There’s a bunch of things you shouldn’t say to an abuse survivor, but the biggest no-no is insisting they need to forgive their abuser in order to move forward.
Forgiveness is healthy. It doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or condoning what happened. PsychologyToday.com defines forgiveness as the release of resentment or anger and describes it as “vitally important for the mental health of those who have been victimized.”
However, forgiveness is a process. And how someone navigates this journey is deeply personal to them. They have to do it in their way and their time. And sometimes, forgiveness is not what someone needs to do in order to heal. Insisting that forgiveness is the only way they can move on it extremely damaging.
I have tried to forgive my parents. But I can’t. It’s very hard to forgive people who show no remorse. If I am ever going to forgive them, I need time. And when people tell me to let go of my anger, it negatively impacts my mental health. You can’t just let go of emotions if you don’t experience them first. It’s unreasonable to ask someone to detach from something you never gave them the space to attach to in the first place.
When I am told to let go of my anger, I bottle it up to please people. The anger gets worse and I engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. These behaviours are what people think I will engage in if I allow myself to be angry. But in reality, bottling up negative emotions is what leads to acting out and self-sabotage.
Anger is not a bad emotion. It is something everyone experiences. It can be expressed in unhealthy ways, and that is often what happens when survivors are told to “forgive” and “let go of their anger”. The anger isn’t being allowed to be expressed, so it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it is often directed towards the survivor themselves.
There are links between being a survivor of child abuse and developing addictions. In a report by the National Institute of Health, it was found that more than a third of teenagers who have experienced abuse will have a substance misuse disorder before their eighteenth birthday.
This anger is also directed at other people, with survivors being more at risk of committing crimes.
“…participants with histories of childhood physical and emotional abuse further showed that female participants were more likely to exhibit internalizing problems such as depression, social withdrawal, and anxiety during middle childhood, which in turn increased the risk of adult crime. In contrast, male participants were more likely to exhibit externalizing behavioral problems, such as aggression, hostility, and delinquency during middle childhood, which subsequently led to adult criminal behavior.”
These behaviour appear to be what people fear the survivor will display if they express their anger. And I believe the advice to forgive and let go of anger is usually well-meaning. However, survivors like me have been given that advice since forever. And since forever, survivors like me have not been given the space to address and understand this anger, which leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
The only way we can truly let go and be free is by having the support to experience our anger. And that’s okay because anger can be experienced in a constructive way. Matthew Tull PhD of VeryWellMind describes anger as a valid emotion that pushes us to express what we need. He gives tips on how to channel this anger constructively, so others hear what you need rather than just hearing that you are angry.
I believe a survivor’s reaction shouldn’t be policed. It’s hard to express anger constructively when you are experiencing pain you have been keeping a secret for so long. Sometimes, a survivor will need to explode and express anger in ways that make you uncomfortable before they can learn to channel it in healthy ways.
Cutting short this healing process with assertions that the survivor needs to let go of this anger is retraumatising. For so long they will have been punished for expressing negative emotions in response to what has happened to them. If I cried or showed I was struggling to cope with how my parents were treating me, they would punish me more. So when I say I am angry with them, it hurts me deeply when someone tells me I shouldn’t be.
If we really care about survivors, we need to support them even if we don’t understand their journey. They have made it this far, so we need to trust they will continue to heal. But they need to do this in their way. And if they cannot forgive their abusers and let go of their anger, that needs to be accepted.
I would argue that my anger and inability to forgive are what helps me to move forward. If I didn’t have these feelings, I would most likely reconcile with my parents and get trapped in the cycle of abuse again. This anger is because I care about myself now. I understand I deserve better. I understand it wasn’t my fault now.
A survivor has most likely been controlled for the entirety of their childhood by people who were supposed to care about them. As people who are supposed to care about them too, please don’t control how they heal from their abuse. Be part of them achieving the freedom they have always been deprived of.
“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.” —Anais Nin (attributed)
Several months ago I wrote a blog post about how self-compassion can heal the shame of childhood wounds. I received many queries about shame and self-compassion from Psychology Today readers. I’d like to address some of your queries and share some of the major ideas in my book, It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself of the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion, with you here.
If you were a victim of childhood abuse or neglect, you know about shame. You have likely been plagued by it all your life without identifying it as shame. You may feel shame because you blame yourself for the abuse itself (“My father wouldn’t have hit me if I had minded him”) or because you felt such humiliation at having been abused (“I feel like such a wimp for not defending myself”). While those who were sexually abused tend to suffer from the most shame, those who suffered from physical, verbal, or emotional abuse blame themselves as well. In the case of child sexual abuse, no matter how many times you’ve heard the words “It’s not your fault,” the chances are high that you still blame yourself in some way—for being submissive, for not telling someone and having the abuse continue, for “enticing” the abuser with your behavior or dress, or because you felt some physical pleasure.
In the case of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, you may blame yourself for “not listening” and thus making your parent or caretaker so angry that he or she yelled at you or hit you. Children tend to blame the neglect and abuse they experience on themselves, in essence saying to themselves, “My mother is treating me like this because I’ve been bad” or “I am being neglected because I am unlovable.” As an adult, you may have continued this kind of rationalization, putting up with poor treatment by others because you believe you brought it on yourself. Conversely, when good things happen to you, you may actually become uncomfortable, because you feel so unworthy.
Former victims of child abuse are typically changed by the experience, not only because they were traumatized, but because they feel a loss of innocence and dignity and they carry forward a heavy burden of shame. Emotional, physical, and sexual child abuse can so overwhelm a victim with shame that it actually comes to define the person, keeping her from her full potential. It can cause a victim both to remain fixed at the age he was at the time of his victimization and to repeat the abuse over and over in his lifetime.
You may also have a great deal of shame due to the exposure of the abuse. If you reported the abuse to someone, you may blame yourself for the consequences of your outcry—your parents divorcing, your molester going to jail, your family going to court.
And then there’s the shame you may feel about your behavior that was a consequence of the abuse. Former victims of childhood abuse tend to feel a great deal of shame for things they did as children as a result of the abuse. For example, perhaps unable to express their anger at an abuser, they may have taken their hurt and anger out on those who were smaller or weaker than themselves, such as younger siblings. They may have become bullies at school, been belligerent toward authority figures, or started stealing, taking drugs, or otherwise acting out against society. In the case of sexual abuse, former victims may have continued the cycle of abuse by introducing younger children to sex.
You may also feel shame because of things you have done as an adult to hurt yourself and others, such as abusing alcohol or drugs, becoming overly sexually promiscuous, or breaking the law, not realizing that these behaviors were a result of the abuse you suffered.
Unbeknownst to them, adults who were abused as children often express the overwhelming shame they feel by pushing away those who try to be good to them, by sabotaging their success, by becoming emotionally or physically abusive to their partners, or by continuing a pattern of being abused or subjecting their own children to witnessing abuse. Former abuse victims may repeat the cycle of abuse by emotionally, physically, or sexually abusing their own children, or by abandoning their children because they can’t take care of them.
Shame can affect literally every aspect of a former victim’s life, from self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image to the ability to relate to others, to navigate intimate relationships, to be a good parent, to work effectively, to learn new things, and to care for yourself. Shame is responsible for myriad personal problems, including self-criticism and self-blame, self-neglect, self-destructive behaviors (such as abusing your body with food, alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, self-mutilation, or being accident-prone), perfectionism (based on fear of being caught in a mistake), believing you don’t deserve good things, believing that if others really knew you they would dislike or be disgusted by you (commonly known as the “imposter syndrome”), people-pleasing and co-dependent behavior, tending to be critical of others (trying to give shame away), intense rage (frequent physical fights or road rage), and acting out against society (breaking rules or laws).
Shame from childhood abuse almost always manifests itself in one or more of these ways:
It causes former abuse victims to abuse themselves with critical self-talk, alcohol or drug abuse, destructive eating patterns, or other forms of self-harm. Two-thirds of people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children (Swon 1998).
It causes former abuse victims to develop victim-like behavior, whereby they expect and accept unacceptable, abusive behavior from others. As many as 90 percent of women in battered women’s shelters report having been abused or neglected as children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).
It causes abuse victims to become abusive. About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).
The truth is that for most former victims of childhood abuse, shame is likely one of the worst effects of the abuse. Unless you heal this pervasive shame you will likely continue to suffer from its effects throughout your lifetime.
Facing the problems that shame has created in your life can be daunting. You may be overwhelmed with the problem of how to heal the shame caused by the childhood abuse you experienced. The good news is that there is a way to heal your shame so that you can begin to see the world through different eyes—eyes not clouded by the perception that you are “less than,” inadequate, damaged, worthless, or unlovable.
The Healing Power of Self-Compassion
Like a poison, toxic shame needs to be neutralized by another substance—an antidote—if the patient is to be saved. Compassion is the only thing that can counteract the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.
Many of you may be aware of the writings of Alice Miller. Miller believes that what victims of childhood abuse need most is what she called a “compassionate witness” to validate their experiences and support them through their pain (Miller 1984). For many years I have personally experienced how being a compassionate witness for my clients can help them heal and how transformative having a compassionate therapist has been for me.
One of the most consistent findings in this research literature is that greater self-compassion is linked to less psychopathology (Barnard and Curry 2011). And a recent meta-analysis showed self-compassion to have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, and stress across 20 studies (MacBeth and Gumley 2012).
Self-compassion also appears to facilitate resilience by moderating people’s reactions to negative events—trauma in particular. Gilbert and Procter (2001) suggest that self-compassion provides emotional resilience because it deactivates the threat system. And it has been found that abused individuals with higher levels of self-compassion are better able to cope with upsetting events (Vettese et al. 2011).
There is also evidence that self-compassion helps people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In one study of college students who showed PTSD symptoms after experiencing a traumatic event such as an accident or life-threatening illness, those with more self-compassion showed less severe symptoms than those who lacked self-compassion. In particular, they were less likely to display signs of emotional avoidance and more comfortable facing the thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the trauma they experienced (Thompson and Waltz 2008).
Finally, in addition to self-compassion being a key factor in helping those who were traumatized in childhood, it turns out that self-compassion is the missing key to alleviating shame. Confirming what I knew from my extensive work with former victims of child abuse, research shows that traumatized individuals feel significant levels of shame and guilt (Jonsson and Segesten 2004). Shame has been recognized as a major component of a range of mental health problems and proneness to aggression (Gilbert 1997, Gilbert 2003, Gilligan 2003, Tangney and Dearing 2002). And it has been found that decreases in anxiety, shame, and guilt and increases in the willingness to express sadness, anger, and closeness were associated with higher levels of self-compassion (Germer and Neff 2013).
One clinician, Paul Gilbert, author of “The Compassionate Mind,” found that self-compassion helped to alleviate both shame and self-judgment. A study of the effectiveness of Gilbert’s Compassionate Mind Training (CMT), a group-based therapy model that works specifically with shame, guilt, and self-blame, found that the training resulted in significant reductions in depression, self-attacking, feelings of inferiority, and shame (Gilbert and Procter 2006).
In addition, research suggests that self-compassion can act as an antidote to self-criticism—a major characteristic of those who experience intense shame (Gilbert and Miles 2000). Self-compassion is a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin, the hormone that increases feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity, and connectedness. Self-criticism has a very different effect on our bodies. The amygdala, the oldest part of the brain, is designed to quickly detect threats in the environment. These trigger the fight-or-flight response—the amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure, adrenaline, and cortisol, mobilizing the strength and energy needed to confront or avoid the threat. Although this system was designed by evolution to deal with physical attacks, it is activated just as readily by emotional attacks—from ourselves and others. Over time, increased cortisol levels deplete neurotransmitters involved in the ability to experience pleasure, leading to depression (Gilbert 2005).
Neurological evidence also shows that self-kindness (a major component of self-compassion) and self-criticism operate quite differently in terms of brain function. A recent study examined reactions to personal failure using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology. While in a brain scanner, participants were presented with hypothetical situations such as “A third job rejection letter in a row arrives in the post.” They were then told to imagine reacting to the situation in either a kind or a self-critical way. Self-criticism was associated with activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate—areas of the brain associated with error processing and problem-solving. Being kind and reassuring toward oneself was associated with left temporal pole and insula activation—areas of the brain associated with positive emotions and compassion (Longe et al. 2009). As Kristin Neff (2011) aptly stated, “Instead of seeing ourselves as a problem to be fixed… self-kindness allows us to see ourselves as valuable human beings who are worthy of care.”
Of particular interest to me was recent research in the neurobiology of compassion as it relates to shame—namely that we now know some of the neurobiological correlates of feeling unlovable and how shame gets stuck in our neural circuitry. Moreover, and most crucially of all, due to our brains’ capacity to grow new neurons and new synaptic connections, we can proactively repair (and repair) old shame memories with new experiences of self-empathy and self-compassion.
In light of my research, I determined that in addition to offering my clients compassion for their suffering, I needed to teach them how to practice self-compassion on an ongoing basis in order to heal the many layers of shame they experienced.
Combining what I learned about compassion and self-compassion with the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my many years of working with victims of childhood abuse, I created a program specifically aimed at helping those who experienced abuse become free of debilitating shame. My Compassion Cure program combines scientific research on self-compassion, compassion, shame, and restorative justice with real-life case examples (modified to protect the subjects’ anonymity). Its proprietary processes and exercises help abuse victims reduce or eliminate the shame that has weighed them down and kept them stuck in the past.
By learning to practice self-compassion, you will rid yourself of shame-based beliefs, such as you are worthless, defective, bad, or unlovable. Abuse victims often cope with these false yet powerful beliefs by trying to ignore them or convince themselves otherwise by puffing themselves up, overachieving, or becoming perfectionistic. These strategies take huge amounts of energy, and they are not effective. Rather, actively approaching, recognizing, validating, and understanding shame is the way to overcome it.
“Shame is sickness of the soul.” —Silvan Tomkins
While many people suffer from shame, not everyone suffers from what is referred to as debilitating shame. Debilitating shame is shame that is so all-consuming that it negatively affects every aspect of a person’s life—his perceptions of himself, his relationship with others, her ability to be intimate with a romantic partner, her ability to raise children in a healthy manner, his ability to risk and achieve success in his career, and her overall physical and emotional health. The following questionnaire will help you determine whether you suffer from debilitating shame.
Questionnaire: Do You Suffer from Debilitating Shame Due to Childhood Abuse?
Do you blame yourself for the abuse you experienced as a child?
Do you believe your parent (or other adult or older child) wouldn’t have abused you if you hadn’t pushed him or her into doing it?
Do you believe you were a difficult, stubborn, or selfish child who deserved the abuse you received?
Do you believe you made it difficult for your parents or others to love you?
Do you believe you were a disappointment to your parents or family?
Do you feel you are basically unlovable?
Do you have a powerful inner critic who finds fault with nearly everything you do?
Are you a perfectionist?
Do you believe you don’t deserve to be happy, loved, or successful?
Do you have a difficult time believing someone could love you?
Do you push away people who are good to you?
Are you afraid that if people really get to know you they won’t like or accept you? Do you feel like a fraud?
Do you believe that anyone who likes or loves you has something wrong with them?
Do you feel like a failure in life?
Do you hate yourself?
Do you feel ugly—inside and out?
Do you hate your body?
Do you believe that the only way someone can like you is if you do everything they want?
Are you a people pleaser?
Do you censor yourself when you talk to other people, always being careful not to offend them or hurt their feelings?
Do you feel like the only thing you have to offer is your sexuality?
Are you addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, shopping, gambling, or stealing, or do you suffer from any other addiction?
Do you find it nearly impossible to admit when you are wrong or when you’ve made a mistake?
Do you feel bad about the way you’ve treated people?
Are you afraid of what you’re capable of doing?
Are you afraid of your tendency to be abusive—either verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually?
Have you been in one or more relationships where you were abused either verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually?
Did you or do you feel you deserved the abuse?
Do you always blame yourself if something goes wrong in a relationship?
Do you feel like it isn’t worth trying because you’ll only fail?
Do you sabotage your happiness, your relationships, or your success?
Are you self-destructive (engaging in acts of self-harm, driving recklessly, suicidal attempts, and so on)?
Do you feel inferior to or less than other people?
Do you often lie about your accomplishments or your history in order to make yourself look better in others’ eyes?
Do you neglect your body, your health, or your emotional needs (not eating right, not getting enough sleep, not taking care of your medical or dental needs)?
There isn’t any formal scoring for this questionnaire, but if you answered yes to many of these questions, you can be assured that you are suffering from debilitating shame. If you answered yes to just a few, you may still have an issue with shame.
Shame Is Not a Singular Experience
Just as the source of shame can be all forms of abuse or neglect, shame is not just one feeling but many. It is a cluster of feelings and experiences. These can include:
Feelings of being humiliated. Abuse is always humiliating to the victim, but some types are more humiliating than others. Certainly, sexual abuse almost always has an element of humiliation to it, since it is a violation of very private body parts and since there is a knowing on the child’s part that incest and/or sex between a child and an adult is taboo. (These taboos hold in nearly every culture in the world.) If the abuse involves public exposure—for example, being chastised or physically punished in front of others, particularly peers—the element of humiliation can be quite profound.
Feelings of impotence. When a child realizes there is nothing he can do to stop the abuse, he feels powerless, helpless. This can also lead to his always feeling unsafe, even long after the abuse has stopped.
Feelings of being exposed. Abuse and the accompanying feelings of vulnerability and helplessness cause the child to feel self-conscious and exposed—seen in a painfully diminished way. The fact that he could not stop the abuse makes him feel weak and exposed both to himself and to anyone present.
Feelings of being defective or less-than. Most victims of abuse report feeling defective, damaged, or corrupted following the experience of being abused.
Feelings of alienation and isolation. What follows the trauma of abuse is the feeling of suddenly being different, less-than, damaged, or cast out. And while victims may long to talk to someone about their inner pain, they often feel immobilized, trapped, and alone in their shame.
Feelings of self-blame. Victims almost always blame themselves for being abused and being shamed. This is particularly true when abuse happens or begins in childhood.
Feelings of rage. Rage almost always follows having been shamed. It serves a much-needed self-protective function of both insulating the self against further exposure and actively keeping others away.
Fear, hurt, distress, or rage can also accompany or follow shame experiences as secondary reactions. For example, feeling exposed is often followed by the fear of further exposure and further occurrences of shame. Rage protects the self against further exposure. And along with shame, a victim can feel intense hurt and distress from having been abused.
The following exercise can help you discover what your primary feeling experiences of shame are.
Exercise: Your Feeling Experience of Shame
While you may have experienced all the feelings listed above, you may resonate with some more than others. Think about each type of abuse that you suffered and the various feelings that accompanied it. Ask yourself which of the items listed above stand out to you the most for each type of abuse or each experience of abuse. In my case, for example, when I think about the sexual abuse I suffered at age nine, I resonate most profoundly with defectiveness, isolation, self-blame, and rage.
Further Defining Self-Compassion
If compassion is the ability to feel and connect with the suffering of another human being, self-compassion is the ability to feel and connect with one’s own suffering. More specifically for our purposes, self-compassion is the act of extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. If we are to be self-compassionate, we need to give ourselves the recognition, validation, and support we would offer a loved one who is suffering.
Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, is the leading researcher in the growing field of self-compassion. In her book Self-Compassion (2011), she defines self-compassion as “being open to and moved by one’s own suffering, experiencing feelings of caring and kindness toward oneself, taking an understanding, nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s inadequacies and failures, and recognizing that one’s experience is part of the common human experience” (224).
Self-compassion encourages us to begin to treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show a good friend or a beloved child. Just as connecting with the suffering of others has been shown to comfort and heal, connecting with our own suffering will do the same. If you are able to feel compassion toward others, you can learn to feel it for yourself. The following exercise will show you how.
Exercise: Becoming Compassionate Toward Yourself
Think about the most compassionate person you have known—someone kind, understanding, and supportive of you. It may have been a teacher, a friend, a friend’s parent, a relative. Think about how this person conveyed his or her compassion toward you and how you felt in this person’s presence. Notice the feelings and sensations that come up with this memory. If you can’t think of someone in your life who has been compassionate toward you, think of a compassionate public figure, or even a fictional character from a book, film, or television.
Now imagine that you have the ability to become as compassionate toward yourself as this person has been toward you (or you imagine this person would be toward you). How would you treat yourself if you were feeling overwhelmed with sadness or shame? What kinds of words would you use to talk to yourself?
This is the goal of self-compassion: to treat yourself the same way the most compassionate person you know would treat you—to talk to yourself in the same loving, kind, supportive ways this compassionate person would talk to you.
The Benefits of Practicing Self-Compassion
By learning to practice self-compassion you will also be able to begin doing the following:
Truly acknowledge the pain you suffered and in so doing, begin to heal
Take in compassion from others
Reconnect with yourself, including reconnecting with your emotions
Gain an understanding as to why you have acted out in negative and/or unhealthy ways
Stop blaming yourself for your victimization
Forgive yourself for the ways you attempted to cope with the abuse
Learn to be deeply kind toward yourself
Create a nurturing inner voice to replace your critical inner voice
Reconnect with others and become less isolated
I hope I have been able to convey to you how self-compassion can help heal you of your shame. But it is difficult to adequately explain this concept in one blog. In the coming weeks I will write more blogs about how shame can be healed with self-compassion and explain to you how you can go about becoming more self-compassionate. As you continue reading the blogs and practicing the exercises you will grow to more fully understand what a powerful healer compassion can be.
In the next blog, I will discuss the various obstacles that get in our way of becoming more self-compassionate including: our belief that self-compassion is the same as “feeling sorry for ourselves,” the belief that self-compassion is selfish, and our need to forgive ourselves for past actions in order to believe we deserve self-compassion.
Having completed my initial NRS Experiences and Impact Statements (NRS Fact Sheet, 2019), it initially felt ironic that the most nerves I had felt was actually at the final stage: Apologies. Advice that has given earlier indicates that description of each individual instance, together with personal impacts from each of their ongoing effects supports the evidence throughout the Instances and Impact Statements. While I had previously had the wrong POV, that completing Instances and Impact Statements, my work would be over – taking a wider POV, it’s now clearer that each section confirms and complements related matters throughout the NRS Submission.
As exciting as all this may sound, the journey of its lodgement isn’t over. knowmore (Community Legal Service) is another body involved in the National Redress Scheme. There are also Senior Staff within Blue Knot, who are able to offer their advice into the fine-tuning/tweaking of the order, expressions, focus and editing of Preliminary NRS Submissions.
In working my way through some of the updated NRS data, I came across the following list of possible example list of impacts of CSA experiences (Describing Impact of your Application, 2019). In closer focus, it began to both horrify my and reminded me in the instance(s) that I’m drafting up a list of requested apologies. I also realise that I am ‘but one fish in the sea’ of previous CSA Assaults. Although I feel fortunate for the beneficial discussions I’ve had, my deepest request/suggestion goes out to any other Surviving-Victim of CSA: Seeking Help can be done anonymously! When you’re ready to take things further, Expert Guidance is available.
From the above chart’s simple 8 points, how many viewers know of these ordeals? Whether sexual or physical violence, they each are an act of VIOLENCE. Anyone’s childhood is meant to be appreciated, while we are raised to become ‘young adults’ at 18. The following image, may also remind some of the hardships as victims of their CSA teachers.
Coercion and threats
Minimising, denying and blaming
“Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also forms of child abuse and neglect – and they can leave deep, lasting scars on kids.” (Harrison, The Minds Journal, 2020). The following are major forms of CSA:
Survival of any of the above listed actions, are strongly suggested to talk to someone else about it. It’s preferable that it be someone outside your immediate family, as there are many Counsellors available. NRS is also being updated, allowing for it to be easier for CSA victims to have their matters sorted – not impacting others (“minimising”).
INSTITUTIONS are identified, with description of many of scenarios dealt with in Australia’s Royal Commission (CARC) and the current National Redress Scheme. For the benefit of those Victims-Survivors that have come forth, we ask for you to consider coming forward. Counselling can be confidential, lodging an Application is when details begin to be made public.
Some Private Schools in NSW are supported outright by Religious bodies, also sharing traits with many of Brisbane’s CSA experiences (GPS). Coupled with the ‘Teacher-swapping’ habitus of GM Cujes and his involvement in the CARC, there’s been withdrawal of School Seniority from Catholic Schools and Change-of-Names. The ‘Christian Brothers’ (seriously, not satire) had withdrawn their church leadership (ABCNews 2019), appointing laymen to these Headmaster roles. As there had already been suspicious reputations of secrecy and cloister (ABCnews 2019 & BRA 2020). Thankfully the separations into ‘good’ Patients and ‘bad’ Patients extended to occasional medical checks at local hospitals. In keeping with canon law to remain completely anonymous to outside authorities (King 2019). Ironically the Patients who made the majority of the ‘bad’ group, were Catholic Christian Brothers. Seemingly, like persona forced themselves to flock together leading to give a negative impression on nurses who were used to serving a wider public audience.
Unsurprisingly, George Pell had perjured himself in his Defense of Gerald Ridsdale. As immortalised by the following photo, Pell would later be acquitted by an overruling Australian High Court (2020). Potentially on legal-technicalities, the multiple Judges overruled a previous Guilty Verdict of Pell. Now in the Catholic’s Vatican, Pell may be enjoying his escape from judicial trials yet as any CSA Victim-Survivour knows, their actions will leave their mark until the end.
Ironically, GM Cujes (although denouncing CARC allegations, 2016) achieved Headmaster of Trinity College. Previously St Patrick’s College, later renamed Trinity Catholic College by the Catholic Church. Changing names (persons, businesses & institutions) is frequently associated with desires to create distance from historic events of the previous namesake. Psychology, Justice and other fields acknowledge these facts. Unsurprisingly, GM Cujes had preferred to be referred to by his middle name whilst Headmaster of BBC (1990-1996). Under Trinity appointment, Graham appears missing as their preference. AK Buchanan (‘Butch’) used similar choices between his hunting-playgrounds (BBC & IGS): (A) Kim at BBC and Anthony K at Ipswich Grammar School.
Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, studied 234 professional performers, looking for a reason why mental health disorders are so common in the performing arts.
“The notion that artists and performing artists suffered more pathology, including bipolar disorder, troubled us,” dance coordinator and psychologist Paula Thomson, a co-author on the new study, told Psypost.
“No one seemed willing to also include the effects of early childhood adversity and adult trauma and its influence on creativity and psychopathology.”
The study examined 83 actors, directors, and designers; 129 dancers; and 20 musicians and opera singers. These study participants filled out self-report surveys pertaining to childhood adversity, sense of shame, creative experiences, proneness to fantasies, anxiety, and level of engagement in an activity.
The participants were able to be categorised into three groups: those who reported a high level of childhood adversity; those who had experienced a lower or medium level; and those who had experienced little to none.null
It’s the high-level group that demonstrated the greater extremes. These performing artists had much higher anxiety, much more internalised shame, and reported more cumulative past traumatic events. They were also more prone to fantasies.
But they also seemed more connected with the creative process, the researchers said. They were more aware of it, and reported feeling more absorbed in it. They reported heightened awareness of a state of inspiration and a sense of discovery during the process.
They were also able to move more easily between the state of absorption and a more distant state for critical awareness, and were more receptive to art.
“Lastly,” the researchers wrote, “[this] group identified greater appreciation for the transformational quality of creativity, in particular, how the creative process enabled a deeper engagement with the self and world. They recognised that it operated as a powerful force in their life.”
Obviously the study has caveats, as self-reported studies can be prone to personal bias. Also, since it was limited to performing artists, comparisons couldn’t easily be made with other subsets of the population.
Nevertheless, the finding, the researchers said, may indicate that adult performers who have experienced childhood adversity are better able to recognise and value the creative process; and the ability of that group to enjoy the creative process could indicate resilience.
“We are saddened by the number of participants in our study who have suffered multiple forms of childhood adversity as well as adult assaults (both sexual and non-sexual),” Thomson told Psypost.
“So many participants in our sample have experienced poly-traumatization and yet they also embrace their passion for performance and creativity. They are embracing ways to express all that is human.”
Of particular interest, is the notable leaps in visitors from non-English (ESL) countries. Noting that BBC has been & continues to aim to build on its international reputation, this past begins in asking what issues may occur in translations of our posts. As collected from various sources, including “Translation errors and forgeries in the Bible”, which many excuses wrongly using “in the name of God” to hide suspicious behaviours. Anything, anybody may find doubtful, at any institution should now be followed-up with GOVERNMENT Departments of relevant States.
“Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect”, is from the AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies). This paper outlines the complex mix of both schools/education, within different states yet included in the same country. The information includes:
Abuse & neglect
Reporting & reporters
How mandatory reporting legislation defines a child (per state)
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics for 2006, approximately 905,000 U.S. children were found to have been maltreated that year, with 16% of them reported as physically abused (the remainder having suffered sexual abuse or neglect.)1 In other studies, it’s been noted that approximately 14-43% of children have experienced at least one traumatic abusive event prior to adulthood.2 And according to The American Humane Association (AHA), an estimated 1,460 children died in 2005 of abuse and neglect.3
The AHA defines physical child abuse as “non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child.”3 However, it can be challenging to draw the line between physical discipline and child abuse. When does corporal punishment cease to be a style of parenting and become an abusive behavior that is potentially traumatizing for its child victims in the long-term?
A recent episode of the popular television show Dr. Phil featured a woman whose extreme disciplinarian tactics later resulted in her arrest and prosecution for child abuse. A featured video showed her forcing her young adopted son to hold hot sauce in his mouth and take a cold shower as punishment for lying. Audience members were horrified—as was Dr. Phil—but the woman insisted that she couldn’t find a better way to control her child. Many child abusers are not aware when their behavior becomes harmful to a child or how to deal with their own overwhelm before they lose their tempers.
At its core, any type of abuse of children constitutes exploitation of the child’s dependence on and attachment to the parent.
Another therapeutic term that is used in conjunction with child abuse is “interpersonal victimization.” According to the book Childhood victimization: violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of young people by David Finkelhor, interpersonal victimization can be defined as “…harm that comes to individuals because other human[s] have behaved in ways that violate social norms.”5 This sets all forms of abuse apart from other types of trauma-causing-victimization like illness, accidents, and natural disasters.
Finkelhor goes on to explain: “Child victimizations do not fit neatly into conventional crime categories. While children suffer all the crimes that adults do, many of the violent and deviant behaviors engaged in by human[s] to harm children have ambiguous status as crimes. The physical abuse of children, although technically criminal, is not frequently prosecuted and is generally handled by social-control agencies other than the police and criminal courts. “5
What happens to abused children?
In some cases—depending on the number of reports made, the severity of the abuse, and the available community resources—children may be separated from their parents and grow up in group homes or foster care situations, where further abuse can happen either at the hands of other abused children who are simply perpetuating a familiar patterns or the foster parents themselves. In 2004, 517,000 children were living in foster homes, and in 2005, a fifth of reported child abuse victims were taken out of their homes after child maltreatment investigations.6 Sometimes, children do go back to their parents after being taken away, but these statistics are slim. It’s easy to imagine that foster care and group home situations, while they may ease the incidence of abuse in a child’s life, can lead to further types of alienation and trauma.
For children that have suffered from abuse, it can be complex getting to the root of childhood trauma in order to alleviate later symptoms as adults. The question is, how does child abuse turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder later in life? What are the circumstances that cause this to happen in some cases and not others?
Statistics show that females are much more likely than males to develop PTSD as a result of experiencing child abuse. Other factors that help determine whether a child victim will develop PTSD include:7
The degree of perceived personal threat.
The developmental state of the child: Some professionals surmise that younger children, because they are less likely to intellectually understand and interpret the effects of a traumatic situation, may be less at risk for long-term PTSD).
The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator.
The level of support the victim has in his day-to-day life as well as the response of the caregiver(s).
Guilt: A feeling of responsibility for the attack (“I deserve it”) is thought to exacerbate the changes of PTSD.
Resilience: the innate ability to cope of the individual.
The child’s short-term response to abuse: For instance, an elevated heart rate post-abuse has been documented as increasing the likelihood that the victim will be later suffer from PTSD.
Carolyn Knight wrote a book called Working With Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma that states: “Trauma, by definition, is the result of exposure to an inescapably stressful event that overwhelms a person’s coping mechanisms.”6 She points out that an important aspect of an event (or pattern of events) is that it exceeds the victim’s ability to cope and is therefore overwhelming. A child should not have to cope with abuse, and when abuse occurs, a child is not equipped psychologically to process it. The adults in their lives are meant to be role models on how to regulate emotions and provide a safe environment.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, some of the particular symptoms of child PTSD include:8
Frequent memories and/or talk of the traumatic event(s)
Once a child has grown to be an adult, however, symptoms of PTSD can become more subtle as he or she learns how to cope with this in day-to-day life. The symptoms of PTSD can be quite general and can mimic other disorders: depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, problems with alcohol and drugs, sleep issues, and eating disorders are just a few. Many have problems in their relationships and trusting another person again. Many even end up in abusive relationships and find themselves re-enacting the past.
Community support is a vital tool in preventing child abuse and the PTSD that can result from it. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from child abuse, please report it to your local Child Protection Services — or the police, if a child is in immediate danger. The longer that abuse continues, the higher the risk of causing severe symptoms.
If you or a loved one may be suffering from delayed effects of trauma due to childhood abuse, I encourage you to make a therapyappointment with someone who specializes in trauma and who can put you on a path of healing.
1 Child Maltreatment 2006. Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and Families Children’s Bureau; 2008. 1-194
It can be very disorienting to feel like you have done something, but you haven’t. It’s also disorienting to be someone who tries to be a nice person, but is constantly accused of being disingenuous. If you’re experiencing either of these feelings as a result of another person’s actions, it’s possible that you might be a victim of gaslighting.
Though many people have been introduced to the term gaslighting recently, it’s important to understand exactly where it came from. The term has a long and varied history in the public eye, but it mainly takes its name from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a woman (Paula, portrayed by Ingrid Bergman) is psychologically manipulated by her husband to feel like she is insane when in reality she is perfectly fine.
Despite the fact that her mental state is perfectly fine, she still believes that she is going mad, a worry that gives her intense discomfort and produces legitimate feelings of madness.
It’s important to note that Paula eventually gets out of the relationship after realizing what is happening to her and learns to deal with manipulation, but the situation set a useful precedent for talking about psychological manipulation as it happens in society. Because of this, the term “gaslighting” reference’s the movie’s title as a way of describing the specific method of manipulation.
It might seem easy to understand manipulation as something that simply happened in a movie, but it can occur quite frequently in society. The most damaging thing about the practice is that many people who suffer from it don’t actually know that they’re being gaslit. Instead, they mistake their confusion for legitimate feelings against themselves, leading to lowered self worth and possible situations that make it more difficult to deal with gaslighting, such as Paula’s position in the aforementioned film.
This is why manipulation is important to understand and fight against when you notice that it is happening to you or somebody you know. More often than not, gaslighting occurs between two individuals who trust each other, with one subtly manipulating the other. Because it occurs often within intimate interpersonal relationships, manipulation can be incredibly difficult to spot.
Like with many other conditions, failing to notice manipulation early on can result in the condition getting worse, the victim becoming even more unaware, and potentially more damage in the long run.
To prepare yourself to deal with gaslighting before it’s too late, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with its symptoms. This is why we’re here to help—in this article, we’ll be taking a look at 10 Warning Signs of Gaslighting to Never Ignore.
Before we get into this article, we want to say that if you think that you might be experiencing symptoms of manipulation, it is important to get professional help from a psychologist or therapist. Medical professionals are the people who truly understand manipulation and how to deal with gaslighting, so please be careful and get help if you notice any of these 10 symptoms happening in your life.
#10. It’s Not All Negative
It’s easy to think that abuse and emotional manipulation is simply constant negativity and nothing else. However, abusers often mix in positive comments and what looks like love to make a victim believe that they actually do care about them. This type of hot/cold treatment is a cornerstone symptom of abuse.
Regardless of how it happens, it’s worth noting that positivity does not negate emotionally manipulative behavior and cannot be justified as love no matter how brief the negative behavior was.
#9. They Project Their Emotions
Many abusers often project their own problems onto their victims. For instance, if an abuser is having trouble managing money, they might criticize their partner’s financial situation more harshly than their own as a way of getting their partner to doubt their sense of reality.
#8. Confusion is Their Priority
Many abusers will start to gaslight victims by making them feel as though they are perpetually confused. It’s important to see these symptoms as they occur so you don’t fall prey to emotional abuse.
#7. They Get Others to Doubt You
Sometimes an abuser can manipulate the relationship a victim has to others by getting them to also be complicit in manipulating the victim. This is often without the others even knowing, getting them to admit to small personality traits and then blowing it up in the face of the victim.
For example, if an abuser wants a victim to think that they over-exaggerate everything, they might get a close mutual friend to admit that the victim blew one situation out of proportion. After this, they’ll present the findings to the victim in order to make them think they do blow things out of proportion.
#6. They Target Friends
A lot of the time, many people who are victims of gaslighting don’t realize it because they don’t have much contact with others who might be able to see the symptoms. This is often because the abuser makes the victim feel like they can’t trust their friends, resulting in them not socializing as much as they once did.
This can also be done by making their friends seem inauthentic or like liars themselves, causing the victim to believe the abuser and willingly limit their contact.
#5. Using Their Emotions
It’s no secret that being in a relationship involves both partners being able to listen to the other’s needs. However, abusers will often manipulate this relationship dynamic to make the other person do things they don’t want to do without evidence. Similar to what was previously mentioned regarding targeting friends and making the victim feel uncomfortable around those they used to socialize with, abusers can also cite their own personal feelings without providing evidence for something.
For example, if an abuser refuses to let their partner go see a friend on the basis that they hate them (or other aggressively negative feelings) without having any actual anecdotal evidence, that can be a form of gaslighting.
#4. Lying as a Precedent
When people lie, sometimes we have to think a bit to actually see through it clearly. This is why when somebody lies so blatantly, we take notice. Abusers manipulating victims will often take advantage of this dynamic, spewing blatant lies as a means of setting up a precedent.
By lying so directly, they will make the victim assume that everything they say from that point onward is a lie, something that makes manipulation a normal routine.
#3. Denying the Victim Agency
When we think of abusive behavior in relationships, we typically assume that it is something drastic, such as an abuser literally locking somebody into their apartment so they can’t go outside. However, there are more subtle ways this can occur through manipulation without the victim even noticing it, sometimes even being willingly complicit.
For example, if you’re in a relationship with somebody who continually questions your ability to not flirt with others while alone, they might be able to pressure you into feeling guilty for going outside or feeling that you can’t socialize without them by your side.
#2. Repetitive Nature of Symptoms
Many people falsely assume that they will be able to spot manipulation as soon as it begins happening, allowing them to quickly put a stop to the behavior. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth—gaslighting typically occurs over long periods of time, with the abuser slowly introducing more and more tactics into the victim’s everyday life until it has gotten too far to recognize it cleanly.
This is why it’s important to not take certain denials of agency lightly. If somebody is doing a similar action to deny your agency multiple times over, it could be an effect of how manipulation is now entering your relationship.
#1. Deny Something They Said
One of the most distressing symptoms of gaslighting is that the abuser might directly deny something they surely said previously. This is especially insidious as it pushes the victim to start to question their sense of reality.
When somebody says something didn’t happen that surely did happen, what does that mean for the rest of reality? Is it possible to even have an objective sense of reality when someone is lying so blatantly? This is why manipulation is such a harmful form of manipulation, as it can really get into somebody’s head and make them begin to question their entire life.
A way to prevent this can be to create objective proof of certain conversations so when they’re brought up again, you’re able to be sure that the abuser is definitely manipulating you.
Final Thoughts on Gaslighting
Gaslighting is an incredibly harmful form of emotional manipulation that is important to be aware of. By learning how to deal with gaslighting effectively, you can help yourself or your friends to catch the symptoms before it’s too late.
If you’ve noticed that you or somebody you know is experiencing symptoms of gaslighting, read the tips to this article and understand that speaking with a medical professional is the best way to deal with gaslighting!