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They say you can’t change who your family is, but sometimes it is a must for some people. Those who have been abandoned, abused, or shunned often make their own. That should be acceptable in our society, but for some reason, it is not. In other cultures, their family is united, regardless of whether they have to start their own, or keep the ones they have. It is not an obligation by any means to keep the ones around who have done them wrong, or enforce unethical or amoral traditions to cause them harm. If a family member needs help, it is given without expectation to repay them back. In America, however, it is not as common.

Family abuse is often overlooked and ignored. Those who run away or attempt to escape, are punished because “It’s your family.” If someone does not treat you as a human being, then– in all honesty–you deserve a better home. I’m not talking about two sibling arguing over the television remote, or a father disciplining a child for acting out at the grocery store.  Not even the occasional fight during a family-owned business. I’m talking about the lifelong emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse a child endures. Not only by the parents (uncles/aunts, grandparents, and the adult cousin), but their own siblings as well. Abuse is abuse, no matter who it comes from. There are even instances where it is the parent or guardian in the family being abused by the child. There is no excuse to ignore an abuse victim asking for help by confiding in you to tell you what is going on. By the end of the day, it is not your say to tell the abused to ‘get over it’ because the abuser is also your family. Nor is it yours to make decisions for the abused to forgive and ‘act’ like family again because they’re related by blood.

You can not erase or weep their pain– their trails and tribulations–under the rug because they’re family. Trauma can affect a person’s life forever. No amount of strength, therapy, or drugs can ever make it disappear. For those who can or are privileged to have a great family (either by choice or birth), then you keep those people closest to you. They are there to help you develop or grow as an individual, to be your guide or wise teacher, and be your cheerleader. Just as you are there to be theirs. If you know someone who is not as fortunate as you are, you are still family to them, and you let that be known. All it takes is love, compassion, and understanding. That alone may not be much, but to someone else, it is everything.