Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Celebrating Child Abuse Survivors: Veterans of Wars on the Home Front

Heroes take journeys,
Confront dragons,
And discover
The treasure of their true selves.
~Carol Lynn Pearson~

Can't help wondering...

what you're wondering about?
I'm wondering about heroes-
who they are and what we choose to honor about them.
In this month of Memorial Day when we stop to honor those who so proudly serve this country at home and abroad, those whose lives are cut short in battles, those permanently wounded in fights, forever scarred by the horrors of war, I am reminded of other victims of another kind that share similar experiences, but for whom we have no holidays during which to acknowledge and honor them.

These veterans, too, fight for survival against incredible odds. Those who survive, too, bear the scars of those battles for a lifetime. As with the soldiers at war, these veterans, too, pass through stages of grief, stages of recovery and stages of adjustment to living with the outcomes of their experiences. As with the soldiers we honor each May, they will never again be whatever they were or might have been had they not endured their battles.

I speak of the victims of child abuse, the survivors of child abuse, the veterans of child abuse. I speak of those unsung heroes who even while being victimized themselves often fought fearlessly for the health and safety of those around them. Many survive physical, emotional, and psychological wounds that none who have not walked in their shoes will ever understand. And I speak of the wounded warriors who carry on forevermore, selflessly giving of whatever remains that will be of benefit to others.

Like the veterans of foreign wars, veterans of home front wars may suffer from “anxiety, conduct disorder…aggression, depression, increased risk for suicide, high-risk sexual behavior, interpersonal problems, poor physical health, posttraumatic stress disorder, risky health behaviors, substance abuse, and …violence.” They may struggle with medical, economic, legal, consequences. Prevention, identification and intervention of escalating problems resulting from their experiences may be inadequate or unavailable.

As with the veterans of foreign wars, many of these veterans of home front wars suffer their visceral pains in silence, unable to speak of shameful acts committed against them, or shameful acts they committed as a result of events we can barely imagine and prefer to ignore. Help may be unavailable, or shame may prevent some from seeking it. The safety, stability and nurturance so necessary for healing may be lacking in their lives.

As a result of their painful experiences many child abuse survivors, like returning wounded warriors of foreign wars, will be at risk of perpetrating violence on others. Given a “complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors”at least one third of them will do so without outside intervention and protection against becoming perpetrators of violence they abhor to the depths and breadth of their wounded souls.

As we recognize the changed behaviors of the veterans of foreign wars resulting from their battle injuries, and honor them by providing necessary treatment and supports, while not condoning, but holding them responsible for their action, so it is time we become aware of this other side of child abuse and honor those survivors in much the same ways.

By doing so we do two very important things. First we stop blaming the victims of child abuse for the results of the damage inflicted upon them. Second, because violence begets violence, and child abuse begets more of the same, we increase the odds of less child abuse in the future. And that, I believe, is a goal we can all agree is one worth fighting for.

So, this May, while taking time to honor those military casualties and veterans of foreign wars, let’s take a moment to remember those who died in home front wars and to honor those who survived. Let’s, too, salute and celebrate those battle-scarred veterans of all wars who continue on in their own personal battles against the ravages of violence they never asked for and certainly didn’t deserve – worthy victims, combatants, survivors, heroes, wounded warriors, conquerors and exemplars all.

Today is the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Be sure to check Thriver's list of other great blogs submitted:

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee


Marj aka Thriver said...

I really like the way you wrote this. I'm glad you're willing to let us use it for the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Thanks!

AbuseAndForgiveness said...

Wow! I love this! Thank you for sharing a powerful post ~ Nancy

Rick Belden said...

Thoughtful, thought-provoking, and well-conceived. I think you've expressed the issues you've chosen to explore in terms that a lot of folks would understand, regardless of their personal histories.

Just Be Real said...

Great post, thank you for posting!!! Blessings!

Patricia Singleton said...

I have to agree with the others who have left their comments. You did a great job of acknowledging what survivors of child abuse go through and how it feels like we have survived a war. Thanks.

Paul M. McLaughlin said...

Stop Child Abuse NOW! since 1975 to 1999 from Donora, (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania to Portland, Oregon by a handicapped and survivor from 20 years of severe childhood abuse. Paul and his web page of his true life story and his works of saving abused children at:
Paul M. McLaughlin
Stop Child Abuse NOW!
298 Hunington Ave.
Eugene, Oregon 97405

VICKI IN AZ said...

I found you on the blog carnival.
This post is amazing and I couldn't agree more.
Thank you for all of your hard work and incredible dedication, you are an inspiration.

I know a song you would like.
The lyrics are like this...

There are refugees among us
that are not from foreign shores.
And the battles they are waging are from very private wars.
There are no corespondents it will not be televised.
But the story of their need for love is written in their eyes.

This is a call to arms
to reach out and to hold
the evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms to reach anguished souls.

If you would be interested in hearing this song let me know and I'll figure it out.

Child Person said...

Belately, I want to thank you all for the beautiful and encouraging comments. Writing about child abuse certainly isn't as difficult as living it, but it is emotionally draining. Sometimes I think to simply stop, then comments like yours remind me that there are people who care that I continue...and so I shall. :)

I had comment moderation set so would know when people left messages, but removed it for this blog to make commenting easier...then had senior moment and forgot that! Had no idea so many of you had come and left messages. Thank you again!