by Christina Enevoldsen
When I started writing publicly about my healing from sexual abuse, I did it to validate my own history and journey and to inspire hope in other survivors. It’s been wonderfully empowering to record my triumphs and to share the process with thousands of fellow journeyers.
However, being so public about such intimate feelings and experiences has been costly. For the most part, I count it a bargain compared with the expense of silence, but that resolve isn’t always very convenient or comfortable.
One of the recent costs for being so vocal is a lawsuit from my parents. They are suing me for defamation of character and emotional distress. Through their case, they want to shut down OSA and silence my voice.
In the minds of my parents, they are the victims; I am the abuser.
I was twenty-two. I’d been married five years when I confessed to my husband that I’d been having an affair. While he decided if he wanted to stay with me, I went to stay with my parents.
The day I arrived to my parents’ house, I sat in one corner of their living room while my mom and dad sat in the opposite corner. The living room was mostly used as a pass through to get from the front door to the rest of the house. But on this day, I wasn’t allowed entrance to the rest of the house quite yet. I don’t remember anything specific that they said, but the message was, “How could you turn out so bad when you came from such a good family?”
I have been silenced, me and my trouble.
I first silenced myself in shame, not even knowing exactly why, but somehow… it was wrong, what had just happened. And I knew it. I looked for a friend but got something else. The trust I had put in him had been violated, shattered. I was pretty sure it was wrong, but there was no one to ask without shaming myself for “not knowing better” It was just a vague feeling then, but it needed a private answer and there was no one to ask. So I silenced The Question. Thus The Silence began.
Then my abuser said, “Don’t tell.” We both knew what had happened. But both of us—my abuser and I— had The Question. But it was a hard question, hard to figure out what the question really was, too hard to figure out the answer alone, and it was too shameful to ask anyone else about. So my abuser told me what he told himself: “Just shut up about this—tell no one.”
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