Shades of April

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

Did you know? Here we are midway through April already and I’ve been so busy with school and tutoring work and getting my Girl from the West ready for graduation and beyond that I’ve barely posted, nary had time to shed sunlight and sprinkle water on the seedlings nestled in my drafts folder.

Yet, in spite of the blossoms and beauty unfolding around me, it’s been a month of anguish. Since last fall I’ve written a series of posts that I don’t know what to do with: put in the book I started? post here? post somewhere else? save for my next therapy session?  All month I’ve read the poignant posts written by other survivors and supporters. I’ve thought about their words and stories, examined my resultant feelings, attempted to piece together the puzzle.

All this material, while important, is raw and a triggering mechanism. I’ve not yet reached that place where I can read or write about any kind of abuse situation without reliving it on some level and then shutting down. Not only do I put myself in a vulnerable spot, but I worry that I place my children in precarious places, too, when I am not fully present. It’s important to be present with your children.

Growing up in a household of present-but-absent parents, I know what it’s like to be figuratively bleeding out on the floor, with no one paying attention. Maybe you get handed a bandage, maybe you’re told it’s god’s punishment for something you did, or maybe you stop trying to get noticed, keep quiet, go find a bandage and tend to your own wound. I know what it’s like to gather the courage to speak to someone in charge, only to have that person wave you off as “overly imaginative.” I wondered: why don’t adults listen?

While I’m still learning how to ask, I am acutely aware of the walking wounded around me. I haven’t always had the courage to speak up about my life, but I’m not shy about calling the police or reporting to authorities when I see abusive behavior unfolding around me.

I did it when I saw a young man assaulting his girlfriend in my college apartment complex. I did it when the downstairs neighbors in that same building fought so loudly the walls shook. Earlier this school year I spoke up about some things that disturbed me with certain children at the school where I tutor. I’m not always thanked. My former neighbors retaliated. The teachers and administrators bristled at my remarks, suggesting I lacked the proper training, suggesting I was making judgments about their skills.

But I know what I know and I will continue overstep my bounds if I feel something is not right.  It if means I lose a job opportunity or a reference, so be it. I’d rather sleep at night knowing I did the right thing. I’d rather walk away red-faced, having misjudged a situation, than turn my back on a child who is wishing at least one grown up would pay attention and say something.

Meanwhile, during this month there are heartfelt posts blooming all over the Internet, little gardens of hope and healing hidden between all the bombast and trivia dominating the online world.

Writer Alexandra, also known as The Empress, writes  “A letter to those of you who grew up in dysfunctional homes.”

Thank you, Alexandra, for writing this letter. You are clearly farther along the road than I am. That is OK. It’s all a journey made one footstep forward and three back at a time. If you are beating yourself up over things that were done to you but not your fault (even if someone did a great job of convincing you it was your fault) this letter sets things straight.

Another blogger, From Tracie, dedicates her site to open and honest writing and advocacy. She also hosts monthly blog carnivals that focus on awareness, healing, and survivor stories.

There are many shades of April, but every day should be one of awareness and prevention. 

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9 thoughts on “Shades of April

  1. “I’ve not yet reached that place where I can read or write about any kind of abuse situation without reliving it on some level and then shutting down”

    It took YEARS of therapy for me to get to that place. I can FINALLY detach myself from what happened to me as child. So I get where you are.

    I am going to go read the letter by The Empress now.

  2. I have never been able to speak up about something that’s wrong — even when I know I’m right — without feeling guilty, or like a horrible person, for nosing into another person’s business. I get shaky and my heart beats loudly in my chest. I try to speak out in anonymous ways just to avoid the backlash, but I’m embarrassed for days, hoping the people never find out. I applaud you for having the guts to do it in an open way, even in your work situation, which could put you in a very vulnerable state financially. It sounds like you are an advocate, a hero…especially to those little ones who are too young to speak out for themselves.

    • Cricket: You know, this really is how I want to view myself, as one who looks out for those who are vulnerable. I feel bad when I see a spider with seven legs or a bird with a broken wing. Just to be clear, I spoke up in a volunteer capacity, but one in which I am really hoping to gain references. At this point in my life, I am not going to B.S. and kow-tow to gain favor. It’s real or it’s nothing.

  3. I had a happy childhood. My parents spanked us, but it was not an abuse. Glad, we were given enough attention. They were always there for us. Parents were glad to give us attention and willing to listen. Being there, and providing support and security…
    Me and brother are loving and caring parents to our kids. My kid is happy and proud to have me and my hubby as parents.
    I never really understand why people abuse kids. I will do everything I can to protect a child from abuse.
    You should never stop what you are doing. Don’t bother by the people who wanted to keep quiet and don’t want any trouble. Make change with one action at a time.There are people who want to support you.

  4. Thank you for this mention. I hope people read it.

    To come out about abuse is never going to be popular. People don’t want to har about it or read about it. Including family.
    For me, my decision to be public about it gave me a new life.

    Even if one sister did stop talking to me. She said, “we agreed to keep this a family secret.”

    the thing is, I NEVER agreed to keep this a family secret.

    And I almost lost my mind from the weight of carrying it in my heart for over 40 years.

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