7 Vital Things to Consider Before Speaking Out About Abuse

speaking out about abuseby Christina Enevoldsen

I started writing publicly about my childhood sexual abuse over six years ago. I jumped in with a lot of passion but without much knowledge of what I was jumping into. I only thought about how freeing it was to speak the truth and how much I wanted to validate other survivors.

Writing about my healing process has been a wonderful journey. Through it, my voice has been strengthened and so has my resolve to continue to heal. I don’t regret any of this, but I wish I had been better prepared to face the challenges that have come with this.

Here are a few things to consider before speaking out about abuse:

  • The secrets of abuse can be isolating—but so can disclosure.

I took smaller steps in disclosing my abuse before I made it public. That helped me to face my childhood fears of breaking the “no telling” rule. However, not all of my fears could be dismissed as childhood fears. The “no telling” rule still comes with present day consequences. Sexual abuse, especially incest, is still considered taboo to many people. Rejection in the form of avoidance is a reality to most survivors who speak up about their abuse.

I’ve been intentional about creating and maintaining a support system to insulate myself from the rejection of my public (and private) journey. Though rejection from only one person can feel like the whole world is against me, being surrounded by loving people is a reminder that I’m valuable and accepted.

  • Total transparency won’t likely serve you any better than living with the secrets.

When I broke my silence, it was as though a dam burst. After living with secrets and lies so long, I started sharing too much, especially before I was ready. It took me time to recognize the boundaries I was comfortable with. Now I’ve learned to share my truth while still protecting my privacy.

One of the decisions I made was to share openly about my abuse (as I was ready) but not to share as much from other parts of my life. I’m more guarded about what I share on Facebook such as my other interests and activities. It’s my way of making a distinction between my public and private life.

I also waited a few years before I was comfortable writing about how my sexual abuse impacted my sexuality. There are a few other things that I have spoken about publicly, but I only do it when I have enough energy to deal with the types of responses that come with those discussions.

  • It doesn’t help stop abuse if you’re abusing yourself to talk about it.

By speaking out, I’m bringing awareness to horrors that have been hidden and ignored for too long. I feel good about contributing to something important, but if it weren’t validating for me, I wouldn’t do it.

Being abused gave me the message that other people were more important than me and that I was obligated to serve and give at my expense. I was always tempted to do more than what was good for me. As I’ve healed, I’ve become better and better with my self-care. Now I know that I don’t owe it to anyone to share my story. It’s my story and I’ll tell it in my way and in my timing.

People who read my blog might assume that I share everything that goes on regarding my healing process, or that I use it as a journal. In reality, I only share things publicly that I’ve processed for some time. The timing depends on the issue but I don’t share things that I’m not ready to.

  • The more you publicize your story, the less control you have of it.

Things that are posted online can’t be taken back. You don’t know who is reading what you post. It might be your boss or your coworkers or your child’s friends. Even if you’re comfortable with that decision now, are you ready to commit to that forever?

Since I don’t always know who has read my book or my blog unless they tell me, it makes meeting people awkward sometimes. A few years ago, I sold a chair on Craigslist and when the person showed up, she told me she’d read about me. It was a little uncomfortable that she knew so much about me and I didn’t know anything about her except her name.

One of the cruelest things that sometimes happens to abuse survivors who share their story is that they become the target of trolls. Trolls respond in ways that intentionally upset people. I haven’t experienced trolls on my blog but I’ve received many unkind comments. (I moderate comments so they don’t show up in public but they land in my email for me to read.) After sharing so vulnerably, it’s particularly upsetting to be invalidated by mean comments.

  • Speaking out publicly isn’t a substitute for the actual healing work.

It takes a lot of courage to speak out about your abuse, but I think it takes even more courage to face the pain of your past. It’s much easier to focus on other survivors and how they are responding to what you write than it is to actually do your own healing work.

It can be validating to speak out, which can facilitate healing, but it’s not synonymous with healing. Sometimes, it can even compete with healing. Speaking out can be a distraction from the attention that you deserve to invest in yourself.

  • You might be more vulnerable to being sued than you think you are.

The biggest and most dramatic challenge I faced was the lawsuit from my parents. My parents sued me for intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation of character. I “won” the suit but it cost around $7,200 to defend myself (which would have been much higher if my dad hadn’t died while it was in progress). The suit lasted about eighteen months and was very stressful and painful. It took its toll on every area of my life.

I’ve heard from many survivors who have assumed they can’t be sued because they don’t name their abuser or they use a pseudonym to write their story. Another misconception is that writing your own story as a fictional story will guard you from a lawsuit. However, those won’t necessarily protect you.

If your abuser is still alive, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer to find out how to decrease your chances of being sued or to increase your chances of winning a suit if you are sued.

My lawyer’s advice to me was: Don’t say anything you aren’t 100% sure is accurate.

  • You’re the one who has the greatest need to hear you when you speak out.

Finding my voice has meant that, as many people as I reach, the most important person who can hear me is myself. From a position of being validated by me, I’m empowered to decide what’s right to share with others and what to keep to myself.

Have you spoken out about your abuse? What have you learned? Please share your experience with me below and remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and emails are never shared publicly.

Christina Enevoldsen

I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.
Related Posts:
How Do I Disclose My Abuse?
Why Do I Need To Tell?
What’s Inappropriate About Exposing Abuse?
Sued For Exposing My Sexual Abuse

7 Vital Things to Consider Before Speaking Out About Abuse

37 thoughts on “7 Vital Things to Consider Before Speaking Out About Abuse

  • November 29, 2015 at 6:44 am
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    I think you’re very brave for blogging this.

    Reply
    • July 15, 2016 at 10:57 am
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      I made the decision to go very public as soon as my mother died. I’m actually not bothered about rejection or being shunned. I’m used to all of that from my mother! Another difference for me is that I founded a coaching and training company and, to achieve success, I’ve taught myself to embrace the “No’s”, silence and rejection because they bring you that much closer to a “Yes please I’ll have some of that.”
      My final thought is about age. I’m 56 and 50 years of silence takes its toll. I decided if I was going to go public it would be with a bang!

  • November 29, 2015 at 7:20 am
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    Thanks, Mary!

    It’s interesting to me that in all the time I’ve been doing this, I never really considered that it required all that much bravery until now. I just knew I was not content to live my life in the shadows. In writing this post and thinking through the challenges I’ve faced and continue to face, I think I really am brave!

    Christina

    Reply
  • November 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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    I was molested by father. He molested me from ages 9-13. I only began sharing my story recently, at age 40, after he was finally arrested for molesting others. Sharing my story is one of the ways I feel I can help protect other children from being abused. This article made me think of some things I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • November 29, 2015 at 6:22 pm
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    I started sharing, because I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I am far from being healed, reading your post help me a lot, sometimes showing how far I’ve come and how far I have to go. Also, I’m tired of the silence/shame…we talk about EVERYTHING else but child molestation! I post most things just to get people talking, to make people aware that this NEEDS to be brought out in the open even when it makes people uncomfortable…I’ve been uncomfortable my whole life…and maybe, just maybe our speaking out will prevent some child of going through what we are/have been going through.

    Reply
    • August 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm
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      I agree – we talk about everything but incest and child molestation. In the early 90’s we went through a period of openness and confrontation – then popular media turned against it and the consciousness raising stopped.
      Now we are bringing it forward again. This time, the element of self-compassion is present in powerful ways. That changes the whole tone.
      We are telling our stories in ways that honor and love ourselves – not trying to get validation or humiliate our abusers.
      We want to protect children, and stop the inter-generational pattern of abuse and incest.
      At least that is what I want – collective good, not just meeting my personal needs.

  • December 11, 2015 at 12:22 pm
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    I had been thinking of writing a book, and I didn’t seriously think about being sued if I changed their names. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2015 at 3:27 pm
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    It takes a lot of bravery to stand up and speak your truth. For the past three years I have been writing my book “Every mum has magic kisses” which is my journey of healing through parenting. It’s only out this week so I’m starting to get some lovely feedback which really helps. I think we owe it to others to share our successes (when the time is right and if it feels right) to give others hope that there is life afterwards.. Thank you for sharing your story xx

    Reply
    • August 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm
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      I love your dedication to sharing your successes with others. Thank you for this!

  • December 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm
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    Mine was my brother. I suffered at his hands for years and then by the time I was an adult I was so terrified of him I could hardly stand to be in the same room as him. After our mother died he came after me, stalking and harassing me to the point that I was on the verge of a mental break down. My counselor set me up with a Domestic Violence program that helped me go to court and get a restraining order against my brother. At 50 years old I finally got to tell what happened to me. My life began again that day. I lost my older brother who didn’t believe me so I lost all my family but it was worth it to have the toxin out of my life for good.

    Reply
    • July 24, 2016 at 11:29 am
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      I have also lost all my family, by disclosing my brother’s abuse to my mother 10 years ago. It is so hard to live in exile when you are the victim and scapegoat and see your perpetrator live happily and free. I am also 50 and still struggle to come to terms with it all.

    • September 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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      I understand the feeling of losing your family members despite being the vicitim. During my entire childhood I was abused by my older brother sextually and when I finnally told my sisiter as an adult she spread it to my parents. My parents would not accept me as the vicitim and most of my siblings also reject me for it. My fear of telling my secret and being rejected for it came true.

  • December 17, 2015 at 11:09 pm
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    I’M 59 YEARS OLD AND I’M A SURVIVOR OF INCEST SEXUAL, PHYSICAL AND VERBAL ABUSE. I WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY MY UNCLE (MY DAD’S BROTHER) AND MY DAD. I’VE STRUGGLED ALL MY LIFE TO OVERCOME GUILT, SHAME AND REJECTION AND MAJOR LOW SELF ESTEEM. I HAVE A LONG STORY I’VE SHARED MY TESTIMONY WITH MANY LADIES WHO HAVE ALSO BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED. SINCE BECOMING A CHRISTIAN IN 1991 I’VE FINALLY FOUND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, A LOVE LIKE I’VE NEVER KNOWN MY WHOLE LIFE. I’VE WRITTEN A 80 PAGE BOOK AND SOOO MANY POEMS BUT I’VE NEVER GOTTEN ANYTHING PUBLISHED I LIVE IN A VERY SMALL TOWN AND I LIVE ON A FIXED INCOME SOO I JUST NEVER HAVE HAD ANY OPPORTUNITY TO DO ANYTHING WITH MY WRITINGS BUT SHARE THEM WITH FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK AND WOMEN’S GROUPS AROUND INDIANA. I SEE A GREATER NEED TO SHARE NOW DAYS AND I TOLD MYSELF I’D NEVER SHARE MY WHOLE STORY UNTIL MY MOM PASSED AWAY BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO HURT HER. TRUTH IS SHE BLAMED ME FOR IT, AND WAS IN TOTAL DENIAL THAT IT EVER HAPPENED BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T WANT TO BARE THE SHAME THAT SOMEHOW IT WAS HER FAULT FOR NOT PROTECTING ME. WELL ONE TIME SHE CONFRONTED ME AND SCREAMED AT ME AND SHE SAID JUST TELL ME DID HE FORCE YOU? BECAUSE I JUST CAN’T SEE YOUR DAD DOING THAT HE’S ALWAYS BEEN SUCH A GENTLEMAN. WELL I TOLD HER IF SHE REALLY WANTED TO KNOW THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH I’D TELL HER, WITH TEARS IN MY EYES, SHE SAID NO SHE DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW. WELL MY DAD DIED ON AUG. 2, 2007 MY MOM DIED AUG. 1, 2008 MY UNCLE JUST DIED A FEW MONTHS AGO. WELL ALL THE ABUSERS ARE GONE. WELL MY REASON FOR WRITING ALL THIS IS BECAUSE IN MY LIFE IT FELT LIKE I JUMPED OUT OF THE FRYING PAN RIGHT INTO THE FIRE SOOO TO SPEAK. ABUSED BY MY UNCLE AND MY DAD THEN GETTING MARRIED AT 17 I’M NOT SURE I’VE EVER REALLY GOTTEN OVER IT JUST LEARNED TO COPE WITH LIFE THE BEST I COULD. I HAVE THIS STRONG BELIEVE THAT ONLY GOD CAN TRULY HEAL A BROKEN HEART THAT HAS BEEN MY EXPERIENCE. OH YEAH ONE MORE THING I WANT TO TELL YOU, TO MY DAD’S DYING BREATH HE NEVER ACKNOWLEDGED OR ASK FOR FORGIVENESS TO ME OR DO I EVER REMEMBER MY DAD EVER TELLING ME HE LOVED ME. WELL LIKE I SAID I HAVE A LONG STORY I HOPE THAT IT WOULD HELP ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TO KNOW THEY SURE AIN’T ALONE ON THAT ROAD BACK TO LIFE AFTER ABUSE. I WOULD SCREAM IT FROM THE HOUSETOP IF IT WOULD HELP ANY WOMAN OR CHILD IF YOU ARE BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED OR PHYSICALLY ABUSED PLEASE TELL SOMEBODY!!! PLEASE, GET HELP!!! I’D LIKE TO SHARE A TINY BIT OF MY TESTIMONY AND A POEM ABOUT ABUSE. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY. Sexually abused as a child, How could her uncle do that to her.
    2 different Women with almost the same story, Seems to be a common thing abusing Women & Children.
    Robbed of Our Childhood Surviving to Help each other become strong through it all Stop the Silence Tell Someone Abuse Awareness Helps Stop the Pain and it is one way to stop the Abusers from continuing to hurt others. Innocence robbed from me at a young age by my uncle too, The pain and the guilt dealing with the lose of that little girl that use to be. Then the pain goes on when the one person you trusted the most your own Dad comes to you like a wolf in sheep’s clothing hurts you too, now there’s no one to turn to years go by with so much pain inside. Then one day I met My Savior Jesus Christ Oh what joy flooded my soul but it even took Him some time to heal all of the pain inside, Learning to trust in Him the healing begins years later I can stand and say ONLY GOD CAN HEAL A BROKEN HEART!!! Thank You Jesus for Loving Us and for taking all the pain away. Help Us Lord to Help All Those Women & Children that have or are going through the pain and the heartache of abuse. Standing on the Solid Rock I Will Not Keep Silent I Will Tell Everyone Jesus Loves You More Than Anyone Can Turn to Him and He will Heal Your Broken Heart too and forever change your life.

    I Dedicate This Poem To All Those Survivors of Abuse.
    I knew someone once, or so I thought I did.
    Too much, too soon, so she ran and hid.
    I think back to this girl,
    and the promise I thought she had.
    Quickly I return my thoughts to something else,
    this girl makes me sad.
    I desperately want to keep her were she ran off to,
    But deep inside I know it’s the wrong thing to do.
    So I search and search on roads filled with pain and grief.
    For I know if I continue, the search will be brief.
    I draw strength from the Lord, and an unexpected source.
    I’m tempted to quit, but it keeps me on course.
    I look forward to meeting this girl again,
    I’ll never allow her to be hurt by men.

    Love Jeannie, Your Sister in Christ
    † Jesus Loves You <

    Reply
  • January 30, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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    So… I’m just writing this to know if I should be worried and if he did sexually assault me. Cause’ I really don’t know.
    I’m in 8th grade, I’m 14 and I matured a lot faster then any other girls I ware a D size bra and it attracted a lot of guys in my class and in high school. I do live in Louisiana and the school I go too has only about 220 people there and it’s pre-k through 12th.
    To what happened (I will is fake names). So it was around the beginning of November of late in October, in not really sure, but I went to my 6th hour class with my class and when we got there we had to finish our FFA leaf project (you just collect a bunch of different leaves). Well CJ and I didn’t finish, along with other people but our teacher- we had woods around our school- let CJ, his friend Dylan and I go in the woods to try and find the leaves by which we needed. Well, when we went in the woods Dylan went on his own way and left CJ and I alone, and we were just joking around and stuff and having fun, not even bothering looking for the leaves. Eventually he wanted me to give him a piggy back ride because I wouldn’t let him give me one because I was wearing a skirt. When he jumped on my back I lasted about 30 sec. and then we fell. Well, when we fell I was between his legs and we were just laughing but then he started grabbing my breasts and I tried to get him to stop but I couldn’t get up because he was holding me down and I told him “no” but he wouldn’t listen. He then forced his hand between my legs and tried to finger me but the think was he couldn’t because I was also wearing tights with my skirt but he did however get a little ways in and it hurt. I eventually saw Dylan and broke myself out and ran to him. I acted as if nothing ever happened. But we were far back in the woods and we found all the leaves we could and we were heading back to school. Dylan was a little in fro t of CJ and I but I didn’t mind because I thought the CJ wouldn’t try anything when his friend was around. Well I was also wearing flats that easily slipped off and one fell off. CJ picked it up but wouldn’t give it too me. He said “I’ll give you it back if I can grab your boobs.” Well there were thorns and pine cones all around us so I could t make it back to school without hurting my feet badly so this is what I thought. I thought that if I said yes and I put my shoe that I could put run him because we weren’t that far to school so I said yes and was he surprised. He came up to me and was about to grab me but I stopped him and said that he had to give me my shoe back. He did and I put it on and ran. To my luck I ran to a gate with trees that I couldn’t go through and only the way I came could I go back. Well CJ was there and he said that I couldn’t go anywhere and that I just shouldn’t fight him and live up to my end of the deal. Thinking that I could run pass him, I tried and I did get pass him but he grabbed my hair and pulled me back and tried to through me on the ground. He then viciously started to grab my breast and dry humping me and it really hurt, I was begging him to stop but he wouldn’t. He eventually stopped and left me alone.
    A week later he texted me asking for nudes and he said that he would stop messing with me if I gave them to him. I sent them to him and he did stop. For about 2 and a half months we went by like nothing ever happened. All though between this time and now I told my counselor, Mr. Bob, what happened, I didn’t tell him everything but he did stress that if he touched me again that I should immediately come to him.
    Present Day:
    CJ is now started to act strange. Well before he touched me he was acted strange, he would slap my butt or try to left me shirt or rub against me. Now he’s starting to rub up against me and he pulled a hand full of hair out of my head when I said something he didn’t like and he would bend my hand back where it would fill as if it was about to break but he would stop right before it would.

    Question:
    Was this serious or not?
    It’s just that he was laughing the whole time he did this.
    Also, should I be worried that he’ll try something else some because of how he’s acting.
    And should I tell my counselor

    Reply
    • January 30, 2016 at 9:43 pm
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      Meghan,
      Yes, the things he did to you are serious and it would be good for you to have support in this, both for what he already did and in stopping him. You deserve to be protected.
      Christina

  • February 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm
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    Christina,

    I just recently spoken out about my abuse to my husband and best friend. My abuser was of the same sex. I don’t find this common since I’ve been doing research. I need help but don’t have insurance and can’t afford a therapist. Can you shed some light to my situation?

    Reply
  • March 31, 2016 at 5:07 pm
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    Meghan

    No one has the right to touch you or hurt you.

    Tell your counsellor & parents, if you can, the whole story. Just copy and paste what you wrote if you can’t say. Those boys are taking advantage of you.

    Reply
  • July 3, 2016 at 10:05 am
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    Thank you so much for your post. I’ve just decided to go public. I’m finding it liberating after 50 plus years of lies and deceit. For me the silence was the hardest part to bear… People will be awkward and not have the vocabulary to talk about it. But I think that the more Survivors speak in public, the better it will be for future generations. I’ll add your site to my list on my incest website.

    Reply
  • July 15, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    This was a good one, Christina. I never really thought about it like this before. It makes you really use your head before you literally strip yourself to naked in front of the world to share your story. It was very helpful, and informative, and I know that we all appreciate it!

    Reply
    • July 15, 2016 at 10:11 am
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      Mickey,

      Thanks for your input about this. It can be a part of good self-care to speak out about abuse, but it can also be self-sabatoge. It takes some discernment to know what’s best for us at any given time.

      Christina

  • July 18, 2016 at 4:13 am
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    When I first disclosed to my older brother and sister that Dad had sexually abused me, I believed they would support me. I believed that we could as a family get everything out in the open – and heal.
    I wish I had waited until I didn’t need their validation. That took a long time.
    Instead, I felt ganged up on – my brother & sister denied that the abuse occurred.
    As I continued my recovery, I came to understand how my brother especially was complicit. He also sexually abused me – I just had not recognized it. He was a teenager – in my recovery I felt he was trying to “be Dad” when he abused me.
    I can see that a child part of me was leading me to disclose because I wanted to be loved.
    Twenty years later:
    My take away from reading your blog is that as I feel called to be of service to other survivors, I need to be mindful of where the impulse to speak out is coming from, who my audience is – and most important, be well grounded in self-compassion and self care. I’m not looking for validation anymore. I know I am loved and loveable. I see more and more clearly the toll living with sexual abuse has taken on my life and health – and I’m finding greater peace as I’ve stopped wanting things to be different.
    The lotus grows from mud.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2016 at 7:18 am
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    You nailed it. Some of your points were a major surprise to me – especially how simply speaking out didn’t mean automatic healing (and could end up hurting worse for a while) — I was so sure finally “finding my voice” meant I had “healed”.
    Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
    • August 11, 2016 at 6:40 pm
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      yes! I, too, find that I feel worse for awhile after speaking out about the abuse.

  • August 11, 2016 at 5:33 pm
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    Hi. I was wondering if a situation that I have experienced was considered a sexual assault/sexual abuse acted upon me. I haven’t spoke out or reached out to anyone about it, partially because I thought I was to blame. It has been years and I finally want an answer. This guy and I were dating- he was my first love. Obviously, at the age of 14 I thought I was not truly in love, I was so convinced I was and that we were meant for each other. Anyway, one day he wanted me to perform oral sex for him-which I clearly never had done before for anyone. I was really reluctant and did not feel 100% comfortable performing what he wanted done to him, but felt pressured because I liked him and wanted to make him happy. I felt guilted into doing it, and I’ll never forget those words he said to me: “If you love me, you’ll do it.” The sickest part of all is that I went through with it because after he said that to me, those words, I felt like I had no argument against him. If I love him I would do it, right? Even sadder than that, I wanted to do a “good job” to really impress him but to be honest I had no idea what to do.While he was enjoying himself, I felt dirty and scared. Technically, I wasn’t held against my will to perform oral sex on him, but it this situation in anyway, sexual abuse or sexual assault? Is it just a shitty situation? If you need more information please email me. I just want to know. I push any memories of him out of my mind. I don”t think about it often but sometimes when I’m intimate with my current boyfriend it will randomly pop into my head and ruin my mood and concentration. Whenever I do think about it, I instantly avoid it. I feel like I am okay and that I has not overtaken my life, but yet years later I see how it affected some aspects of my life. I became self-destructed in high school, and even came to the idea that i was a lesbian which i now recognized was a coping mechanism to avoid men. (Yes, i know i in a way chose to be lesbian for an amount of time, i know you don’t chose to be a certain sexual orientation it’s just that i was convinced i was and “should be” lesbian because of this bad relationship experience.) I believe I have had some closure, this would really just seal the deal for me. I have been able to find someone, my best friend actually, that has been willing to develop and maintain a beautiful,healthy relationship with me.He is amazing, never ever forced me to do anything that I wouldn’t want to do-not just sexually. Yet, I just want an answer on what this situation is considered to be. A part of me has a burning desire to know. I need to know. thank you

    Reply
    • August 11, 2016 at 11:36 pm
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      Mila,
      I had a similar experience. I felt guilt and shame and didn’t tell anyone about it for two years. I eventually came to the conclusion that no matter what anyone else called it, my dignity and identity as a person was assaulted. I was used and treated like an object.

      Whatever anyone else calls it, you didn’t deserve for that to happen to you. You were manipulated and used. You deserve to heal.

      Christina

  • August 11, 2016 at 6:49 pm
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    I have written and performed poetry, performance art and reader’s theater about the abuse I experienced in childhood. One piece with 4 readers that was performed for 2 nights called “Daddy’s Gun.” Another called “V-test.” And exhibited art work – collages, drawings and paintings about the abuse.

    In every case, I was pushing myself to put it out there, to be tough. And I felt ashamed and humiliated afterward. I didn’t want to put those shows on my resume. Eventually I stopped showing my art because I felt too exposed and humiliated.

    So I switched to writing. I spent 3 years in a writing group writing a memoir about my childhood. I eventually left the group because – even though I believed it to be supportive of the writers finding their voices – I was denounced by a man in the group who did not believe my stories were credible. He also tried to find ways that I was somehow a “bad” kid. My writing teacher did not protect me. It was up to me to both create the work and navigate the reactiveness of my audience, even in the developmental stages. So I quit the group.

    I now see that that book is not the book I want to write. It was dramatic, confessional, triggering. I was trying to prove that the abuse happened. I was still acting tough.

    I don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore.

    Talking about it needs to serve a purpose. Until recently, I thought telling people just so they would “know me” was a good enough reason. It’s unsettling to be around people telling stories about their families and not be able to talk about mine.

    I find that most people aren’t equipped to hear about incest and stay present. They need to be prepared for the subject matter – and they need to have the choice whether to hear about it or not, and how far to go in the telling.

    Reply
    • August 11, 2016 at 9:23 pm
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      I totally feel how you’re coming from. I used to feel like I had to prove to myself that I’m tough and not fragile, that I can defend myself, that I’m tougher than I look..sometimes that happens, but I’m doing pretty well thankfully to say that I”m focusing more on being a positive,balanced person.I’m not as defensive as I once was. I don’t want to tell anyone I have no desire to share my story yet with anyone simply because I am not sure what the situation would be called. All I know is that in my heart I knew it was a bad one- I did something I did not want to do although I don’t remember saying, “I do not want to do this.” I felt guilted in to doing it. And it definitely did effect later intimate relationships. It’s been 5 years and I’m happy with who I am, where I am going in life, who I am dating. But there are moments I think about this guy and what happened to me. It’s sad to me that I never considered it or realized how sad and sick the situation that went down was until about a year later, when I finally removed myself from a toxic person. He was a teenager at the time so for so long I told myself that he didn’t know any better and he was dealing with a lot of family and other issues so I thought that he was just having a hard time in life and that is why he acted the way he did. I’m still slightly confused as to what to call it..can someone give me a straight answer. Part of me is so happy in life I want to forget, but I have this dire need to know. To really accept. To really close the doors for once and for all. xo Mila Grace

  • August 12, 2016 at 4:21 am
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    You could call it coercive sex or date rape. Sexual bullying. It was definitely abusive.

    Most girls are taught to acquiesce and to please men – that their needs are more important than our – and we need to take care of them.

    I was taught to never hurt my father’s feelings, always obey him – while ge was free to criticize and berate me – hit me & sexually abuse me.

    It has been very hard for me my whole life to set boundaries with men. My default mode is to please them.

    Women the world over are trained to obey men. Yes it is abuse.

    Reply
  • August 31, 2016 at 4:38 pm
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    I recently reported an historic ‘rape’ to the police. I thought it would take ten to twenty minutes at the most to relate the facts. But they want far more than the bare facts. They go into every detail and try and catch you out with various questions to see if your story is “true”. It took four hours for them to be satisfied with the facts. I didn’t expect to have the reaction I did which was the realization of betrayal, (the perpertrator, was a ‘friend’) and the extreme grief. Also I wanted to be clear about my part in it. Intellectually and mentally and vocally I was saying NO NO NO NO. But once in the bedroom with two men any resolve in me disappeared. I acquiesced to the situation. Now I feel worse than ever because I could have gotten away and didn’t. the only way I can understand what I did was that I went into a child state and gave in to two powerful males while I felt powerless. I was split. My mind said no but my spirit gave in. My child spirit. The next day I felt like scrapping my face on the concrete path. I was so ashamed and humiliated and felt so dirty. But I stayed with the rapist. I was living with him and had no where else to go. We were poor. I didn’t know who to turn to . I turned to no one. I just put up with it. I think I must have had stockholm syndrome where you end up being attached to your abuser. I read later this is called a trauma bond and it is more powerful than a normal bond between humans.

    This is all I can write and respond to today. I can’t make my whole life about this tradegy.

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  • September 4, 2016 at 7:30 am
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    can relate

    fed up of trying or giving a hand to people on support boards – sometimes people are greatful, sometimes not, sometimes dismissive – but in the end I didn t focus on my own pain –

    and in the end some people in real life started to expect this ‘hero’ like behavior in which they were the focus with their issues and problems – and it did cause social friction – I did not realise I did attract this behaviour in people who considered themsleves victims of life – that if someone refused to take care of themselves and focused completely on the other person – the became the vampires you told yourself you d neve rbe –

    needed to learn that taking care of myself, feeling my own feelings and taking responsibility for them and leaving the responsibility for the feelings of th eother with the other – was NOT about letting them down or not being good enough a friend – it was about selfcare – and asking for care was NOT being a vampire at all – it was juat asking for basic needs to be addresseed –

    I do want to know i can share my story without the fear of being sued –

    I ve been silent my entire life, many threats and precautions were made to make sure I d remain silent –

    so a lot of fear is attached whenever I try to express myself and kindness is returned –

    I need to know I m safe.

    I m done living in anxiety and fear of death – at one point it felt dying seemed better to just get it over with to just learn over again that things can end without this life needing to end –

    it s been rough.

    thx for sharing.

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  • September 11, 2016 at 6:23 am
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    I found this blog because I have wanted to speak up for the longest time. The family abuse but also abuse from others and then my family using that to abuse me further…everyone I know wanting my voice stifled so they have a scapegoat…I do not believe this is how it is supposed to be.
    I do not believe God wants me to suffer, have no joy or even well-being, loaded with trauma, only to die. I believe I have a purpose on this earth just like everyone else, but not speaking up about many abuses of family, community, doctors, social organizations and everything that’s happened along the way as I try desperately just to have a safe place to live so I can heal, only to put up with more and more abuse as this journey continues…I don’t believe this is what God wants.

    I’ve done a lot of work on myself and in the end it was told to me that my whole journey is about when to speak up. There’s nothing at all ba about me.

    I don’t need anyone’s validation. I only need to hear ME speak the truth.

    I can’t figure a way to do it though. I need to let people know who I am and they can figure out who the others are.

    My family is a public family. So a lot of damage will be caused if I speak up. I’m through the guilt of that, and I believe everyone needs consequences so in ready to give those now so that I can be free.

    Basically everyone knows what’s been going on anyway, they’re just waiting to see if I’ll say something. And everyone knows I could never speak up.

    Can I be sued or jailed if I send an email to all my family members outlining calmly through my experience only, what has happened?

    Reply
    • September 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm
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      Anonymous,
      You could be sued but not jailed. My lawyer advised me to just make sure everything I said was accurate and that would make things much easier for me–legally speaking.

      Christina

    • September 11, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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      Hi there,
      My heart goes out to you. The contradiction of an upstanding family public image with what actual occurred brings additional challenges for us.
      I highly recommend Anita Hills book Speaking Truth to Power and the documentary film Anita (can rent on Amazon video if you don’t have Prime.) Although her situation is different – she was sexually harassed by a future Supreme Court justice – her approach is amazing. She is so grounded and centered. Her lawyer skills have her so much power.
      Even though CT was approved by the senate to become a Supreme Court Justice, Hills actions launched a nationwide upswell of women telling their stories and the beginning of effective collective action to stigmatize the perpetrators not the victims.

      Have you read Marilyn Van Derbur’s book? Former Miss America from a prominent wealthy Denver family who was sexually abused by her father.

      It seems to me that a key ingredient to getting whatever results you want is to know what you want to accomplish by going public and lay the groundwork carefully. To move forward with a heathy well established support team.

      There is such power and strength in joining our voices together.

      Maybe Christine’s blog is a good place to begin to organize a collective effort.

      This blog has the qualities needed – groundedness, experience, wisdom and a desire for wholeness – which is much more enrolling to the public than revenge or venting.

      We need to vent for our personal reasons – I’d like to be a part of going public for collective reasons.

      Blessings your way ??

  • December 7, 2016 at 11:12 am
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    I have been abused in many ways and I have recently charged my dad with inappropriate behaviour and it all came out and last night I got a call from CID to let me know that there was not enough evidence to go to court. Suffering in silence!! My daughter who is 15 has been through it in same case and nothing can be done. I needed to stand up.

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    • December 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm
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      I’m so sorry, Kelly! My heart goes out to you.

  • February 8, 2017 at 9:39 am
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    Last week I came across some research about “covert’ sexual abuse. It really hit me hard – that was what I had suffered for years by my step-father. After my mother died when I was 12, he started abusing me – it was almost as if I was a replacement for her. I left home the day after I turned 17 and never looked back, until recently. I am now in touch with my half-sister; it was her father who abused me. I am unsure how much to share with her. She was abused as well, but I don’t think sexually. This web site is so helpful. Thank you for having the courage to share your experiences so others can also gain the confidence to come forward.

    Reply

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