We do it so often… and so well. We think understanding why someone abused us diminishes its effect on us. This is a disempowering web for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Though it gives us the comfort of not upsetting other people, excusing our abuser because we understand them will keep us firmly trapped in our experience. Drinking, anger, exhaustion or depression can never, ever be an adequate reason for harming us. If our abuser was also a victim at one time, he/she needed to seek help rather than use our childhood vulnerability as an opportunity to violate us. Not ‘knowing what they were doing’ or ‘recognizing how much it affected us’ denies responsibility and asks us to carry the load.
There is no amount of understanding that will change anything for the better even when we think we are doing something good. ‘Understanding’ encourages the silence to continue. It doesn’t rock the boat and lets us keep our secret, but that good intention keeps us tied to all the ways our abuse continues to affect our choices, health, and happiness. It strangles any effort to heal the wounds of our abuse. It protects our abuser and leaves us with our scars.
One empowering tool for healing is… recognizing we can understand our abuser and still make them responsible for their actions. This empowering change creates shifts in how we feel about ourselves and that changes how others treat us. When insight about our abuse becomes a beacon of truth, we have a new guide for our choices. That’s when we can find relationships that honor our mind~body~spirit.
Notes along the way… Jeanne McElvaney
Inspired by Spirit Unbroken: Abby's Story
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