Jacksonville, Florida (PressExposure) December 07, 2007 -- The author of a new book on child abuse says we all carry around a second-hand opinion of who we are and that it's rarely accurate.
Our self image, says Dr. Heyward Ewart, is formed mainly through the experimentation of adolescence, plus what other people have said about us, and our own trial and error in coming up with a personality that will work in our world.
Rarely does anybody take a look back and ask, "Were my parents right about me?" The question covers not only what was said to us all our lives but also the looks, glances, and scowls that registered deeply, he maintains.
In his book "AM I BAD? Recovering from Abuse", just released by Loving Healing Press, he makes the point that child abuse warps the personality so badly that the victim attracts further abuse.
The book presents a whole new model of personality development based on misinformation that children receive about themselves all during the developmental years. We end up with an "adopted self", Ewart says, and few ever come to realize that it's not real.
He says this process is most pronounced in abuse victims but yet applies to some extent to all people. "Even good parents communicate bad information sometimes, and the child doesn't know the difference," he explains.
Young children must accept as fact what their caregivers convey about them. Then the adolescent experiments to find a mask that will be accepted by the group. Finally, the adult combines the two and arrives at the adopted self to carry him through life.
The book is packed with graphic case histories of abuse survivors whose self image was totally derailed due to the fact that abuse is the strongest form of communication.
"Being molested or getting knocked across the room is always memorable," Ewart points out, "and especially since every child believes it's his fault."
Domestic violence does not begin with a woman's poor choice of a mate but with being violated as a person in some way during her formative years. "She takes on an aura of being wounded prey that a human predator can easily spot," Ewart asserts. "Then he moves in for the kill."
The further abuse she receives confirms what she already believed: that she deserves nothing better. If she ever leaves her tormentor, she will often go to a worse one, Ewart says.