All abused children will hopefully reach a point in their adult life in which their painful child abuse memories can be addressed where they feel able to start that process, a place where they will come to terms with the horrific atrocity that they were subjected to. The only unanswered question left to be addressed can only be as to when? The only one who is truly able to answer that question, in all honesty, is that inner child, that until now has been in hiding away from the world and may not feel strong enough just yet to trust that abused adult’s request. The journey of going within to engage with that childhood takes timing and child abuse survivors around the world that I have engaged with have always related to the statement of bringing their truth to the fore, of course with hindsight and recovery, they felt somewhat like they had underestimated that child’s strength.
Within that realisation and recognition of the mountains that they had crawled over on their journey towards recovery, it was visible just how far they had already come simply by surviving but that knowledge had taken time. At that point of movement, they were able to feel that strength within, just what that child had survived and the world of pain that they were exposed to so long ago. Until they connected with their inner child from the outside nothing could ever have really be revealed, it had to be one of the hardest things that they had ever had to do by taking that first step because it would have been just like walking into the abyss. What was in front of them was unknown and shrouded by a cloud of darkness, but they were somehow able within that moment of support strong enough to have bought the light to that place with acceptance of what they would find there.
In all honesty, it had to be as difficult as their journey whilst within their abusive years even though that abuse may be now firmly in the past, so why would that child want to come out of the shadows and unearth all that pain and trauma? Their objection will carry a lot of weight and there will be a lot of haggling to be done before they allow to be taken by their tentative outstretched hand, their adult self will need to make that inner child feel safe and supported within that journey. So only when able they will reach back towards that pain and feel strong enough to meet that child and their grip would have needed to be firm and held with assurance, they are the only person who can bridge that gap and be able to meet somewhere in the middle because it’s no man’s land.
As their support they will look to you for reassurance for help to really see that this separation they have endured from within is one which no longer needs to be continued, they will be feeling anything other than sure about that very unfamiliar feeling of movement towards that hopeful and in time completed union. We need to remember that togetherness for them and feeling whole is something untried and tested because until now they have survived apart they had to and it has taken enormous strength in which to try, but what they may not be aware of is there is surely not much in this world of ours that they would not be able to contend with on the completion of this unity. When eventually emerging from this extremely dark place together and whole the person that stands there is in truth a complete stranger, they now have to learn within that unity it’s somewhat like a child taking their first step and they will feel more than a little wobbly at the onset.
At the start of their journey where they tentatively start to look for any support available to aid them it will still be a very difficult journey ahead, and it’s a completely new realisation to understand that support had always been there just waiting for this mutual connection. It’s now that they will not only find the camaraderie of other child abuse survivors around the world but also a network of caring professionals. At that time more than ever before they will need to learn how to trust but finding that trust in which to do so also takes practice, it can be far from being found just on opening that first door in truth it’s somewhat like they have to enter a maze in complete darkness, they question themselves as to if I enter will I ever find my way out if a panicked retreat is required?
Truthfully it’s was never going to be an easy road to walk for them and away from those chilling memories but at least they are now on their own two feet and moving and that’s immense progress, yes there will almost certainly be many false starts falls and faltering and that’s where they need to know and to be reassured that no one is counting. It’s movement and at times they will not be able to do anything other but fall but falling should be and can be used as an important part of recovery, just by the happening of the above they are still moving forwards just testing the water. An adult child abuse survivor should always be in charge of the speed of travel within their recovery, to see and feel that they have not relinquished any part of what they were still holding because they can’t afford to lose more, whilst inside their journey we need to state very clearly that we are there to give and not to take anything away because there is no other manner in which this journey will be successful.
Support means just that no longer do they have to shoulder this weight alone maybe now they start to feel truly understood by those waiting in the wings to offer that support, it needs to come in the direction of an outward source but only when requested, never should it be pushed upon them there is no easier way for them to lose that trust if the pressure is overriding. Support can really only ever be used to walk alongside them in their recovery because that’s where it needs to be, however much we may wish that we could do more and maybe even wished for by either party. It’s where in time we can and do watch that growth manifesting, the potential of this growth becomes far greater than their abuse with work and holding on to it is literally life changing. It’s also so important that we understand that boundaries will need to be given from the on start, this is necessary not only for the survivor but also for those supporting, because of the nature of this support we should never allow and always guard against possible codependency, neither are we there to create dependency ultimately what we are looking for is complete independence where they are able at last to stand alone.
When they finally enter a time frame in which they are able to feel movement towards support that transition will be difficult but they will come to see that they are no longer alone and that’s a huge difference. On arrival, their defence is firmly in place and their mind is full of questions bouncing around in their head, just how do you see them and the abusive road which they have travelled? Are you judging them? Do you think that it was their fault whilst they look for confirmation from you that it wasn’t? Are you wondering why they have kept quiet for so long? In all truth, their questions can be endless even if not spoken they are there. They have already lived within self-judgement for it seems like always and it’s for sure that they will feel completely alone unprotected and so very confused, they will always gauge your reaction to every question once asked and answered, because that child within has never found any positivity in this grown-up world and the adult they have become was never able to give that reassurance or understanding. But in truth how could they? Yes, they are now adults but we need to remember that they have also been carrying that child that was never able to heal from the abuse, and the spilt through the middle made the ground feel so unsafe as if it were moving from under them although they had done their best.
When this process begins a gentle reminder needs to be given that there are no right or wrong answers to those ever burning uncomfortable questions, working together we will create that much-welcomed safety net for that surviving adult and that very new union with their child in mutual recovery, there will be confusion whilst emerging as this very altered person it will be new to them and the blend may take some mixing. Of course, this will be an immensely difficult experience no doubt but once tried and tested it will be seen with remarkable realisation, they will see and understand that it’s a completely different situation to heal than their controlled journey of abuse, That they now have a voice and what’s more they were heard and it’s quite incredible to witness this manifestation of a new form emerging, just by the giving of our time support and understanding and the confirmation that all that now stands in their way is time before they stand within their own power.
Let’s just think about that for a moment and just how this has now manifested? They are now in a position where they are in complete control although still dealing with their emotions, they are no longer within that separation and their broken inner child that they have been defending for so very long now walks tall along with them. The strength and power this brings about are so very difficult to explain they are now an adult abuse survivor and it’s overwhelmingly felt within, they are really here despite the time and suffering it has taken to get there, they can now see the end of the road on this journey simply because they were the one controlling the speed of movement. Their journey began and should continue in the right way by guiding and not driven but it’s more than a little new for them to feel, what is this magically more in their life? But it will take time to get used to living without feeling life’s pain. It’s worth mentioning that so many adult abuse survivors after recovery and in their own time reach out themselves to others that still need the guidance that they had been given, they have travelled so far that they want to give back and just how amazing is that?
Everyone’s experience within a support network will be different and it may take time to find that person that they can start to trust, but what’s important here is that they have never stopped looking. They will become just that little bit stronger and more complete as each day passes and in time they will walk through the right door for them and out of the other side. There are so many labels attached to child abuse but complex trauma is by far the one that even comes close to any of them and in truth even that doesn’t cut the mustard, every experience of this journey has its own nature and is integral to the child concerned it should or could never be safe to second guess. A journey of past abuse can only be explained or felt from within that particular child because they will always be the one that has survived those particular events of trauma, it stands alone with all the ramifications that were so very devastating and long-lasting. But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone with the right help and with the right support in which to get there.
The first attempt to visit this journey of support may not be the right journey for that particular person for so many reasons, and I would never be able to list them all here even if I tried to do so I would never get it right. The support that they are looking for may not be clear even to them at that time but they need to make their own choice and at times it may be unexplainable. But if we were to look at this a little closer for them it’s just like moving a muscle that until now has never been flexed, and this freedom of thought and recognition leaves them feeling completely in the unknown. It takes time to really believe that it’s safe because they are just waiting for that other shoe to fall from above whilst covering their head awaiting the impact.
Getting it right needs to be explored and it can result in hours of complete silence but it’s required and surely needed this is the place where they start and are trying to trust, within this silence they are doing no more than trying to judge that another sitting in front of them. It’s a process of elimination that may never move away from that space in time, and where they can’t find or see movement with that particular support and this is completely normal and should be seen and observed by both. It’s not difficult to understand we all gel with others differently or some not at all and for an abused child in adult recovery this is felt tenfold and not trusted, they need to feel completely secure and if that’s not the right place for them there will be another in which they can find that connection.
In time the right place for all can be achieved because along the way they are dipping into that sore place within more often, and it can be a case of simply not arriving at the right place at the first time in asking. It may seem or even perceived as if that time was not profitable within that encounter but that’s so very far away from the truth, encouragement was given even if not spoken and if it’s only minimal that should never be discarded. If we were to look at it another way they have in fact been allowed to choose and that’s a mighty big deal for a child abuse survivor, they have been able to walk away without feeling any restraint and able to approach another open door when they are ready to try again. And it’s just that little bit less feared which means that the support has indeed made a dent or chip in the armour of their struggle to find themselves, nothing is wasted when freely given to a child abuse survivor every little gesture allows them a feeling of hope and helps to soothe their emotions that they now matter has been taken in and it sits in residency within.
Everyone involved in this process even though it may have only been days or many months we will all be a part of that recovery journey no matter how large or small our input may have been. Our support wherever or however has mattered we have been part of that chain of support, simply because we have allowed and encouraged those steps to be taken. For one I always feel so completely humbled in any which way I may have played a part in this struggle against the ongoing fight against child abuse, each one of them had a right to a childhood in which they were loved and protected and regrettably we can’t change their past or rid them of their horrific memories but what we can do is to be there for them now.
When a child abuse survivor reaches out all we can ever really do is our best in reaching back it will always be enough…………