By Crystal Sinclair
When you’ve been abused as a child, the effects don’t just go away when you grow up. It’s a sad fact that every person who has been physically or emotionally abused will be effected directly because of the abuse they received at some point in their life. Unfairly, it is up to the victim to seek help to get over these devastating effects and move on with life.
There are a lot of different kinds of abuse. I’ve finally discovered that my aunt suffered sexual (physical) abuse at the residential school. Physical abuse is when a person is hit, or forcibly made to do anything that they do not want to do. The abuse becomes sexual when victims are forced into sexual acts without their consent. When sexual abuse is done to a child, there is never an excuse – ever! Not only is my aunt going through major healing because of the abuse she received, but my dad is too because he feels guilty for the abuse happening. He is behaving as if he could have stopped the abuse.
What my dad is going through is a form of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse (or physiological abuse if you want to be all technical) is when someone is abused with words and actions. Almost all forms of physical or sexual abuse also include emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is when the victim is made to feel inadequate or guilty for just being who they are. Excessive yelling, insults, use of guilt, anything to make the victim feel like a bad person is a form of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse is very common in society and physical abuse is also very prevalent. Both types of abuse are often passed down throughout the generations of family members if victims are left untreated. Jack and I are lucky – our dad was clearly emotionally abused and although he can be kind of hotheaded sometimes, he never makes us feel inadequate. I guess when he was a drinker that was his way of passing the abuse on.
Victims of abuse can go on to lead happy lives – they absolutely can. It just takes work. For many victims, they will lead seemingly normal lives; even see great success in business and family. The reality is though, eventually the abuse will come back to haunt them. I’m watching my dad right now and he is literally being haunted – I can see his eyes go wild when he has a memory he is trying to block. It’s really scary. The strangest part for me is that I seem to be some sort of trigger for him. It’s kind of making me feel strange, as if I might be a bit to blame. I know that’s not true, it’s just another way to pass on the abuse, but still, I see how it happens.
My dad is now starting to take the steps to get better. He needs to talk about what happened to him and to get some closure to his life trauma. I hope the healing circle will help him move beyond this pain so he can get back to being the dad I have fun with, the dad who likes to laugh and make stupid jokes. I miss him. Be strong dad, we’re all here to help you – whatever you need.