The thing about abuse, is that you can go your whole childhood believing that one thing is normal; and then, one day when you least expect it, its like BAM! If you are being abused, the amount of energy it takes to keep it a secret is unbelievably exhausting and has many effects on your mental health and your physical health. But it's more than that, its the awful feeling when you first have to come to terms with the fact that the things in your life that you once considered 'normal' are really, really not. And you know something: thats ok. No one is going to judge you based on what other people have done to you, or to a close member of your family, or a friend. Its ok, and it is going to be ok.
Something we have noticed about the word 'abuse' is that it is very taboo. No one wants to even utter the word, unless it's a joke, because otherwise it would be real. No one likes to admit these kind of things about their family, or their friends. People have decided that 'abuse' is a word that leaves a bad taste in their mouth, and try whatever they can to avoid saying it. To avoid being the whistle blower, and calling people out when they know it's wrong.
We think the first question we need to answer, is what is abuse?
Abuse can be divided up into a few categories, all as serious, damaging and painful as each other:
1) Physical Abuse: That involves anything to do with a person/people hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, pushing or using their body to physically hurt another person.
2) Emotional Abuse: This is something that often people overlook, but is still just as important and can be extremely damaging. It involves name calling, hateful speech directed at anyone, excess shouting, screaming, manipulative language, threatening language or being spoken to in a degrading and insulting way.
3) Sexual Abuse: When someone who does not have your explicit consent, touches you or does something to you in an inappropriate way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
4) Neglect: When the people involved are being deprived of basic needs, such as food, money, clothes, medical attention, personal hygiene requirements and education.
5) Financial Abuse: When you are given restricted or no access to your accounts, or your partner is gambling away or loosing your money without your consent.
As much as it is important to know these 'symptoms' of abuse, so that you can be aware what to look for, it is also important to know something else:
It is not and it never will be, your fault. Whatever is going on, is not a reflection of who you are, it is just the situation that you have been given. Please, please, we seriously urge you, that if something written in this blog speaks to you, then speak up and speak now.
It's going to be scary, lonely and hard at times, but chances are, those are all feelings that you are very used to. But then, it'll be different, it'll be better and you'll be happy and safe. And that is the most important thing. We cannot advise you strongly enough to speak to a trusted adult, who could be a teacher, a doctor, a friend, a member of your family, but anyone- before it is too late.
You are worthy of a good life, you are worthy of happiness and health. So please, remember to speak up and speak now, because you really are important, you are kind, you are a valid human being that doesn't deserve to live like this.
-LF, LR and MG