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?