Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse. The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless. This post is about some of those problems.
Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD. It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more. In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain. Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD. Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think. Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.
Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias. When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious. That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended. Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved. While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created. It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely. Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad. Prayer is also very helpful. Medication can help as well. Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further. It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.
Lacking good coping skills is common as well. When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens. It’s overwhelming! It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so. You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.
Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle. They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done. Start with small things. As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.
Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal. It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have. As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations. Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.
Many victims also hold in their anger. As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill. Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in. As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill. Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally. You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.
Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults. Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence. The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore! Not everyone is like our parents. You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.
Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries. Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries. You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries. I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend. The book changed my life! I even created a free online class based on the book. It’s available at my website at this link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php
Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships. They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar. While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can. You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent. For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.
Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed. You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.