chapter  3
The Legacy of Abuse
Exploring How Rules and Beliefs are Formed in Attachment Relationships
WithJoanne Zucchetto, Simone Jacobs, Ly Vick Johnson
Pages 29

This chapter asks the reader to look at childhood trauma clients as survivors of a war zone. The dangerous and toxic environment they were raised in forced them to live under the rules that were decreed by their abusers and caretakers. This environment also required our clients to create their own rules that would help diminish the severity of the abuse. To a great degree, these rules, which are often disguised, continue to be in effect in the present. The rules work against our clients’ ability to keep themselves safe as well as to succeed in work and relationships. We show how two therapy homework assignments help clients to explore the rules they have lived by, how these rules helped them survive and how they are affecting their present-day lives. A third therapy assignment – a declaration of independence – is used to show how clients can begin to think about freeing themselves from the outdated rules that were formed in response to childhood abuse and neglect.