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Nov 02, 2008
A simmering hot pot of emotions...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Beverly, one of the most difficult types of abuse for a person to get through is that of witnessing violence; And yes, the sexual abuse of a sibling is considered violence. Witnessing is a form of terrorizing, which is emotional abuse. And just so you understand, a child can witness abuse by actually seeing it take place, hearing it take place, or just knowing it is taking place even when the child is nowhere near where it is taking place. The child is left feeling helpless, powerless and inadequate, because s/he is unable to do anything to stop what is going on. In your situation, you knew something bad was happening; you just didn't know exactly what it was. That knowing but not knowing would have left you with anxiety, possibly fear, and the feeling that you were either walking on eggshells or living in a simmering but near-to-boiling hot pot of a house. Children are beacons for such tension; and they internalize it. Children believe they are the cause of everything going wrong around them. That is simply the nature of children.

Beverly, when your siblings tell you that you "don't know what abuse is" they are minimizing the effects the abuse had on you, in exchange for making sure you (and others) understand the extreme pain they were in, pain they were forced to keep inside. Understanding where they're coming from is important; and so is understanding that your pain is every bit as real as theirs.

As for verbal abuse (see the various types of emotional abuse), it leaves a child feeling rejected, unworthy and unloved. The child internalizes that, and believes the messages. We live in a world full of adults who still believe those messages, those lies.

I have yet to find a way to circumvent the residual effects of abuse. When survivors try to avoid their feelings, those feelings manifest in other areas of their lives: relationships, workplace, eating/sleeping disorders; in your case, Beverly, pent up anger that rears itself when areas of your life are out of your control, just like what was happening to your sisters was out of your control. The only way I know is through the feelings. The best way I know is to question your thinking, to question the lies you believe and then to turn them around.

I strongly urge you to seek out some form of counselling, Beverly. A counsellor may be able to help you deal with these residual emotions. You are certainly worth the help.

Thank you for sharing your story with my visitors and me.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Nov 03, 2008
What the Heck?
by: Francine

Beverly, your mom was wrong (even after her death)...you are NOT ugly, you are beautiful. Don't let anyone think different. I am sorry that you didn't have a good family; my parents and brother call me names all the time, too, even if they know it hurts me. You might want to talk to a counsellor or therapist about it. I wish you and your daughter all the best. God bless!

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