Dear Yaw

Past Abuse Haunts Me

Dear Yaw

I am a 29 year old woman and recently got married to the love of my life. We are expecting our first child and I’m terrified that I won’t be a good mother to my child due to constant flashbacks of how I was raised. My father and stepmother subjected me to constant abuse and punishment, they believe you spare the rod, you spoil the child. My husband suggested I see a therapist to help me deal with my past. Will this make any difference as the damage has already been done?


Hi Eno

While your life experience with your violent father and stepmother is sad to read, it is very satisfying to also read of your high level of self-awareness about it. Many people who suffer violence prefer to pretend that they are okay; that ‘nothing happened’ to them. But there are always outcomes from violence.

The good news is that you can fully recover from the violence you suffered by feeling all of your feelings – which will usually include fear, pain, sadness, anger and powerlessness – about this violence. Depending on your own preference, you can do it alone, with someone you trust listening deeply to you, or with a professional (provided they are good at listening deeply).

I have briefly explained what you need to do in the article ‘Putting Feelings First’  and what it means to have someone listen deeply in the article ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Your healing journey might take considerable time and be done over a longer period but every time you allow yourself to feel the impact of the violence you suffered, whether sadness, fear, anger or anything else, you heal, you learn more about yourself, and you take another step to ensure that you never behave like your father and stepmother.

It is a wonderful gift to yourself, your husband and your child.


Robert J Burrowes

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes (Yaw) has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is and his website is here.

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