Someone asked me recently why I didn’t tell sooner about my abuse.  They also asked what kind of abuse I survived.  It’s only been in the last few years I developed the courage to reveal I was abused at all.  Now, I’m really out there and willing to share that I survived emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  So, there you have it.  I’ve said it online now.  Whew!  I still might wonder for a bit if the earth won’t crash and burn.  For most of my life, the mere thought of saying it out loud it felt like something catastrophic would happen.  It’s taken me years to understand is why it felt that way and to realize these are universal reasons victims keep the silence.

  1. Fear.  I was threatened not to tell.  The verbal and non-verbal threats took root in my heart and mind from a very young age.  It is an amazing thing that even if we don’t remember actual words, we remember feelings.  These feelings get triggered by situations that might only slightly resemble the original situations.  It makes us feel crazy because there isn’t a logical reason to feel fear in these situations.  But, make no mistake!  There is plenty of fear.

    Silenced by Fear

  2. Shame.  There is considerable shame involved with molestation and incest.  The abuser is somehow successful in transferring what should be their shame to the victim instead.  We feel dirty, scarred, tainted and unwanted.  Most people are uneasy or repulsed by the topic and it shows.  I said too much one particularly difficult day at work and was asked by a co-worker “Aren’t you tired of thinking about that stuff?  Can’t you put it all behind you and just be happy?”  My answers were ‘yes’ I am tired of thinking about all that stuff, and ‘no’ I can’t just put it behind me and be happy.  Apparently she didn’t understand just shoving it down and ‘forgetting’ about it is #1 impossible and #2 a perfect recipe for life-long depression and self-destruction. (Ironically, she is a heavy drinker –and this is one of the very things I feared if I ‘put it all behind me’ without processing it first.)

    Shame is Debilitating

  3. Rejection.Exposing the family member who is molesting you carries great risk of rejection.  I knew this inherently, which is why it took me so many years to say it out loud to them.  When I finally did, the family members most distant from my  immediate family believed me, but those closest did not.  As a child, it was impossible to tell anyone.  I was dependent on my parents for everything and had nowhere to turn. For children, dependence is the most vital piece.  The abuser has total control.  As adults, we still long for connection and don’t want to be rejected by the rest of the family.  It is a cruel dilemma.

    Rejection Hurts

Why do I plod onward with recovery and healing?  Because I must.  I am compelled, driven.  It is who I am.  

How about you?  Is there something about yourself you wish others knew, but are afraid to tell?  Or, have you taken the risk already? What was it like?