Bruised But Not Broken – A Survivor’s Tale

18 Aug
child abuse

child abuse (Photo credit: Southworth Sailor)

I am a survivor.

Bruised and scarred, but not broken, even though there are moments in which I feel I am.  I have survived abuse, in one form or another, since I was seven years old.  One abuser is dead (and burning in Hell, if there is a just god), another is still alive, in my life, and loved very much, because I am old enough now to understand.  I don’t have to approve of a thing to understand the motivation behind it.  I have forgiven, and life has moved on to happier, healthier times, because they have found it in themselves to change.  Another abuser is still alive (I assume) but completely out of my life, and although I haven’t been able to completely forgive, I’ve shed most of my anger and feel mostly pity and sorrow.  I count that as a win, too.

I am here to tell anyone who will listen or who needs to hear, that there IS life after abuse.  No, the memories will never go away.  The nasty little voice in your head will never be completely silenced, but there is life, and it can be a very, very good life.

I follow a certain blog that is written by an abused woman.  A daily (or as often as she may post) account of severe emotional abuse in action.  I do my best to offer support, encouragement and strength, but I am all too aware of the difficulties in walking away from an abusive relationship.  It took me a year and a half (the relationship lasted two years, but the first six months were nice), and I wasn’t married to him and he wasn’t the father of my children.  It breaks my heart to see her struggle with this, because I know what she is going through.

I know what it feels like to think you have nowhere to turn, that the only person who truly cares about you is the person hurting you.  To wish with all your heart that you were enough to ‘fix’ what is broken in him, and to hope that if you held out long enough he would realize how much you love him and stop hurting you.

I.

Know.

Here’s what I’ve learned about abuse, abusers and the abused.  Some of them no one tells you to expect, and when I encountered them, they devastated me.

No matter what he says or does, how much he pleads, threatens, or cries… he’s never going to change.  Not for you.

No matter how much it hurts or tears you apart to leave, the longer you’re away from the abuse, the more clearly you will see it, and be grateful every day that it’s no longer a part of your life.

You’ll want to go back.  He’ll show you the hurt little boy, the one that you started making excuses for in the beginning – back before he turned into a monster – but that hurt little boy is the same monster he was when you left, just on a short leash until he can convince you to come back.

You’ll find out who your real friends are.  He will try very hard to make everyone think you’re crazy, a liar, unbalanced, or even try to convince others that YOU were the abuser.  Your real friends won’t believe him.

If he’s a ‘closet’ abuser, many most people won’t believe you.  He’s damn good at putting on the face of innocence, and there will be moments you want to scream in frustration because no one else can see the monster beneath the angelic face.

Even if you make the mistake of going back, it will be easier to leave the next time.  And the next, and the next.  If you are strong enough to walk away once, you CAN find the strength to do it again.

Flashbacks will hit at completely unexpected moments.  Similar situations, even vaguely similar, will trigger reaction.  Years later, there are times when I am instantly transported back to those moments when I was desperately fearful for my safety, even in the presence of someone I know will never hurt me.  Specifically, when someone touches me when they are angry, even if that touch isn’t to hurt me.

You will be PISSED.  At yourself.  You will berate yourself for staying so long when you knew better.  You will sneer at yourself for your weakness if it took more than one attempt to get gone for good.  You will always feel disappointment in yourself and regret for staying in a bad situation, but it is important to work very hard at forgiving yourself and struggle every day to find healing for yourself.

Others will blame you.  You will be shocked, you will be hurt, and you will be angry.  Don’t let it get to you.  They simply don’t understand, they can’t, and I try to take a moment to send up a prayer that they never do.

Long after the abuse is over, you will find yourself still wielding the defense system you created to deal with the abuse, but it will no longer be appropriate, and will likely cause you problems.  It does for me, at least.

Once you make it out of abuse, you will always carry scars.  Some abuse leaves physical scars, all abuse leaves emotional scars.  It will be a long (perhaps never-ending, I don’t know) struggle to find them and heal them as best you can.

 

Like I said, I am bruised, I am scarred, but I’m not broken.  Every day I struggle with the aftermath of being an abuse survivor.  Notice I didn’t say victim.  I am not a victim, not anymore.  I only fall victim to my struggle to adapt to a life where I don’t have to live in fear, and the only fear I experience is the fear created inside my head.

Some days it is hard.  It is a struggle to push the beast back inside the hole it is trying to crawl out of, but I can.  And I do.  And one day I’ll find a way to banish it for good, or go to my grave still trying.

Because I am a survivor.

And they cannot break me.

 

 

 

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8 Responses to “Bruised But Not Broken – A Survivor’s Tale”

  1. nikkir1972 August 18, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I experienced abuse in my childhood, but I never had a physically abusive romantic relationship. I did for the longest time continue to pick alcoholics though!
    I can see (if not understanding personally) why women in romantic relationships (which is no longer romantic) stay. They aren’t staying to be abused, but have many negative beliefs about themselves and trap themselves into the situation, making it almost impossible TO leave. It’s a tragic situation no matter what.
    It sounds like you are on the right track and you ARE a survivor!

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      Thank you. Physical abuse is almost always coupled with emotional abuse… it is usually a ‘next step’, I never saw mine coming, though. Possibly because I didn’t have a very good idea of what was ‘normal’. There was a lot of anger in my household while I was growing up, but it never escalated past that (there was that once close call, but that’s it) so I don’t think I really believed it would get that far until it was too late, and then I didn’t know how to handle it.

      Like

  2. spiritchild1972 August 18, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I’m a victim also and while I won’t let my abusers ruin my life you are a better person than I. I have no access to my abusers and if I did I can’t say I would be so forgiving. I refuse to let my abusers control my life but at the same time if I could remember who the first one was (I was too young) or I was a less Spiritual person I would go after them. I could use my craft to destroy them but I know anything I or anyone do to them down here will pale in comparison to what will happen to them on the other side. I admire strong people like you. Your a better person than me because I wouldn’t trust them ever again, not around me or my kids. It is my Spiritual side of me that stops me from going to the dark side. Hence why I’m a Rebel Psychic lol hahahaha Spirit know I can be trusted not to do anything about it though. It was an honour to have you share your story. Sharing is getting strength and not allowing yourself to be a victim. So Thank you

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      When you live in fear of someone's anger, that is also abuse. That is the abuse I've forgiven. My dad grew up in a household that was so abusive, his mother had to lock herself and the children in the cellar sometimes to keep them safe. While he broke the cycle of physical abuse (which is better than some of his siblings) he still suffered from anger issues that, while growing up, we often had to walk on eggshells in an attempt to prevent an outburst. There was never any doubt he loved us, but he was a very angry man who didn't know how to control his words, and was (and can still be) sadly oblivious as to how his words affect others. He has now grown to the point where he will apologize for hurting someone's feelings, but sometimes he has to be let in on the fact that he has. He's a good man who always did everything he could to take care of his family, but he never learned how to express his anger in a healthy way. I, too, suffer from this problem, so I know how difficult it is to 'fix', so while he may not be perfect, he has tried, and is still trying, to be a better person, and THAT I can respect, and because I know he loves us I can forgive mistakes he made. He's only human, like the rest of us. 🙂

      The one who is dead… while I don't think I can go so far as to say that I 'forgive', I honestly don't think I'm angry, other than the righteous anger that anyone would do that to a child. I feel no special anger that it was done to ME, if that makes sense. I am not his only victim, and from what I hear, I suffered the least of his perversions, and can only feel grateful that I was one of the lucky ones. His own daughters and grand-daughters were not so lucky. Mostly I feel anger that he was never punished on this earth for what he'd done to anyone. But again, he's dead, and already suffering his punishment, and can't hurt anyone else. The moment my mother told me of his death, I felt peace, and was able to realize where the real 'trauma' of that event stemmed from, and it wasn't the abuse. It was from (what I believed as a child) was a lack of action. There wasn't, but no one told me what was going on in the 'adult' world about it, they thought it best that I be allowed to 'forget' it, but they didn't know that I never forgot it, I never will, but what hurt the most is that I thought that they swept it under the rug. I wish that they would have explained to me what was going on, and why they chose to do what they did, because even if I wasn't able to understand it at the time, when I got older, I would have understood, and it would have saved me a lot of suffering and heartache.

      There's also another, but he was a cousin, a boy in the midst of puberty, and while I consider what he did very wrong, I don't hold any anger or animosity toward him… he was curious, but expressed that curiosity in a totally unacceptable way.

      The last one… well… I've put him out of my life, and almost out of my mind. As I said, there are triggers sometimes that stem from that relationship, but I muddle through. I'm no longer angry… most of the time, but I try to focus on my gratitude that I not only survived, but came out stronger and wiser on the other side. At least I like to think so.

      I don't think it's so much that I'm a good person, or brave, or strong… I've just been lucky enough to be able to have the ability to look at it with muted emotional response. I guess from all the practice I had growing up of pushing away my emotions. When I feel emotional about it now, I simply feel it and let it go. I refuse to let what was done to me define me. When I look back, I can see that while I let myself feel like a victim, I behaved like a victim. When I gave myself permission to be a survivor, I began to act like a survivor.

      I may not love myself quite yet, but I find that the more I work through and try to fix my problems, the better I like who I'm becoming. 🙂

      Like

  3. phoenixasubbie August 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    Beautifully expressed. I’m beyond thrilled that you have made such a positive path in your life.

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      🙂 Thank you, and thank you for commenting! I just hope that anyone who may be going through what I went through, that doesn’t know to expect some of these things, may be able to continue forward a little better prepared than I was!

      Like

  4. Growth Hunter August 19, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    These topics are never easy to talk about, because most feel uncomfortable.

    But, in my opinion/experience, this social taboo is probably one of the strongest feeds these situations get…and since nobody talks about it, it becomes quite a task to break away.

    Congratulations on the efforts you convey and, cheesy and worn as it sounds, the moment you start loving yourself and balance within…that instant/period is when you really get over because you stop centering in the anger/forgiving downward spiral and grow into the smile, warmth and loving care of yourself.

    Have a really nice day and thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • KraftedKhaos August 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

      It rarely crosses my mind anymore, but I felt that it was important to share this with others who may still be in this situation, or who are going through it now, because you don’t expect some of them at all.

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Like

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