Child abuse is the mental or physical pain intentionally inflicted on a person who is unable to defend themselves is abuse. The World Health Organization reports that every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies. The reports involve more than 6.6 million children for child abuse. This appalling statistic ranks the United States as having one of the worst records of child abuse among industrialized nations. The children who have suffered child abuse grow into adults with emotional and social problems. This blog sets out to identify the emotional manifestations of child abuse among adult survivors and empower adult survivors of childhood trauma to get help to heal.
The Protective Stance Among Survivors of Childhood Trauma
Abuse is a traumatic experience for anyone, but especially children. Children view abuse in a self-centered point of view and make a subconscious decision to stop the abuse. This subconscious decision of survivors of childhood trauma often presents itself as protective behaviors.
- The child sees the world as unsafe and so the child stops trusting people
- The child feels he or she can only depend on themselves
- The child develops poor self- confidence
- The child exhibits hypervigilance , irritability, angry and anxiousness
These subconscious protective behaviors help child abuse survivors navigate through childhood into adulthood. When there is no intervention to teach the child the world is a safe place, adult survivors of childhood trauma bring these protective stances into adulthood.
Emotional Manifestation of Childhood Trauma
Some of the emotional manifestations in adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse are:
- The adult lacks true intimacy in relationships
- The adult is chronically depressed
- The adult may find that they are anxious
- It becomes normal for the adult to feel like they are at war with the world
According to ChildWelfare, child abuse can also lead to problems in adulthood which may include psychological consequences such as low self-esteem, problems maintaining healthy relationships, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, explosive anger, suicide attempts, and social disabilities, to name a few.
Healings from Childhood Trauma and Abuse
It takes courage to let go of things that have hurt you. It is important that you know you have everything in you right now to heal from your hurt and move forward in your strength. Starting your journey of healing from the effects of child abuse builds strength. Facing your pain builds resilience. Overcoming rejection builds resourcefulness. I understand that letting go of the memories of child abuse isn’t easy. As a survivor myself, I understand that the effects of child abuse seeps into almost every facet of your life.
It is important to recognize the limitations of the defense mechanisms you used as a child. Doing this helps you to separate yourself from the child who needed protection and recognize yourself as an adult in control. Some ways of getting closure include telling your story or confronting the person(s) who hurt you. Whether the person is alive or not, or even open to a conversation, you can confront the person by writing a letter expressing your pain. Include in the letter how the abuse has affected you over the years. ***Warning*** this can be painful because you are rehashing memories you have tried to suppress. This can be painful because the abuser may be someone you love and they may not be receptive or apologetic. This leads me to the most important step in healing as a adult survivor of childhood trauma: Get the HELP AND SUPPORT you never got as a child.
This is not a simple task. I lived with the pain of sexual abuse most of my adult life. I experienced depression, anxiety, low esteem, inability to form healthy male female relationships and even worst I did not know my worth. With the help of my loving friends and family and a relationship with God, I am now able to say I AM A SURVIVOR. I am no longer imprisoned by my past; rather I am strengthened by my experiences. I hope this blog empowers you to take the next step to healing. I applaud you for taking this first step by reading this blog.
Check out this resource for finding a therapist: Mental Health America
Before your leave, please don’t forget to comment below. Sharing your experience and what works for you may help others find a solution that works for them. Also, please share this post because you never know who in your circle may be struggling and may need to read this post for encouragement.
**This blog was last edited 08/21/2019**
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Meet the Author
Adenike is a 46-year-old Jamaican immigrant and a devoted single mother of one, whom she raised with a village in the absence of the father whom long aborted his responsibilities. She holds a Masters in Licensed Clinical Social Work, Bachelors in Social Work, Masters in Non-Profit & Association Management and a Licensed Practical Nursing degree. From the outside, you wouldn’t know that behind the many accomplishments are experiences of trauma, PTSD and depression. Her experiences have uniquely shaped her and she has learned to appreciate each and every part of who she is and her journey. Now she wants to inspire you to do the same!