What's so bad about Abuse is that its effects never go away. The bad news is that because abuse tends to happen when the victim was a child, the message it delivers is "you will never be the same," "you cannot trust anyone," "you are worthless and should be ashamed of yourself."
I have seen so many clients over the years whose sexual and intimate lives have been damaged well before they even understood what was happening to them. They report to me, much later in life, that they were raped, molested, humiliated, etc. but "that was a long time ago, and I'm over it now." They don't come to see me because of their history but because something else is disturbing their life now. Often, the solution is wrapped in their childhood, the one they thought was long gone.
Abuse is the PTSD of a lifetime. There are very many similarities. Again, because it happens so young, it's often never talked about and sometimes when it is, it gets minimized or worse, challenged. A family member will say it's not possible or they'll ignore it. In many many cases a mother will remain with the molester thereby forcing her child to remain in the same environment where fear and anxiety become a recurring state of mind.
Some say that emotional abuse is worse than physical or sexual. Though not a competition, sex and physical abuse have superpowers because they directly place their marks on the body. Girl children tend to be sexually violated; boys tend to get the crap kicked out of them. It's still the body, the body spirit, that gets humbled and disfigured.
There are stories told about massage therapists working with holocaust survivors who carry past pain in various parts of the body. It was found that when massaged, touching those same places evoked tears and memories. When asked what was happening, the old experiences come tumbling out.
A little girl who is molested may grow up to be a big girl who cannot relax with her partner, cannot let down her guard to receive pleasure or to touch her lover's body. Sex is dirty, sex is dangerous, sex is without value. What is most precious is the maintenance of her space, her self- built boundaries. The triggers that bring back awful memories are the same gestures that lead to lovemaking. The victim freezes and moves away from the loving and back into the unconscious vault of the early trauma.
The body is the source of connection to another. When it can be accepted, a panic can be averted by a touch, an anchor. When orphans were not touched for weeks in early childhood , they never matured, often they died. And when you can't experience touch without shuddering or being flashed back in time, the injury stays frozen.
I write this for those who are afraid to confront their past. By doing that they hold it high, they idealize it, they put it on a pedestal. They give it more power and greater resilience. They let it live.
As an appeal to parents, respect your past. Men and Women. If you ignore it or refuse to explore why you have sexual difficulties today, or relational blocks today, you take away your future. Worse, you take away your children's futures. If you believe that they don't absorb your hesitancy, your impatience, your inability to hold them (or hold them too tight) trust me, they do.
Abuse has to be stopped by the victim in the present. It doesn't lose its power because its in the past. Talk to someone who can help. There are many many professionals trained in these areas. They don't judge. They heal.