It is difficult for the child abuse survivor to recover from adult revictimization. Early and prolonged childhood maltreatment is confounded with adult abuse. The struggling soul is slaughtered with recriminations of her own ruin. She, who has never known protection, lacks the capacity to self protect.
Chronologically, her abused child’s body transformed into adult form. Developmentally, her personhood is ill suited to the rights and privileges of adulthood. She has known no progressive rights or privileges of her own — therefore, revicimization is the natural course of things.
“… repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality. The child trapped in an abusive environment is faced with formidable tasks of adaptation. She must find a way to preserve a sense of trust in people who are untrustworthy, safety in a situation that is unsafe, control in a situation that is terrifyingly unpredictable, power in a situation of helplessness. Unable to care for or protect herself, she must compensate for the failures of adult care and protection with the only means at her disposal, an immature system of psychological defenses.” — Judith Herman, Trauma & Recovery She has known no progressive rights or privileges of her own — therefore, revictimization is the natural course of things.
After repeated revictimization, the adult survivor may be forced to reckon with abuse across the lifespan. She must sort through pernicious paralysis and powerlessness to resurrect her personhood, her capacity to self protect, and even the pleasure of personal preference.
With a backdrop of brutality and a lifetime of loss — she must traverse time to find the fragile frozen fragments; the precious parts of her personhood; the sacred, scared bits that were brutalized. She must meticulously collect them back to herself. She gathers — grieving what was, what wasn’t, and what will never be.
Finally, she forms a self who is only a shadow of who she should have been had things been set right in the first place.