Since making my abuse known to the public, I have received a wide range of responses, from dead silence from close friends to private and public encouragement from acquaintances and unknown fellow survivors. I expected the range, and I was curious to see who would choose to step up and who would choose to slink away.
There are two kinds of people who do not support victims of abuse. The first are abusers. These people must keep their own mask on at all times and make sure everyone thinks it’s the victim’s fault. These are deranged people who need help. It’s imperative that they are to be avoided, especially during recovery. But sadly, abusers are everywhere.
The second kind who do not support victims of abuse are those who are victims themselves. These people are in denial about the impact of abuse in their own lives, and when someone speaks up about it, their immediate impulse is to shrink, push it away, belittle, cover up, or make general platitudes about it. They must keep their mask on at all times and make sure it’s the victim’s fault. They are deranged people who need help. Victims in denial about their own abuse are also to be avoided, and sadly, they are also everywhere.
See how they play into each other? Sometimes victims of abuse can be more hurtful than abusers. They have first hand knowledge of the pain, yet they refuse to offer grace for themselves or others. It’s out of their own self-protection that they do this. If a victim of abuse acknowledges my struggle, then they must also acknowledge theirs. Many people aren’t ready or willing to do that, because they are so conditioned out of fear to remain silent.
Speaking out about abuse shatters this cycle, and conversely, victims of abuse who have faced their own grief are typically the best allies and supporters. Choosing to be honest about the impact of abuse is hard to do, and every person must go at their own pace. Some people are terrified to peel away the first layer of the onion because they fear that underneath the core is entirely rotten. That’s a hard thing to face. But those who don’t face it risk losing their health, their relationships, and their soul. After all, rot spreads when left untended.