The Legacy of Childhood Sexual AbuseEmail This Post
There are many legacies within the over all legacy of childhood sexual abuse. Each one of them is a journey of unfolding pain and possibility. Sexual abuse in childhood is a betrayal and is experienced as abandonment. Depending upon the age that one is sexually abused the consequences can be very dire indeed.
A child suffering the betrayal and abandonment of being sexually abused by a friend of the family, a person in authority outside the home, or a stranger, will still have much pain and countless consequences, in some cases, over the entire rest of their lives as a result.
It is hard to compare the damage done by those who sexually abuse children. However, in my opinion, the most damaging sexual abuse is the sexual abuse that a child suffers from a parent, or from both parents. This is one of the most daunting and traumatic wounds of abandonment and betrayal that a human being can ever suffer.
It is an abandonment because the very safety and security that a child needs to be able to meet early childhood developmental stages of growth and maturation are arrested and the developing psychological self of the child the self that is just being born, formed and developing is ostensibly killed split off and repressed in many cases along with the intolerable memories of a pain that was far too great for such a young child to bear, let alone process.
Mental Health and Life Coach A.J. Mahari talks about the reality that sexual abuse recovery is a journey. It is a not only a journey of recovery, but, it is also a journey whose purpose is to teach us how to thrive.
Having been sexually abused in childhood does bring a legacy to our lives that we first try to deny, then often become quite angry about. This legacy, however, rather than remaining a negative and painful one can be transformed into a meaningful journey that yields the gifts and blessings of profound growth opportunities. Opportunities that each person who has been sexually abused as a child needs to consciously be aware of. Choice is everything.
The repression of this pain and the protective dissociative splits it erects within the personality of the individual the wall it builds between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind – are such that the authentic self is repressed along with the pain and abandonment wounds and a false self rises up that presents a formidable challenge for every sexual abuse survivor.
For many sexual abuse survivors the result of this loss of authentic self and development of a false self whose function is to protect against the repressed pain at all costs results in serious mental health issues and/or personality disorders.
The result of this violation and abuse is often the mental illness known as Borderline Personality Disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder is not only or always caused by childhood sexual abuse but for many this is the case.
Childhood sexual abuse also contributes to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety and Panic Disorders and many other difficult challenges.
The legacy of childhood sexual abuse is the search for trust. The journey of learning to trust one’s self. This is at the root of any and all issues that those who are the victims of childhood sexual abuse must address.
The legacy of childhood sexual abuse, even for many who have healed much and have become survivors and are no longer victims often has some on-going component to it. That on-going component can be anything from the struggle for self-trust, that I mentioned to eating disorders to a life somewhat compromised by loss and its grief. Grief that gets much easier to live with or deal with but grief that can’t ever really be totally resolved.
It is important for survivors of sexual abuse to work through their feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and anger so that they can process and grieve the losses associated with having been sexually abused in childhood.
Working your way through all of the anger, rage, loss, grief, and pain, to compassion and forgiveness is the best way to ensure that you will be living with the least amount of the legacy of any sexual abuse you suffered as a child. It is a journey and a process. To some degree, though we may be way down the road, I think that there is always a little part of self that holds a piece of the pain somewhere inside in that childhood sexual abuse does sear the soul.
The precious inner child of each one of us that has been sexually abused as a child is the garden that we need to tenderly nurture. It is that precious inner child that took the brunt of it all and often is the reason that we survive it long enough to be able to get into therapy and to process it and grieve it so that we can heal from it.
The good news is that the legacy of childhood sexual abuse is one that will teach you much, open you to being a much more compassionate person with the possibility of tremendous wisdom if and when you actively seek to recover from it.
© A.J. Mahari – All rights reserved.
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