Quote by Charles Blow
I think this is something that we often overlook. It is certainly overlooked by society in general when we think of child abuse and trauma. Research shows that neglect or lack of normal developmental experiences and supports can be more damaging to a psyche than physical abuse.
I hear it from abuse survivor “they never hit me” as though all the other things don’t matter. And then this leaves the questioning why they struggle so much in life and relationships. They don’t even realize that one is directly related to the other, because they have been told by society and their families that if it doesn’t leave a physical, visual mark it does not count.
I also hear this skewed perspective in discussions of racism and transphobia. There seems to be this assumption that if someone is not out burning crosses or beating up trans folks in the bathroom, then they are doing no harm. But this is a way for us to not have to have more complex and nuanced conversation about how even ‘nice’ people have internalized some level of racism and transphobia and it influences the way we talk to or about others, and it can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding for those we see as ‘other.’ It allows us to distance ourselves from this difficult work and yet it also reduces us.
Just as the lack of empathy and understanding can do great harm, so then the flip side is true as well. Increasing our understanding and empathy for others can do great good and help start to make a difference for the better.