In the Shadow of An Abuser

shadowIn the Shadow of An Abuser

Victims of child abuse have a plethora of literature that encourages them to move beyond the abuse. They are inspired to channel their pain and overcome the obstacles they were presented with as children. All the resources available for this demographic are useful. However, there are those who do not escape the abuse when they are adults. In fact, the dynamics of the abuse shift becoming more insidious and the expression more pervasive. Adult survivors will need to become particularly adept in employing self-regulation, validation, and boundaries to secure their wellbeing.

As an adult, most individuals can set better boundaries for their physical safety. They are more conscious of their size, ability, strength, and potentially helpful resources in their environment. That is the impetus for the abuser’s shift in the way they abuse. Those who are intent on harming their children will increase their use of psychologically abusive tactics including harassment, sabotage, defamation, and verbal assault. Third parties may be enlisted to harass, defame and/or assault the target. These enactments of abuse are typically escalations of the same abuse the adult suffered as a child. The victim is no longer dependent on the abuser in the way that a child would be and that may inspire the abusive parent to make a concentrated effort to include as many other parties as possible to act on their behalf. The sphere of influence is expanded to make up for the limits the adult child can enforce through boundaries.

There are basic truths concerning the dynamics of child abuse that exist irrespective of the child’s age. Fundamentally, the issue remains with the abuser. They are motivated by a lust for power and control over their victim. The adult child can retain their power and lessen the impact of the abuse with the use of a few adjustments to their mindset and behaviors. The first means of repelling the abuser’s harmful actions is self-awareness. Victims must become keenly aware of their responses and tendencies as they relate to the abuser. Make observations without judgment. This step is crucial for adult victims to be able to exercise the inherent power that abusers attempt to negate. Once the adult child establishes his/her patterns a baseline is set to undo any unhealthy responses or trigger reflexes that fuel the cycle of abuse. The unhealthy dynamic between the adult child and the abusive parent is dependent on each playing roles established early in the relationship. Self-awareness coupled with self-regulation will stop the dysfunctional script that keeps playing. The adult child becomes free to decide their own role.

It is equally important to practice self-validation. The adult child must identify and rehearse all their strengths. Celebrate the best in themselves with affirming statements. The practice of self-validation rebuilds the fabric of esteem worn away by years of abuse. Praise that springs internally should echo praise that is showered externally. This exercise motivates adult survivors to establish and defend their boundaries. They are inspired to maintain safe exchanges by their consciousness of their own worth.

Adult survivors of child abuse must be committed to the process of securing wellness because it is continual. Abusive interactions are somewhat predictable but always draining. As a result, there may be times when the abuser’s tactics require the adult survivor to focus more on self-regulation while other times require more focus on self-validation or boundary reinforcement. However, one approach should remain constant, the efforts that led to a lifetime of abuse should be matched with efforts that result in a lifetime of love and respect.

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