It takes a long time, for many survivors it can take decades, to come to terms with the abuse they experienced as a child. You spend years denying it, pretending it didn’t happen, barely giving it a second thought, and trying to avoid any thoughts of it whatsoever, but the only way to truly experience the freedom of healing is to dig in and work through the trauma with a trained professional.
Until that time comes, things often just don’t make sense. “Why do I feel this way all the time”, “Why does this always bother me”, or “What’s wrong with me?” If you do remember what happened but choose to avoid it, then those thoughts of, “It was a long time ago, it doesn’t bother me anymore” or “That has nothing to do with my problems now” might be your rational of choice.
Either way, childhood trauma is going to affect you into adulthood, and even with doing the hard work of healing, there will still be times of struggle. The difference is, the understanding, awareness, and skills you learn with the help of a trauma-informed professional can make all the difference in coping during those ongoing tough times.
Our chat on this episode of the podcast is with Miranda Pacchiana, MSW: I am a writer, social worker, and survivor of childhood sexual abuse. When I first disclosed to my family that my brother had abused me as a child, I thought my whole world would change. I assumed my family members would share my desire to examine what had gone wrong in our home and pursue a path toward healing together. I was sadly mistaken. In fact, their behaviors left me feeling as though the abuse didn’t really matter. Yes, they believed me–but my family members still seemed determined to brush my trauma under the rug. Over time, I came to realize they viewed me as the problem for focusing on the abuse. Not the brother who had abused me or whatever damaging experiences he had undergone as a child.
I was blindsided. Feeling more confused and alone than ever, I searched for resources to help make sense of my situation. I came up mostly empty-handed. I have made it my mission to examine family responses to the disclosure of child sexual abuse and share this information with my fellow survivors so that I may provide them with comfort, information, and support. I created The Second Wound to offer the kind of understanding that I desperately searched for all those years ago…and it is for every survivor whose family members’ failed to support them but instead added to their pain and trauma. You are not alone. You ARE worthy of respect, compassion, and love.
During our chat, we discuss the challenges of confronting family members who your childhood trauma, in particular:
- What is “the second wound” for trauma survivors?
- It’s one thing to come to terms with a traumatic past, and as difficult as that is, revealing the details of the abuse to family members adds a whole new layer of fear, anxiety, and shame.
- The dynamic of a family who intentionally is covering up the abuse in order to hide a secret and keep the family name from being tarnished, vs the dynamic of telling family members who have no idea anything ever happened, and the risk of invalidation or minimization.
- The importance of a multi-faceted support system, and how to go about building up the support when you first begin to end your silence.
- Challenging the family’s desire to keep everything a secret, and finding the courage to talk about it and not live in silence.
- Second-guessing yourself before and after you share your story.
Be sure and follow Miranda on Twitter and Facebook: @SecondWound, and on Instagram: @TheSecondWound. Learn more about her coaching, clinical work, and her story at SecondWound.com as well as her podcast “Truth and Consequences, Navigating the Aftermath of Trauma.”
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All conversations and information exchanged during participation on the podcast and BeyondYourPastRadio.com are intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on the podcast or posted on the above-mentioned website are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.