I am not a judgmental person at all in general, I really don’t care what people do and don’t judge them for doing crazy or even stupid things. However, when it comes to people who abuse others, I can be very judgmental, though probably not my place to be. When I see bad parenting or a child or person suffering at the hands of another person, I get really angry.
Being foster mom to two abused children (now adults), who came to live with me over six years ago, it really hits a nerve when abuse rears its ugly head around me. It is very close to home and I am very quick to get up in arms. I have seen abuse on too many occasions. It happens everywhere. Last year I had an extra child placed with me as place of safety because of her terrible home situation. This year once again there is a child who is being abused at home that my children know. The truth is that it is absolutely everywhere, and many people are trapped in a situation of abuse because they are frightened to do anything about it, they are dependent on the perpetrator or for whatever their reason may be. Some people (particularly people who were abused from childhood) have been abused for so long that they only know abuse, there is no sense of it being wrong in their minds because it is all that they know.
Abuse is a vicious circle and some people are unable or unwilling to break that circle. When I was abused, I could not understand why the perpetrator wanted to do the same thing that he was subjected to his whole life. I really struggled to understand why he did not want to be different having seen the trauma that abuse causes. For me it was unthinkable that an adult could not see right from wrong and not choose to do what is right. I really struggled to understand why he abused me and what made him do it. I spent a long time really trying to figure it out and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. The truth is I cannot truly understand how another person thinks. We are all different and we cannot get inside the mind of someone else. Nor do we actually know each other’s full journey or what people have been through.
Trying to understand someone can be infuriating as well as impossible. I cannot think the way he thinks, and I need to stop trying to, the truth is that my mind cannot comprehend the reasoning behind his behaviour. If I do something wrong, I can look at the situation, analyze it and find what lead to me doing it and I can apologise, grow and learn from my mistake. I cannot make the person behind my abuse learn from his mistakes and I cannot truly know what lead to his behaviour. As much as I always feel the need to analyze everything and come to a reasonable conclusion, I have had to learn that I cannot understand everyone, and I cannot always find a conclusion. Sometimes I just have to understand that I am not that person and cannot think like they do. I can draw my own conclusions and speculate, however is this really any help at all?
I believe that abuse was a normal condition for my abuser. But I thought that he would be able to see the damage and not want to continue the cycle. I became angry that he didn’t stop the cycle, that he abused me even though he “loved” me. He never wanted to protect me from abuse, that is what cut the deepest. Why would someone who loves me want to hurt me? You see I cannot understand because I am not aware of all of the facts of his childhood. It is not something that men talk about, especially in the family that he came from. Boys don’t cry, and men don’t need help. It is a dangerous situation because children suffering from any form of trauma are not treated or given any form of help.
I cannot fix anyone, and I should stop trying. I cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. The only person I am in control of is me. I can be a positive influence and I can share my experience but thinking I can fix the person that caused the problem is really just silly.
In a more recent incident I was sitting with a lady who does a lot of welfare work and she was telling me about some of the cases where the mothers keep having children with different men and the men leave and the mothers abuse their children. I was so disgusted and said, “how dare they, they have no right, they are adults and should know better”. Her answer to me was extremely blunt and hit me like a bucket of cold water. She said, “how can they know that it is wrong if they have never known anything else?”
The Jungle book springs to mind. Mowgli, a little boy raised by wolves in the jungle, rejected humankind despite being human, the animals were all he knew. This I feel to be a great example. Mowgli did not know humans and therefore he rejected them. And honestly who am I to judge anyone in any way. Yes, abuse makes me angry and I want to judge but it is not my place. I do not know the background, I do not know why a mother abuses her children and if it is all that she has ever known, then how can she know different.
I feel that there is a desperate need for education, we need to educate children and make sure that they understand what abuse is. Education will ensure that should a child or adult find themselves in an abusive situation, they will be able to identify it as such. More emphasis needs to be put on emotional abuse, emotional abuse is what stops people sharing their stories as well as causing the victim to feel unwarranted guilt.
I have every right to be angry for the way I have been mistreated but I cannot expect to understand the reasons why people in the past chose to abuse me or what lead them to become abusive in the first place. The only thing I can do is choose to tell my story and choose to make a difference in the lives of others.
I want to be a pillar of strength for anyone facing abuse and I know that in my own way, I can help victims to become survivors.