Being sexually abused is being violated in the most private part of our bodies and psyche. Something which is so personal and precious has been forcefully taken by a bully who knows he can get away with it. When one hears about famous people who have got away with sexual abuse for years and have finally been exposed. The question that comes to everyone’s mind is “Why women who are sexually assaulted remain silent?
Being sexually molested brings on a gamut of emotions humiliation, rage, fear, shame, blame and self-loathing, the worst fall-out of sexual abuse is doubting your own reality – did this actually happen. After the deed is done the perpetrator goes about like nothing happened, he will even mock you and make fun of your emotional problems. Like when the porn-addict cousin made fun of me for wetting the bed, my psychological response to his sexual molestation. He not just destroyed my sense of self by his covert abuse, he went about humiliating me publicly and destroying every vestige of self-esteem. He got away with the abuse because of my enabler grandmother.
Even though sex is no longer a taboo topic, there is generally a feeling of disbelief when one hears of sexual abuse. There is a tendency to not believe the victims because the perpetrators are master deceivers. They are literally wolf in sheep’s clothing. When someone picks on a woman to abuse, he is quite aware that she is weaker emotionally, physically and socially which translates that he can get away with it. His selection of his target is done with calculation, he picks someone who is vulnerable and desperate. Someone who has no one to turn to, someone who he knows will keep quite because her options are scant. He knows he can discredit her with blatant lies and subterfuge. He knows he has the support of family and society. He knows how to put the act of benign friendliness, there is no way in hell that anyone will believe that this is the guy who preys on human beings. Sadly, people who commit sex offenses often appear to be nice, responsible, upstanding, loving and law-abiding members of the community. That is why sexual abuse went on for decades in the Catholic church without so much of whiff of scandal.
My only recourse to survive the multiple abuses was blame myself, that something was wrong with me, I am the one who is responsible for their vile behavior. Yes, most often women are silenced into acquiescence by the condemnation of their families and society. The message given is they are the wicked ones. A brainwashing that was done when we were young girls breaking into the sexual world of womanhood. Instead of being taught how to protect ourselves from predators we were shamed into believing that we were responsible for the wicked and ugly behavior.
Being a survivor of sexual abuse is humiliating and debilitating, you can’t believe that someone can behave in such a horrible way, just not care that you are human with feelings and emotions. The shame is two-fold, being violated in the most private part of your body and that the family and society making the victim feel that they must have instigated this behavior. And sadly, the victim begins to doubt her goodness and begins believing the lies of her environment. It took me years to stop thinking of myself as dirty, ugly and wicked. When I finally wrote to my father detailing my abuse, he chose not to respond. Recently, when I wrote to my brother he too never replied. I guess somewhere one has to answer to one’s transgressions, if not in this life definitely in the after. The most important step to recovery from abuse is talking and sharing your story to a caring person who believes and understands your pain and trauma.
Elizabeth Smart’s Inspiring Ted Talk – Surviving Sexual Abuse
She says of her experience, “It is so traumatic. It is so scary coming forward and saying I was sexually abused. I was hurt someone stole something from me that I’ll never get back. But I have to tell you it is so important to come forward and share your stories and speak out about it. Even if it’s not to your community, even if it’s not on a larger scale but at least to law enforcement so that we can stop those people that are out there taking advantage of other people; it is so important”
Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up by Elizabeth A. Smart