Quotes + Episode Excerpt
“There’s the bystanders, the enablers. The ones who have something to say about how far you’re taking it. Who accuse you of seeking revenge. Who want you to make peace. Who think you should move on. They have lots of opinions about how you’re handling the story of your abuse. But keep in mind it’s not their story, it’s yours. And the funny thing about these bystanders who have so much to say about the wrong way you’re going about sharing your story is, they use their voice, the flex their muscles, in your direction, feeling so self justified that they are standing up for the right thing. And notice it’s not toward the abuser’s direction. It’s not about standing up the real harm. It’s playing it safe with someone who they perceive is harmless. Conflict with you isn’t dangerous. It doesn’t cost much of anything, if anything. But if they actually stood for real justice, if they used their voice to condemn the abuser rather than condemning you, they just might have consequences. So those bystanders are scared. While they act morally enlightened, puffing their chest out, advising you on the right way to handle your life, keep that in mind. They don’t have half the courage you do.”
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Welcome to the Overcoming Sexual Abuse podcast where you get the tools and inspiration to help you overcome childhood sexual abuse. I’m your host, Christina Enevoldsen, certified coach, author and incest survivor, and I’m here to help you heal and live your very best life!
“I’m moving forward. That’s all there is to it.” And there’s a place for that when it’s present based fears. But in something that’s triggered by old childhood wounds like this,
this is an opportunity to heal those wounds and undo the damage that was done in the first place. If I just said, “Get over it,” that’s like your child being terrified of monsters in a room at night and you just brush it off saying there’s no such thing as monsters and you turn off the light and close the door and leave her alone in her fear.
My mom had distanced herself from me all my life, and this was a painful reminder of that. It wasn’t an overt threat, but it felt threatening to my child self.
But it was good to acknowledge that fear that my inner child was feeling and to comfort her and to remind her of the truth.
They were excused and we covered up whatever they did, but anyone else was shamed. Malicious slander sounded so evil. And it was that same fear of being labeled bad and fearing not following the rules.
So it’s understandable that she would react that way because she was used to my parents having the only say what they said goes. And my child self needed the assurance that we don’t have to follow those rules anymore. I carried my dad’s shame for what he did to me long enough. And I wasn’t the one who had done anything wrong, he was.
I don’t remember ever doing that when I was a kid. I just envisioned that it was symbolic. Not being believed or acknowledged was dangerous then,
but I didn’t need my mom to believe me now. And this was important that I was aware of just how much pain this caused and how much fear I felt and to comfort myself in this.
your nervous system says too much and then you run back to what feels comfortable so you can get regulated again in that calm state. And then from that regulated state,
when everything feels great, you can afford to take a risk again so you get out there and it’s really healthy to do this. So if you notice yourself getting bold one day and timid the next, that doesn’t mean you’re a coward and it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. This is just what growth looks like.
not my adult self. And it was though I’d forgotten that my adult self existed. A lot of times it was just the little girl in me being attacked by my parents. And sometimes I felt like I couldn’t breathe through another moment of it. And as suffocating as it felt, I knew I’d feel even worse if I gave in. I didn’t doubt that I’d continue to stand. I just wondered how I was going to find a way to continue.
And my parents stole my childhood from me and then invaded me again. If the world were just, I wouldn’t have been abused in the first place. History is full of people who stand up against evil and are destroyed for it. And the truth is, unfortunately, that good doesn’t always triumph over evil, and love doesn’t always win. And I think of those comforting platitudes being repeated,
and they give us a sense of control when we face tough things. Bargaining is a stage of grief, and I was desperately grasping for some sort of order. Do good and things will work out. Unconsciously, I’d made that deal with life. It was the same bargain I’d made with a lot of my abusers. I’ll be good, just don’t hurt me. And that deal never really worked well with abusers, and it doesn’t work well with life. I needed to let go of that childhood fantasy and accept the world as it is. Yes, I wasn’t owed anything for doing good, or being good. Facing that loss of control actually set me free. Letting go of the outcome was liberating. I wasn’t tied to the conditions that I’d been placing on my life. I didn’t need everything external to be okay, for me to be okay. And that new truth was one of the most empowering lessons of my whole healing journey.
so I conceded to a few minor things that didn’t hinder me from telling my story or speaking my truth. The happy ending for me was pretty much getting to go on with speaking out as I had been before. but more importantly, it was the lessons I learned and the strength I gained in that. There will always be difficulties in standing up for the truth, but I would much rather face the pain of speaking out than the pain of staying silent.
there are several things to keep in mind.
It might still seem big to you, but as an adult, you’re capable. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you are. Another thing to remember is abuses about power and control. So when you’re dealing with the abusers, they aren’t likely to let you have the last word. They don’t think, well, you have your version of the story and I have mine, let’s just agree to disagree.
who think you should move on. And they have lots of opinions about how you’re handling the story of your abuse. But keep in mind that it’s not their story, it’s yours.
And the funny thing about these bystanders who have so much to say about the wrong way you’re going about sharing your story is that they are using their voice, they’re flexing their muscles in your direction, feeling so self-justified that they’re standing up for the right thing. And notice that it’s not toward the the abusers’ direction, it’s not about standing up to real harm, it’s playing it safe with someone who they perceive as harmless and conflict with you isn’t dangerous, it doesn’t cost much of anything, if anything. But if they actually stood up for real justice, if they used their voice to condemn the abuser rather than condemning you, that might come with consequences. So these bystanders are scared. And while they act morally enlightened, puffing their chest out and advising you on the right way to handle your life, just keep that in mind. They don’t have half the courage that you do.
And when you feel that pain or that fear, that’s an indication that the child within you needs that comfort and reassurance.