Not Being Heard and Finding My Voice

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Finding my voice, beyond silence
“Alive” photo credit ~ Theodora MacLeod

I was not heard for most of my life. My voice was silenced in many ways. I was sexually abused from a young age. I don’t remember if I “told” or not in those young years, but there were signs. There were physical and mental distress signs that went unaddressed. That is a form of not being heard.

My mother used violence to vent her anger and frustration. My father either didn’t notice or didn’t care; he never tried to stop it. Who could I tell? The way things were in my family was “my normal”.  In my survival mode, I only knew to keep trying harder to be “good”, to be what those manipulative people wanted and to be quiet because it seemed to me that I was causing a problem for them.

I don’t know how I kept going.

 I know I told about a teacher who was emotionally and psychologically abusing me in grade 5. I told but I was ignored. I was shushed. I was silenced. I was lectured about “respecting my elders.” I was not heard.  When I finally got so sick that the pediatric specialist asked to speak to me alone (without my parents) he ordered my parents to take me out of the class I was in. My parents didn’t want to do it and the Dr. said he was going to get a court order if they didn’t remove me from the presence of that teacher.

That doctor heard me. But my parents did not hear me. I felt I was “wrong” for telling. I knew that I had caused my father embarrassment. I felt ashamed for bringing this to light with an “outsider” who confronted my parents. I knew that my parents had been “told.” They had been reprimanded for not listening to me. I knew that they had been “forced” to act on my behalf but perhaps more importantly, I also knew that they didn’t want to. They didn’t take action because it was right or because it was best or because they loved me. They did it because they were threatened with a court order. Today I know that that was the bigger damage to my self esteem; the fact that they didn’t “want” to listen to me or take action on my behalf.

And in order to save face, my manipulative parents told people the story in a much different way than what had actually happened. The doctor was never mentioned. And in doing so, the message that was communicated to me was that I was invalid. My illness was invalid and the abuse I had suffered was invalid. My father became the hero with his version of the story that he “marched into that principles office and demanded that I be removed from that “bully” teachers classroom”. I kept silent about that lie until I was in my 40’s because I knew that I would not be heard. I didn’t matter.

My new teacher was nice but the guilt I felt made me feel as though she was afraid of me and didn’t trust me. I felt like she was only nice because she was afraid I would complain about her. It felt like I was in the spotlight; the problem child that reported a teacher. I was full of shame and completely believed that I was the problem and that I had caused a huge problem.  I disconnected and dissociated further from myself.

Somehow I kept going.

So I learned not to talk. I learned that my voice was not important so I stopped using it. I learned that I was not going to have any impact so why bother trying? I learned that other people were more important than I was. I learned that my value was in how good I could make other people feel.

I learned that even if the truth were exposed, the people in power could change a few details and make it about them.

I learned to discount myself exactly the way that I was being discounted.

I kept going but I was a puppet. I was going through the motions. I was living in survivor mode, doing things according to what I thought those manipulative people wanted and not from living with a mind of my own.

And I got depressed. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know that I was worth anything. I didn’t know that I was lovable or that I was an individual. I didn’t know that perhaps there was a reason I was on this earth. I couldn’t figure it out.

I kept going.

And I accepted the blame for the things that happened to me. I accepted the blame for the abuse that was perpetrated against me by evil and manipulative people. I accepted the blame for the fact that I was not heard and unloved.

I was offered to men. I was told that my virginity was a small price to pay… I was taught that my value was only in the way I was viewed by others.  I lived in fear and sometimes in terror.

I kept going.

I tried to find love, acceptance, solace and escape. I tried to find it in drugs. I tried to find it in alcohol. None of that worked. There was no answer in those things.

I kept going.

I tried to find love, acceptance and self esteem in men.  I had been taught that romantic love was the answer. Again I was not heard. My voice did not matter. I was valued for what I could do for them, and how I could listen to them and how I could make them feel. I did not find my self esteem in them or in those relationships. 

I tried to find it in the bible. I tried to “give my life to Christ” but the false and dysfunctional system was there too. I was taught that I was “good and acceptable to Christ” when I was obedient and compliant to what the teachers, pastors, leaders and elders said. I was not encouraged to let the bible speak to me. I was taught to listen to men and women (manipulative people) who were wiser than I. I pointed out things that I was reading in the Bible, things that I thought spoke of a different kind of love, but I was not heard. I was shushed. I was lectured to “respect my elders”. I was shut down and silenced. Even there my voice was unacceptable; I was unworthy, and I was silenced.

I kept going.

And one day, I listened to myself. I heard ME. I realized that what I had been trying to say and trying not to say was valid. I realized that my value was not in those other manipulative people or how they defined me but that it was within me. I realized that I could validate myself. And a little seed of hope grew. I nurtured that little seed each day, I listened to myself and to my pain and I learned to stop discounting it. I learned to stop discounting ME.

I went back to some of those events that communicated the message to me that I was invalid, unworthy, and less important than the adults in my life and I realized how wrong those messages were. I looked at the truth and I told it to myself over and over again.

Perhaps the adults in my life didn’t fight for me, but I can fight for me now. I can overcome those false messages that I received in the past.  

I listened to me. I validated me. I kept going.

Out of self validation grew self love. Out of self love grew self esteem. Out of self esteem and self love grew self respect and an understanding of what real love and mutual respect in relationship is.

It doesn’t matter anymore if other people hear me or not since I started to learn to hear myself. I don’t need those dysfunctional manipulative people to hear me or agree with me anymore.  I can do this for me now. I can love me now. I can validate me now.

I know me now ~ not who they said I was and not by what they define as worthy and acceptable about me; they disregarded me, they didn’t protect me, they blamed me for attracting the abuse or accused me of lying about it. They refused to hear me. That discounts their credibility, NOT mine.  I know that it wasn’t “me” that was the problem. I have found “the truth”.   

I still keep going.

Please share your thoughts.

There is freedom on the other side of broken;

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts ~ Please click on the sentences in coloured bold print within the blog post itself

~Psychological abuse ~ How self doubt grows ~ this is the actual story of the emotionally abusive teacher

~ My power tool for Rebuilding after Abuse by Christina Enevoldsen from Overcomeing Sexual Abuse

102 response to "Not Being Heard and Finding My Voice"

  1. By: Dawn Posted: 22nd February 2018

    I am deeply touched by this story and can relate in many ways.

  2. By: marquis (female) Posted: 25th April 2014

    “When no positive self-image was there to begin with, it is very difficult to fabricate what should be in one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength now. That is why I think it has to come super-naturally.”

    Agreed. Of course, my ex-therapist would disagree. Growing up, there was absolutely no positive self-image and if there really was any, I wouldn’t be having all of these difficult emotions and low self-esteem issues. There was no positivity at home and living at home isn’t helping me be at peace or be positive. I find it hard to be this person to always be positive, it’s hard when you are not even sure of the outcome.

  3. By: Tom Posted: 25th April 2014

    According to (I believe it was) William Glasser – there are three core woundings in most of our lives. These are responsible for our negative core beliefs … which in turn produce negative emotions … which in turn manifest in aberrant behaviors. The three core woundings are Abandonment, Neglect, and Abuse. I can say that in my case, without a doubt, being continually marginalized as a child within the context of a tight knit family unit, resulted in very painful social development issues. Like you it has taken YEARS to realize that the problems I have inside, and in social circles, are a result of a worthlessness communicated and received by that very small child. Those sort of hurts simply can’t be completely healed through any psychotherapy. It requires a supernatural power that spans time and space. I’m still working with The Great Physician on that process but it is hard to uproot decades of cancerous growth (negative core beliefs fed by pain, emotion, and life validation). When no positive self-image was there to begin with, it is very difficult to fabricate what should be in one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength now. That is why I think it has to come super-naturally. For me at least, I need that kind help in addition to human therapy.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th April 2014

      Hi Tom
      Welcome to EFB
      For me, everything changed (and the healing accelerated greatly) when I realized what my belief system was ‘because’ of the damage done and what those messages really were and how false they were. It was complicated because so many of them crossed over and intertwined with each other. I used a lot of dictionary definitions and laws to break through some of that brainwashing on this journey. And yes, I believe that the driving force was always the Great Physician.
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: marquis (female) Posted: 13th January 2014

    Voice not heard. Sounds like the children are seen and not heard still implies in today’s generation but nobody wants to admit that yet people say ‘oh kids have a voice now that the previous generations never had.’ I know this is about sexual abuse, but I wasn’t sexually abused. Growing up with tons of verbal abuse and seen physical abuse (my mom threw me on my bed when I was kid and twisted my arm yelling do you want me to kill you? That would be physical abuse right?)

    I have told people, told my aunt (dad’s sister, all she can say is ‘parents make mistakes, give them a chance, and that was it)), told CPS, and told other adults but nothing happen. I got he usual BS ‘respect your elders,’ ‘people make mistakes,’ ‘there’s no such thing as abused children; you kids just want attention to make us parents look bad. if you behave properly, then you wouldn’t be abused like you claim,’ ‘learn to suck it up and get over it, **** happens and lots of people had it worse than you,’ etc. Nobody cared to listen, they were all concerned about what “society felt/thought about how kids act/speak.”

    I told my therapist how I am not going to comment about my parents ever again to people because it has done nothing but backfired on me and has been used against me. I was told “a grown adult shouldn’t be whining about “parental abuse,” a grown adult would just shove it under the rug.” Couldn’t believe I heard that one. I don’t feel people need to know anything; I am not 12, nobody needs to ask me about mommy and daddy or ‘how are your parents doing?’ Treating me like some little kid.

    People tried to shush me and said nobody will not shush me ever! I hated putting on the phony, white picket fence family to people, but my parents had no problems with it. Being silent was like coping, but it really did a lot of damage on the inside. I prefer if people out there in the streets don’t ask anything about my parents and if they wanna know something about me personally, they can ask but family is off limits. My therapist says ‘omg, you are dictating to people what they should ask you.’ I told her ‘who wants to hear a dark story/past? Although, they are true stories, but who wants to hear a story filled with negativity and having no hope?’

  5. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th April 2013

    Hi Melissa
    Welcome to EFB
    This is a life changing place about a life changing process! !
    Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Melissa Posted: 28th March 2013

    Wow I loved reading this blog…so much insight into me not being heard as a child…Thanks to all who have written in. I think there is a lot of wisdom where that is eye opening and life changing.
    I am a Christain and go to an amazing church called the Rock Church where I truely feel heard. It took me over 10 years to find it though.

  7. By: Celine Posted: 3rd March 2013

    Thank you Darlene. It warms my heart to finally be HEARD and understood. I am learning to unveiling my truth little by little. You have been essential to my healing process as your website is my Bible.
    I found my voice not too long ago and it’s getting louder and louder. I still have a lot of work to do but now I know that Freedom is reachable. They crushed me over and over but I’m still here and I’m still standing. I will remain for ME.
    Warm hugs :0)

  8. By: Celine Posted: 3rd March 2013

    Not being heard is the silent story of most of my life. Not speaking up became my “coping skill” against more abuse. But that voice was still talking, inside, to myself. It was talking a language foreign to those who were supposed to love, protect, believe in me. I was talking the language of pain that no one could translate in words that made sense. To them. So they made up their own translation by calling me crazy.
    I was paralyzed in fear at the thought of telling. So I got into the habit of over analyzing events. Trying to turn it around on me so it could make sense, because if the adults around me didn’t want to hear it, I thought for sure it was all my fault or maybe the teachers and doctors, uncle who did stuff to me were entitled to because they were ADULTS I was to respect and trust them. Why talk? The rejection was worse to deal with than the actual act that had been done to me. The enormous amount of shame for “letting” them do this to me was suffocating. It was MY fault. Therefore, I HAD to deal with it by myself. I knew they were gonna defend them anyway. I knew they were gonna use excuses for what they did and make me feel even more confused. Why talk? When you very well know you will not be heard.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd March 2013

      Hi Celine
      YES ~ That is my story too. Why talk? and then I found out why (which this site is about) and finally I was set free. The difference now is that I know WHO to talk to and who to not bother with. They didn’t want to hear me, they squsihed me so they lost me. I stopped trying to talk to the people who had never validated me in the first place. There was no answer or solution in talking to them.
      They will do anything to deflect the blame. There was nothing I could do to make them see it any differently so I focused on my healing instead. I turned from them as the source of my validation and took it into my own hands. And I found the solution!
      Thanks for sharing! I can relate to what you are saying here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Lora Posted: 20th February 2013

    Hi Darlene! thank you for this article. As usual your timing is perfect and it’s the encouragement I needed. I have recently let go of an addiction that I had once let go of, I started it up again to deal with my emotional pain. Through a lot of therapy I am able to let go of it and deal with another layer. I am going to honor my pain and anger and listen to “me”. I care about what happened to me and I realize that I am the most important person in my life and I am the only person that can save and protect me. I learned to dismiss the abuse because even though I did go to other family members I kept hearing that “your parents are doing the best they can”..blah blah. I don’t care what they did anymore, I care about how my life is going because of their best. I feel my soul pushing so hard to come forth and I will not deny her any longer. I’ve been treating myself the way they treated me and it stops here. I may have come into this world a victim of abuse but I am leaving as a warrior. I am fighting for my right to be heard and valued and only I can give that to myself. You have no idea how grateful I am to have found your web site. Darlene…bless your loving heart for giving us all this support and reminding us who we really are. Namaste!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th February 2013

      Hi Lora
      YAY ~ I love your comments and your determination to be there for yourself! I am so glad that you are here too!
      Hugs Darlene

  10. By: Erica jones Posted: 19th February 2013

    It is overwhelmingly sad, to see just how many survivors of abuse are in this world. But, through your words, bring forth understanding. It is a process that not many want to work through. I hope, that one day, I will have worked through it enough, mom and dad will gain some sort of knowledge, too. They need to emerge from broken, too. Some day…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th February 2013

      Hi Erica
      I have that hope for my parents too. It is never too late!
      Hugs, Darlene

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