March 03, 2006

Nobody's Child: Surviving Without A Family

The Awareness Center

By Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, Michael j. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP, and Na'ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP, TSHH

One topic rarely discussed by survivors of childhood sexual abuse is the issue of going through adulthood without a family. This very difficult reality is one that many survivors feel ashamed of.

There are many reasons why an adult survivor might not have contact with their family of origin. Some grew up in foster-care or were adopted into other families. Others lived with their families during their childhood, but as adults they felt the need to create a separation in order to heal. In other situations survivors may have been cut off by their families following disclosures and/or confrontations. Regardless of the way in which the separation occurred, many Jewish survivors end up feeling alone and confused. Many may not have anyone close enough to turn to, or are too embarrassed to speak about their feelings. This can be especially trying during times of need.

Adult survivors are often overwhelmed by a sense of shame when discussions of Shabbat, Holidays, or plans for other celebrations come up. Younger adults may feel that everyone but them goes "home" for the holidays, and often struggle with feeling inferior to those who have homes to go to. Going home might not be an option for these survivors, either because of potential risk to their personal, emotional, and physical safety, or because they have been disowned by family members and are no longer welcome in their parents, siblings, or other relatives' homes.

Posted by kshaw at March 3, 2006 07:21 AM