Monday, June 18, 2018

Why Victims of Abuse Can Take Years to Tell Their Truth

On a daily basis here at the FACT office we speak to victims / survivors of abuse. Some of the victims / survivors want to expose their abusers and the abuse that occurred while many are not willing to come forward yet.

We can understand and empathize with all victims, abuse of any kind is Never ok. For those struggling to speak up and tell their stories, their Truth, we understand how hard it can be. First and foremost dealing with the trauma itself and figuring out how to heal from it and then there is a plethora of circumstances and potential ramifications one considers when deciding on whether to speak up or not.

For those struggling to figure out if and when they will speak their truth, here are a couple of articles that may be of use to you.

According to the Huff Post article above, some of the reasons why victims take years to come forward are:

  1. "Perpetrators and their allies undermine victims’ credibility and impugn their character. If you own a TV, read the newspaper, or have an Internet connection, you have seen how victims are portrayed in the media when they come forward.
  2. The community often rallies around the perpetrator and pillories the victim. If you have ever interacted with a victim or supporters of an alleged perpetrator, you have probably witnessed this. Predators groom individuals and entire communities so that they gain the trust of victims and so that they have a convenient “good guy” cover in place in case they are exposed.
  3. Victims face a barrage of questions when they come forward instead of the sympathy and support they need. Why didn’t you speak out sooner? Why didn’t you try to stop the attacks? These questions add to the trauma and horror of sexual violence.
  4. Victims sometimes have kept in touch with their perpetrators. Maybe they continued dating, working together, or interacting politely at family events. Continued contact with a perpetrator is also very common. Often this factor alone keeps victims trapped in silence.
  5. Not reporting allows a victim to maintain the fantasy that people in positions of responsibility would be helpful if he or she did report. Reporting often crushes that fantasy when responsible people protect themselves and the perpetrator instead.
  6. A lot of victims prefer to create an alternate reality, one in which the abuse didn’t happen. If a victim is hiding behind a facade of success, competence, and achievement, admitting past abuse can shatter that facade. Being the victim of sexual violence is highly stigmatized. No high-functioning person wants to be viewed as damaged.
  7. Victims find it easier to pretend to be normal and live a lie than face the horror of sexual abuse and trauma.
  8. Victims often fear that coming forward will result in the loss of employment, support network, housing, reputation, and even their lives. Victims involved in athletics and extra-curricular activities may fear loss of playing time and access to important opportunities.
  9. Some victims simply don’t remember. I had suppressed the memories of my abuse and still do not have linear memories of it.
  10. In the case of child sexual abuse (and oftentimes abuse of adults), reporting can disrupt every relationship important to the victim. Family members and friends choose the easier narrative: that the victim is lying. Believing someone has lied is easier than believing that a loved one has raped a child.
  11. Victims might not know who to tell. Do you tell a friend? A pastor? The police? Since sexual violence is shrouded in a code of silence, sometimes the impediment to timely reporting is that victims literally do not know what to do. Some may not even realize initially they have been a victim of sexual violence in the first place.
  12. Some victims are under the mistaken impression that you cannot report at all if you do not report immediately.
  13. Some victims tried to report and were told there was no recourse. In some cases, victims disclosed to allies of the perpetrator who told them not to tell anyone else, further fortifying the prison of silence. Who would take the risk and report again after that?
  14. Victims may have been committed a crime or infraction of rules around the time of the crime. Underage victims who have been drinking at a party, for example, could fear getting in trouble and decide it is not worth the risk of reporting the sexual assault.
  15. Naming an act of sexual violence makes it real. Keeping silent is a way of protecting oneself.
  16. The victim feels indebted to the perpetrator. For example, if the victim is an elite athlete, he or she may feel as if she owes the coach his or her silence.
  17. Child victims may have been under the misguided impression that they were in a consensual relationship with a much older person. In this case, it can take a long time to realize that the “relationship” was actually a sexual crime."
Another great article and reference is:

These are just a couple of references, there are numerous books, videos and articles on these particular topics all of which can be very useful and we'll talk about more of these in a later blog posts.

We understand the struggles that are faced, you can recover and heal from what has happened to you, stay strong! We are here for you!

The FACT Team

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