The Silver Lining Of Abuse

This week’s Prompts For The Promptless is about silver linings:

“Silver Lining” is a prospect of hope or comfort in a gloomy situation.  [1870-75; from the proverb “Every cloud has a silver lining”]

Since I went all “waaaaah” on you yesterday, today, we’re going to try to find the positives in sexual abuse. I’m sure there are some. Maybe there aren’t, but I’m going to try anyway. Bear with me.

You are very self-reliant.

You take care of yourself, because you’re the only one you can truly trust. By the time I was ten years old, I already had a job (babysitting) and a saving’s account. When I turned fifteen and I was legally old enough to work, I got a real job.

You’re very mature for your age.

I have always gotten along better with older kids. I could be trusted with responsibility at a young age.

You have a very active imagination.

You have to escape somewhere, so you learn to create a whole imaginary world in your head that’s full of nice things. That creativity sticks around.

You don’t have to have the awkward birds and bees conversation with anyone.

Yeah, we can just skip that part.

You can keep a secret.

We’re very good at keeping things inside. Too good.

You can relate to people who’ve had hard lives.

Some people shy away from victims. It’s sad, but it happens a lot. People just don’t know what to say or how to react, but not you. You run right in there, whatever the problem, even if it’s not the same as yours, because you can relate. Even if you can’t relate to their exact circumstances, pain and fear is always the same.

You really want to help others.

Once you’re no longer in danger, you have an overwhelming desire to help others going through similar things, because you really know what they’re going through.

People really trust you.

If you have an awful black hole of evil in your center and you run across someone who does, too, you will immediately become friends. Sometimes these friendships are deeper than any others based on only limited knowledge.

You become hyper-vigilant.

This one isn’t necessarily good, but being very aware of your surroundings isn’t a terrible thing either. I always know who’s around me, and on the off-chance that I’m surprised by someone’s presence, I jump out of my skin. Still, I’d rather be aware than not.

You can spot other victims.

It’s in the eyes. Even in children, you can see it. It’s the same look you have in your eyes. It’s hard to describe, but in essence, it’s the same look that a 90 year-old prisoner of war would have in the body of a five-year old. They can see it in you, too, if they’re paying attention.

You will never die in a fire because you’re a light sleeper.

This one might not apply to all, but it applies to me. The slightest noise or smell, and I’m awake, sometimes, for hours. This is generally not a good thing, but I will never die in a house fire. The slightest smell of smoke and I’m outta there.

You enjoy the little things.

This is the best of all possible silver linings. Being able to look up at the clouds or stars for a long time, watching a fire, bubble baths, whatever it is that you enjoy, you enjoy it to the maximum. Abuse gives you a sense of perspective on the world like no other.

You are strong.

If you can survive that, you can survive anything.

You are never alone.

Sadly, there are always others out there who have gone through similar things. You belong to one, big, fucked-up family. Cheers!

Hm. Well, that didn’t turn out quite as light-hearted as I had hoped, but there are some positives in there somewhere. I think.

There are 41 comments

  1. draliman

    It’s good to look for the bright side though, as you say, it’s hard to find in this situation. And having read a number of your posts I see no evidence of you having “an awful black hole of evil in your center” (I can only use your writings to make this assertion of course since I don’t know you in real life). On the contrary, I think your posts and comments help a lot of people, including me.


  2. twindaddy

    You are inspiring, Goldfish. You really are. I identified with several of these things and I’ve never been sexually abused.


          1. twindaddy

            It is. I know the feeling. I’ve been told the same thing recently and it’s not something I’m used to hearing or know how to respond to.


  3. TammyeHoney

    It is a sea creature like no other. There is not enough soap in the world to wash it away so learning to live with it and cope is the next best item on the list. Great article and thank you for sharing. :)


  4. donofalltrades

    Some of those are excellent traits to have, especially if you’re able to help others. Sex abuse is a tough issue for a lot of different reasons. I’ve been a major city cop for 15 years and it’s still the most infuriating, violative crime on the books, as far as I’m concerned. That you’re succeeding after hitting such rock bottom should be encouraging to others.


      1. donofalltrades

        Well, I’ve found that just writing about things honestly helps me tremendously. Some people try to kid themselves even in their writing, and it doesn’t help. That you’re tackling your demons head on is great. I didn’t read any of this or the post prior and think any less of you. In fact, I appreciate you as a person even more knowing somewhat what you went through. Kudos, sister!


        1. goldfish

          True. Every time I write a post like this one, I’m terrified, but the WP community always has my back. If nothing else, it’s nice to hear that you’re not alone. :)


  5. ruleofstupid

    Good post Fishy. I spent time considering the positives, as a kind of therapeutic exercise, and I do think it’s a good thing to do. There’s a strong cultural narrative that abuse is an “Affliction for life”, which I think is really unhelpful and as much to do with societies inability to cope as it is the reality for the victim . We are all unique after all, and no two abused kids will be the same, or have the same troubles and blessings.
    Abuse stopped me from taking things at face value : I now have a philosophy degree : Coincidence?
    I had to find creative escapes, excuses and imaginative ‘exits’ : I’m now a poet, musician, writer and designer.
    Self reliance – absolutely, and yes it took time to learn to ask for help, but we all have journeys to make.

    I could go on, but the point for me is this. Did abuse give me my gifts? I can never know, but if I believe it it makes life much easier. So much of life is an act of faith in the midst of unknowability, why not this too.


    1. goldfish

      Exactly. I will never know how much of my personality is a result of abuse, but really, it doesn’t matter anyway. I am who I am for all that I am. It’s nice to think positively once in a while even though I’m not good at it.


  6. Kira

    I think you did a great job at finding the sliver of silver in abuse! Those were really great points your made. Great post!


  7. notwendysdave

    You are so right on all points. I can spot another abused person in an instant. Some of the things you talk about are the qualities that allow you to survive in the first place. I wonder who we would’ve been without the abuse?


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