Your childhood is a precious period for development—and your experiences during this time can create a ripple effect across your entire life. Unfortunately, this can apply to both good and bad childhood experiences. As such, traumatic events and violent encounters can have lifelong consequences on your health and well-being. These traumas do not only affect your childhood. They can also influence your personal relationships and overall health, decades later.
To move towards a healthier and happier life, it’s important to revisit and heal with the child that you once were. You can regain your power and give justice to your inner child by practicing self-parenting for abuse survivors.
The Importance of Self-Parenting
Parents are tasked to provide, nurture, and support children, so that they can grow into well-rounded individuals.
Unfortunately, only a few children enjoy the privilege of having responsible and loving parents. Due to family court system failures, around 60,000 children have to live with their abusers every year. Instead of being nurtured, these children are exposed to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse every day of their lives.
There are countless other children who are abused, neglected or traumatized by family, children who are not reflected in those family court numbers. In fact, child abuse is quite common here in the U.S. According to the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, almost two-thirds of the adults surveyed reported at least one adverse childhood experience–and the majority of these individuals said they had more than one ACE.
You may have been surrounded by adults who were unable to give you the care, nurture, and support that you deserved as a child. Surviving through this stage is no easy feat, especially since you had to learn how to stand up on your own. Though you may be much older and wiser now, you still deserve the love that others failed to give you.
Rather than be hard on yourself, that love can begin with you. You can work towards healing your inner child by practicing self-parenting for abuse survivors. Providing yourself with the tenderness that you need and deserve is an essential step toward ending unhealthy patterns developed in childhood. A brighter future begins with being gentle with yourself.
How Abuse Survivors Can Practice Self-Parenting
Seek Help From the Right Professionals
If you want to practice self-parenting for abuse survivors, you need to remember that you don’t have to go through this process on your own.
There are a lot of people who want to guide and accompany you through the entire process. To start, you can get in touch with mental health professionals who can provide you with a safe space to discuss your childhood and heal from your experiences.
There are different types of mental health professionals that you can work with, such as psychologists, therapists, and psychiatric nurses. This gives you the freedom to choose an experienced professional you can trust and confide in through this tough healing process.
You can also get guidance through victim advocates. A lot of survivors weren’t given the right support from the justice system as a child, but you can stand up for yourself once again and attain the justice that you deserve. You can accomplish this by getting in touch with experts that can discuss your legal options and even assist you in seeking justice.
These professionals have graduated from forensic psychology programs, so their knowledge and experience will help you achieve the justice you deserve. Furthermore, victim advocates are experts in the field of criminal justice, psychology, and social science, so they can empathize with your experience and connect you to the right legal experts who will help you fight your case.
By seeking help from the right professionals, you can get the justice and healing you needed as a child.
Honor Your Needs
Children need to be supported by adults during their early years, especially when they’ve experienced traumatic events. But as a child, you may have found it difficult to meet your needs or seek help from the adults in your life. This is why one crucial component of self-parenting for abuse survivors is listening and honoring your inner child’s needs.
Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott recommends using writing materials as a safe play space so that you can allow your inner child to express emotions and explore experiences. By allowing yourself to write in a safe space, you can access your inner child’s desires and needs. Perhaps you wanted more security, acknowledgment, or even protection from your abusive experiences.
These realizations about your childhood experiences are essential in your healing process since they help your inner child feel seen and understood.
Once you’ve realized where your inner child is coming from, it’s time to care for yourself by fulfilling these needs. For instance, you can address the boundaries that were once violated in your childhood by learning when to reject people and actions that are bad for you.
On the other hand, if your inner child is wounded due to the neglect you’ve experienced in childhood, provide yourself with the care that you rightly deserve through various self-love practices.
This step is no easy feat since it can be challenging to reconnect with your past self. However, this is an important process in self-parenting for abuse survivors because it enables your inner child to feel understood and loved. As such, your present self can also experience peace and tenderness.
Practicing self-parenting for abuse survivors is not easy, but it’s an important healing process for your inner child and your present self.
By understanding your inner child and giving yourself what you have long needed, you can move towards a future that is filled with justice, peace, and love.
Raffy Jeanne is an experienced freelance writer, a student of child development and educational psychology, and a full-time mother of two young children. Her writing focuses on health and wellness, helping people remember to take care of themselves.