it. Some people carry it in their back pockets for the rest of their lives. And I know it's because some of them are stubborn. But other times it feels like it's against your body's will to feel that way. I just want you to understand where I'm coming from. It's four years since anything has happened to myself. But it still feels like, see that's the thing. I don't know what I feel like anymore. All I know is this. Something needs to be done to make people open their mouths sooner. To make children not afraid of speaking up. But in the end, it all hurts the same.

    The catch 22... - Jane - Apr 17th 2009

    I agree that many survivors could benefit from some form of psychotherapy. However, the problem is many who have low self esteem, trust issues, and suspicion as a result of abuse may understand they need therapy but are just not able to conjure up the strength to go into an office and put it "all out there" with a complete stranger. The negative self talk ( why would someone want to help me?), paranoia ( what if they tell someone I know?), and experience with disappointment (betrayal by loved ones) may be too overwhelming.    

    Editor's Note: This very issue of feeling hesitant or frightened to talk with a therapist is being discussed in the community lately. The thread is called "Writing to the psychologist/therapist, is it appropriate? You may wish to check that conversation out.  

    Everything can be okay - Tina - May 29th 2008

    I totally agree with the article and I applaud the author for bringing up a little known fact about children of abusive parents - we're not broken forever. Once I had control over my life there were certain things that I wouldn't tolerate. I was still confused in my early 20's and married an abusive man - but I kicked him out 3 months after he first hit me and didn't marry again until I found an emotionally stable man 10 years later. My most debilitating emotional problems worked themselves out early - my social anxiety was cured by the practice of working for a living, for example. I still carry some issues with me that I'm still working to alleviate, but I have come a long way in the 27 years I've been responsible for and in control of my own life. In that time, when I've needed it, I have asked for advice from mental health therapists and that has helped me tremendously. To all children of abusive parents - don't give up, everything can be okay.

    Gosh,I would be so fortunate..... - melissa - May 17th 2008

    This article has me "mapped out good!!"I would be so grateful to have an hour of your time...(Dr.)I'm real sick with my addictions,withdrawl,panic and anxiety,chronic pain,PTSD,depression..I have truly come to the"fork" n the road ,37 yrs old,alone,tired sick,ashamed, the torment I put MYSELF through has taken a good part of me..I pray for others trying not to be "led Around" again and again...."Same sh-t different day" type thing..Thanks,MB

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