Memories of abuse are haunting, troubling

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By John Lapp

Having had the privilege of being able to help many survivors (more than a hundred) of childhood abuse, I’ve heard the many memories that were presented by the adults who have been able to, eventually, recover from the devastating effects of this type of horror.
I’m not sure that the terrorists of today would rank worse than the predator, because more often than not, the predator is a member of the family, a person that the child should be able to trust when they are present with each other. The predator is usually a trusted person with whom the child’s caretaker is familiar, so the child therefore is considered to be safe.
One such young woman, a mother of three, came to counseling due to what she presented as a troubled marriage. She admitted that she was having a difficult time trusting her husband when she had occasion to leave the children in his care. While not actually believing that he wouldn’t be a good, caring father, she nevertheless had some reservations.
Eventually, after discussing several aspects of the marital relationship, she revealed that she had struggled with most of the men in her life, brother, brothers-in-law, grandfather, and others. She had also struggled with others in her life with whom she had dated when she was a teenager. Eventually, as the sessions continued over the next several weeks, she revealed with much emotion, including crying, that she wanted to tell me something that she had never told anybody. That something was that she had several times been victimized by her biological father, and that it had also happened to her sister.
Now, without getting into the very nasty and horrible details of what transpired after this had taken place, she said things like, “I loved him very much,” “I was always able to trust him,” “We went to church every Sunday, and on the way to church we would all sing songs as we traveled. It use to be fun before this happened, but after that I could not sing anymore as we traveled.”
As much as that was revealed, it was also revealed that she told her mother who chose not to do anything about it, perhaps because she seemed to not believe the report.
To this daughter, not only did she suffer the horrible effects of the abuse, but along with that she experienced a sort of neglect abuse when her mother ignored her story. Along with that, when eventually, as an adult, she confronted her father with her feelings, her father not only denied that it happened, but also had the support of the sister who chose to deny that it had actually happened to her.
Now, with the two parents doing nothing about it, and now her only sister denying it, she felt fully abandoned. This almost caused her to end her own life, but due to the children, she chose to do what she could to get well herself, with help in counseling. She was eventually able to choose to isolate herself from the family of origin and concentrate on taking care of herself.
She eventually was able to overcome this and wrote about it in a beautiful presentation, one of the statements being, “I could not understand how I could overcome these insufferable effects on my life ... and now I know why I used to pray ‘God, help my Daddy to stop doing this to me, or let him die on his way home from work.’” She used to feel guilty praying this way when she was a child, but eventually was able to believe that a loving God did not, and would never, hold guilty a child who would pray this way.
I told her that when she prayed this way, God would have cried with her, also feeling her pain.
This woman, who was in her early 30s, felt that she had finally rid herself of this devastating pain especially after, as she described it, “I passed the pain back to him and let him live with it in any way he chose.”
With that, although she experienced a phase of guilt for sounding so vindictive, she eventually felt comfortable and satisfied that she had rid herself of the pain and passed it to him.
There are other examples that could emerge at this time, but suffice it to say, no matter who it happens to, or how often it has happened, or whatever age it all began with the victim, it is usually considered to be the most cruel, abusive, non-loving action which should always be followed with prison time.
I fully agree with these feelings, although it still falls within the parameters of “can this type of behavior receive forgiveness?” The answer when presented may include something like “well, yes ... but, then again ... maybe not,” or “with God, yes, but probably not with humans.”
It is possible to get beyond this type of behavior if this has happened to you or someone else you care about. Although it may take effort and time to eventually heal this pain, it will be well worth the effort. Please don’t let this be carried any further in your life. You’re worth more than that.
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