Hurt people, hurt people.

The title is a statement about what hurt people do to others. Hurt people in turn often hurt other people. So follow along as we stroll through my mind, surprised by what we might find.

I was driving to my AA meeting this morning and as usual I was watching the car behind me to monitor how close it followed me. I get agitated if I am tailgated. I decided I should really just look forward and wondered why I pay so much attention to the cars around me. It struck me that I have always driven this way. I walk this way. I am in a constant state of vigilance.  I wondered how did I get this way. I had sudden recall back to 1966. I was standing in the hallway of my high school. I was supposed to be in class but I had pretended I was going to the toilet so I could stand in the hallway. 

A young black kid approached whom I recognized from another class. I said hello to him. He didn’t say a word but he quickly struck me in my chest and knocked me down. Some change fell out of my shirt pocket. He picked it up and walked away without ever saying a word. I was stunned by the swiftness and the silence of it. I never told the school just as I never told them about the other assaults on me. Importantly, I was not stunned by the violence of it. 

I have tried to remember the number of times I was robbed or assaulted in high school. I can recall only a few. Maybe 20 or so. A lot of it was black on white crime but I had my fair share of white on white, greaser vs Jew assaults. But the assaults started with my dad when I was about 4. It continued in grade school as I was jumped by other kids starting in the second grade. The assaults increased when I lived on the streets. Most didn’t result in much harm. I either escaped quickly, bluffed my way out or won against the attacker(s). I would guess that I could have avoided some of these encounters had I been where I was supposed to be and generally speaking less openly. Like do not hang out on the streets at night, do not go to the go-carts without an adult, and do not walk by the drug store that the Catholic kids have claimed for themselves. Do not talk back when tough kids threaten, don’t mock hoodlums and don’t scoff at threats.

As an adult I faced dozens of violent incidents working with street kids. Kids that I talked with one day could be dead the next, always from gang violence. What is manifestly clear to me is that hurt people, hurt people. Abused children often become abusers, sexual victims especially men, become sexual predators. It probably always has been and probably always will be.

So, is there a way out of this hyper-sensitivity and vigilance which I practice without intention? If my experience is any measure, the answer is no. At best damaged people will find healthy, new ways to cope. They will find mentors and techniques which will serve them well. Or they won’t. And they will suffer addiction, institutions, incarceration or simply have a gnawing sense of insecurity which follows them into everything they do. 

If you have a friend or family member like me I would look for opportunities to introduce them to 12 steps, or meditation or something which has been shown to successfully be a catalyst for change. I am convinced I will have to live with my demons despite every effort to shed them But I am also sure that my demons serve me well at times. I have known danger was imminent when most others were unaware. I have been heard by very damaged humans who could otherwise not hear. I have intervened and helped facilitate change in the lives of persons believed to be beyond reach.

My demons will go anywhere with me. Physically or mentally or spiritually they have staked a claim to a portion of my brain, heart and soul.  Dark alleys or sunlit mountains, they have treaded fearlessly with me. (Along the road of happy destiny)Always protecting and always threatening my well-being.  And it is this awareness that grants me an ability to understand that hurt people, hurt people. 

7 thoughts on “Hurt people, hurt people.

  1. Reblogged this on Marilyn Munrow and commented:
    This is spot on, People who are hurt, do tend to hurt others. Something needs to break that cycle of hurt. They need to get help, see a therapist, or anything, to stop this cycle of abuse. What a sorry world we live in at this present moment, and i cannot see it getting any better. Nice blog.

      1. It did strike a very deep chord in me. Thank you for sharing. Happy Holidays to you too my friend. xxxxx

  2. I was physically and sexually assaulted by my brother who was 4 1/2 years older than me. It started at age 4 and didn’t stop until I was 15 when he was kicked out of the house. I made a vow everytime he hurt me sexually – that the pain would stop with me. Somehow I knew that kids who had been hurt went on to hurt others and that cycle was going to stop with me. I knew something was wrong with my brother and I didn’t want to pass along his hurting me to anyone else. My parents believed in corporal punishment, so they assaulted us (3 kids) and in turn the oldest child assaulted the youngest one. I distinctly remember asking my brother, “Why do you hit me all the time?” His reply at the time was, “shit rolls downhill.” Something my father was fond of saying. I’m grateful the cycle stopped with me. Of course, I didn’t have children; I was too afraid I would raise them the way I was raised.

  3. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    This is very insightful. I wondered what people get out of bullying and abusing others without provocation to the extent that they will make up things that will give them an excuse for their actions. Perhaps you are spot on that they have been abused so they need to abuse others to protect themselves. If this is the case it is a sad state of affairs and will never get rectified unless people get help. I hope they do.

    1. I spent about 8 years doing social work with damaged kids. Mostly gangs and drugs. I worked in a treatment facilities for drug abusing suburban teens. I never knew where the damage came from for sure. Some families had 3 healthy kids and one crazy. Two parents or one, urban vs suburban, poverty vs affluence, it didn’t matter. We produce damaged kids. Of this I am also certain though. Living with lies makes you crazy. Living with parents who don’t love each other but tell the inquiring child that nothing is wrong cause untold harm. The dissonance between the child’s feelings and what they are being told can cause them to lose faith in their own intuition.

      1. I was raised by a bipolar mother. My parents ended up hating each other. It has it’s effects. I think we all suffered because of it but I tend to not abuse but defend those that are victims. I know what it is to feel helpless. You can go either way. Children should never be a part of the adults problems and it is unforgivable when they get dragged into these situations. Unfortunately when this is what you grow up with you tend to repeat it unless you are shown another way. Bless you for helping these kids and ending the cycle.

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