Friday, November 17, 1995

The Top Ten Skills of Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

The Top Ten Skills of Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

© (1995) Aubrieta V. Hope

10.  The ability to figure things out quickly.  As children, we were given few clues of approaching danger.  We had to learn how to recognize the warning signs, assess a situation accurately, and react quickly.

9.  Persuasiveness.  It takes more than physical agility to dodge abuse.  We had to use our wits as well--sometimes that meant thinking fast and coming up with a clever excuse or argument.  years of communicating with illogical or angry adults can really build your vocabulary!

8.  Flexibility.  To survive trauma and abuse, we had to be able to adapt to all kinds of difficult situations.  Our childhoods didn't come with a clear-cut job description.  Abusive adults act in unpredictable ways--we had to "roll with the punches". 

7.  Compassion.  Not all victimized children grow up to be compassionate adults--some become abusers themselves.  But those who break the cycle have a great capacity for empathy.  We can relate to people who are in in need, because we've been there.

6. The ability to learn without being taught.  Childhood trauma and abuse can interfere with a little person's ability to concentrate in school.  And, abusive adults often sabotage the learning process by terrorizing, shaming or neglecting a child.  Despite all these obstacles, somehow we managed to learn anyway.

5.  Acute observation skills.  As kids, many of us had to "have eyes in the back of our head".  We learned how to watch without seeming to observe.  No wonder so many of us identified with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys!

4.  Creativity.  When a child's environment is harsh, the rule of the jungle prevails: "only the fittest survive." Conditions like that require imagination.

3.  Perceptiveness.  Kids who live in a dangerous environment have to rely on "gut instinct". No one bothered to explain trouble to us.  To protect ourselves, we developed the ability to read body language and listen to what's not being said.

2.  Endurance.  When life is frightening and painful, childhood is a long time.  It can take 18 years to get out--most convicted felons have shorter sentences!  Abused children develop an amazing capacity to withstand and outlast the unbearable.

1.  Resourcefulness.  (Enough said).