With so many stories coming out in the news about sexual assault, the top questions that I have seen being asked are “Why didn’t they share their story when it happened?” “Why didn’t they say anything sooner?” As someone who kept their story a secret for 30 years, I can tell you why. Shame.
a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
“she was hot with shame”
I lived nearly my entire life in shame, I was humiliated by what was done to me. I didn’t know of any other way to live. There is also fear of not being believed. I never once thought that my mom would believe me, because I had lied to her for so many years. Those lies stemmed from me hiding his secret. There is fear of the abuser doing more to the abused. Because my abuser was strong physically, this fear was a huge factor for me.
I was brainwashed into believing that:
- Mom (or anyone for that matter) would never believe me
- He would lose his job, which would mean we would lose our livelihood
- That he could hurt me more or that he could hurt others as well
If someone comes to you and shares their story with you first, the best thing you can do is say “I believe you. I will be there for you no matter what.” They are trying to build a support system, and if they trust you enough to come to you first (or second or third) drop what you are doing and support them in any way you can. Offer to be there when they tell those that need to know, offer to help them get the help and support they need, be a listening ear (even if it’s in the middle of the night). What they are embarking on is major, you could just very well save their life. I’m not saying to just drop everything in your life, you have to protect your own heart and emotions as well. Be in prayer and stay in prayer through the process.
A comment that really bothered me today “Sorry…but don’t believe this about Matt Lauer…so much sick stuff going on and to me it is just stuff that the sick people of this world make up just to get noticed… This is just plain sick..” It’s comments like these that make it so hard for the survivors to come out of the darkness and share their stories. We are not sick people, we are humans who have had very bad things happen to them. The abusers are the ones that are sick! Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape are very real. Yes, it’s a taboo topic, but with so many coming forward, it will make it so much easier for others to share their stories as well.
I shared my story with a friend from high school today. She was in tears…”I just remember our bus rides and talking and joking at school…..And you held that in. Always with a smile on your face.” It pays to be kind to others, you never know what they are going through.