Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Never Be Bullied Into Silence

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. ~Harvey Fierstein 

No relationship – whether it is family or friend – is worth being bullied into silence about your abuse. Especially after you’ve found your voice! There will be those people who, after you continue on your healing journey, will come at you with anger, bitterness and accusations. They’ll try to bully you and control you by telling you to SHUT UP ALREADY!

Stop talking about the past!

If you’re healed, then shut up.

All you’re doing is looking for attention.

Stop dragging our family name through the mud.

Leave it alone and let us have peace.

If you really forgave and are over it, then stop talking about it.

You aren’t being an advocate. You’re only keeping the attention on yourself and petting the demons you can’t let go of.

Having you talk about this to people and disown family is not healing; it’s disheartening.

You need to deal with this and get over it.

Yes, I could go on and on. I’ve heard these exact things from family members I thought supported and loved me. I’ve also gotten the opposite response – total silence and no acknowledgement whatsoever from those I’ve confronted that knew of the abuse and allowed it to continue and not help me. But they’ll talk behind my back, whine and lie about what I’ve said to others. Abusive family dynamics are sad and frustrating. The one thing I learned in my therapy is that I am worth something and it doesn’t matter who the person is – I have a right to stand up for myself and not accept this kind of treatment. I even have the right to stop having contact and set boundaries. 

I ran across an excellent letter (http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2012/09/02/profile-of-an-abusive-family/) written by a pastor in response to his mother-in-law’s comments on her daughter’s abuse at the hands of her father – he describes perfectly the traits of the abuser, the denier and the victim, all found within an abusive family. 

His mother-in-law talked about her daughter “dredging up old, dead history.” And goes on to say, “I call it carrying an offense and not getting healed or forgiving. Isn’t it about time that you take it to the cross and leave it there? Why do you want to carry that stuff in your heart?” 

Pastor Don stated, “That’s but one example from many that fit the profile of a Denier. The responses of Deniers are designed to protect the Abuser and are often completely self-involved and ignorant. They show a lack of compassion for their children and a selfish focus on their own lives. Deniers are masters of offering trite phrases in response to pain. “Don’t dwell on it,” “Let bygones be bygones,” “Forgive and forget,” and “You can’t change the past” are common platitudes deniers deliver when confronted with sexual abuse.”

He goes on, “Victims care for the emotional needs of the Deniers. When they are children, this is a matter of survival, but the trait becomes ingrained and carries over into adulthood.  In Christina’s life, she protected your emotional well-being by trying to be the perfect daughter and by pretending to be happy so your peace would not be disturbed. That continued even into adulthood when she sought to spare your feelings.” 

You, as a Survivor, must remember who you are. You are worthy of love, respect, kindness and compassion. When family members or friends come at you spewing ugly accusations – stop. Take a deep breath. Remember that their anger, complacency and denial come from a point of fear. Fear of the truth they already know. Fear of dealing with their own feelings towards the abuse. Fear of having to let go of what they have known and venturing into unknown territory. Fear of facing their own demons. They want you to be silent again because it feels SAFE for them. It’s what they KNOW. Don’t take it upon yourself to try and “fix” them or help them. Not only will that blow up in your face, but you can’t help someone who isn’t ready. Every person must find their own path for healing and in their own time. 

You don’t owe anything to anyone except YOURSELF.

You owe it to yourself to continue to speak out. For in using your voice, you not only continue to heal yourself but help others who can’t yet speak.

You owe it to yourself to set boundaries to protect your physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing.

You owe it to yourself to form healthy, supportive relationships and friendships that will enable you to grow and find yourself. 

A toast to you, Survivor! You are worth it!

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