Sukoon’s comment on this blog entry inspired this post. Sukoon talked about feeling guilty for burdening family members with knowledge of the abuse. This is a common struggle for child abuse survivors.
Here’s the irony – We worry about burdening adults with hearing about abuse that we actually experienced as children. Am I the only one who sees how warped this dynamic is? I have told multiple people, “I assure you that it was much harder for me to live through these things as a kid than for you to hear about them now as an adult.”
I no longer worry so much about other people’s reactions to hearing about my abuse, but in the early years, I took a lot of responsibility for protecting others from hearing about it. I would talk in generalities about the abuse because I feared they couldn’t handle hearing the specifics. To this day, people like my grandmother have no knowledge of the abuse because I don’t want to burden her with it in her old age. Sadly, since healing from child abuse is such a big part of who I am, the net result is that my grandmother doesn’t really know me. It’s sad that she is being deprived of seeing the “real me” because of my choice to protect her from the ugliness of my childhood.
I found that the best support people were fellow child abuse survivors. They “got” it, and they could hear about my abuse experiences without burdening me with the need to “protect” them. The irony is that child abuse survivors are much more likely to be triggered by my story. However, child abuse survivors are also amazingly strong, which gives them the courage to read my story and then provide me with the support I need. The child abuse survivor community at Isurvive provided me with ~ 90% of the support I received in my early years of healing.
I only share the specifics of my story with a handful of people in my offline life. I have provided the URL to this blog to some of them and let them choose how much they want to know. I try to let the other person set the pace for how much she can handle learning about my history. As I continue to heal, I feel less of a need to share my story. However, I don’t see how I can develop a deep friendship with someone who knows nothing at all about my history.
Photo credit: Hekatekris