Since the publication of my book When a Man You Love Was Abused, I've done more than 30 interviews on radio and six times TV on the topic. (One radio program canceled because the subject was "inappropriate" for their audience.)
A question that has come up several times goes something like this: What do you mean by a conspiracy of silence?
It's not an original term, but it fits. Conspiracy of silence means that those whom we would normally expect to support and encourage us erect a wall between us (or perhaps we do it ourselves). Sometimes we who were victimized try to break through and we're rebuffed by being ignored or they don't believe us.
For me to break the silence in my own family of origin was difficult. To my surprise when I did, two of my three widowed sisters immediately affirmed me. The first had been abused by the same pedophile. The other said she hadn't known but suspected. "We didn't know what to do about those things back then," she said. And I think she spoke the truth.
A few months ago. the third sister read my book on sexual abuse and we spoke on the phone. She remembered a few details that I had forgotten. I felt such a glow from talking to her. At last, I thought, the silence has been driven away. I'm freer now than ever.
I'm the father of three grown children. I hadn't spoken to them about my abuse before I wrote my book. (I'm not sure why.) I gave each one a copy and said, "I want you to read this."
Since then, all three read the book and they've talked openly with me. They know and they love me. That's what counts.
The important people in my life know about my abuse. The conspiracy is more than silenced: It's dead.