I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Conspiracy of Silence

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.


Heather Marsten said...

I am so glad that the conspiracy of silence in your family is dead. Ours is different. My mom kept notebooks of every time my father came in my room for sex, she would wake up each morning after and say, "I heard him in your room last night, tell me what he did." I told her and she told friends, but no one came forward to help me. They would give me advice as to how to stop him from touching me, advice that would have gotten me killed had I implemented it. So I felt guilty for surviving the abuse and not stopping him.

My sister and brother found out about the abuse (they too had been abused but waited until I was 15 to ask me about it. After I got placed with my sister by the courts she blamed me for what he did, and then would abuse me if I sought help and betrayed the secret to anyone else.

It took years before I found an understanding therapist and later a pastor to help me. But even today, over 25 years later the family doesn't want to see what happened, or deal with it. It saddens me because they won't find the freedom God gave me.

Thanks for your posts. You always find ways to touch my heart through what you share.


Roger Mann said...

It wasn't until I was into my therapy for a while that it became clear to me that my mother at least knew something. She knew about dad's other involvements to some degree and when he started with me well, like you said in your post, I think she just didn't know what to do about it. I can remember trying to tell her when I was about 15 and she changed the subject. When I finally did say something had happened just before she was killed, I could see it hurt her to hear this and so I immediately minimized it and shut up. Times were different way back then.