Facing the reality of childhood abuse in adulthood takes a special kind of courage. It may feel as if sweeping past harms under the rug and ‘moving on’ is the most effective and logical route to take, but in truth, failing to face childhood abuse will only lead to bigger issues in the long run. In order to be an emotionally healthy adult, we must uncover the truth about our earliest relationships. Once we face the truth, healing can begin, and we can ensure that the pattern of abuse does not repeat itself in future relationships. It is not uncommon for an emotionally abused child who does not address past abuse as an adult to repeat patterns of abuse with his or her own children.
Generational Patterns of Emotional Abuse
In most cases, because emotionally abusive parents tend to be very secretive in their abuse, many emotionally abused children will grow up believing that the way they were treated at home was commonplace and natural. Because they lack a frame of reference, they will accept their circumstances as normal, and adapt to the way their family functions. As a direct result, the child will develop a distorted view of what a healthy relationship looks like. Individuals who were emotionally abused throughout early adolescence will typically become adults who lack self-esteem, have difficulties forming meaningful bonds with others, experience a deep and pervasive sadness, and engage in self-destructive behaviors.
Acceptance is The Answer
The greatest indication of future problems, it has been found, is the vehement denial of early abuse. Studies show that adults who deny coming from dysfunctional households (despite having been emotionally abused) are at the greatest risk of perpetuating the cycle of abuse themselves. However, adult survivors of emotional abuse who acknowledge, accept, and awaken to the reality of their damaging childhoods open the door for long-term and authentic healing. If the adult actively seeks therapeutic help, the adult child can successfully break the vicious cycle of emotional abuse without perpetuating the problem with his or her own children. Healing emotionally and psychologically from past harms may seem like quite a task to take on (especially so late in life), but it is truly the only way to avoid propagating generational patterns of relational trauma.
Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse
An emotionally abused child will typically continue being abused by the parents long into adulthood. Patterns have already ben established, and family dynamics are not likely to change on their own. Nothing will suddenly and drastically shift – not unless the adult child awakens to the abuse and begins changing the cycle him or herself, that is. Some adults will come to terms with the reality of their abuse when memories are suddenly stirred awake; triggered by a smell, a song, a movie scene… anything, really. Some adults will simply reach a breaking point, and some may continuously deny the abuse until they recognize their parents treating their own children in a damaging way – emotionally abusive parents become emotionally abusive grandparents.
Acknowledging past abuse leads to a temporarily difficult path, but a path of recovery all the same. And walking along a path of recovery (no matter how treacherous it may seem) is much better than being stuck – stuck in a place of pervasive sorrow and an unwavering sense of unworthiness. Finally, patterns of abuse can be definitively broken. You can reclaim your life, and begin the beautiful and gratifying process of authentic healing.
For more information on our program of recovery, which includes healing the inner child and working through past emotional abuse, please contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.