November 2, 2015

A Wounded Child’s Journey to Healing-Part 1

I am so pleased to be able to introduce you to Woody Haiken today. Over the next few weeks, Woody is going to be sharing with us his story of healing from abuse and about the amazing work he does with survivors!


For most of my life, I felt that I was abnormal. I looked at the lives that others had. It seemed that everyone else was happy, had good relationships, friends, a close family and a satisfying career. It was as if I was on the outside, peering in. I saw myself as defective. Why? Because that is what I was taught about myself.

I did not realize that what I endured growing up in the early 1960s was “child abuse.” That term wasn’t yet in the cultural vocabulary. Yet I was the family scapegoat, always on the fringe of what my parents and sisters enjoyed. While they had family time in front of the TV, I was doing chores. If I was done with my chores, I was being punished for any one of a million manufactured-on-the-spot infractions of my father’s ever-changing rule-book. 

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I realized that my childhood was not the norm. As a member of the Civil Air Patrol, I had to take training in child abuse because adult members worked with youth. The training was a video produced by the Boy Scouts. In it, ten signs of child abuse were described. As they were ticked off, one-by-one, I realized that was me, that was me, for nine out of the ten, that was me. The only one that wasn’t me was visual signs of bruising, since my father only injured me where clothing would cover the bruises.

I went to the chaplain who oversaw the presentation. I was in tears. “Why wasn’t there anything like that for me, when I was growing up?” I asked him. He was unwilling to talk to me about it. He told me to go get help. This was the first time in my life that I put a name to what I suffered as a child, and I felt more isolated than ever.

Over the next few decades, I sought out healing. What I found from most of the professionals I went to was a “get over it” attitude. Perhaps it was the era. I found that, as a man, I was expected to be stoic about my feelings. I had some deep emotions, but could never find a safe place to express them. By that time, I was in my first marriage. As is with most survivors of child abuse, I married someone with many of the characteristics of my primary abuser. While the abuse wasn’t physical, she was verbally and emotionally abusive. 

I had to bury much of what I felt. Turned inward, these emotions manifested as an autoimmune disease that crippled me for years. It wasn’t until I was out of my second marriage, which was worse than the first, that I began the journey towards healing. As I learned to love myself, the symptoms of my illness subsided. But even more significant than the return of my physical health, I gained insight into the process of healing from child abuse.

I call it, “The Wounded Child’s Journey.” There are several parts to this Journey. The first is awareness. Until I was aware that I was abused, I was not able to do anything to heal from it. But awareness alone is not enough. We can become aware, and then bitter and angry at our abusers. While we might be justified in our anger, especially since we may have been made to bear guilt for our own suffering, that anger has no outlet other than our own bodies. 

So with awareness, we need a genuine desire to heal. We have to be willing to do whatever it takes change our lives. We cannot go to those who harmed us and expect them to heal us. They can’t, and they won’t. We aren’t responsible for the harm we suffered, but only we are responsible for our own recovery.

In my next post, I’ll share the steps in the “Wounded Child’s Journey. I wish you well in your journey to healing from child abuse.

Woody Haiken, CPC, ELI-MP, founded Wounded Child Coaching to help others who have experienced child abuse, as he did. His recovery from the damage took decades. His greatest breakthroughs came from the coaching process, which saw him as sufficient, and the past as a teacher. Coaching has helped Woody release those things in his life that no longer serve him, and embrace those things that keep him growing.

Woody now shares his wisdom with others through the same coaching process that has revolutionized his life.

He received his coaching training through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), and is a Certified Professional Coach and an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. 

Go to for Woody’s free eBook, “The 4 Thought Patterns that Block Your Happiness & How to Change Them” 

To learn more about Woody and Wounded Child Coaching go to:

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