Thus, it may well be that the plight of a little child who is abused is even worse and has more serious consequences for society than the plight of an adult in a concentration camp. The former camp inmate may sometimes find himself in situation where he feels that he can never adequately communicate the horror of what he has gone through and that others approach him without understanding, with cold and callous indifference, even with disbelief,* but with few exceptions he himself will not doubt the tragic nature of his experiences. He will never attempt to convince himself that the cruelty he was subjected to was for his own good or interpret the absurdity of the camp as a necessary pedagogical measure; he will usually not attempt to empathize with the motives of his persecutors. He will find people who have had similar experiences and share with them his feelings of outrage, hatred, and despair over the cruelty he has suffered.
The abused child does not have any of these options. As I have tried to show in the example of Christiane F., she is alone with her suffering, not only within the family but also within her self. And because she cannot share her pain with anyone, she is also unable to create a place in her own soul where she could “cry her heart out.” No arms of a “kind aunt” exist there; “Keep a stiff upper lip and be brave” is the watchword. Defenselessness and helplessness find no haven in the self of the child, who later, identifying with the aggressor, persecutes these qualities wherever they appear.