I was abused, but I have not shared my story.
Here are my honest reflections.
I was abused as a child.
I was abused as a young adult.
I have worked hard and spent a lot of time and money in recovery, but I also have disassociated (repressed) memories – traumas that I don’t remember but I have been made aware of by credible sources. This makes full recovery really, really hard – maybe impossible. Recovery will likely be a life-long journey for me.
I have forgiven my abusers. I do not wish bad on them. I do not expect restitution. I really, truly do not feel the need to get revenge or seek justice at this point.
But I’ve come to believe that our stories have power and can be used to make us all better.
As far as I know, one of my abusers still blames me. He has yet to acknowledge any wrong doing, yet to apologize. He has completely justified his behavior. He’d say I deserved it.
While I know I was not the only one to be abused by this person, I think I was the last. When I finally reported it, he was arrested, and to my knowledge, he has never physically hurt anyone again.
That is good. That is really good.
My other abuser… for years, he’d say I was a liar or call me crazy, like I was making the whole thing up.
Recently, however, he finally admitted it – 13 years after it happened. He said he did it, that it was wrong, that he regretted it and apologized for hurting me.
I knew I wasn’t crazy. I knew the truth, and that’s all that really mattered. That relationship will never be restored. His confession didn’t change anything for me, and I don’t think it really changed anything for him. There was certainly no consequence for him making that confession. There was no price to pay. He lost nothing.
But I did gain something. I think it was closure, and I’m super thankful for it.
Typically, our society/culture would stereotype my first abuser as a ‘man of honor’.
At the same time, our society/culture stereotypes my second abuser is a menace.
Once the damage is done, it’s done, and the abused, at least in my case, continue to suffer, while the abusers, if there is any justice at all, usually move on with their life.
So what’s the hold up for them? Why not offer closure at the very least?
Honor. Perceived honor. Reputation. Pride. Loss of a little bit of privilege. OUCH.
As silly as it may sound, I don’t share my stories because I am concerned with hurting or embarrassing my abusers – and – I assume nobody will believe me and that somehow I would lose credibility – and – I fear I will be viewed differently, as damaged or inferior. Abuse instills a pervasive belief that “I am bad” – and – I do not want to stir the pot and make connected relationships more difficult than they already are – and – I do not want to be scolded and told I’m not a very good Christian because Christians are supposed to forgive and forget.
There are people who, right now, are saying “I believe Dr. Ford” but who are denying or dismissing MY story.
I feel like I need to apologize to my abusers for writing this blog.
But I won’t.
Again, this is not because I’m harboring resentment.
This post is not intended to hurt them or bring shame upon them, although I recognize it may do that.
I really just want to heal.
For my sake and for the sake my children.
Really, for the sake every person I come into contact with.
We can heal and our stories can be redeemed if we share them.
Abusive cycles can end.
There can be real hope for a better future.
Hope that victims will find the courage to speak up and know that what happened was wrong.
Hope that people will have compassion for victims and understand why they wait to share their stories.
Hope that there will be no more abuse.
But before I end, the truth is… this is my confession that I am embarrassed to admit: There are women who have made abuse accusations against men that I know and love, and I don’t believe them. Based on what I know of their character, I think they are lying or over-exaggerating. I can say all day long that “I believe survivors”, but the truth is I don’t. Not all of them. Even though I’ve been through it. Even though I’ve been afraid to report it. I’m still figuring out what to do with this.
Maybe I’m a hypocrite. But I don’t want to be.
I want so badly to say I BELIEVE YOU.
But I also don’t want there to be any injustice, of any kind, at all.
What we all need right now is HUMILITY, HONESTY and RESPONSIBILITY.
Things would be so much better.
But it has to start with me. If you want change, it has to start with you.
This is just one of my stories – and even here, I have spared details.
I still have stories that I have not told – offenders who have not been brought to justice – because I am STILL afraid of the consequences that I myself or innocent bystanders would face if I were to share them. I would feel responsible for the damage.
That is how abuse works.
But I am breaking the cycle and rest assured, the stories will be shared.