We live in a broken world where, sadly, many people suffer all different kinds of abuse as children. Sexual, physical, emotional abuse – or maybe a combination – happen to more people than you realize. Most often, people choose to ignore their pain, and grow up to be adults that have gaping wounds in their hearts. For many people, they don’t even know where to begin to heal, or maybe they just don’t even realize life can be any different.
Of course, when we don’t acknowledge the hard stuff of life, the wounds don’t heal properly. If you break your foot, but don’t say you did, and go on with life – it won’t heal well, and you will end up walking with a limp forever. The same is true with our emotional and relational well-being. Many survivors of childhood abuse tell themselves “this is just how life is” or “I’m worthless so life can’t get any better” – or other thoughts like that.
Unfortunately, when we live stuck like that – things don’t get better. Maybe as you’ve gotten older you realize you work too hard to please people – and you are never happy. Perhaps you were sexually abused, and that’s how you think you should get love – and you’ve slept around more than you want to admit. Or it could’ve gone the other way – after your abuse, you retreated and cut yourself off from others and now you are lonely. Maybe you got married and work to have a good relationship, but sex is just too overwhelming after your past experiences. All abuse – no matter the kind – sends the message that the one who was abused is worthless. Believing this lie impacts how you see yourself and how the choices you make in every area of life.
It’s true that childhood abuse leaves all kinds of deep wounds. However, healing is possible. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck in the lies and you can learn to have healthy, satisfying relationships. Let’s talk about how.
Tell your abuse story. Maybe you were hurt once, or maybe repeatedly over a long period of time. It could be your confused if what happened to you is actually considered “abuse”. Here’s the thing: if it felt wrong to you, if you get upset thinking about it, and if it still bothers you today – you need to talk about it. When we pretend things didn’t happen, those thoughts get more power. When we say the hard things out loud, something changes – pulling those devastating memories into the light, they lose some of the impact. A major element of abuse is isolation – abusers count on it. They want you to keep quiet, not just so they don’t get caught – but also because they get more power over you. Even if the behavior is over now – you aren’t being abused now – you still need to take your power back and tell your story to a trusted person. You are not meant to go through this alone.
Commit to the hard work of healing. Taking back your power includes working hard at your healing. You can’t go around the hard work, you have to go through it. But, oh let me tell you, it’s so worth it. You need to find the lies in your head that play on repeat – lessons you learned as a kid enduring abuse – and pull those lies out. Those thoughts are so familiar to you, that letting them go may seem impossible. I promise, you can do it.
As you reclaim your power, you need to learn to trust people. This is a long and slow process. You need to learn how to identify safe people that will care for you, hear you, value you. Share little pieces of you and see how people respond. Bit by bit, you’ll learn who is safe and who isn’t.
No matter what your abuse story looks like, you can overcome it, and change your story going forward. You can reclaim power, work hard to find healing, and find safe, loving relationships.
At Lime Tree Counseling, I support people seeking healing from all kinds of abuse. As a professional counselor, I have years of experience teaching people to find those lies, replace them with truth, and look at their abuse stories with a new perspective. I provide PTSD and Trauma Treatment especially for abuse survivors. I also offer Anxiety Treatment for those who’s fear and worry seems to run their lives. And when abuse has impacted your marriage, I offer Marriage Counseling to help you and your spouse better understand each other.
Choose to begin your new story today and contact me for an appointment. Discover life as you were meant to live.