When I was your age, I would go to plays all the time, just sit in the darkness and try to take it all in inside me. Contain everything in some corner of my heart so that when I had my shot, it could all come pouring out - all the lights and moments and colour.
Along with the trust issues, one of the hardest parts to deal with is the feeling of not being believed or supported, especially by your own grandparents and extended family. When I have been through so much pain and hurt and have to live with the scars every day, I get angry knowing that others think it is all made up or they brush it off because my cousin was a teenager. I was ten when I was first sexually abused by my cousin, and a majority of my relatives have taken the perpetrator's side. I have cried many times about everything and how my relatives gave no support or love to me as a kid when this all came out. Not one relative ever came up to that innocent little girl I was and said I am sorry for what you went through or I am here for you. Instead they said hurtful things: Oh he was young. That is what kids do. It is not like he was some older man you didn't know. Why does age make a difference? It is a sick way of thinking. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. What is wrong with this picture? It brings tears to my eyes the way my relatives have reacted to this and cannot accept the truth. Denial is where they would rather stay.
Families living in dysfunction seldom have healthy boundaries. Dysfunctional families have trouble knowing where they stop and others begin.
Dawn cackles as she guides me through the all-glass porch. Thinner, paler Reina shuffles about behind Dawn, watching as I slip my boots off. Although she tries to hide her hands, her fingers flicker nervously. I place my boots neatly on the floor of the porch beside the other pairs in the shadows under the coats. Music drifts through to us from a distant room – it’s the Beach Boys’ California Dreamin’. Dawn looks at me and I smile – they’ve put the record on for me. Dawn nods along happily. ‘Hear you’re a surfer boy!’ she says and she mimics riding a wave.
Attitudes and ignorance” about (any type of) abuse can be passed down through the generations. It is important to our healing that we sort out the belief systems we adopt; belief systems that were taught to us and because they are so full of lies, they lead to all kinds of depressions, addictions and other struggles while we try to cope with the manifestations of the problems instead of the roots of the problems.
You have the right to set ground rules. This means deciding if, when, and how you want to see the people in your family. Many survivors feel that if they open up the channels at all, they have to open them up all the way. When you were a child you had two options—to trust or not to trust. Your options are broader now.
Another preoccupation fed into this dynamic relationship between discovery and denial: does sexual abuse actually matter? Should it, in fact, be allowed? After all, it was only in the 19070s that the Paedophile Information Exchange had argued for adults’ right to have sex with children – or rather by a slippery sleight of word, PIE inverted the imperative by arguing that children should have the right to have sex with adults. This group had been disbanded after the imprisonment of Tom O’Carroll, its leader, with some of its activists bunkered in Holland’s paedophile enclaves, only to re-appear over the parapets in the sex crime controversies of the 1990s. How recent it was, then, that paedophilia was fielded as one of the liberation movements, how many of those on the left and right of the political firmament, were – and still are – persuaded that sex with children is merely another case for individual freedom?Few people in Britain at the turn of the century publicly defend adults’ rights to sex with children. But some do, and they are to be found nesting in the coalition crusading against evidence of sexual suffering. They have learned from the 1970s, masked their intentions and diverted attention on to ‘the system’. Others may not have come out for paedophilia but they are apparently content to enter into political alliances with those who have. We believe that this makes their critique of survivors and their allies unreliable. Others genuinely believe in false memories, but may not be aware of the credentials of some of their advisors.
Fear of breaking family loyalty is one of the greatest stumbling blockages to recovery. Yet, until we admit certain things we would rather excuse or deny, we cannot truly begin to put the past in the past, and leave it there once and for all. Unless we do that, we cannot even begin to think of having a future that is fully ours, untethered to the past, and we will be destined to repeat it.
In Ireland we have the phenomenon known as a Spoiled Priest. Unlike a spoiled child, this does not refer to a Priest throwing a temper tantrum.
Sexual abuse is also a secret crime, one that usually has no witness. Shame and secrecy keep a child from talking to siblings about the abuse, even if all the children in a family are being sexually assaulted. In contrast, if a child is physically or emotionally abused, the abuse is likely to occur in front of the other children in the family, at least some of the time. The physical and emotional abuse becomes part of the family's explicit history. Sexual abuse does not.
The survivor movements were also challenging the notion of a dysfunctional family as the cause and culture of abuse, rather than being one of the many places where abuse nested. This notion, which in the 1990s and early 1980s was the dominant understanding of professionals characterised the sex abuser as a pathetic person who had been denied sex and warmth by his wife, who in turn denied warmth to her daughters. Out of this dysfunctional triad grew the far-too-cosy incest dyad. Simply diagnosed, relying on the signs: alcoholic father, cold distant mother, provocative daughter. Simply resolved, because everyone would want to stop, to return to the functioning family where mum and dad had sex and daughter concentrated on her exams. Professionals really believed for a while that sex offenders would want to stop what they were doing. They thought if abuse were decriminalised, abusers would seek help. The survivors knew different. P5
And could you, from a place of love, actually stand up and, use force, to give someone back, the suffering, they were trying to put on you? Would I do it? Maybe it would even be, an act of fierce compassion, as Enso Roshi sometimes talked about, to not take it any more. To not cow down, anymore. To let my father know, the tyrant, the aggressor, that if he hits me, I’m going to hit back, and hard.
Perhaps nothing so accurately characterizes dysfunctional families as denial. The denial forces members to keep believing the myths and vital lies in spite of the facts, or to keep expecting that the same behaviors will have different outcomes.Dad's not an alcoholic because he never drinks in the morning, in spite of the fact that he's drunk every night.
If I, as a child, claim that something awful has happened—that someone has done something terrible to me—and everyone around me acts as if nothing is the matter, then either I must be crazy, or all of them are. And when you’re a kid and your life depends on all these people, there is no choice: of course, I must be crazy.
The fear of abandonment forced me to comply as a child, but I’m not forced to comply anymore. The key people in my life did reject me for telling the truth about my abuse, but I’m not alone. Even if the consequence for telling the truth is rejection from everyone I know, that’s not the same death threat that it was when I was a child. I’m a self-sufficient adult and abandonment no longer means the end of my life.
She was so upset about a blog that maybe a total of six people read yet had no compassion for her granddaughters who had suffered the physical and emotional pains of sexual abuse and whose lives were changed forever. The two cannot even be compared, yet when someone is in denial about what happened, they cannot perceive what is true. It seemed too hard for her to let her mind go there and believe her grandson could do such terrible things.
To heal from child sexual abuse you must believe that you were a victim, that the abuse really did take place. This is often difficult for survivors. When you’ve spent your life denying the reality of your abuse, when you don’t want it to be true, or when your family repeatedly calls you crazy or a liar, it can be hard to remain firm in the knowledge that you were abused.
My mom called Grandma today and told her we would no longer be attending family parties. My mom told her we have had enough of being blamed for something Brian did and everyone brushing it off like it was no big deal.
Keep your heart wide open and you’ll be received with open hearts — not by everyone, but to be received by one open heart is more than worth the journey.
Abusive parents have inappropriate expectations of their children, with a reversal of dependence needs. Parents treat an abused child as if the child were older than the parents. A parent often turns to the child for reassurance, nurturing, comfort, and protection and expects a loving response.
..[The] disclosure of the incest secret initiates a profound crisis for the family usually...the abuse has been going on for a number of years and has become an integral part of family life. Disclosure disrupts whatever fragile equilibrium has been maintained, jeopardizes the functioning of all family members, increases the likelihood of violent and desperate behavior, and places everyone, but particularly the daughter, at risk for retaliation.