The hypersensitivity of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

Since when did being sensitive become a crime? Are we all supposed to walk around unaffected and indifferent by things? We live in an era where desensitisation to violence, to other people’s pain seems to be the norm. People who show sensitivity are judged as weak in today’s world.

I have always been accused of being overly sensitive. In fact my ex- husband liked to use this refrain when I reacted to his emotional or verbal abuse, “What’s wrong with you? You are so sensitive, you can’t even take a joke!” Back then when I didn’t know any better and blamed myself for everything, I felt bad for feeling bad and decided that yes I must be too sensitive and easily upset because of some internal flaw.

Now that I am in therapy and looking back on my life, I realise that yes I am more sensitive than others but that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Firstly, I am more sensitive because I was abused as a little girl by my father. My body reacts to pain in a different way, the neurons in my body have been shaped differently and are hyper-sensitive to stimuli. The abuse happened during crucial formative years of my life and that is the way my body psychologically and physiologically responded through no fault of mine. A child who has been abused feels unsafe and insecure because the very people (his/her parents) who should be making her feel safe in this world are hurting or neglecting her. For this reason the body is in a state of constant emergency and perceives threats everywhere. A sharp turn in the sound of a person’s voice, a frown or slight changes in the environment might signal impending danger for a child who is being abused.

I am more anxious and like other survivors of childhood abuse suffer from anxiety-related disorders such as IBS, PMS and many others. My mood can swing from happiness and joy to sadness and pain at the slightest trigger. I always thought that there was something wrong with me that I was silly or flawed or too serious. Now that I know and have acknowledged and accepted what happened to me, I can make peace with this aspect of my being, understand where it is coming from and be compassionate and respectful to my inner child. The child that endured such pain and horror at such a young age.

I invite you to share your experiences if you are a survivor too. Together with more knowledge, understanding and compassion for ourselves and each other, we can rise above the abuse and reclaim the space and sense of self that rightfully belongs to us. We can use our gift of sensitivity to guide us through life and show compassion and empathy to others.

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3 thoughts on “The hypersensitivity of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

  1. I love your insight and that you are able to find compassion for the child in you that was abused. I really, really am not able to do this. I’m just so angry at myself and I know it isn’t logical or right. I want to scream at her to just get over it. To scream and yell…to just get away instead of going along with what everyone wanted.
    I’m sensitive in many ways but also I don’t think I feel pain like others. I feel shut off to emotion, hurt, pain…I suppose it feels safer, ptsd stinks. Abuse stinks.

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    • Thank you for reading my blog! I think healing from the abuse is a long process and it takes time and patience. I think its normal for you to be angry and go through a whole host of emotions. But remember that nothing that happened was your fault, the anger should be directed at the abusers and not the powerless and helpless child that you were. I think that the compassion doesnt happen overnight, I used to look at photographs of myself around about the time I was abused and I didnt like the girl that I saw But I started trying to connect with those images, i realised that I was so distant from her and her pain. I started to write letters to her and try to make some connection with her and understand what she must have been feeling. I think the compassion developed from there. She was a beautiful, innocent angel who was hurt by the people who were suppose dto protect, She had no power or voice to make it stop and she had to go along with it because she was co mpletely dependent. I am sure that your inner child was just the same. When we have compassion and understanding and direct the blame in the right place you can let go of the anger. But don’t be hard on yourself. When you are ready you will let all those emotions in. It took me 33 years to let it in and stop denying that it happened.

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