An intimate expose on why women don’t tell (and what happens when we do)
Trigger warning: This post contains descriptions of childhood sexual abuse*
“It’s your fault if he kills himself”. Those were the words that came out of my aunt — my Godmother’s — mouth when she called. My crime was disclosing that I had been sexually abused by her brother.
“She’s a liar”. That was what my other aunt said when I disclosed that her son had been sexually abusing me when he was babysitting me. I was 10.
“Why don’t you just get over it”? This was what yet another aunt said to me about my childhood sexual abuse, as though one can ever get over having their childhood shattered and innocence stolen.
“She was old enough to know better”. That was said when I was when I was in college, and overheard my aunt’s talking about someone else who had been abused by a family member and attributing blame to the victim instead of the grown man who assaulted her.
It was not only what was said. It was also what went unsaid.
It was the time that when my Aunt’s boyfriend exposed himself to me and my cousin whilst lying on the couch. We told and nothing happened.
It was knowing that an abuser was at family gatherings and the victims were forced to occupy the same space with the same person who harmed them.
It was watching family members side with abusers over victims and knowing that if the rubber hit the road, they would side against me too.
I used to think mine was a dysfunctional family and that is why this happened but I have learned over time that this happens in many families. There are too many people I know who have had the same or similar experiences. There are too many people who survived abuse only to have their abusers protected while they are abandoned.
There are families right now who would rather protect a perpetrator than to process their own pain and trauma. There are families who would rather exile a victim than to have to face the pain these victims feel. They would rather not have to face how they may have enabled this abuse to go on. There are families right now who will tell little girls and boys not to sit on so and so’s lap instead of telling so and so to stay the hell away. They would rather not rock the boat so they turn away.
So when people say “why didn’t you say something” or “why did it take you so long to come forward” these are some of the reasons why and because…