Child Abuse and Recovery
A Book Review
By: Sam Vaknin
First published on Verbal and Emotional Abuse on Suite101
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Jeavons, Susan Maree - Child Abuse and Recovery, An Anthology - Suite101, 2003
Jeavons is a survivor of incest. Courageously, she embarks on an exploration of the multi-faceted phenomenon of child abuse. Correctly, she observes that such unflinching but compassionate personal quests are the first step on the way to healing. She notes, though, society's reluctance to confront this disheartening and stealth epidemic. It is not easy to be open about abuse. This slender tome is strewn with uplifting but sober quotes aimed at reframing the topic, removing the shame associated with it, and reassigning blame and guilt where they belong - to the abuser.
The trauma of repeated and protracted childhood abuse has long-lasting, all-pervasive, and pernicious effects on the victims. The author naturally tends to idealize them ("survivors are unique ... resilient and resolute ... gentle and compassionate"). The sad truth (later acknowledged in the book) is that many of the victims suffer from mental health (especially personality) disorders, addictions, and a propensity to form abusive relationships as either abusers or abused. These are the aftershocks of a seismic break in trust.
This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"
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In an astute observation, Jeavons extols the Internet as a liberating and healing force. Prior to the emergence of this global network, like-minded people could not form virtually instant communities for mutual support and discourse. Now they can learn from each others' experiences and, most importantly, realize that they are not alone, that the abuse is not their fault, that they are not insane, that they should be proud of having survived their impossible circumstances. The book includes a guide to the best Web sites and communities of child abuse survivors.
More traditional forms of treatment and self-therapy are also covered. The author herself advocates variants of re-parenting, "inner child", and journaling techniques together with anger management. For maximum effect, these should be coupled with self-discovered ways to relax, regain trust (primarily in oneself) and a stable sense of self-worth,
The author leverages her painful personal story to teach survivors about confronting the abuser, forgiveness, seeking help, and sharing. She succeeds to maintain a delicate balance between the chapters that are guides to healing resources - and the compendia of heart rending personal tales of violation and worse.
Jeavons calls for a greater involvement of society in and outside the confines of the family nucleus. She proffers a list of signs of abuse to help determine if a child has been or is being molested (though she admits that child abuse is difficult to recognize and requires close attention and deep investigation). She gives good advice as to how to interact with a child who reports abuse.
All in all, a satisfactory, albeit rudimentary and overly personal, primer.
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