The 7 ways to Silence Survivors of incest represents recurrent themes that play out within families of Survivors once they’ve disclosed what happened. I’ve become aware of these themes over the years from talking to other Survivors and thought I’d illustrate them with my own story in the hope that it will resonate with you. (My guess is that the “7 ways” will resonate with all Survivors of all types of childhood sexual abuse and survivors of sexual abuse in adulthood too.)
These responses from family members are understandable because they relate to the ways in which family members try to protect themselves and the family unit. It’s understandable because non abusing family members are secondary victims of the abuse, and now they must do everything in their power to protect themselves. This means everything right up to and including ostracising the original victim.
Such behaviour is indeed understandable; and I find it is helpful for me to have as much knowledge and understanding as possible. It means that I can tell myself that their behaviour was not and is not about anything I’ve done—it’s about their needs. Understanding cannot be confused with acceptance; and over the years I have come to realise that this behaviour is actually not acceptable. It is the ultimate betrayal.
7 Ways the family Silences a Victim of Incest
In my audio I explain the 7 themes:
Ask “Why now?”
Tell them they seemed happy enough when they were growing up
Explain to them that their abuser loved them in a “special way”
Tell them that their abuser was weak and fortunately they were able to deal with it at the time
Exhort them not to dwell on the past
If they report it to the Police, tell them that a) any fallout is their fault; and b) they reported out of pure spite
Remind them of all the benefits they had as children
Fellow Survivors, when you’ve listened to the audio I invite you to share the ways you’ve been silenced:
I also invite you to read
Baby tears—a poem about silencing a child’s pain
“Secrets” a post written just now by Patricia, incest survivor and author of Shattered:
Take care now.
PS the picture is from pinterest. As ever it’s not intended to be offensive and some days a little wry humour is the best medicine!