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.

"We Didn't Know."

(This entry from Cec Murphey was originally posted on Mariska Hartigay's Joyful Heart Foundation site on 7/5/12.)

"We didn't know," the civilians said when asked about the gas chambers after World War II.

"We didn't know," neighbors say when they learn that the man across the street had molested a boy.

"We didn't know," parents say when their adult children talk about their past sexual abuse.

When I began to deal with my abuse, I told my three older sisters. They said the same thing.

I don't think they were lying. I think they couldn't accept the enormity of the revelation. If they had known, perhaps they wouldn't have been able to face the personal guilt for doing nothing.

What about abused kids' point of view when they hear those responses? One of the witnesses against Jerry Sandusky said he never told anyone. Asked why, he repeated an answer that rang true to me and to many others, "Who would believe a kid?"

When the perpetrator is a prominent person in the community, leads a scout troop, teaches Sunday school, or runs a charitable organization for kids, who wants to hear such stories?

The answer: No one wants to hear such stories.

Perhaps the question should be, Who needs to hear such stories?

When asked that way, the answer is obvious. Parents, religious and civic leaders need to hear. But too often they don't.

Sandusky's wife said she never heard the boy screaming in the basement. Apparently, she also didn't know when their adopted son said Sandusky molested him repeatedly for several years.

When will they believe us?

When will the cries of bruised and raped boys be heard?

Until they are, the survivor on the witness stand has spoken for all of us who were abused in the past. He speaks for those who are or will be molested.

"Who would believe a kid?"


Heather Marsten said...

For me the problem was different. My mother knew. After ever visit from my father she greeted me with, "I heard him in your room last night, tell me what he did." She filled up two notebooks with details of his visits and did nothing. I felt she was scared of him too. There were times when I felt she got some perverse pleasure from the details, especially when she called her friends and said, "Poor me, look what my husband is doing to my daughter." They knew and did nothing.

Years later I found out that she encouraged him to do what he did so that he wouldn't leave her and move in with is girlfriend.

It took many years before I could forgive both him and her. I never got freedom until I forgave.

I wonder if it would have been easier to bear if she knew nothing - I think both are bad. If you know nothing it isolates the victim. If you know and do nothing, it also isolates.

Thanks for your posts. I send a lot of people here when they share of the abuse they've received. You are such a blessing.

Andrew said...

Thanks for your honesty and clear voice in these posts. I resonate with many comments you've made, about family struggling with the enormity of the victim's story, about their sense of guilt, etc. Forgiveness all the more complex when one's abuser was a family member. This is the group of survivors that is further victimized with issues of reconciliation. People have no idea how a family's actions, silence, and protests push victimized members even further away. When Sandusky's male victims were legally heard...so was I. On the day of the verdict, I wrote a prayer for them all--and others who will never have their day in court.

Cec Murphey said...

Thank you, Andrew. Your response is that of many of us survivors.
I was especially touched by your statement that when Sandusky's victims were legally heard, so were you.
Many of us were heard.