This is a view from the inside of an abusive home – better than some, worse than others.
Children are like clay and what they are exposed to and how they are raised are parts of their personalities. If you look at child abusers, you will usually find they were abused children themselves. It can be passed down through many different generations.
In order to break the cycle, someone has to say “No, this ends with me.”
I was an abused child. I am an adult now, and I broke the cycle of abuse. I can now see past the emotional and physical pain of my childhood. Even though I refuse to pass it on to my children, I can still see how it shaped how I feel, think and react to things.
It makes me adamant about spanking being a rarely used form of punishment. You would think this is normal, but unfortunately it’s not. I am the fourth of five children. My brothers are more like our father, the abuser.
There are a lot of people like them – too many.
As a child, I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of my father, my mother (for different reasons), my brothers, of other people (strangers and people I knew) and everything else in my life.
My father was a large man. He was 6 feet tall and 300 to 400 pounds. Luther – how I have referred to him since I decided he was not worthy of being a father – had a very bad temper. He would put all of his considerable weight behind his actions.
It didn’t matter whether it was my mother or one of us. Of the five children, my oldest brother had it the worst. Being the first born and the one who tied Luther to the family life, probably had something to do with it.
I was most afraid of losing my mother. I never knew if this time was going to be the time Luther killed her. Every time he raised his voice, I was filled with fear. I was afraid every time one of the other kids did something wrong. I would always cry when I thought they would get punished.
That was the order of my concern: my mother, my brothers and sister and then me.
Unless you’ve been through something similar, it can be hard to imagine what it was like growing up that way. I was always watching what I did and praying that no one else would do anything that would make him angry.
Sometimes it would get so bad that I thought suicide was the only way to get me out of the hell that I was born into. Because of that, I was extremely introverted. I hardly talked when I was a child. I had trouble talking to people.
It has gotten easier over the years. Because of my childhood, I feel more empathy than most.
Every time I hear about a child being killed or hurt, by any means, I am filled with overwhelming pain. It’s as if I was that child. Just writing this I am tearful.
So whenever you get angry at someone or about something, remember that what you do with the anger is going to stay with your child the rest of his or her life. Don’t continue the cycle. Save the future of your children and grandchildren for many years to come. Don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. There is no shame in being an abused child.
The Ramstein Family Advocacy Office offers a four-week class on anger management that starts May 18. Call 479-2370 to sign up.