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


77 response to "When “Leave Well Enough Alone” Involves Crime against Children"

  1. By: Ellie Posted: 20th March

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st March

      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

  2. By: Ellie Posted: 20th March


    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”!

  3. By: Ann Posted: 20th December

    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?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st December

      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

  4. By: Karen Ranes Posted: 20th June

    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.

  5. By: Libby Posted: 19th June

    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..

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th June

      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

  6. By: Joan H Posted: 11th February

    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” 🙂

  7. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th July

    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

  8. By: Lynda ~ Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 5th July

    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.

  9. By: Renee Posted: 5th July

    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.

  10. By: Lynda ~ Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 4th July

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th July

      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

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