The Lifelong Impact of Child Abuse (Grieving a Beloved Parent)

The Lifelong Impact of Child Abuse (Grieving a Beloved Parent) |

Once upon a time, a baby boy was born to one very loving parent and (sadly) to one very harmful parent. No matter how loving the loving parent was, and no matter how much the little boy tried to connect with the harmful parent, the harmful parent hurt the child.

This child was a victim of child abuse—a long-term stress that the brain is not built to endure. An abuser violates a child like this by choosing to:

  • emotionally neglect the child

  • call the child names

  • demean the child

  • insult the child

  • shame the child

  • humiliate the child

  • swear at the child

  • criticize the child’s strengths and achievements

  • tell the child they can’t do anything right

  • prevent the child from attending meaningful activities

  • manipulate the child to speak first, to discover the child’s weaknesses

  • use the child’s weaknesses to exploit the child

  • threaten to create the child’s worst fear

  • manipulate the child to do unwanted acts

  • bully the child, claiming “expert” authority to do so

  • imitate, mock, and use sarcasm on the child

  • gas-light the child

  • stage negative surprises on the child

  • stalk the child

  • confront the child where the abuser holds power

  • direct intimidating stares toward the child

  • direct intimidating tones toward the child

  • direct intimidating body language toward the child

  • threaten the child with violence (even if it isn’t carried out)

  • abuse others in front of the child

  • shout at the child

  • rage at the child

  • damage the child’s belongings

  • chase down the child

  • pull the child’s hair

  • drag the child by the hair

  • bite the child

  • slap the child

  • hit the child

  • punch the child

  • kick the child

  • don’t allow the child to eat or sleep safely

  • play dumb to the child’s needs

  • fake frailty in front of the child

  • force the child to fulfill the abuser’s responsibilities

  • refuse to respond to the child’s calls/messages

  • manipulate facts when talking to the child: lie, exaggerate, understate, accuse

  • twist stories about the child to present the child as someone they’re not

  • spread unfathomable rumors, far and wide, about the child

  • deny abusing the child

  • minimize abuse of the child

  • make excuses for abusing the child

  • claim someone else abused the child

  • mock the abuse of the child

  • refuse to take responsibility for abusing the child

  • sarcastically/meaningfully/never apologize for the abuse—then repeat the abuse

  • force the child to apologize for the abuser’s abuse

  • delay fact finding to protect the abuser from accountability

  • etc. (sadly, there are many more ways to abuse)

Many people believe a child isn’t abused unless someone witnesses the abuse. Many people believe a child isn’t abused unless someone sees bruises on a child. Many people believe child abuse ends at a certain age, place, or time. However, it’s vital to know:

  • child abuse happens when nobody is around to witness it

  • child abuse happens quietly, around a corner

  • child abuse happens slyly, in conversation

  • child abuse happens sarcastically, in front of guests

  • child abuse happens angrily, out in the open

  • child abuse happens every night, after the abuser walks through the door

  • child abuse happens right before the abuser happily answers the phone

  • child abuse happens right before the abuser smiles and welcomes guests to a party

  • abused children often do everything in their power to hide the abuse

  • abuse toward the child, all too often, continues on and on—daily, weekly, monthly—for years, even after the child is grown

Many people believe child abuse can be easily overcome, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Science tells us that child abuse is like taking snippers to a child’s brain, cutting the brain’s wiring, forcing the brain to rewire itself, which can trigger brain damage.  This can cause the child to potentially suffer a lifetime of permanent challenges, such as:

  • the inability to tell the difference between safety and danger

  • the inability to trust those closest to them

  • the inability to interpret neutral information as neutral

  • the inability to control impulses

  • the inability to remember

  • the inability to learn

  • the inability to use serotonin (the neurotransmitter that creates a sense of well-being and emotional stability)

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • addiction

  • PTSD

  • suicide

  • aggression

  • autoimmune illness

  • etc.

If all of this was not devastating enough, victims of child abuse receive a default destiny: they are more likely to live a future that is filled with more abuse.

Victims of child abuse often believe they are experiencing a life that is normal. Victims of abuse often don’t realize they are actually being abused.

So victims of abuse often don’t know what non-abusive humans look like, sound like, or act like. Also, healthy behaviors can feel odd or uncomfortable to a victim. This can make it hard for a victim to trust healthy people, emotions or situations…especially for prolonged periods of time.

Victims of abuse do know what looks and feels familiar to them, which they can be unwittingly drawn to. So a victim of abuse, while growing up, can be easily drawn to, surrounded by, and victimized by more abusers. Abusers can be female or male, young or old, rich or poor.

Tragically, a victim may unwittingly live out their entire life with abusers due to the impact of abuse on the victim’s neurochemistry.

Some of the reasons an abuser will abuse their victims:

  • abusers witnessed abuse while growing up

  • abusers were abused while growing up

  • abusers were taught/encouraged to abuse

  • abusers have a thinking pattern (value system) that rationalizes/justifies abuse

  • abusers maintain relationships so they can violate—exercise power and control over—their victims

    • abusers suppress their victim’s potential

    • abusers exploit their victim

    • abusers manipulate their victim into taking unwanted action

    • abusers make their victim feel inferior

    • abusers malign their victim

    • abusers make their victim look and feel bad in the eyes of others

    • abusers intentionally confuse their victim

    • abusers force their victim off balance

    • abusers make their victim feel fear/uncertainty

    • abusers manipulate their victim into handling the abuser’s responsibilities

    • abusers manipulate their victim into acquiescing to the abuser’s demands

    • abusers malign their victim for doing what the abuser told the victim to do

    • abusers work hard to hide an abuser’s flaws, weaknesses, and abuse

  • abusers want to feel psychologically superior

  • abusers don’t care if they harm their victims

  • abusers are filled with jealousy because they cannot connect lovingly with others (such as with their spouse or child, ironically often due to the abuse the abuser inflicts on these victims)

Nobody is immune from becoming a victim of abuse. Abusers can capture you, too, and you may never even realize it.

The most unimaginable form of abuse: when an abuser takes something innocent and twists it into something dirty…to scare the victim into quietly submitting to the abuser…and to prevent the victim from doing things like bonding with their very own child.

When an abuser can no longer control their victim, an abuser will control what others think of their victim. Meaning, the abuser will double-down on the victim, through conversations with others.

As master manipulators, if an abuser doesn’t have information with which they can harm their victim, the abuser will search their own brain for something only an abuser could fathom. And the more time one spends listening to an abuser, the more likely one is to believe what that abuser says.

This means that every time a third party automatically believes an abuser, that third party and the abuser both take part in:

  • killing the victim’s spirit

  • killing the victim’s self-worth

  • killing the victim’s self-confidence

  • killing the victim’s self-respect

  • killing the victim’s reality

  • killing the victim’s truth

  • killing the victim’s reputation

  • killing the victim’s safety

  • killing the victim’s health

This re-traumatizes a victim, over and over. Rarely is there a clean escape from abuse.

One never imagines that they’ll be abused at the exact time that they most need to be loved.

A victim often gives an abuser the benefit of the doubt, over and over. A victim often believes that, in their moment of need, an abuser will be loving…at least then. A victim often trusts that nobody could be so heinous as to want to harm the victim—emotionally, psychologically, verbally, or otherwise—when the victim is most in need of loving care.

May you never witness such heartbreak.

There are no words to prepare one for the loss of their beloved parent.

Especially if it’s a beloved parent who never laid a hand on you.  Especially if it’s a beloved parent who gently held, snuggled, carried, and comforted you as a child. Especially if it’s a beloved parent who was abused.

To further understand how an abuser can impact the entire lifetime of a victim:

To help demystify abusers and to learn to protect ourselves (before we even meet an abuser, so we can spot them from afar), the resources below are invaluable. While many abuse resources are written with the assumption that an abuser is always male, that is a myth. An abuser can be female or male, young or old, rich or poor:

To help sort out the confusion of abusers who are also mentally ill, the resources below can be invaluable:

Post a Comment:

I love hearing from others, so I would absolutely love to hear from you. Please know that it's okay to post anonymously to protect yourself online (I completely understand that). And please know that your email address will not be published. XO