It is National Child Abuse Awareness Month. I attempt to put a spotlight on these types of issues when the spotlights from other sources go dim…when it is not a national awareness month. However, I will not neglect the opportunity that these awareness months provide…an opportunity to share details that may otherwise not receive focus.
Many may not realize that I am a survivor of many things, one of which is child abuse. Child abuse comes in many forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. I had the unfortunate situation of experiencing most of these forms of child abuse starting at the age of 5.
I was just a little girl when a man decided he was going to take advantage of my tiny little body to gratify his sexual urges. My innocence was stolen, and he told me that it was my fault. This sexual abuse continued through most of my childhood and went on to also include exploiting me through child sexual abuse material.
As with most others who experience this form of child abuse, I also experienced physical abuse and psychological abuse. I was hit and kicked and screamed at and devalued. I was a bother. I was someone on whom he could take out his frustrations. I was someone who could never do right, never be right. I was told I would never amount to anything. I was told it was my fault. I was told that if I said anything to anyone that I would get into trouble, and someone would take my sister away.
I lived in fear. I lived knowing that I could not express happiness, or he would be sure to ruin it. I lived believing I was not good enough. I lived feeling dirty and ugly. I lived feeling different than the kids around me.
I went on to experience things in my adult life that I likely would not have if I had not experienced what I did as a child. Other abusers prey on people like me who had not had an opportunity to heal from the things I had experienced. They often prey on the most vulnerable.
I am not the only one who has lived these types of experiences. Sometimes I think that people read the words on a page and do not comprehend that this is real life for many children. It makes people uncomfortable to read these things. They read the stories, feel brief discomfort and maybe some compassion, and then close the story and go on with their lives. Can you imagine this being your everyday life?
Watch this month for additional posts about child abuse, child abuse prevention, and what to do if a child you know is showing signs of abuse or has shared with you that they are being abused. Let's make a difference in the lives of the precious children who experience these horrors.