Marie: The Fact They Survive Abuse Is an Extraordinary Feat

Posted By: on November 23, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is part 51 of Marie’s Story, continued from An Intervention and My Opinion

Today, my blog received a comment from a reader named Amy:

“Could someone tell me about the writing exercise in the taking stock chapter [of the Courage to Heal book]? How and why am I supposed to give honor to what I did to survive the abuse, especially if they aren’t pleasant?”

I participated in this writing have given much thought to your question. In response I write:

Hi Amy,

You are asking a question I think we all have asked at some point.

My therapist answers this question in this way: You took the very limited logic, options and resources you had available to you and you crafted and implemented a coping mechanism in order to survive. What a genius solution! Congratulations on being so resourceful!

Think about: if a person was stuck on an island and had to kill animals and rare trees and maybe do permanent damage to the ecosystem in order to eat and drink and build a raft in order to get back to civilization, we would see him as a hero because he did the best he could with what he had.

Then, think about little kids—they have no life experience, and due to their abusive environments, they do not have a healthy foundation built from self-esteem, self-worth, knowing the value of others, or knowledge of “normal” sexuality. They do not have awareness of their own rights, of boundaries that should be honored, or that they are of value and deserve to be treated well. They have no money, no adult advocates, no voice, no physical strength, and yet they survive.

The fact they survive abuse is an extraordinary feat. How they survived is amazing, even when it includes horrifying acts that we look back on and judge as “unimaginably bad.”

I know that individuals who have survived abuse often turn to destructive habits as a way to make sense of what happened and to deal with the suffocating pain. Those of us who have walked that path are very aware that those individuals don’t know a better way —or are powerless to implement a better way.

Their choices are: do the destructive behavior or shrivel up and die, literally.

So, those of us who have walked that path know judging a behavior (past or present) doesn’t do anything to better the situation. We know that the individual really needs and deserves, love, support, understanding, and compassion. And, we pray he or she finds a way to receive it.

Does that help?

– Marie

To schedule a free consult with Carl or one of the other counselors at Heart Centered Counseling, send an email to or call (970) 498-0709.

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