The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Samantha Flores and she shares about how childhood abuse has impacted her as a mother.
All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.
As I came to the realization that my child needed to be placed in daycare following my return from maternity leave, the memories haunted me. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe and I was back to being the kindergartner who didn’t realize that what was happening to her was not love.
The haunting of my childhood assault stopped me in my tracks and from then on, I didn’t know how I could trust anyone to care for my child. After all, the person who assaulted me was a member of my family.
How could I even trust family to protect my child? The long-term effects of childhood abuse has put up a wall between me and anyone else who desires to have contact with my child.
As I came to terms with the reality that I could not trust anyone with my child, I landed on the opportunity of becoming a stay-at-home-mom. I never suspected that the memories from over two decades past would become so real and current today.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Abuse
This is an unfortunate topic to have to discuss. However, 28-33% of women and 12-18% of men were victims of childhood or adolescent sexual abuse. While this is a high percentage, this number only reflects the number of victims who actually reported their abuse.
Considering the effects of sexual abuse, it’s reasonable to wonder what was taken from those children when they were abused. Their innocence is gone. Their spirit a little less bright. Additionally, their trust in anyone is damaged. How will this impact their future?
Childhood sexual abuse has been correlated with higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, anxiety, and several other long-term effects.
I know in my heart that I am doing what I feel is best for my child. However, I can’t help except to feel guilty for my decision. Will my child resent me for this? Will my child’s growth and development be hindered by not being in daycare? Am I being unreasonable?
I won’t know the answers to most of my questions for years to come as my child is not even two years old yet. However, I know that the guilt will pass with time. It is my job to protect my child. Therefore, my heart knows the guilt I have is unreasonable.
Before becoming a mom, my anxiety levels were high enough that I needed medication to help me function. I had the highest separation anxiety as a child. Now that I look back on those feelings, I can see how the long-term effects of childhood abuse were effecting me back then. As much as I believed I was over the trauma, this is never really true.
Unfortunately, the trauma never leaves you. You just get better at being a survivor and learning from your experiences. While I believe I have not let this experience hinder me, in a way that is a lie. I have my anxiety to prove that.
My child’s way of life is in direct relation to my childhood experiences. Would his life be different had I not been assaulted as a child? Absolutely. Does that mean his life would be better if I didn’t have these memories steering his life? Truthfully, I don’t know.
When I remember those times when the assaults were taking place, I try to make sense of why it happened to me. I can remember as far back as being in kindergarten when it happened. What did I do as a kindergarten girl to deserve this? Clearly this happened because of something I did, right?
This is the irrational side of my mind telling me it was my fault. Knowing what I know now, there isn’t possibly anything a child can do to deserve such abuse. However, I find myself two decades later still blaming myself.
I never wish for my child to know what happened to me in my childhood. However, I know that I might not be able to always hide this secret. I try to hide it and repress the memories around my husband. But the truth is I actually show my shame of the assault more often than I realize.
There are times when I find myself disliking who I see looking back at me in the mirror because of what I’ve been through. I mentally tell myself why I’m not desirable or appealing to the eye. My self-worth is lower because of my experiences.
In hindsight, I probably should have sought counseling some years ago when my secret was exposed. However, my secret didn’t come out for some years after it happened to me. Therefore, I felt I should have gotten over it by then.
I know better now. And I know that for me to be the best mom I can be for my child, counseling is the next step in the healing process for me. It is difficult for me to relive those memories and admit that I was a victim. This is a shameful feeling. However, it is not my fault that it happened.
How to Protect Your Children
Abuse takes on many forms. Unfortunately, children experience assault more often than we desire to admit. Childhood is supposed to be a beautiful part of life filled with laughter, running and playing, and making memories. It’s a shame that so many children have these things taken away from then.
Teach your children how to identify tricky people. As much as you might think you are open with your child, really take time to be in the moment with them so that they always feel like you have time for them and to listen to them.
I am guilty of this too, but put the phone away! Truly see your child, notice any changes that may be out of sorts, and talk to your child. This could help identify the grooming phases of childhood abuse and could potentially save your child from harm.
Always report any cases of abuse. In the event that you need to know how to help a child get through their experience of abuse, find these seven tips about helping victims of assault.
Samantha Flores is a first time parent to an incredible little boy residing in Northern California. She holds her M.A. in Education with a Specialization in Culturally Responsive Education. Her mission is to consistently provide helpful content for other parents to draw from. Parenthood is ever-changing! She looks forward to sharing her experiences with you and hopes that her posts are insightful.
Follow Samantha’s journey on her website and Facebook page.
I want to say a big, big thank Samantha for her bravery in sharing her story as well as providing you all with important data and resources. Experiencing trauma in your childhood, especially sexual assault, is something that often stays with you and has impacts in your everyday life. I am glad Samantha is seeking therapy in order to process what happened to her and continue to move forward. What a strong Mama.
42 thoughts on “Baggage & Motherhood — A Guest Writer Series: A Parent Suffering with Long-Term Effects of Childhood Abuse by Samantha Flores”
thanks for this info!
Samantha did a great job sharing resources. You’re so welcome!
Being a stay at home mom is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your children. Not everyone is so lucky but being there to protect them and help them learn and grow is very rewarding. a lot of people look down on staying at home with your children but I am so grateful that I have been given that opportunity. I went to college, I can work later in life, and I am not ashamed of wanting to take time off from a career to be with my children. I think RELIEVING the anxiety of them being in someone ELSEs care is helpful for yourself as well.
You’re right; not everyone gets the opportunity to stay home! While Samantha’s reasons are not based fully in the benefit of staying home, the quality time together with her child certainly is a silver lining.
Thanks, Lisa! I’m beyond grateful to be able to stay home with my son. You are right, it relieves some of the anxiety for sure. Thank you for reading my story!
I can’t even imagine the horror. Speaking out is probably one of the biggest ways to finding freedom.
Thanks Maria. I am so proud of Samantha and her courage. I sure hope it does help her heal more and find freedom.
Thank you, Maria! I do find writing about it to be somewhat therapeutic. I helps to make sense of a senseless time in my life.
Hi samantha, I’m so sorry this happened to you as a child! i am so happy you have decided to share your story and help others avoid this type of situation for their children!
Thank you Carol. She is so brave and strong!
Thank you for your sweet message, Carol! My vulnerability is worth it if it helps just one person find hope.
So many of our childhood experiences have an effect on our parenting. I parented the opposite of how i was parented, mostly for the good but not always. I did stay at home with my kids until my divorce and have absolutely no regrets. I wasn’t sexually assaulted as a child but didn’t trust anyone with my children because of how i was treated by adults as a child. so sorry for your horrible experiences, samantha. you will persevere.
You’re absolutely right Ramae. Our past can impact our present and can shape our future. We also have the ability to make choices like you have to do better for your children than you experienced. Thanks for you comment and encouragement of Samantha.
Thanks, Ramae! I appreciate your encouragement!
This is a good list and article for people to be aware of – really being present for your kids to notice changes is key , thanks
Such an amazing post. Thank you for your transparency and honesty.
Thanks Jen! So brave of Samantha!
Thank you, Jen! I am so thankful you took the time to read my story!
“As much as you might think you are open with your child, really take time to be in the moment with them so that they always feel like you have time for them and to listen to them.” Exactly! I know too many people who kept their history of abuse quiet because they thought no one would believe them. Instilling the confidence in them that they will be taken seriously is essential in almost every context.
You nailed it Matt.
I can not even imagine. Thank you for sharing your story!
I’m right there with you, Tricia. Samantha is so courageous to share and inform!
THAnks so much, Tricia! I appreciate your encouraging words and thank you for reading my story!
Being present is so important to our kids in so many ways. Taking the time to listen and invest time in them when they are young will help them to feel safe and share as they get older. Great post!
Thanks Hollie. You’re so right!
Such good and accurate information!
Thanks Melissa. Samantha did a great job!
The part about learning to recognize tricky PEOPLe is so helpful.
It is so important. Tricky people could be strangers, but they can also be well known relatives or family friends.
My children have been fortunate enough not to have to go to daycare because they go With family. My daughter was in daycare for awhile at one point but I really didn’t research before hand. I have nothing against good chil care except the cost.
Thanks, Pauline. I wish childcare wasn’t so expensive in the US!
Thank you for sharing this. This information is so helpful.
Such a powerful and courageous post. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Suzan! I tried to be as open as I could to generate the awareness and support for others to know they are not alone.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR INCREDIBLE INSIGHT, SO THAT OTHERS KNOW MORE ABOUT PROTECTING THEIR CHILDREN. YOU ALSO HELP OTHERS SHARE THEIR OWN STORIES, BY SHARING YOURS. IM SO SORRY FOR YOUR EXPERIENCES. MAY YOU CONTINUE TO HEAL.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Cindy! I’m hopeful that my story helps others and reaches far.
I have talked to my kids about “tricky people” as well! So important to educate our children and be their advocates!
I didn’t even remmeber mine until I adopted a child and her trauma led me to counseling support. Then I remmebered. It is hard to parent when the little girl inside of you needs parenting, but I have had the most amazing therapist!
We moved so much due to my husband’s career, that I willingly admit I was a “smother” for the longest time. Nobody watched my kids, except my mom, and even she was on my “makes me nervous” list for various reasons. I totally get it. I also agree – put the phone down and get to know your kids. Know their signs, know their actions, note their differences in behavior so you can act or intervene when necessary. Hugs to you!