I’ve felt this and I’ve talked about it many times before. Children forced to deal with a lot of trauma do that instead of learning about our place in the world, and in respect to other people. So would this be any surprise?
For many of us, child abuse was normal. Not because there is anything remotely acceptable about it, but because it happened to us. Turning away from our stories and ignoring our voices because you don’t want to think about it isn’t good enough.
We don’t have that choice. We deserve more than being kept silent in order for you not to be upset by our realities.
How many times have we heard “why did you wait so long to speak out?” Have we considered what we’ve done to make survivors feel safe to do so? Have we considered what our friend or family group would need to look like in order for a survivor to feel safe opening up about their experiences?
For Jeremy, the abuse stopped, and then he went on with life seemingly without issue. Until later, when there was an issue. We assume that all survivors keep their secrets because they are ashamed, and many of us do. But there are also survivors who don’t “look” like abuse survivors, they go on with a relatively normal and successful life, until one day they don’t. Someone who looks like your abuser, a different overwhelmingly stressful situation, an inadvertent touch, or a smell, can all bring it rushing back into your consciousness.
This is another reason why people don’t tell until much later. They don’t really have a reason to, they seem to be “over it”, but they aren’t always really over it.
This is yet another example of survivors being unique individuals and the fact that how each of us is impacted can be different too. Just because another survivor has a different journey than you, doesn’t mean much in the end.
This is what matters. Having people around you with the knowledge and willingness to support you. Far too many survivors, youth and adults, have never had that. We’ve failed them as a society that values our own discomfort with the topic over supporting people we claim to care about.
Until we stop doing that and start connecting with anyone who has experienced childhood trauma, we’ll continue to see all of the negative effects writ large.
I’ve talked about this before. As a male survivor, I have spent years on this site dealing with people that simply assumed I was gay, for no other reason than the fact that I was abused by a male perpetrator. I’ve known plenty of other men who’ve been shunned because of a similar assumption, or the much worse assumption that survivors, especially male survivors or gay men, are likely to turn around and also sexually abuse others.
None of this is accurate. Yes, the abuse can leave you feeling unsafe and uncomfortable in your own body and with your own sexuality. That is a side effect of being raped sometimes. That is not something anyone should be ashamed to talk about and no matter where they land on the spectrum of gender and sexual preference they deserve the respect and privacy to figure that out themselves. None of us asked your opinion, and none of us want to hear about your own illusions of how sexuality works after being sexually abused at a young age.
The more mature attitude is to recognize that healing from sexual abuse is a process that looks different for everyone, whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, non-binary and any other thing you want to consider. We all deserve a better response than to be accused of bringing it upon ourselves.