Shared Suffering

ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse

Abuse victims often withdraw into themselves:

• For some, this reflects an understandable mistrust of the world, a common result of abuse. Withdrawal, in this connection, is intended as a self-protective strategy, though at great emotional cost.

• Others may withdraw from close contact, in an effort to keep the abuse secret.

• Many of us view ourselves as damaged in a fundamental way by the abuse. Not just injured, but mutilated.  Defective.  This is not a true assessment of our value, but does express the pain we feel.

Self-protection, secrecy, shame.  We deserve better.

Surprisingly, our suffering may become a means of alleviating the suffering of others. As former abuse victims, we can understand and empathize with fellow victims. Shared experiences may actually help us to heal.

But this is not a hard and fast rule. Wrestling with our own grief, we may find interaction with other victims too…

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