Victim-blaming and the Second Wound of Sexual Abuse
This post feels so cathartic - because even though I am a victim of sexual abuse that extended beyond myself - I have been made to feel like the whole situation was somehow my fault.
I felt that I would never write a post like this, because I somehow owed this person something.
I'd heard of that happening in abuse cases before, but thought it so absurd how a trauma survivor could be made to feel, and even blame themselves for what occurred and the fallout after.
But it's true folks, and I've learned some massive things along the way that I feel earned to share, if for nothing more than my own personal healing.
This is called the Second Wound. The first is the abuse that took place, the second is the family unit's response to it.
Obviously the blame doesn't fall to the victim for what happened to them, but in the fallout, the blame for the change in the family unit is often directed at the family. Why can't they just keep quiet? Is there even enough evidence? Surely they are making it up?
Who the fuck would make something like that up is totally beyond me (certainly not a child who is barely speaking), and even when there is overwhelming evidence these questions are raised in an attempt for nothing to change.
I was sexually abused as a child by an immediate family member.
That same family member abused one of my children.
This person is so admired/feared/such a manipulator that almost all of my immediate family have 'sided' with them.
This person showed no remorse, has made no attempt to right anything, and has swept the situation under the rug with my family to the point where me and my children are no longer talked about.
My family have accepted this.
These situations happen all the time. Because when the consequences of sexual abuse come to light, the fallout is massive. And often, it's the victim who is ostracised so that the family unit dynamic does not have to change.
The one complaining just goes away.
Well I am that one, and so are my children.
In the face of something so ugly, I had to chose, as a 30 year old single woman, to overcome my fear around this person, my fear of rejection from my 'family' and go out on my own with my 2 little girls - in the promise to them that they would have a different start, a better start. The start that every little girl and boy deserves.
One where they are free from sexual abuse, are allowed to be children and are protected, nurtured, believed, listened to and held sacred in their vulnerability.
Now this is not a pity party sob story, because I have now come to believe that the Universe was setting me free from people who never really had my best interest at heart. Most family catch ups were spent talking behind others backs, filled with resentment and discontent.
That aside, it is very rare that abuse occurs over time and no one has a gut feeling, intuition or some kind of evidence about it. I have had evidence of this around my own abuse more than once. People had a feeling, but not enough to take action. It's almost like if the act isn't caught in person, it will just continue?
We are so disconnected from our feelings, and so engrained in fear - that in the face of evil like this, we do nothing. We doubt ourselves. We don't know how to deal. It's too overwhelming. And so the cycle continues.
And so I am grateful tonight that my reality changed the day I said no.
Now I sit here and say thank you Universe, for giving me the strength to walk away and choose safety for my girls, in the face of an overwhelming lack of support.
Thank you for giving me the space to invite into my life the kinds of people that will respect me, protect me, nurture me and lift me up, always.
Thank you, for so much of the anxiety, self loathing, low self esteem, inability to be vulnerable in relationships, pushing away people, addictive behaviours and codependency that I've been healing and managing make so much more sense.
Thank you, for while the inner-child in me still feels totally broken and unable to trust a single thing or person (even after so. much. work. that feels never ending) I have so much compassion for her rather than frustration, and I know where my healing work is.
Thank you, for when those confronting and sickening moments happen where I remember, or can't remember, when I feel or am numb, I have developed and sourced tools that support me emotionally when I used to freeze or drown (ok, sometimes I still freeze and drown).
Thank you, for I will always listen to my intuition, like I did that day I realised my daughter had been violated.
Thank you, because I will stand with strength beside her as she navigates her own healing lessons. Unafraid of the truth, because I faced it head on, and I will teach her not to be scared of it also.
The truth is only scary while it's in the dark. Once you bring it to light, that fucker is just what it is, something that happened - and how you heal and move forward is totally up to you.
You get to choose what defines you, not something that was forced on you by a hurt and sick person who took advantage of your vulnerability.
I will not have those kinds of people in my life anymore, or their supporters and that feels so good to own.
And I'll admit, it was a surprisingly hard thing to resolve in myself. The guilt. That fucking victim-blaming.
Making way for the good,