PERSONAL COSTS OF ABUSE
Loss of "ME," my spirit, who
I am and who I could have been.
Loss of connection with physical
self, loss of sexuality, physical manifestations
of emotional pain, loss of health, physical damage
including self-inflicted pain. "My parts don't work,
I can't feel them."
Loss of memory and memories -- moment
to moment, day to day, week to week, month to month,
year to year. Then you realize you've lost your
What is choice? In the interest of
self protection you believe its best to stay
hidden and not assert yourself. Choice implies you
are asserting yourself, and when you have no self,
choice has no meaning. You are afraid to make choices
because youre afraid to assert yourself. You
believe you need to keep yourself hidden and invisible.
Partners and children of survivors
often feel like they are dancing to music they cannot
hear and are living with ghosts with whom they are
unfamiliar. Individual and family plans, dreams,
and careers often take second place to the turmoil
caused by the survivor's emotional wounds.
Some partners say, "For a long time,
there are three people in the relationship; you,
someone else, and the abuse."
The ability to trust anyone, including
self, is severely crippled. You feel that you can't
trust others, society, community, authority, self.
...and this is just the tip of the
Some people think they were not
abused as children because they were never hospitalized,
it only happened once, their parents didn't mean
it, or didn't know better, or other people had
it much worse. Abuse of any kind: verbal, physical,
sexual, emotional or neglect, affects children.
The after effects can show up immediately or later
Elana Gil, Ph.D.
Only Five Not Alive
Only five -not alive.
Made me cry - want to die.
A black hole without light.
Will I give up this fight?
How many years to go to peace?
Will I be alive?
Why did this happen it’s so unfair
I feel so broken, do you even care?
You have left me fearful, afraid and
How could you do this, you were my Dad.
I’m picking up the pieces of
my shattered soul
My healing has begun, I want to be whole.
THE POWER OF TOUCH
In the longing of my soul a touch runs
I feel your cold, calculated cruelty.
Knowing well the pain of degradation,
My "Self" is lost.
Not able to cope with the loss,
I pretend your hurtful touch never happened.
Your touch stops me from feeling,
- from living.
Years pass by; the reality of your
Steals my childhood,
Robs me of life's opportunities,
Imprisons me in shame.
Unable to be real, unable to BE,
I become a robot. I act;
I say and do the socially appropriate;
Unaware of the emptiness within.
The power of your touch stays with
Suicide, self inflicted wounds, mutilation, and depression
All rear their ugly heads.
Your control is complete.
In the abyss of terror, unable to move
Another TOUCH reaches my soul.
The unseen touch of a stranger sends energizing warmth
I feel stronger, I sense an inner joy,
A will to live, a desire to BE.
Have you even been happy?
Have you ever thought that you were important?
Have you ever had a child?
Have you ever had a child tell you that they love
Have you ever had someone look up to you?
Has anyone around you died and you didn't know what
to do so you just cried because you thought that was
the right thing to do.
Do you know what love is?
Have you ever been in love?
Or, do you feel that love is just a word people use
so they can feel like they belong?
Why I'm asking is because I don't know myself.
S. (Age 17)
LIKE THE OTHERS
She looks and acts as a woman
Like the others.
She has a partner, makes love, gives birth
Like the others.
But secretly she searches
For a childhood never known
So that she might laugh, play, be free
Like the others.
THROUGH DARKNESS AND THORNS
Young baby, playing in the grass
Oblivious to the blood, the horror, the tormented
Young toddler, playing in the sand
behind the betrayal, the guilt, the forgotten land.
Running, running not to yield
to the pain, the torture, the haunted calls.
Young woman, lost in a maze of uncertainty
lonely, confused, in pain;
not believing in tomorrow
nor that anything from life could be gained.
Brick by brick the walls were built
from fear, from pain, torture in the night.
Higher and stronger the fortress grew,
until hundreds of faces were hidden from view.
Then one day it happened,
loosened by a kindly voice,
guided by a gentle hand,
closets opened slowly in the dark recesses of our
exposing carefully bound parcels
held behind locked doors.
A single tear
Guilt and terror fell like rain,
memories came in torrents,
feelings not far behind
so new, so raw, not yet dulled by years outside.
The hand guided us gently thru the mazes of our mind,
others leading blindly or following close behind.
Slowly we learnt to trust,
leave old, seek new ways to live.
At times the road seems endless,
stumbling blindly thru darkness and thorns,
crashing waves of uncertainty, pain and fear,
wanting so badly at times to just leave, go to the
But through the darkness glows an amber held deep
within our soul,
lit by survival, fueled by hope, kindled by friendship…
Candles burn brightly in the corridors or our world,
lighting forth the journey of healing,
pulling together the pieces of our mind.
- Personal Costs of Abuse
Personal costs include a crippling
of self confidence, learning and retention, the
ability to create and maintain personal relationships,
problem solving skills and a loss of physical, mental
and emotional health. Career choices are affected.
There is a ripple effect, causing
losses of an individuals identity, self and
independence. Many people experience significant
financial losses. Depression is common.
The loss of me (There
is no me. Who am I? Who could I have been? Where
would I go? I should be what everyone else wants
me to be.) is symptomatic of an individuals
disconnection from the whole human spirit.
Survivors often experience a distorted
image of their body, a loss of sexuality, a loss
of feeling feminine. They become disassociated from
all feelings, and have no sense of what is good
or bad. There is a constant masking of their true
feelings. They believe sex is love."
There is often a numbing affect (I
lost my body, I couldnt even tell if I was
cold), and a loss of judgement, the ability
to choose, and the ability to perceive.
For the survivor, choices are dangerous
and life threatening because to assert oneself is
unknown. Survivors then drift through life, since
invisibility and always pleasing others is imperative
in order to survive.
One survivor remarked that I
feel out of it, crippled by societys ideas
about setting goals, making a commitment to meet
those goals, which means risking failure, because
I dont even know who I am. For many,
choice implies that they are asserting themselves,
but if you have no self, choice has no meaning.
The fear of the unknown, the loss
of connectedness that goes with personal relationships,
an inability to trust, feelings of guilt and shame
are common to survivors. As well, survivors of abuse
sometimes lose their sense of time (past, present
and future), experiencing a terror of the past and
future and living moment to moment, forgetting each
They may experience a loss of memory
and time lines, especially short term. Comprehension
and retention are affected. Survivors may avoid
situations, places and/or conversations, since many
will trigger memories of the abuse which they experienced
Sometimes positive effects occur.
For example, families are more aware of the issues
and are able to be more open and educated about
abuse. However, sometimes other people claim to
be supportive, while saying that the abuse was the
Support is often hard to accept,
appearing scary and intrusive. Survivors are sometimes
evasive about accepting support, their lack of trust
making them wonder what do they want?
For survivors of abuse, maintaining
connections is difficult, and if a survivor can
connect, it is hard for he or she not to become
abusive. A partner in a relationship often becomes
abused in the process by the survivor.
Survivors may isolate themselves.
As one survivor said I feel that life is shit,
and anyone who comes in contact with me will become
shit. Some survivors become self abusive,
taking the hurt they feel for others and inflicting
it on themselves.
You cant take intellectual
knowledge and apply it to help yourself. You cant
parent yourself, but you can parent your children.
ON PERSONAL COSTS OF ABUSE:
Bochner, Sally, Wolf Koenig
and Colin Neale. Listen to Us Series. Film series,
directed by Wolf Koenig and Sally Bochner. Canada:
Distributed by the National Film Board, 148 min.
45 sec., 1992.
Bower, Bruce. Survivor Syndrome:
Childhood Sexual abuse Leaves a Controversial Trail
of Aftereffects. pt.2. Science News (US),
September 25, 1993, vol. 144 no. 13, p. 202-4.
Came, Barry and Danylo Hawaleshka.
Scandal and Suicide: A Tragic Death Darkens
the Gardens Sordid Tale. Macleans,
November 10, 1997, vol. 110 no. 45 p.28.
Caulfield, Paul and Don Haig. Mirus
Films, Film Arts Limited, Co-producers. Finding
Out: Incest and Family Sexual Abuse. Film, directed
by Susan Murgatroyd. Canada: National Film Board.
25 min. 1984.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Abused Men. Film. Canada: Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. 19 min.
Fennell, Tom. Grim Tales From
The Gardens: The Sex Scandal At the Hockey Mecca
Keeps Growing. Macleans, March 10, 1997,
vol. 110 no. 10 p.14-15.
Fisher, Niki. Breaking the
Silence: Notes of a Victim and Therapist of Child
Sexual Abuse. Canadian Woman Studies, fall
1991, vol. 12 no. 1, p. 98-9.
Hawaleshka, Danylo. Tearful
Farewell: Family and Friends Say Goodbye to a Hero
(Martin Kruze). Macleans, November 17,
1997, vol. 110 no. 46 p.30, 32.
Keeler, Helen. Too Painful
to Forget. Canadian Living, November 1997,
vol. 22 no. 11, p.37.
Lindsay, Darshan. Pervert of
Doukhobor Messiah? Decades-old Tales of Sexual Abuse
Shook a West Kootenay Religious Community.
BC Report, January 19, 1998, vol. 9 no. 20, p.28.
Mallam, Teresa. Their Mother
Married a Molester: A Former Pastor is Convicted
of Sexually Abusing His Stepdaughters. BC
Report, November 6, 1995, vol. 7 no. 10, p.22-3.
McLean, Candis. How a Predator
Can Gain a Familys Trust. Alberta Report,
September 14 1998, vol. 25 no. 39, p. 27.
Ontario Educational Communications.
Child Abuse: A Twisted Love. Film, directed by Eric
Jordan and Paul Stephens, written by Eric Jordan
and Paul Stevens. Canada: Distributed by OECA, 30
Ouston, Rick. Nobody Messes
With My Kids: What Would You Do If You Discovered
the Man You Loved Had Sexually Abused Your Daughters.
Canadian Living, July 1993, vol. 18 no. 7, p.52-4.
Reid, Jennifer. God Understands
and Feels My Pain. Compass: A Jesuit Journal,
May-June 1995 p.35.
TV Ontario. Child Abuse 1 Film. Canada:
Distributed by TV Ontario. 27 min. 1992.
Van Gijseghem, Hubert and Marie-Chantal
Gauthier. Links Between Sexual Abuse In Childhood
and Behavioural Disorders in Adolescent Girls: A
Multivariate Approach. Canadian Journal of
Behavioural Science, July 1994, vol. 26 no. 3, p.
Abuse: "I sentence you to a life of torment inside your mind!"
Big or Small,
The Pain is Worse
On the Inside.
It happened when
I was 10…
And still feel it
as if it happened
If we don't speak out
no one knows that
I need help from U!
Be strong in the telling.
Hands coming together
to help each other.
Coming together to help
each other heal…
I did Survive.
To my loving husband,
Mark, who always
believes in me....
Abused at age 10,
STOP child abuse.
Tye, age 27
With time -
Be strong for yourself
Take one day at a time.
Child abuse affects
peoples Mental and
Tarah, age 10
When you abuse
your child you
physically and mentally.
Heba, age 16
Children are our future
bodies and minds
Put your self in
shoes that has been
You would not like it.
So help stop child