A Christmas Letter to All Victims of Abuse
Jingle bells are ringing everywhere we go. Colored lights decorate windows and lamp posts reminding us that this is the season of cheer and peace. However, to many victims of abuse, this is a season of bleak memories. To these people, the Christmas season is one of Dickens’ versions which should be forgotten or eliminated. To these persons, who feel forgotten and alone at this time, I would very much like to direct a little cheer.
I do not intend to preach; suffice it to say that I too have been there and still bear the scars, but I no longer consider myself a victim. I am a survivor. Having said this, I can say that I thank God for my background because it gave me the strength to overcome personal trials and become what I am today.
No matter where you are on your path from abused victim to survivor, perhaps it would help to look at Christmas as one more anniversary of personal success. It is just one step further along on your path to victory.
I agree that this is a difficult journey, uphill and backward and forward, but you can do it. Introspection and counseling are necessary to smooth out the road and prayer can never be discounted, especially if offered by someone other than yourself. Learning that you bear no guilt for the actions of abuse, no matter what form, no matter who committed such acts, helps to ease the pains of yesterday.
Unfortunately for too many people, child abuse is much more common than realized by most and usually leads its victims to self destructive relationships which perpetuate the cycle of abuse with the next generation of children.
For those who are neither a victim nor survivor, remember that someone near you is. Perhaps it is a member of your family or a co-worker or neighbor. The saddest part of this fact is that child abuse before the age of eight occurs in about 22 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls. How many children do you know? How many are being abused?
The rate of abuse decreases slightly each year due to strict laws and the legal requirement of medical and teaching professionals and some others according to state law—such as day care workers—to report any suspected abuse. However, it is safe to assume that many adults are victims. Because of their emotional and mental scars, they may not behave in what some would term conventional behavior. Do not judge, it could have been you bearing these burdens.
I cannot imagine saying or doing anything to help such victims, but perhaps knowing that others are aware of the situation can ease a small part of their mental load.
We are told many times to forgive and forget, but the reality of abuse is that we can forgive, but not forget. The irony of abuse is that forgiveness creates peace of mind. Mine came when a friend of a few years asked me about my family because I had never mentioned anyone except my daughters. I briefly explained my background and told her that I no longer felt guilty for not feeling guilty. My mother, who is also my abuser, lives a thousand miles away. I write to her—she cannot hear on the phone because she refuses to use a hearing aid—but I still remember our last conversation. It added to my not feeling guilty about our relationship. She is happy with my cards and letters and I accept that is all I can do at this time. No one should feel guilty about severing a relationship or limiting it to fit personal needs.
In any event, even Scrooge survived the Christmas season. You can do it also!
As the immortal Charles Dickens wrote: “God bless us, everyone!”