Episode 64: You’ll Be Glad You Kept Fighting: One Woman’s Journey From Child Abuse with Christina Vitagliano
Episode 64: You’ll Be Glad You Kept Fighting: One Woman’s Journey From Child Abuse with Christina Vitagliano
Christina Vitagliano shares her story from enduring child abuse to going on to start a multimillion-dollar business and publishing her own memoir. She breaks down the ripple effects that child abuse had on her life and why some of the effects of child abuse hit much so much harder in adulthood.
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hey, warriors. Welcome back to another episode of Light After Trauma. I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari, and we have with us today, Christina Vitagliano. Now, Christina is an author, entrepreneur and the founder of a successful family entertainment concept, Monster Mini Golf.
Having spent three decades working on her memoir, Christina hopes to share her story and touch the hearts of readers with her account of childhood abuse, empowering survivors to reclaim their lives and learn to thrive, despite their trauma. Her passion is to provide affordable, fun entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. Monster Mini Golf is a multi-million dollar company with 30 locations across the USA and Canada.
Without any further ado, I would love to introduce our guest today. We’re going to be talking about childhood trauma with Christina. Welcome, Christina, how are you today?
Christina Vitagliano [01:31]:
I am good. How are you?
Alyssa Scolari [01:33]:
I am good. Really happy just to update the listeners. I just learned that while Christina is currently in Vegas, she’s originally from the New England area, which I love. As all the listeners know, I’m a Jersey girl through and through, even though I live in PA now. Christina’s accent feels like a warm cup of tea for me. Thank you for being here. I’m really happy to have you on the show.
Christina Vitagliano [02:02]:
Oh, thank you for inviting me.
Alyssa Scolari [02:04]:
Yeah, of course. You’re spreading awareness about, I think, one of the most taboo topics in the field, people really shy away from talking about child abuse.
Christina Vitagliano [02:19]:
Alyssa Scolari [02:21]:
You are doing anything but shying away from that.
Christina Vitagliano [02:26]:
Took me a while, but yes.
Alyssa Scolari [02:28]:
I think that’s important to point out, right? That it doesn’t happen overnight for sure.
Christina Vitagliano [02:33]:
Alyssa Scolari [02:35]:
I guess let’s start with take me back to how you even became somebody who spreads awareness on childhood abuse. What is your story? Where did you come from? How did you get to where you are today?
Christina Vitagliano [02:53]:
Well, a quick overview. It started when I was about four years old and it lasted until I left home, which was around 16/17 years old. Actually I didn’t move out until I was 18, but it was that whole period.
Alyssa Scolari [03:06]:
That was the whole period that you … So you started being abused around the age of four?
Christina Vitagliano [03:06]:
Alyssa Scolari [03:06]:
Christina Vitagliano [03:11]:
Then I left home around 18 or when I legally could, I was out the door. Then I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t do anything. I’m sorry. That’s my doorbell. Until I decided to sit down and write about it, which was about 20 something years ago. I sat down and just put it all on paper and then I sat on that for the last 20 years, and then finally published my memoir this year.
Alyssa Scolari [03:42]:
Christina Vitagliano [03:43]:
Alyssa Scolari [03:45]:
Okay. You escaped your abusive environment. Now, when you were in your abusive environment, did you know at the time that that was abuse? When did you make that connection like, “Oh, this is what’s happening here.”
Christina Vitagliano [03:58]:
Well, God, at four years old I try to … I remember … I have a very, very good memory on some things, but I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday, but-
Alyssa Scolari [04:06]:
Christina Vitagliano [04:06]:
… I do. I have such vivid … That’s a curse and a blessing at times, but very vivid memories. I remember being that young, knowing that what was happening wasn’t right. I didn’t know why it wasn’t right. I didn’t know … Because you’re four. I mean, you only know so much, but whatever it was, was wrong. On the flip side, I didn’t want to mess up our family. My mom … This was my stepdad and they had just gotten married.
My big thing was, “Don’t make mom unhappy because she was so unhappy before and now this man makes her happy and I don’t want to mess things up.” You know? That’s how it started. I think once you start down that path, and I don’t know why, you just continue down that path of, “I am going to handle this myself. I’m not going to mess things up for anybody.”
I was terrified that I would get taken away from the family and thrown into an orphanage, which to me was worse than what I was dealing with. Kind of short version of that whole story.
Alyssa Scolari [05:16]:
You’re speaking such universal feelings and thoughts that children have, which is children have this concept that the devil you know … And even adults, right?
Christina Vitagliano [05:16]:
Alyssa Scolari [05:28]:
The devil you know is better than the one that you don’t. I think so many children endure what they need to endure for the sake of keeping the family together and not risking being pulled away from their family.
Christina Vitagliano [05:48]:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I think as a child, it’s instinctive that you want to make your mom or your dad, whoever it is you’re bonded to, or even if it’s both of them, instinctively your job is to make sure that you do what you’re supposed to do and make them happy because that makes you happy. I don’t know. I mean, it’s a vicious circle, but that’s not true. You shouldn’t do some things just to make other people happy. It took me 30 years to figure that out. Yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [06:21]:
Yeah. Honestly, it takes some of us so much longer because that’s what we think. You’re right. It’s, “I want to make this person happy. I see how happy my mom is. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news. I don’t want to stir the pot.” It’s so difficult. How did you get … Was it just that with age you began to change and then when you became a teenager, you were like, “I got to get out of here.”
Christina Vitagliano [06:49]:
No. A couple of things. Like you said, you know it was wrong. I did know it was wrong at a very young age, and as you get older, boy, do you learn it’s more wrong. I mean, so now this ridiculous thing of, “Wow, I’m going to protect everybody else.” The wrong part gets so hard and as you get older, much harder because you learn more, but you keep dealing with it.
Then when I met my now husband, he was the first one that I ever told and he’s the first one that ever approached me and said, “Hey, what’s wrong with you?” I mean, short version, you know?
Alyssa Scolari [07:25]:
Christina Vitagliano [07:25]:
Hey, what the hell’s wrong with you? He just did it in such a blunt way. We were young. We had been dating for maybe, I don’t know, weeks. I had been previously married and divorced. Didn’t tell him, didn’t tell anybody I’d ever dated. Now I was about 30 years old, so I don’t know if it was him in my face being so blunt and the only one who said, “What the hell happened to you?” Or if it was a combination of that and at 30 years old, you kind of … I don’t know what it is.
You hit these milestones in life. 30 is one of them though. You say, “What am I doing with my life?” You think you’re an adult and you’re not an adult at 30 because that’s bullshit. I don’t even know if I’m an adult at my age and I’m in my 50s. It’s just, you start to question yourself as to what you think you know and, “Hey, maybe it’s time I stand up and stop doing what I’ve been doing to myself.”
You’re abusing yourself really for so many years. I listened to one of your podcasts where you went through your relationship and I was like, “Dear God, how many of us have been down that same exact path with the same exact reasoning within ourselves?” Then one day you wake up and say, “Holy cow, I’m a dummy.” In a good way though, it’s a good thing to say because you realize you don’t need to be that dummy all the time, you know?
Alyssa Scolari [08:50]:
Right. It’s not like I’m a dummy in a disparaging-
Christina Vitagliano [08:55]:
Alyssa Scolari [08:55]:
… a self-disparaging way. It’s almost like you wake up one day and the pieces fall together and you’re like, “Oh, God.”
Christina Vitagliano [09:04]:
Where was I, man? I know.
Alyssa Scolari [09:07]:
Right. I feel so disconnected from the person that I was when I was in it and in those bad relationships. You also realize that the bad relationships that you then continue to have in your teens and 20s are because you didn’t really know any better.
Christina Vitagliano [09:28]:
Alyssa Scolari [09:29]:
Christina Vitagliano [09:29]:
Or you’ve conditioned yourself to be who you are and it’s instinctive, “Well, I’m going to make this person happy. I don’t want to upset the applecart.” I do that to this day. I still do that. Yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [09:42]:
Oh, yes. The chronic people-pleasing and not wanting to upset anybody. There are people … I say this all the time, especially with, oh, one of my clients in particular where we talk about the red flags and how all the red flags look green. Even the red flags that are so bad, they’re on fire we choose to look past.
Christina Vitagliano [10:03]:
Yep. It’s almost you’ll do anything to avoid turmoil. I don’t even know why that is, but it is a common thing like, “Oh, geez, I don’t want to make anything bad.” You know? I don’t know.
Alyssa Scolari [10:14]:
Yeah. I think it’s because we’re taught when we’re so young that other people’s feelings matter more than our trauma and what happens to us. That’s the narrative that we carry around, that it doesn’t matter. Yes. I’m unhappy and yes, maybe this person is hurting me, but this person is giving me love, some sort of love. Even if it’s not what I really truly need or want, it’s something and something is better than nothing. At the end of the day, my partner’s feelings matter more than mine so I stay.
Christina Vitagliano [10:50]:
I remember. I went through a similar relationship that you spoke of in one of your podcasts and I thought to myself, “Oh, you can relate to every single word that you were saying.” Then you wake up one day and say, “Hey, I know this sucks. I know I’m in a bad relationship. I know that he’s really f’ing with me. You know what I mean? But I’m afraid to live alone. I’m terrified to be on my own. What would I do by myself?” Then one day you wake up and say, “I don’t care what I do by myself.”
I remember saying to myself, “If I sit in a room and I’m stuck watching TV for 12 hours a day because I have nothing else to do, I don’t have any friends anymore because he’s alienated everybody, then that’s okay with me.” As soon as you decide that whatever it is, is okay, and is better than what you were dealing with, the door opens.
Then you’re just like, “Well, this is all good.” You realize everything you thought was complete bullshit.” Because it’s not that bad out there by yourself. You know?
Alyssa Scolari [11:52]:
Yeah. Eventually you’ll get to a point … Well, I shouldn’t say everybody because some people spend their whole lives in-
Christina Vitagliano [12:00]:
Oh, you’re right.
Alyssa Scolari [12:01]:
… one toxic relationship to the next, which breaks my heart and is part of the reason why we sit here and talk about this. It’s just about awareness. Yeah. I think some people do get to a point where the pain of being in the situation is greater than the pain that it would take to change. That’s when change comes.
I guess I’m wondering for you, what do you think got you to a point where you were like, “Okay. I’m going to sit down and I’m going to write all of this out.” Because you said this was what? Like 20 years ago that you wrote all this down?
Christina Vitagliano [12:37]:
Yeah. I don’t know because once my … It wasn’t my husband then, but once he asked me, “Hey, what happened to you?” When I answered that, you’ve held that in for that long. Now all of a sudden it’s raw and it’s in your face and he’s the kind of guy that just asked and asked and asked. He won’t stop asking.
Alyssa Scolari [12:57]:
He doesn’t let it go.
Christina Vitagliano [12:58]:
He doesn’t let it go, and I’m the person, and on the flip side, I’m still the people-pleaser so I answered all of those questions that I probably didn’t want to answer at the time, but I did, which is a good thing I think in the long run because it was … But once it was all out there, I was like, “Wow.”
As I’m talking about it, I’m teaching myself, “Wow. There’s a lot of things I should have done differently and I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with any of this. If you could help anybody at that point, you’re like, “Holy cow, nobody should have to deal with some of this.” I started to put it down on paper and I said, “I’m going to start from the beginning.” And I just kept going. My husband, he teases me.
He said, “For six months, all I saw was the back of your head on the computer.” Because it’s all I was doing, was writing, writing, writing. Then when I got done, I was like, “All right, now I want to publish this.” Now, of course knew nothing about publishing, and 20 something years ago, self-publishing didn’t really exist like it does now. I learned, “Holy cow, I have to have this professionally edited.” Then I learned that cost about $5,000 plus at the time.
I didn’t have any money. Then that was the next hurdle. How do you get from this raw bunch of words to it being fine-tuned and ready to go to a publisher? Then, will anybody even want to publish it? I sat on that. I didn’t have the $5,000. I had left my career when I married my husband because I didn’t want to be a workaholic.
There’s a lot of things I think that when you come out of an abusive relationship, whether it’s child abuse or whatever that’s happened over a long period of time, you’re not just affected with who you are mentally, but I don’t know, my vice was working. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do any drugs, nothing like that, but I worked because work consumed my brain. When this all came out, I learned that I also have to fix that.
I can’t be working 70 hours a week and married to my job because if you’re going to have a relationship, that person deserves some of you too. I wasn’t capable of doing both of them. I knew that. I literally quit my career. Said, “I’m going to give this relationship thing a shot because I failed so many other times.” I left that and went to work with my husband and started doing some things in odds and ends.
Of course, we had no money. We’re living on like peanut butter. After I wrote the book, I’m like, “I need $5,000. I don’t have $5,000.” I created a company called Monster Mini Golf and-
Alyssa Scolari [15:34]:
That’s how you became the accidental entrepreneur.
Christina Vitagliano [15:37]:
Yes. In my head I was like, “I’m going to raise $5,000. I can do mini golf indoors, me and a friend, and when I raise the five grand, maybe I can get it published and then I’ll be able to make enough money to live on too in the meantime. That was almost 20 years ago. Now we have 30 Monster Mini Golf locations. We franchised it. We’ve got two crazy locations in casinos in Vegas here, one with KISS and one with the Twilight Zone.
I got sucked in and I became a workaholic and my husband owns this company with me so I kind of turned him into one now. Now he wants to be the workaholic and I don’t want to be so that’s its own battle. Yeah. Then when the pandemic hit, I sat down and said, “Oh, okay, we’re closed. There’s nothing to do. Hey, self-publishing is amazing. Look at all of this.” I self-published.
Alyssa Scolari [16:38]:
Yeah. Yes. Now you have this book out titled Every 9 Minutes.
Christina Vitagliano [16:45]:
Alyssa Scolari [16:46]:
Can you tell us a little bit about this book? Is this detailing your life-
Christina Vitagliano [16:51]:
Alyssa Scolari [16:52]:
… and what you went through?
Christina Vitagliano [16:54]:
It is. It’s titled Every 9 Minutes because every nine minutes there is a reported case of child abuse in the United States. Just in the United States, the rest of the world I can’t even imagine, and that’s reported.
Alyssa Scolari [17:10]:
Right. That’s what’s reported.
Christina Vitagliano [17:12]:
Child abuse, I think the majority is not … I never reported mine because it’s so taboo and you just condition nobody tells anybody about it and all kinds of very bad things are wrong with the whole subject. Anyway, that’s where the title came from. The book is a memoir. I’ve changed a lot of names. I’ve changed a lot of places, just because respect for people that I … Other people, good people. But I kept my name in it.
It starts in 1969, which is when I’m four years old and it ends when I met my husband and how the whole thing came to light and I talked it. It spans 30 years, but I think a lot of people … And I apologize with my dogs upstairs. I think-
Alyssa Scolari [17:57]:
Oh, is that what that is? Is that your dog?
Christina Vitagliano [17:59]:
We have two bulldog pups and they’re insane. I think a lot of folks will … And it’s getting better. People will talk about child abuse and they’ll talk about their experience of abuse. I think when I wrote this book, it spans that long because it’s not just about the abuse. It’s about the effect that the abuse has on you for that period of time.
Alyssa Scolari [18:24]:
That is so important that you said that because yes, when we talk about abuse, we cannot just talk about the incidents themselves.
Christina Vitagliano [18:36]:
Alyssa Scolari [18:36]:
Because they have ripple effects onto your life for decades and ages to come. I love that you said that. I mean, it’s so important not to just talk about, “Oh, this is what happens to me.” But then what happened after.
Christina Vitagliano [18:50]:
This is what happened to me as a result of what happened to me.
Alyssa Scolari [18:52]:
Christina Vitagliano [18:54]:
This is why all these things happen. Yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [18:57]:
You said it best. You said it best.
Christina Vitagliano [19:01]:
A lot of people don’t talk about that because … and there’s nothing … I think it’s because when somebody hears that subject, it just is like, “Wow.” It’s so big on its own that people have to get what happened out. To me, and this is a really weird thing, what was happening was the abuse became so routine to me that, yeah, I’m like, “I can handle that crap.”
It’s everything else that’s happening to me that I couldn’t figure out until I was old enough to say, “Oh, it’s all because of that crap.” You know?
Alyssa Scolari [19:35]:
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I mean, you’re exactly right. I think it’s so important and I guess one of the questions that I have for you is, what is your goal with this book? Are you trying to show people that they’re not alone? Are you trying to show people that they can survive this? What was the goal for publishing this?
Christina Vitagliano [20:02]:
Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head there. A few things. One, we’re not alone. Two, I’m okay to talk about it if you guys can’t, because there’s a lot of people who can’t talk about it. It doesn’t matter whether we should or shouldn’t. They just never will be able to. Sometimes knowing that somebody else is talking about it makes life a little bit better and yes, you can … You know what’s weird? I don’t like the word survive it because I hate surviving shit.
Surviving, it hurts. I don’t want to hurt anymore and it’s going to hurt forever and ever that never goes away. I think you have to try to overcome the intensity of it and overcome, you will never overcome it, but you have to outbalance it. You know what I mean? Yes, it’s there, but I’m going to stay a step above it and keep it in check. Surviving it is bullshit because you never survive it. That’s crap I think.
Alyssa Scolari [21:02]:
Yeah. Absolutely. I like what you said there, that it’s not so much about surviving it as it is about managing the intensity of it. It’s about not letting the memories and the flashbacks and the feelings and the urges swallow you whole and take over your entire life.
Christina Vitagliano [21:23]:
Yep. There are … And it’s weird. I think … Some of it, I wrote about and some of it I don’t because you can’t write everything and you don’t want to share literally everything. It’s a hard subject to actually write about because people have a hard time reading about it too. You had to balance, “Hey, I have to share it and I don’t want to share everything.”
I remember my editor when she went through it and you go through a child abuse scene in the book. She would come back to me and she would say, “Okay. Well, this is good. Change this. You have errors here and whatever.” Then once in a while, she’ll go, “Hey, detail this scene more.” I’m like, “No. I’m not going to detail that scene more. Are you out of your mind? It’s amazing that those words are there.” But it was-
Alyssa Scolari [22:03]:
Right. Like, “You’re lucky I even got this much. There’s no way I can detail this.”
Christina Vitagliano [22:09]:
Man, that was, I think … You’re like, “How was it writing it?” Writing it was one thing, dealing with the editing and having somebody above you or with you on your team say, “This is good but if you really want to share, and you want somebody to understand that you can outbalance this or do whatever, you have to show them what happened.”
Some of that stuff came back to me four and five times and finally … It was over Christmas, this past Christmas before I published, right before I published. I sat on that book for about six weeks because of her notes. I was like, “I can’t do it. I can’t do what she’s asking me to do.” Another part of me was saying, “If you want this to be published and you want to share it and you want people to see what happened to actually make the point come across, then you have to do what she asked.”
It took six weeks and one day I got up. Just like I think we always … Hey, you get up and all the puzzle pieces fell into place or kind of, and I said, “I’m going to give it a shot.” I did, and when I got done it was like I had to go shower. I’m like, “I just got to walk away from that. Just don’t ask me to read it again.” You got the words, but somebody else read it now because I’ve just lived it too many times.
Alyssa Scolari [23:24]:
Yeah. That’s I think another really important point, is I’m sure as you were writing it, or even going through the editing process, you find yourself right back in it.
Christina Vitagliano [23:36]:
Oh, it’s brutal. The editing process was the worst because when you edit … My book is about 370 pages. It started at 600 because for me to break from the time I was four, until whenever I thought the end was, I literally had to go through my entire life. Then somebody picks it up and says, “We don’t need to know what you had for lunch one day.” But I couldn’t get from AA to B. We had to get rid of all that crap.
Because it took me 20 years to publish, by the time I actually got it published, I had read that thing so many times it’s just reliving it and reliving it and reliving it. Yes, it was good, but in some ways now, and I’m going to be honest, I’m very, very angry at things that I … They just make you angry. It’s like, “Why did these people let this happen? Why are these people today still siding with that guy?” Family members that were like “Oh, he’s a saint.”
I’m like, “You’re choosing not to see reality.” That’s a very hard thing to deal with. I have to be the person that says, “Well, that’s your problem now.” My issue is let’s help people who want to be helped and band together.
Alyssa Scolari [24:52]:
That’s the hardest part, is it’s the reactions of the other people, right?
Christina Vitagliano [24:52]:
Oh, it’s horrible.
Alyssa Scolari [25:03]:
You’re bearing your soul and then there are people that go, “What are you talking about? He was a great guy. What are you doing this for?” That pure unfiltered rage, rage that you must feel like … Yet, in this moment, you’re in these moments where you are being almost like … not forced, but you have the pressure on to share more and be a little bit more vulnerable.
Then you’re met with opposition from people, family members or friends or people who know you that are like, “What are you talking about? This is a good guy.” In those moments, what kept you going? How did you stay true to the fact that this was right for you?
Christina Vitagliano [25:55]:
Alyssa Scolari [25:57]:
Turning that rage into something productive.
Christina Vitagliano [25:59]:
Yeah. You say persevere, survive, overcome. Yeah, sure. All of that. Anger. I’m like, “No. You’re wrong.” More that I’m not the only one. I mean, nobody talks about this and in this day and age where we have … And I will give … Like well, let’s say the millennials, because they want to cancel everything. On the flip side, people are speaking out more than anything in the world, but they won’t speak about this.
How do you want to do everything in the world and fix it all, ooh, but not that subject? That’s too cool. That’s too taboo. I don’t want to do that. I want to get to the point where screaming about this too.
Alyssa Scolari [26:39]:
Christina Vitagliano [26:39]:
Alyssa Scolari [26:41]:
Yeah. We’re going to scream about this too.
Christina Vitagliano [26:44]:
Yeah. We’re at that point where if enough of us are yelling, somebody will, people will say, “Okay. Well, it is about time.” Celebrities have definitely been more vocal about it, and I think that’s great that they are. I think being a normal person and not that celebrity and everybody protects … not protects them, but they have the voice.
I think that when you see a celebrity come out and say, “I was abused or this is happening in Hollywood.” You’re like, “Well, that’s good. I’m glad somebody is talking about it.” But you still feel like, “I’m just a normal person and nobody listened to me.” I want to be the normal person that speaks out kind of. You know?
Alyssa Scolari [27:24]:
Yes. The thing is survivors of childhood abuse, we’ve all got rage and if we’re not taking that rage and if we’re not using it to speak up and speak out about this taboo topic and shout it from the rooftops, what child abuse is, how it affects people in the long-term, what this does to us, then that rage is still going to be there. It’s still going to go somewhere and nine times out of 10, we’re going to take it out on ourselves in ways that are self-destructive.
Christina Vitagliano [27:56]:
You are a hundred percent correct. Yep.
Alyssa Scolari [27:59]:
That rage has to go somewhere. There’s so much power in using your voice, whether it’s through writing, whether it’s through speaking, taking that rage that you’re talking about, which I’m glad you said it, because honestly that is what keeps us going. Rage.
Christina Vitagliano [28:15]:
It is. [crosstalk 00:28:15].
Alyssa Scolari [28:15]:
Christina Vitagliano [28:17]:
Yep. You have to keep it in check because we can’t go running around with knives and guns, even though your head says, “Well, I wish I could.” But you can’t.
Alyssa Scolari [28:24]:
I wish I could.
Christina Vitagliano [28:25]:
I wish I could.
Alyssa Scolari [28:25]:
I wish I could.
Christina Vitagliano [28:27]:
Alyssa Scolari [28:27]:
I wish I could.
Christina Vitagliano [28:28]:
Yep, but this isn’t the cartoons.
Alyssa Scolari [28:29]:
Right. You have managed to take all of that anger, all of that grief and turn it into something that this is your voice. Your voice. I have to ask you, when you look back on the years in which you were enduring abuse, were there times where you just wanted to completely give up?
Christina Vitagliano [28:59]:
Oh, of course. Yes. Just yes. Yeah. I think more as … That’s weird because even after I’ve talked about it and it was out in the open and I wrote it down before I published, more as I got older. I think there’s something about this subject, well abusive of any kind, the older you get, it seems like because you get smarter and wisdom kicks in. I think when you’re younger, you don’t realize how bad it is or how wrong it is.
Then you get more educated on people and then you realize how jaded adults are and they’re teaching their children the wrong thing. You get angrier. In some ways it’s harder to deal with the older I get, but because you’re smarter and because you’ve learned a lot, you learn to balance it better. It’s not easy by any means though.
Alyssa Scolari [30:05]:
I love that you’re saying this because this is what happens. It’s fantastic because I think that so many people scratch their heads over why adults tend to be so distraught about abuse that happened to them when they were younger. I think a lot of people … I’ve seen a lot of people, even people when talking about themselves, and even me personally, when I started a lot of my memories were repressed. When I started to have all of these memories, I was an adult.
There were moments that I’ve had, and I know a lot of my clients have had, where it’s like, “Why am I so upset about this now? Why am I more upset about this today than I was 25 years ago when this happened?” It’s because the older you get, the more you know, the more you understand and the more you feel and the more you have language to be able to put to what you feel. It’s actually very, very natural. It’s actually harder when you’re older, so [crosstalk 00:31:16].
Christina Vitagliano [31:15]:
Yeah. What makes me anger is as you know all of that and you say to yourself, “Goddammit, that’s why these adults are abusing children because they know that.” I got angrier and still get angry because I’m like, “Well, this person was a full grown adult and what they were doing was bad, but they were a hundred percent aware of what they were doing too and I think that’s what makes you angrier as you get older, is you really, really did something terrible to a child with full knowledge of what you were doing. You know?
Alyssa Scolari [31:53]:
Yes. There’s no excuse. No excuse for it. You knew, you know, you took full advantage.
Christina Vitagliano [32:01]:
You chose to do that. That’s a choice. You know what I mean? It’s not a sickness. That’s a bunch of bullshit. You’ve chosen to do that. If it was carried on from your parents, then that’s a shame, but this is why we’re standing here today talking about it so that maybe it doesn’t keep going because nobody seems to care that it is going.
Alyssa Scolari [32:21]:
Yeah. You know? When you talk about the whole, it’s a sickness type thing. You know what? Whether it’s a sickness or not, I don’t give a fuck because you know what? I have a sickness. I have complex trauma and do I walk around hurting people? No.
Christina Vitagliano [32:37]:
Exactly. I don’t care if it’s a sickness. It still shouldn’t happen. You know?
Alyssa Scolari [32:42]:
There’s no excuse. It’s not an excuse.
Christina Vitagliano [32:43]:
Alyssa Scolari [32:44]:
Christina Vitagliano [32:45]:
Alyssa Scolari [32:46]:
It wouldn’t be an excuse for me to get drunk and get in my car because I had a night where I was traumatized. That’s not an excuse, so why-
Christina Vitagliano [32:57]:
Yeah. Why is it okay for these other people?
Alyssa Scolari [32:58]:
… why do we make excuses? Why do we excuse child abusers so often? It’s infuriating. I could scream about it from the rooftops.
Christina Vitagliano [33:09]:
It really is. It really is.
Alyssa Scolari [33:11]:
It really is. This book that you’ve written, it feels like it’s a message, not just for other people, but also for your younger self. Like a message to hang on because look at … Could you ever have imagined the life that you have for yourself now? Would you ever have pictured it?
Christina Vitagliano [33:29]:
No. Not in a million years. Not even close. Yeah. Yeah, so weird.
Alyssa Scolari [33:36]:
I’m going to ask you another pretty candid question. Knowing what you know now about how your life was going to turn out, are you glad you stayed? Are you glad you hung on?
Christina Vitagliano [33:52]:
Through all of it, you mean?
Alyssa Scolari [33:53]:
Christina Vitagliano [33:55]:
Yeah. I mean, not glad that it happened obviously, but yes. Yes. I always … Part of me, I think survived … And this is my individual case, I think is because my father was so jealous in some weird way that if I got a better grade in school than his crazy son did, that would piss him off. I learned, “Oh, well, then fuck you. I’m going to piss you off.” In a lot of ways, I was like, “Oh, yeah, he’s failing and you want me to fail too? I’m not going to fail.”
There’s a lot of things that … And I think a lot of us do that is, “Oh, you don’t like that. There’s a way I can piss you off, but not piss you off.” You know what I mean?
Alyssa Scolari [34:41]:
Christina Vitagliano [34:41]:
I just became this driven, crazy person to not be like the rest of my family. I don’t want to say there’s good that comes out of bad because nobody wants to go through that bad. Nobody should ever go through that bad, but because of the abuse there are, I don’t know, things about me that I’m glad that they’re like that, you know? I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to explain. Not that I’m thankful for him for anything, but you know?
Alyssa Scolari [35:17]:
No. Right. We’re not thankful. It’s not like we’re glad that it happened because it taught us a lesson.
Christina Vitagliano [35:24]:
Alyssa Scolari [35:23]:
None of that. It’s just a matter of I think for the people out there who are in this, in the thick of it and just want to give up and want to end their lives, and want to throw in the towel and say, “Fuck it.”
It’s like, I think about you and your story and you’ve managed to go from being severely abused, to getting out, getting married, starting a multi-million dollar business, writing a book, being a voice for those who don’t have a voice. I think to myself like, “If that’s not a message for the listeners out there to keep going, I don’t know what is.” Because look at where you’re at now.
It’s so inspirational and it gives so much hope, even though, you’re very real about, listen, some days are bullshit. Some of this sucks. This sucks. It’s still infuriating and I’m not over it because we don’t get over it. We do not get over it, but we learn how to not let it consume us.
Christina Vitagliano [36:43]:
Yeah. That’s the balance.
Alyssa Scolari [36:46]:
That’s the balance.
Christina Vitagliano [36:49]:
Yep. It is.
Alyssa Scolari [36:52]:
Now, if people … Because I just feel like this book … First of all, for the listeners out there, this book has like well over a hundred reviews, I think I was looking on Amazon.
Christina Vitagliano [36:52]:
Alyssa Scolari [37:06]:
Yeah. This book has well over … almost 120 reviews on Amazon, extremely high-rated book. If people want to find more about you, want to find your book, what’s the best place they should go? Should they go right to Amazon? You tell us.
Christina Vitagliano [37:29]:
Amazon’s definitely the easiest so if you’re in Amazon and search Every 9 Minutes, it pops up. My social media, I’m always obviously promoting my book, but if you look up Every 9 Minutes on anything, Twitter or anybody, it’ll obviously pop up. My website and all my social media handles are 123ChristinaV, so whether you’re on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, or my website is 123christinav.com, you can find me there. You can message me from anything anywhere. I’m very responsive.
Alyssa Scolari [38:03]:
Fantastic. You said that’s 123ChristinaV?
Christina Vitagliano [38:08]:
Yep. And .com is my website. Yep.
Alyssa Scolari [38:13]:
Okay. Okay. For the listeners out there, I’m going to link that in the show notes. Head on over to the show notes so you can find that. You’ll have access there to everything. Christina is also … She’s a speaker. She does so much. Check out this book. The link will be in there. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Christina Vitagliano [38:36]:
Alyssa Scolari [38:37]:
It was an honor to talk to you. I think you’re shedding light on the ripple effects of childhood abuse and you’re screaming it from the rooftops.
Christina Vitagliano [38:47]:
Thank you for having me.
Alyssa Scolari [38:49]:
Of course. It was a pleasure. Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show.
We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Please head on over. Again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you. We appreciate your support.