Last week in SOSA, we had an interesting conversation that I thought I would share with you. It is extremely basic, but at the same time, very profound and thought provoking. For those of us who were abused by a parent, close relative, or care-giver, this is tremendously important to explore.
As I have mentioned, my earliest clear memories of sexual abuse are starting at age four. If you read about the cognitive, social, and emotional development of preschoolers, you will find that children in this age range rely heavily on the adults around them. This is probably not a shock to you or new information, but have you ever thought about it in the terms of your abuse?
Your caregivers at this time in your life are teaching you about everything in life and as a toddler/preschooler, you completely trust in these adults. So if the adult in your life would have taught you that an apple was a banana, you would have believed them whole-heartedly, because you were not cognitively developed enough to believe anything else and trusted these individuals to help you navigate the world. So here in lies the problem… for many of us, our abuse also started in these formable years.
We were taught that wrong was right, that our pain must not be shown, that the gut feelings were mistaken, that our bodies were not our own, and so on. We believed these things without much questioning throughout our childhood and into adolescences. The problems come as adults. We then realize and are very aware of social norms and the “normal” behavior that is to take place between an adult and a child. Then as survivors, this is where the struggle begins… the guilt, the shame. We begin to rationalize what we should have done from our now adult perspective. The problem is…. we weren’t adults when it happened. We handled the situation as a growing and developing child would, but we expect ourselves to have handled it as an adult.
So here is the suggestion if this is something you are struggling with… do some research. Read up on the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children, especially during the age range in which you were abused. Seek out children who were your age at the time of your abuse… now I am not saying become a stalker. What I am saying is notice them in your environment… at the park, at the mall, at the grocery store, at church. Watch their behavior and their interaction with their trusted adult and the IMPORTANT part… notice the dependency and trust the child has placed in that adult. Realize that you were them! You were small, innocence, trusting, full of curiosity and life. Then ask yourself: what would you expect from that child if she were in your abuse situation? Is she to blame? Should she feel guilty? Should someone be protecting her?
I know your answers. You know your answers. Now the challenge lies in using those answers and applying them to yourself. If you can, you are on the right track and making progress. If you can’t, I will pray for you right now.
Dear Heavenly Father, We come to you today asking for guidance and enlightenment for all of those who have suffered abuse as a child. Please lift this burden from their shoulders and let them see that they were just an innocence child. Let their guilt and shame be no more. I pray that this can be the first healing step toward the amazing life which you have planned and the beginning of comfort and peace. I ask it all in your mighty, mighty name. Amen.
So get out there and stop blaming yourself that you believed an apple was a banana!
Song: Here For A Reason by Ashes Remain
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” – 1 Cor 13:11a
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 18:10 (ESV)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Mark 9:42
Websites on child development: