Saturday, March 26, 2016

Autism Answer: It Takes A Village To Abuse A Child

My mom with my sister and me.

"If it takes a village to raise a child, believe me, it takes a village to abuse one." ~A Brilliant Line from the movie Spotlight

My mom was an abused child. Emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. 

I had abuse happen to me. Emotional and sexual. But I was not an abused child. 

The difference was made so clear in that line from the movie. My mom grew up surrounded by abusive grown ups and grown ups who looked the other way, manipulating what they were seeing in order to look away and live with themselves.

Because my mom insisted on breaking the cycle, walking away from abuse, learning and making changes, because of this I was not an abused child. Me and my siblings were given the gifts my mom craved when she was a girl. Unconditional love, brave support, and the absolute certainty that we were important and our lives had value. My mom insisted on giving this gift to me and my sister, and then adopted several kids who did come from abuse. The labels they had were many but my mom peeled them away to reveal children. Just children.

This is powerful to know! Because we all make mistakes as parents, friends, and spouses. We all do things that are abusive or cruel now and then. 

But when we insist on seeing our mistakes clearly and making changes, when we are willing to walk away from people and places that hurt us or our children, we are creating an environment of safety and love. Sure, abuse might happen - bullying, pushing, inappropriate talk or touch, stifling of passions, name calling - but when we are open to seeing these things and making changes or walking away, our children are not "abused" children. 

There are, oh so sadly, children who grow up abused. Beaten, molested, manipulated, told in all kinds of ways that they are worthless and their existence is worse than a waste. I wish with all of my heart this weren't true, but I know that it is. 

But there are many more children who grow up loved and adored, with people who will do whatever it takes to be sure they know that. Grown ups who will do whatever they imagine is right to help these children become successful. Children who have dedicated loved ones that also make mistakes.

Abusing a child is not the same as surrounding a child with love that evolves and makes mistakes.

For any of us who worried that we might have been abusive because of these mistakes, this is powerful to realize.

For those of you who stepped in and loved a child when they were in need of support and kindness - in big ways like my mom did or in small ways as I have done over the years - I hope you know that you made a difference. You planted a seed.

And for those of you who were abused children and then did the painful, rewarding, scary, eye opening work of changing things for your children or for other people's children, 

Thank you. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

 My mom with with my sister and I.