Healing the Scars of Child Abuse

By Somali K Chakrabarti

What does a child do when those who are meant to protect her turn into the perpetrators of crime against her?

Abuse in the formative years might be the worst kind of agony that a person could be subjected to. When perpetrated by family members it carries with it the burden of guilt and shame, which affects not only the childhood but spills over the entire lifespan of the person. Every time I read about child abuse, it disgusts me to think about the people who indulge in the heinous crime. More disturbing is the thought of children who are made to go through it.

 

Child abuse

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The Only Way Out Is Through

The Only Way Out Is Through,’ written by Shirley J Davis, is a first-hand narrative of the trauma faced by the author who was subjected to abuse in her childhood. While she avoids mention of the explicit details, Shirley mostly uses the form of free flowing poetry to convey the deep scars that were inflicted on her as a child, and the psychological setback she suffered due to the inhuman ordeal.


In her first poem ‘A Warm and Sandy Beach’, Shirley talks about her childhood dreams – an image that she had created in her mind – of a beach, a safe place with warm breeze, soft piano music playing in the background and happy days. Subsequently she tells about her craving for a new life, about her compassionate therapist Paula, who helped her to get over her haunting memories of her past.

The breach of trust that Shirley faced from people who were meant to protect her, her fear and apprehension and how as a child she psychologically coped with it, deeply moves the reader.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

Free and full of laughter

Of joy and awe at birth

Innocent of the ways of men

Unaware of her own worth

——

Lust is a horrible thing

When used against a child

Who has no means of defense

Whose ways are meek and mild

So she was used in a crime

Perpetrated against her and at last

She became numb to everything

A prisoner of her past

 

It is a short but an intense and an emotionally consuming book. Though I felt that a section of the book ‘The Words of Wisdom From a Professional Insomniac‘ could have been better edited, but overall I must say that through her own transformation, the author infuses hope in the readers about the possibility and ability to overcome all evils.

Now in her fifties, Shirley is studying to be an Anthropologist. I admire Shirley for her courage to come out of the shadows of her past and for writing about child abuse – a topic which is often shoved under the rug.

You can find the book on Amazon.

 

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35 thoughts on “Healing the Scars of Child Abuse

    • March 26, 2016 at 11:26 pm
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      It is Kamal ji. Why I shared it is because of how, in spite of all what she suffered, the lady has tried to overcome it, of course with proper help and counselling.

  • March 26, 2016 at 11:21 pm
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    Hi Somali,

    Child abuse is worse than maiming…it inflicts indelible marks on the psyche, which don’t show but keep festering, shrieking at the perpetrator, yearning to break free from the inhuman clutches of brutes who dare to walk all over the innocence, slaying and betraying the trust, devouring the piety of childhood.

    I hope the author of this book found some solace in sharing her traumatic past. I salute her for coming out of the shadows. I also hope that she gets the monster punished for defiling her childhood.
    I offer my love and prayers for her healing. May God bless her with peace.

    • March 26, 2016 at 11:29 pm
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      Thanks for the kind words Balroop. The person was a close family member – no longer alive. Yes I too hope she has found some solace in sharing her past trauma with readers. God bless her.

      • March 27, 2016 at 11:32 am
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        I hope that monster met his nemesis! As Tolstoy prudently declared…’God sees the truth but waits’

  • March 27, 2016 at 2:24 am
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    Child abuse is a thing I hate from the deepest core of my heart and, I would never have enough words to describe those ghastly maniacs who can pierce the innocent world of a child with their lustful hands!

    I wish the author get some catharsis by sharing her experience and won’t be a ‘prisoner of her past’ anymore. It needs a lot of courage to share such experiences…kudos to Shirley as well…

    • March 27, 2016 at 7:45 am
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      Yes Maniparna, it needs a lot of courage to share such experiences and Shirley has done it gracefully.

  • March 27, 2016 at 8:28 am
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    Shirley is an amazing woman with strength and the determination to find her way. Tragic yet hopeful. Thank you so much for sharing her story, Somali. Empowering. <3

    • March 27, 2016 at 8:32 am
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      Thank you Poet. No doubt her strength and determination is impressive, after all the odds she has faced.

  • March 27, 2016 at 10:50 am
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    I get very upset when I read about any child being damaged by a parent. What gets to me is how many of these abusers think that being a parent, they can do and say whatever they like to a child, and that the child should be grateful and reward them for having had a go at life. Crazy and ridiculous.

    • March 27, 2016 at 11:10 am
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      Yes, besides the damage being done, the child feels guilty of the actions of the close family members or the parents.

      • March 27, 2016 at 11:12 am
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        That is true, and the guilt goes for a lifetime because the people who are not aware of the abuse keep talking about how special and important family is. So there’s a pressure to conform, against that bitter truth.

  • March 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm
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    A very beautiful review of a book on a burning topic! Child abuse, child labor and rejection of aged people are bane and a stigma on modern society. They make us question all our beliefs and values. The only reason behind this is that they can’t fight back and suffer silently, waiting for someone to rescue them. Sad!

  • March 27, 2016 at 6:32 pm
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    A heart wrenching journey for any child.. and it brings me such a lot of grief knowing there are many such children still suffering this way..
    Many thanks for your sharing Shirley words with us… Her trauma I hope helps others to heal as she shares through her poems..
    My heart is so sad that so many innocent children suffer from cruel sick minded adults who pray on their defencelessness

    • March 27, 2016 at 7:34 pm
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      Sue, it has taken a very long time for Shirley to dissociate herself from her past. But the way she is looking forward to doing her PhD now, she comes across as a strong person with a Never give up attitude.

      • March 27, 2016 at 7:56 pm
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        I so admire her wonderful courage and wish her all the best with her PhD and her future that I am sure will inspire many more.. <3

  • March 27, 2016 at 9:47 pm
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    Terrible in one word is how to describe such a heinous crime as you rightly put it. The author epitomizes courage in every form to speak of it even if that were cathartic for her.

    • March 27, 2016 at 10:08 pm
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      Yes Geetashree, completely agree that the author epitomises courage and determination.

  • March 28, 2016 at 10:32 am
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    Thought-provoking. A child is innocent and trusting those cowards who abuse breaks the heart. Very well written and your words has a powerful impact, Somali:)

  • March 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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    I congratulate you for your courageous post to create awareness in the people for a healthy society.

  • August 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story. In discussing abuse of this nature we must leave behind sweeping generalisations and “easy” epithets to describe perpetrators and abuse. Abuse is abuse. But there are no words to describe it “heinous”, “disgusting” etc do nothing to help victims and do nothing to help us to get inside the minds of those who commit these crimes.

    • August 6, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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      Thank you for stopping by Serena. This is the review of a book that has deeply moved me. I agree that we should avoid sweeping generalizations, and yes it is hard to get into the minds of those who commit these crimes.rse than how she/ he already does.

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