On Being Alone Together: Resources for Child Abuse, Eating Disorders, Mental Illness, and Trauma

Coming home has always been hard for me. I grew up in an abusive and neglectful environment, hence, all the dramatic, confessional posts from years past. I matured a lot since I started this blog and gained a lot of coping skills; I now see my family as three-dimensional characters instead of just antagonists in my personal story. Still, some factors at home make things stressful, like my family’s often oppressive silence.

About a week and a half ago I found this amazing website, The Invisible Scar. I had never Googled emotional abuse before. I do not know why – perhaps I just did not have the vocabulary to define how my mother treated me. But right away all of this website’s material made so much sense. I could see all of the cruelty and suffering and healing and hope reflected in my own life. One comment thread stood out to me on the page “For Adult Survivors of Emotional Child Abuse”, a response to a brave soul who had just shared her exhausting and devastating struggle:

People showing kindness to one another on the internet. #Bless.

People showing kindness to one another on the internet. #Bless.

This comment hit me like a punch to the stomach, this profound idea of “alone but strong together.” I had always struggled with feelings of aloneness, because even though over 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States every year (and this does not even include all the unreported cases, like mine), so few people talk about the issue, because we all want to believe in the sanctity of the family, in the infallibility of our parents. But this one page itself has garnered 170 comments and counting, and people from across the country have shared their experiences. Perhaps no one will ever know my full struggle – the intersectionality of abused, gay, Asian, and more – however, others can understand bits and pieces, and I can do the same for them. While our aloneness may never cease, we can bring it to the light together, so we can all heal and recover.

In years past, I have fought aloneness, sadness, anger, and much more in unhealthful ways: starving, lashing out at myself and others, breaking down. But I have developed healthful ways to fight as well, ranging from seeking professional help, to reading and writing, to finding support from friends both in real life and on this blog, to practicing mindfulness. I have soldiered much of this on my own, and yet, I could not have done it without everyone who has stood by me, to all of those who have shown me compassion despite the difficulties in their own lives.

For those of you reading this who have survived child abuse, or an eating disorder, or another mental illness: let us hope that things will get better. Let us break the silence and reclaim our lives. Let us be alone together.

Another moving comment, from the "About the Name" page on the Invisible Scar.

Another moving comment, from the “About the Name” page on the Invisible Scar.

Friends: I feel so thankful for all of the support you have given me over the past few years. To give back just an ounce of the strength you have lent me, I have created a resources page on this site with some links and book recommendations related to issues that have come up on this blog. Please remember that reaching out for help acts as a sign of strength. And though I may not respond right away, I am cheering you on and fighting beside you. I hope you all have an amazing start to your week.

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20 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

20 responses to “On Being Alone Together: Resources for Child Abuse, Eating Disorders, Mental Illness, and Trauma

  1. No matter what tough times you may be going through, you always manage to look at things in a larger context, and consider how similar issues might be affecting others in need in your usual thoughtful way. I love that. Keep on keeping on, Thomas.

  2. Beautiful.
    I too stumbled upon The Invisible Scar sometime last year. In it I found solidarity, someone who was able to articulate my experience.
    Those words you quoted also spoke to me with so much power. I suffered through physical and emotional abuse, eventually that led to my struggle with suicide and depression. In a way, like the other thing you quoted, reading and writing (i should also include art) helped me cope. School, working on my academe helped me survived. When I was old enough, I sought therapy and like you, to this day, I am working through those scars.

    But we are indeed alone together…

    • So glad you have found healthful ways to cope and that you have sought solidarity through resources like The Invisible Scar. Thank you so much for sharing your own experience surviving and working through trauma; it brings comfort to me and I am sure it brings comfort to others as well. Sending you solidarity and strength, today and always.

  3. I’m actually doing a lot of research on this because my novel I’m trying to write has a lot to do with this honestly, and I myself researched emotional abuse about only a week ago and it never occurred to me before as well that can occur (or I knew it could just never knew the word and how common in it is.) And because I’m writing a novel with a main character who is asian, gay, and also abused I don’t know how to say “I would like to interview you” without sounding slightly creepy XD

    Anyway, thank you for this post, and all your other posts. They are so enlightening and eyeopening. And know you are never alone, even if we are all alone on the Internet but together ^^

    (Also I swore I followed this why did it unfollow me silently sobs)

    • Yes, emotional abuse is much more common than people think! Glad to hear you’re putting in the time and effort to conduct thorough research on such important topics. I apologize for the late response; if you send me your interview questions I will do my best to answer them, though I may also send you some resources about these topics just because school and research and work have gotten me pretty blocked up.

      Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them so much. Hope WordPress has fixed itself for you!

  4. This too shall [hopefully] pass, Thomas. It doesn’t hurt to blast some Ariana Grande while you’re at it. Keep being awesome.

    • Your support is so appreciated Joey. And, yas to that Ariana reference. Her new album comes out in two days. I, of course, would highly recommend.

  5. “perhaps I just did not have the vocabulary”

    This phrase really stood out to me. I’ve been dealing with some of my own mental health issues and I don’t really know why I didn’t google them before my ex-boyfriend brought it up with his therapist awhile ago. I’ve always felt a bit guilty that I knew I had a problem but never investigated it despite really wanting it to be figured out. This I think is a good way for me to think about it. I had been set on one mindset and like you said, didn’t have the vocabulary to search further.

    I just really wanted you to know that I really appreciated this.

    • Oh my goodness, thank you for this introspective and meaningful comment. I am glad that you feel like the phrase has helped you understand yourself and some of the issues you have encountered. I am sending you so much strength and hope you know I’m cheering for you, wherever you are in the process of coping and recovery.

  6. I really respect you for using your experiences to help others – creating this resource will be a massive help to people, I’m sure.

  7. It’s pretty incredible how no matter how many times you’ve fallen and dark periods you’ve gone through, you’ve been able to get up and begin a path to overcome the tough times. It’s amazing to see the how you’ve become a stronger individual (from what I’ve read, since I only know about what you’ve documented on The Quiet Voice). I really have a lot of respect for you as a blogger but also as friend. And, thank you for sharing The Invisible Scar with the rest of us. And know we’ll always be here to support you, Thomas!

    • Thank you for your kindness, Summer! It’s been so great to meet you and connect with you over the internet and to see your growth as a blogger as well. Also, forgot to mention this in my comment on one of your most recent posts, but I really love your phrase “summer bomb.” It sounds so refreshing and dangerous and cheerful yet meaningful. Hope you’re doing well and reading a fab book right now.

  8. I was perusing through The Invisible Scar and wow… just wow. I find a lot of solidarity and comfort in these threads too. I am always so intrigued by the human experience. We are all so different, yet so similar. At the core of it all, we all have experienced some form of pain, loss, love, etc etc. Recently, I’ve been very thankful for people that take the time to really listen.

    • So glad you found the website empowering as well, Elayna! And I am also glad you are expressing gratitude toward those who listen. Thank you for your consistent support and presence. I just read your most recent blog post and it resonated so deeply with me. You are a fabulous teacher and writer and human, so please keep doing what you do.

  9. I really feel like I’ve found a really special blog. A very private but also open place and I think sharing websites like this can really really help people. I’m sorry you went through what you went through and I know people must have said that before, but it’s fantastic that you’re helping other people out.

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