7 Ways to Silence Survivors

Hello Friends

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:

  1. Ask “Why now?”
  2. Tell them they seemed happy enough when they were growing up
  3. Explain to them that their abuser loved them in a “special way”
  4. Tell them that their abuser was  weak and fortunately they were able to deal with it at the time
  5. Exhort them not to dwell on the past
  6. If they report it to the Police, tell them that a) any fallout is their fault; and b) they reported out of pure spite
  7. 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!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. My sister and I were silenced when we went back to the scene of the crime 20 years later to press charges and were told we were making it up. “Why now?” really got me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m truly sorry that you had to go through all of that as well. I hope that blogging and sharing your experience offers an alternative type of validation. Thank you for reading my post and for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Number 7….
    Anger is welling up!


  3. lapernette says:

    So true!!! Number two for me is especially infuriating. Having your family members tell you that you had a happy childhood, “Well you seemed happy enough”, or “Why do you focus on all the negative stuff and forget all the happy moments?”… Yes, right! As though they know how I felt better than I do (and they weren’t me!), as though I don’t remember how miserable I actually was. And the reason they say it (apart from wanting to protect themselves) is that they never cared enough to actually notice what was going on with you. They think that you were happy, not because they saw you being happy, but because they simply didn’t look. They assumed that just because you weren’t saying anything, you were alright… But the worst about it is that you may start to believe them, to question your memory. And then of course the “Why now?”, the “Don’t dwell on the past”… The only reason I’m “dwelling” on it is that I want to get rid of it. When you have a rotting wound and you cry out in pain (hoping that maybe someone will help you, because you don’t know how to help yourself), would people tell you, “Don’t dwell on it?” As though the would will go away on its own if you pretended it wasn’t there… And, “Why now”? Because I’m starting to heal, actually. Because it was all on the inside and now I’m trying to deal with it. And to do that, I need to pull it into the light… Another thing that people tell you that you haven’t mentioned is “It’s your fault”. It’s true of all kinds of abuse: people will tell you that you have provoked it somehow… That you were abused because, actually, you were promiscuous. That actually you consented. That actually you liked it. My father telling me that when I was 4 I was “in love with him”… A 40-year-old man who got me so drunk I couldn’t walk and basically raped me when I was a teen telling me, “Your pussy was all wet”… It’s the most terrible thing!!!


  4. Marcus says:

    Reblogged this on survivor road and commented:
    please visit the originating site and get the full benefit of this post!


  5. Marcus says:

    please visit the original site and get the full benefit of this post…


    1. Marcus says:

      sorry – that was supposed to be a reblog comment …


  6. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    The only thing more painful than the rape is being told to ‘just get over’ acts of abuse that shattered your life.


    1. I agree Robert. Thank you, so true.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. bethanyk says:

    Ohhhh yes, i have heard all of these!!


  8. Thank you Laura, connection and having something in common is like “coming home” isn’t it x


  9. Laura Black says:

    Also, I am really enjoying your blog. I feel like we have a great deal in common, and I get strength from knowing you understand some of what I’m going through 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laura Black says:

    I totally understand how this feels. Every one of those seven was part of my experience. Particularly the ‘he was weak / troubled’ and the ‘you were a happy child and seemed so resilient at the time’. You’re right that understanding and accepting are so very different. And this response from family members leaves a terrible, deep wound of betrayal. Sending you hope and love. Laura x


  11. The ways used to silence a child already suffering so much is unconscionable on all levels and in every way. I am incensed at the manipulative strategies used to silence you, though sadly not surprised.


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