A Spark in the Dark: Surviving Childhood Abuse

by | Nov 3, 2022 | It's Complex...PTSD | 0 comments

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Run Towards Demons

adult survivor of childhood abuseWe, adult survivors of childhood abuse, run towards our demons, telling them to “fuck off” every day so we can get out of bed. Or, in my case, get to sleep.

Our adult peers who are not survivors can’t even fathom what it took for us to survive, to escape eventually, and to make it where we are today. And you know what, those I know are not silent about our childhood hell.

We are out there in the world, building community and sharing our experiences to help other survivors. And hopefully to change the world. One story at a time.

If that isn’t superhero-level shit, I don’t know what is. Whoever said, “superheroes run towards danger, other people run away from it,” was talking about survivors of childhood abuse running towards danger.

Being “Other”

I have always felt like I was outside of something looking in. I have read that victims of childhood abuse feel there is an “otherness” about them. That feeling usually coincides with the beginning of the abuse. So it makes sense to me. It also tells me that my abuse started way before my earliest memories.

But what made me and many others push back on the abuse? I have wondered that my entire life. I know I refer to myself as a victim, but I was a warrior even as a child. Even though I was being abused daily, I did not accept that.

Oh, I had to survive on some levels, but my abusers noticed that fighting spirit within me, and I became the target because of it. I mean, the best way to squash a rebellion is to take out the strongest among the rebels, right? That is what happened.

I have included a memory after the poem. There is a trigger warning before that memory. Hopefully, placing that at the end of the poem will help those who don’t want to read it not to read it. It was my recollection of that memory that inspired the poem.

Memories that Haunt

As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, I have a lot of fragmented memories. However, I have some very complete and vivid memories too. There is one memory amongst many that began my true rebellion.

And as I think upon that day, that moment, I wonder where I got my spark. What came out of that pondering was the following poem:

People often ask me how they can best support someone they believe is being abused. I tell them to validate them. Believe them if they come to you and tell you things aren’t right at home. Then, ask them if they want to talk about it further and if they say “yes,” find a quiet place and let them talk.

If you are sitting with someone who shares their truth with you, please encourage them to seek professional help. I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.

My Spark

Deep within,


Flashing brilliantly

against vast darkness.

Sudden blinding


Fading, now

glowing ember

marks a moment

of truth

this life,

it could be…



…without fear…


In the darkness,




Fighting Against the Darkness

I am going to give you an example. It is one of the few very solid memories that I have. And though it is a disgusting memory, what I remember most about it was my resolve not to give my abuser what he wanted.


My father liked to spank me. I have no idea whether I had actually erred in some way or if he made something up. I have to say it wasn’t very effective if it was for actual punishment. Because I never knew what I had done wrong. Punishing me was not the end goal for my father.

He would yell at me whether I had done something wrong or not. Then we would go into my parent’s bedroom, just off the living room. He would get a chair from the corner of the room and place it next to the bed. He would tell me to pull my pants and underwear down to my ankles, walk over to him, and lay across his legs.

I could feel him getting erect as soon as I lay across his legs. Then, when the spanking started, he could barely contain his excitement. I can still feel the shame flooding my brain, sending ” danger ” signals all over my body. It was a moment that I hated so very much. Most of those times, if not all, I would go someplace else. But not this time. This one time, I remember.

Something Changed

I remember feeling the defiance radiating throughout my body. I had to do what he told me to, but I did it without making a sound. Having stood up after pushing my pants and underwear down around my ankles, I stared straight ahead at the wall. My face remained impassive, no tears, no crying, no sound. I did not react except to follow his instructions.

I didn’t make a sound when the spanking started, either. I was present that day, not dissociating as I would normally. I was done with this game. For, make no mistake, it is a game of power and control for the abuser. Unfortunately, the pawns are children.

But that day, I silently took a stand. I didn’t cry or do anything, not even when the spanking got harder and more painful. No, not even then. Somehow, I figured him out. I knew what he wanted from me. So that day, I decided I would no longer give him what he wanted most of all – power over me.

* I receive compensation from Online-Therapy when you use my referral link. I only recommend products and services when I believe in them.

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