“We think silence can’t indicate that something hurts. Without an expression of pain, we assume there’s no injury. The pain scale at the doctor’s office displays a smiling face over a zero to represent no pain, while the worst pain, a “10,” is represented by a face crumpled in agony and tears falling. Too often, our society implicitly uses this scale to judge abused children’s emotional pain. If they’re not crying, if their faces are expressionless, we assume they must not be hurting. We refuse to hear silence as anything but a vacuum of feeling, a void in experience.”
In general, we still have a long way to go to truly understand the effects of childhood sexual abuse. Usually it varies between this, where someone who remains quiet about the abuse “couldn’t have been hurt too badly”, to an advocate describing it as “a life sentence”, where abuse victims are told that their life is destroyed with no hope of ever being normal.
Neither of those is true, it’s much more complicated than that. However, too many people, in an effort to make society see the pain that isn’t being expressed, send the wrong message, that it can’t be overcome. The pain, and damage, is real. And it’s not the end of the world.
Believe it or not, both things can be true.