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As a psychotherapist, my client base consists of a fair amount of childhood abuse survivors. Some were physically abused, some sexually, some psychologically and some were bullied. While their stories differ, the bottom line is, trauma, is trauma, is trauma. Those abused will carry scars.
When the unspeakable occurred in Newtown Conn. I’m sure I experienced the same emotions as most others: confusion, rage, sadness and fear. I am not certain what happened to Adam Lanza during childhood to damage him, but my gut tells me that it must have been bad. I believe that all children are born pure; then their environment validates them, dismisses them, or abuses them. Was Adam Lanza abused as a child? Was he dismissed, neglected or abused at home or at school? We may never know, but it certainly makes more sense than believing children are born evil.
What makes me angry is this man, if he was indeed abused as a child, did not take personal responsibility for that history. I believe taking responsibility for the damage done by childhood abuse is the most difficult for any abuse survivor. They must take responsibility for something that they didn’t choose. No one asks for abuse, it is thrust upon the helpless child. It is not their fault and they bear no responsibility for those acts. But the survivor must take responsibility for their behavior towards themselves and other’s, long after the abuse has ended. Yes, they were abused, but they are in control of how they manage their lives as they move forward.
I am constantly amazed at how survivors of abuse do just that; they take responsibility for their past. Certainly, they do it with much effort and, at times, experience intense pain, but they do it. There are always going to be those who are unwilling, or unable to step up and deal with their histories in a healthy manner, but they are the exception, not the rule. Survivors of abuse are a resilient bunch and strive to contribute to this world in a productive fashion. I believe it is important to recognize that effort and feel a sense of pride that an abusive childhood does not automatically mean a damaged adulthood
About Stacey Lannert
Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.