Breaking the cycle of abuse, and help from the oddest sources.

Breaking the cycle of abuse, and help from the oddest sources.

Trinidad : CO : USA | Feb 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM PST
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Emotional Abuse

Gl Silver-My opinion.

As a survivor of severe child abuse, it took me many years to learn how to cope and heal. Here is my story.

Child abuse is still prevalent in our society, and I can personally attest to the fact that the system that is set up to protect children from neglect or harm is greatly flawed. There are many, many people in all levels of government and law enforcement that are well meaning. But for some reason, children who are abused are still slipping through the cracks.

I was abused for the first 17 years of my life. I endured severe mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my mother for most of my childhood. The first time I had a broken bone I was only 9 months old. When I was old enough to go to school, I often went to school with numerous bruises, and even went through half of a school year with a broken arm that I recieved no medical attention for. I just taught myself how to compensate by using the other arm, including teaching myself how to write with that hand. I also missed a lot of school due to beatings that were so severe I was immobilized for weeks. My mother once took a vacation, and left me and my siblings alone for two weeks without food or supervision. I was only seven years old. By the time I was 11, I was pulled out of school altogether, and had no formal education for 5 years.

In spite of all the overwhelmingly obvious signs of abuse, not one person stepped in to help. I remember many concerned teachers, neighbors and random strangers who witnessed the abuse and neglect, and yet no one did a thing. When I became a teenager, I was able to better defend myself. The fact that I was abused my entire young life did not waylay me from the idea that I deserved to be loved, or at the very least, not to be subjected to such horrid maltreatment. I began to seek help from outside sources. I tried all the local law enforcement agencies, social services, the local youth outreach center, and no one intervened. I begged and pleaded for help from my nightmarish life for two years. TWO YEARS. Nothing.

Then, when I was seventeen years old, I decided I would just walk away. I figured living under a bridge was far more appealing and SAFE than the way I was living. On my way out of town, I felt compelled to stop at a Catholic Church and pray. I was by no means a religious person, but I had always had some deep seeded belief in God. It was a last ditch effort for me. As it happened, there was a priest in the church, and he sat me down in a pew and let me spill out my story in a long, rushed and painful effort. His face paled and when I was finished, and he told me he knew my mother. As it turned out, she had confessed her sins to him, hoping for absolution in a short lived fit of conscience. And, he assured me he would help me.

So it was that after two years of desperate attempts, the one person who came forward to help me was a priest. He stood beside me, and advocated for me. He saved me from a terrible fate. I am forever grateful for his selfless act of kindness and courage.

For a short time, I was worried about my own capabilities as a mother. Would I become an abuser? Would I gaze upon my children and imagine countless ways to hurt them? Would my own self loathing and self centeredness cause me to shatter my own childrens' lives? The common school of thought seems to be that if you are raised in a certain environment, you will develop the same tendencies that you learned from it, as if you are completely at the mercy of your genetics, or a product of your upbringing. But I don't believe this to be true. We all have the freedom to choose between what is right, and what is wrong. Sometimes the path of least resistance is to choose the wrong course. But in the end it always turns out to be harder, and frought with terrible consequences.

I am a good mother. I could not imagine my life without my wonderful children. I have the ability to love and the gift of nurturing, things I did not receive myself as a child. So it is my opinion that anyone can overcome any adversity, and while you will never walk away from it untouched, and undamaged, you can become a far better and stronger person for it.

GLSilver is based in Trinidad, Colorado, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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