Someone was kind enough to send me this video from Our Voix, a project in India. In it, you see a couple of young people asking people if they know what childhood sexual abuse is, and a variety of questions about it. The interviews themselves are interesting, but what I found sort of profound was the wide variety of reactions to the questions. Some people were fairly well informed and somewhat comfortable talking about the topic, at least as comfortable as you can be when asked by a stranger on the street, while others were clearly not comfortable with the topic, and showed some classic symptoms of discomfort, like laughing, or speaking very haltingly, etc.
These reactions don’t surprise me. Just about anyone would take a minute to adjust to the topic when it came up anywhere, let alone while standing in a public square. However, this is something we tend to forget when it comes to disclosing our own stories of abuse to friends, family, and acquaintances. We forget to allow them those moments of discomfort and attribute their reactions as something personal. Most times, they are not a reaction to us and our story. It’s a measure of how comfortable they are with the idea of sexual abuse. The reality is that being asked what you know about it and taking the time to learn about it is actually rare. Most people would rather not think about it, and don’t, until they are forced to, usually by someone they care about sharing their story.
So please, if you decide to share your story with someone, remember to allow them their own reactions and their own discomfort. It might not feel great at the moment, but it’s an important step for them to take. And, as this video also points out, keep talking, because the more people know about it, maybe the less uncomfortable their reactions will be when other survivors try and tell their own stories for the first time.