This post resonated with me, and so much that I’m thinking of it days later. It seems the crux of why a child cannot and does not heal at the time of the trauma. Families are ashamed and shame the child into silence. How can one heal when traumatized as brutally as being hit by a car with no one to come to her rescue with aid, love, intervention and support?
The family essentially shuns her unless she stays quiet. So she does. She internalizes the ‘attacks’ as her being bad, dirty, and unfit to live. She is grateful her family wants to have her be a part of it and grovels for even a scrap of attention or semblance of what seems like love.
But how can love be real love if it comes with conditions, that of keeping her deep wounds within where they don’t and cannot heal, they fester and grow. The PTSD that often occurs becomes a permanent after effect because no intervention was provided for it to be processed. All the many negative thoughts about herself become part of her forming personality for the same reason.
She attacks herself in countless ways from childhood throughout adulthood because she believes in her ‘badness.’ The so called family encourages this knowing it will shackle her from exposing them, both the ones who committed such horrors but also the ones who knew and didn’t help and kept silent.
When anyone is injured by an accident, surviving a death, or a physical disease, others come with sympathy, condolences, casseroles, gifts, support and many other ways of helping. When a child suffers these horrendous injuries, as bad or in many ways far worse, no one comes. She is re-victimized over and over again; pain, on pain, on pain. It is done to keep her quiet. Better that she internalizes it rather than expose them.
These days veterans are finally receiving some respect for surviving the very horrific aspects of war. The diagnosis of PTSD is not a label that spews negativity. It is one that brings compassion and help; as it should and always should have.
It is time for those attacked sexually as children who suffer the effects of PTSD and the many other devastating after-effects, even decades later, to receive the same support, acknowledgment, and respect, and the freedom to speak openly about it in all forums.
(I use the term ‘attack’ because even though no force is needed with a child who loves and trust her attacker, it is an attack all the same. And it is an attack on so many deep levels of the child’s psyche that the injuries sustained can be life-long)