Erika Lyn Smith is a Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP) and professional Registered Nurse. She has 17 years of experience in Behavioral Medicine. Twelve of those years were spent helping children and adolescents in both a long-term residential treatment center and a hospital-based crisis stabilization unit. For the last five years, Erika Lyn has been a Clinical Support Nurse (CSN) working with adults on an Closed Hospital Psychiatric Unit.
Recently, Erika Lyn became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. CASA’s are appointed by a judge to advocate for abused children in the legal system. A CASA Volunteer is completely independent; he or she does not work for the court, the family, or the perpetrator. CASA volunteers meet weekly with their assigned child, and provide a voice for the child in court. In addition, the CASA is asked to make a recommendations based on what is in the BEST interest for the child.
A child never deserves to be abused, especially by the people who were entrusted to provide a safe, supportive environment for children to grow, explore, and learn. When a child experiences child abuse, his or her entire world is turned upside down. Everything he or she knew or believed about what is right and wrong, good or bad, safe and unsafe is now obsolete. In order to survive the child must redefine his or her world to make sense of something that simple does NOT make sense.
One thing I am certain of is that a child is never the cause of the abuse received, and that no matter what a child does, he or she is NEVER responsible for the abuse. He or she did not ask to be abused. He or she did not make the abuser hurt them.
The abuser is directly responsible for his or her actions at all times.
The healing journey of recovery depends on the type of abuse, severity and period in which the child was abused. Unless a child is too young to remember the abuse, the healing journey may occur over a lifetime.
However, you can choose to begin healing, or you can choose to remain stuck in the past, choosing not to deal with the reality of what has occurred. I hope you will choose to walk down a new path, one that focuses on you, where you learn to become your own personal advocate, where you begin to heal.
The beginning of the healing journey is exceptionally difficult. It is hard to make the choice to step out of the darkness of secrecy and shame that has been cultivated by the abuser. The abuser’s intent is to keep you barely able to survive the pain inside you. Yet, if you take the first step into the warm white healing light that is waiting on the other side, you will find there is a new path to walk, one of healing and self-discovery.
As the Editor of BellaOnline’s Child Abuse site, my plan is to provide a safe, supportive place for families and survivors to learn about the reality of child abuse, and to provide resources for the healing journey.
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