The Child Is Innocent: Releasing the Effects of Child Abuse
– by Alice M. Givens, Ph.D.
Even with the spotlight of publicity on child abuse today, confusion and misunderstanding reign regarding its occurrence. Hostility and even hatred of children exist in our culture and in other cultures as well, and the prevalence of abuse and the enormity of its effects are still not recognized. A large segment of the population still believes that child abuse is insignifi cant and members of this segment are convinced that children lie about and exaggerate such abuse.
When Freud first wrote about sexual abuse in 1896, his theory that neurosis was caused by sexual abuse in childhood drew a horrified reaction from medical and lay communities. He was forced to rescind his theory and shift the source of neurosis to the child’s fantasies of abuse rather than to actual events. Today it is generally conceded that Freud changed his belief only because his body of work would not have been recognized and accepted if he had insisted that parents’ abuse of children caused neurotic problems later in life.Though we now live in a more enlightened age, information about child abuse remains sparse. Child-care personnel and child therapists tend to blame children for drawing abuse upon themselves, probably because such professionals have not released the energy that remains from similar events and feelings from their own childhood.Past experience determines the course of our lives. Although most therapists are aware of this, they do not always know how to transform negative experience. Fortunately, the feelings and events that occurred during our earliest development can be re-lived and resolved. Knowledge about every detail of our past remains deep in our unconscious mind-our memory extends back to the earliest beginnings of life, through our past lives from incarnations as the most primitive humans, up to the present time.
The uniting of sperm and ovum in our conception can be brought into our awareness, as can the cutting of the umbilical cord. Messages, both verbal and non-verbal, given to us in childhood and sometimes later as adults, program us and control us for life. Messages transmitted to us during experiences that are fearful, humiliating, or painful are especially powerful. Particularly in the abusive family, the child spends a great deal of time in an altered state because fear and pain paralyze the critical factor in his conscious mind. Thus, words that are said during these periods are accepted and preserved in the unconscious mind. This principle is the basis for the belief that many people maintain about themselves that they are worthless, wrong, lazy, or evil.
Words spoken to a person who is already in an altered state induced by fear or other strong feelings are the major reason that incest, molestation, and rape are so often kept secret. The hypnotic words tell a victim that the sexual abuse is his or her fault, that he wanted it, it felt good, that he had been asking for it, and that he shouldn’t tell anybody or they would know it was his fault. The victim then forgets the pain and fear and believes that whatever the perpetrator said must be true.However, simply to remove the hypnotic words that are programmed in is not enough. Each person needs messages that help develop compassion, love, and self-respect. The messages must be said in a child’s words while the patient is in an altered state. This does not mean that a therapist needs to reprogram with words that have no truth.
We state reality: “You are an innocent, good child.” The therapist should give truisms that the child wants to hear and that unfortunately are seldom spoken: “You are trying your best to please Daddy. You are a good girl.” This is true even though the child might have accidentally dropped a bowl of cereal and broken it.The therapist should always defend the child in the memory, even though an adult patient may insist that in his current perception he or she was a bad child.
Nearly all punishment of children is for normal child behavior: innocent, good children wet their clothes and beds, soil their pants or diapers, speak in a loud voice, slam doors, spill their milk, drop dishes, defend themselves verbally (talk back), stay out too long, are jealous of the baby, get hungry and cry. They cry because they want to be loved, touched and consoled. They cry because they don’t want to be left alone. Children are cruelly punished for all of these behaviors and also because they are curious and sometimes look at their own or other people’s genitals.
If a therapist feels judgmental toward the child in the patient, then that therapist needs to deal with the hypnotic critical parent that has been programmed into his or her own unconscious mind. For permanent change, the energy must be released from these past traumas, including fear, anger, humiliation, and hopelessness. Simply talking about the past is useless. Too often people merely repeat old myths and legends about their family and themselves. Merely knowing about the is not enough; old fear and hopelessness must be relinquished. Regressi therapy is a process of returning to the past, re-living the experience, a removing the energy from old feelings and beliefs. Re-living details of t experience leads to expression of the feelings and this in turn contributes healing.
Child rearing is the most important task in the world and yet there little preparation and education for it. The survival of the human species dependent upon how children are treated while they are growing from infancy into adulthood. Too often their most impressionable years are lived in an atmosphere of heavy control, intolerance, violence, and anger, and th grow up to create the same kind of world. We can begin to solve the world serious problems by helping children to grow up in an environment of low respect, and tolerance.
This paper deals with child abuse that has occurred in this lifetime with regression to the childhood of the current life in order to resolve t trauma. It may be helpful, or even necessary, to go back to past lives for fu resolution of child abuse.
Types of Abuse
The most dramatic type of abuse, and the one that receives the most attention is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse ranges from the subtle, such as rubbing breasts and legs, to the extreme, where the infant or child is raped anally, vaginally, or orally. In sexual torture the child is held or tied while foreign objects are forced into the orifices of the body. In all sexual abuse, even the most subtle, the child feels trapped, powerless, and humiliated.
Physical abuse takes many forms: twisting ears and arms; grabbing the upper arms and shaking until the infant or child is dizzy, unconscious, brain damaged, or dead; beating with switches, belts, boards, purses, ropes, or any other handy items; throwing the child into bed, against walls, down the stairs; tying the infant or young child by his hands and feet in his crib, in the closet, or to a tree. Many adults can think of ingenious methods of torture, such as burning with cigarettes, holding hands over flame, or strangling to near death.
Distress over being neglected emerges clearly in depressed infants who are left alone in their cribs. They never bond or learn to relate to another human being. Children of all ages are some times left for days or even weeks with little or no food and no sanitation. Later they learn to steal at the neighborhood store, or they collect bottles and sell them to buy food.
Emotional abuse has not been understood or seriously considered in the past, and, to a large extent, today. However, damage to the emotions persists for a longer time than any other type of abuse. There are homes in which a blow is never struck and sexual molestation never occurs, yet the emotional climate is so pathologi cal that the child is permanently maimed. In these homes children grow up exposed to deep depression, to continual screaming and criticism, to iron control, or to continual chaos and crisis.
Words spoken during this kind of abuse are just as damaging and hypnotic as they are in sexual abuse. In traumatic scenes the young person feels trapped, fearful and helpless. The same words are repeated over and over in scene after scene. One mother says, “What’s the matter with you? Are you dumb?” Another favorite is, “You deserve what you get.” One patient’s mother told her at least once a day, “Just look at you. You’re so dirty. Your hair is ugly and stringy. Your teeth are crooked and you’re fat as a blimp. How did I ever get such a child?” This little girl, grown up, is attractive, slim, and has beautiful hair. But until recently she felt ugly, fat and worthless, no matter how slim and well groomed she was. Her mother’s continuous criticism programmed her unconscious mind.
Although most victims of abuse develop amnesia for the abusive situation, there are many states and symptoms that provide clues that abus has taken place.
One of these, which is usually indicative of neglect, is chronic depression. This disorder originates in one or more of the following situations: when the mother is depressed during the prenatal period; when the infant is left alone in a room and comes to perceive life as hopeless because no one arrives to pick it up or hold it; when the caretaker during childhood is a depressed mother and/or father: when fear and anger are so great in early childhood that depression is used as an anesthetic to keep the pain from being felt.
Generalized Panic Disorder
Generalized panic disorder in which the person has panic attacks at unpredictable times, can indicate early abuse. As such persons grow up, small events or even thoughts can trigger in them a repetition of terrified feelings. Any and all kinds of abuse underlic episodes of panic. In the borderline personality disorder, the person is emotionally unstable and shifts from a happy mood to anger, fear, rage, or depression within a short period of time. This disorder, which is chronic, long-term, and extremely difficult to change, seems to originate in very early cruel and painful abuse. The infant internalizes its mother’s rage and fear as well as its own rage and fear. Part of the personality splits off to avoid unbearable pain.
Fear of People and Work
Other indications include addictions, such as alcoholism and eating disorders, which anesthetize the pain from childhood. Fear of people, whether it is of men or women or both, stems from childhood. The more intense the fear, the greater the abuse that is found in the source experiences. Paralysis in work covers fear of doing anything. This fear can be manifested as anger; however it is basically fear, and the roots lie in childhood.
In sexual disorders the most common complaint is inhibition in the sexual response cycle. There may be no interest, no excitement, no erection, no orgasm, or no resolution. Other sexual disorders include exhibitionism, fetishism, sexual masochism and sadism, pedophilia, and other sexual disorders. In my experience all originate in the prenatal experience or in childhood.
Chronic Emotional Disorders
Any serious chronic emotional disorder is usually an indication of child abuse, although occasionally the disorder originates in an event that occurred later in life, such as the Vietnam war or in the experience of being victimized by crime. Such post-traumatic stress disorders are related in aetiology to the terror and anger of early childhood experiences..
Excerpt from Regression Therapy A hand book for professionals vol 2 by Winfred Lucas Blake