Understand why children are afraid to tell.
- The abuser shames the child, points out that the child let it happen, or tells the child that his or her parents will be angry.
- The abuser is often manipulative, and may try to confuse the child about what is right and wrong, or tell them the abuse is a “game.”
- The abuser sometimes threatens to harm the child or a family member.
- Some children who do not initially disclose abuse are ashamed to tell when it happens again.
- Children are afraid of disappointing their parents and disrupting the family.
- Children often love the abuser, and don’t want to get anyone in trouble or end the relationship.
- Some children are too young to understand.
One phase of my childhood, my abuser had me convinced that the sexual abuse happens in everyone's home. Of course I didn't know it as abuse, just that my father was doing things to me and evidently everyone's dad did. As the years went on I would test the water and try and tell adults in my life. Girl Scout leader in 4th grade, girls bible study youth group leader, and a teacher. No one heard what I said, or at least not in the context of what I was trying to say. they couldn't read between the lines, they couldn't hear me in the true sense of the words that I was saying.
I was convinced that I needed to keep the secret, I was convinced that no one would ever hear me - no one would ever hear or see the real me. The shame I carried was with me for a long time. There are times shame still rears its ugly head. The reality is, it wasn't about the sex, it was about the shame. It was about carrying it with me forever.
I have met many people who have dealt with shame or are dealing with shame around their childhood trauma, specifically around childhood sexual abuse. What I know and what has worked with me as I navigated the pain of the shame was building and cultivating relationships. It is possible to reach out for genuine connection from people that are really capable of providing it. Finding my tribe, cultivating relationships and connecting with people.
The other piece has been self-compassion. Being good to myself, kind and gentle. Talking to myself as I would talk to others. Realizing that I was a child and that I did what I could do.
I want this for each of you, whatever you are carrying, wahtever you have been through - be gentle to yourself, listen to your heart and give it what it needs - you have it, you do.
And friends - shame can tear you up, but the reality is that we all carry some with us...but we together connecting, building relationships, friendships, bonds, accountability partners - this will break down the walls and build up the unbreakable.
Be Brave - You are Unbroken.
Please drop me a note if you want to chat, we are in this together, we belong to each other.
"Being quiet and hidden is no longer an option." - pennie