(The following is a personal essay and does not by any means categorize everyone who was abused as a child as an abuser themselves. Some, unfortunately, are doomed to repeat the horror of their own youth.)
I’ve often wondered what turns a former victim into a victimizer themselves, after they’ve suffered through years of physical and emotional abuse. When does that flicker of hope eventually get snuffed out and replaced by an inferno of enmity? How often did their pleading cries go unheeded until they decided that no one gave a damn about them? And if they were to survive into adulthood, they would have to fend for themselves; literally shutting down all emotions. They no longer had the luxury of having any feelings.
At what point did they transform into the monster that had instilled so much terror into their own young lives? Their fragile and bruised psyche so damaged and burned out from the constant onslaught of verbal and physical abuse, they began to wonder if it would ever cease. Would they ever be free from this pain and helplessness? The bitter realization slowly dawning upon the child that they were on their own, and that no one was coming to their rescue had them feeling deserted in their greatest hour of need: someone to tell them that they were loved nd cared about. They were not just some random cosmic mistake.
They began to see themselves and their life as having no value. Why were they still alive? Children look up to their parents with trusting eyes filled with unconditional love for the two people who brought them into the world. But if the parent is abusive, how can a helpless child react except with intense hurt and confusion, wondering what they had done wrong. Their young, impressionable minds can only tolerate so much before their self-confidence begins to crack and slowly chip away.
Children are a gift. They are to be treasured. I’m sure that as adults they do not want to repeat the cycle of abuse that they had lived through. Prisons are probably filled with those once innocent children. Is society’s lack of empathy for others partially to blame? Are we overwhelmed by a huge sense of apathy? What is the answer to this then? What can we do as individuals to solve this human ill? I wish that I had the answer, but I do not. All that we can do is do our best in loving those around us. To respect all life. To see each person as a unique gift to the world.
One person = one changed life.