The second list is divided into five areas to emphasize the many faces abuse can have. (I think this came from “Facing Codependency” by Pia Melody, Andrea Miller & Keith Miller). Abuse is abuse whether mild or severe and should never be minimized or compared. What happened to you was real and it was yours. In recovery we get to say it, have it acknowledged by the group in an accepting way that legitimatize it and allows us to process all the pain, shame, humiliation and loss of self that went with it. It is interesting to note that although the faces look very different, they are realty the same side of the same coin nonetheless. USE IS ABUSE NO MATTER THE EXCUSE!
The line between specific acts in one group or the other are academic and there is a lot of cross over from act to act. The point is we need to begin talking about what abuse is, call it by its name and put a stop to it whenever we see it.
1. threatening to do physical harm “I’m going to make you sorry for saying or doing ___.” “Talk back again and I’ll kill you!”
2. do physical harm like hitting, spanking, slapping, pulling on arms and legs, burning with cigarettes or matches
3. physical abandonment as in death of parent, divorce/separation, working
80+ hours a week
4. forcing the child to select the implement of their physical abuse “Go out back and get me a switch and then I’ll give you what for!”
1. inappropriate talking to or about sex
2. inappropriate viewing (voyeurism) of child or exposure to a child
3. inappropriate fondling or touching private parts of the body, etc.
4. penetration of any orifice for sexual pleasure or punishment of the child
5. USE of any kind for self gratification at the expense of another
1. manipulate affections “I love you when you do ...”
2. constant switching of responses (The parent that changes moods from day to day, moment to moment without any logical reason. The person could be chemically addicted or unhappy in a relationship, etc.)
3. not being there emotionally (workaholic, too busy helping save the world to be there for one’s own family when it counts, on a daily basis)
4. minimize or negate one’s feelings “You really don’t feel THAT bad, do you?” ‘ ‘Big boys don’t cry’ ’ ‘ ‘Good girls don’t get angry.”
1. playing God for another
2. making fun of a child’s natural curiosity about God, creation, etc.
3. using religious tenets, ideas to control others
4. justifying any kind of abuse in the name of God or other religious entity
5. exposing children to spiritual demands beyond their age appropriateness
I. told you were stupid (openly or by not letting one grow up in a healthy way)
2. ignored when you needed to learn life skills (due to adult preoccupation with self, expecting children to just know how to grow up by themselves)
3. belittled effort and performance in front of others
4. comparisons of any kind
Now that we have a better handle on what it looks like we can affirm healthy boundaries by taking responsibility for examining ideas and people that approach us. We have an obligation to ourselves to use our power to determine for ourselves what is healthy and what is not for us at that time in our lives. We also are obligated to ourselves to say “Ouch! That hurts and please don’t do it again” when we are abused. It may be difficult at first but you are precious and are worth recovery. If you need courage keep coming to meetings and being real and it will come to you. The “Iron Curtain” is a global example of people saying “It’s not OK! We aren’t going to stand by and let others abuse our freedoms any longer!” And it all started with one person, one small voice at a time ignoring the guns, beatings and yes even deaths. The interesting thing is that just like these millions that are now beginning to experience freedom for the first time in almost 8 decades, there is a lot of responsibility that goes with it. We in recovery are faced with the same kinds of decisions too. It took me over 40 years to get where I am and I’m worth giving my best to myself for the rest of my life and so are you!