I think it's time to get some debate going here. With counselling (assuming it survives budget cuts) getting nearer I find my thoughts turning increasingly towards the events of my childhood and adolescence. This isn't an entirely bad thing as long as I don't get 'out of my depth'.
One of the mitigating factors often put before a court when a child abuser is brought to trial is that he or she suffered similar or worse abuse themselves in their childhood. Now, I try to be fair minded and I can see that certain behavioural patterns can be reinforced by childhood experience but I find it hard to quell a surge of anger every time I hear this plea. I'm not a saint and I don't presume to judge but my personal journey demonstrates that the chain can be broken.
When I was in Lower Sixth Form I expressed an interest in teaching as a career after getting my Music degree (that was the plan at the time). I already taught beginners classes in violin, that was considered an important part of my own development as a musician, and enjoyed the feeling that I was passing on some of my expertise to a new generation. There can't be a much more compelling reason to teach can there?
One of my Masters arranged for me to spend one afternoon a week at a local primary school to gain some 'real' experience in teaching. Most of the time I'd be unsupervised (bear in mind that this was 1970) and he wanted me to discover if my trademark temper could be kept under control in a classroom situation. I had a different concern because the Headmaster of the primary school wanted me to help with swimming lessons and then supervise the boy's changing room afterwards.
I thought about the implications a great deal in light of my personal experiences and decided that this would be my own 40 days and nights in the wilderness. I duly turned up for my first session and found myself trying to bring 15 or so naked 10 year olds under control and persuade them to get dried and dressed so education could commence. I was relieved and delighted when I realised that I had no desire to be anything other than their teacher; the one in charge.
Sadly my plans got derailed by the ultimate collapse of my relationship with my parents and university didn't happen, neither did teaching; education's loss I'd venture to suggest. What I did bring from that experience was the knowledge that the cycle can be broken.
Being abused does not have to make you an abuser.
Would anybody like to add their thoughts?
We were victims of childhood abuse in our differing ways and here we'll share something of what happened to us.
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