Child Abuse and Mental Health Survivors Information - Issue #73
Oh the Shame!
This week, as you’ll see in the first link below, I’ve been thinking a lot about shame. As I read more about friendships and loneliness I am so disheartened. Shame prevents us from being vulnerable, which prevents us from connecting with other people. Abuse survivors often miss the benefits of that connection and we get to live with the stress involved required to keep secrets and hide our vulnerability, and there are thousands of studies that show all of the poor mental and physical health impacts of that stress, all because of something our abuser did.
We never had a choice in the matter. It’s now on us to heal and overcome that shame. It starts with telling our stories.
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New From the Blogs
This week, I've been reading Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make--and Keep--Friends by Marisa Franco. (I get a commission for purchases through this link)
I'm only part-way through the book, but something Marisa talks about in Part One struck me as it relates to abuse survivors. I'll start with the quote and then get into the details:
“Anything unspeakable to you is affecting you”
The context for this quote is a handful of stories where someone felt ashamed of an event or something that they'd allowed people to believe about them that wasn't true. Marisa goes on to talk about how when we have something we won't discuss, it creates a separation from other people, and that separation can take away from humanness. Our interactions with other people are blocked off. We know we aren't sharing our whole selves with the people we should be. That block can protect us from potential pain, but it also prevents us from having all the benefits of having close relationships with other humans.
Doesn't that sound exactly like growing up keeping our abuse secret?
It is true. As much as you might love your partner and want to support them, there are ripple effects that impact well beyond the individual survivor. Those ripple effects are painful, and we can acknowledge that pain without diminishing the pain of being the direct victim. All of it sucks, and all of it is the fault of the abuser.
There's no one else to blame, just a lot of people left to struggle. Let's do what we can to support all of them.
Related, even though it should be listed under Shared From Elsewhere - Supporting a Loved One in the Aftermath of Sexual Assault
Free Training on Being Trauma Aware - It is designed for folks who work or volunteer with children but after reading the description, I assume that the information would benefit anyone who wants to understand trauma and the lasting effects of trauma on friends, family members, or kids they interact with regularly.
Shared from Elsewhere
The more you know - 8 Educational Podcasts to Learn About Mental Health and Psychology.
Loneliness and increased risk of depression, anxiety and severe mental health difficulties - Once again we see the negative impacts of not being connected to each other.
Discovering this heavy load is not easy. I did not ask to use it, it was imposed upon me, and the bad habits I now carry are in my mind, not in my back. And the detachment from it is painful, truths and lies mixed in the same package.
From the Archives
In the end, you are you. What works for 51% of the population doesn’t work for the other 49%, even if we use those numbers to say it works “most of the time”. Being part of the other 49% isn’t that unbelievable.
This was real live people being murdered, or forced to murder others, for the simple purpose of entertainment. How depraved must the Romans have been to allow this to happen? Of course, I quickly realized that this could also be easily explained by one of the things I learned long ago in the professional world. When you do not see someone as a real person, it’s easier and easier to treat them in a less than humane way.
We talk often about how to support someone who is struggling, and in those conversations, we talk about spending less time worrying about what to say, and more time just being present. On the other hand, there are absolutely things you should not say, and if you find yourself starting sentences with “At least”, I want you to reconsider. I want you to think about how using those two words completely obliterates any space for what someone is actually feeling in that moment, and sends the message that what they are feeling is, in fact, invalid. Instead of offering support and understanding, their emotional struggle is met with “it could be worse…”
Don’t do that.