You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.Rumi
How come, I still feel responsible for having been sexually abused as a child? Maybe it was all my fault after all? Maybe, if I’d just told my grown up grandfather that he doesn’t have my consent, maybe he would have stopped raping me? Maybe all of my trauma is actually caused by me?
It’s an odd assumptions to make, right? But every now and then, I am haunted by these thoughts. There is a certain mechanism working my brain, that just won’t allow me to see myself as the victim and survivor of childhood abuse.I find this very interesting. I am pretty sure that to an outsider this must seem strange.
It seems completely illogical to a ‘healthier’ soul. And yet, this is what we survivors of abuse
often find ourselves pondering. We think that maybe on some level ,we provoked it. Maybe we didn’t make it clear enough that we don’t like, what’s being done to us or worst of all, maybe we believe on some level that we deserved it.
One of my all-time favourite YouTubers Lisa A. Romano, who brilliantly puts the abuse experience in all kinds of context, said “It’s not you, it’s your programming.” As I understand, she is talking about the subconscious messaging our mind, soul and even body received, when we were being abused.
This works, of course, perfectly when you’re a child and the people who raise you, gaslight and brainwash you. But I believe, it doesn’t really matter who abused you, when it happened and which kind of abusive behaviour it was, it will leave scars on your soul and the very essence of your being.
The abuser has to make sure to keep their victims’ confidence and self-respect down, because otherwise the victim might simply defend and protect themselves. There is a big danger in not actually realising that you are a victim of abuse, because your abuser told you it wasn’t. This can mean that even when you’re aware enough to seek help, like talking to a therapist, you might still in some why blame yourself for what happened.
Repressing the fact that you have been conditioned and gaslighted to not trust yourself, can stifle our ability to judge the behaviour of others and wreak havoc on the rest of your life. So, you might be careful when it comes to your known abuser, but you might still set yourself up for more abuse by others in the future.
Because it it not only the actual abuse itself – whether you were sexually, emotionally or physically abused, whether it happened within your family, your love relationship or work-life – it is also the invalidation of your feelings. When the abuser and their flying monkeys convince you, that you shouldn’t feel the way you feel, that you’re too emotional, that everything you’ve experienced is in fact not abuse at all and that there must be something wrong with you – it will take all of your strength to not let them get to you.
Hear this often enough and you shall believe it! When you are constantly treated like you don’t matter and your emotions are wrong, the message will mess with your entire being on a profound level.
If this happened in your childhood, when you’re very young and impressionable, it will for certainly leave its mark on you. Your family of origin and your environment will definitely influence the way you view the world, especially yourself. So, if your feelings were constantly invalidated, if your needs were not met, if you had to be quiet and never speak up for yourself, it most assuredly will lead you to the conclusion that you don’t matter at all. And you will take this feeling of unworthiness with you everywhere you go.
But I think, this can also happen later in life. Abusers are usually very cunning and skilled in the arts of gaslighting, projection and manipulation. If it is someone you love and trust, they might be able to lure you into their web of deception, even if you had a more positive childhood.
Just as dogma is so dangerous for our species in general, those sometimes subconscious negative feelings about ourselves have the power to hold us back and ruin our lifes. You will attract more people who abuse you and take advantage of you. Abusers are very skilled in picking their victims. So, if your self-conscious and don’t have a great foundation, you will be easy prey for them.
I recently heard an amazing quote (sorry, I’m not sure, who said it): “Be careful when somebody feels like home, if home wasn’t a safe place for you!” But because of your programming, abusers might exactly be the people you’ll feel “at home” with. And they will just reinforce the false messaging, you’d had to deal with your entire life. And maybe worst of all, you will start to confuse abuse with love.
This is why it is so important to remind yourself that no one has the tight to abuse you, no matter what their own history is. No one can talk themselves out of their responsibility for their actions. Don’t ever let them make you believe that things were all your fault and that you should never speak up for yourself.
It is very hard to let go of these deep-seeded false believes. But you can take it one step at the time and replace them with new mantras, like: “I deserve better.”, “I am lovable.” ,“I am allowed to make mistakes, because I am human” and “nobody has the right to abuse me!”
Don’t let anybody ever tell you differently!