“You can never anticipate the aftermath of speaking out.”
The other from a post on Sonnie Daze which talks about numerous situations where an abuse victim was simply not believed, and which includes this quote:
“Again the question comes to me, why on earth would anyone tell, when this sort of stuff happens.”
It’s a valid question. But let’s look again at the other quote. You can never anticipate the aftermath of speaking out. Part of the aftermath is the immediate reaction of the person, or people who hear you. They are simply another human being, bringing their own ideas, fears, and predispositions to the discussion. As an adult, we learn that the one thing we can never be responsible for, is how other people act, or in this case, react.
As a child in a currently abusive situation, it’s my opinion that you should keep telling people until someone believes you. The adult survivor in me, however, knows just how difficult that can be. But that’s not what I want to talk about exactly.
As that adult survivor, I realize now that disclosing the abuse is much more about me, and my need to have that information out there then it is about anyone else who happens to hear it.
Not that I go around introducing myself as a survivor of child abuse to everyone I meet, but with close friends, or in certain situations, I do feel like that is an important part of who I am today, and it’s something that will come up if I spend enough time with people. It’s important though, that telling other people about it is always my choice, and it is always done because it is something I want them to know. It is never, EVER, done to elicit a certain response, whether it be pity, sympathy, discomfort, or pure disbelief. I do not know how the other person will respond to information like that, and I have to be prepared emotionally for any and all responses. If I am not prepared, if my relationship with this person has not developed to a point where I can accept any response they may have to my past, I have no business talking about it. It is not their responsibility to give me the reaction I desire.
I was not responsible for what happened to me as a child. That is always the first hurdle we must get over as survivors. I find that often the second, and even more difficult, hurdle that we face is accepting that while we weren’t responsible then, we are responsible now for our own health and well being. Who you disclose your abusive past to is a very personal, private, decision. I’ve felt honored that so many people have been willing to share it with me, and talk about their childhoods with me, and I’ve tried my very best to always react in a loving, accepting way. That reaction, however, is my choice. No one gets to take that choice away from me. Not any more.