Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Mrs. Who has an excellent rant about the idiots belittling the boys that were recently rescued from their abductor. If you haven't read it, go now. I'll wait.

OK. Now that you have read the post and the comments, you should understand that I am continuing my comment here instead of taking up her blog space for my rant. This story struck a nerve. A whole wad of them.

If you have never been in an abusive situation DO NOT CONDEMN OTHERS. You cannot truly understand the psychological effects and defensive mechanisms that are employed unless you have been there done that.

I've been there. I've done that. I can speak. "Why doesn't a child speak out when someone is doing something wrong to them?" There are several reasons. First and most importantly, self-preservation. Usually in an abusive situation violence and fear are the first things the abuser uses as control. It may not be directed at you. But, it is implied and is usually demonstrated on someone or something. In my situation, my step-father would beat the hell out of my mother anytime she stood up to him. If he would do that to an adult then what the hell would he do to a child that was disrespectful. And that is how you see it. Children are taught to respect adults. Adults are in charge. Children get in trouble if they speak up to an adult. Also, children love unconditionally. They think if they just keep trying harder to please this person then they will eventually love them. The adult shifts all of their shame to the child. The child carries this heavy shame. They take the blame. That's what we are taught as kids. Adults are right. Children are wrong. A child will then do anything to appease the person. They will do anything to not make them mad.

I carried around guilt and shame for over 25 years. I did not tell anyone about the molestation until 2 years after it had stopped and I had moved away. I was 19 when I finally broke down and told someone. When I was 25 my step-father was arrested for abusing the little girl next door. It was then I spoke up and told my story to the investigators. During the depositions, the defense attorneys' wanted to know why I never told anyone. After all, in their eyes I had been old enough to tell. I was first abused at age 8 and it continued until I was 17. But, they didn't look at the big picture. They said I had opportunity to tell someone and I didn't. Just because there is an opportunity in "real time" doesn't mean that you can see it. Fear is powerful. Shame is excruciatingly powerful. All I knew was that I was doing something wrong. I didn't want to get in trouble. That is how children see it.

My step-father sent me a letter while he was in prison. In it he apologized for making me have such an unhappy childhood. I replied that it wasn't all unhappy; that it was inconsistent. It was the worst and the best. That is what was so confusing. As I child, I couldn't figure out how to love and hate someone at the same time. It had to be either/or. And since I was taught in Sunday School to forgive and forget, I tried. Then I condemned myself when I couldn't tell him I loved him and I couldn't walk away. Again, I took the blame. Abusers are usually not mean 100% of the time. They reel you in with love. It is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde life. You walk on eggshells never knowing what or when they might be set off again.

I imagine that boy went through some of the same things. He needs love, support, and understanding right now not condemnation. He needs to know he is not alone anymore. That we are standing not just behind him but around him providing him with whatever he needs to get his life back.