Watering The Cracks in the Sidewalks

Watering the Cracks in the Sidewalk

Cultivating Hope With Child Abuse Survivors


A woman bends close to gray concrete,
Watering the weeds that grow between the sidewalk cracks.
Some would call her insane.

But she is witness to the life that bends,
Twists and grows determinedly
green in a gray, unwelcoming place.

She waters weeds between sidewalk cracks,
aiding, honoring, paying tribute to
the life of hope.

From Common Threads: Stories of Life After Trauma


“The human mind is naturally divided into parts. The parts of one person demonstrate different temperaments, talents desires, ages and gender. Together they form an internal family, which organizes in the same way as other human systems.”

 Richard Swartz & Regina Goulding - The Mosaic Mind, 1995


The goal of this book is to bring awareness and understanding to the struggles of children.  Growing children is like growing plants -all of them need individualized care.


As human parents and caregivers we make mistakes.  For that reason all children are vulnerable to abuse. Trauma is measured in degrees, longevity and by the depth of psychological wounds.


As authors, we share our stories from an inner place rather then a historically accurate place. Human beings experience traumatic events through parts of their internal emotional system.  Different parts of us wrote these chapters, poems and commentaries.


As you read, take time to notice the different parts of you that become emotionally activated by the writings.


Welcome all of your parts because like children, whether they have grown in primarily supportive or inhospitable places, they are all good.


Connie Robillard


Marcel A. Duclos


Lorraine Lordi


“Entering into the world of trauma is like looking into a fractured glass: the familiar appears disjointed and disturbing.” Francine Shapiro & Margo Silk Forrest  - EMDR


Trust, is the most basic foundation of any healthy relationship. Trust is one’s point of security, one’s umbrella in the rain that both comforts and protects. As basic as this concept is to a sense of others and our sense of ourselves what happens when trust is broken, or in some cases never fully realized. 


Children are born trusting. It takes a lot to shatter the trust of a small child; they are forgiving beings. Even when they are mistreated within minutes they appear to have forgotten the traumatic event. The sounds and images are stored in their bodies like small time capsules waiting to erupt at a later time. It is the body that holds the memory of the trauma.  Without language to voice or synthesize the experience they swallow it like rocks.


 In this chapter we witness the premature loss of innocence when adults fail to attune to the emotional well being of children.



Beyond Our Two Stories: Trends in Our Current Culture:


· Estimates in the United States of sexually abused children rose from 119,200 in 1986 to 217,700 in 1993.


· In cases reported to the police (1991 – 1996), 34% of child sexual assault offenders were family members of the victim.  In 49% of the cases, the victim was under 6-years old.  (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).


· 52% of maltreated children in this country suffered neglect, 25% physical abuse, 13% sexual abuse, 5% emotional abuse, and 14% other forms of maltreatment.  More than half the children were under the age of 8; 26% were younger than 4.  About 52% of the victims were girls; 47% were boys. (Nation’s Health, 1997)


· More then 3 million cases of abuse and neglect were reported in 2001.  (Prevent Child Abuse America).


· At least 20% of American women and 5 - 10% of men have been sexually abused as children. (Finkelhor, 1994).


· Family members constitute 30 – 50% of the perpetrators against girls, and 10 – 20% of the perpetrators against boys.


· In 2002, 2.6 million reports concerning the welfare of 4.5 million children were made.  (Vincent Iannelli, MD, 2007).


· 84% of all suspected abuse cases in schools are never reported. (Education, 2006).

· According to a recent University of New Hampshire study, one in five children face online solicitation (Paul Grendon, May, 2008)


Pre-reading Reflection/Discussion Questions:

Connections with your own experiences


  1. Think of a place in your childhood where you felt safe.  What specifically do you remember about this place – smells, sounds, colors, images?  Did other people share this place with you?  In what ways did your safe place change when other people were around?  Explain.


Write/discuss a time in your childhood when you felt scared.  How old were you, and what were the circumstances that caused these feelings?  Who could you turn to then?


NH Counseling Association


Certified IFS Therapists

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors


Connie Robillard, MA


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