Outside of individual cases, the subject of child abuse doesn’t seem to make news often. How do we keep the conversation on the subject of child abuse, while not diving into individual child abuse stories that feature blow by blow accounts or pictures of beaten dead babies that trigger and horrify us?
I know many, me included, shy away from reading or watching stories of child abuse, afraid of the horrors we might find tucked within, horrors that haunt us for days, weeks and months. I realize there is “attention getting” shock value in showing pictures of dead beaten babies; however, there is a voyeuristic aspect to it that I find revolting. I heard it recently described as pornographic. I had to look up the definition of pornography because I hadn’t heard it used outside of a sexual context before. Obscene is one of the definitions. So how do we keep the spotlight on the issue of child abuse when it’s too ugly to look at?
For years, I have gone out of my way to not be triggered by any images, visual or verbal. Watch the news? I dare, only at risk of a severe bout of depression. The newspaper is much safer. There I can tell by the headlines if the article will trigger me. Television news can send me reeling for days without warning. I have enough horrible images in my head from my own nightmares. I don’t need any more.
Identifying yourself as a child abuse survivor carries the risk of pity. Let me be clear; I don’t want anyone’s pity. I am stronger than anyone will ever know, for only I know the horrors I’ve experienced. There is a certain pride in that strength and it is that pride that doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. What I do want, sometimes, is empathy and understanding.
The road to healing has been a long one and I’m not to the end yet. But I am to the point where I can help others who aren’t as far along as I. So back to the question “how can we, as survivors, help address the problem without looking at the individual child abuse stories that trigger us?” That is our challenge. I do not have answers. I can only bring dialog to the questions.