For me, the silence was an impenetrable wall I constructed. It had many uses. As part of my abuse I did many things that, even at the time, were horrific. I certainly didn't want anyone to know the facts. I worked hard to isolate myself from intimate or close relationships. If others knew the reality, certainly they would ostracize me.
The silence about being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse spilled over into other aspects of life. If I didn't want people to find out my secret, I couldn't let them get close in other ways. Open and honest expressions of feelings and emotions were off limits. Anything that would give insight to what and who I really was, I kept under lock and key.
I never developed friends, much less close friends. The first responses I got after breaking my silence were so awful and humiliating, that I quickly clammed up again. It took me decades to have the courage to shed the shame and guilt, forgive myself, and allow God to use those horrible experiences for good in the lives of other survivors.
Tom Scales is Executive Director of Voice Today, www.voicetoday.org.