Depression. Social anxiety. Drug and alcohol abuse. Risky sexual behavior. What do these things have in common? They are all more prevalent in individuals who were subjected to physical or emotional abuse as a child or adolescent.
Were you raised by abusive parents or guardians? Do you suspect that the effects of the abuse they inflicted upon you are having a negative effect on your life? Child abuse can be extremely difficult to recover from; however, that shouldn’t stop you from trying. You owe it to yourself.
While there is no formula set in stone for recovering from abuse, you might benefit from the steps below:
KNOW THAT THE ABUSE WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.
Child abusers (and abusers of any type) often blame the victim. “If only you had done this, I wouldn’t have had to…” is a typical statement made by abusers.
Don’t fall for it. Your abuser is lying. Abusive people will be abusive no matter what, and nothing you do (or don’t do) will stop them. At least not permanently.
REALIZE THAT YOU DID NOT DESERVE THE ABUSE.
You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are a good person. Whether you believe in God or not, you are here for a reason.
Nobody deserves to be abused as a child or adolescent. NOBODY. I don’t care how bad your behavior was as you were growing up. YOU STILL DID NOT DESERVE THE ABUSE.
IF NECESSARY, ELIMINATE THE ABUSER(S) FROM YOUR LIFE.
Even after you’ve figured out that you didn’t deserve or cause the abuse, the journey towards recovery is not always finished. Society encourages us to leave our romantic partner if they are physically or mentally abusive; so why do many of us believe that “family is family”?
“Family is family”, yes- but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to them for the rest of your life. I’m not saying that you should HATE your parent(s) or guardian(s) for what they did to you; forgiveness is always good. I’m just saying that sometimes, keeping them in your life does more harm than good.
This is a decision that only YOU can make. Do not allow friends or family members to make you feel guilty about your choice. You know what’s best for your life.
TALK TO SOMEBODY WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH.
Child abuse is something that you can’t discuss with just anybody. People may feel you are overreacting, or even accuse you of lying. Don’t get discouraged; accept the fact that not everybody can sympathize with situations that are foreign to them.
Find a support group (online or offline) for survivors of child abuse (check with local doctors and hospitals for information on this). Look for message boards where you can unite with people who were physically or mentally abused. Talk to a friend who also had a rough home life.
If you can’t find anybody who can relate to your situation, consider creating your own support group.
PSYCHIATRISTS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND COUNSELORS CAN BE HELPFUL; CONSIDER TALKING TO THEM AS WELL.
Whether the abuse was severe or mild, you may benefit from professional help. Sometimes it’s nice to share your thoughts with a neutral person who will not judge you.
VOLUNTEER AT A FOSTER HOME, BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB, OR LOCAL SCHOOL.
Sometimes, nobody knows when a child is being abused. Remember how scared and/or alone you felt as a child? Don’t let anybody else feel that way.
All children need adult role models. Although you may never know it, seeing you might be the best part of a child’s day. So volunteer. You can’t erase your own childhood, but you can help create a better one for other children.
ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU COULD NOT CONTROL WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, BUT YOU CAN CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR ADULT LIFE.
If you have a drug or alcohol addiction, get help. If you are having unprotected sex with multiple partners, stop. If you hate your job, go to college or tech school and learn some new skills.
You can’t change the past, so focus on giving yourself the best future that you possibly can. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. You deserve to be happy, healthy, and successful. If anybody says that you don’t, they are WRONG.