Supporting survivors of childhood harm
I have a special interest in working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and domestic abuse and have worked with hundreds of survivors supporting them to recover and grow.
The impact of childhood harm, whether that is sexual, emotional, physical or psychological can be and is devastating. It can change the way a person views themselves, views others and the world around them with life long effects.
Low self esteem
It can result in:
- Difficulty in forming secure attachments to others
- Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep and eating disorders, drug and alcohol dependancy
This list is by no means exhaustive and it might all sound quite overwhelming. On a really positive note it is proven that talking therapies can improve your overall well-being and can help you to overcome some if not all of the above.
Survivors of domestic abuse can understate or minimise the abuse without realising. They may have suffered from witnessing the abuse of others (e.g. a parent) and think ‘this doesn’t count’.
Witnessing abuse within families (siblings, parents, grandparents) can be devastating. The messages we learn by witnessing this can affect our self esteem, the way we think and feel about things and can affect how we relate to others.
Because it is still often referred to as domestic violence it is a common misconception that it only refers to physical aspects of abuse but it also includes:
- Saying that they will commit suicide if you leave them
- Using your children as an emotional threat
- Being cruel withholding their love and affection
- Playing tricks making you feel like you are going crazy
- Hiding things so you think you are losing your mind
- Making you question your own judgment so you become reliant on them for the answers
- Having sex with you without your consent
- Insisting on performing sexual acts which you might not feel okay about
- Sharing private intimate images of you to their friends
- Hitting and punching are the more obvious ones
- Pushing you against something with the intention of hurting
- Opening a door in your face with the intention of harm
- Throwing something at you
- Withholding money for essential things
- Having full control of the household money, not letting you have equal say
- Not allowing you money to treat the children even at birthdays
In 2013 the government renewed the definition to include coercive control, which is the excessive control of an individual. Examples of this might include constantly checking a partner’s phone and social networks.
Timing a person and giving an unrealistic time limit to complete something, like going to the shops or taking the children to school
For more information on the definition have a look at the government website at www.gov.uk/domestic-violence-and-abuse
Women’s Aid also has some excellent information and insight www.womensaid.org.uk
The NSPCC have really great resources and their information is current and up to date www.nspcc.org.uk