Healing your inner child after sexual abuse
“Survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) often have conflicting feelings and opinions about the child they were at the time of the abuse. A CSA survivor might be mad at the child they were back then for not fighting back, not running away, or not telling. There might be the feeling that this child caused the abuse and therefore is responsible for the pain being felt now as an adult. Many of these feelings end up internalized as anger or resentment towards an inner child, representative of a childhood self.”
Below is an excerpt from my book “Undaunted: Breaking my silence to overcome the trauma of child sexual abuse. In the excerpt I write about one of the conversations I had with my inner child. I never would have attempted this work alone. I was only able to attempt it because I was working with a specialized trauma therapist and I had progressed far enough in my recovery to have the strength to tackle this work. Healing your inner child is very intense work and I strongly recommend consulting a therapist of your own before exploring this aspect of healing.
“Please sit down. I would like to have a talk.” I knew I was at a point where I needed to sit down with this young, scared, and lost boy. He needed to hear what I had to say, and I needed to put into words what I had been feeling. We sat there for a quiet moment. I just looked into his empty blue eyes as he returned the stare right back into mine. He was dressed in torn up jeans and a filthy t-shirt that he had worn for the past week. His blonde hair was long and unkempt, like he had just woken up from another restless night where sleep escaped him.
“The first thing I want to say is, I believe you.” He was no longer looking at me. “You are the bravest person I have ever met, and I will do all that I can to make sure you no longer get hurt.” I know he hears me but there is no reaction.
Is this child that stubborn? Was he never taught to look at someone who is speaking to him? Is he a bad kid with no respect for others? No. I know these things are not true about him. He is scared. He has been afraid for most of his life. It has been a life that taught him to trust no one, especially men. It is a fear that most likely started from birth, but as he has explained to me, his first memory is being around two years old. His alcoholic biological father has him sitting on a bed and is kneeling at his feet, holding the red-hot flame of a cigarette lighter to his tiny, fragile toes. His father, his protector, is causing him excruciating pain. As he cries out, his mother and grandfather are beating on the door. He can hear the panic in their voices as they plead with his father to let him go. As the tears roll down over his little cheeks, he sees that his father is laughing. Then darkness overtakes him completely. This was his beginning.
“Look at me, please. You need to know that I love you and I will never hurt you.”
As he looks up at me, I see those blue eyes and I see the tears. In that moment I can’t control myself, and we both cry together. I want to hug him but I do not want to invade his boundaries. I am here with him, having the hardest conversation either of us has ever had. It will have to be enough for now. This little boy has experienced so much in his life, and here he is, still standing. I know he won’t speak during this conversation. Words have been beaten out of him, and the threats from the offenders are real. It is now my duty to protect this child and give him the opportunity to see a world he has only imagined existed.
After his victimization from his biological father, a man who was supposed to protect him and nurture him, his adoptive father then sexually victimized this innocent boy. I wasn’t there to protect him at the time. That would never happen again.
“I want to thank you for what you have done for us. I know you lost your childhood, but now I am giving that back. It is my turn to carry the pain and put it away for good. You are my hero, and I will forever be thankful and inspired by your strength. Always know that none of this was your fault. Now you go play. I have work to do.”
As we stood, he hugged me tightly and for the first time I heard his fragile, scared little voice: “I love you.” The tears started to roll from my eyes once again.
For further reading on healing your inner child please click here