Overcoming Child Abuse

How did my siblings and I overcome our child abuse and go on to lead fairly happy and productive lives? I hear that question a lot.

I cannot speak for all of my brothers and sisters, but the simple answer to this question is that we seldom, if ever, had the time to get into any trouble because our Pa kept us so busy working on the farm. By the end of the day when we were done doing all of our chores, we were usually so tired that all we wanted to do is sleep. But we grew up at a time when the average mindset was entirely different, too.

Even today, I believe the most effective way to prevent children from becoming alcoholics and/or drug addicts and stay out of trouble is to keep them busy doing something positive–like participating in a sport or hobby they enjoy, such as cheerleading, track or karate.

In spite of the abuse, my parents were strict Catholics who took us to church every Sunday. They prayed on their knees every morning and every night, and they made sure we all learned how to pray as well. We grew up with a pretty strong belief in the power of prayer and I believe we used that to get through tough times, because it’s basically all we had.  However, most of us were lucky enough to find positive role models. We were blessed enough to have a loving grandmother and good neighbors.

We never had alcohol of any kind in our house. I never saw my parents drink a single glass of wine or a single can of beer. If we wanted alcohol, we would have had to walk two or three miles into town to buy it, but we did not have the time or money to do that. We were also too young to buy it. If we earned any money, we usually had other, more important, things we needed to buy, such as school supplies. As far as drugs go, they just were not nearly as prevalent as they are today. I never knew a single drug addict in my home town. I did hear of LSD and marijuana, but we never really had access to it even if we had the money and desire to use it.

So I guess the bottom line is that we were not exposed to alcohol or drugs. Not only were we too busy to get into trouble, but we were also trained to show respect for our elders, especially anyone who held a position of authority–such as our teachers and police officers. In my day, if a student got punished in school chances are they were also punished at home because the parents sided with the teachers.

When I worked for the newspaper as a journalist, one of my beats was spouse and child abuse prevention, so I interviewed subject matter experts and that helped me a lot.

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