Not just another One!
Written By Susan Stubbings
With the large number of adults disclosing the experience of childhood sexual abuse today, in our society I often hear people say “not another one”, “another one jumping on the bandwagon”, “another one after some of his/her money”, “yet another one trying to put the boot in” or “trying to discredit him/her because they are jealous of what s/he has got”. Whilst for ‘some’ this may be true those who are solely out for some kind of revenge, malice or payback for some who are “out to get another” and could be seen as a bully themselves.
However, in the grand scheme of things those described above are few and statements such as those above in actuality feed into the Child’s belief system that its not OK to "tell the secret" because society won't believe the disclosure; and let’s say a Child who has turned into an adult who has not yet healed from the trauma of being sexually abused as a child will still have childlike qualities and values in some ‘parts’ of their emotional, spiritual, social and psychological Self. That’s not childish or immaturity what that means is a child who has grown into an adult physically may be arrested, have stunted growth and not fully developed in all areas of adulthood; not able yet to be emotionally intelligent because opportunity never presented itself. This is not only children who come from a background of sexual abuse of course but many adults have difficulties in some area of their living or relationships due to psychological and emotional issues.
Children from sexually abusive background can have many difficulties throughout their lifetime and at ever stage of their maturation which is due solely to being a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
Another thing society does is question victims or pose questions to others in the form of statements for example “why now”? “it was so long ago you’d think they would have forgotten or got over it by now” or “it’s in the past why bring it up now”? Young adults and adults may suffer or have suffered mental health issues which stem from the stress of a violent and confusing beginning, they may have begun self-harming, eating disorders or have angry outbursts and disruptive behaviour in their teenage year. In their twenties and thirties this may have carried on and if they have survived into their forties and fifties they may have low self-esteem or little confidence to handle life’s daily conundrums and may be suffering anxiety and depressions.
They may be turning to drugs or alcohol to help them cope and to escape the reality of their life or may be seen to have personality disorders or passive aggressive natures. Be suffering from health anxieties, panic and post traumatic distress disorder (PTSD) and/or complex post traumatic distress disorder (CPTSD). There is a myriad of 'symptoms' from being sexually abused as a child and the adult is trying to cope with the symptoms rather than the cause for many many years; such symptoms take a lot of energy to manage and there may be little time in the persons life to juggle everything which is necessary in this modern world to carry on surviving as an individual and add marriage and children of your own who need protecting and raising, aging parents to look after and the world of work life is a juggling act and many victims of childhood sexual abuse just do not have the time to take a closer look at what happened for years and years let alone begin healing from their trauma.
An adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse will have had to overcome many obstacles before even beginning to accept the reality of their own lost childhood, the childhood they didn’t have, a childhood every child is entitled to a ‘normal happy, curious and safe up bringing’. Sure no one’s childhood is perfect and parents don’t always get it right even if they try really hard, but the world of a child who has been involved in sexual abuse is a lot like swimming in a tsunami round and round, up and down, being sucked under by the under currents and being tossed out again by a tornado, or quietly simmering away until the next eruption of the hot moulting larva that burns through ever cell of your body and all the while the child in the adult paralysed terrified that at any minute one will be drowning in their own blood from the fear of knowing and not knowing all in the same second. This goes on and on throughout life until someone throws a life jacket so they can get their head above water, before they can actually hold on to a buoy, and stop swallowing the rancid water from the depth of their abusive childhood.
They may be going round on the Ferris wheel of why and not be able to get past that for weeks, months year after year trying to work out why me? When overwhelmed we mainly do one of three things; let it wash over us and get on with our daily living with it leaking out or become so distracted, it consumes us or we become ill from trying in vain to find answers that can never be answered or we dissociate from it altogether whichever is our preference and for some there may be an element of all three as it will and does return and returns in ways we can never imagine until we get a hold of it and face our fears.
Each individual in society who utters any of those statements is playing a part in keeping childhood sexual abuse a secret, why? Because the above statements and questions are exactly what perpetrators of sexual abuse would have you and I believe. Why? Because it offers yet another smoke screen to the actuality of the world of sexual deviancy, because that’s what an adult who perpetrates sex with a child is, deviant. Any adult who was sexually abused as a child has had to dig very deep into their lost world of childhood to find the courage to disclose, to find a path through the fear, shame and blame. Which let’s face it is wielded at the child left with them rather than at the feet of the perpetrator, not child is an evil wrong doers they are learning, curious and imaginative. The child now an adult has carried this fear, shame and blame for years and for some carry it for the rest of their life without ever disclosing to another even their closest family members.
The Child being abused is introduced to the adult world of sex, responsibility and accountability way before they are psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physical able to assimilate such ways. The child is over stimulated in every facet of his/her being and can’t cognitively or physical accommodate sexual behaviour nor the language which accompanies it or the fear, it is traumatic there is no getting around, over or under it . This creates confusion, doubt, shame, guilt and all those unpleasant things on the picture above and in this writing; add brainwashing to the mix from the perpetrator not to tell because “it’s our secret” or “you will be taken away to live in a home if you tell” or worse some victims are told if they tell “I’ll kill you” or your mother, sister, brother friend or pet or kill someone you love, making it very difficult for the child to ‘tell’ the secret as it is happening.
Even children who ‘tell’ the secret to parents or caregivers are not believed because a child is to be seen and not heard, or back chatting, being disrespectful to the adults around her; label a liar, or living in a fantasy world. Well in my childhood this was true, happily not so much now. Or they are believed but the secret is sweep under the carpet with a stiff upper lip attitude and the child is told “don’t tell anyone what happened or you will be taken away”. A Child has no discernment from what is a real threat or what is said as something someone is not likely to act upon so the child has no alternative but to believe the adult/s in its life because the Child has a will to survive.
All this is added to the child’s fear and trauma whilst colluding with the perpetrator some times directly and sometime indirectly for fear of the consequences of anyone 'official' finding out. Then if the secret is not discussed ever again as the child grows she comes to wonder if it actually happened or it all gets mixed up as the child matures infiltrated by the people who wish to keep the secret since once a secret has been laid down it has a knock on effect, secrets in themselves are very powerful. Children are vulnerable and are susceptible to being coerced and compliant otherwise some form of negative consequence may and will prevail or even death is a possibility in the child's mind.
The adult also has lifetime difficulty and this may be because mental health issues have taken over or the child used dissociation as a coping strategy to separate themselves from and to elevate the pain of the abuse at the time of it happening. Now as an adult the same is true once the tsunami is reactivated the adult is reactivated into the world of their childhood and pulled right back into the childlike qualities and coping strategies utilised to enable survival, in the same way a child is catapulted into the adult world before they are ready. There is no gap between then and now if the adult has not had the opportunity to heal, times past become times present and times present become times past all that was now is in the mind of the damaged Adult.
So in answer to questions raised ……..
Simply because now is the time the adult feels they can face and cope with disclosing what happened to them personally in their childhood; cope more readily with the barrage of questions which follow a disclosure, and feel ready to accept and face their fears with support.
“it was so long ago you’d think they would have forgotten or got over it by now”
A Child who experienced sexual abuse never ‘gets over it’ or ‘forgets’ what happened to them no matter what age they have reached, because the pain and terror of what happened to them is etched, tattooed on to their Soul tattooed into the core of their very Being. Can you get over or forget a tattoo which is engraved onto your arm, can that tattoo be simply rubbed out? Even if you have the tattoo removed it will leave a scar or traces of the original.
“it’s in the past why bring it up now”?
It can never be ‘past’ because we are all each and every one of us a product or by product of our past until each and every one of us becomes consciously awake to our personal reality of living. We will forever have elements of our past because our past 'contributes' to who we are here and now; we don't need to be defined by our past however. Our experience of living and walking the paths we walked as an individual and the paths we are walking is what makes us individual, unique and different from one another - same yet different.
"Just another one?
Well I’ll finished this post with a story:
“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
"It made a difference for that one.”
Disclosing and the timing when that person takes the opportunity to disclose their experience of Childhood sexual abuse will and does......
"MAKE A DIFFRENCE FOR THAT ONE PERSON"!
One person can change a world - let that person be YOU! - let that world be yours!
End the stigmas that accompanies childhood sexual abuse and make it safer for every individual no matter what age they have reached who suffered at the hands of an abuser have a voice, let them be heard without being condemned, judged and abused again! Because their voice matters.
Make a difference to one other person - make the world a better place