Why is it so Scary to Share the Truth about Child Abuse?

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talking about emotional abuse

Sometimes I get emails and comments like the one that I got this week on the post “Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship”  expressing feeling overwhelmed about sharing stories of the past. The comment said: “I am feeling lost right now. I feel like I have shared way too much here, and I’m feeling very vulnerable. It hurts.”  

Sharing feelings, our pain, our abuse and rejections and stories and sharing about our families makes us feel really vulnerable.  This comment got me thinking about how I felt so vulnerable and scared that I never told anyone about my first blog. There were very few comments, it had very little traffic and even though I was already speaking in mental health seminars, I never gave the name of that website out to anyone.  I was afraid of something.  I didn’t really think that much about what it was. 

Sharing in the first few months of this blog was also scary but it gets easier all the time although  once in a while, sometimes pressing the publish button still makes me feel a little uneasy.

Sharing some of my deepest and darkest moments makes me feel exposed AND it makes me feel like I am in danger. Continued……

In my healing journey I’ve learned to ask myself questions as a way of digging down into my belief system to find the roots of where these feelings and fears come from on any given subject because in doing so it usually helps me to understand why those fears and feelings are still there. 

Incest survivor, Patricia Singleton from the blog “Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker”, also shared her view on this topic. Her  comment came in when I was almost finished writing the first draft of this post, so I thought I would take it as a “hint from the universe” and share it; it is amazingly similar to what I was believe about this particular topic.

Patricia wrote: “When I share something new like I did here yesterday, I face some more of the fear that the abusers put into me to not break the silence of what they did to me.  I think, at least for me, that is why I feel overwhelmed with what I share sometimes.  I will continue to break that silence and share more and more of my story if it means that it might help another survivor to feel not alone.  When we share, it gives someone else the permission to share their stories too.”

For many of us, both as children and as adults, we were not allowed to tell the real truth. We may have had some family secrets that somehow we just knew that we were not supposed to say anything about to anyone else. There were all kinds of things that we just didn’t talk about. I thought that was being “loyal” to my family.  The mere thought of saying the wrong thing was very very scary.

There were a few things outside of family secrets that I did try to tell. Like when my grade 5 teacher was emotionally abusing me. But when I told just a few little things I was discounted, unprotected, called a story teller, and exaggerator and a liar.  I was not protected because I was not believed. Finally a medical doctor had to step in.

Then there was the time that I told about my mother’s boyfriend sneaking in my room that night. I only told because my Aunt caught him and she told first and still I was discounted and then later accused of doing something to have caused it to happen.

Sometimes I said things and I was ridiculed, sneered at or glared at.  Those were warnings. I was afraid of what might come after those sorts of comments and looks.

When I cried, I was told that if I didn’t stop crying, that I would be given something to cry about. (Do children really cry for no reason? I don’t think so, but when I was told that l cried for no reason enough times I believed that I did cry for no reason.)  What that taught me was that my feelings were invalid. That my pain was invalid and that I was not allowed to have feelings or pain. My tears were wrong.

So when I decided to share my life and my past with others, it triggered fears. It triggered fears of rejection; fears of being called a liar, story teller and an exaggerator. Sharing secrets triggers fears of being humiliated, discounted, dismissed and laughed at. Fears of being proven that maybe I am not valid. Maybe I am not worthy. Maybe no one will love me or even like me.  Maybe the abusers were right about me.

It also brings up feelings of being in danger. That danger is close. As I child I learned to guard against danger and not to bring punishment upon myself.  Feelings of being in danger bring up specific fears; that I might be punished; I might get hit, hurt, sent away or all of these things at once. These were the consequences of telling when I was a child.   

And all those fears and thoughts can flash through my memory very quickly. Familiar feelings from the past, flashing, terrifying and tearing down my self esteem, all in a few split seconds and until I really began to understand where those fears were born and raised, I was not able to stop them.  

Please share your thoughts about the fear sharing or the feelings of being exposed. Were there consequences in your childhood for telling the truth?

Exposing truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Note: Click the blue highlighted sentences within the body of the post to read the stories I am refering to.

64 response to "Why is it so Scary to Share the Truth about Child Abuse?"

  1. By: Kera Posted: 11th August

    I’m so happy I dug up this post today, I really needed to hear that … thank you …
    My husband is aware of the work I’m doing emotionally – and regularly asks me for ‘updates’ on what I’ve been thinking about … etc. (SO supportive!) But, I have to overcome SO many walls of fear just to be able to get the words out, to even begin to tell him what experience I’m thinking on … (Clawing my way past the fear of being laughed at, fear of being told I’m being ‘overly dramatic’, fear of being discounted, fear of being told I’m ‘remembering it wrong’, fear of … well – pretty much all the things that happened every time I tried to express myself and look for support while I was growing up.) Even though he has PROVEN for years that HE isn’t that way, that he listens and has such a caring heart – it’s still such a part of me to believe that NO one would listen if I DID talk …

    It feels good to realize where all that fear is coming from, and to know that I can eventually work through it. (thanks for another great, seriously helpful post!)
    KR

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th August

      YAY Kera
      Thanks for sharing! That is a really fantastic discovery!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Teresa Posted: 12th March

    I sent this story to my best friend who constantly invalidates anything and everything I share with her. This was her response: As a person who truly went through child abuse, I refuse to be a victim. I did what was needed to finally break free of any chains that may have kept me down. I learned a ‘recipe’ that helped me come to terms with it all.
    1) Let go of all bitterness and anger – none of it was your fault
    2) Make the best of the situation – what are your positives
    3) Wait on God – He will eventually right all wrongs.
    This brings great peace of mind…given to me by those I trust. The hardest part is step 1. Once it’s understood that things that happen like that are not your fault, It works and helps eliminate a lot of pain, and brings acceptance.
    Just had to give my feedback since I feel so strongly about child abuse…I lived it.

    She TOTALLY invalidates MY feelings about the abuse I went through…like mine was not near as bad as hers. With her, it’s always a contest about who had it worse. IT WAS AS BAD FOR ME. Maybe not in the way SHE thinks about it, but it WAS horrible for me. I was stunned by her response and can’t find the words to put together to let her know how I feel.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th March

      Hi Teresa
      Have you tried to tell your freind how this makes you feel? Abuse is abuse and it is unfair for anyone to decide that theirs was worse; it is invalidating and unsupportive. AND most of all, it does not help. I have written a lot in this site about unhelpful things people say in order to shed light on how them.
      Perhaps your friend could tell you HOW she did all that in order to find her freedom. What are HER positives about child abuse? And the thing about waiting on God.. although I have a strong faith, when I hear directives like that it makes me think about the thousands of people who ask me “where was god?” I did all the things that your friend told you to do… (or so I thought) and in the end it didn’t work until I faced this stuff the way that I write about here.
      Some people however can’t stand what I write about here. They do not want to look that closely or do what it takes to recover that deeply.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Chris Posted: 11th March

    Darlene,

    You wrote abour being discounted and about having fear and not really exploring the cause of that fear (relating to your first blog that you didn’t tell anyone about). I have those fears also. How were you able to overcome them? I feel very stuck and stagnant in my life. I have ideas and goals that for whatever reason, I fear to follow through with them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th March

      Hi Chris
      This whole website is about how I overcame. How I overcame fear, depressions and dissociations. All of these things had roots. They all began somewhere and it was in finding out where they began and realizing that because of events that happened to me and false messages that i had been given all throughout childhood, I had developed a belief system full of lies. It was in getting to the bottom of all that stuff and changeing those lies baci to the truth, that I overcame.
      I hope you will read more of the articles here for insight. You are certainly not alone!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Linda Beaudoin Posted: 11th March

    Hello lovely survivors
    We are child abuse survivors and we are strong
    We unite JULY 20th http://www.SURVIVORSANDVICTIMSDAY.com
    We connect with survivors of child abuse and in solidarity we break our silence
    Activities vary
    Balloon launch for awareness
    Candle vigil in honor of those that did not survive
    Poetry reading Guest speakers
    Giveaways – music and more
    Host in your area please
    contact info@lindaBeaudoin.com

  5. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th May

    PPS~ Darlene, I have a file on my computer labelled “Blog Post Ideas.” I have a total of 81 separate ideas in that file, for posts on my blog. So I haven’t given up on it by any means… I’m just not quite ready. It’s gelling, though!

  6. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th May

    PS~ I have just totally been ignoring my own blog for months, because I keep coming HERE, to read, and then comment, several times a day.

    I started my own blog, “Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet,” after I found this “Emerging From Broken” blog back in October or November, when I was searching so desperately online for HELP, because I had just been re-traumatized, in a way that had opened up many of those old trauma wounds that I had thought were healed. Being on a low income, and living far out in a remote area, I had no one local to go to for help, so I had no choice but to look online.

    After I started reading your blog, Darlene, I felt emboldened to start my own blog, as a way of demonstrating to myself, and to the world, that I am no longer Hating Myself, and I no longer feel Ashamed of my “CRAZY” History, but instead, I now am learning to genuinely LIKE and LOVE Myself, and I now feel PROUD of all that I have Survived in my traumatic life! No More Hiding in SHAME… I am OUT OF THE CRAZY CLOSET, BABY!!

    I also started my “Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet” blog, and book, as a means of reaching out to help others who have been so badly hurt and broken, as I have been.

    But FIRST, I need MORE HEALING. So here I am, day after day, greedily feasting on your wonderful encouraging empowering blog, Darlene… while my own blog just sits there, with no new posts, day after day, week after week, month after month… I don’t even check very often for comments on the few posts that I do have on my blog, I’m ashamed to say.

    However, I believe that is OK. I need this, now… just as you had your season of healing, Darlene, with the great savvy therapist you found, BEFORE you were ready to share with the world how you have been healed from being so badly broken. When I am ready, my blog, and my book, will be written. It may be days from now, it may be years from now… I don’t know, and I am not going to rush my healing journey, to make it happen faster. OH how I WANT to be 100% healed, RIGHT NOW. But I will take these healing steps, no faster than it is healthy for me to go. I will trust my inner instincts on that. As I said in one of my other comments on your Mothers Day post, I believe that no two trauma victims are exactly alike, no two trauma histories are exactly alike, and therefore the timetable, and even the pathway, to total healing, will probably not be exactly alike for any two people, either, in my opinion.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being here, and for sharing YOURSELF with us, Darlene.

    Lynda

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Lynda
      You are welcome , welcome, welcome! I am so glad that it is making a difference to you! When I faced my history, everything changed for me.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th May

    YAAAY Darlene!!

    That is the biggest reason why I love your blog so much. YOU FOUND A WAY, and in your blog you are showing us that way. I’m following in your blog-steps, Darlene.

    Lynda

  8. By: Pam Posted: 13th May

    Lynda,

    People don’t understand and most don’t try to understand. I know what you mean by retraumatizing because I have spent the last four years trying to get through to my birth family and get them to acknowlege that I was sexually abused. I got nowhere with them and all those old injuries have brought me new pain. What I did achieve is that I know for sure that the disreguard I have felt is very real. When they tell me to forget the past, they have no empathy for my pain but are seeking to cover their own evil. When they say that I don’t forgive, they are in truth asking me to carry pretense for them. I do forgive but they can’t receive that forgiveness because they won’t acknowledge what they’ve done. I would like nothing better than for them to be able to receive my forgiveness. It would mean that they felt sorry for what they did but they don’t and I know that if they had the opportunity, they would do it again. Divorcing my birth family is a matter of self-preservation. I do forgive because I will not allow them to fill me with hate. They will not polute my soul and I will not become like them. I forgive but I don’t trust. I would be very foolish to trust them.

    I don’t know how to stop a flash-back. Those memories come and go as they please. They are not under my control just as the things that happened to me were not under my control. If those people had survived the things we’ve survived they’d know that our behavior isn’t all that unreasonable.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th May

      Hi Pam,
      That is one of the biggest things that I learned; that I still feared that I would be vulnerable to all sorts of abuse. (and the fear was very real, and just telling myself that I could protect myself now was not enough) I had to find out why I had those beliefs. That is what I write about . Finding the truth, and the beliefs that I accepted because of those events, and replacing those lies with the truth. That is how I got my life back.
      It IS SCARY to face this stuff.. but for me it has been the most life changing and rewarding work that I never imagined. I just wanted to be okay. I just wanted to be able to get up in the morning. I got WAY more then that!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 12th May

    Hi Pam,
    I, too, believe that abusers look for people who have been abused, and are therefore vulnerable to more abuse. I have certainly experienced that in my own life ~ abusers being drawn to me BECAUSE I was so obviously “broken.”

    I have also found that it is very important to carefully pick and choose the people we will share our trauma stories with. It is re-traumatizing to share our stories with people who don’t care, or don’t understand, or who ignorantly think that telling us to “just forgive,” or “just stop thinking about it,” will make our problems magically all go away.

    Try telling that to the paraplegiac who was paralyzed in an automobile accident many years ago. “Just forgive the person who crashed into you… just stop thinking about it, and get on with your life, it happened so long ago, stop living in the past…” You can forgive, you may be able to stop thinking about it, you can focus all your attention on the present, but you are still going to be paralyzed, until and unless someone finds a way to heal that physical paralysis.

    Lynda

  10. By: Pam Posted: 12th May

    Darlene,

    I am afraid to share too much because it is scary to show my vulnerability. Abuse leaves marks upon us that seem to attrack new abusers. It is scary to share because I don’t want to be abused again.
    Also part of me still thinks that I was stupid not to know what was happening to me with the sexual abuse. I was gullible and I’m afraid that part of me still is.

  11. By: Bonnie Posted: 15th March

    @ Renee – Actually that happened some time ago. I was in the military and got tested for HIV regularly. Never got it! Thanks anyway.

  12. By: Renee/A Resurrected Spirit Posted: 14th March

    Oh Bonnie I am sorry. It is like “Just one more thing” I hope you get tested and are ok. Please take care.
    Renee

    Thank you for all your support and for being here for me. I know you care, and I know it is real and not words. that means “life” to me because I feel connected with people which never has happened to me…Thank you
    Renee

  13. By: Bonnie Posted: 14th March

    Well, the goodlooking sex addict that everyone in town wanted ended up having to tell everyone in town that he was HIV positive, including me. I later found out that he had raped one of my friends and tried to pickup another friend at a gas station while she was sitting in her car. Then there were the rumors that he was at gay bars. Ugg!

  14. By: Bonnie Posted: 14th March

    What I want to talk about more is realizing the truth. I think I have finally figured something out and that is that my dad was a sex addict in addition to being an alcoholic. I’ve encountered at least 2 obvious sex addicts and I’ve done some research. My mom proudly said that they had sex EVERY night because they wanted to have children. And, he was with another woman for a long time before finally getting divorced from my mom. Sometimes when he would visit they would go in another room and lock the door. And, so I think she thought she could eventually get him back because of the sex. When I was older and at a reception after his new marriage, he turned to me and looked deep in my eyes and put his hand on my thigh. I looked angrily back at him and some of my new inlaws thought the scene was funny. (don’t know why)

    But, at 21 I was still a virgin and the guys I dated I somehow found out they wanted to use me. So, I saw my mother as a victim, waited for the perfect guy to get married. I decided I wouldn’t be like her and that I would pick the first guy. The guy I picked was a sex addict! Interesting.

  15. By: Renee-A Ressurected Spirit Posted: 14th March

    Carla,
    It took me years to get me where I am at today. I have traveled so long and the road has been rough. But I am here and it was worth it. The alternative was not an option. I am tougher, in some ways. I am always cautious of my suroundings. But I am here and that counts hugh. It does in my book any way. I have my youngest sister living with me and it gets hard. She is just beginning and it reminds me of how far I have come. I keep telling her that it’s a long journey and its worth it. She wants to give up and I tell her that is no option. I told her that it is ok to get into counseling for a while (about a year) then if she needs to step back and rest that is ok. As long as she knows she has to start up again. She asked me how long will it take and I said her journey is up to her and how hard she wants to work on “her”. She keeps sayiong over and over, I don’t want to do this. I keep saying ” How is your life working for you right now.?” She say’s I get your point.
    I want to be angry because it is so unfair, not right, cruel, and why me! Then I pick myself up and get back to work on myself.
    Renee

  16. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    Carla, thank you for explaining the fear and the pain so eloquently. You helped me understand my fear even more clearly… it’s not a “bad” thing, not a “weakness,” but real and very normal.

    Darlene, thank you for your constant encouragement to believe that the healing is worth the pain of getting there.

  17. By: Carla Logan Posted: 14th March

    When you expose things, bring things out into the light, whether you are dealing with the truth of what happened to you, or the truth of how it still affects you and your everyday life and relationships, you do in fact place yourself in a vulnerable position, with the possibility of being rejected and facing that final abandonment that you have always feared. And even if we are no longer the helpless child we were, the pain is still very real, both the pain of the past, and the pain that those long ago fears are now realized. And I know that living in denial of the fact that you are not loved unconditionally is not healthy, it is still painful when you face that fact in all it’s truth. And sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of work to be strong enough to face this and accept it and move on.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th March

      Hi Carla,
      This is so very true. This is what we are facing. It is a huge risk and a huge decision to go all the way with healing. I have met many who settle for half the journey, because that final risk of facing the possibility of the final abandonment is just too much to face. and it does take a long time and a lot of work to go forward. Looking back it has always been worth it and that is what keeps me going forward still today.
      Thanks for sharing this Carla, even though it carries a certain amount of pain, it also carries a certain amount of hope. And where there is pain, hope is what we need the most!
      hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 12th March

    Renee, When someone hates our child, it does hurt us. My prayers are with you and your daughter. I can even say prayers for your brother because he is acting out of his dysfunction. His dysfunction isn’t an excuse for his behavior or hurting words but it is his reality. You have my phone number if you want to talk.

  19. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 12th March

    Renee – I hear your pain – I too grew up being hated, despised and knowing I wasn’t loved and my heart aches when I hear of other people be treated so hatefully. It makes me so angry, it is such unnecessary suffering, is it really so hard to love?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th March

      Hi Corneilius,
      Welcome ~ Thank you for your summary, it is very true and very well done. That is how it works. I often refer to the hierarchy as “the pecking order system” I agree with you that abusers follow the same manipulative psychology but today I do not summit to it. Today I strive to live in equality, to use my power to empower others who found themselves in that same abusive and dysfunctional system.
      Thanks for joining in the conversation!
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Kellie,
      I totally related to your comment and I appreciate you expanding on this subject in that way. I hadn’t thought to include my fears of the readers! (and that is a huge part of this subject!) I also fear what others will say, or think, or how they will judge me. That part gets easier all the time!
      I am so glad that you feel safe here! I am really really pleased about how much warmth and encouragement there is for all of us, and how everyone is so supportive of each other. It is really cool.
      So glad you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Renee,
      I am so sorry that you are going through this with your brothers cruelty. It is SO hard when someone dislikes our precious children. Try to remember that just because he has that opinion, it doesn’t mean that he is right. This is not about your daughter, but about his character.
      Sending you big hugs,
      Darlene

  20. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 12th March

    Hi Lynda

    Thanks for telling me how you related to my fear list. I love the poem you wrote – “pain is everywhere, pain is everything, it must be my fault, they said it was”. That describes it so well and so succinctly.

  21. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 12th March

    Dear Renee, my heart aches with you. People don’t seem to realize the power of WORDS, especially words spoken by a family member. One of my sisters wrote some hateful words about me on fb several months ago that shattered me, I couldn’t stop crying then, either.

    I know my sister is ignorant about many things, judgmental, and cold. It sounds like your brother is, too. I have decided not to allow my sister’s hateful judgmental ignorance bring me down, ever again. I hope you can make that determination about your brother.

    It is terribly sad that the ones who need love the most, like you troubled daughter, are the ones who receive the most rejection in life. If her injuries were physical, no one would expect her to heal if they kept punching her in her wounds… anyone with half a brain would know that would only worsen her physical condition. But our society makes it a practice to cause repeated psychological harm to those who are mentally ill…. and then wonder why they continue to get worse, not better. Now, THAT’S crazy!

  22. By: Renee-A Ressurected Spirit Posted: 12th March

    Dear people,
    I need some encouragement because I can’t quite crying. Yesturday I called one of my brothers to ask about the tsunami that was going to hit Hawaii. His son lives there as does my sister. He was in the Coast Guard there so for info I go to him. We were talking about family members and I mentioned my youngest daughter. He said of all the Neices and Nephews we have she is on the top of his list. Then he said I hate her and she is nothing but a F—- B—-. He said he could care less if she lived or died. It broke my heart. My daughter has mental issues and we are unable to have a relationship because of the things she does. My oldest daughter feels the same and Lisa and I have a good relationship. But it hurts all the same that someone could hate her that much, because when I was growing up I knew how it felt to be unloved.
    Renee

  23. By: Kellie Posted: 11th March

    Sheryl,

    Regarding churches, I’ve often heard the phrase, “We shoot our own wounded.” How sad, but how very, very true I have found that to be. I try to remember that Jesus particularly targeted the downtrodden in His ministry on earth, and encouraged us to be kind to “the least of these”. He is our Great High Priest according to Hebrews, and suffered the ultimate abuse and rejection for our sakes. It gives me great hope to think that His “followers” are just wounded and misguided humans themselves, and that they don’t necessarily represent His character. I look forward to the judgment when He will wipe away all our pain.

    Kellie

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