For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to do a post about how domestic violence can affect a child until long after the abuse is over. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how to approach the subject; since my children are all minors, I feel it is my duty, as their mother, to protect their privacy. Thankfully, I found a wonderful friend that was willing to share her story. Everyone, please give Linda Smith a warm welcome!
Hi, my name is Linda Smith. I am 64 years old and an adult survivor of child abuse.
From day one, my birth, I lived with the dysfunctional and destructive behaviour of my parents. My father was an emotionally abusive alcoholic and my mother was an enabler, in the sense that she let it all happen. So basically, I spent 19 years living in an abusive relationship with my own parents. I had no way of escape, I was a captive victim and the main target.
Aside from the emotional abuse; there was my father’s drunken disasters, such as: driving drunk and causing accidents, hitting a pedestrian and then leaving the scene, becoming involved in bar room brawls, being beaten and robbed of his weekly paychecks. All of this added to the ongoing family stress and chaos. Our finances were in shambles for many years.
I never knew what normal was, I never fully understood the concept of love, I never knew what it was like to have a normal relationship with my parents. And most of all, I never knew who I was as an individual. Our personalities develop in the first 7 years of our lives; my first 7 years involved abuse and brainwashing. I was literally told who I was and what to think.
Experiencing emotional abuse from day one, meant that I learned to numb or stuff my emotions because they weren’t accepted in my house. If I cried, I was too emotional; if I was happy or excited, I was told to tone it down. No matter what mood I was in, I was lead to believe that it wasn’t accepted. So, I numbed my feelings; and they stayed numb. It also helped in numbing the pain I felt inside.
Abuse doesn’t stop with the abuser. Emotional abuse leaves open wounds that can last for years….to a lifetime. The memories just don’t go away because of adulthood. Ongoing abuse is the programming of our psyche on how we view ourselves and the world. It also breeds mistrust. We are set on a track of destruction because our self-esteem has been destroyed and the emotional debris is killing us inside.
Anxiety and fear from abuse rapidly turns into a multitude of illnesses and disorders. In my case, due to prolonged abuse, I suffered from major depression, C-PTSD, Depersonalization Disorder, OCD. And to add bad to worse, my first husband was an abuser. So add two and a half years more to the nineteen years I had already experienced. Compounding emotional damage.
Disorders didn’t show up in my life all at once. It was gradual and progressive. One thing sort of begat the other. And before I knew it, I was in the midst of full blown internal chaos. I had no control over my life anymore. So, I put myself into cognitive therapy at the age of 39. I had no other choice if I wanted to survive. It took perseverance, hard work, and 25 years to finally feel normal. I was in therapy for 25 years and on drug therapy for 15. (I’m still taking medication.) It was the best decision that I had ever made for myself. I completed my therapy March of this year. I will need the occasional return visit now and then. But I have peace of mind now, self acceptance, and the pain is gone, washed away from me forever. I am free.
It only takes one abuser to cause a lifetime of pain, but it only takes one person, each of us, to start the healing process. It’s a decision each of us have to make for ourselves. It’s a gift we deserve.
I am a survivor.
Thank you so much, Linda, for sharing your story.
I hope that your story, and your site, inspires others to make the decision to stop the cycle of domestic violence. I hope that all victims, current or former, seek healing – be it on their own or with the help of a professional – and discover just how beautiful and deserving of love, safety and respect they really are.
If you’d like to share your survivor story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; it could help others realize that they’re not alone. You don’t have to share your real name with readers; I fully understand how important confidentiality can be when dealing with domestic violence situations. Thanks again for stopping by and I look forward to hearing your story.