The Story Behind Hard Road Home
Many times those charged with keeping troubled kids safe become their worst nightmare. Already feeling as if they are broken, the child believes s/he is at fault for the adult’s abusive behavior. Abuse by the foster parent, or other authority figure, confirms this belief: it must be their fault since more than one adult abused them. They must’ve “asked for it”; or, somehow “provoked” the assault.
Such beliefs coupled with low self-esteem program the child to act in ways that mark her/him as a victim. Perpetually trying to please, and always failing. The cycle of abuse repeats itself, over and over, with different abusers.
After aging out of the social services system,this learned hopelessness continues to haunt the young person. Often s/he drops out of school, and can’t find a job with a living wage. In economic desperation and emotional neediness, s/he moves in with an abuser. Her/his self-esteem and economic position works to keep them locked into the unhealthy relationship.
Either introduced to alcohol and drugs by the abuser as a way to further control over the victim and to undermine self-esteem/self-confidence, or discovering the awesome numbing effects on their own, the victim becomes addicted. Addictions lead to deeper feelings of inadequacy and further confirmation of worthlessness.
Having never learned to relate to others in a healthy way, s/he cannot accept that anyone would want to befriend her/him if s/he wasn’t sexually pleasing and easily available. Relationships with adults during childhood have confirmed this reality in the victim’s mind.
Many young people die trapped in this cycle of never-ending abuse.
Hard Road Home goes beyond the tragedy of such children. When people read Casanita Redner’s story,Hard Road Home,five things will remain with them:
1. This story is based upon facts, though I have fictionalized the account to be able to concentrate on clarifying the message. Like Cas, however, there are young people who have found the strength to fight free of childhood sexual abuse. Remember:
2. Adults, whether central or peripheral to the child’s life, can in fact aid the child in laying a foundation that will allow her/him to escape this vicious cycle of abuse. In Hard Road Home, Cas receives these building blocks for a stable foundation from her grandfather, her grandmother, and other healthy adults she meets along the way.
3. Every adult has the responsibility to become aware of victimization of children, and to work–in whatever capacity that they can–to end it. Whether you are an educator, an author, a doctor, a counselor, a social worker, a foster parent, or a neighborhood adult you can make an impact.
4. Child victims are NOT responsible for the crimes against them, regardless of how they dressed, walked, talked, or acted. Children are worthy of true friendships and deserve healthy relationships.
5. If you have been a child victim, I am here to tell you: you can break free. You have the right to build a good life for yourself. You are lovable. You deserve people in your life who value you. Believe in yourself! You are worth it!
Are you one of the adults who help shine a light for young people during a dark night? Are you a survivor of childhood abuse? Please leave a comment.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org