If someone was asked to talk about what takes place when a child is abused, they could say that they will be physically harmed or verbally put down. Alternatively, they could say that they will be neglected.
Then again, one could mention all of these things, meaning that it won’t just relate to one type of abuse. Clearly, irrespective of whether a child is hit or abandoned, for instance, it is not going to do them any good.
An All out Attack
What is also clear is that a child is likely to suffer even more if they experience more than one type of abuse. Their being will be violated in multiple ways and there won’t be anyone for them to turn to.
Ergo, a time in their life when they desperately need others, will be a time in their life when they are all alone. These experiences are going to stop them from being able to grow and develop in the right way.
In fact, this will be the last thing on their mind; what will be the most important thing at this stage of their life will be to merely survive. This is then going to be a child, not a soldier on the battle field, but they will be under attack by the people who are supposed to protect them.
What will most likely make it easier for them to handle this stage of their life will be the different defences that their body and mind utilise. Due to how small they are, they won’t be able to fight, but what they will be able to do is to freeze and they might be able to hide, for instance.
In addition to these two options, they will be able to leave their body and to go into their head. What this will do is stop them from having to be overwhelmed with pain, thereby making it easier for them to handle what is going on.
So as they are unable to remove themselves from their environment that is dysfunctional, they will remove themselves from the part of themselves that causes them to experience pain. Another thing that they can do is to dissociate from themselves, with this being a way for them to avoid what is going on in their body and mind.
One will then be there, but it will be as though they are simply observing what is happening to them. In a way, it will be as if they are watching someone else go through what they themselves are going though.
If it wasn’t for these defences, they wouldn’t be able to survive this incredibly traumatic stage of their life. Hoverer, even though these defences may well allow them to survive this stage of their life, their life is not going to magically transform once they are an adult.
The Hell Continues
As a result of what they went through during these years, they might not be able to function as an adult. They could end up with all kinds of mental, emotional and physical problems that make it impossible for them to lead a ‘normal’ life.
But, as their early years were a time when they were severely harmed, how else are they going to be? Maybe they will be able to reach out for assistance and to start to heal the damage that was done, or maybe they will lead a miserable existence or even end up taking their own life.
A Different Experience
This is not the only type of abuse that a child can experience during their early years, though. There can be another type of abuse that they can experience and this can be far more subtle.
The child is then not going to be physically or verbally harmed, and they won’t be neglected either. This child can have caregivers who are very active in their life, taking them to all kinds of activities and lessons.
Throughout this time in their life, the child can basically be told by these people that they are perfect in every way. This can cause them to develop a superiority complex, seeing themselves as more-than human.
Their caregivers are unlikely to see their child as a separate individual; what they will do is see them as an extension of themselves. This is likely to show that the child is being brought up by people that also have a superiority complex.
Once this child grows into an adult, they can be very confident but they will probably have the tendency to blame others whenever anything goes wrong. In other words, self-awareness might not be their strong point.
Thanks to how they were brought up, they can believe that they are above making mistakes or being the reason why something didn’t work out, for instance. This is likely to mean that it will be a challenge for them to have fulfilling relationships.
Underneath the image that they present to the world is likely to be someone who feels worthless. The reason for this is that their caregivers wouldn’t have been interested in who they were as a child; they would have only been interested in using them to fulfilling their unmet needs - living their life through them.
And the reason why they needed them to be perfect is most likely because they also felt deeply flawed at a deeper level. Thus, if their child was to do anything that proved that they were not perfect, it might have triggered their own wounds around feeling worthless.
One way of looking at this would be to say that this is what takes place when a child is brought up in a narcissistic family. The child would have received attention, yet this attention wouldn’t have been for who they actually were.
So as this type of abuse if more subtle, it can take a while for someone to realise that their early years were dysfunctional. For someone like this to reach out for support, they might need to truly hit rock bottom.
They could spend years with the view that it isn’t them who need to change, it is everyone else. If they do get to the point where they are ready to look in the mirror, they may need to reach out for the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
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Oliver JR 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.