Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“It Could Have Been Worse”

That statement, “It could have been worse,” angered me. I heard it only once from a relative. Even though she probably didn’t mean it that way, the words were dismissive and minimized the damage the abuse had done. I said nothing.

If I were to hear it today, I’d like to say, “And how much more would it have taken for you to consider it worse?” I’d explain the emotional damage the molestation caused me throughout my life. What did she think would have been worse? If my perp had killed me? Made me a sex slave? (I wouldn’t say it, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to.)

Most likely I sound defensive here, and she thought her words were encouraging me.

Because of the abusive behavior of others, my childhood was miserable and one time I was suicidal. I felt worthless, unloved, and wanted. I could add other symptoms, but the question remains: how much worse did it need to have been?

I heard the statement again recently from a man who was trying to share his pain in a small-group setting. And the leader, shockingly, spoke those words.

After the meeting, the survivor asked me, “Should I go back to that group?”

He has to answer that for himself, but if the leader was as insensitive as the words appear in writing, I wouldn’t go back.

None of us survivors need patronizing words that diminish our pain or make us feel as if we’re self-pitying.

Our abuse was bad enough to make us struggle with it all through the rest of our lives.

Isn’t that bad enough?

7 comments:

Mark Cooper said...

The first two men I told I had been sexually abused responded poorly to me. They were both Christian authority figures who I looked up to and trusted. They both communicated the same message, "Why are you so upset? It happened a long time ago. You are OK. You need to forgive and move on."

Their message of course put all the responsibility back on me. I told them about my abuse on a Saturday. The next morning I sat in church, right across the aisle from one of my abusers, and I quietly cried through the entire service, thinking that I was completely in the wrong for being abused and for having feelings about the abuse.

This happened nearly 25 years ago. In recent years I have had to work through a lot of forgiveness towards these two men. In their own way, they violated and raped my soul, just as my abusers violated and raped my soul AND my body.

Sean Desmond said...

Great piece

stanw said...

Comments like that make me angry now that I recall them. At the time though I took it as my being worthless and I kept silent. Oh the price I paid for being silent, in many respects. Thank God for sharing his love with me, his faithfulness and healing brought me through.

Thanks guys for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I never shared with anyone when I was a child then teenager. I know The night the abuse stopped. Everyone in my family knows that night, they just don't know what happened to me that night to cause the rage. I was asleep in my bed that night. I believe I was a teenager or almost a teen. My dad came to me again that night and placed His hand over my mouth and face and held me down as he pleasured himself. After it was over and I came back to myself. I went into a flying rage, clawing at him, trying my best to strangle him. I ran to the bathroom and was standing in the tub. My mother came in there and my dad was standing behind her. I tried my best to reach him and choke him as I spit at him and growled. I believe I was truly on the edge of losing my mind. I remember my mother called the doctor and he said that if he doesn't get a grip then he may need to be institutionalized. It was like a flip switched. Everything that he did to me was locked away within me and I threw away the key. He never touched me again and I never remembered anything until my dad committed suicide in 2001. Then the door of memories unlocked. I thought I was going crazy and all I wanted to so was commit suicide. I felt like trash. Thank the Lord for my wife and a good counselor. Still everyday is a battle.

Mark Cooper said...

Anonymous, thank you for having the courage to share with us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

One thing about my story above that gives me hope is that I fought back. I didn't just take it anymore. The threats of him klling me, my mom and brother and sisters did not work anymore. I believe it scared him to death that i was about to reveal the secret to everyone, and I was going to. But I heard the doctor on the phone and I knew that I was one step from being locked up. I knew at that time that my dad's dad had already institutionalized my dad's mom, and I could see myself going there too. So, I locked it all away from the age of around 12/13 to the age of 36 - 24 years. I had heard stories on Oprah where people had locked away memories for that long but I did not realize it was true. I do think that if I had not locked it all away, I would have gone completely crazy.