• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Understanding Abuse



Over the past 25 years, I have observed that the majority of stories shared with us have two aspects of similarity:


1) The abuse did not happen as a one time event or even start at a single point in time. It developed.


2) Once the victim recognized the abuse, particularly after attending an Empowerment Self Defense class, they could never unsee it again.


In other words, once the light was switched on, there was no turning it off. That light seemed to manifest itself as a big bright “warning” sign that would flash every time a boundary was being crossed.


In other words, once the light was switched on, there was no turning it off. That light seemed to manifest itself as a big bright “warning” sign that would flash every time a boundary was being crossed.

Back to #1:


The majority of cases I have heard about took time to develop and get worse. With children, we call this grooming. The inappropriate adult builds trust, treats them in a special way, and in order to control them, may use levels of fear.


The abuse can happen over many years. It can be super hard to recognize, both to the person involved and to those who care for them.


Among adults, grooming exists too. Yet, we don’t call it that. It can be a “loss of temper” with a “sincere apology.” Maybe the next time, the apology has a tinge of, “well, if you didn’t do this, I wouldn’t lose my temper.” The pattern likely looks a lot like, “love you, love you, love you, why the H%#* can’t you?, sorry, love you, love you, love you.”


And maybe the spaces between the “love you, can’t live without you” and the “you know not to...” and “how many times do I need to...” change. More of the second, less of the first. Or even oscillating from everything is fine and peaceful to extreme verbal and physical abuse.


Like what just happened? Am I imagining this? Is something else going on that is causing them to lose it? If I could only help “us” figure it out.


And there it is.


Many victims of abuse are looking for ways to make it better, or at least livable, because they want to maintain the “us.” The abusers, not so.

And then....


Someone teaches you how to recognize abuse. And teaches you how to find your voice and use it. And you're encouraged to use it loudly and proudly.


And you understand and believe that you have a right to be treated respectfully.


And then someone teaches you how to recognize abuse. And teaches you how to find your voice and use it. And you're encouraged to use it loudly and proudly. And you understand and believe that you have a right to be treated respectfully.

At some point, during all of this teaching and learning, the light goes on. You can see that someone in your life, who you love, who you care about, who you are committed to, does not treat you with respect. Does not respect your safety. Does not care about your feelings.


I can’t remember ever hearing stories about this light being turned off got turned off. Once that light is on, it shines forever.