Tuesday, October 18, 2016


For most of us, sexual abuse wasn’t a one-time event. And yet, the number of times is not the determining factor. Once we’re assaulted—and it can be verbal or physical—the results are similar. As I look back, the physical and verbal abuse might have been even more profound than the sexual.

A major loss is lack of appropriate trust. We read mostly about those who can’t trust anyone. But some of us remained susceptible, almost as if we’re saying, “Take advantage of me.”

Most of the time, naiveté described me. Even today as an adult, people occasionally castigate me for trusting others and call me too trusting. For a long time, my response was, “I can’t help it.”

And for many, many years I couldn’t. I’ve had to work quite hard at questioning the motivations and intentions of others. The other extreme (and more common response) is assuming everyone wants to exploit or hurt us.

One of my survivor-friends said, “I tend to believe everyone until they fail or let me down in some way.” He went on to say that one failure and he’s unable to trust them again. Once hurt, he can’t forget what they’ve done.

Those are all consequences of our stolen and broken childhoods.


I’ll pass on something that helped me. When I have any strong sense of faith or doubt about anyone, I try to wait until I can get alone and process it. What was going on inside me, I ask myself, that I had that reaction? Was it my self-protective inner wisdom? Was it the old pattern of willing to be exploited?

Not that an answer pops up immediately, because it rarely does. Instead, the tendency is for me to quote a famous line from the 1943 film, Casablanca, “Round up the usual suspects.”

When I discern that I’m doing that, I try to get with one of my friends to help me discern the truth.

Our abuse has powerful ramifications.
We can learn to defeat our warped understanding.

1 comment:

Roger Mann said...

I've been left with all kinds of ramifications of my abuse. For many years I was clueless as to what they were or even if it had affected me at all. But as time went on and my life continued to spiral out of control I began to suspect something was very wrong with me. I didn't seem to react to situations in healthy and productive ways. Even good things seem to be tarnished and I was unable to appreciate them the way others seem to.

I was moody and angry for even the slightest disappointments. The joy of life seemed so difficult to hang on to.

As I look back I'm shocked I got to this point as in tact as I am which might not me saying much depending who you ask. I still am course correcting as I go but am more sensitive to the compass of my life now. It has taking a lot of hard knocks and therapy to learn to look at that compass even. But for the Grace of God it could have been much worse however. And for that I'm very grateful.