Am a bit concerned about posting this since its not often that I write, here. Just a series of things I`ve came to understand more recently externally and internally about “surviving” life.
So..this is my probably not very well written vent.
We (society as a whole) get up in arms when there are reports of children who die at the hands of adults. As we should. Children have a right to be protected from harm, to grow, live, learn, laugh and to become healthy adults.
What about the children who “survive”? Who’s growth [in all senses of the word] is stunted, who’s lives are tainted and who are taught how bad / worthless / undeserving they are?
They might be quiet and studious at school, since it might be their only refuge from harm. They may be further victimised at school. They may never quite fit within the expectations of “normal“, or they may appear to fit perfectly since they cling onto whatever normality they can see around them. They may speak too much, or not at all. They may eat too much or perhaps eating enough to survive may be something they are barely able to do. They may be exceptionally academically gifted, or they may never grasp the basics of literacy and numeracy. They may belong to a socially accepted religious organisation, and they may not. They may come from a wealthy family, or from a family living in poverty. Do you see the point I am trying to make? An abused child is a normal child. The abnormality lies within those who choose to inflict harm on them. Abusers do a great job at acting “normal”, too. Successful careers, a wide social circle, respected in the local community – or not. It keeps being pointed out, but I am doing it again, here and now; they do not have tattoos on their fore-heads saying that they choose to harm children.
How many people notice or care about them, the children surviving childhood? Those children who may be “antisocial“, or who may be “difficult“? The children who are stand off-ish; who, when they make a minor mistake in their school work become quivering wrecks of fear and anxiety? So many people don’t want them sharing their world, their town, or their street – especially not their lives. Yet, these are the same people who will join the masses to campaign for tougher sentences for those convicted of abuses of children; particularly the high profile cases which are detailed in the press*.
Why should children need to tell, tell and tell again? Is it understood what a huge risk a child takes in order that they disclose abuse[s]? The best case scenario is that the child will be believed and will be removed from whoever[s] is/are harming them. Losing the connection they may have with the person[s] who harmed them is poorly understood and often the child is deemed “difficult” for failing to settle quickly in a safe environment with decent carers. The worst case scenario-there isn’t one; those are countless.
Oh, and what about the children who have all hope removed, and who are unable to tell, just once?
The longer a child is left to “survive” abuse, the more they are left to survive with. An abused infant who then becomes an abused child, an abused adolescent and ends up being an abused adult might ask “why didn’t any of those people on the outside look a little closer? Was it something about me?”. No; in my opinion, it is because society as a whole has deemed child abusers as something “other than”, and therefore abused children are seen as society’s “other than” – the ones who are pushed aside, brushed under the carpet and more often than not are deemed to be someone else’s problem.
When a child is being harmed and has been harmed from a time before they had a chance to “be” a non-surviving child in ways that are deliberately and passively dismissed by a huge proportion of society [whether through ignorance, their own fears, whatever], they are left to fight within their own self to keep surviving. Some of us do survive. Which should be a relief, and it is for many of me. Survival is exhausting for others, though. They’ve done it for far too long, already.
It is of course important to make it clear that the responsibility lies absolutely with those people who make a choice to inflict harm[s] on a child, not on the people who, for reasons even they may not understand are unable / unwilling to look, listen and care for children who are too often unseen by those who they need them to bear witness to the realities of their survival.
Many/most of me are very much still “surviving”, while others of me are trying to function in a world where we have very little solid grounding in the knowledge of how to live and which frequently overwhelms us with it`s complexities.
*A whole other issue – why are the public privy to the detailed, traumatic existences of children who die? Meanwhile children who survive are shamed into silence since it is too distressing to bear witness to as a person listening to those words or seeing the wounds from a child “survivor”.
I have not mentioned the unmentionable ones who don’t survive, here since while they matter to us, we know that we are in the minority.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1….am going to press the publish button and hope this post doesn’t cause offence/upset to anyone reading it; which for some reason is a concern.