One thing that most trauma survivors have in common is a knack for dissociating from the pain filled moments in their memory. It’s an act of survival that we have mastered; we do it without even having to try. The thing about coping skills is that you don’t always learn healthy ones until after the fact. I fell into that category. How do you prepare for living in an environment that is hostile and dangerous emotionally, psychologically, and physically? Unless you are raised in a situation like this you have no idea what is happening. Most women who are victimized by domestic violence find themselves in a similar place. The shock of their reality is swift and paralyzing. It’s happening and escalating in real-time and before they can get their heads wrapped around it the bottom drops out.
Children who grow up in war-torn areas know the reality of fighting as a part of daily life. Here in the United States the wars are less apparent and the explosions are not always felt or heard by anyone but the abused. I know this because it is my truth. I lived in a war zone in the midst of millions of people for years and no one knew my personal hell. The psychology of abuse is not easy to understand if you haven’t experienced it. Have you heard of Trauma Bonding? It is when strong emotional ties develop between two people where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. It suggests that the victim assimilates the best they can to survive. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself, and when a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat. Every battle waged moves the borders of acceptance a bit closer, and every crime committed blurs the lines of reality a little more. Life becomes nothing but shades of gray as the mind shoves the truth so deeply down that it becomes indecipherable.
Exactly how does one go about losing memories of personal experiences that have transpired? I wish I could explain it because it’s something that I have become incredibly adept at. I have found no road map into the mind that anyone can explain it to me. It’s something that will leave you feeling incredibly lost if you find yourself here. My mind constructed a maze to protect itself from the reality of my life…heavy stuff. It’s like a fox who chews off its own foot in order to sever itself from a trap. It doesn’t want to do it. It may not even realize it is doing it. The shock of the situation is enough to cause it to act unconsciously to save itself. So does our mind…it creates a buffer for our soul by submerging the recollections of our reality deeply under a theoretical veil. Emotional sabotage is just another reality of this war.
Isn’t that they way of the human spirit though? We want to survive. We look for the silver lining and hope against hope that there will be a happy ending some how. It is in our nature to fight for freedom and to search for a way out of the darkness. Our spirits know what serves us best. I lived this way for longer than I should have, hoping he would be healed, change, or even leave. The fine details aren’t important now, but the psychology behind it is. How did I, a child from a happy family, allow another to treat me so badly?
Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. It has no boundaries against color, race, sex, religion, or socio-economics. In fact, it is one of the few things that is truly all-inclusive. In understanding the patterns, the cycle, and the red flags of abuse we can find a way to prevent the entrance of an abuser into our lives. People do not come into this world hardwired to abuse people, that clearly is a learned behavior. Children growing up in homes were domestic violence is prevalent will have a much higher risk of repeating the behavior that they learned. At the very core of the resistance to this every growning problem is our own self-worth. It is critical for us to educate our youth, both boys and girls alike. They must know that are of value; this is our best weapon in the prevention of future generations having to live with domestic violence.
We all have dings in our armor. It’s not easy growing up especially when so many of us have had to self parent in one way or another. Even if you are blessed with the most idea of situations you can find the dings. Where do our insecurities come from? Some are learned from experience and other seem to have just been born with us. As a parent I know that it is imperative to honor my children for who they are, and to simply guide them along. It’s not easy, but I find that honesty goes a long way. Most of us were handed an out of date “How To Guide” from our parents who in turn had received a similar one from their parents. Generational beliefs are tough to break because we seem to hold onto them as though they are a part of us.
I am doing my best to shine a light on the shortcomings in my life. If it could happen to me then it can happen to anyone. I have done deep personal work and looked at those embarrassing personal deficiencies; all the insecurities that I tried to hide away and really wish I hadn’t. How would my life had been different if I had been taught to celebrate my quirks? Low self-worth has become endemic for our youth in this society and we need to find a way around it. If you don’t have a sense of self-worth then you have no shot at self-esteem.
We need to be actively be teaching this stuff in schools. Kids need to know that they can celebrate who they are without omitting their flaws and that their quirks (that we all have) just add to their lives. We need them to know that they shouldn’t dim their light for anyone else’s sensitive eyes; they should walk tall and hold their heads up high and embrace themselves for the perfectly imperfect people that they are. You don’t have to fall down the rabbit hole when you hit adolescence you just need to be guided to find your value as a human being and learn to celebrate your magnificent quirks.