Generational abuse is more common than you may think. The difference between previous generations and millennials or Gen-Zs is this: previous generations didn't talk about it. Depending on which study you read, 1 in 3 women have been abused and 1 in 5 men have been abused.
What's crazy is those are just the reported cases. What about all the cases that are swept under the rug? Ignored? Never reported?
The Problem is Bigger Than You Think
My husband grew up in a safe home. He was never physically abused. He was never spiritually abused. But his dad was very hot-headed in his younger years, and my husband remembers being cussed at simply because he was near his dad while he was drinking and working on cars. He also remembers his mom being verbally and emotionally mistreated.
And that was in a "safe" home. A home where mom and dad were married, and went to church in spurts, and where his parents were active in his schooling and extracurricular activities. He was affirmed in his abilities and his parents encouraged him to excel in academics and athletics.
Yet, even he and his mom were emotionally mistreated, dare I say abused in some cases.
But what about his grandparents?
What about his great-grandparents?
It's known that one was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive for a time. It's fairly certain that another was sexually abused. Aunts and uncles on both sides, cousins on both sides, also highly probable.
But no one EVER talked about it. Still today, it's hush*hush.
What about all his friends?
My husband also grew up with a great group of friends. Guys who went off to college and did well for themselves. Girls who did the same. But what about them?
I asked my husband just because I was curious. Not because it's my business to know everyone's lives and stories of abuse, but to see if the stats held true.
See, my husband grew up in a small town that was known as a family-friendly, safe, blue collar town. Most everybody knew everybody, and if they didn't know you, they at least knew one of your relatives.
So how many of his friends were abused?
Off the top of his head, he could name 3 good guy friends who grew up in abusive homes. Alcoholic or prescription drug addicted parents. He could name even more girls who grew up in abusive homes. At least 5 if I remember correctly.
Now were they all sexually abused? No. At least not to his knowledge.
But were they verbally abused and emotionally abused? For sure.
And were they ever physically abused? In most cases, he thinks yes.
Not whipped or chained or beat black and blue, but did parents throw things at them, use physical force or intimidation to get them to do things, and touch them in harmful ways (slaps, aggressive grabs, etc.)? For sure.
And this, again, was in a "safe" small town.
What do you do about that?
Well, to start, you do what I just did.
You name it.
You bring awareness to it.
You bring it out of the darkness and into the light.
You ask your loved ones if they've ever been abused.
You make the taboo subject no longer be a taboo, because after all, chances are pretty high that someone you know, nay, a lot of people you know have also been abused.
It doesn't mean that you have to talk about it all of the time, or that it needs to be your go-to conversation starter. In fact, please don't ever make it that. But it does mean you don't have to be afraid to share your story. And if you share it with a close friend or your inner circle, chances are at least one of them will be in the same boat.
It's sad, but it's oh so true.
So bring awareness to it.
And then, just like AA, after you bring awareness to the problem and realize you're powerless to fix the world's abuse problem on your own; you'll want to start believing there's a power greater than us, outside of us, that can begin to heal and restore.
And that Power can restore you, restore me, restore my husband and his friends and family, and restore us.