Why is it so Scary to Share the Truth about Child Abuse?


talking about emotional abuse

Sometimes I get emails and comments like the one that I got this week on the post “Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship”  expressing feeling overwhelmed about sharing stories of the past. The comment said: “I am feeling lost right now. I feel like I have shared way too much here, and I’m feeling very vulnerable. It hurts.”  

Sharing feelings, our pain, our abuse and rejections and stories and sharing about our families makes us feel really vulnerable.  This comment got me thinking about how I felt so vulnerable and scared that I never told anyone about my first blog. There were very few comments, it had very little traffic and even though I was already speaking in mental health seminars, I never gave the name of that website out to anyone.  I was afraid of something.  I didn’t really think that much about what it was. 

Sharing in the first few months of this blog was also scary but it gets easier all the time although  once in a while, sometimes pressing the publish button still makes me feel a little uneasy.

Sharing some of my deepest and darkest moments makes me feel exposed AND it makes me feel like I am in danger. Continued……

In my healing journey I’ve learned to ask myself questions as a way of digging down into my belief system to find the roots of where these feelings and fears come from on any given subject because in doing so it usually helps me to understand why those fears and feelings are still there. 

Incest survivor, Patricia Singleton from the blog “Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker”, also shared her view on this topic. Her  comment came in when I was almost finished writing the first draft of this post, so I thought I would take it as a “hint from the universe” and share it; it is amazingly similar to what I was believe about this particular topic.

Patricia wrote: “When I share something new like I did here yesterday, I face some more of the fear that the abusers put into me to not break the silence of what they did to me.  I think, at least for me, that is why I feel overwhelmed with what I share sometimes.  I will continue to break that silence and share more and more of my story if it means that it might help another survivor to feel not alone.  When we share, it gives someone else the permission to share their stories too.”

For many of us, both as children and as adults, we were not allowed to tell the real truth. We may have had some family secrets that somehow we just knew that we were not supposed to say anything about to anyone else. There were all kinds of things that we just didn’t talk about. I thought that was being “loyal” to my family.  The mere thought of saying the wrong thing was very very scary.

There were a few things outside of family secrets that I did try to tell. Like when my grade 5 teacher was emotionally abusing me. But when I told just a few little things I was discounted, unprotected, called a story teller, and exaggerator and a liar.  I was not protected because I was not believed. Finally a medical doctor had to step in.

Then there was the time that I told about my mother’s boyfriend sneaking in my room that night. I only told because my Aunt caught him and she told first and still I was discounted and then later accused of doing something to have caused it to happen.

Sometimes I said things and I was ridiculed, sneered at or glared at.  Those were warnings. I was afraid of what might come after those sorts of comments and looks.

When I cried, I was told that if I didn’t stop crying, that I would be given something to cry about. (Do children really cry for no reason? I don’t think so, but when I was told that l cried for no reason enough times I believed that I did cry for no reason.)  What that taught me was that my feelings were invalid. That my pain was invalid and that I was not allowed to have feelings or pain. My tears were wrong.

So when I decided to share my life and my past with others, it triggered fears. It triggered fears of rejection; fears of being called a liar, story teller and an exaggerator. Sharing secrets triggers fears of being humiliated, discounted, dismissed and laughed at. Fears of being proven that maybe I am not valid. Maybe I am not worthy. Maybe no one will love me or even like me.  Maybe the abusers were right about me.

It also brings up feelings of being in danger. That danger is close. As I child I learned to guard against danger and not to bring punishment upon myself.  Feelings of being in danger bring up specific fears; that I might be punished; I might get hit, hurt, sent away or all of these things at once. These were the consequences of telling when I was a child.   

And all those fears and thoughts can flash through my memory very quickly. Familiar feelings from the past, flashing, terrifying and tearing down my self esteem, all in a few split seconds and until I really began to understand where those fears were born and raised, I was not able to stop them.  

Please share your thoughts about the fear sharing or the feelings of being exposed. Were there consequences in your childhood for telling the truth?

Exposing truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Note: Click the blue highlighted sentences within the body of the post to read the stories I am refering to.

64 response to "Why is it so Scary to Share the Truth about Child Abuse?"

  1. By: Lora Posted: 9th March 2013

    Thank you Darlene for this post. I’m right smack dab in another process of my healing. I am standing in the middle of my two beautiful nieces and their mother..my sister. Although I have come a long way in my own healing journey I find myself being triggered with being in my original family dysfunction. My nieces share things my sister does (and she doesn’t know it) and it’s very upsetting to me. Since I’ve been on this journey I share resources with them and let them know I am here for them. It’s very challenging to know how much information to give them and what I am realizing is that when you are heavy in the dysfunction, the truth does not go over very well, in fact because I now represent the truth, I am receiving a lot of back lash from my sister. I read over some posts I made on my facebook and was trying to understand some of my sisters comments. I couldn’t see what she was seeing in them which made me realize how wounded she still is. She is doing a lot of projecting and blaming me for acting like a victim and not moving forward with my life. Very interesting comment from someone that chooses not to deal with her pain. I’m not taking the comments personally which really shows me how far I have come. My challenge now is that when my sister confronts the girls if they are being “abused” they tell her no, which of course makes me look like I am accusing her of being an abuser. My sister and I have exchanged some angry emails and it’s clear we don’t want a relationship with each other anymore. I don’t know how to have a relationship with my nieces now because I feel like I am some kind of wedge between them. I realize that my truths are not welcome in my family and I sense the girls feel torn between me and my sister. I’m doing my best to be the bigger person here but let me tell you my anger can get the best of me if I’m not careful. The last thing I want to do is drag my nieces deeper into the dysfunction. There is so much lying going on in my sisters family just like there was in our family. I love my nieces dearly but I have no idea what to do with all this lying. They told me they are afraid of my sister’s reactions when they tell the truth so I totally get why they tell her what she wants to here…same old, same old happening once again. I know my sister is using what I say to her as weapons to her girls. She is angry at me for giving her the truth but she lashes out to the girls and it puts them in a very bad position. My two nieces are coming in alone to visit with me and I’m at a loss at how to interact with them since all this drama just happened. I’m just going to let them bring it up if they want to talk because me initiating it seems to open up too much stuff. I am tapping into everything I am learning right now and it’s a bit overwhelming. Just like you talk about here, I feel all this fear for standing up to my sister…I feel wrong or bad for speaking my truth. She is in complete denial about her own behaviour and she’s not used to me standing up to her in this way. I think what I have really learned from all this is people have to “choose” this journey…otherwise anything that I have to offer just gets rejected and makes me feel bad. Taking care of myself through all this will be proof that I have come a long way. I’m taking this whole situation that the Universe is showing me how strong I really am. I’m very vulnerable right now and I would be lying if I said this doesn’t hurt me, it does, but I won’t allow it to tear me down. My nieces are in the middle of a storm and I need to be the calm. It’s because of people like you Darlene that step up and break the cycle. I’m it in my family and when I look at my whole family history, I’m pretty much it too. No one likes to look at this stuff, they have just accepted the unacceptable. I choose more for myself and when it comes to my own family I need to just walk away and let them come to me when they are ready to deal with the real issues. I take full responsibility for my short comings because I am still learning and one day I hope all of this will just be a distant memory with no emotional attachments. I sure admire all of us for doing this work, it’s not easy but it sure is worth. Love to all!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th March 2013

      Hi Lora
      Yay for taking care of you! The real healing began when I saw that when I take care of me, I can make a huge difference in the lives I touch.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

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