The Words That Cannot Be Said

Rape and Incest bring so much shame to the victim that they cannot even bring themselves to say the words. They stumble, hide behind their hair, eat the words, wring their hands…and talking to them about it brings so much pain and fear that they feel their oppressor right inside the room with them.

There are so much hatred and self-blame, so many questions that shroud their minds. For those who bear children from the crime, there is self-judgment for hating the child and hating being forced into being parents with its accompanying responsibilities when they did not make active decisions in this life-changing event.

The way out is through unconditional positive regard for them and the decisions, feelings, and beliefs they may have as they unload their stories and make sense of their new lives.

Woman Being Kidnapped And Abused

Abuse Causes Conflicting Emotions

Most specially if the abuser is a parent or someone the victim trusts, abuse becomes more challenging to accept or come to terms with. It is the betrayal of trust and the disbelief that keeps the victim from healing. How does one come to understand that a person whom they have given their heart and trust to has taken advantage and used their power to hurt ? that after all the love and devotion given, they are treated with such hate and disrespect?


Abuse Shuts People Down

One of the ways victims of abuse survive the ordeal is by shutting down their feelings…numbing themselves to stave the pain away. The victims live emotionless days on end because perpetuators seesaw between kindness and hostility; treating them like objects and showering them with unwelcome attention. Their lives are a smorgasbord of physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse.

When they somehow make it out, they are so emotionally shut down it is difficult to reach them. No matter how sad, hurt, lonely they are, they would rather ball themselves within rather than feel the pain again. Only kindness and empathy break through the steel.

*Image borrowed from the Internet


Abuse Stifles

Abuse works by diminishing someone till they feel so small, useless, powerless to defend themselves. When the victim is weakened by fear, hopelessness, lack of resolve, all out of solutions and fighting spirit —this is when the bully steps in and shows his might.

Sit and imagine the fear of the moment. The torment of thinking ‘what is going to happen next’; the second guessing whether she did something wrong; the feeling of powerlessness of being at someone’s whim; the wishing that ‘maybe this time I will get it right’; feeling of aloneness…no one can help.

The only way out for this broken soul is kindness. The love of kindness that someone extends to help someone out of that hole. Champion them, fight for them…not just stand by and look. Someone to help them dream again and give them a hand reaching their goals. Someone who reminds them of their skills and talents so that they may try again against all the fear.

An avenue that one who was abused can explore is to see the experience as ‘an event that has happened’ and it has come to pass. Understanding that one does not have to give up, only rest; that one can change life through action; that dreams can be accomplished slowly.

*Image borrowed from the Internet


Abuse Builds a Tough Armour Filled with Hate

Surviving abuse takes stamina. You have to be mentally and emotionally resilient,  physically strong, and spiritually powerful. The abuser tortures his chosen victim day in and day out —taunting the victim to fight back, pulling the rug from under them, setting the victim up for failure, removing resources of coping so that they will become mute and inutile.

The ones who come to see me speak of keeping their head down to survive or at least keep afloat. They fight a difficult battle because they fight against themselves and the perpetrators and all those who judge them. And through the fight, they develop a different psyche —often filled with mistrust, hate, powerlessness, even self-loathing.

The armor of hate is pervasive as it colors all their lives. While the deep hate helps keep them alive to survive the ordeal, it keeps them stuck and eaten inside. Once freed from the situation, they try to release themselves from the stench and work through forgiveness but all they feel is self-recrimination for having ‘participated in the abuse.’ That protective armor now becomes a barrier against healthy sex, peaceful and deep relationships. Healing becomes a lifelong process.

May the strong become pliant again so they can live.

*Image borrowed from Psychology Today


Abuse Breeds Fear

For the few stout-hearted women, they find the courage to go against their perpetuators in the court of law. It is a challenging exercise for the victims as their body remembers and reacts to the fear they had lived with for many many years. Their stories, so embedded in their hearts, are spoken in haltingly as if unsure that it happened, the hurt and pain once more well up in their eyes. As they re-live the hell and once more feel the shame, the anger wells up within them and the venomous hate makes them speak viciously –the complexity of emotions shuts them down and depletes them of energy. The utter fear and pain they feel at having to face their perpetuator even from behind jail bars or from across the courtroom keeps them awake at night, zombie-like for the days leading up to the meet-up.

There is hardly anything one can say to help them walk through the pain. They are inconsolable, and no matter how many friends and supporters they have along they way, they walk alone.

For them, all we can do is listen. Receive their pain. Witness for them and remind them of their strengths. They cannot forget in the dark what they know in the light.


Abuse Isolates

Oftentimes, perpetuators isolate their victims in order to control them –psychologically physically, mentally. Their game plan is to keep their victim from people who can help them and as they are kept, they are abused more and more. The life in captivity is heart-breaking: the abusers demand that their victims help them perpetuate their crimes; they are treated with no respect, demeaned, and physically beaten. They are taught they have no rights, they are no good, and that there is nothing out there for them —that there is no hope for them, their life is over. That there is no better than what they have right now.

The hopelessness and broken self-esteem keep victims shackled to their perpetuators. And, with the exposure to hate and violence, they learn only violence as a way of life. Thus, they become angry and violent people themselves especially to those who cannot defend themselves.

Reintegration into society takes so much love and understanding because working with abused victims: they seesaw from being strong to weak; from getting better to backsliding. Healing is a lifelong process

Image borrowed from Health e-news


Abuse Teaches People to Lie

Abuse is often shrouded in doubt, fear, shame, shock, uncertainty that most victims learn to lie about the abuse to shield themselves from painful emotions. The first lie is to themselves —-‘he did not mean to touch me’; ‘ he is a good guy, he just was drunk that day’; ‘it was not sex. He just put his hand under my skirt…thats the kind of fun thing he likes to do.” Don’t be such a prude”. The lies get more and more brazen that the victims even defend their predators, and shame themselves for thinking they were abused. Together with the lying is the lowering of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and erratic behaviour. Because of they often live in denial, they don’t get any help and self-destruct: a wild party life, drugs, drinking, unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy coping mechanisms –all geared towards forgetting the abuse.

The systemic lying makes it challenging for the victim during therapy and as they go after their perpetuators. They second guess themselves, their stories, and weave between being frightened, to minimising the event, to ‘wanting it all just to go away’. Their living hell never goes away.

It cares courage, grit, and a huge support system to get the victim to survive. It is difficult to face the abuse and admit to oneself that it happened. But only the truth will set them free.

Image borrowed from the website of Innovation Church”


Abuse Made Me Feel Incompetent

I hear it all the time. Grown women who are capable, able at their work are reduced to putty in the hands of their abuser. These women who command millions of advertising dollars, present to company boards, run nationwide programs are reduced to blubbering fools when their partners demand things from them. They bend backwards and twist their minds around what to do, squeeze as much time out of the day to do his bidding, become over solicitous and second guess themselves thinking that somehow, they will please the abuser and they can escape the pain.

But that doesn’t work. the game plan of the abuser is to gnaw at the confidence of their victim by blaming them for everything, putting them down in every way, and wielding their power at them –making their victim feel selfish for claiming their rights.

Anger is the best antidote against abuse. Anger is a statement of righteousness —that everyone has the innate right to be treated fairly, accorded value and respect. the first move is for the victim to admit to herself that she has been abused and that it is a traumatic experience. Then, the victim must seek solace and support from therapy in order that she reverse negative thoughts about herself. And, finally, to work towards realising that the situation is wrong and life can be good again by getting out of the situation. It is key to realise that it is the situation and NOT THE victim who needs to change.


Abuse Makes Us Think Small

Before recovery, I was a rich guy living off drug money and the sex trade. I was rich but it was not normal or with honor. My dysfunctional life made my family vanish, my siblings were not brought up well, no one and specially not our family had a future to cling to. Before, we focused on problems and how we could avoid them from happening.

After learning to love myself in recovery, I learned to be Solution focused. I now choose to face my problems and strive for more in life. Unlike before where money and security coming from money drove me, today, it is my dreams and hopes that fuel my drive. My vision of my future is what makes me get up in the morning and go for what I want.

It was when I gave myself a chance to dream that my life began to change.

—– Larsen, survivor or Drug abuse. An abused child stolen from his parents and sold to a drug and prostitution ring

“Utak biscuit”. “Isang kahig, isang tuka”. That is how Larsen was described when he came for recovery work. His idea of the future was whether he was going to eat the next day. His lack of self-esteem, lack of self-love, and lack of self-respect jailed him in the drug and sex trade for many years. For him, his life was not worth planning for because his was a basket case, no better than the life of an alley cat, meant to strive and fight for every scrap and then die.

But, fate brought him to a halfway home where he was given education, treated like a human being, and regarded as someone with a future. This is when things started to change. A little love can do that.

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