Often people realize they were abused when the shadow of childhood abuse shows up in adulthood. It could be in form of taunts, humiliation or any other form of abuse. It takes a while to acknowledge if I have really accepted this abuse unknowingly. We ignore this abuse by convincing that its just a phase, will get over it as the time heals.

Most of the time the abuse is always from “known” members, especially in our childhood or formative years. Age is not important, but what’s more important is what makes people accept any abuse.  When one experiences abuse, they accept the abuse because of many reasons. Based on my own experience and sessions that I have done with my clients broadly there are two reasons

1.            Victim of circumstances

2.            Fear of exclusion

The above two reasons apply to adults too! However, the roots are always in childhood.

Let’s explore these reasons further

Victim of Circumstances:

People accept abuse as an outcome of circumstances. People often feel helpless (feeling of “there is no way out”) while someone is abusing them. (This abuse can be of any form). Sometimes, the circumstances are such that people easily give in to the abuse or emotionally harmful behaviour towards them. These circumstances have various reasons. Below are common circumstances

  •  The family structure may not allow to voice out anything against such abusers (especially with people who have claimed some authority in the family)
  • Financial crisis has also played a profound role in the majority of the cases. For eg: If parents are going through a financial crisis, the son and daughters are viewed (taken for granted) as a commodity to be manipulated in any form. It could be in form of taunts, humiliation, verbal abuse sometimes physical abuse too!
  •  Societal Pressure is also another reason for people accepting abuse. Since the survivor is scared of the family image or own image in society as an outcome of voicing out the abuse, they find it easier to accept the abuse.
  • Unfulfilled emotional need is also one of the reasons. When we are in an environment where we don’t receive love, warmth, and acceptance, we naturally get attracted to people, situations, and circumstances that will fulfill these needs. (Explained below)

Most of the time, abuse is viewed as ‘acceptable’ because of their circumstances. The survivor cannot acknowledge the fact that their ‘being’ cannot be compromised as an outcome of a family crisis.

Fear of exclusion

Many of us still experience this but let’s focus on the subject at hand.

Unlike victims of circumstances, people go through certain unfulfilled emotional needs.

Not everyone has avenues or social infrastructure to explore or express their emotional needs. Especially in abuse cases, some people are driven by a deep need of being included. The place, parenting, upbringing, and social circle that we have born and brought up have a high impact on this need. Most of the time people feel excluded in their own house. As a result, they start looking out (consciously and unconsciously) for people who will make them feel included. It starts with included to play with them, included to see the movie, going to a hobby class, commuting together, avoiding getting bullied at school, etc. (This need is also highly visible in adults today).

The feeling of inclusion often comes with a cost! The cost people pay is in the form of accepting abuse.

This need for inclusion + people we hang out with + lack of self-worth results in acceptance of abuse.

Not only this, people often accept abuse as voicing out may get you lonely again.

It also has a deeper connection with the beliefs that are generated. In this context, a belief that is generated is “Some abuse is acceptable as at least I am to be included”

This need for inclusion stems from an unfulfilled need for love, importance, or freedom. Whoever offers love and importance, with a cost of abuse, survivors often easily get trapped into the same.

Also, the thought of starting all over again independently (if excluded) feels like an impossible task to do.

Well, this belief is not limited to childhood, isn’t it? People struggle with this   In our next article will discuss the impact of abuse in childhood impacts as adults.

Please note: The views expressed in all articles are my views based on my reflections and my client’s experiences. This article is not aimed at anyone specific.

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