For many years there has been an understanding that child abuse is very often passed from one generation to another. And as to how far back some of these cycles of abuse go is anyone’s guess.
It is then not surprising for one to be left confused and astounded, at how something so pernicious, can be passed on so many times without ever coming to an end.
So many questions can be asked and contemplated. Are some human beings robots who don’t think for themselves and who have no control over their own actions? Are some human beings inherently bad?
In order any kind of change to occur, there has to be awareness around what needs to be changed. If there is no awareness, then it becomes more or less impossible for change to take place.
And with abuse being so destructive and dysfunctional; it would seem strange that there is often very little awareness around this whole area.
So what this shows is that either the awareness that the abuser has is not enough or that the abuser is not aware at all.
How Could This Be?
To say that people who abuse others are unaware might sound incomprehensible. And it is hard to believe that someone could cause another to experience such pain and suffering; all the while being completely oblivious to the consequences of their actions.
If one is not aware of their behaviour or what is going on inside their own mind; there is the potential for abuse. And so out of this lack of awareness, one can end up abusing their children.
At a surface level we can see that the reason someone is abusive to their children is because they were abused. And so they are continuing on the same behaviour that was passed onto them by their parents.
Repeating The Pain
And this is where the confusion sets in. Here we have an individual that was abused themselves and this means they also know what it feels like. They have been through pain and suffering and yet, they are doing to another what was done to them.
This alone makes a human being appear to have no control over their actions. And instead of the abusers being conscious and aware human beings; they are being controlled by their childhood experiences.
The Chance To Be Aware
While the above description sounds valid and largely true for people who are abusive, it doesn’t answer why people are not aware enough to put an end to generational abuse.
Although awareness is what can bring abuse to an end; if one was abused as a child, they are unlikely to have been aware while they were being abused. During the moments of their abuse, there would have been the need to repress and to deny what was going on.
The reason the original pain had to be repressed and denied is due to the Childs survival resting on its caregivers. At that age the child has to please the caregivers. If the child were to express how it felt, it could lead to rejection, abandonment, neglect and even punishment.
This whole process will naturally lead to one having to ignore how they feel. And what this will also mean is that one’s ability to be aware of these feelings will begin to diminish at this time.
At this stage ones priority is to survive and the repression and dissociation of one’s true feelings is often the only way of ensuring this.
Years Of Repression
What this does is lay down the early foundations for one to form a pattern or a habit of continually repressing their original pain and suffering
Although it has been pushed down and denied; it still exists in one’s body and mind. Ones inner child will still carry these wounds. And even though one may have grown up and put the ‘past’ behind them; this wounded inner child contains the same pain.
During these moments of abuse, the child may have been told that it was for their own benefit, what they deserved or that it is for them to learn discipline. What this does it cause the child to believe that what is being done is normal and how they deserve to be treated.
So if this happens and unless there is someone around to invalidate these messages; the child will grow up to believe what it is being told. This will lead to further denial and repression of how they truly feel.
What all this repression and denial will do is create blind sports or a lack of awareness of what’s going on internally. So what this means is that intellectually one may have very little recollection of what happened all those years ago. And while this is true for the mind; it certainty is not true for the body.
The body remembers everything that has happened and contains all of the memories of what took place all those years ago. And as long as what happened in the past remains a mystery and the bodies memories are not faced; one will be have very little control over how they express themselves.
The Past Becomes The Present
So in order for the abuse to be carried out, these original feelings have to lay formant and remain out of ones awareness. And as this is the case, they will be continually acted out or acted in. This can then happen through the same or similarly abusive behaviour that was done to them.
If this original pain is expressed with the assistance of another conscious individual and processed, it will enable one to let go and to be free of the past. And the journey of being a conscious human being will begin. One of the biggest challenges of this process is regression. Here one will regress to the wounded inner child and when this happens ones awareness will often vanish.
The wounded child had to deny and repress what happened in order to survive. This means that this repressed fear of the parents can keep one from consciously feeling this original pain.
And unless this pain can be wholly and fully expressed, without fear or guilt getting in the way, one will be enslaved to the past.
If it can’t be expressed consciously, it will be expressed unconsciously. The first option is functional and will lead to gradual healing. And the second option is dysfunctional and will often lead to further abuse.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.