The Insidious After-Effects of Abuse
Most of us are incensed at the very idea of abuse, whether physical violence, sexual preying upon the innocent, or screaming and constant verbal abuse. But when it happens to you from a young age, abuse is not always perceived in the same way.
“Do you remember orphanage life, and them beating your head against the wall?” the retired woman asked our oldest son with concern. “We have friends who adopted from Russia and their child remembers what happened there.”
“No, no, never happened,” he replied.
I stopped dead in my tracks, trying to think quickly.
“Our children all have their memories, and some are not the best…” I offered.
We were doing archaeology and this was one of the volunteers joining in the dig. My son has a slight accent and sooner or later, it comes out that English is not his first language. I felt she deserved a partial answer, yet not an entire life history.
My oldest son dislikes controversy and negativity of any kind, even when it might be warranted. I’m not so sure that he never saw physical violence himself, but to talk about it, in his mind, would make it even worse. He was starved and abandoned–does that “count”? That a prying outsider wanted to know more about such things was semi-unthinkable.
Middle-class, respectable people were horrified at the thought of children being abused. Likewise, children from abusive backgrounds were horrified at the thought that others wanted to hear about it—in therapy, in social settings, or with any stranger on the street.
There were those who went to the other extreme, who didn’t understand why abuse should not be spoken of in polite society. For them, it’s normal.
Our youngest son, Pasha (16), and youngest daughter, Sashenka (12), would share the horrors of their past with pretty much anybody. Pry a little bit, and the floodgates would open. I had to teach them what was appropriate and what was not. For them, abuse was just a regular part of life—didn’t it happen to everybody?
And this is the insidious after-effects of abuse. It becomes de rigeur and regular when it’s anything but. Or, it becomes fodder for rubbernecking onlookers when the victims just wish you’d stop gaping and gabbing about their misfortune.
Tags: abused adopted children, adoptive parenting blog, after-effects of abuse, EE older child adoption issues, how others treat victims of abuse, international adoption and abuse, older child adoption issues, orphanage abuse, Russian older child adoption issues