The Guilt of Victims – Uncovering Abuse From Your Childhood

 

A Quick Disclaimer

Over the next few weeks I will be opening up and writing about domestic abuse. I will be writing solely from my experiences and will outline both mental and physical abuse. I want to outline my experiences and what I have done to deal with my past demons and how I’m moving forward with my life. This journey has left me confronting, not only my past, but also the issues these have left me with.

These posts will be highly personal and are intended to help others who are in the same situation while educating others. Please be respectful to myself and others if you intend to comment or share these experiences.

Abuse Rarely Happens in a Vacuum

I didn’t start dealing with the abuse I faced until I was well into my 30’s. It’s not really something I had considered until then. I had my issues and I had figured I was dealing with them the best I could. However, if I were truly deal with my issues I had to learn where they came from in the first place. 

This is not an easy task and often needs the help of a professional. I had the idea in my head that my upbringing was a little rough or even a little different to the rest of the world, but every family is different right? Like any family we had the ups and the downs and it’s all about the balance. Which one outweighs the other generally determines how we end up perceiving the world around us.

Rarely any family will experience 100% positive or negative experiences. Generally we all want more positive experiences than negative, but what qualifies as a positive or negative experience? Additionally, what determines “normal family” perimeters?

These are extremely difficult questions to answer, as our own families install a level of normality which we perceive as the benchmark for a family. This becomes the reference point for the rest of our lives. It’s how we’re taught to interact and experience the world. We all gather that grounding from our family environment.

This often makes it complex when identifying domestic abuse. As I’ve grown and learned my benchmark for normality is way off due to the experiences I faced. What I considered normal, wasn’t normal at all. And this is where the guilt comes into play.

The Guilt of Victims

Discovering that you’re a victim of abuse later in life is not an easy task. You’re essentially shifting your entire world view and applying a new filter to your memories. It’s traumatic and leads to feelings of guilt as you begin to feel you’re betraying the good memories you had growing up.

As I mentioned previously, it is rare for any family to experience 100% positive or negative experiences. This goes for victims of abuse, not every single memory is horrible. I still have awesome memories growing up, things that I look back to and smile and laugh about. These are what I call now call “normal”.

However, the moments that cause me pain I have realised that they were not normal at all. This leaves me feeling extremely conflicted. I feel like I’m betraying those good times by remembering the horrible ones.

It’s a constant conflict within myself as I rationalise my past, a kaleidoscope of dreams and nightmares. The same person who taught me to ride a bike was also the one who burned me at the age of 2 and knocked me unconscious at the age of 3. The same person, the incarnation of a guardian and a demon.

Duality of Consequences 

Moving forward I have to realise that both these versions exist and I won’t be able to separate them. Additionally, I have to acknowledge that these are the consequences of their actions and not mine. I had very little control of the experiences that I was subjected to at the time, whether they be positive or negative.

Clarity is slowly forming, but it’s still a hell of a long journey until I fully understand how they’re fully intertwined.

As I further grow from the understanding of these experiences I’m also slowly acknowledging that these experiences may have shaped me, but they do not define me.

Setting the Benchmark

Instead, I am using these experiences as a benchmark for my life. The best way I can take control of my past and not allow it to shape me is by using my experiences as a barometer for becoming a better person and distancing myself from the negative experiences that influenced my childhood and adolescence. 

My family were unfortunately not able to find the clarity between their own past and the way they brought me up. Abuse begets more abuse and the cycle continues. I will fight like hell before I repeat the errors that they made within my own family. The hatred I feel towards what I had to endure is what helps me push further away from the benchmark they set.

The powerlessness of my past is not an excuse for me repeating the same in the present.

 

I also provide talks and workshops on this topic. You can find out more here