Saturday, February 21, 2009

victims who suffer silently

i received this email from susan (name has been changed to protect her identity) a few days ago. i felt it was important to share her story with you.

I just wanted to tell you I think you are very courageous. I was abused as a child but only a select few people know this. It was by my step-father. Actually you are only the second person I have ever told in my life. I haven't even told my husband. It has been hard keeping this from him but I know that if I told him he would go after my step-father. I plan on telling him when my step-father passes away. My mother doesn't even know. I have three sisters and they too were abused. I knew me and my older sister were because he didn't care that we were both in the same room. We thought we were protecting our two younger sisters and we thought we watched them pretty good and that since he was messing with us he wouldn't them. We were wrong. Besides talking about it with each other I had to tell my daughter at an early age. I was a single parent at that time and had to live with them. By this time he had quit but I couldn't take the chance with my daughter. He never touched her! I would have killed him if he had. Your post about forgiveness has got me thinking. I don't know if I have forgiven him. He has never acknowledged what he did but I feel like he is sorry for it. I can't be sure. But when we talk about it with our children they can't believe that that man is their Papa. But we still have strong emotional feelings about it. We still see him at least once a week. Sometimes I'm uncomfortable sometimes it's like nothing happened. I don't know why I felt led to write and tell you but I just felt like I had to.

the reason i wanted to share this story with you is this: how many of us have sisters, friends, cousins, next-door neighbors, that have been abused and can't talk about it? haven't talked about it? statistics say that every one in four women and every one in ten men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. however, experts believe that this number is much higher because of all the people who don't come forward.

being a victim of abuse, i feel it is easier for me to determine if someone i know has been abused or not. i'm not always right, of course, as there are many forms of psychological trauma. like susan, many of these people are afraid to talk about it. in susan's case she is afraid of her husband's retaliation. for me, i just didn't want to talk about it. i didn't want to come forward because i wasn't ready to. i was afraid of how my parents would react. i was scared it would tear our family apart. i thought i was capable of dealing with it on my own. and i was so wrong.

it is important to remember to be sensitive to others. abuse is so prevalent in our society. we never know who is silently suffering, who needs our help. sometimes unknowingly we can be the saving grace for a friend or a neighbor. we can provide the love, support, and validation that they need, without ever meaning to. it is imperative that we do not pass judgment on someone for not telling. or for telling. we have no idea what they have been through, what they have been told, what is going on in their head.

it is also important to protect our children. i don't know when or if my parents would have found out the abuse i endured if my sister had not come forward. my parents trusted my uncle. they thought they knew him--he was my dad's little brother, my mom had known him since he was six years old. most abusers are relatives or close friends. the parents of our children's friends. i don't want to scare you. there is no possible way to completely prevent abuse. but we can be careful. listen to your gut feelings. teach your children what to do in those kinds of situations, starting at a young age. if you notice anything different about your child's behavior, talk to them about it. be observant. if your child is abused, don't blame yourself. to be honest, it will only make things harder for them. be supportive, get them help and treatment. retaliation against an abuser will only make things WORSE. for you and your child. do not take things into your own hands. go to the police. contact the district attorney's office. prosecute through the court system.

i know there is a lot more that i could say. but i feel i have hit the important points, and i don't want to ramble on. if you are a victim suffering silently, remember that you are not alone. you never know who else suffers your burden, someone you know and love. when you are ready to talk about it, you will be surprised at how loving and supportive people can be. don't be afraid to tell someone, and to get the help you need.


♥georgie♥ said...

This is a wonderful will indeed help those suffering silently to know they are not alone...

I know abuse well and I strive daily to protect my beans

Anonymous said...

This is a very good post. I can empathize with you.

I found your blog because someone came from yours to mine. There are a lot of people who don't leave comments, sometimes maybe there is a reason. For instance right now I'm struggling with depression and almost couldn't either.

Well, take care. I hope you find healing too.:)

Faith H.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Thanks for your honesty. I know that there are people who are being helped and encouraged by you, keep up the good work. :)

Bethany said...

Thank you for this post. I am so on that page. I have just come to the realization only 3 years ago. I am in the stage that the abusers dont even think they did anything wrong. On a couple of visits to the hospital I had to explain what I thought abuse was. (which really made me mad) I started to explain it all the emotions and physical pain came rushing back and I started to get mad. They agreed that it was abuse. My sisters were not treated this way. I was the only one and I still to this day still is abused most of the time. More emotional now. Here I am a parent, of four beautiful children. I am at the stage that I not anyone else but me and my husband Have to be the people that stop the CYCLE. So much pressure. So I try really hard not to talk about it in person. It is embarrassing and frustrating trying to explain it to my friends, extended family and now my CHILDREN. It is so hard to look at my kids and see what I had to go threw during their age. I would never ever do the same to my children, nor would I let anyone else do anything like that to my children.
Its hard to sit in silence and struggle with the pain of relieving it over and over, feeling of abandoment and wondering why, why me Heavenly Father, Why did I have to suffer through this and not have one of those wonderful stories of the spirit being their taking my pain for me. Why did those people think it was ok to do that to me. So many questions that I just had to start talking about. I couldnt keep it in anymore. I love being able to blog. It is my way of dealing through this painful experience that I have been dealing with for over the last 22 years. But I am also at the point where I don't want those to suffer because of what they did. i would rather take that burden off of them and let me deal with it. Anyway. Sorry for the venting. But I just know that I do this so I can help someone. But also so I can be a little selfish and be able to help my soul heal. Thanks for listening Bethany

Marj aka Thriver said...

This is an excellent post. It's the kind of thing I'd like everyone to have a chance to read who has a child...who has a sister...who has a friend...who is married...who is single...who is human! Good job!

Anonymous said...

I have already felt better for sending you that email. Great job on this post. Hopefully one day I can be open about it with the rest of my family and my friends. Your blog is a great. Thanks!

Marj aka Thriver said...

Thank you so much for letting us use this for The Blog Carnival Against child Abuse. You rock, advocate!

healandforgive said...

Great post; great advocacy!


Anonymous said...

Not wanting to be a stalker...I post a comment or two. -small smile-. Often I am so touched by what I read that words are insufficient to express my feelings. Often the post is enough in and of itself.
I have been silent witness to confessions of victims and it breaks my heart every single time to hear how they have taken the blame in to themselves. I direct them to something like this. I rage on their behalf until they are strong enough to be angry for themselves. Once a victim can feel, really feel, anger then healing can begin.
Thank you for your honesty and sharing. All of you.