What is life like after abuse?

Can you ever recover from abuse? Can you live a ‘normal’ life? In a world where survivors are not comfortable speaking out, how can you recover? Are you ‘damaged goods?’

Statistics tell us that one in four will be abused. Most who have not been abused imagine how awful the experience must be, but rarely imagine the impact it has on later life.

The other day I was chatting online about the best way to speak with children in order to keep them safe, and I could almost feel the fear in the parents I was conversing with. I guessed most feared the actual abuse but it made me think of my own situation and the struggle over the years to learn to live with the memories and to move on, to become a mother and not pass on insecurities and fears to my children.

I remembered an old post I’d written two years ago called, ‘Can I trust him with my child?’ Re reading it I realised I’ve moved on another bit from that moment. It made me smile to know, that day by day, without even realising, I continue to get stronger.
Yes abuse is horrific, but there is life after it, and as in my case and many others, that can be a great life, but it takes awareness and effort.

Here is my old post, which I think tells of the effort it can take in everyday life.

Can I Trust Him With My Child?

For over twenty years, without making a fuss,small_8899636192
I have never left any of my children alone, with a man other than their father.
Until three weeks ago.

My youngest daughter, a very precious little lady to me, takes guitar lessons.
Every week she goes to the house of a most wonderful gentleman.
I go too.

She thinks it’s because I am so interested in her lesson. He thinks I live too far away to make it worth my while to leave.
The real reason is, I cannot leave her alone with a man. She is almost the age I was when life changed forever.

The lesson was booked as usual and then I remembered my other daughter had a dental appointment.
I told my youngest we would have to cancel guitar.

“Why?”, she asked. “Why can’t I go by myself?”

Off she went to school, but her words stayed with me. Why? Why could I not let her go alone?I have over the years developed a very good nose for people I trust and ones I don’t. This gentleman is definitely in the “I trust” bracket.So that led me to the question “Why not?”.

After a lot of soul searching I realised it was wrong not to allow her to go. By saying to myself I was protecting her,
I was lying. The reality was I was afraid.

So when she returned from school, I told her she could go.
She gave me the biggest smile and ran for her guitar.small__8685210852

As we got into the car I felt physically sick. My heart was racing. I clutched the steering wheel and drove out of our driveway.
Inside my heart was screaming, “Don’t do this”. “It’s in his house!” “She is only a child”.

However my head was also speaking, in a steady measured tone. “Stop being so dramatic”, “Trust your instincts”.
“This is one more hurdle”. “Do not allow all that has happened to change your children’s lives”.

We arrived at the house and in she went. I explained to her teacher that I couldn’t stay but I would be back to collect her.
And then I left.

I cannot describe walking away. I was hot and cold, my heart beating out of control.
Just catching my breath was difficult. I was experiencing a million flashbacks per second, of a time I too was as innocent as her.

My other daughter was waiting in the car, unaware of my anxiety. This forced me back to reality and we drove away.
Thirty minutes later I was back and out came a delighted young girl.
She had totally enjoyed her lesson and was all chat about what she had achieved.

I listened and although still traumatised,small_2042157003
I knew I too had achieved a great deal.
Abuse has long lasting side effects,
but that day I had come one step further,
to putting my past behind me.

I smiled to myself. One step further on my journey.
I nearly have him beaten!

This was originally written in response to the daily prompt.

Tell us a moment or an incident that you treasure  – not necessarily because it brought you happiness, but because it taught you something about yourself.

photo credit: Leah Borchert via photopin cc
photo credit: Pixelglo Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: shankar, shiv via photopin cc
photo credit: stuant63 via photopin cc

43 thoughts on “What is life like after abuse?

    1. Thanks Lorna. She has continued to do guitar with this ‘gentleman’ and I rarely accompany her any more. If I do it’s only to listen to her play.

  1. I can completely relate and yet even our best efforts to protect our children are often not enough. Sadly I have come to realize this in my own life and the lives of my children.

    1. No we can only do our best. Thankfully times have changed and there is a lot more awareness which is helping to protect our children also.
      I’m sorry you can relate Michelle.

      1. I am a father and I feared for my children the whole of their lives and still do to this day! Thanks again for a most honest share! Loved it..Dave 🙂

  2. What an important post to share, Tric. So many parents struggle with this. Hypervigilance is normal, but it’s a blessing to be able to trust your instincts about people and to teach your children to do the same.

    1. Yes awareness when I’m being overly protective is a good thing, but reading this post again the other day showed the difference time makes.
      Children are a great motivation to make the effort to be sensible in vigilance, to find the balance.
      I think you are spot on that children learn from us to trust their instincts and I think that’s hugely important.

  3. That’s what I was like with my own children, ever vigilant. Now it’s with my grandchildren. They’re too precious to risk anything, no matter how minor, too happen to them. I guess I still have written to do.

    1. Yes they are so precious. But there is a fine line between thinking I am protecting them and me over protecting. Grandchildren are probably even more precious again.

  4. Once again, Tric, your grace and courage touch my heart. How wonderful that you were able, after your terrible experience, to trust again, and to give your girl the gift of that trust.

    1. Thank you. I agree our natural instinct is so important and should be developed and trusted. I could very easily have destroyed that in my daughter and by doing so made it less easy for her to protect herself.

  5. God knows you speak my thoughts Tric.

    Pivotal moment for me, sitting in a college class, instructor says “you have choices, they may not be great choices, but you have choices”. Until that moment, I did not know that.

    1. Wow. I read this earlier today and that is the only reply I could think, and now hours later it’s still all I have. I know you know what I mean.

  6. Great post – it is, for me, healing and affirming, to look back through some of my previous posts and see how much further along the healing journey I am – in a variety of areas – 🙂 But still, that first ‘biggee’ in the healing, the one that puts our heart in our throats, is always such an uncomfortable one – 🙂

    1. Yes. It’s like jumping without a parachute. But then we do and there is no going back. Well done to you too as you move on in life.

      1. YES! Except… I get enough ‘sky diving’ just living life, without on-purpose jumping out of a perfectly good airplane – – LOL But, yes, I hear what you are saying! 🙂 Thanks for the drop in – even if you did arrive via parachute – LOL We are not picky here, at Bally Bin – though we may raise an eyebrow regarding perfectly good planes, now and then – – 😀

  7. I remember reading this two years ago, and still had the same heart stopping response this time. I’ve been asked how I can be so “normal” after the trauma of my childhood. The only thing I can think of to say is God’s Mercy and Grace and the healing power of the distance of time. I can’t allow myself to wallow in the past, I was a stubborn child then and I will continue to be a stubborn adult now and not let the ghosts of the past determine my future. Thanks for reposting this it reminded me that I have come a long ways too.

    1. Cheers and congrats to you too. It’s good to celebrate how far we have come. I laughed for I think I too might have been a stubborn child. 🙂

  8. Breath by breath and step by step we we travel that dark tunnel where light awaits at the end. We must decide to let it in. Thank you for this wonderful post. Lea

    1. That’s a very good point, sometimes it is only a chink of light but when we go actively looking for it we usually find it. It’s just the trip is not always easy.

  9. I can understand your feelings of anxiety, I think, although I was lucky enough never to have been abused as a child. (I was bullied rather badly, but that’s a different thing.) I’m very glad you have gradually become able to put your fears behind you and learned to trust your instincts more.

    1. Thanks, although being bullied is no picnic either. Life can leave us all scarred and damaged, but I don’t think we are completely broken. Life is such a privilege and one I intend to make the most of, not despite him, but because of him

  10. You will be your children’s protector-mother for as long as you live. That is your job, never apologize for that. It is better that people think you are being silly than spending the rest of your life being sorry for not protecting enough.

    I am “damaged goods,” I have been that since I was FIVE and THAT gives me permission to be as cautious as I darn well please. I do not trust men, that is a product of having careless, uncaring parents that ALLOWED their relatives and friends to use and abuse me. My last rapist/abuser is dying of lung cancer as we speak – and not even then could I ever let go – I continue to live the fallout of my childhood.

    1. So sorry Jackie, it’s such a long sentence really. I like to think of myself as ‘formidable goods’ as opposed to ‘damaged’. Underestimate me at your peril.
      It is though very difficult not to be over cautious and to stifle their growth and experiences, although in your case I completely understand.
      I don’t feel I wasn’t protected. It was a different world, I was in my teens and the awareness of what might have been happening was not there.

  11. Your joyful life is a testament to the very part of you that brute could never destroy. It’s only natural you feel this fear – and it’s utterly amazing you can set it aside to allow your kids such a normal and – in a way, innocent life. You are some woman xx

    1. I so love your comment, for you are right, even as I was going through it all there was a part of me he didn’t own.
      I also am so happy to imagine that in some way I’ve managed to keep my children and those I looked after ignorant of my fears, allowing them to live ‘an innocent’ life.
      Thank you so much for pointing those out for me.

  12. It’s all been said, Tric. It’s only natural to want to protect our children from all hurt. That you can overcome a justifiable fear is testament to your courage and how far you have come. The lioness protects and trains her young. Roar!

  13. Reblogged this on Wasted Days And Wasted Nights and commented:
    My friend, Tric posted this on her blog at the beginning of the month. It occurred to me that not only is it an excellent article but it also fits in with my series on Abuse for this month. Give it a read. It shows yet one more way in which abuse changes us forever.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s a very long way back and I know I was lucky to meet the best people to help me.
      Never say never. Perhaps if your circumstances ever change you might be able to move forward or deal with it better.
      Take care of yourself, despite what I read on your blog, I also read, fiesty and strong.

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