I can’t seem to think straight
I’ll sit in the corner
No one can bother me
I think I should speak now (why won’t you talk to me)
I can’t seem to speak now (you never talk to me)
My words won’t come out right (what are you thinking)
I feel like I’m drowning (What are you feeling)
I’m feeling weak now (why won’t you talk to me)
But I can’t show my weakness (you never talk to me
I sometimes wonder (what are you thinking)
Where do we go from here (what are you feeling)“Keep Talking”
PINK FLOYD/ The Division Bell
One of the hardest things I do is to convince other victims to tell their stories. I let them know its o.k. to leave out specifics like names and places to protect innocent parties, but tell.
Even in the Jewish community survivors face huge hurdles – mostly by being accused of Loshan Hara. But those of us who try to help these victims know all too often its a “shut up” tactic used by abusers and their friends to stop the truth from coming out.
One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done is to talk about some of the abusers in my life and what they did to me. At first I was just worried about how stupid and naive I would look. And yes, many people, even family, called me an idiot or said I somehow brought the abuse and traumas on myself or that I was a Drama Queen. I got past being judged. How? By realizing that if I really cared about the other families involved or truly ever cared about the abuser themselves that telling may be my only shot at stopping their behavior and allowing them to correct themselves. I needed to allow them to own their behavior and restore a positive relationship between myself and them. It was a form of apology on my part too. Even if they refuse – I will continue to try.
Believe me, the price I have paid & still do pay is high. There are still a few who have used, exploited and abused me out there that tell watered down or twisted versions of reality to make their abuse seem morally equivalent to anything I may have done out of compassion. Or there’s the smear campaigns: they’ve tried to call me crazy, a liar, a scorned woman, jealous in some way or a nut-job. I’m in good company because that’s exactly what millions of victims who speak out or try to help are called too. Not terribly original. Included in this are accusations of stalking that I didn’t do; websites or social media I don’t have anything to do with; money I never took; my physical disability that ‘doesn’t exist; take one tiny truth and blowing it into something horrible; harassing that I couldn’t physically do and wouldn’t anyway or the classic abuser ploy of playing the victim and trying to paint me as the abuser. Most of the time its all designed to make sure the abuser’s buddies don’t get to know me so they won’t find out I am none of those things and incapable of all of it. People who do know me and hear these things about me, know its a complete joke. The same is true for any victim. I’m not telling to hurt the abuser but to heal myself & others.
Lundy [Bancroft] points out that one of the abusers most commonly used tactics is to try to convince you and the people around you that you are crazy or that you have some type of “antisocial personality disorder”. Do not fall for their unprofessional diagnosis. Do not try to convince him or other people who are uneducated enough to believe him that they are incorrect. Let them believe what they want. Not only is this your opportunity to distinguish who your true support group is in order to protect yourself from his allies, it’s also a great source for personal strength and growth. And once you’ve overcome the feelings of betrayal, and learned the real reasons for this tactic of his, it can be a great source for endless humor by seeing what “the blind leading the blind” truly means. Stay away from these toxic people, they are harmful to your health, survival and well being.
In labeling you “crazy”, the abuser finds it easier to justify his abuse. If you have already left the abuser he can use a pop psychology term to justify to himself and others why you left him in order to avoid looking at the true reason for your departure, which was his abuse. If you find yourself questioning his lay-diagnosis, I urge you to seek the advice of a licensed psychotherapist who can tell you in a few sessions if any of his claims are valid or not.
Because of this I know what to tell other victims to expect. Not because I’m somehow psychic but because these sorts of ‘damage control’ behavior on the part of the abuser is painfully predictable. And knowing what to expect makes telling easier because then you aren’t blindsided when the abuser’s rage starts for being shown as the ‘emperor/empress who really has no new clothes.’ As I said, I am in good company.
I am past caring about it for myself. I have left the door for peace & reconciliation open for a few of these people. Stupid maybe but that’s how I am. But I do tell the victims and survivors I work with – you have to get it out. You have to tell someone or you may never be able to trust again. PTSD can last a lifetime but you can move forward with your life, even if you never forget, by telling.
You never talk to me (you know I can’t breathe now)
What are you thinking (we’re going nowhere)
What are you feeling (we’re going nowhere)
Why won’t you talk to me
You never talk to me
What are you thinking
Where do we go from here”Keep Talking”
PINK FLOYD/ The Division Bell
Why We Keep Talking
The backlash against survivors who dare to talk about their experiences is incredible. From well-meaning relatives or friends who hope to lessen the pain somehow by telling us, “It can’t have been that bad,” to death threats and stalking from abusers we’ve confronted, to organizations operating on a large-scale to debunk reports of abuse, survivors are beset on all sides with walls of disbelief.
We are accused of making it up, of being crazy, of being “oversensitive”, ungrateful, just out for attention, or any of a thousand demeaning labels which not only insult our individual persons, but also give no respect to the horrors we’ve survived, or the strength we have shown in doing so.
It is my personal opinion that people just don’t want to admit abuse exists. Sometimes, this is understandable. Sometimes, a person might have great faith in the goodness of humanity, and can’t even conceive of abuse as happening (or else, can’t conceive of it happening except “over there”, or “somewhere else”).
“Let us remember: what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.”—Elie Wiesel
Or perhaps they don’t want to imagine that abuse might have happened to someone they care about, and so they minimize it. Maybe, they even believe they are helping to relieve a survivor’s pain, by suggesting that the survivor focus on something else.
Other people have a more vested interest in letting abuse happen. A parent who was negligent in protecting their child from being abused by the other parent, for example, may not want to hear about what happened, either because they have incredible guilt about their failure to help, or because they don’t want to admit that they were partly responsible for what went on. (Yes, I said responsible — there is no excuse for failing to protect a child from abuse. Parents in this position are known as “passive abusers”: they did not directly harm the child themselves, but they failed to do anything to stop it. The only acceptable reason for not stopping abuse is if you really don’t know that it’s happening — and this is extremely rare.)
People who buy into an abusive system — say, overly macho or aggressive men, or very submissive women — might deny that abuse happens as well. A good portion of college men apparently believe that there is no such thing as rape, and that it’s okay to have sex with a woman if she’s drunk or unconscious. (I say, if the only way you can get laid is with a woman who’s out cold, you’re probably the most pathetic ***hole that ever lived — and a criminal to boot.)
Yet another group has a direct investment in whether or not abuse is revealed: abusers themselves. For one reason or another, abusers want to get away with it. Why? I don’t know. I’ve never been inside an abuser’s head, I’ve only been on the receiving end of their abuse. I don’t know what makes abusers tick — and in some ways, I hope I never find out.
The bottom line is, this isn’t a very survivor-friendly world. Yes, resources are out there. Yes, people know more about abuse and recovery than they ever did before. Yes, more strides are made daily, in healing and in research. Yes, we keep talking. But it isn’t easy. All of the above makes our lives very difficult. Add to this the reports of abuse which actually do turn out to be false, and it just adds one more wall — if one “victim” cries wolf, it makes those of us with true stories to tell that much more likely not to be believed.
But talk we do, and talk we will. With our friends, our families, on TV, in books, in journals, on blogs, on forums, through artwork, with therapists, online, in webpages… on and on and on.
We have to.
Serial killer, Gary Ridgeway’s, second wife was choked by Gary from behind once a few years into their marriage. Marcia told her dad, mom and friends that her husband had tried to kill her. Guess what? Years later when caught by the police, he told them that he indeed wanted to kill Marcia, his second wife. There was only one reason he did not stage her death, he explained. Because she told so many people, he deduced they would suspect him and he might get caught. Telling saved Marcia’s life. Will it save yours?
For those of us who have suffered abuse at the hands of others, the only way out is by revealing what happened — bringing it out into the light, naming it for what it is, looking at it good and hard, assessing the damage done to our selves and our lives, and then assimilating the damage and moving on.
No, there’s no overnight cure.
No, we can’t just “snap out of it”. DUH!
We have to talk, because if we don’t, abuse will never come to light, for anyone. It will continue breeding in the silence and shame, on and on, for generations to come, causing the same debilitation and hatred and confusion for future generations that it has to us.
We have to talk, because we can’t let abusers get away with it anymore. The toll they take on all of humanity is simply unacceptable.