Telling Others

Telling Our Family, Friends and Acquaintances About Our Abuse

Deciding to tell another living being that you were abused is a difficult part of the healing process. The dark secret lurks within us, bring shame and pain to our shattered lives. The hurt builds up like a huge weight on our chests making us feel like we are gasping for our life’s last breath. We are ashamed but sometimes that little thought creeps into our heads “If only someone else knew, I wouldn’t feel so all alone” It is this thought and the need to release this dark secret that compels many of us to tell. The question is..”How do I tell such a horrible secret?” and “Who can I trust to tell?”

havoca telling othersWho to tell….
Sharing your experience is an important and possibly anxious moment for you in your healing. Choosing whom to tell is a big step for everyone. The feeling of safety in the person you are telling is a good start. Questions will race through your mind like “Will they believe me?” or “Will they hate me for what happened?” or worse yet “Will I be blamed for what happened?” You can answer these questions before you even share your experience by asking yourself these questions…

1. Has this person been supportive to me at other times in our relationship?
2. When I observe this person interacting with others, is there a degree of compassion and understanding they show to others?
3. Do you know this person to be non-judgmental and accepting of different points of view?
4. Have you ever known this person to make statements like “I told you so” or other accusatory comments?

Upon weighing the answers to just one or more of these types of questions…you can relieve some of the anxiety of telling. There are many different scenarios about how people acquire the knowledge of your abuse. An unfortunate truth at times is that others know because of being reported to the authorities. That’s when things can get messy and it seems that EVERYONE knows your business. This tends to create a great deal of shame for the survivor and you just wish you could crawl under a rock and be forgotten. Alas that does not feel like it is ever going to happen and you feel even more dis-empowered than ever before. But, there is hope here too. Now you know who knows…you’ve seen their reactions to the news…they know the facts about your abuse, but they don’t know your feelings…use the above criteria for choosing someone to talk to, then take the time to discuss your feelings and you’ve taken another step on your path to healing.

Choosing how you will tell…

After you have determined who a safe person is for you to share your experience with…it is time to choose how you are going to tell. There are many different ways to tell that involve a number of medias or good old face to face contact. When I speak of different medias I am mostly talking of writing letters by phone, or the old fashioned postal service or by electronic mail. There of course are video tapes and audio tapes if you care to make use of these medias. The use of these the different types of medias may have a few disadvantages to face to face contact…first you do not see the initial reaction of the person, secondly, the person you sent the media to will more than likely want to talk to you about your experience in person…this leaves you wondering when they will call or show up on your doorstep…you may find it more empowering to be able to choose when to talk about things when you are prepared instead of sitting around wondering when you will be approached by others.

Telling….

Choose how you want to tell by whatever method feels most safe to you. Telling becomes more comfortable after you have told more than once. You might want to try calling your local abuse crisis center to tell for your first time. You are not required to give your name or any other personal information about yourself..i.e. where you live, how old you are, etc. The advocates at a abuse crisis center are not there to judge you, make fun of you, or call the police on you…they are there to listen to you and all you say to them is confidential. Also, when you speak to a trained advocate you can even ask many of the questions which have been racing through your mind and the advocate can help you to figure out the answers to your questions. An advocate can help you to think of ways to tell others too. If calling a abuse crisis center is not your cup of tea…you could try rehearsing what you are going to say to the safe person you have chosen by either talking to yourself in a mirror or setting up a stuffed animal or doll as your audience. Your real life listener will probably have questions for you. You may want to write down as many of the questions you think they may ask and try to answer them before you are in face to face contact with them.

When you have gotten together your courage and what you are going to say, choose a safe place for you to meet with your safe person. A nice cup of tea for both of you many help you feel a little more relaxed or you may want to have an object that feels safe to you close by or in your hand (i.e. grandma’s locket that is very dear to you and brings you a feeling of warmth) before you begin. You may want to tell your listener that you would like them to listen to all you have to say before they respond to you or you may invite them to ask questions when you pause between the things you have to say. You should let them know that what you are about to say is difficult for you to tell and could be difficult for them to hear. This will clue your listener in on the difficulty and importance of what you are about to tell them. You may tell your listener as much or as little about your attack as you feel comfortable in sharing. If your listener asks questions that you are uncomfortable in answering, tell them that at the moment you are unable to answer this question.

Remember
This moment is about you and your need to talk, your listener can wait until you are ready for some answers. Telling others about your abuse is a difficult but courageous task. It can be as much empowering to you as it seems frightening. Best of all, telling a safe person allows you to get your experience out into the open and not still bottled up inside of you. Silence is a dangerous thing, it is a stumbling block in the healing process. With courage and hard work, you too can remove all the stumbling blocks on the path of healing and reclaim your life.

40 Responses to Telling Others

  1. AvatarBarbara says:

    My husband was abused by his parents all during his childhood. He became an alcoholic then got sober but he has admitted to me and doctors that he has depression and anxiety. He is resistant to seeking treatment. How can I help him get the therapy he so deserves?

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      A tough situation which is sadly quite common with male survivors. Their reluctance to seek help for common ailments is compounded by the childhood trauma. Not a very conducive situation for recovery. As a partner, it can be very frustrating and extremely sad to watch the one you love trapped on the wheel of abuse with no apparent willingness to survive.

      Our section for Supporters of Abuse Victims will be a good starter for you. You’ve probably already ascertained that there won’t be any quick solutions. Your husband may find self help books a better first step in the short term – I can recommend several, specifically aimed at male survivors, that might be suitable. Drop me a line and I’ll dig some out.

      Ultimately the decision to tackle these problems has to come from him, so while he is reluctant to seek help all you can do is continue to offer patient suport and understanding. Talking about his fears and hopes for the future may help gently persuade him to jump on the healing band wagon.

    • AvatarHeather says:

      I’ve been there with my boyfriend and he wanted me to get help as well. I ended up doing what he wanted and im gonna tell yoy the same thing my therapist told me, it won’t help if you aren’t doing it for you. So make sure its for you and not for her, get help when you a are ready and when it is something that you want to do. It could be years even till you decide but only go when you decide you want to.

  2. Avatarjohn says:

    I am a male who was abused. I have questions about where to go from here. My girlfriend suggested I get help. It has caused stress on our relationship.

  3. AvatarDoris Mendieta says:

    I’m adult and sexually abused as a child it’s all starting to come out the abuser still lives the mother still lives my sisters hates me the pain and hurt like I’m destroying myself I feel like I don’t want to live anymore I need help please help me

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      You’ve taken the first step! You’ve asked for help. Don’t over look that achievement – for it is an achievement in its self. The next step is up to you….you need to decide what sort of help you would like, what you can afford and the time-scales you have set yourself. Miracle cures or fixes don’t exist, so you need to firstly be realistic with what results you can expect. Secondly you cant attempt to deal with everything at once. I expect your whole world seems to be tumbling down. You need to try really hard and break down each element into the smallest pieces. These small pieces or problems are insurmountable when combined but treated individually they can become much more reachable.

      • AvatarSherry Foley says:

        Doris, I came on here for other reasons, (however, maybe it’s for you and I hope and pray you see this post). Anyway, myself , my twin both 4yrs, and two older sisters 5.5 and 7yrs. We were sexually abused by an old man which was also our neighbor molested us for ten years. Actually myself only eight years. Because, I forced him into me alone which wasn’t easy by a long shot! Anyway, we moved to this new and small town in North Florida and my Dad, got a job working for him as mechanic. He was extremely wealthy originally from Texas and the oil business. However, he lived in a small what we call in Florida wooden”Cracker” house. (Nothing to do with race). Furthermore, it was one bedroom, very tiny. And he lived as if he were poor. And I remember he was dirty, (hygiene wise). As a matter of fact, five years ago my twin sister was tested for H-Pylori, due to the fact that she was having stomach problems. As a matter of fact, so did I since I was 19. H-Pylori is a parasite that lives in your intestines and will live there forever without treatment. Anyway, come to find out.. after the rest of us that were molested were tested. All four of us had this (H-Pylori). It’s because he was always so dirty. His hands, under his nails, everything. Plus he had the H-Pylori, the DR’s believe. Because we all went to our own Doctors. Wow, right. It could have been worse..like these poor children getting AIDS, or Hepatitis or Herpes from their abusers.
        Anyway, I remember the first time. I’m the first victim. By the way, I don’t and have never since I confessed abuse at 18, have never had any problems discussing it, thank you Lord! Anyway, we come from a family of ten children. 8 girls 2 boys. We were very poor. My Dad was sort of lazy and my Mom worked up until we met this man.
        Furthermore, my Father was extremely violent, ( it’s weird though, I have always, always thanked God he wasn’t sexually abusive). Well he was super violent. He started spanking us as young as 12 months. And whipping us at three. Then as you got older, there were different degrees of punishment. Some of us were older and younger. The older were getting beat bad! Literally picked up and thrown across the room and into a box fan. Then picked up again and taken in the room to lay on the bed to get beat with his 52″ leather belt. Then sent outside to clean the back yard. And this would be on a six year old that happily ran by and knocked a brownie out of his hand. There was no I’m sorry Daddy! And the three seconds rule. BTW, the person we’re talking about was me. And this was an everyday event. He blamed everything on us! One day he/Mom misplaced the food stamps and we got beat. I married my childhood sweetheart. Also, my brother’s best friend growing up. He told me a story one night he came over and we were eating”beanies and Weenies”. He said my Dad received his very large bowl first. Then my Mom gave us a coffee cup each. And we were one cup short and my brother (the oldest) gave his up. Anyway, what I’m about to say is my parents knew we were being molested. Now what I realized is I’m going all over the place. One of my character traits from being abused.
        So when PPL say; why didn’t you tell your parents? Well, I saw it was making my parents happy.
        Moreover, PPL, relatives like my Aunt and my Grandmother said, I don’t trust that man with the girls. Something’s going on. My Dad would get super defensive and say things like: Do you know what that man had done for this family!? Now two days after we met this old man, he had me and my three sisters spending the night and sleeping in his bed. He only had one. Remember, small house. Tiny living room furniture. My parents knew we would be in his bed. But two weeks later, my Dad found out something happened to us. That he molested us. My Dad freaked out on him! Quit talking to him and everything. But they didn’t call the cops or tell anyone in the family about it. And a week later Dad’s back over there working and we’re back in his bed. NICE, HUH!
        You see, this Man paid our bills. Took Mom and Dad (every morning) for coffee and breakfast. They had something they never had before. No more worries! I’m serious as a heart attack! True story! So at that point, BTW.. I was an intuitive little girl. I knew if I said anything, my Dad might beat me. Think about it. Would you say anything? And what’s even worse, and it’s something I put together later in life is: Dad’s guilt and shame caused him to beat us girls even more. And to verbally abuse us more. I didn’t mention that part. He was super verbally abusive as well. Yelled and screamed all the time. And what’s strange is you’d think this rich man would go buy something us girls needed for school or something. Or anything. But no. Never! I looked back one day and thought about that and realized he was paying”our pimps”. And we were just a tool!
        So at twelve, he was still abusing us. But I decided I had enough! I always made myself unavailable. He was angered by this and it wasn’t easy. But I did it! And the only thing that stopped the abuse on my other sisters is we moved to South Florida two years later. Well, a year or so after we left there, we get five court orders delivered by a Sheriff’s deputy to attend a court hearing in regards to him molesting some other children and our names came up. Well three of us were there when the orders were dropped off. And my Mom opened them. And pay careful attention…she starts to read this and SAY’S “NO WAY”! THIS IS A DAMN LIE! ETC!
        We said; what Mom? What is it? (And if I’m not mistaken Doris, I believe this is your fear. But you can’t worry about that… however you can pray about it!)
        Anyway, we said what Mom? She said someone’s accusing **** of molesting their kid’s! That’s a lie! He would never do that! Now their saying that you all may have been molested (and I know for a fact he never touched y’all). He’s been like a Father to me! Now this is everything my Mom is saying. She was always really good at putting all of the focus on herself. A lot of the time, it was always about her.
        But what I wanted you to se e in that is, she instantly took away our first opportunity in a safe environment to finally say “YES”! “WE WERE MOLESTED”! Yes, she knew already, but that even gave her a safe way out. But nope! She had let us down again! So we were to go to the court’s and tell them that he never touched us. Oh’ my Dad and Mom had been separated for five years. However, my Mom and sleezy Step Dad were still taking advantage of the income from this man in exchange for time spent with us BTW. But as far as the court’s order. My real Dad was on the same page as Mom. “He never touched my daughter’s”! A lot of Mom’s say they don’t know. They didn’t know that the Dad was molesting the daughter. That’s one of the biggest LIES ever told in the history of society, BTW!
        And it’s super sad what my parents did. And it’s super sad what the parents do that are not immediately proactive in intervening and stopping these types of travesties. So at eighteen I went and told my parents. They said they were sorry. However, that was it. Nothing else. Not, what happened. When did this happen? Where did it happen? Where was Daddy and I at? Why didn’t you tell us? Are you okay? I mean it was only six years earlier this stopped happening and for eight years it went on. And sometimes everyday. Also, this man was still alive and not once did they go there to confront him. Cuss him out. Call the cops! Nothing! And for years to come, they both treated me different. My husband told me that my Dad told him, that I thought he knew this was happening! Well, I didn’t say that to either one of them. That was him feeling guilty. And the wonderful lady my Dad was with and certainly didn’t deserve…well as soon as I told everyone this, she kicked my Dad down the road forever! You see…she was one of the people that was telling my parents that this man was suspicious with the girls. And she felt extremely uncomfortable about him. And my Dad got very angry with her about her many comments. And all she ever wanted was for him to ask us or this man if something was going on. And I wished he did. Because I would have said YES!
        AS I WOULD HAVE SAID YES, THE DAY THOSE COURT ORDER’S CAME TO OUR HOUSE. BUT MY MOM STOLE THAT OPPORTUNITY AWAY FROM US!
        DORIS, HERE’S SOMETHING I WOULD DO IF I WERE IN YOUR SHOE’S. I WOULD GO IN FRONT OF A COUNSELOR WITH YOUR LADY THAT RAISED YOU AND TELL HER WHAT HAPPENED. THAT WAY, SHE CAN’T MANIPULATE YOU OR THE SITUATION! TRUST ME ON THAT!! I WOULD IF YOU CAN. THERE’S A TON OF COUNSELOR’S OUT THERE THAT WILL SEE YOU FOR JUST THE CO PAYMENT THAT THEY NORMALLY GET FROM FOLKS WITH INSURANCE. THEY CHARGE $20 BUCKS.
        IF YOU CAN’T DO THAT. GO IN FRONT OF A WELL RESPECTED AND WELL LIKED AND TRUSTED PERSON IN BOTH OF YOUR CIRCLE THAT’S ALSO WISE AND OPEN MINDED. AS WELL AS SENSITIVE TO YOUR SITUATION. TALK TO THEM FIRST. IF YOU GO TO HER BY YOURSELF, YOU MAY REGRET IT. I SAY YOU NEED A THIRD PARTY. AND THIS IS FROM EXPERIENCE.
        But the biggest thing I didn’t tell you is I went and confronted him myself! When I was twenty. He had just gotten out of prison from that court case deal I mentioned. That felt good. Anyway, he said he knew I would eventually show up. That I was the strong one. I told him; listen, this is the furthest thing from a friendly visit. God has saved me and sent me here today to ask you to stop ruining childrens lives and their entire future! And to let you know how you’ve hurt my sister’s so badly. Their lives are a mess! I’m only put together day by day because of the Lord. And I take it day by day. But your a monster! Anyway, I found out he’s not allowed within so many feet of a child for the rest of his living days. And then he was like 81. But yeah..it wasn’t easy! And without God, that would have never taken place, trust me, you ! So as you can see. I been all over it. It hasn’t been easy. But it found me freedom! It saved my life! I can’t say the same for my sister’s. Two of them are doing okay. And one is doing really, really bad! She has repressed EVERYTHING!! She is now a 45 a heavy drinker. Very unhappy, argumentative, always right and the world all wrong. Loves to gossip. Finds happiness in hurting others and truly believes that everyone is beneath her. Now does this EGO thing have to do with the abuse. It must. But I don’t want you or anyone else to turn out like that. I hate to see my sister like that. I’ve tried to help. Only to be shot down with hurtful words and such. So I continue to pray for her happiness!
        As I will yours, Doris. And remember…God hates people that hurt children. He’s got a special place in hell for them! And don’t be afraid to go to God and ask for his help. And ask for him to soften this lady that raised you’s heart. He can absolutely do anything. Not almost anything. He can do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING! PEACE BE WITH YOU, DORIS!
        GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I!

  4. AvatarNikki says:

    I was abused as a child. I know I need help. I think at times the pain will never go away. I was mentally, physically and emotionally abused as a child. I believe this part of my life affected my adult life as well. I can remember being told that I was nobody and nothing. I do ok most of the time, I am a terrific runner when it comes running and hiding my feelings. But, today I happened to be looking at a highschool year book and I don’t what happened but, i became unbelievably sad and cried and cried. I cried a river of tears. Because even though I am an adult now, at times I still feel like that sad, scared little kid.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Thank you for sharing part of your story. I can remember how crippling that sadness can be, especially when it comes so suddenly and unexpectedly.

      Tale heart that you aren’t alone and even in your darkest hours there are other survivors out there who are fighting and battling on your behalf. Our forums are a good way to connect with others, take strength from their stories and seek friendship.

      Details about our forums can be found here: http://www.havoca.org/resources/forum/

  5. AvatarSue says:

    Hi I don’t think I was abused as a child, I know my older sister was by our dad. I buried it all for years,so memory is blocked, my father was also mentally & physically abusive. I married a man who was the same as my dad except he did not sexually abuse me he went off with prostitutes, I divorced him 5 years ago & met up with my 1st love, since we have been together all I have done is destroyed his love for me, the last straw was on friday he was performing oral sex with me he came to kiss me & i pushed him away, i felt he was trying to sexually abuse me, he said he is so humiliated & does not know if we can get over this.Please help I am so ashamed of what happened it took me a lot to tell him what I had buried for 40 years & now I feel it has caused more heartache.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Hi Sue

      I’m sorry for the situation you’ve found yourself in.

      Its really difficult to comment constructively when all I have is a quick paragraph to go on. I would really recommend you found a therapist that can help you (and your partner) through this. Check out our therapy section to find out how.

      • AvatarJ says:

        I’m recently coming to terms with abuse from my childhood. However, much is a blur. I know that it happened but I can’t place where or when or even who. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood which is why I think I can’t place any particular details of the event. This has lead to me having a distinct feeling of imposter syndrome. I feel like if I don’t remember it then maybe it didn’t happen somehow which in turn makes me feel paranoid that it didn’t and it makes me feel like I’m detracting from people with Real trauma. Does this mean anything? What can I do to finally address it? Thank you.

  6. AvatarJane says:

    I just found out my husband was sexually abused as a child. He has never told me this before, and while it was a shock, I made sure to tell him as many times as possible that it wasn’t his fault. Many things he has told me about now make sense, but I want to make sure I can help him. He kept saying he never should have told me…and that I shouldn’t tell anyone else. I am also a survivor (16 – 18) and I know it just can’t be kept in but he doesn’t want help, he just wants to suppress everything again.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Thanks for commenting. Sadly its a common trait, suppressing the past, particularly among male survivors.

      You can never force a victim to reveal. It has to be done at their own pace and by their own initiative. Gentle support and constant reassurance can help provide a trusting environment to open into.

      We have sections for survivors and also for people who are trying to support a survivor. I hope you find them useful.

  7. AvatarKimberly, 4-18+ says:

    It’s interesting to me that as I’m reading through many of the pages on your website, I find myself skipping paragraphs/sections. I just realized it, then caught myself doing it again. Like this page about telling people, it’s like I can’t even read about it, like it’s too much for me to think about! Is this common?

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Yes, I think it is common. As children we survived by developing coping mechanisms, like ignoring the abuse, the effects and the pain. We take these coping mechanisms into adult life (whether we like it or not) and their negative patterns continue. Once the mechanisms were helpful but now, as adults, they can be debilitating.

  8. AvatarLouise says:

    I’m in my early 30’s and the youngest of 6 siblings in a non-traditional home. I’m a survivor of inter sibling abuse from my step brother. I never told anyone and the abuse only lasted a couple of years.I dealt with it going into adulthood by going to therapy and through religion. I’ve forgiven my brother, without confronting him and we now have a perfectly fine relationship.
    I recently found out that 2 of my other brothers, a full brother and a half brother, we’re sexually aniseed by my half sister. They never told anyone. My full brother repressed his memories and only came to realize what happened. He had told myself, the other brother who was abused and another step brother who wasn’t. The 3 of them want to confront our parents about what happened because they feel like they should have known and that they should know. Some 2 of them just realized this in the last few weeks.
    I don’t think we should tell our parents because what good can it do but destroy our family. The half brother who was advised has a normal relationship with his sister at this time. I feel the others are being pressured by their spouses to confront our parents but not the person who actually did the abuse.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Any abuse story saddens me and there is no first response that can adequately express the emotional response to such situations. I feel for you and reach out a virtual hand in acknowledgement. I don’t have any ready made answers for you as these things are very unique and each person involved needs a different resolution.

      Deciding to tell, confront or share is a massive decision. We do have a section on the topic which might help provide some clarity to your evolving situation.

  9. AvatarLorna says:

    My parents tried so hard to give me a good childhood and they were very loving so my first few years were happy and normal but gradually my mother’s own buried problems combined with what I now understand as developmental difficulties started to emerge and she treated me with great cruelty at times – sorts of orgies of sadism of the kind you read about when prisoners are interrogated – sleep deprivation and making me stand on a chair while she beat me with a bread knife; throwing my dog out on the street; cutting clumps out of my hair. Whole days would pass like this. My father never saw it as he was out at work and I have no brothers and sisters. I was about nine years old at this time. I told little bits to my best friend at the time but of course it was impossible for her to grasp. I had no close adults to confide in and felt so wrong and so ashamed I couldn’t have confided in them anyway. My mother convinced me that I was sick and that others would think so too. I used to go to school as normal but stay out of the house as long as I could and dreaded going home.

    When I was about 13 my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia after she had taken me out of school and “gone on the run” with me to another country as she was afraid she was being spied on and followed. She was hospitalised in this country for some years and then back in the UK. later she was reunited with my father and life resumed in a fairly normal way except that she had further bouts of illness and couldn’t leave the house for 10 years stretches. My father looked after her until he died and then I took over – in middle age. We talked about her illness a bit but she couldn’t really remember what she’d done though she did apologise. My father never blamed her because she was ill and I tried very hard not to resent her for it but it became very hard when I became her carer in the 15 years before she died. I never wanted her relatives to think badly of her so haven’t told them but as I am now getting older and am single I find more memories and pain resurfacing together with an inability to believe I really matter. I’m finding myself unable to assert myself in communal living situations, for example and I would do anything to keep the peace at work even when I should speak out. I believe I am really scared of other people although I seem cheerful and confident on the outside and it doesn’t show. Now I really wish I had someone to talk to about this but I feel so much guilt at blaming my mother now she’s dead as she really was ill.

  10. Avatarcraggy says:

    I am coming to terms with abuse I suffered, physical, emotional and sexual. Sadly it took my wife divorcing me for me to really look inside and start to put the pieces together. I have tried talking to her about it but she is refusing to listen telling me it’s my problem, not hers. We tried couples counseling and she says that she knew there was something I was holding back. In truth I didn’t feel I was and that what happened in the past had been dealt with.

    She can’t understand why I hadn’t told her and says things like “you should have told me before we had kids” which hurts as to me that implies she thinks I’m capable of hurting our children.

    How do you explain to someone that what happened feels like it happened to someone else in another lifetime and you didn’t see how the damage done half a lifetime ago could affect adult life. I have been depressed, for a very long time it seems, but that was just my mood I thought.

    I’m very confused by it all and in therapy talking through it all. I just wish I could find a way to explain that I never deliberately kept anything from her.

  11. AvatarK says:

    I recently told my sister of the abuse I sustained when I was seperated from my husband at the hands of our mother. I was taken by surprise because I thought the childhood abuse was ancient history and that she had gotten some help or mellowed out since so many years. Not only was I wrong about this, I did not expect further abuse, and to have her call the police on me merely for ASKING to address a concern about her interaction with my own young children. This was truly shocking as I am the least violent or aggressing type person I know. She said the old woman will not change but that she was going to throw her a large birthday party in her old age to celebrate a milestone. I feel further neglected, and hurt and shamed and even more lonely than before. I lost my dad and even older sister in the last 5 years, one right after the other. They were different. I have been very depressed over it and a new friend in my life has expressed compassion when I said I would need to stop socializing for a short while. I still can’t seem to trust her or anyone else. Its a terrible feeling to be invalidated after abuse occurred- even if it is emotional and verbal. The abuser has even gotten physical with me – this was only a few short years ago. But I am NEVER believed. Its even hard to write this much. SO HARD to tell, especially after you were shamed for telling.

  12. AvatarCassie says:

    I am just now coming to terms with what happened during my childhood of my brother abusing me. I’m not sure if I should tell my parents because it’s so long ago, I am 25 now and it happened when I was 11. I’m very ashamed of what happened and feel like I’m partially to blame even though I know I am not to blame for it. I just want to get past it but I can’t help but not want to even date men who look like my brother. I don’t know if I want to ruin my family like that. I understand now why I was so depressed in my younger years because of it. My parents just thought I acted out to be rebellious. I don’t know what to do.

    • AvatarEileen T. says:

      Listen, Cassie, ur not ‘ruining ur family’. U MUST remember, sweetheart, that ur not to blame, u did t do anything wrong, and ur parents will understand. They need to make a safe place for u to be. That SHUD be ur home. Do u still love with ur folks? Cuz, if u do, honey, and ur brother comes over, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that must be for u. But you’ve got to tell ur folks. Do u have a trusted friend who knows, who can be there with you when u do tell them? If so, bring him/her/them. (Nvr sure what’s right pronoun to say. Forgive me, plz) but, certainly, u have got to. It’s ur comfort and ur well-being that YOU have to consider. Ur mom & dad, also. They’ll make sure. R there any other sibs? Or is it just u & ur brother?
      Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Ur gonna be ok. U can email me if u need to. I’ll listen. I’m here. My abuse wasn’t sexual… But maybe it was. I’m still not sure. But I can certainly listen. (And, yes, in reading, there’s the listening factor, also. Where one reads in the author’s voice. Knkw what I mean? ) truly, ur gonna be ok.

  13. AvatarEileen T. says:

    Nope. There simply IS no one. No one would believe me. Mother told me when I was a kid, over and over again. Now that I’m over half a century old, I’m certain ppl would nvr believe me. The few things I HAVE told….. I get looked at like I’ve lost my marbles. Naaaah. There’s nobody to tell… How she washed me. How it hurt when she washed my privates.. GOD, that hurt… Like she was trying to make it disappear. I was ONLY A 9 Y/O KID!! Nobody would ever believe me. And they’d think, if it’s true, why hasn’t she said anything all these years? I couldn’t. Still can’t. At leSt I now know why. My cousin told me at the only family reunion I’ve ever been to… She told his mom, my Aunt, mother’s older sister… She hates me cuz I was born a girl. It all makes so much sense now… I didn’t know I’d had the choice of what I was gonna be and the wisdom to know she wanted a boy. How she chopped my hair all the time n it was always u even n the kids in school made fun of me n there was no safety anywhere at all. Nightmares were a welcome relief. Any of them. Teachers said I’d daydream. Didn’t they understand that was gonna get me beat? Everything did. There wasn’t anything for me. I did try to kill myself. Now, I have emphysema. It took long enough! My doc wants me to quit smoking. Hahaha!! Why? So I can live? Is he kidding me? I’ve not lived yet. How/why start? (Was that sexual abuse? Idk. It was her trying to erase the fact that I’m a girl. Born a girl. That was my crime. Imagine if I had been trans?! Or God-forbid…. Gay?!)

  14. AvatarLizzie says:

    I was molested by a cousin for several years, I don’t member when the abuse started but it stopped when I was 13. Between 13-15 I was confused I wasn’t sure if my memories where real or not. Between 15-18 I was angry and mad at my family, even thought about suicide. I grew up with both my parents, my dad was a serial cheater and was hardly around. My mom was bitter and she never showed any affection towards me. My dad was more loving than my mom but I was never told “I love you” by either of my parents. I remember my abuser’s sister (she knew it was happening & she was a child too) always telling me “if you say anything The Family will blame you, every one is gonna be mad at you” it was like they were double teaming me; one did the physical abuse and the other did the tormenting. Throughout the years they both made fun of me (over weight) called me names and got my other cousins to exclude me from everything. One day in the 4th or 5th grade I told someone at school that I wanted to kill my self, I didn’t say why but they called my dad and told him. He confronted me and I of course denied the whole thing. Maybe a year or two later I was horse-playing with my little brother and my mom saw that I was bleeding through my shorts, she questioned me and it was like I wanted to say “yes, yes, it was *** who did it but nothing came out of my mouth. She then took me to get an exam (frightening within itself) I remembered what my female cousin used to say about it being my fault so I wasn’t cooperate with the exam and the doctor determined that I had starting early with my menstruation cycle. After that i didn’t have a cycle for many years, so I’ve always questioned why my parents didn’t equate these two incidents? Did they have an idea and didn’t want to know the truth? So at 21 I had my first son and I immediately LOVED him DEARLY and wanted to PROTECT HIM. Shortly after I began to have these memories and dreams about the abuse. This was the first time I said to my self “yes, it did happen, Your were molested… Once I had my children I no longer wanted to see my cousin, little by little I’ve been separating myself from him and my extended family i know that they think XYZ about me because I no longer go to family gatherings. I only have one brother and i’ve even missed my nieces and nephews birthdays bc I know he’ll be there. It is extremely uncomfortable being around him. I always get night sweats and insomnia when I know I’ll see him. after suppressing it for many.many.many more yrs at the age of 34 I’ve decided to tell my family. This secret has held me hostage for too long and it affect my mental and emotional state. I want to be the best mom I can for my children and I no longer want to be that vulnerable little girl. I want to begin my healing! My empowerment. Even a few weeks ago I felt like i was gonna destroy my family.All this time I thought I was protecting them by keeping the secret but I was only hurting myself. So i know I want to tell but Idk how or who to tell first (parents,brother or husband). I want to also share this with my husband but i’m concerned about his emotions and how he’s gonna process it. I know he’ll be supportive bc a few months ago I started going to therapy I told him it was about my childhood issued with my parents and he thought it was a good Idea. So my plan is to tell him and then he can be my support to tell my family. I’m not sure how my family is gonna react, they’ve never had my back or given me any emotional support. So I’m I’m not expecting much from them. However, I still feel like i’m morning their loss (my parents) because if they don’t support me and decide to continue to include my cousin in gatherings I will no longer see them again. Although my parents were never loving parents it would be devastating to loose them. But the pain of keeping this secret is much worse, It’s just too much for me.

  15. AvatarHolly says:

    I don’t know if I should tell part of me really wants to but the other parts says it will ruin everything. I’m 26 now and married, only now am I seeing how what happen to me as a child has had a hand in every decision I’ve made since I was a teen. I’ve read some of the comments and feel silly really what happened to me wasn’t as bad as other peoples. Who would I tell would it ruin my marriage to tell him would my best friend judge me?. I managed to block it out as a child but the memories started to creep in during my teens and I’ve been trying to ignore them since then. When I was about 9 after my parents had split my paternal grandfather touched me inappropriately, it only happened once and it left me really confused. I never told a soul. Then when I was 12-14 my father started acting differently he would insist on a level of physical contact that would make me uncomfortable and he would try and touch me not sexually but more possessively. He used to tell me he wanted people to think we were together not father and daughter, it frightened me to silence as if I got upset it would only make it worse. I never told my mother for fear he would hurt her. As I grew up this ended I became more opinionated and harder which displeased him. He was a terrible person and so at 18 when I was no longer expected to visit through child custody I began ending contact with my paternal family and voicing my hatred, my mom assumed I had simply grown to understand his bad ways. It took a few years to be free but I am now and my grandfather has died. My mom asked me a couple of years ago if anything had ever happened to me due to stories in the news and my character as a child. I lied and said no, it’s been playing on my mind ever since it’s growing harder to block out. I’m pretty certain my father abused my mother at the end of there marriage, he’d started using drugs but all of this was seen through 7-8 year old’s eyes and my mom has never spoken of it. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it in print I’ve never even said it out loud to myself. How would I even go about starting this conversation I could never let my mother find out it would break her heart and I’d worry she would want to do something about it. I’m just so lost.

  16. AvatarJoy says:

    I have been with my husband for 11 years and I have never told him about the abuse from my child hood. He always gets upset when I stop sex or seem to not enjoy sex. It is hard to tell him I do but at the same time my mind won’t let me. I told my best friend in high school about the abuse and she was my comfort but we don’t talk anymore so I have no one. I tried to tell my mom once when I was 18 but she didn’t belive me.
    I grew up in a poor house old mom was concerned with being the cool mom to my sister and dad was a truck driver. When I was five my cousin molested me and my parents caught him and told him to stop sent him to therapy and told me this was a family mater. A year later my uncle who washould about ten years older started touching me and making my brother and cousin touch him. I would stay at my grandma’s house and he would come in the room while she was sleeping and moleste me. This happened until I was 17 and moved away.
    My mom ignored me called me fat and made me feel like a maid. I started using drugs and drinking and my uncle who abused me would give me the drugs. I look back and feel like it is my fault it went one so long I wanted the drugs to number the pain so I would keep going around him.

  17. AvatarChloe says:

    Hi I was sexually abused as a kid by my cousin who is still around I have not told my family for till sat my partner knows and he kept saying maybe I need to open up because is been destroying me for years and I got kids of my own and I avoid every family get together so the over night I had a bit to much to drink and it came out my mouth not the way I wanted to tell people but I just flipped unfortunately to was to drunk to remember the rest or reactions of people I got my stuff in the mornin an left to avoid talking about it I’m not sure I’m ready for this I avoided all calls since I told my brother and my Nan out of anger a stupid way to do it I know I don’t know what to do know I’m really lost scared my brother will go of his head. I’m more worried about that and the fact my family are going to be so hurt cos his like the blue eyed boy that did it to me and it will destroy my aunty but it’s out know I can’t turn the clocks back right now I wish I could I’m just don’t no why I need to do now

  18. Avatardeepshikha says:

    I was sexually abused by my teachers, seniors in my childhood repeatedly since i was in 1st standard. Now when i am married, i am not able to feel anything sexually. I dont feel any excitement or pleasure. It is so frustating for our relationship. I dont know how to resolve it.

  19. AvatarS says:

    I was sexually abused by my cousin at the age( don’t exactly remember the age but below 8years ,told me not to tell anyone),continued till i was 15-16 years,now iam 39 years old-mother of 2 kids,never told a soul about this,i look back now and i see how this incident hit my selfesteem and my social skills and my behaviour(spacing out people,situations-kind of like living in a dream land) and depression…i want to unburden myself,slowly but surely i want to walk myself to light.

  20. AvatarJared says:

    I was abused by an older neighbor teen when I was quite young – not entirely sure how old I was or how long it lasted – old enough I guess to be able to cross the street and want to play with his Star war$$ figures… But I don’t remember how it started, or how it ended. What remains from those experiences, are a handful of real memories that I can’t seem to shake, and they only seem to get stronger and more disruptive to my life as I approach my mid-30s. The parents of the family across the street divorced either during or after the abuse and the family moved away…

    I remember experiencing so many emotions during that time.. I felt like I knew it wasn’t right somehow, but between the collection of toys and the, at the time, small secret, it was something that on the surface, I remember handling ok.

    I remember resisting one time when my emotions started to develop. I literally tried to get out of the closet and go home, but he grabbed my ankles and pulled me back in. That could have been the end, but I truly do not know… its the most vivid memory of resistance to the abuse that I recall, but it is so incredibly foggy after that..

    I have a foggy-vague recollection of eating dinner with my parents around the same time.. I remember looking down at my plate and hearing my mom say something about “…after what (neighbor) did to you…” I didn’t look up, but that single recollection is the only time that I remember my parents involved, and I don’t even know if she really said it…

    My parents are amazing. And have offered endless love to myself and all of my siblings, and I feel fortunate to still have them in my life.

    The reality is though, I do not remember ever speaking about it to them…and never having any therapy as a child, I can only determine that those words from my mother were a apart of sort of dream… because the thought of them potentially knowing about the abuse this whole time without ever offering any therapy, seems like a small nightmare in itself- especially as of recently.

    I have been visualizing approaching them about it, every day for the last 6 months. More than I ever have thought about the abuse before.. The mother of the abuser still lives in the town I grew up in, and I have thought about approaching her as well. Not in resentment or anger, but to just witness her reaction to my presence…

    There are dark moments in this life for everyone. After finding this collection of experiences, I was taken back by how similar the thought patterns were of survivors. Being that I have stuffed these memories under so many rocks inside of my chest, ashamed to tell my story, I’ve discovered in this process that sharing and owning up to the experience, as a survivor, as much as it stings, is the only way to take your life back. We are not the victims.

  21. AvatarNigel says:

    When I was seven half year old boy dad started to sexual abused me later on when I turned eight he joined a group of men in their seventies who abused me. Sometimes it was at our house or at parties at a house I was taken to. Other times I was taken away on bowls tours where I was the entertainment at night as they called it. Often I was forced to wear dresses skirts girls underwear nighties this went on.this went on till I was thirteen

    • AvatarNigel says:

      I decided to contact the bowls club where some of the abuse took place. The email I got back was very curt to say they had contacted police which I have no problem with. I understand their position legally. But it was so curt no sympathy or understanding I went threw. Family never talk to me about is life worth it

  22. AvatarK says:

    A long time family friend has just opened up about sexual abuse that happened in her childhood, I’m not sure if she is quite ready to tell her family as they are very close and she doesn’t ‘want to hurt them’ her abuser has been out of her life for a long time now but her son (my godson) is turning one soon and along with an upcoming family event it is possible he could attend she is overcome with anxiety anyway and has struggled for a long time. She is the absolute best person in the world and i can’t imagine what she’s going through it makes me sick. I know nothing I can do will change the fact that it happened but now she has opened up about other forms of abuse to her family it seems like she is thinking about confronting it and to get help and find a healthier way to live with it. She is amazing and I am in awe of how this night has unfolded, anyone reading this I admire you endlessly and can’t express the anger and grief I feel to know that this has happened to someone I love so dearly. My questions are : how can I offer her the right amount of support as she has expressed the need to talk about it but feels unable, I don’t want to make her feel any unnecessary discomfort or unsafe but obviously I want to be there for her 100% and also would it be helpful for her to speak to someone more qualified about how to tell her family?

  23. AvatarKeyanna Allison says:

    I was abused at a very young age at my uncles old house. Plety of people would go in and out of there so I have no clue who did it. I doubt I’d ever know how was responsible. I’ve been wanting to tell my mom but I’m worried of making her feel guilty for not protecting me. I know she’ll take it hard and blame herself. I want to feel safe with her again along with the rest of my family and I feel that telling would help. So if you have any advice on how to lessen the blow it would be appreciated.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Hi Keyanna, I’m afraid there is no way to ‘lessen’ the blow. Its a horrific event but it isn’t your responsibility to carry alone. I hope you have found these pages useful. I held back from telling my parents for years. In the end I shared it with them because I came to realise that they did share some of the responsibility for the abuse – albeit tenuously. Have you considered writing a letter to her (in the knowledge that you won’t be sending it)? Be as honest as you can and write down all your reservations about telling her as well as the facts you wish to communicate. You might find at the end of the letter you feel you want to send it to her. Do it without malice or blame and with lots of love. Be true to yourself and to the little girl that was abused. Good luck with your decision.

  24. AvatarKate says:

    I was molested by my brother when I was younger. I don’t remember much of it because I suppressed it for so long. It wasn’t until a similar event happened a few years ago that all the flashbacks came rushing in. I am in my 20s now and I have talked to therapists and my boyfriend. I have the sudden want to tell my parents. But my brother has been in and out of jail since I as a teen. My parents have suffered so much pain and hurt from him that I feel like if I tell them it will only hurt them more than they already are. I live 3 states away from him and my parents. I want to tell them when I go to visit them but I am so scared about how they will react. The biggest part of me wanting to tell them is when I was younger, after the abuse had stopped I still didn’t want to tell them. I was afraid of what might happen to him. I had started to cut my wrists and when my parents found out I had lied to them when they asked why I did it. I told them it was because there was too much pressure on me from them. I feel awful because that is a lie I do not want to live with. I just don’t know if I will be able to find the strength or courage to tell them when I see them.

  25. Avatarmshlm says:

    From: H
    I am 50 and have vague memories of my childhood, i cannot remember my bedroom or the inside of the house until I moved in with my grandma at age 14. I know around 2nd or 3rd grade somebody told me and my friend they were going to show us how to “f**k” it was like a game or something I was told to wait outside the room. I came back in and my friend was upset but that’s all I remember, I don’t ever remember seeing her again nor do i remember who the person was. But when my parents divorced and I was 12 I was angry and hated my mom and stepdad so she sent me to live with my father. This was back in the early 80’s and my dad would buy us beer and smoke pot with us and I could do whatever I wanted. Then one day I remember him asking me to watch him “masterbate” I was uncomfortable and did not know what to say. I just sat there while he did that in the same room where I was sitting. He has done that a few times since then. The first time I was about 12 or 13 and he did it again about 2 years ago. I also found out he asked one of my friends back then to watch him when he took her to get something to eat. Neither her nor I ever said anything back then and it’s all really bothering me now because I have a 12 and 14 year old daughter. I never let them stay with my dad by themselves and I’m terrified of everywhere they go, they think I am over-reacting and I know they are not me but what my dad did had lasting psychological effects and I’m obsessed with it now because I do not want it happening to my daughters. I told my mom and sister my mom ignores it pretty much, my sister said my dad never touched her but she was younger and lived with my mom. My dad is 76 now and not doing well and I still give him rides to the doctor and stuff I have never confronted him even though he and my mom “judge” my behavior. I also steal from my dad and don’t feel bad about it. Thanks for letting me talk I just had to get that out and I am so sorry for anyone else who suffered this kind of abuse. It is not ok. But I still love my dad? I feel crazy! And I am seeking therapy as it is really affecting my relationship with my daughters I am terrified to let them go anywhere.

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