Growing up in an abusive environment can be really depressing. Breaking from any form of abuse can be equally tough for an abused person. Much harder is overcoming the fear and pains that characterize the assault. It could be very devastating having to visualize oneself being victimized. It could as well be disheartening to be unable to attack the abuser nor defend oneself. More painful is having to suffer abuse from people that were supposedly meant to love and show us affection. For non-victims, it could be difficult to quantify the severity of the anguish abused people had to pass through during their assault. Their self-worthiness is often diminished. Consequentially, they often result to mistrustfulness which may have undue impacts on their subsequent relationships.
Furthermore, abuse survivors tend to define themselves according to the words and actions of their assaulter, thus lowering their self-esteem. This is often made possible by the bearing tactics the abusers use on their victims in order to justify their acts. Some of these tactics include fear, guilt, threats, shame, intimidation, and molestation. This is even more severe in cases where the abuser is a close acquaintance of the victim. Often, survivors are left with little or nothing to rely on for healing. Apparently, abuse victims result to fighting themselves after each abuse, in part as a way of comforting themselves for the emotional trauma they are passing through.
Some of the victims also have a way of shying away from the reality or making excuses for their abusers. They also sometimes delude themselves to believing they were responsible for the abuse they were subjected to. As time goes on, abused survivors get used to being physically, emotionally and psychologically pained as a result of the fears they have had to live with. A number of the fears and pains experienced by these people are as follows:
- Physical Fears and Pains: The fear and disgust of looking into an abuser’s eyes could be really terrifying. This prevents abused people from standing up against their abusers. Sometimes, this fear may be as a result of the survivor’s dependence on the attacker for some needs. Such needs may include, shelter, food, finance, love, companionship, and skill acquisition. The fear of losing such necessities is enough to kill the morale of the victim. Submitting to such fears for a long time often acclimatize the victims to physical pains. Moreover, the abused person often gets used to crying as well experiencing emotional. In this regard, the victim may possibly lose his/her mind, take to using dangerous drugs, engage in prostitution, or even become equally abusive.
- Psychological Fears and Pains: In societies where social inequalities relative to differences in sex, race, income, class and disability are predominant, victims (especially sexual abuse victims) of abuse might dread voicing out their ordeals in the hands of their assaulters. This is because they fear to subject themselves to stigmatization or possibly being marked as an outcast in the society. This is a peculiar reason why survivors of sex abuse find it very tough to report their assault. Also, in cases of mental abuse (such as yelling, screaming, threatening, mocking, name-calling), survivors might suffer fear of being rejected in future relations and therefore keep unnecessary boundaries around themselves. This might prevent the victim from being able to express themselves when future occasions demand. Furthermore, the fear of inflicting such abuse on other people might lead the survivors to isolate themselves from other people, thus making them become redundant.
- Emotional Fears and Pains: Most survivors of sex abuse are occupied with fears of never having to get over the assault for the larger part of their lifetime. The fear of journeying through life with such grievous past inflict inestimable grief on victims. Each time the survivor is abused, he/she get terrified by the thoughts of being abused over again. Even when such a person is free from the assault, they still try to imagine themselves being assaulted again. This could be depersonalizing. Such emotional trauma takes considerable time to heal, while some might never go away. These fear and anguish often lead the victim to self-disgust. The abused people often hate themselves and may find it extremely impossible to trust and believe in their abilities. In extreme cases, the survivor, due to constant flashbacks, may be unable to bear the sorrow anymore and give into suicidal thoughts.
Overcoming some of the above described fears could be painstaking. Due to the severity of some of the points mentioned above, victims of assault might never be able to revert to their old self fully. However, the odds are that with the right measures, the abused people should be able to overcome their fears, the subsequent pains, and become better people overtime. Possible measures to be taken in overcoming the fears are in two-fold:
- Personal Measures: These are essentially the more important of the two measures. This is because no one can understand what you went through during the assault. It is outrightly your war to fight and your battle to win. Deciding on how, when, and why to overcome these fears are essentially up to you. Nevertheless, it is essential to note the below facts as you overcome the abuse.
- Identify the form of abuse as soon as you can
- Stand up against the abuser if you think you can
- Avoid the assaulter as much as you can, if possible
- Communicate the issue with someone you trust
- Accept the experience even though you might never forget it
- Forgive yourself and the abuser. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It simply means you are strong enough to move on
- Give yourself time to rediscover yourself. Don’t rush yourself into quick recovery. The wounds need time to heal.
- Social Measures: These include all kinds of measures you can get from people other than yourself. These include the following:
- Seeking therapy from professional therapists
- Reporting the assault to authorities
- Joining a support group
- Surrounding yourself with those who value your importance
- Listening, reading or talking to people that have recovered from such abuse
The basic idea is to free your mind as much as you can from the fear that might prevent you from recovering from the abuse. Trust yourself as you begin the process of fighting these evils. It might be really tough at first, but it would surely be worthwhile.
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