“Telling a child who is physically abused to feel their self-worth intact while the abuse is going on is like telling an adult not to scratch their car when hitting a telephone pole full blast.” ~ Anne Beaulieu
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. My father had come in angry from work and he was looking for a reason to let off some steam. My mother was in a frenzy because she couldn’t find one of her contraceptive pills. What she didn’t know was that I had taken the pill out of its packet. I was seven years old and didn’t know any different. I thought the pill was candy, but when I tried to lick it, I realized it tasted bitter and I threw it away, falsely thinking my mother would never notice. But she did.
She walked up to my father to tell him one of her contraceptive pills was missing, and that became reason ‘enough’ for my father to explode in a fit of rage. What he now ‘needed’ was a physical body who could not protect itself against his fists, steel-capped boots, and leather belt; my father went looking for one of us, one of his six children.
By the amount of swearing I was hearing from my father’s mouth, I knew that whoever he found first would get it bad. So I ran for my life, from the height of my scrawny, little body. In my fear, I ran into one of my brothers who was four years older than me. Also used to being physically abused by my father and mother, he rammed his fist into my shoulder to ‘teach’ me how to pay more attention. Surprised by the bluntness of the blow, I howled in pain. That was apparently the wrong thing to do; my screaming alerted my father to our geographical position, and he came hunting us down.
Swallowing my tears, I quietly ran to my little metallic bed upstairs and pulled the covers over my head. What else was I supposed to do? Both my parents were always adamant saying, ‘You have nowhere to hide, do you hear me? I will always find you!’ That day was no exception. I just prayed that my father’s rage had died down a little by the time he found me.
But my father saw my brother first. I knew it by the muffled sound of a fist connecting with a body part and the howling screaming that came out of my brother’s mouth. One of the things my father ‘liked’ to do was to bluntly throw us, kids, against the wall so we would go numb, both physically and emotionally. In our state of emotional ejection from our physical body, it then became easier for him to beat us. That day, I heard my brother’s cries echoing for a very long time in the darkness. I cried hopelessly alongside him. I felt helpless, beyond desperate. When my brother’s beating finally stopped, an eerie silence filled the air.
Then I heard my father say, “Where is she, that little ____? When I get my hands on her, she’s gonna get it!” I pulled the bed covers even higher over my head. I prayed and prayed as silently as possible that he never found me.
When a hand touched my foot, I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was my mother’s hand. She sat at the foot of my little bed, as if nothing had taken place downstairs. She softly said, “Where’s the pill, Anne? What did you do with it? I know you took it.” I answered nothing. I didn’t trust that woman who called herself a mother. In my eyes, she refused to protect any of her children from that monster of a father/husband that he was. To me, she was just like him. She spoke to me softly, the way predators often do before they hurt or kill their prey. “Tell me where you put it, Anne,” she creepily said, “and I promise that nothing will happen to you tonight…”
If you were in the shoes of a child undergoing physical abuse right now, what do you believe your self-worth would be like? Would you feel it intact no matter what? Or would you think it shattered in a million fragments like the broken mirror in front of them?
According to the USA 2015 National Child Abuse Statistics:
> 4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.
> Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children.
> 75.3% of victims are neglected.
> 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
> Almost five children die every day from child abuse.
> 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
> 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
> 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
> More than 90% of abused victims know their perpetrator.
“You did not die that day,” was what my mother told me when I finally found the courage to face her for what she had done to me and my brother that day. As for my father, he refused to admit to his death at 82 years old that he had ever touched my siblings or me physically, emotionally, and sexually. For abused children, denial of abuse by the parent(s) is ‘normal.’
My past story is a statistic buried among millions of other children who are/have been abused worldwide. What may make me different is that I have risen above the cruelty I was inflicted as a child. I have since become an expert in the field of Emotional Intelligence, an empowering voice for all forms of abuse to stop and true healing begin.
Telling a child who is physically abused to feel their self-worth intact while the abuse is going on is like telling an adult not to scratch their car when hitting a telephone pole full blast. Self-worth is built in a safe environment.
Having said that …
If you are a child who has come into contact with physical abuse, here is what you can do to empower yourself in restoring your self-worth:
#1. Stop expecting your parent(s) to apologize. When we know different, we do different. Until then, expecting a parent to say sorry for the black eye you got is a waste of your time, energy, and efforts. Focus on genuinely finding ways to heal yourself outside of negative influence(s).
#2. Find a trustworthy, caring adult and spend as much time with them as possible. We learn by example. Seeing examples of kindness and compassion around you might help you restore some positive emotional balance into your life.
#3. Keep a journal of your positive attributes. When someone says something nice about you, write it down! Read your list often, as many times a day as you can. Learn to feel good about yourself. Learn to believe in you beyond the impact of others.
#4. Claim your personal power. No one can ever take away your personal power unless you chose to give it away first. Your personal power is your personal power. Claim it. Own it. Take charge of your life. Your life belongs to you, no matter what anyone else may say.
#5. Never apologize for parental abuse or take responsibility for their actions. You are only responsible for yourself! Make your responsibility about loving you and becoming the best positive version of you.
#6. Get deeply involved in school activities and projects. The more quality time you spend outside an abusive environment, the better. Explore positive mindsets and core values.
#7. Never isolate yourself physically or emotionally. Make it a habit to talk to people. It’s not because your parent(s) is/are (self) abusive that you must behave like them. Make a constant effort to emotionally connect with others.
#8. Never close up emotionally. Keep your heart and mind open because Not everyone is an abuser. Go to museums. Read books. Educate yourself! Leave abusive resonance behind you.
#9. Seek a mentor, counsellor, teacher, etc… someone who has experience in dealing with physical abuse. Know that you are never alone. Help is always available. Reach out.
#10. Police intervention is always an option. Never wait until you are unable to dial 911. Why? Because society will never thank you for protecting an abuser. Talk openly about the abuse. Heal it. Protect yourself from it. OWN YOUR LIFE.
Your Emotional Intelligence Coach,
About the Author: Anne BEAULIEU is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an international speaker, empowering coach, and thought leader in the field of Emotional Intelligence and the Founder of Walking Inside Resources Inc. based in Vancouver, British Columbia. As an accomplished author and community builder, Anne is a powerful catalyst for positive change and embodies successful life strategies that keep empowering men and women across the globe. Read More…