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Overcoming Childhood Abuse and Neglect

My mother left when I was 3. I bounced around without a home — lived with my grandparents, sometimes my father, sometimes aunts and uncles. I suffered horrendous abuse. Emotional, physical, sexual… sometimes I think the neglect was the worst. I grew up without love — nobody cared about me — I was nothing but a burden.

One thing that lives with me is the intense hunger — I never had enough to eat.

The other thing that haunts me is the shame I felt. Shame from the sexual abuse and shame from my own existence — I was often told how they were ashamed of me. I knew they hated me because they told me — rather they screamed it at me. I never had clean clothes — I overheard parents tell their kids not to play with me because I was dirty. I lived in a state of constant fear — I never knew when the violence was going to explode and when the blood would flow. I tried to not exist so I would not be on the receiving end of the anger.

As a way to cope I started huffing gas when I was 11. Eleven was also the age of my first suicide attempt and the start of my depression. I had spent the summer living in a wooden crate and I felt as if god had abandoned me. I was tired, hungry and miserable. Suicide seemed like the only way out. Since sex meant nothing to me, I started trading sexual favors for drugs and money. I did what I had to do to survive. This led to my second suicide attempt at the age of 15. I don’t think I really wanted to die, I think I just needed a way off the crazy train I was riding. I spent 2 months in a drug rehab unit. Although I tried to stay clean I relapsed many times. I have been to rehab 4 times. My drug of choice is crack.

One night, I was sitting in a crack house with a prostitute who was covered in scabs. Her child was asleep in a pile of clothes in the corner. When I looked into her eyes I saw the desperation and pain. At that moment I decided I did not want to end up like her — I wanted a better life for myself. I quit the drugs and decided to go back to school. Since then I have only had one crack relapse.

Currently, I deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD and alcohol/drug dependency. At the moment, they are fairly well under control with medications and weekly therapy. However, at times, my depression is severe and manifests with extremely violent and intrusive thoughts of self harm.

I have not had crack in over 6 years and have not had a drink in 19 months.

I have managed to get a degree in psychology and I just completed my Masters degree in somatics education (alternative medicine — mind-body integration). Sometimes, I wonder if I am the only Phi Beta Kappa member to be a previous crackhead and child prostitute. I like to think of my past as “colorful.” I have finally gotten to the point where I am not ashamed to talk about it. It seems like the world does not want to admit that child abuse, neglect, child prostitution, rape, incest and things of that nature even exist.

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I am tired of people shoving it under the carpet — I feel compelled to speak out. I firmly believe there is nothing “wrong” with me — I am not broken — I just have mental illnesses that can be treated just like any other health problem. There is hope for me.

Overcoming Childhood Abuse and Neglect


APA Reference
, D. (2020). Overcoming Childhood Abuse and Neglect. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.