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.
Verbal abuse has become so common for so many that victims can take years to finally question the way they are treated when they are being constantly verbally abused. It is then difficult, especially after so long, for the victim, whose self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence have been beaten down for so long to believe that they do not deserve the abuse that they have been subject to and to feel helpless in the face of it and hopeless about escaping it or insisting it stops.
Verbal abuse is insidious. It is proliferating. It is damaging and dangerous. It wounds and has tremendous emotional impact for those who are the victims of it. Verbal abuse leaves so many of its victims confused and insecure. It results in them not even easily being able to identify that they are in fact being verbally abused. There are so many myths about what verbal abuse is, what causes it and whose fault it is.
Abusers are impostors to the reality of who they are. They wear a the mask of charming when really they are insecure and controlling. Abusers wear the masks necessary to get their own way. Masks of charm, masks of rage, masks of caring, and masks of competence – all to hide who they are. Verbal [...]
Self-mutilation, for many who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), is a learned language of profound pain. It is a primordial scream for help. It is
the apex of needing to be heard, validated, and soothed. It is one of the most
prolific and anguished expressions of borderline pain, pain that has otherwise been abandoned. It is self-defeating and holds you hostage to the pain of the false self – to the pain that you can’t heal by further wounding and re-wounding your body and your precious soul.
Self mutilation is the way many with BPD transfer the abandoned pain of BPD from its deep intra-psychic (subconscious) roots to the light of day. Borderlines channel this intolerable emotional pain that they do not know how to cope with into physical pain which is much more understandable. Borderlines understand suffering. The self abuse of self mutilation takes the borderline’s abandonment trauma (Masterson) from the mind to the body. Borderlines use their bodies to express what is too unsafe and what feels annihilating to even begin to absorb in a conscious psychological way. Sadly, however, this transfer of psychological pain into physical pain does nothing to actually begin to get in touch with abandonment trauma in ways that can mean learning, through therapy, to learn the skills necessary to first tolerate the distress of the pain, and then secondly, work at resolving it.
One of the greatest challenges arising from the reality of abuse in lesbian relationships is the difficulty that can unfold when one or both women try to get help. Many women fleeing from an abuser seek refuge in and help from women’s shelters. When the abuse victim is a heterosexual woman abused by a man the system has a clear mandate help and support the woman. However, when both the abuser and the victim of abuse are women, the system is confronted with the difficult task of figuring out which woman to help. It is not always easy to distinguish which woman is the victim and which is the abuser a) because they are in fact each both they are abusing each other and the victim of each other’s abuse or b) because the woman who is abusive may present herself as the victim of the woman who is actually her victim to keep her partner from being able to be helped which is in and of itself, abusive.
Any form of abuse leaves its victims feeling worthless, less than, often lost to him or herself, and not having had a chance to develop the kind of healthy boundaries that would protect against future involvement with other abusive people. Many who were abused as children were abused within the kind of dysfunctional, toxic, and enmeshed family systems that do not teach, model, or even allow them to develop healthy boundaries. Carrying poor emotional boundaries (or lacking them altogether) is a major reason why abused children often grow up to get involved in abusive, enmeshed, and toxic relationships.
Narcissism, to varying degrees, is a common trait of all personality disorders. Those with personality disorders and any substantial degree of narcissism are not capable of healthy age-appropriate adult intimacy. They are emotionally unavailable people who are emotionally child-like and who more often than not relate in a dysfunctional, toxic, and abusive ways.