Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse can take
the form of any act of physical, emotional or sexual abuse perpetrated
against a child. Child abuse can also take the form of neglect--ignoring
the child's emotional and or physical needs. Child abuse can and does
take place outside of the family--with stepfamilies, foster families
HOW TO TELL IF YOU WERE ABUSED AS A CHILD
Sometimes it is very
difficult to be sure whether or not you actually were abused as a
child. You may be blocking memories because you are not yet ready
to cope with them all on your own. Here are some questions to ask
yourself which may help you to be more sure about the past (from J.
Patrick Gannon, Soul Survivors):
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM SURVIVOR OF CHILD
Being an adult survivor
of child abuse means that you or someone your care about endured the
pain of child abuse and survived it. Unfortunately, the survival tactics
used to cope with the abuse can later get in the way of productive
and satisfying adult lives. Dr. Gannon lists some of the "symptoms"
of "survivors syndrome":
Problems--fighting, blaming, mistrusting, poor communication
skills and difficulty with intimacy.
- Low Self
Esteem--self doubt, self blame, shame.
Sabotage--self destructive or self mutilating behavior.
Problems--sexual inhibition or promiscuity, flashbacks
to abusive experiences during sexual contact, inability to achieve
orgasm, pain or numbing during intimacy.
of Trauma--feelings of fear, panic, agitation, anxiety,
numbing of bodily areas, nightmares, multiple personalities, feelings
of being disconnected from body.
Ailments--includes psychosomatic illnesses, stomachaches,
eating disorders, skin disorders, asthma, headaches and phobias.
CAN ADULT SURVIVORS OF CHILD ABUSE OVERCOME
it is possible for survivors to recover from the abuse syndrome. The
recovery process can be a difficult one. The road to a healthy resolution
of an abusive childhood involves deep self exploration and sometimes
painful recollection of past events and people.
Recovery is very difficult
to achieve by yourself. There a variety of sources to which you may
turn for help:
about abuse survival is a helpful and gentle way for you to
begin to explore your own experience. Some books to look at (many
are available in the Center library and at most large bookstores):
Soul Survivors by J. Patrick Gannon, Ph.D.; The Courage
to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Abuse by Bassie
and Davis; There is a Way Out by Richard Yao.
Help Groups are a good place
to start and provide a good support system for someone going through
the self exploration process involved in recovery. Hearing others
recount their experiences of abuse will not only validate your own
feelings (which may be marked by confusion), but will give you a springboard
for resolving some of the conflicts these feelings evoke: Children
of Alcoholics: (800) 359-2623; Incest Survivors Anonymous: (800) 422-4453;
St. Vincent's Hospital Rape & Incest Crisis Program: (212) 604-8068.
may be a more comfortable mode for you to explore the past.
A counselor can lead you through the fear, pain and confusion of your
abusive experience and guide you supportively along the path of recovery.
If you or someone
you care about would like more information, come in and speak with
a professional counselor in 0203 James Hall. All services are free