I have a big idea…like a big, scary, kind of feels audacious kind of idea. A bit of backstory. This is the start of my work and I it is not all. I expect there to be some negative responses. I expect I don’t have answers to all the questions people will have. I need to share it though because it is a community effort.
I grew up in an abusive environment. It was less abusive than the environment my parents grew up in, as far as I know. I am a parent who was mindful that I would need to do differently and began working on recovery before I got pregnant. I am still working on it now. My oldest child is 16.
My entire life, I have known abuse and trauma as companions in my journey. Not just my own trauma, I have known the trauma of friends and family who have been devastated by the impact of these things in their lives. I understand this will be a lifelong conversation in my life. Most importantly, I know that I am both the abused and the abuser. I know that every person I know who is abusive has been abused. To varying degrees there is awareness. Most people do not know they are being abusive.
Most people do not know they are being abusive. Physical abuse aside, most abuse is less obvious. We have children growing into adulthood in abusive environments, never given the opportunity for the peace to come up with a college essay, let alone a life plan. We give them a diagnosis like Oppositional Defiance Disorder and try to punish them into submission…teachers can really be the worst sometimes….and the best. Teachers are sometimes the only respite a child experiences.
These children are then tossed into adulthood, often before the age of 18. We expect them to engage in society in a way that denies their experiences and shames them for not being “normal.” For some reason, adults experiencing this have difficulty maintaining jobs and engaging in patterns of self care. The spirals, spiral and the cycles, cycle…. all a combination of natural consequences and unintended consequence, buried in shame and judgement.
I have decided that I am going to create something different. Abuse is a common occurrence. People cannot go from one end of the spectrum to the other overnight and, in fact, it is small changes over time that have the most positive impact. I intend to support that skill development.
I am working on forming a community of support for abusers in recovery. I would like to create a system of support that will give young adults a few years in a supportive environment to learn the self care skills they were not taught, coping skills around the impact of their abuse behaviorally and in relationship with others and support for vocational skill building. I don’t know exactly what this looks like, except that it feels like it starts with a farm.
These young adults would be responsible for paying rent and maintaining accountability relative to the commitment to living in the space. Personal responsibility and accountability are critical components to healing. Being able to maintain habits of self care are rooted in there.
What people do not realize about people who experienced child abuse is the unmet, unacknowledged potential that lies in wait if provided meaningful support. The skills that people develop to survive as children are skills that are invaluable later in life. Resilience, resourcefulness, strength and grit are not things that you can just teach to people. They are earned. I believe that if young adults impacted by abuse are given acceptance, validation and systems of support, they can grow on to lead healthy, happy, thriving lives and heal forward.
I want to create space for abusers to be able to access abuse recovery support without shame, blame or judgement. This never means without accountability. This never means without the expectation that abusers have a responsibility to stop abusing. It means that I think there needs to be supports available that meet them where they are and support them to find what they need to stop the cycle of abuse.