I feel like many child abuse survivors can relate to this fact:
Denied these, some of us forged other coping strategies — dissociation, hypervigilance, addiction, freeze, fawn, fight, or flight — to help endure terror and shame.
This made us old while young yet muddled our maturity. So adult life often resembles running races blindfolded, with both arms bound behind our backs.
As I’ve said before, we were too busy simply surviving the abuse to learn the things we were supposed to learn as children, so we often start out behind in various ways.
Of course, in order to learn those things we need to do the work as an adult, to first unlearn the things we learned, and then learn the things we didn’t learn to start with. This is, perhaps, one of the real tragedies of so many survivors not even telling anyone, let alone starting this work, for decades.
That’s so many more years of doing the things we need to unlearn, and undoing that is just going to be more difficult the longer this has been true for us. So, what can we do?
First, we can, and absolutely need, to make it easier for people to talk about, and tell their story, earlier. Then, we need to find ways to help them unlearn the toxic stuff from childhood, and learn new ways of viewing themselves and the skills to maneuver through their adult life.
So long as talking about abuse is still so taboo, or we find reasons to not believe people who try to come forward, we are failing.
Likewise, as long as we don’t have any assistance available for people to heal, we are failing.
Right now, we fail far too often at both of these things.