A history of child abuse and neglect can impact on an adult's quality of life in fundamental ways. It can make basic day-to-day activities such as eating, sleeping, working and study, very difficult. Child abuse and neglect can effect your mental and physical health, and your relationships with the people around you.Survivors are often out of touch with their feelings - confused by emotions or reactions they cannot explain. They have often been raised in environments in which a child’s normal expressions of upset or discomfort were punished or ignored. They may have been taught to attribute the negative emotions associated with abuse, such as shame and anger, towards themselves, rather than towards their abusers. This confusion often persists into adult life, resulting in heightened experiences of:
- Grief and sadness
- Shame, self blame and guilt
- Helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness
Like everyone, survivors have a right to “a life worth living” (Linehan 1993), but instead survivors often live with chronic distress and pain. For many survivors, these emotions are such a basic part of their day-to-day life that they don’t realise that there are alternatives. They may try to regulate their emotions through alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or other compulsive and/or self-harming behaviours.
Learning about emotions – what they are, where they come from, and how to respond to them – is a crucial part of building a worthwhile life. Survivors can learn new, effective ways of regulating the intensity of their feelings. For many survivors, learning about the psychological impacts of abuse helps to clarify why they have struggled for so long, and how they are going to move forward.Acknowledging these feelings, understanding where they come from and why they are so intense is an important part of any survivor’s journey.
For more information, visit www.asca.org.au
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