Sharing your story

The other day, I was having a conversation with someone about my family, and the different relationships within it. I was explaining some of the things that make it difficult for me in regards to my family, and as I started talking about the person who sexually abused me as a kid, I caught myself and stopped. I simply explained that there were some things they probably didn’t want to hear, and left it at that.

Now, this wasn’t some random acquaintance, this was a friend I’ve know for years but I still hesitated to talk about it in any detail. I had to explain myself, and say that while I had discussed it with many people and was perfectly comfortable talking about it, I wasn’t really sure that they necessarily wanted to hear much about it. I offered that anytime they wanted to know, they would be more than welcome to ask, but I wasn’t going to require them to hear me talk about it. Their response was that they’d like to talk about it, someday. Which was fine.

I still find it odd that I responded like that, but I realize now it really wasn’t me. I don’t feel uncomfortable talking about it, I feel uncomfortable forcing other people to deal with the knowledge. I know that not everyone handles it very well, and I know that not being able to handle it very well can sometimes be embarrassing. This is just a friend, so they don’t really need to know to continue being my friend, unlike say, my wife. The last thing I want is for this person to feel guilty about not handling it well, or for them to feel uncomfortable around me after that, so I stopped from saying anything, for their sake. I don’t think that was the wrong decision, but at the same time, I feel somewhat unsettled about how I should have handled it.

I guess, at the end of the day, writing here is easy. The only people who read it are people who want to know more about survivors, and their stories. I can talk easily about being a survivor, without fear that someone is simply going to wish I hadn’t told them that. In real life, it’s a bit harder to tell who would want to discuss it, and who really would rather not.

Tags: Survivors, Friendship, ChildAbuse, Stories

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  1. Mike, having consideration for the other person is half the battle. One survivor I knew delighted in dropping hints and dangling his abuse in your face but if that led to any questions about it, as it naturally might, he’d then act like you were intruding, which I now see as the game-playing and manipulation that it was.

    The important people in my life all know. That’s a big burden lifted to me. I wouldn’t wear it like a badge to new people, I would just take heart from the fact that I’m no longer as uncomfortable with it as I used to be and revelling in the confidence bounce, I’d be more worried that people would see me as full of myself rather than shy. It’s a balance! 🙂

  2. Mike, I had a similar situation happen with me. Without going into detail, there were some things going on with both my health and in my professional life that created this “perfect storm” of anxiety. My assistant picked up on it immediately and kept asking if I was OK. We’ve worked together closely for a while and she is a very trustworthy person. So I finally just told her over lunch. I told her to tell me to stop if she was uncomfortable, and I didn’t go into detail, but it lessened to tension for me, and between us as well. And in the conversation, she revealed that she’d been abused as a child as well. In retrospect it was really like we were supposed to have that conversation. It was a big step for me to say that out loud at all, and I’m thankful that it was a positive talk for us both.


  3. I found your blog today and I am glad that I did. This particular blog hit home right away because I’m at a point in my life where I don’t talk about my past to anyone. This makes it difficult to make friends some times because people want to know how you grew up, what are your parents like, how close you are to them, and frankly I can’t answer any of those. No one wants to hear how I grew up. It makes people very uncomfortable so I don’t share anything with any one. My husband knows but I’m not entirely sure he understands how deeply I’m affected by my past. I’m sure part of that is my fault though too because I have pushed most of it deep down and far away. Learned how to cope and move on with my life. But some times… something happens, that brings it back and it’ll hurt inside for a couple of days while I go over stuff in my head. I guess that is why I stumbled accross your blog tonight. Something came up today that brought some pain to the surface and I started to search.

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