This exchange happened on a facebook page. Details have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent:
Parent: It's sad from the child's point of view. People forget to feel for the children; it makes the child feel forgotten (I have been a Forgotten Child myself).
Linda: It's not sad for the kids involved, either. It's soul-crushing.
As you know.
Parent: Very true. After a while it's simply sad because anything more than sad would be irreversible.
Linda: I'm not sure I know what you mean...
What is reversible?...
Parent: Well, there's sad, and there's hopeless. If you can keep yourself at an even level of sad, you can live through that. You may not live through hopeless.
Linda: I don't think the dichotomy is that clean. It isn't 'sad' versus 'hopeless.' For a couple of reasons...
If you can touch the fury, you might be able to process the sadness more easily because it won't be trying to stand in for much more powerful emotions. When you meet the rage, the sadness won't feel like 'if I start crying I won't stop for 9 years.'
...and, I think more importantly:
It is hopeless. Not for the future, but to alter the past. No one can go back to have a better childhood than they had, or the parents they needed, or to get the help they needed, or to feel that they were seen or accepted then.
What they do have, in the way of hope for the future is multi-faceted:
It is over and can't keep happening: the children are no longer children and no longer need those people's approval.
The past does not dictate the future. What has happened has happened, but it is over... the last three tosses of a coin coming up heads has no effect at all on the next toss of the same coin. The odds are about strings of events, but the past events do not affect the pure odds of the next event. The coin has exactly 50% chance of being heads again. The threads we draw from one event to another are narratives we construct, not a continuous string of causes-and-effects. We can make new choices, go down new roads, think new thoughts. Now the child knows.
Now the child knows exactly what went wrong and exactly what it feels like and exactly why doing anything like that to anyone, ever, is not okay. This is not possible to avoid until the child knows.