When a child falls into a well then is saved, a dramatic news cast is born; or any other traumatic event a child survives except sexual abuse by family members or a friend. We love and protect our children. Or do we?

Only when it’s not ‘family’ business. No one wants to get involved if it’s someone else’s family. Somehow they feel absolved…or scared. The family itself corners the child into silence no matter what method; shame, guilt, the threat of abandonment, whatever it takes. And often the child knows and feels these threats though they may never be spoken aloud. Spare the child in this instance equals sacrificing her life, sanity, and safety for the sake of the family and its ‘good’ name.

When a child grows up suffering the horrors of sexual abuse in silence, she becomes a shell of her real self. She cannot talk about her overwhelming traumas or receive condolence, nurturing, support, love, kudos for her courage and bravery for surviving them, nor acknowledgement for other attributes that come from the will and determination to survive; attributes she has but go unnoticed and not congratulated or reinforced because no one knows or understands what she has endured.

She cannot soak up a community of kindness and compassion for all she has gone through, what she would receive had she survived any other trauma. It is not accepted to talk about such things. A great part of who she is goes underground and stays there, sometimes for life. She feels fake, unreal, invisible. She attacks herself in her loneliness, betrayed by every person who will not listen. And who will? Generally someone who is paid to do so. 

It’s time we talk about all aspects of trauma to children, every dark corner that needs airing. All of it.   

I wonder how I survived it. I wonder how anyone has. 

My grandson was in a deadly car crash a few years ago. So serious his car seat straps grasped so tightly through his clothes into his skin there were abrasions, marks exactly the size of the straps. Over the course of the next several weeks he came to play as usual. I didn’t realize the little guy needed to process the trauma. We played together in the garage, (the fire house). He began acting out the accident. I was his Mommy with an injured arm (his mother’s arm was broken). He was the fire man/ambulance driver, and he wrapped my arm and gently put me on the stretcher. He needed to do this over and over each time he visited until eventually, and thankfully, he seemed to complete the processing and moved on to other types of play. 

In his play acting, he was processing the event but this time he was in control. He gained power over it. He was the rescuer, the fixer, the saver. Equilibrium was restored. I just had to be there, he did all the rest. It was all his doing. I did not bring up the accident, or suggest a way to play. He knew what he needed, the only thing he needed from me was a loving adult to be there with him while he acted out the healing scenario without criticism or direction. I remained mostly quiet but totally present while he acted out his memories. I felt as if I was sitting there next to him on the grass with broken glass all around, hearing the sirens and seeing the swirling lights.   

Who is there for the children silently suffering through abuse, the trauma never processed?




18 thoughts on “TABOO

  1. All of this, so true. The way your grandson played out his trauma, that is how Kat plays in therapy, and sometimes at home. I’ve learned, through Bea, duriing Kat’s sessions, to be fully present and to be there but not interfere in this type of play. Its actually been somewhat healing for me, as well. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember first hearing about this childhood psychological need to re-enact trauma from my therapist. I was talking about the awful shame I felt when I described how I would play sexual games with other young children. It was a way to process the unprocessable! Great post!


    1. Yes, coming out of childhood shell-shocked. Had I a chance to talk about it openly as I needed, I would have gotten on fine. Kids are resilient.
      I don’t believe it’s the abuse that caused life long challenges, but feeling forced to bury it and take it in as my own. Not processing the trauma(s) caused irrevocable damage. Helping a child at the time of trauma is what can save them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such great thoughts and comments never seem to come to my mind. It is still stuck in the horror that I had to endure in silence.

    I didn’t even have dolls with which I could act out the scenario over and over, and start the healing process. There was no one I dared tell, out of fear of my mother (!?), not my father. I just accepted at the time (No, I didn’t really), I put up with what I had to in order to survive, and that has cost me dearly throughout my life.


    1. Oh, I think you have great thoughts. One thing you said to me once when I said I should be grateful, (or something like that) was ‘should’ was more like must.
      It resonated with me, and whenever I try to force a feeling instead of accept them— flaws and all, I think of you.

      And no child should suffer as you suffered. Being able to tell and talk about it would help so much

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is sad to have to bury yourself with the depth of the secrets around sexual abuse. My true self died when it happened but my true self is back thanks to a terrific therapist and wonderful husband. So glad you were there to help your grandson process his trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sad and unnecessary. I wish all doctors, parents, everybody, understood that after any trauma a person or child needs to process it. I didn’t even understand what he needed until he began the process himself. Luckily I understood, was there, and he did everything else.
      Processing a trauma ought to be the number one treatment after treating the other immediate wounds.


  5. I suspect you were able to be there for him and to understand his process because you have processed so much of your own trauma. When we do, we are able to participate in the true healing of others without strings attached, because we’ve faced our own pain head on. This was very powerfully written. Thank you. There is a place in Pennsylvania called Marley’s Place where horses do a similar thing. It is named after a young child who was so brutally traumatized by a stranger in her home that she was unable to speak. The therapist had tried everything she could think of and finally a horse named Strawberry made the difference. She started to speak as she described what the horse was feeling which was actually her own feelings. Her process began, and now there are more horses and more children who are experiencing healing from sexual trauma as they interact with the horses. But your little guy didn’t need a horse. He had you and your wisdom to let him lead the process!


      1. I don’t think there was a coincidence in that! And about my comment that you say things very powerfully, your last sentence in your comment above is precisely what I’m talking about. I love it! And I also wanted to comment but couldn’t find the post I was looking for so will do it here. I love your responses to nature. I feel a kindred spirit in you. I believe that is another place where deep healing takes place or maybe it is more available to us because of the healing. Probably all of the above! No matter, it is what I describe as the “home place.” Thank you for the inspiration. Glad to be discovering you…thanks for visiting my site.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful gift you gave your grandson. You were his ‘therapist’ as he worked through his trauma, as you said. You were present, aware and savvy. What a beautiful story. It brings tears to my eyes to know some children have conscious parents/grandparents/relatives/friends in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Tears? Wow, thank you so much, that you could be touched so deeply means a great deal to me.
      He really did process the trauma thoroughly.
      That leads me to believe we all would have been able to work through post-traumatic stress right at the time trauma occurred.
      But families hold onto to the stigma and their own shame, choosing instead to neglect their daughters, ignoring their wounds, and allowing the trauma to be silent, hidden and upon the child’s shoulders. For me the effects have been for life.
      Yet, had I not experienced the long lasting effects and been aware of what was going on, perhaps I would have intervened with his processing and gotten in the way rather than letting it unfold.


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