31 Jan Talking about Abuse

– (Reference from an Interview with Michael White 1995 ‘Naming Abuse and Breaking from its Effects’)

“…How amazingly great it can feel to gently and lovingly touch the skin of or otherwise get close to someone who wants to be close with us…[however], there continues to be so much of these other kinds of damaging touching. So much violent, violating and insensitive touching…”

“…One of the scariest effects of Abuse can have is to blur our vision of what good contact looks like.

The effects on discernment, the way experiences of Abuse can leave behind a legacy of not noticing abuse may be the most insidious of this problem’s effects.

When we lose touch with our ways of telling apart different kinds of experiences, we are extremely vulnerable

“…There is lots of evidence to support the idea that this vulnerability is born of difficulties in the area of discernment – difficulties in distinguishing abuse from nurture, neglect from care, exploitation from love, and so on.

This difficulty with discernment renders many …quite vulnerable to being exploited in relationships. If it is not possible for [a person] to discern abuse from nurture at the outset of a relationship, them it is not possible for her[him] to attend to the early warning signs and to confront this abuse, and to seize upon the option of breaking the connection before it becomes more fully established and encompassing of… identity…” (p 93)

Most people who have been abused as children or adolescents have experienced this within the institutions of our culture that are formally designated as loving and caring contexts – that is, in families, extended kinship networks, or in the institutions that substitute for families and for these networks.

To experience abuse in contexts that are designated as loving and caring contexts is both mystifying and confusing. To experience abuse in these contexts makes it difficult for people to establish the distinctions…of abuse and nurture, neglect and care, exploitation and love.

The popular myth that the family is ‘the haven in a cruel world’ has contributed significantly to this mystification. It has been established that a very significant proportion of families, are highly dangerous places for children. (White 1995:93)

If a person is recruited into a very negative story about who they are as a person, then it is likely that they will give meaning to their experiences that emphasise culpability and worthlessness (M White1995: 83).

“Re-Authoring Lives: Interviews & Essays” by Michael White 1995



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Child & Family Therapy Counselling Service is an independent counselling and family therapy centre operated by Angela Ranallo, a qualified Clinical Social Worker, Child & Family Therapist and accredited Mental Health Practitioner specialising in Children and Young People Counselling - Parenting Support and Family Counselling - Relationships & Couples Counselling - Adult Mental Health - Trauma Therapy and Clinical Supervision and Training.