By Judith Acosta
The other day a client of mine tearfully revealed a childhood filled with fear. Her father was an unpredictable and menacing man who was nearly as big as the front door. She was only a toddler, but she had vivid memories of him hollering as he came into the kitchen, the sweet smell of too much whiskey floating off his skin as he picked up a utensil to beat her mother. Her mother, also a drug user, in rage at her husband, tried to drown her daughter by pouring soap and water down her throat. With mere seconds to go, she was saved by a neighbor who had heard the screaming.
She cried silently for a while and then she asked me: “What did I do wrong?”
At first I heard her as any therapist would. Many, many — too many — children blame themselves for the horror they are born into. Why? Mainly because the people who are hurting them tell them that “It’s all their fault” and because they are children, they simply don’t know any better than to believe them.