Guest Author - Kelli Deister
When an adult has abused a child, regaining their trust is not easy. Granted, there are some abusers that see their own behavior as inappropriate and attempt to regain the trust of their child, whom they abused. The form of abuse, written in this context, is insignificant compared to the damages done to the child. Each form of abuse will affect the child much the same. It strips the child of a healthy trust and wholesome innocence. Internally, they feel the pains of the abuse. Once a child is abused, they soon learn to simply survive through the abuse. Now, if their abuser acknowledges that what they have done is wrong, and attends appropriate parenting classes, they may try to regain the trust of their child.
Honestly, the effects of abuse on a child can be devastating and regaining their trust is difficult. For instance, if a parent continuously batters their child verbally, they will need to regain their child’s trust. Another example is that of physical abuse. Once a parent has physically abused their child, earning their trust again will seem impossible. Lastly, if a parent touches their child inappropriately, they will have to spend a great deal of time in rebuilding the relationship and regaining their child’s trust.
For that child that is battered verbally, touched inappropriately, or physically abused, trust is sacred. Once their parent has begun to harm them, to any degree, the child will learn how to put up a wall that cannot be penetrated without some time to heal. I’m not speaking of the abuse that occurs just once. I am speaking of the consistency of abuse and the child seeking ways to simply survive.
There is a battle that occurs within the heart of the abused child. They want to believe that their parent won’t hurt them anymore. And each time they try to believe that, and are hurt again and again, it becomes harder for the parent to regain the child’s trust. How then, can a parent regain the trust of their child. Well, for starters, they can enroll themselves and their child in family therapy. By attending therapy as a family, the parent is showing the child that they are remorseful and need help. To assume that a child will simply take that sacred trust they once knew and accept the parents apologies the first time around is a misunderstanding. You see, the pain goes deep for the abused and battered child.
There are cycles that occur in domestic violence. The battered child learns that fact early on in life. Thus, when it comes time for the stage of the cycle, in which the abuser is apologetic and offers gifts to appease their victims, the child wants to believe their parent. However, the more times this occurs, the more damage is done to the child, and the less trust they have for their parent that hurt them. Thus, the parent, in an attempt to regain the trust of their child, must honor the child’s process. The parent must be on the time frame of their child, not the other way around. I believe the parent that expresses their regret in hurting their child can positively influence their child’s life, dependent on whether or not their child is willing to trust their parent or not. .Again, it is on the time table of the child and their process. The parent must be willing to allow their child to process through it before they try to regain their trust. It will not be something that happens overnight. Abuse doesn’t happen overnight and neither does the healing. Most importantly, the child is the one whose time frame directs and guides the relationship with their parent.