This month is Child Abuse Prevention Month. At Hope and Growth Center we have started a fund raiser for the Alliance for Children, in Fort Worth Texas. This is an incredible non-profit organization to aids in the healing for children and their families that have experienced abuse, especially sexual abuse. For me personally, I have a strong desire to provide encouragement and resources to individuals that have been sexually abused. My own experience with sexual abuse has prompted me to reach out to others and to try to bring them hope.
For years, I truly believed that what happened to me had not affected me. I told people that I am stronger and more aware because of what happened. I truly was fooling myself. What I discovered was that my fears, my need to please, and my lack of personal boundaries were all directly connected to the abuse.
I like to use buckets as an example of how sexual abuse changes lives without the individual realizing it. Each one of us has a bucket that is especially designed for us. That means that what is in our bucket should be our desires, responsibilities, developmental growth, values, etc. When someone else decides that their desires are more important and drops them in our bucket, at a young age, what choice does a child/teen have but to accept it or at best, rearrange our bucket to fit it in. There is no awareness that anything is foreign in our bucket at first.
My life was changed forever at about the age of five. Someone dropped in my bucket his desires and had no respect for mine. It did not matter to this person that I was an individual with my own bucket to maintain and I was not mature enough to make my own decision, as if I wanted his desires in my bucket. I am angered by the thought of this person putting himself more important than a child of five years old. My bucket could not handle that load, but I was not considered, when the decision was made for me. That is also when I began allowing others to dump in my bucket anything they wanted. My desires were usually pushed to the side for the desires of others.
I do not know what your experience is like. Maybe buckets do not make sense to you. Those that have been abused in any way, have had their lives changed forever. Those individuals will never be the same because of what happened to them. We want to raise awareness about protecting buckets. In therapy, children, teens, and adults learn to recognize what is in their bucket that does not belong there. We use a term often, when thinking about protecting our bucket from things that should not be in our bucket, we say, “not in my bucket.” It helps to remind individuals to protect their buckets and to clean them out from others junk that gets in the way of their own healing.
Our especially designed t-shirts have a bucket with the words, “not in my bucket.” We hope you will join us in raising awareness of child abuse, and buy a t-shirt. The fund raiser goes until April 17th.
Submitted By: Sarah J. Bentz MA, LPC-S