When “Leave Well Enough Alone” Involves Crime against Children





crime against children


“We are so used to such phrases that most people don’t even notice them. But there are some who do notice them; people who have decided to analyze the words of adults from the perspective of the child are arriving at new knowledge and no longer afraid of letting in the light. They see that the destruction of a human life is not to be described as “ambivalent parental love” but must be recognized for what it is: a crime”. Alice Miller ~ Banished Knowledge ~ facing childhood injuries

Have you ever thought about the statement “leave well enough alone”? What the heck is “well enough”? What does that even mean and who gets to decide what “well enough” is.  It is actually more of a command or a directive then a statement. Someone else is dictating what I should do or shouldn’t do and even telling me how I should or shouldn’t FEEL. (Because we never want to revisit anything that we don’t have strong feelings about)

I can tell you that in the old system, it was certainly not me who got to decide what “well enough” was! It is certainly not the person who is suffering from the damage of what happened that got to decide what needed to be left alone or not.  And I can assure you that the person who was invalidated and mistreated is not WELL ENOUGH to leave it alone. We were NOT “well enough”, and the situation is NOT “well enough”.  Good grief. I am getting confused just writing about it!

This statement makes me angry.  When we want to talk about the past, about injustice, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or even just having been hushed or ignored, so often we are told to leave it alone or let it go, but when we are told that it is “well enough” as it is, it is like being slapped. It is a re-abuse. It is a reminder that we are not important or worthy enough to bring it up again but if it is still not resolved and not addressed then it festers and grows deep down inside of us. We are talking about abuse here. We are not talking about bringing up that Johnny stole my crayon in kindergarten and never said he was sorry.  We are talking about way bigger issues than that.

This statement is invalidating. How can someone else say that it is “well enough” and that we should “leave well enough alone”? How can someone else decide that for us? Invalidation is at the root of all mental health struggles. I had to validate myself by realizing and stating the truth.

When people say “leave well enough alone” they are declaring that they believe that the way the situation sits is “good enough” and that it should just be forgotten; that the pot should not be stirred but the people who told me to “leave it alone” were not the ones that had suffered a trauma or had been mistreated and discounted.  SO they are not qualified to decide what is “well enough” and what it isn’t.

Deciding that no one else gets to decide when a situation is “well enough” is part of the process of taking our lives back.

Very often the person advising “leave well enough alone” is protecting an abuser somewhere anyway. And what the heck is THAT about? Why does the offender get or deserve protection?  Why is it so hard for everyone to FACE the truth?

Very often the things that we are being told to “leave well enough alone” are about, illegal offences such as in the case of domestic violence or sexual abuse. And I am not discounting spiritual or psychological abuse here, we have a right to validate all of it!

People always have a motive for telling you to leave well enough alone. Perhaps they are covering their own guilt? In any event, they don’t want the truth exposed. They want the secret kept in the dark, where they don’t have to face it, and they don’t have to live in the painful truth about the circumstances that need to be exposed to the light.

But does that qualify them to tell you cease talking about it; that it is well enough to be left alone?  Do they have the right to ask the survivor or victim to “leave well enough alone”?

I don’t think so. My emotional healing came from finally realizing MY rights.

Please share your thoughts and feelings.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet 

Related Posts: “Forget about it!” by Patty Hite on Overcoming Sexual Abuse

The Problem with statements like “get over it” ~ D. Ouimet EFB

“The Confusion created around Forgiveness Issues” ~D. Ouimet EFB

“Emotionally Abusive Statements designed to control ~ D. Ouimet EFB

~Alice Miller

 The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


Categories : Family



I have never liked, nor understood that phrase either.

It does seem like it is always used when someone is wanting to avoid confronting something, or wants to silence someone.

When you are a survivor of abuse, and confronting and speaking out about what happened, it is never well enough. The time to speak out is ALWAYS!


Once when I tried talking with my sister about the abuse in our family, she first said, “Abuse?!” because I think she considers severe beatings as the only form real child abuse. Then I tried to talk about the way our dad emotionally and psychologically abused our mother and she said, “Well, she probably doesn’t mind it much.” I was so shocked. My sister suffered also or she would remember her childhood and certainly be able to remember what the house we grew up in looked like. My brother was severely damaged and could not really function in the real world until he was about forty. It isn’t just people who weren’t abused who want to ‘leave well enough alone’. In my family, it is the abused who also want to keep everything under the rug. I think they don’t want anyone to know what our life in our family was really like. They are much more angry at me for bringing it up and wanting to dig into it that they are at my dad or mom for what they did to all of us. All I can do is scratch my head and wonder.


The term “leave well enough alone” conjures up the thought and feeling that I was introducing a topic that was too loaded to address. It also connoted that I was being grief, pointing fingers, and blaming people who where ‘pillars in the community’ for atrocities of which no one would ever believe them capable. It always ended with a severe beating. It meant the same as the saying, “do not rock the boat.”


Yes, I hear you…very revealing, nice to move away, isnt’ it?


How disappointing.

I can imagine with my sister, the talking only goes so far, and then things can get really weird. Like the time I got divorced and had a holiday at my sister’s with my four children and her husband and our two parents. All sorts of porn sites came up on the wrong places on their computer and my children were using their computer, so I went to my sister’s room, and asked her to come and see what was on the computer. She immediately exploded in anger and said, “What are you saying about my husband?” I said to look at the computer; I said nothing ABOuT her husband. She then told me to “GET OUT!!” It was ten pm, and we had three hours to drive, so I waited until the next morning. We left first thing. My parents didn’t witness this as they were in their motel room. After I left her house and my parents arrived back in the morning, she managed to convince them that I needed to write an apology to them both, because as my dad said, “HE is FAR too fine of a Christian man to have porn on his computer.” SO, I am FAR too STUPID of a person to know what is in front of my face. I said that I would write a letter but it would not be an apology. I wrote everything I could think of from our lives that I SHOULD have said to her LONG ago. She wrote back one line that said that they were truly sorry for any way in which they offended me, like I am jus tone big offended f—up.


I meant to add that we for sure will not be validated by our sibs!!


Pam, it is sadly common for abuse victims to react in anger when someone else tries to talk about it. This is especially true when it happens in childhood, because the way a child’s mind works is to protect her from pain – and one of the most common defense mechanisms is to deny the severity of the event. The fact that you feel such hurt and your brother being unable to function, is sufficient to show the extent of the hurt caused by your parents. Your reality might be different from your sister’s at this point, but it does not mean that it is wrong.


Hi Pam
Oh yes, I hear you! Victims themselves protect the abusers all the time! I believe it is because of their own fears of facing the history themselves. Not everybody wants to live in the truth, that is for sure.
Thanks for bringing up this point,
Hugs, Darlene

You wrote that it always ended in severe beating.. I am so sorry that you had to pay that price for telling the truth and that the perps were protected. This is such a huge problem in our society. Children are always the scapegoats, as though they have no feelings at all. As though they don’t even deserve protection… as though we HAVE no right to………
thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


My mother had me firmly convinced that if my dad or his parents ever found out that she’d “had” to beat me black and blue, they’d realize what a terrible kid I was, and they wouldn’t love me any more. I fell for that hook, line, and sinker. She was extra-careful not to leave marks where anyone would see and question them.


Our dad used to kick us out of the house several times a week, and he did this every week. He only did it when he was drunk and he was drunk most of the time.
He even had a phrase that he used every single time he did it, so that now I can’t even hear the word without feeling extremely upset. He would always call us wretches, and he meant it in the way the song ‘Amazing Grace’ defined it. To this day, that song brings up terrible memories. The memory of him saying, in these exact words, “Get out of my house, and take those goddamn wretches with you.”
Does anyone else not find it utterly astounding that he used the same exact sentence every time he was drunk?
That seems odd to me, b/c supposedly you can’t remember anything when you’re that drunk, but he remembered the exact phrase and used it each and every time.
I’m just questioning whether he could have stopped himself. Everyone in my family blames his actions on the “disease that overtook him.”
All that acceptance of abusers just flat out annoys the hell out of me.
J.D Salinger wrote a book called Franny and Zoeey. In the book, one of the Glass brothers mentions that another brother said that only one of them has accepted the suicide of their brother, Seymour. The reason he gave positively astounded me and really made me rethink how I’ve been feeling about it.
He said the brother, Zooey (a nickname for Zachary) is the only one who accepts what Seymour did, and Zooey’s the only one who’s angry on the outside and peaceful on the inside.
Everyone else, the brother said, is angry on the inside and peaceful on the outside.
Maybe that’s what people in my family are doing, while they’re sitting there telling me I have no sympathy for any of these people who abused me. Maybe THEY’RE not accepting it.
I had no idea that I might be closer to acceptance than I ever thought possible. I hadn’t thought about it until I read it in that book.
I love J.D Salinger.


Hi Kate
This is a great example of the way it happens, isn’t it? (I call that a truth leak) And the part about your parents is telling also. I have always wondered HOW people can pick sides when they were not even there. I have always wondered what the deciding factor is that makes people pick the side of the person who is being wronged instead of the one who was wrong. (and sometimes I know the answer to this, but I still wonder WHY so many people would rather live in that false system, instead of living in FREEDOM and truth.. but I guess that comes back to the fear of facing the truth…)
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

Yes, that is the root of why ALL of us even try to get along with abusive families when we are long past childhood. We bring our childhood defence system, our survival system with us into adulthood.
I don’t think that Pam’s reality is different from her sisters as much as I think that her sister isn’t ready to face the truth in the way that Pam is. Like selective memory. This subject gets to me only because I had such a huge addiction to needing to “prove” that I was telling the truth and have that truth validated before I could get to the next stage of healing… so I got stuck at the needing to be validated and proving that I wasn’t lying for a very long time. Today I don’t care HOW anyone else remembers it. My mother said over and over to me that I remembered things “wrong” and that everyones memories were different and it was a way that she used to make me doubt my memories.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Laurie
YIKES, isn’t this a typical brainwashing abuse thing. STILL convincing you that you deserved it, and even hinting that it was for your own good, (that she was protecting you from the rejection from everyone else) Thank you for sharing this. SO many kids were told that they HAD to be beaten… makes me sick!
Thank you for sharing. You are not alone! So glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


My parents always build a people castle wherever they go so they don’t have to think too much,


Well another not so favorite heard around the world all encompassing statement of denial by cowards.”Leave well enough alone”.I have an aunt that suffered from my abusers as well,make that statement to me when i was young.So glad i did not leave it alone,but she did.Two paths were taken that day,one healthy,one sick.She set herself up and endured more pain through the years by leaving well enough alone.Now years later,it has come to bite her in the ass.She realizes by living that statement cost her what she thought was worth protecting anyway.I however knew that i could not loose what i never had.So i had nothing to gain by leaving well enough alone.She is ten years my senior.At the time i was 14.I am now 50.She has spent the last 37 years in an abusive relationship and now comes to me with the validation she should have given me back then.I don’t need it now.I am just happy to help her with her new epiphany….long time in coming,but not too late.



I’m just questioning whether he could have stopped himself. Everyone in my family blames his actions on the “disease that overtook him.”

Repetition, mmm? I am sure that he chose those words, just as he chose that drink. And that is all you need to know, he kept doing it, and so you need to act responsibly for yourself.

Yeah, that is sick, to say the disease that overtook him.
Laziness, from my observation, easier to sit in front of a TV than face reality.


And then with my sister, it was ALWAYS that whatever I did was going to be the opposite of what she did, so if I say something, even now, she resists. SO childish!


Hi Vicki
Alcohol is NO excuse. There IS no excuse. I moved forward miles when I realized that fact. He had a choice and you didn’t. That is the bare truth.
My recovery depended on me realizing that it was time to stop defending the abusers at the expense of MY life
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Yvonne
I left it alone for the most part for years. I tried so hard to be loved, and thought that exposing the truth would mean the final rejection. But like I always say, I was rejected long before I faced the truth and drew my boundaries. I denied that it happened even to myself, that was my survival. I am so happy that your and your aunt came back together on the same page. I met up with one of my cousins once, and we spent a whole night talking about our abusive childhoods. Our mother were sisters. It was a life changing night for me. We never saw each other agian, but the validation sharing with him, who was ten years older then me, was really amazing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Tracie,
I almost missed your comment! I agree, the time to speak out is ALWAYS!
Thanks for stopping by!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

I have been sorting through emotions today but wanted to say..this is another great blog and how well I know the sound of “leave well enough alone” .. Its all I have been hearing since I decided that I have a right to heal ..siblings have layered on the guilt trips on me for bringing up something that happened so long ago; but, I wasnt bringing it up to them; they asked me if I was going to seek help from the past and told them that I would.

I am broken and burdened by the many years of pretending everything is ok inside, when really it wasnt I am so messed up that I don’t know where I should start to sort.

Relatives outside the inner family circle have asked me “why stir the pot, why not leave well enough alone’ .. I wonder what well enough means to them .. wonder if well enough means my abusers continue to manipulate my life, that I continue in the silent wounds I have carried for so long ..that I pretend I am completely ok with all the past as its all over.. but its not. .

I am the only one who has not moved on.. so am told. I am the only one that is not mixing in with that family unit.. I am the only one causing the pain , the heartache and disgrace to the family.. so if that is the case .. if that is how I am seen by them ..all the more reason I get help so i can stop being such to them..

No . .they want me to be silent .to suffer ..to be the saint they thought i was. .. .as long as I left well enough alone.. as long as I remained in my broken beaten humbled good for nothing spirit.. they would be willing to accept me as a tolerated member of their family.

Because I have not left well enough alone I am have been demoted to nothingness to the scum of the earth and labeled by the family as a total disgrace and failure..

I write this and think. .the good thing about all this ..is I cannot get any lower.. in their eyes..I think..

I know who I am to that family unit.. but I also know who I am in reality.. I may not be the most perfect being in the world but am a human being trying to heal and trying to love everyone even in my brokenness.. And though I am nothing to them.. my “family” .. I am still someone to others.. I am sorry for them that I couldn’t leave well enough alone but not to me.. because finally I get to start thinking about my needs and what’s good for my healing..

I know I may never hear words of love from them but I will never stop handing out such words to others..

Thanks Darlene for your sharing your blog ..it’s always healing and revealing.



One thing you said really hit me … and that’s the thing when people tell us how we should feel. I always got that from my mother, even from siblings … and it always made me angry. It’s so invalidating and somewhat demeaning. It is like being slapped, especially when the very folk that tell you to ‘get over it’ are the same ones who side with one’s abuser. And that slap stings.


Oh, I forgot to say too, that one thing I learned in therapy is the very fact that my feelings ARE my feelings … no one else can tell me how to feel. Same with making decisions – so often I’d make decisions based on what family’s reactions would be … so emancipating is making my own decisions for my own good and not caring what family’ reaction would be.


Hi Joy,
I started as close to the beginning that I could remember.
About the ones who wish for you to stay silent. I realized that this was about their fears. Not really about me. And they have many fears, some of which will make no sense to anyone, not even to them if they actually looked at them, but I had to stop concerning myself with them or their fears. You were labeled by your family LONG ago… and it was in realizing that fact, that I was able to move on. In reality, going against them to stand up for me, didn’t really change anything. They regarded me the same way that they always did. But I finally regarded them differently and realized that I was worth so much more then they decided I was.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Rise,
It is extremely invalidating and extremely demeaning. I feel as though in standing up to them, and to the lies, that I “slapped back” finally. Not to hurt them, but to SAVE ME. (and my children, so that the cycle is broken)
NO one can tell us how to feel. Our feelings CAN’T be wrong. It is so liberating to embrace my own feelings and to give them validation and to give myslef wings!
Thank you for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


“Leave well enough alone.” Another invalidating statement that’s ingeniously designed to excuse the abuser while shutting down the victim. It seems our language is riddled with these kinds of insidious statements that undermine people in a subtle and indirect way. As Alice Miller says, they are so common we don’t notice them, which I think is what makes them so dangerous – especially for victims who are already confused and invalidated.
For me, the invalidation from my parents has never been directly about covering up the abuse, but has been the primary type of abuse in itself. I’ve never been allowed to have my own personality, my own thoughts, my own decisions, my own feelings, my own tastes. My father had to be right, in control, dominant, infallible, obeyed at all times, never questioned. That was the reason they invalidated me, to protect their own ‘perfect’ status quo and try to make me prop up my fathers twisted, godlike reality. If me or my brother ever ridiculed or undermined my father (or he just interpreted us as doing so), that was when he would fly into a rage and get physically abusive.
I think my parents are well and truly aware that their behavior was wrong and abusive, but I doubt they would ever admit to it directly. I think they have tried to make amends in their own ways, but I feel that anything short of validation just seems to add to the pain. It’s too little too late. I would never openly try and discuss the abuse with them now (although the word abuse was one I threw at them when I was younger) because I am terrified of the pain of yet more invalidation from them. In that sense I’m happy to “leave well enough alone” because I think it would just cause more pain for me to directly challenge them. But that’s my decision, no one has told me not to rock the boat. I’m happy to speak my truth about them to other people.



People who resort to lies in order to protect their self-image always twist what honest people say. It is sad when Christians care much more about appearing to be a wonderful Christian than actully living the teachings of Christ. The Bible says that Jesus is the Truth yet, many people use Christianity as a pretense. You are not what they tried to make you appear as. Believe me, my family does much the same thing to me when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar…or they used to.;0)


Thank you. Truly, I love my sister and brother and wish I could reach them. They suffer and will continue to as long as they live in denial. In a way, they are repeating my parents mistake as they are handling the trauma the same way my parents handle life, by carrying pretense.


Hi Carolyn
I relate to your comments. I was also not allowed to BE an individual, to be me. There were certain rules that today make no sense to me. My parents don’t admit anything either, but I know they are guilty by some of the things that they do say such as my mother threatening to sue me if I wrote a book about recovery. (now why would she sue me if there was nothing to hide, or if everything was normal in my upbringing? after all I never said anything at the time about HER OR about my upbringing. I only said that I was going to write about recovering from chronic depression etc) And that is only one example of how I know that my parents know at least some of what happened was very wrong.
thanks for sharing Carolyn. I am glad that your are happy to speak your truth!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam and Kate
To add to what you said Pam, And why do people care more about the appearing to be wonderful Christians while making everyone else wrong?? Because it is all about power and control, and manipulation, why else? We live in such a pecking order system… the most powerful wins and it doesn’t stop with children. It goes on and on and on…. uggg
Hugs! Darlene


Geez Darlene; this rings really true for me in all of my trauma experiences. From the original traumas to the marriages where I and my mates perpetrated this cycle in our own relationships and families and the mental health abuse. Being told to be quiet, leave it alone…or worse…being ostracized for telling my story or sharing my views on these issues…is so invalidating. In all circumstances thought, I’ve come to realize its not about me or my story – its about them and their inability to acknowledge MY reality because perhaps they would have to look at their own.


It is about their inability to look at reality.


Agreed Kate:) I found this to be true in all circumstances; denial is the first response and to move through that to resolution and validation takes some courage. As the saying goes – we all have a story and those who cannot sit with the pain of another are showing that they have not yet learned to sit with their own. Thank you for your note and validation of this point:)


Hi Susan KS
YES once again, YES. IT is about THEM and their inability to ………… it is all about avoiding having to FACE their own reality… and they taught us to do the same. But since the cycle just keeps repeating no matter where we run, I’m glad that we finally faced it and got some quality of life; finally!
Hugs, Darlene


It is funny to me how I ended up “sitting” with others while I was young. I sat with my best girlfriend when we were ten and heard of the tragic loss of a sibling from their family, and I’m sure that we spent a lot of time on that topic on the few years that I knew her.

I saw her again just a few years ago, and we talked. About 30 years had gone by. I asked a question about that little brother who had died, something simple, like what year did he die, and she about gasped that I knew anything about that!! She literally said, in response to my question, “I’m going to have to be careful what I tell you!” I about died. I had no idea that now, all of a sudden, I am a problem, not an asset. I guess children are just too trusting. Thing is we both have said that it was hard losing each other as a friend when she moved away when we were 12. I still remember that awful feeling I got when she sid that her dad was going to take the job in another city. (church) We gave each other a gift when she left. She said how she never had another friend like me, perhaps, until college. Now that is some attention span, I would say.
But these days, she is married to a pastor, and you know how the transparency changes to protect the image. I know one pastor who told his daughter-in-law (whose health is ruined due to prozac–uses it to dull the pain of being married to a sex-addict) that YOU WILL NOT RUIN MY IMAGE IN THIS COMMUNITY



she was not to ruin the pastor’s image by DIVORCING his son, that she was being SELFISH!!!!!

A boyfriend in high school also spent a lot of time, about two years, with me and grieved the loss of his brother, lots of crying, he would tell me that I meant the world to him, that he loved me with his whole heart, etc., over and over, but when he moved out of town after high school to transplant the family business, it was traumatic to say goodbye, but he didn’t really fight it. It made me feel like I wasn’t a real grilfriend somehow?


When I got really familiar with “truth leaks” like the ones that you have shared here, I started to pick up on them every day and it served to accelerate my process. Your friend said she would have to be careful what she told you about the death of her brother?? interesting…
And the pastor who told his daughter in law that SHE would not ruin his image ~ when it was HIS son who had the problem and just WHY is it such a reflection on him anyway?? (I mean HE actually knows it is a reflection on him? that he must have messed up to have raised a sex addict? ) …. good grief.. and the sad and tragic truth is that this is common, this is what is going on out there! This is the reality of the FOG our society lives in!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I’m glad to see that Alice Miller resonates with you. She left quite a body of work. I like the phrase “truth leaks” so much better than “Freudian slips.” I haven’t read all the comments yet. I got stuck on Vicki’s. When my father was drunk, or in a stupor, he would play this game. He would say, ” Remember what Confucius says!” We had to say:
“What?” He then would say: “Confucius says.” He would then trail off with mumbo-jumbo, rambling, “What are yous? Some kind of Communists? The Russians are coming. Big brother is watching you. This town is crawling with spies and they’re all out to get me.” We were KIDS sitting around a table, watching him at the kitchen sink, with a broken liquor bottle. Like in a made for TV movie.
ust this moment I saw the word “confusion” in “Confucius.” Leave well enough alone? What was well enough? I think we all (this collective on Darlene’s blog KNEW that nothing was well enough). This morning, I couldn’t get out of my bedroom for some reason. I was afraid to get past the bedroom door. That panic hasn’t happened in a long time. It could be some cellular memory of a day that smelled like today, decades ago, that was not well enough.



Since I read this I can’t help but apply “Leave well enough alone” another way. I don’t know what foster care is like in Canada but it is horrible in the U.S. I know there are many good foster parents but lots of bad ones as well. Children are often sexually abused in foster care. The government system itself stinks. I’ve read that AIDS drugs were first experimented with on foster children before being given to regular AIDS patients. I have talked to young people who have been in the foster system and say that behavorial drugs were given systematically to ALL the children first taken into the system. It leavens me thinking that children often go from the frying pan into the fire when they are removed from an abusive home. It gives “leave well enough alone” another meaning and leaves me wondering when a bad home is bad enough to make the risk worth it.


Hi Lynn,
Yes I love Alice Miller; I have been ploughing through her work, I am on my 4th book ~ just started reading her work in May. I can certainly see why so many people asked me if I had studied her work before.
That made for TV movie you talk about, I can relate… I remember sometimes feeling like I was dreaming… the room seemed strangely “off” and the situation seemed “wrong”. I was constantly “braced” for “something” to happen…
I can relate to “cellular memory” too. I have had moments like that on this healing journey too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam,

My view of this is that your view is “more of the same way”. WE live is a tremendously funky system. When I took my training I did a course about the misuse of power and control on a global level. This was the kind of stuff we discussed and examined. This is one of the reasons that I decided NOT to go into working strictly with children.. so I decided that working inn healing the adults is what would make the biggest difference over time. It is exactly as you say; sometimes kids get it worse when they are taken from abusive parents and put into yet another abusive system…. and abusive parents will waste no time making sure that this is one of the fears and reasons that you should “not tell”. round and round she goes.
Hugs, Darlene


GOOD for you to focus on the adults!!


Darlene, by focusing on adults, you focus on the children left behind, within the adult body. You validate the child within. Thank you!


Thank you for sharing that remembering that you had today, your own remembering of your history.


Hi everyone,
It has been a while, my computer got a virus, then I got one…lol I got it fixed and the Dr. put me on steroids, to try to get me some releif from planter fastitis. I gained 10 lbs in a few days my feet are so swollen it is worse trying to walk. Now Im on a pity party with only me attending. I feel like a flubber ball. Im trying to reach out I don’t think Im doing to well with reaching out.


Lynn, Kate and everyone
I may have written this before but I realized recently that although I set out several years ago with a focus on making a difference for children, especially teenagers, and realized that it was really the adults that needed the help first in order to make a bigger difference ~ I AM working with children and teenagers… except they are just in adult bodies!!
Thank you so much for your encouragement and validation. I really do focus on “the child left behind” because it was in finding my own voice as a child left behind, that I found truth, recovery, freedom and wholeness.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Renee,
I was wondering where you disapeared! Glad you are back. Sorry to hear that you are having this struggle with this physical illness! boo. I hope you feel better soon.
Hugs, Darlene



I have plantar fastitis too. A simple thing that helps me is to spread my toes and roll across the bottom of my feet before I stand up. I also do yoga and when in the standing positions, I spread my toes and roll my feet also. My feet seldom bother me now. I hope you recover from your treatment soon!lol


This post, and everyone’s comments, have assailed me to the point where I have had to sound a retreat and hole up in a quiet place . . . I have been so overcome. Crimes against children. . . You are correct, Darlene — you are working with children, helping us find that place within ourselves that was right with the world before our innocence was stolen.

Reflecting on everyone’s writing, I have been so challenged by everyone here. I am once again overwhelmed at how every form of abuse (physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual) has permeated every aspect of my life — my thinking, my reactions, my repeated mistakes, my faulty flawed coping mechanisms — I have truly lived so much of my life as a misguided, untutored child without guidance, certainly without constructive “criticism” [such a harsh word] — I think what I mean is positive feedback. There were/are so few healthy, “whole” role models in my life.

Don’t know how many of us tried on our own to leave well enough alone to our detriment; to pretend, to escape, to deny that abuse occurred . . . only to have its reality erupt unbidden. I had submerged the memories so deep, and BS’d my way through so much of my life, school, work, finally marriage — and it only took the movement of a hand and a whispered word — to set my life back 25 years. My ex hadn’t a clue what sleeping giant he had awakened . . . but rather than support, he throttled me with, “If I’d known you weren’t a virgin, I’d never have married you.” That was all the excuse he needed to begin whole new chapters of abuse in my life.

Once again, it is so painful sifting through these incidents in my life, but it’s like you all have given me a pair of glasses with new lenses. The overall picture of my life remains the same, but now I can appreciate details that I never saw before. You all are a source of comfort and amazement. What a world we are creating, rescuing the children we have yet to be.

The truth is in here — somewhere. . .



What beautiful thoughts!

“it is so painful sifting through these incidents in my life, but it’s like you all have given me a pair of glasses with new lenses. The overall picture of my life remains the same, but now I can appreciate details that I never saw before. You all are a source of comfort and amazement. What a world we are creating, rescuing the children we have yet to be.”

And as for these words:

“If I’d known you weren’t a virgin, I’d never have married you.”

The thought enters my head that someone like that didn’t love me anyway?! So many “perfect” ideas admired by so many would be “perfect” people.


“it is so painful sifting through these incidents in my life, but it’s like you all have given me a pair of glasses with new lenses. The overall picture of my life remains the same, but now I can appreciate details that I never saw before. You all are a source of comfort and amazement. What a world we are creating, rescuing the children we have yet to be.”

i love these words because it makes my skin CRAWL to hear peoples’ negative remarks abour any group like this one, where they ASSume that we are just all bitter and getting nowhere in “living in the past” etc.



I was much the same way, leaving things alone, hoping they had gone away. Then my son, as a teenager, had some young adults manipulate him into doing some things that he felt really bad about. I was trying to help him understand that he had still been a child and these young adults had used him. In a flash, I realized I had also been sexually abused as a teenager and that I was no more at fault than my son was for what happened to him. It was like everything insided of me flipped. My whole view of myself and others changed. I have regrets that it didn’t come sooner but I guess it came to a head at just the right time. Healing comes in layers and sometimes, lots of scabs form, dry up, fall off, and form again before we are completely healed.


That is such a great example of how you came to see yourself, as I have done many times with my growing children. The lessons just never quit.


That’s for sure. In a way, we never grow up completely. We tricked, Darelene! She’s working with kids anyway!:0)I don’t know how people who block out their past ever learn what they need to learn from it. I guess I’ll leave the past alone when it leaves me alone. All of it though, is part of who I am now and I won’t go back to denying any part of myself. It made a big difference when I embraced that sexually abused young girl that no one care about instead of trying to pretend she never existed and being ashamed of her. It has given me a feeling of completedness. My life makes a lot more sense now.


Hi Ultralite
Thank you for sharing this depth of where you are at, and even through realizing just how overwhelming it really is, at the same time still communicating hope! There is hope, there really is! by giving the shut down and devalued child that WAS ME, a voice, I found the answers and the keys to healing. It really was that simple, at least in writing. But in practice there is so much brainwashing to uncover. But so worth it.

That is a terrible thing your ex said. That your worth was defined by the fact that you were or were not a virgin. So sick, but isn’t that the world we live in? Those are the lies that I am talking about. That is what I mean about being defined by someone else, by their judgements but not by truth.
Thank you so much for sharing.
The children we have yet to be NEED to be rescued! I am all for that!
Hugs, Darlene


“Leave it well enough alone” was code for “You’ve got to shut up right now or you’ll be paying a sorry price” and it was also code for “you are not important enough to matter so hush” and at times “don’t stir this up or we’ll all face the music” but what it sounded like to me, as a child was, “You are not important enough to matter”

I was dreaming last night, and it could have been the cold meds, but I dreamt I finally found someone to tell my darkness to, someone who took those stories I wrote in my sweat and tears and blood and said, “Now those scars make sense.” My faith provides me that comfort but sometimes I wish for someone to have a conversation with about those times as I am healing.

I don’t want to hear, “leave well enough alone” because firstly I’m not really ‘well’ because of their ‘leaving things alone’ and secondly, I’m pretty sure that if someone, anyone, had stepped up or spoke up we wouldn’t have to be shushing so much afterwards.

That is one phrase that I freely confess I can hardly even type or read without hearing someone using their most scornful and threatening tone to issue it to me…and I can’t help but think all I wanted was someone to say, “leave her alone” or “You can’t do that”. That’s why I will always speak up when I can, and I won’t be shushed…

Thanks Darlene for your post. I think you may have inspired me to write some more poetry, healing poetry.


Oh my gosh it is so painful the doc’s put me on steroids (which caused swelling), higher pain meds, next is an injection in the heel of the foot then if that doesn’t work surgery. It has caused me breathing difficulties, and im grumpy. I probably need to eat strawberries, it is my chocolate! Pam what do I roll on the bottom of my foot? I can spread my toes but I don’t understand what your saying about rolling what on the bottom? Thank you by the way.



It’s hard to describe. I was afraid you might not understand. Stand up and spread your toes and then roll the balls just under the toes across the floor a few times. Stand with your toes spread for a few minutes. This is what I do between all of my standing yoga poses. When you learn how to spread and roll then you can start spreading your toes every time before you stand up. I also rotate my ankles when I’m sitting down and watching t.v. It also helps to keep you ham strings stretched and I do that with yoga. Another thing you can do to help the pain immediately is to use a bag of frozen peas or corn and rub your feet across the bag.

I hope you can do this and that it helps. It sounds like yours may be more serious. I used to have insoles that cost a fortune but no one ever mentioned surgery. Since I’ve been doing yoga, I haven’t had to have insoles.

Plantar Faceitis is really just muscles that atrophe or shrink up because they have been over-stretched. When you sit down they shrink and that is why it hurts when you stand up. That’s why stretching before you stand can prevent the pain. I hope I made sense this time. Get better Renee.


I am reading on vegetarian eating right now, The China Study, and The Essential Oil Cookbook. Also, look up Dave Frahm on facebook, as he is a naturopath with some resources. Relief from a lot of ailments is said to go with this style of eating because the foods we typically eat in this country cause disease and are hard to digest.


Hi Shanyn
YES those were / are the codes alright.
For me in order to heal, I had to realize that what you said here ” the message was that “You are not important enough to matter” is exactly the message. It wasn’t just what it sounded like, it WAS the message. That was one way that they controlled me, by making me continually try harder and harder to “matter” and making sure that I never thought that I did.
Thanks for sharing and yay for healing poetry!
hugs, Darlene

I hope you have found some relief for the pain today!
Hugs, Darlene


I have a question. It has come to my attention that it was possible to file charges, in the 1950’s, for domestic violence. I was directly told by someone in my family that, even during the 1970’s, the cops would come and then leave. That even when she wanted to file charges they told her she wasn’t allowed to do so, b/c there was no law on the books about domestic violence.
So I want to know which is true? Was it or was it NOT possible to file charges on your spouse if he beat you up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s? I mean, it may have been HARDER to do it, but was it still possible? Or is this person just telling another one of her lies so our mom looks like a victim 100% of the time as opposed to anything less than that?
Now I”m confused, and I can’t stand being in the dark about something after thinking I knew and now not knowing anything for sure.


Renee, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis in my Achilles tendon two weeks ago. What really helps with the pain is to get a small bottle of frozen water and roll it under my foot for a few minutes, wow it calms it down big time.


I am not the one to answer those questions, sorry.
Hugs, Darlene


I feel total confusion when I read or hear this statement. It’s like it’s saying I am wrong and the person saying it is right. It also says there’s nothing really wrong here when it all feels wrong and when criminal acts are being carried out. It tells me my thoughts and feelings are all wrong. It says if you say nothing then nothing’s going on. It also tells you that if you don’t ‘leave well enough alone’ then you are responsible for rocking the boat and the consequences. Crazy stuff!!


That’s okay. I asked someone else too, but I’m not sure if that’s the right person either. He’s a police officer, but he wasn’t even born until 1974. So I’m not sure if he knows. I just took a chance asking him anyway.

My sister, Ruthann, has always told me that our mom, who beat us on a regular basis, was trapped in a relationship with our dad. She makes it sound like he’s the only responsible party for the abuse; he’s even responsible for my mom’s actions, according to Ruthann. I’m not allowed to be angry at my mom b/c everything she did is HIS fault, and that’s just about the most optimally convenient way it could possibly be for Ruthann.
Since he’s not her biological father, absolving my mom of everything she’s done makes it look like Ruthann’s family is perfect. Never mind that her dad screwed my mom and ran off when he found out she was pregnant, that has no bearing on how Ruthann sees her own dad. But she always harps on the fact that our dad was the only bad one in the situation. She tells that to my youngest sister, who remembers NONE of the abuse, and the youngest sister believes her b/c of Ruthann’s age. Never mind that Ruthann chooses to live on a fantasy island; according to the youngest sister, Ruthann’s the best source to ask due to her age. That might be true in a case where one is willing to concede that our mom was abusive, but Ruthann’s not that person.

Sometimes it feels like too much of a burden to be the only one who’s angry at our mom while being forced to deal with all the feelings alone, just b/c nobody in my family wants to believe our mom was almost as bad as our dad was.
She’s the only one who banged our head into walls repeatedly whenever we did something wrong, and she’s also the only one who would force us to sit outside in 20 to 25 degree weather without a coat. Again, as a punishment. She didn’t abuse us just b/c she liked to, I guess, but she abused us anyway, and I’m still the only one who will admit it.
I honestly have no idea how I lived through some of the garbage she did to me. Sitting in weather that cold without a coat at 6 years old should have caused way more physical damage than it actually did. As a paramedic, I understand that my survival through those times is nothing short of a medical miracle, and Doctor Jones, the pediatrician who inspected me, has agreed with that anyway. I’m just glad he believed I was telling the truth, b/c the lack of extensive evidence to the fact was really mystifying.
That’s why, even now, I believe divine intervention occurred. No 6-year-old can live through hours of sitting in freezing cold without frost bite setting in, especially when you’re forced to do it repetitively, but it never did with me. It’s a miracle and nobody, not even a medical doctor, can convince me that some medical mystery didn’t occur to prevent me from getting frost bitten even once out of all the times I had to do it.


Hi Fi
It IS crazy stuff and they ARE suggesting that you are the one rocking the boat if you don’t shut up about those crimes. I finally decided that I was going to talk my head off, to expose the truth and finally take care of myself, making up for all the years that I went along with them and ended up agreeing that it was all my own fault! And the more that I do that, the stronger I feel and the more I KNOW my own value. It is pretty awesome!
Thank you for your comments. You are spot on!


[…] Related Posts ~ when leave well enough alone involves crimes against children […]


Dear Darlene,
In comment #10 you wrote:

“This subject gets to me only because I had such a huge addiction to needing to “prove” that I was telling the truth and have that truth validated before I could get to the next stage of healing… so I got stuck at the needing to be validated and proving that I wasn’t lying for a very long time. Today I don’t care HOW anyone else remembers it. My mother said over and over to me that I remembered things “wrong” and that everyones memories were different and it was a way that she used to make me doubt my memories.”

That is EXACTLY my story… needing to “prove” I was telling the truth, needing to be validated and needing to prove that I wasn’t lying…. and my mother has also told me that I remember things “wrong.”

Years ago I got a recorder that is made to be attached to the telephone, for recording conversations. My intention was to attach the recorder to the phone, then call my mother, and get her to talk about the times that she had tried to gas us all to death when I was 12. Then, I would finally have my “proof.”

But I never made that call. Why? Because I KNOW it happened, I don’t NEED proof. Also, knowing my mother’s suspicious nature, if I called her up out of the blue and started talking about THAT, she would immediately suspect that I either had someone listening on an extension, or that I was recording the conversation. Over the years, I have brought the topic up a couple of times, with my mother, when we were talking face to face, and there was no one else anywhere around, to overhear. Both times, my mother did not deny that she had, indeed, tried several times to gas us all to death while the 5 of us kids were asleep in our beds, and that it was only her inability to override the gas furnace’s safety shut-off valve, that saved us. What my mother said to me, those 2 times that I brought it up, was: “Well, I was going through a really hard time, then.”

It amazes me that my mother can excuse the repeated attempted murder of her 5 children, with the words: “I was going through a really hard time,” ~ but last month, with no provocation whatsoever, my mother sent me a 62 page hate letter, AND sent a copy of it to my aunt, and in that letter she told me off for every little thing that I ever did or said in my entire life that was “wrong.” Wrong in HER warped opinion, that is.

I have not lived a perfect life by any means, But, I have never, not one time, ever tried to kill anybody! And, believe me, I have gone through a lot of Really Hard Times!!

…………BUT, here is the weird thing. It happened, my mother trying to gas us all to death. I know it happened, my mother confessed it to me at the time, saying that she had brought us all into the world and so she had the right to take us out of it, and that life was so hard, she thought she would be doing us all a favor by killing us. My mother told me that, back when I was 12, and she has admitted to me, in private, a couple of times over the years, when I brought it up, that that is what happened. And I KNOW it happened, the memory of that time when I was 12 years old, is as clear to me as any of my other memories. It happened, and yet… I keep talking about it. I keep writing about it HERE, on Emerging From Broken, and I keep talking about it. For YEARS I was silent, I told no one, and now, I can’t seem to stop talking, and writing, about it.

I don’t know WHY I can’t stop writing and talking about it. I don’t know WHY I can’t just Leave It Alone. When will I have talked about it ENOUGH? When will I be able to let it go?


By the way, I don’t really expect anyone to have an answer to my question of WHY do I keep talking and writing about my mother trying to gas us all to death. I’m just feeling really frustrated with myself, because I am sick and TIRED of talking and writing and THINKING about it… I wish I could just STOP, already!! I wish to God that I COULD “leave well enough alone.”

Here is another question that puzzles the heck out of me, but I don’t expect anyone to have an answer to this one, either: Why did my mother never once deny to me, that she had tried to gas us all to death? She admitted that, she never told me I was remembering it wrong….. but many other, far lesser things that my mother has said and done, she has denied, telling me the same thing that Darlene’s mother told her, that my memories are wrong. But I know that my memories are NOT wrong. Many people who know me well, have remarked on what an unusually good memory I have. But my mother, and my abusive first 2 husbands, tried many times to tell me that my memories of their abuse were wrong.

My second husband, the first time he hit me, immediately after he hit me hard across the face, he screamed at me, “I did not hit you!” and then he dragged me forcibly into the bathroom and made me look at my face in the mirror. “See there? There isn’t a mark on your face! I did not hit you!” he screamed. Yet I could clearly see in the mirror a vivid red mark on my face where he had just hit me.

Insanity. Total insanity.


Hi Lynda
Giving up needing to have proof took me a long time in this process. BUT letting it go has been one of the biggest freedoms I have ever had! I know that it comes from being doubted my whole life and really I had no choice but to get addicted to proving ~ it was like the only way that I could tell MYSELF that I was not nuts. (although deep down I thought I really was.. I realized that along the journey too ~ but that was because EVERYONE told me I was and treated me like I was (easier to control a “crazy”, right?) so it goes round and round) Anyway, what I am trying to say is that part of taking my life back, was realizing that I was not a liar, and didn’t need to prove it anymore, and that the abusers WERE liars, so why would they change?? That has been so great for me.

The reason you can’t stop writing or talking about it, is because there are still bits that you have not processed yet. (which is fine!! and totally normal) I was (still am) like that too. I will go over and over something that I can’t quite put my finger on some part of… something that is in the way of my freedom, until I finally go “AHHHHHH now I get it.. ” just some little missing part that I need to complete the picture.
About your mother, remember this: your freedom has nothing to do with figuring her out.
Hugs, Darlene


My first ex did the same thing to me, he would hit me or break a bone then same “I didn’t do nothing” He successfully convenced everyone that I was the crazy one and when I finally fled him he made sure I had no support system.

I felt the same way Lynda did for many many years, I got so sick of hearing me say it. I finally came to the same conclusion, I was trying to convence myself that it was true, because everyone around me told me I was lying. So the more I said it the more I beleived it. Sounds crazy but I was trying to convence me of something that was absolutly the truth. Like the cat chasing it’t tail. My body was the truth no matter how many times family lied and said nothing happened. I had a venerial disease in 3rd grade, I had xrays that showed breaks in my leg that healed wrong, I had family outside my immediate family that knew, I have 2 phyciatrist that diagnoised me with DID. The list can go on. I no longer have to tell my memories over and over because there is so much proof without me saying a word. When I took account of the list of proof It took a burden off my shoulders because my proof came from others that had no say in my family dysfunction. Dear lynda you don’t have to convence yourself, it is your truth and your mother validates it as well as others that know. Give yourself a break and try not to beat yourself up. Hope this helps because I did the same thing.


Wow… thank you, Darlene, and Renee. What you both said, helps.

Yes, Renee, it does feel like I am trying to convince MYSELF that it happened… because, deep down inside, I have never wanted to BELIEVE it. I never wanted to believe it. I still don’t want to believe it, that my mother did that. I would rather that I had been crazy and imagined it. But I didn’t imagine it. The memory is as real as any of my memories.

I just don’t want it to be true. I feel like there is still a little 12-year-old girl inside of me saying, “NO, my mom did not do that, my mother did not really try to gas us all to death, it isn’t true!”

That’s why I have to keep telling myself, Yes, it is true. And she is still a hateful messed up toxic person, Don’t Go Back There.


None of us want any of that stuff to be true. These are our parents that we are talking about here.. it is so hard to accpet that this was the way it really was. but it was.

I think that it is a good sign that you even realize how badly you don’t want it to be true, that to me is a sign of being way farther out of the fog!

Hugs! Darlene


[…] I was told not to cry.  I was told “stop that crying or I will give you something to cry about” and I tried to stop. As a child forced to stifle tears, what was communicated to me? As I look back and try to remember some of the feelings, the thoughts that went through my mind at those times, I can’t recall much other then the need to STOP Crying. I do remember thinking that I already HAD something to cry about.  And thinking about it today I know that a LOT more than just “stop crying” was communicated to me with those types of statements. […]


I heard this 3 times this week!!!! And ” they did the best, they didn’t know any better”
I said ” I think that any human would “know” that there is something a little off about beating your 6yr old with a butcher knife or thick cable wires!” n I said ” I am proud of myself that I would never say something like that to my friends” 🙂


Leave well enough alone – I have tried that for 4 decades. It didn’t work – suppressing those memories, suppressing those thoughts, feeelings didn’t work. It ruined my mental health, meant I lived in teh sahdows, a half-life. It taught me I was not worthy of any help, not worthy of believing, that I was to be minimised and told to “get over it” without anyone wanting to know what “it” was….
The people who say this are moral cowards….they say they are scared of getting it wrong….in reality they are scared of getting it right – that they might have to actually stand up and take action that might blow apart their comfortable world – taking down people they respect or revere. Well Hello! that is what happened to MY world as a kid – it was blown to tatters by the people who abused me……..Now at 56 I am letting that little girl out into the light – all of the people who wanted me to leave things well alone are gone..


To Carolyn (21)
Wow how you describe your dad is exactly how my Dad treated me.
Exactly. Mine is dead nine yrs. My mother who was his other victum
has taken over his abusive invalidating behavior towards me.
She use to be just emotionally absent but has stepped up to invalidation
so now that I realize that whole dysfunction I have gone NC.
I feel so much better never talking to her as she always puts me
down. I just dont need her in my life anymore.


Hi Libby
It is so sad isn’t it? I agree that the truth is the fear of getting it right. That they might have to DO something about it. Yay for letting that little girl into the light. That is the healing place.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank You for posting this!!!! I am so tired of people and “professionals” who continue to say – just let it go (code for leave well enough alone). Like that is a choice that we have. And that if we don’t make that choice, we are somehow failing at recovery now too. I heard that phrase from my family as a child and my abusers family even still as I fight them in the court system. It is such a frustrating thing to hear. If you damage someone in a car, you pay them. If you damage someone through abuse, you tell them to leave well enough alone and move on. When will our court systems acknowledge the damage done by abuse and make the abusers accountable?


Hi Ann
Welcome to emerging from broken,
I have concluded that people (including professionals) who tell others to let it go, don’t know what else to say and they don’t have a clue what the answer is to actually getting over any of this! I also suspect that they themselves have issues that they don’t want to deal with so they give themselves that same unhelpful advice! And millions of victims and adults who were abused as children work in the system, (in all aspects including legal) and they all believe in ‘loyalty to abusers for fear of them’ and that is such a big part of the problem. Abusers are empowered and victims are further squished. I think that the more victims are empowered to heal, the more likely that the system will eventually change.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene



OH YES! I can TOTALLY agree with this! I utterly ABHOR the statement “Leave well enough alone”. It is up there with other statements like “Stop raking over the past”, or “We don’t want to go over old ground”, or “Move on, it’s done and dusted now”… and the incessant questions, “Why can’t you just forget about it?”, or “Why can’t you shut up about things that are ancient history?”, and “Why do you have to keep living in the past?”. ALL of these are invalidating to the victim of abuse or bullying, whether past or present. The reason victims DO go over these things, and need to remember them, is because these things are NOT “done and dusted” or “ancient history” for them. They are still painful, still traumatic scars that the person will carry for the rest of their life. They are things that the victim needs to understand and needs answers to. Victims NEED and DESERVE to be able to report abuse!

I’ve heard lots of these sort of statements and questions from people in my life. This includes trained professionals (as mentioned in Ann’s comment above). It’s insulting to hear lay persons (i.e. friends and family) tell you to “let it go” (I agree with Ann that this, and all the other statements or questions I listed above are code for “leave well enough alone); it’s thoroughly DEVASTATING and more than a bit SCARY to hear this same thing from PROFESSIONALS. If even the professionals, who are supposed to be there for you, it’s their JOB, are telling you to “let it go”, then just WHO is there to keep victims safe, and to prevent abuse?

From personal experience, I have a few ideas as to why people say these sorts of things. I agree with your reasons, but I feel that perhaps there are even more, and that reasons can fall into a number of categories, as follows:

If the person knows you are being abused, they may have to do something about it. However, if they tell you to “let it go” or “leave well enough alone”, they force the onus and responsibility back onto you. They are now absolved of doing anything, because the “advice” they gave you was to “get over it”. If, by any chance (and I’m being sarcastic here!) you fail to “get over it” or “let it go”, etc., then it is your fault, not theirs. By pushing the problem back in your direction, the person can feel smug because they did give you advice (albeit useless advice), and they can now sit back and do nothing. Nada! This is little other than basic laziness. They could not be bothered to do anything. It can represent both physical and mental laziness. Physically lazy – the person would find it too much effort having to get someone to investigate your abuse, as they would have to report it, maybe file paperwork, attend interviews and so forth. TOO much PHYSICAL hard work. Mentally lazy – the person finds it just too much effort to bother considering the impact of abuse, they do not empathise or sympathise, it is a mental strain to do so. IF they did make the mental effort to think about the abuse, then they would have to give you sympathy and support. they would have to make time to listen to you. TOO much MENTAL hard work.

This is where a person may listen to you, but is then too cowardly to take action. The person fears repercussions (real or imaginary) against him/herself for speaking out about the abuse you told them about. The person goes into self-protection mode, which basically means that although they may know you have told them about abuse you suffered, they will tell nobody else, and will not get you help. They will not do so because they are afraid (genuinely or mistakenly) that if they do help you to report the abuse, they may then be targeted.

These are complex reasons which take several forms. However, they are usually underpinned by the listener’s OWN ideologies. Put simply, if a person who is told about abuse by a victim already has a view of abuse victims that prejudicially sees them as “weak” or “deserving of abuse” then they are likely to want to dismiss the victim’s claims, and say “get over it”. This rejects the victim, and communicates to them that it is a waste of time expecting help from this person. People (including quite often professionals and the legal system) may often hold the mistaken view that victims of abuse maybe did something to “incite” the abuse. An example is in rape cases, where Courtroom Judges have sometimes refused to believe the victims were raped, and instead blamed them for wearing “tarty” clothing. In such cases, where victims are thought mistakenly to have incited the abuse, people may well tell them to “leave well enough alone” because actually they blame THEM. Other prejudices can lead to victims being told this, such as where a person who reports abuse is mistakenly believed to be mentally unstable, and the person to whom it is reported wants matters to be “left well alone” because they don’t want to associate with, or have to deal with, a “crazy person”. Or, where abuse is suspected to have been related to a victim’s being lesbian, homosexual, of a certain race, disabled… Where particular issues such as these may be associated with abuse, people often want to “leave well enough alone” because they fear opening a proverbial can of worms, in which they may have to deal with problems including racism, sexism, homophobia, disability discrimination… AS WELL AS abuse. To some people, just dealing with abuse alone is bad, dealing with something else as well is too much. (This may link in to laziness excuses!).

These are the excuses that professionals make that are often behind their desire to tell victims to “leave well enough alone”. Such excuses, which sometimes are genuine, but nevertheless are poorly handled, include lack of time, short-staffing, lack of resources and under-funding which make it difficult for a professional to do an adequate job. This does NOT mean that it is RIGHT for a professional to say “leave well enough alone”, it means that the professional is NOT COPING with whatever problems are going on in the workplace, and that this is showing in relationships with clients. The other problem that may make a professional tell a victim to “let it go” is when a professional is incompetent; lacking adequate training, intelligence or experience (or all of them) to be able to deal appropriately with the victim’s issues of abuse. BOTH types of excuses, when given by professionals, are utterly UN-PROFESSIONAL!

These are perhaps the very worst of reasons, and represent a complete breach of trust and confidentiality. You should be very careful to remember that even PROFESSIONALS can behave this way. Abusers are highly manipulative and are very good at sucking people in. Therefore, it is always prudent to be wary of anyone who has contact with your abuser, because these people may be trying to help cover up the abuser’s actions. People will cover for abusers for any number of reasons. They may have fallen for the abuser’s lies, and believe that a victim is crazy, or is not telling the truth about abuse. They may know that the abuser is abusive, but be so devoted to the abuser, so in the abuser’s thrall and power that they will NEVER go against the abuser (this is what often happens in cases of ritual abuse and in religious cults). They may be semi-abusive themselves, or harbour fantasies of acting out abuse, and may hang out with the abuser so that they can be “in on the act” – they may be a person who aids and abets abuse. Or, they may be a voyeur who does not participate in abuse, but enjoys watching it or knowing about it. They may be the romantic partner of the abuser, or the abuser’s personal and professional friends and acquaintances. It is VERY important to note that PROFESSIONALS can fall into these categories, too. For instance, you dad could be abusive, your mum could aid and abet him, and your Aunt who is a Nurse could know about the abuse but because she works professionally with your mother, who is also a Nurse, she does not tell.

By the way… I am both an abuse victim, and a professional. I can tell you that not all of us believe in “loyalty to abusers for fear of them”. Some of us desperately try to speak out. The problem is that those people who, for whatever reason, tell us to simply “leave well enough alone”, or worse, side with our abusers, do NOT HELP US GET OUR VOICE HEARD. I know from personal experience that for a professional to speak out about their personal experience of abuse is really hard. Not only do some people not believe you, but it can also lead to gossip at work. Furthermore, the people who do not believe you can then do a lot of damage to your career. Even the people who DO believe you can sometimes be a little insensitive, asking such things as “well, she works with cases like this, so why couldn’t she do more to help herself?”. A LOT of people seem to think that if you work professionally in health care, or with abused people, and you have been abused yourself, that somehow you should automatically have all the skills and be able to use them to heal yourself. It’s NOT like that! You may be a professional, and you may work with other people who have been abused – but when it comes to your OWN abuse, the fact that it is SO PERSONAL and involves your OWN FAMILY is really painful. So, you may be able to help others heal, from a distance, but you cannot do the same for yourself as easily because the pain is YOURS. I know that maybe sounds a little confusing, but it’s really quite simple…

For a professional who had personal experience of abuse, helping others is cathartic. You use your personal insight to assist other people. But your personal stuff still hurts and you are on your own healing journey. This does not necessarily make you less able to heal others – in fact, it can be the contrary – it can make you MORE empathic, MORE sympathetic, MORE able to listen… But, you have no magic wand, and even though you are a professional you are still only human, and can still only heal yourself (like you heal others) at HUMAN speed. We need to get over this foolish assumption that some people have, that professional means “superhuman”!


By the way…

I have some thoughts on a theme that seems to be recurring quite a lot in the comments above. Many people seem to be wondering just why they themselves cannot “leave well enough alone”. Why it is that, when you were abused as a child or young person, you cannot stop thinking about it, asking questions about it, dreaming about it, talking about it, even writing about it…

I know I’m like that. It’s been that way for some time now. Even if I wanted to stop it, and to “leave well enough alone”, I could not. It would be great just to click some imaginary switch, forget it all, and live a blissful life. But it’s NOT like that!

I think there are several reasons why victims cannot “leave well enough alone”. Firstly, as Lisa’s comment shows, they need to hear themselves confirm that they were abused, they need to convince themselves. Why? Because of all the times that they were not believed, because of the way the abuser groomed them not to see it as abuse, because of the way their thoughts and feelings were invalidated. Once you are finally in a position to be able to confirm that you were abused, it is something you do often – perhaps to negate all the times in the past that you were told the lie that it was not abuse.

I also think that we do it for the sake of hearing our own voices. After all the years of NOT being heard, of NOT being allowed a voice, finally having a voice of one’s own is a novel experience. That is why I think we have to use it so much, and to explore it so much. It feels to me like an opening of the “floodgates” – we finally get to say all the things we wanted to say for years, but could not.

It’s also about regaining power and self-confidence. The more we think about it, the more we talk about it, the more we can begin to understand it from our OWN perspective and not the perspective we were made to have (usually the abuser’s). We can begin to explore OURSELVES, find out who we are. Every time we THINK about our abuse, we can explore it, and people’s roles in it, from a new perspective. We can come to see the abuser as they truly are. This means that we can also come to see ourselves as who we truly are. We no longer have to believe all the negative stuff about us. Every time we TALK or maybe WRITE about our abuse, we show the abuser that we are no longer so scared that we clam up. We are not afraid to discuss abuse. Perhaps we also chip away a bit at the abuser, for if the abuser knows we are talking, then the abuser also knows that OUR perspective is now out there and that the abuser cannot have things all his/her way any more. There is also the fact that, the more we reveal the abuser’s unpleasant acts, particularly if people come to believe us, then things may change for the abuser. The abuser will no longer have power – indeed, the abuser may even end up running scared. Finally, by talking, we may come into contact with other people who have experienced abuse, and ma form support networks for ourselves.

Whatever some ignorant people might think, constantly revisiting one’s abuse – thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it, writing about it – is NOT unhealthy, nor is it a sign that you are “going nuts”. It is a part of healing; it is taking ownership of what happened, and processing events.


I love words… I think if things WERE “well enough” we may be able to let them be. But none of what we are talking about here is “well enough” Validating my pain, my feelings, etc. was the beginning for me. Although talking/writing/working with individuals is what I do professionally today, I don’t live in the pain of the abuse anymore. Validating all of it and seeing all of it through the grid of the truth, has really set me free. 🙂
Thanks for all you are sharing and welcome to Emerging from Broken (although I know this welcome is rather late!)
hugs, Darlene

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