‘To Tell’ or ‘Not to Tell’

decision havoca‘To Tell’ or ‘Not to Tell’

Telling someone about the child abuse may be a difficult thing to do. However, telling can be an important part of healing. Here are some thoughts and suggestions that might help you.

I told someone about the child abuse because . . .

I didn’t want this to happen to me again
I didn’t want this to happen to someone else
The feelings kept building up inside of me, making me feel worse
I wanted to take action against the person that assaulted me
I was behaving differently at home and my parents kept asking what was wrong
I realized that the problem was too big for me to deal with alone and I needed help
I was having trouble eating
I kept thinking about what happened and couldn’t concentrate
I was having trouble sleeping
My friends couldn’t figure out why I was acting different
I hoped that by telling someone I would feel better
I kept crying and my friends encouraged me to talk
I needed some help deciding what to do

Reasons not to tell

Here are some reasons individuals who have been abused as children didn’t want to tell . . .
I thought it was my fault
I was too embarrassed
I thought people would talk about me if they knew
I was afraid. He said he would come back and hurt me if I told
I thought no one would believe me
I just want to forget about it
I want to deal with this myself
I was afraid to tell the police
My parents have enough to deal with
My parents might get mad at me
I was afraid of what my father may do
I can’t let my boy/girl friend find out
Here are some reasons specific to guys . . .
I was afraid people will think I’m a “wuss”
I thought people might think that I’m gay
I’m embarrassed that another guy touched me sexually
The offender threatened to beat me up if I said anything
I didn’t realize what was happening
I thought this person was my friend
I could lose my place on the team if I told on the coach
What if girls won’t like me anymore

Where to tell

Choosing a place is also very important. Consider finding . . .
A quiet place where there are no distractions
A place where you will not be interrupted
A place where you feel safe
A place where you can cry if you want to, shout if you want to, and not feel ashamed

Who should I tell?

Choosing the right person to tell can help you feel better. It is important to tell someone that you trust. This can be your . . .
Someone in your family
Sexual Assault Care Centre
Someone that you know who will help you

How much should I divulge?

When you tell the person you trust, consider telling only what you feel comfortable talking about . . .
It is more important to talk about how you are feeling than the details of the assault
It’s not necessary to talk about the incident all at once
It’s okay to tell a little-bit-at-a-time
If talking about the incident is difficult for you, writing or drawing may be helpful
If you choose to tell the police, you should tell them everything you can remember, even if some parts may be embarrassing like drinking, taking drugs or breaking family rules

When is a good time to tell?

The decision to tell someone becomes easier . . .
When you feel ready to talk about it
When you are strong enough to talk about it
When you find the right person to talk with
When you feel safe and supported

You are the only person who can decide whether to tell or not.  It must be your decision.  Hopefully these website pages will help you understand the implications and help you plan for the eventuality but like everything here, you don’t have to ‘reveal’ any of your past if you don’t think it is appropriate. Healing is possible by following a number of different paths.  As long as the path is right for you then you can recover without ‘telling’.

6 Responses to ‘To Tell’ or ‘Not to Tell’

  1. Elaine Cleland says:

    There is another reason why a child might not tell and that is that they love the person and are loved. The abuse is somehow part of a package with is positive in every way but one. A child doesn’t always feel abused. It is only later that you realise.

  2. mags goode says:

    I have kept a secret for over 30ys I was abused from my older brother . I was only roughly about 10 I think .. my partner abused me while on sleeping tablets to fulfil a fatansy of his ….it has turned my life upside for months .. I don’t blame him as such but he did do wrong .. I finally opened up too a friend .. then I told my partner .. i am happy I’ve spoke .. but still I need professional help too guide me past this . no one should have too suffer the way I feel right now

  3. doougal says:

    i have lived with it for 17 yrs so far (i was roughly 5 when it began) , and i couldn’t imagine ever telling anyone about what happened apart from on here. First time admitting it just kept it in my head for years. i would be too worried it would tear his family part he has a wife and child now. i have always felt like it was my fault but dont want to tell anyone but i want the help

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi I was abused when I was about 10 by my best friends dad, at the time I was scared, I didn’t want to tell anyone as it was my best friends dad and I really just don’t know how to deal with it, I was a child I was meant to feel safe with him… it went on for months and I felt more and more trapped I managed to shut it out but now that I’m 21 I look back and realise how bad that actually was and i suffer with anxiety as it is and I just can’t stop thinking about what happened and don’t know what to do!! 🙁

  5. Harry says:

    A major reason for men to not reveal child abuse is missing from the above list. Many people believe that any man who was abused as a child is likely to be a child abuser. If a man reveals that he was abused as a child, he may have a great risk of being regarded with suspicion of being a child abuser.

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