Editor’s Note: Sometimes I get asked about our choice of articles. She’s Fit To Lead is about enabling each woman who is a part of our community to connect to her own sources of confidence. For many, writing about an experience they’ve had or a cause about which they are passionate is liberating, empowering and a major step in their journey to becoming our next generation of leaders. Sometimes what that means is articles that like life itself are something very far from rainbows and unicorns, and that is by design. RJS
Nearly 700,000 children in 2013 were among those reported as victims of abuse. April is National Prevent Child Abuse Month, and as such, it is important to understand the mentality of the victims as much as it is important to understand the various situations. Abuse is one of the most difficult trials any person can go through, especially as a child. We must do what we can to protect these children, to save their lives.
Bruises are not always blue and purple; scars do not always bleed; smiles are not always a sign of happiness.
For victims of abuse, they know the greater meanings of bruises, scars and smiles all too well. They’ve experienced pain that is not necessarily seen, felt emotions that bear the weight of a thousand bricks and encompassed a mentality that completely transforms their outlook on life.
Surviving abuse—whether it be physical, emotional, or mental—is only half the battle. What many don’t understand is the toll the duration of the abuse has on a person. This kind of suffering is hard to understand, as its effects are different for everyone.
A day in the mentality of a victim is equivalent to being in a hurricane that shows no sign of letting up. No matter what move you make or what defense gets put up, you just keep getting sucked further and further into distress. Another gust of wind pushes you down, another tree falls on top of you and another person watches you from their bedroom window as you struggle to find any kind of remaining hope.
The hurricane itself is brutal, but it is nothing compared to the internal struggle to hold on. As soon as you’re about to give in, it seems as though a miracle happens and you catch a relief. The wind dies down a little, trees stop snapping and the rain stops pouring.
But then you realize, it’s only the eye of the storm.
Suddenly everything comes back with a vengeance. The situation might not be different according to the books, but there is one thing that separates the severity of the two occurrences—this time, your hope was diminished.
You hoped, prayed and cried for a relief to come, and as quickly as it came, it was gone. The anger and hurt is so severe that you don’t know how you could possibly go on, so what do you do? You allow your circumstances to take control of your mentality.
Things happen in life that can’t be explained. Children go unloved, souls are stomped upon, spirits are crushed and storms rage through like a never-ending hurricane season. As terrible as these storms are, however, it is crucial to remember that every storm has to come to an end at some time. It may take days, months or even years, but the sky always clears and the sun does shine down again.
When the storm does end, you can expect destruction, but you can also anticipate transformation. You are not the same person you were when the abuse began. At the beginning, you were vulnerable; in the midst of it all, you felt weak, but you stood firm in your faith; and now, at the end of it all, you are a living definition of the word strength.
Regardless of what the abuse is, who the perpetrator is or how long it lasts, the most important thing to remember is to never give up. You always have tomorrow and tomorrow always has the potential to be the best day of your life.