What constitutes abuse? Is it a smack on the face? How about an unpleasant word? Is abuse something deeper or is just something that has to be construed as abuse by the victim of said abuse?

I’ve been in therapy since I was five. That’s about the time I realized I was “different” due to my disability. That’s a pretty early age to realize such a difference (typically kids begin to realize between 8-10, sometimes later). My doctors took no precautions in recommending I go to therapy. I don’t really remember much of it, except I got to play with toys and I never told my therapist anything of substance.

As I got older, and I began to realize my family was a bit dysfunctional, I walked around with a chip on my shoulder. In therapy, I wouldn’t share anything of importance and often treated my therapists like scum. I didn’t want to be there, so why not make them suffer, too? I was deemed a ‘problem child’ with my therapists soaking up every little word my parents said. They believed every half-truth and didn’t even question why I had anger or was struggling more than any normal teenager should.

What became apparent is after “coming out”, the real abuse began. To me, it is abuse. It was unwanted. It was unwarranted. It was unnecessary. The funny thing is, I blamed myself for it, that is until I got into college and “chose” to go to therapy. I had been in therapy so long, by this point, that it was a no-brainer I’d seek out a therapist myself. Except, this time I didn’t ignore my therapist. I didn’t make up things just so they’d leave me alone. I actually spoke to my therapist. I actually explained to them what was going on in my life and for the first time, someone said…”did you ever think this isn’t your fault?”

I’d been so used to being blamed for everything that it was a revolutionary, almost empowering, feeling. I saw my therapist more frequently after that and I began to re-live moments from earlier times in my life. There were signs, early on, that not everything was as it should be in my home. In public, my family tried to paint a perfect, “caring” and involved picture, but beneath my fake smile and bubbling personality was the pain of living in a dysfunctional home.

They say abuse repeats itself. I remember the person who abused me telling almost the same story. This person had been beaten down by their parents. This person had been constantly told it was their fault. This person blamed themselves until someone outside the situation observed that perhaps it wasn’t this person’s fault. This isn’t just a case of history repeating itself. This is a case of a cycle of abuse continuing. I’ve tried my hardest not to continue this cycle with my own son. Some days, it’s incredibly hard not to revert to the only way I knew existed for families, but every day is a new day and I’ve made great strides in this area.

This person is no longer in my life. It doesn’t matter if the story told is that I’m an abandoning, brainwashed person who doesn’t give a lick about their family. I had to break that cycle for my own piece of mind. For my own family, I had to make sure that I had a clean break from my past. Unfortunately, this person believes I’m prone to exaggerations and that what they did to me wasn’t truly abuse (but isn’t that what their own abusers said?). I’ve had to come to grips with that and I’ve been writing my thoughts down to help me get through this and move past this.

So, why am I writing this? As part of the cleansing of my soul, I’m writing a book on my life. I’m explaining events in my life that have made me who I am. My goal is to make others see that despite a multitude of obstacles placed in our paths, we can overcome them and live healthy, happy and relatively sane existences. It has taken me almost 30 years to realize that.

That being said, I want to know what you consider abuse?

Is berating someone abusive? How about holding them down physically in any way or for any reason? Obsessing over your child’s appearance to the point of making them miserable? Trying to live vicariously through your child and then blaming them for not following your set path? Something else?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on this matter.

[tags]abuse, child abuse, what is abuse, physical, mental, emotional, disability, parenting, harmful, berating[/tags]

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