An Important Truth
Why do many victims of sexual abuse/assault not tell anyone or report it when it happens?
Sexual assault/abuse is a darkness which – without notice – steals another person’s: Innocence, respect, core value, self-esteem, physical protection and boundaries, sexual integrity, voice, safety, security and trust. Besides what is stolen from the victim in the moments of that sexual abuse/assault, something like a “transfer” of darkness plagues victims with a dark shame and fear we cannot comprehend. So, not knowing what else to do, we become numb and bury the truth deep within our core. Often, we don’t tell…anyone. Instead, we try to pull ourselves together and act “normal” as if the dark shame didn’t suddenly come upon us. We bury it, we don’t think about it, we minimize and deny it, and we don’t talk about it. In many cases, for years. It is too dark and too shameful for us to look at, let alone speak about. And, along with that dark shame also comes fear. We are afraid: It is our fault; we caused it to happen; that someone could hurt us or others if we tell; no one will believe we are telling the truth; we will be blamed or there will be big consequences to us; we will be laughed at or further shamed; of rocking the boat; the truth will hurt others when they hear it; that we will be condemned instead of believed. We are afraid of what we will undoubtedly face as we reveal someone else’s deep-seated issues to a world which does not want to hear it, face it, or deal with it! And, all this fear keeps lying to our subconscious, telling us that the consequences are far too great to let it come out and bring it to light. We are hurt, confused, scared, and mostly afraid.
We don’t tell, because we don’t know why this happened to us or why we suddenly feel such dark shame. We keep the secret, because the darkness also instills fear into us. We are afraid to reveal someone else’s deep seated issues to a world that doesn’t want to hear it, face it, or deal with it.
What makes victims/survivors suddenly start talking about their sexual abuse/assault years later?
Years into our silence, like the pop of a cork or a band-aid suddenly being ripped off, a tiny bit of the truth comes into our memory or out of our lips for the very first time. For a myriad of reasons: a flashback, a conversation where someone tells us they were abused, or when our child suddenly reaches the age we were when we were abused, etc. For some, the memories come rushing back like a tidal wave. For others, it’s a brief utterance of the truth in a conversation. Whatever way it comes back, the truth has always been there just within our reach yet very far from our conscious minds. Sometimes, we even let this truth come out in the same “non-emotional” way as if we were telling someone we had pot roast last night for dinner. For others, the first time telling someone can be quite dramatic. But, no matter how it comes out that very first time, our subconscious often desperately seeks to push it back into the unknown place again…because of fear, because of shame, because of the darkness itself, because of the horrible memories that come flooding back with it. We can’t face it, we minimize it, we just don’t want the memories to play in our minds again. We pretend it was “no big deal”, that it “didn’t really affect us”, and we assert we don’t have time to deal with it anyway. So, we push it right back down, again. Often, for several more years. We would prefer to deny the pain it has caused us than to deal with it! But, in that instance and without us even realizing, something amazing happens: When that tiny bit of dark truth escapes our lips, a tiny spec of light seeps into the darkness that has plagued us for so long. Just a bit of light gets in and it seems to want to push out the dark truth. But, for us victims, the same dark shame and fear is still present and we don’t want to have to live through the memories of a sexual abuse/assault any more now than we did when it happened. So, we bury it again.
The dark truth of sexual abuse/assault steals, kills, and destroys us the whole time we try to keep it buried. But, we don’t’ realize this. We don’t want to face the horrible reality – or the vivid memories – of this truth. But, the light of truth wants to force it out of us and to heal us! Evil and darkness cannot and will not prevail in the truth and light.