Although the title refers to abused children, this article will primarily look at why some adults, who were abused as children, grow up to deny what happened to them.
Individuals that were abused in their childhood by their parents or caregivers often find it hard to look at and admit to what happened.
With what happened all those years ago being repressed to such a degree, that an alternate past is able to be constructed; the past often becomes the complete opposite to what one actually experienced all those years ago.
The Perfect Childhood
Here one may describe their childhood with great fondness. And all memory of the abuse is denied and their parents might even be admired and idolized.
And because this abuse has not been looked at or processed in any way, it will appear in ones relationships, behavioural patterns and in the health of ones bodies for example.
After each year that has passed one will become more and more cut off and estranged from this original abuse. And once this happens, the present difficulties that one experiences will appear to be happening to them as opposed to being a reflection of what happened many years before.
This can then add to the original experience of feeling: anger, rage, powerless and hopeless. The original trauma is appearing once again and the feelings are the same, but as the experience may be different and the ego mind can defend what is going on; it can deny this.
Defence mechanisms are used to protect one from what the ego mind perceives as a threat. And it is clear to see how this applies to the area of childhood abuse.
At such a young age one is vulnerable, powerless and completely dependent on the ones caregivers for survival. For if these defences were not used one is unlikely to have made it through all of those traumatic years alive.
When this abuse is taking place the child is not being listened to or given the love or mirroring that it needs; it is purely being taken advantage of and being invalidated. And as the child is receiving so much negative stimulus it has two choices.
It can either express how it feels or it can hold on what it receives. It is unlikely that the child will feel safe enough to express how it feels, given the type of environment that it is in and therefore has to push down in to the body all that it is feeling and thinking.
The Lie Begins
So not only when the child is being abused does it have to deny, repress and dissociate from the pain to survive, but it also has to deploy these defences when it is around its caregivers.
Because although it has all these conflicting messages going inside and is also beginning to lose conscious awareness of these; on the surface it still has to respond and answer to the caregivers to ensure its own survival.
This is surely where one first loses touch with how they truly feel and what their real needs and wants are. And out of the fear of what their caregivers might do, this truth has to be hidden and will remain unexpressed.
The abuse may even be classed and portrayed as discipline and that the caregivers are only doing it for the benefit of the child. At this age the child does not have the ability to question what is going and as the parents are often viewed as god like figures; there is nothing the child can do. In reality this is just a cover up, which enables the caregivers to express their own repressed childhood pain.
What then arises in the abused child are the feelings of shame and guilt. This association is formed through how the caregivers respond to the child. If it is being abused its actions must be bad and therefore the child feels guilty. And as the child is being punished and not just its actions, it feels shamed to the core.
Time Goes By
From the very beginning the child learned to survive through repression, denial and idealising its caregivers. And unless the Childs grows up to question what has happened it is unlikely that these defence mechanisms will ever be questioned or challenged.
This will not be the easy option, because to question or to look over ones past; there is the potential for extreme pain and trauma to appear again. And without the assistance of a therapist or someone similar, it could cause all kinds of problems should one try to face it alone.
Guilt And Shame
Although what happened all those years ago had nothing to do with the innocent child; through regression one can feel not only the pain of what happened, but also the shame and guilt. This shame and guilt is like the gatekeeper to the past.
These two feelings may not represent the whole experience, but they have to be faced in order to deal with the past. The reason these feelings are so powerful is because they were felt to such an extreme degree during the moments of abuse.
So although one can be an adult, and an adult that has every right to let go and see the past for what is was - impersonal, one has to be aware of dropping into the feelings again to avoid feeling guilty and ashamed for being abused.
This is because these are two feelings that the abused child was made to feel so often and therefore as an adult the ego mind will hold onto these feelings because they are familiar and safe.
Because the caregivers didn’t take responsibility for what was going on for them and used their own children to regulate their own feelings, the child was made to feel responsible.
The child ended up carrying all the feelings that they had denied and repressed in themselves. As they could no longer feel them, it was not possible for them to empathise with their children. And so the abuse was probably generational; with them perpetrating what had been done to them.
When one regresses to the inner child and re-experiences all that has not been processed they will take on the same feelings and behaviours. This will not only cause one to feel great pain, but it will also influence their behaviour. And this child survival still rests on the caregiver’s approval and acceptance.
So as well as feeling the repressed guilt and shame, one will feel that their very foundations and survival still depends on their caregivers. And this inner child only knows who it is in relation to its caregivers, it will hold onto the past because it still sees the past as what is keeping it alive.
Facing the past is not something that one can do over night; it may even take many years. To face it straight away would be too overwhelming for the ego mind to handle.
And what is true is often only revealed to one when they are ready to see it. If it has not been revealed, perhaps one is not ready.
However, as long as one has not looked at this past and processed what happened, they are
destined to repeat it.
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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.