Ripple Effects

Don’t ever, ever think that abusers harm just one person at a time.

I’m going to share a story that illustrates well, I think, a concept that I have shared before: “From the first instance of abuse, a child’s perception of the world shifts, and they begin to shift how they relate to others in their life. The harm starts that day, and begins to ripple out over and over and over.”

A little girl was molested one day out of the blue by someone she should have been able to trust. The confusion, fear, and shame were such that she immediately withdrew from all physical affection from everyone in her life. Even her mom. When people would ask her, “WHY?” her confused answer was, “I’m too big to be hugged [or whatever other form of affection they wished to give].”

No one really believed it, but no one realized this was a red flag for abuse, waving high in the breeze. This child’s pain immediately rippled out to impact her relationship with everyone in her life. No one understood, but all began to be affected.

Because no one understood, no one did anything to help the girl. And because no one understood, their perceptions of this child began to shift and change, as they experienced the pain of what they perceived as rejection, and a crazy behavior on her part.

As she grew older, she continued to struggle with any type of physical affection. Again, impacting her relationships with others.

It took years, and more years well into her adulthood, for her to heal enough to feel like she had made significant progress in that area, and even then, she still says that she knows she has more healing to do.

Don’t ever, ever think that abusers harm just one person at a time.

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