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Why Abuse Survivors Suffer in Silence

Someone shared the following list of why sexual abuse survivors in a secret group on Facebook.   I will not share the name of the person who posted this list to honor her privacy.  If at any time the author gives permission, I will credit her.

Some Reasons Abuse Victims May Not Tell

by Anonymous
If the victim is young and has never told anyone before:
1. “No one will believe me.”
2. “I’ll get in trouble. They’ll blame me.”
3. “It really was my fault. Any time something bad happens, it’s my fault. I feel overwhelmed with shame and guilt.”
4. “My abuser is also my authority. He said I’m not supposed to tell.”
5. “If I say anything, I’ll be disobeying my parents. I’m not supposed to cause trouble or disrupt the ministry. ”
6. “I’m confused. I don’t know what to say, what to tell and what not to tell. I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. I don’t know how to answer the questions they’re going to ask me.”
7. “I’m supposed to be a living sacrifice. This is just part of that.”
8. “I’m not supposed to get anyone else in trouble.”
9. “I don’t feel safe. I’m afraid if I tell it might be even worse.”

If the victim is older and has never told anyone, she can feel all of the feelings above, plus these:
10. “It was so long ago. I didn’t say anything when it happened. I shouldn’t bring it up now.”
11. “It was so long ago. I should be passed this. I should be able to get over it.”
12. “Everything I know will come apart. I want to keep my world together.”
13. “I’ve been told I’m supposed to be strong. I’ve been told that bringing up anything about my past is complaining or ‘being weak.’ ”
14. “I’ll make them uncomfortable. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable.”
15. “It seems impossible to explain. There are no words to describe some things.”
16. “They won’t understand. They’ll minimize it. They’ll tell me it wasn’t as big a deal as I’m making it out to be. I can’t bear to hear anyone minimize my trauma.”
17. “They’ll talk about God’s sovereignty. I can’t bear to hear that God planned my abuse.”
18. “I saw how they treated someone else who came forward. They made the victim forgive the abuser and have a relationship with him again. This terrifies me.”
19. “If I tell, then I’m admitting that it really happened, and if I never speak about it, then I can pretend that it didn’t.”
20. “I don’t know who I can trust with this broken part of my heart.”

If the victim has tried before, she can feel all of the feelings above, plus these:
21. “They said I’m sinning in response to the abuse (eating disorder, cutting, drinking, etc), so I feel helpless in the face of their judgment.”
22. “Nobody believed me or understood me, and I don’t want to risk it again.”
23. “They said that nobody should air their dirty laundry.”
24. When I told before, they all turned away from me and wanted to avoid me. I’ve got to pretend I have a normal, happy life, or I’ll lose all social connections.”
25. “They told me I shouldn’t be stuck in the past; I should just move forward. They said, ‘let the past be the past’ and ‘time heals all wounds.’ ”
26. “I’ve been told that if I forgive I’ll be fine, and if I bring up the past that means I haven’t forgiven.”
27. “The abuser denied it and they believed him. It’s far easier to keep it a secret than to see all the church lining up in support of the abuser.”

church leaders abuse

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8 thoughts on “Why Abuse Survivors Suffer in Silence

  1. Cathy,
    I appreciate you caring enough and your fearlessness to share parts of your life. As a Survivor and Overcomer, I had to put the awful details of each memory in writing.

    I thought the action of writing a description of each sexual assault would risk my sanity. I wrote in third-person to avoid dissociation.

    I read this blog for the first time and felt empowered to write until I finished!

    I surprised myself. No falling to pieces, no dissociation, and I finished without anyone giving me a difficult time! 🙂

    I could have written it better; I didn’t proof it well. Since the age of 16, and especially at 17, I felt a drain, a shame I couldn’t shake; but after reading about the Lives of women, who, like you, refuse to sit down, will never shut up, and refuse to behave as “good little ladies,”
    Thank f
    I gained the courage to finish writing out the ugly truth of all the disgusting tactics Mack Ford used to take what he wanted from children entrusted to his care.

    Thank you for acting with such conviction ♡

  2. Every single thing you wrote I feel, have felt and thought over time. We are so alike. It is SO wonderful to find someone who knows how I feel. Since I have told my truth out loud (finally!), I disassociate less and less. I would encourage you to continue to write and write and write. If you google my name “alicia koback heitsman”, you can read the vancouver Sun article about my life. Please correspond with me if you want. Sending you love and strength and joy.

    • Dear Alicia,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your abuse by your adoptive father. I had a very close friend (now deceased) who told of being abused and the SDA church and boarding school knew and did nothing. She passed away of cancer a few years ago never being believed by the SDA church. She spent the last few months in hospice where the pastors of the church would sometimes visit. On their last visit, they handed my dear dying friend the notice she had been disfellowshiped. They said it was for lying and failure to forgive.
      In the years before she became ill, although she herself would never receive justice since the SOL had long passed, she was the one person at times who stuck by me helped me get strong enough to stand up for myself to tell my accounts.

      I know she would be very proud to see you standing for yourself.

  3. That is one of the more shameful things I have heard they did. Disgusts, but does not shock me. I await disfellowship myself. It’s not just terrorists that hurt in the name of God. Seventh day Adventists teach that if you seek redress in the world courts and not wait for God in heaven to judge it, I will be “left to the buffetings of Satan, and God will not hear my prayers”. “My name is struck from the book of Life and I do not get to go to heaven’. How self-serving and opportunistic!!! Every time I hear a persons life about Seventh day Adventists abusing and then re-abusing survivors, I know I am on the correct path at the correct time. It strengthens me. I will think of your friend as I drive to Discovery and Supreme Court to tell my truth.

  4. As I read the list, I wanted to count the reasons I have now to not tell anyone. The things I was told at BJU. How BJU has NOT changed, not one bit!

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