Telling what happened one time is not enough.

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Now I am a big advocate of telling about childhood sexual abuse. Until we confess how many of us there are that exist, people (in general) will disregard the severity of the problem. The same feelings we have that are used to protect the abuser, will continue to stop us from telling unless we encourage one another.

Being a survivor involves healing a cluster of criminal actions;  sexual violation(s), child abuse and child neglect. In addition, the perpetrator commits emotional crimes of dishonesty, shunning, isolation and betrayal by the family. Each survivor must develop a way to speak about these difficult experiences.  Considering most adults cannot speak in a mature way regarding sexual activity, it’s easy to imagine a child having difficulty speaking about a sexual crime.  The age of the child is one factor as many violations happened before they could talk in complete sentences, let alone be skillful communicators about sexual matters. Another would be to not even know it was a crime when the violations started.   Once we as survivors have practice speaking about these very complicated matters, we give a way for others to speak with us  about sexual abuse. When we use our own voice and language we make it possible to do so with out causing more harm.

My emotional freedom has come from my telling others what happened to me, not people telling me what to  believe about the abuse. My healing did not come from understanding what other people thought about what he did. Wish I had known this when I started out actively trying to heal this wound.  I tried to do what others told me would help. Many suggested counseling. But, it didn’t help me much. Counselors were uncomfortable with the subject. So they focused on trying to explain what he did and why. The dynamics of  the system. Counseling theories didn’t address sitting  in the room with emotional pain and anguish. My pain,  was too much for me to bear. I couldn’t touch the places that hurt. Nor did I believe others could witness what I had experienced.  The pain was intense. My pain interfered.  It couldn’t  be over come in a few sessions.

I tried to forget about it and get on with my life. Repressing the thoughts about it just caused me to sabotage myself and act out in destructive ways. I needed to learn how to trust.  I learned it by telling the truth.  Telling others helped me more than anything. Both by telling  people who were close to me and I felt close to. That took time.

Then came writing about it.

It would have been great to have known that telling one time is not enough. Being held down and raped, or fondled, or forced to masturbate him, while your mother is in the other room is not the kind of event that is overcome  through telling one person just one time. It’s not enough to discharge the anguish of being forced to do things against your will. Telling once and for all is not enough.

Who you tell is important. Telling someone who doesn’t believe  you (like in my case my mother) is not going to help you emotionally to be free. It will perpetuate the battle that is going on between the two of you. She wasn’t  willing to believe me or able to see that I was telling the truth.  If she could have  been willing to see it in the first place, then things would have turned out differently for me. I was her daughter, her first born.  Just like giving birth changes you, so does rape. I changed, before I was fully formed as an adult, when I was raped.

As the years have passed I have practiced telling many people in my life. It was easiest to tell strangers. I became braver through practice. If I accidently told someone,  I was shocked and then so embarrassed that I told and hadn’t planned on it, (the blurter phase) that I would not go around those people again.

Then I practiced with  incest survivors groups, speaking with groups who were  wanting to learn how to listen to abuse survivors. Finally I moved on to friends. It became harder for me to talk in any depth to those I felt the closest to.  But it in some ways got  easier as I became more comfortable with the vulnerability and shame that are inextricably linked together for me.  There are still people who I love dearly who I have not talked with about my abuse experiences. I may never. To me, it’s important that I  do it  because I want to share my emotional life with them.

What to expect when you tell.  So, the consequences of telling will depend on a variety of factors. Depends on what happened to you.  Depends on who you tell, and what you tell,  and when you tell. In my experience its never the greatest time, the perfect time, but we have to get it out, there are alot of pent up emotions in us and we have to do it when we can.

Information removed per request of friend.

No one stopped him and there were plenty of times someone could have done exactly that one thing that would have made such a difference in my life.

Care to share your telling experiences?

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5 thoughts on “Telling what happened one time is not enough.

  1. I have never experienced anything as horrific as you, however, I’ve had a few moments in my life that were incredible painful. I know by talking about them, it seems to release some of the power it has over me. The more I talk, the more it leaves until at some point I can even find some humor in the experience. Not to say that anything horrific is funny, but I find that there’s an element of being so detached that it’s okay – at least in the things I’ve gone through. When they are raw and still being explored, there’s nothing funny about it. Guess the ole cliche of time heals all wounds is true, but it also takes us to help heal the wound and by talking and sharing, I think makes the world of difference. And then not only that, it helps others as well. I think. But I think, at least for me, writing it all first helps. I see it in a different light and then it makes it easier to share (in person). Again, you’re so courageous to share your story. Love you.

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  2. There is no excuse in the world that anyone can give that would make what happened to you ok. I am so happy that you have told your story and continue to tell it. I think it is important for people to know that they are not alone in their trauma and that there are others out there that can relate to them and talk to. The internet is a fantastic resource for sharing and healing don’t you think? Thank you so much for sharing! I intend to follow your blog! I am blogging about my childhood sexual abuse as well. It has a more religious overtone to it, take it for what it is. I appreciate women and men that share their abuse stories. I agree, it needs to be told. To keep it a secret adds to the shame and you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for something that you were unable to prevent. Please keep talking! Thank you! Much love! May God bless you and your family.
    _Elianna Mae_

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  3. Michele Morrison

    Kim, I must have missed this posting, and appreciate reading it very much. I’ve wondered about your Mom’s knowing of the abuse…how she didn’t believe or have a clue that it was happening. I can see how a progression of letting different people know in your own due time was a fitting strategy to be able to approach your pain. You are so good to explain how abuse secrets need to be told eventually if any real relief or purging can happen. My “telling” experiences? I will be happy to share with YOU alone….is that a cop-out?! Sharing your story is going to help a lot of people.

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  4. kimmysurviving

    Healing at our own speed is necessary because we had too many premature experiences that were unwanted.

    Remember telling any secrets is up to you, if you never choose to share-it’s not a cop-out, if you only tell one person-it’s still not a cop out. I hope I am always a person who can be told what we hold dearest and the most tenderly in our own psyche. I would leave it up to you as to the when and where.
    All my love to you

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  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. This is the message I’m hoping to share with the subscribers to my blog and on my Facebook Group page at OUT FROM UNDER. I admire your courage and support your efforts. Please keep writing more. Am putting your blog on my blogroll list.

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