The People In My Life Don't Believe Me: How to Proceed After Sexual Abuse
Content warning: This article mentions instances of physical and sexual abuse. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you are not alone. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers free, confidential support, 24/7, at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or at online.rainn.org. This article also provides additional resources.
When you are a child, you think that the people in your life will protect you. They are supposed to love you, be there in times of need and support you, but, sadly, that does not always take place.
When I was a child, my stepfather and stepbrother physically and sexually abused me over a period of several years.
At the time, I never divulged the abuse to anyone, due to the fact that they threatened me. They also manipulated me psychologically, making me think that my mother would never believe me and would side with her husband.
After starting therapy years later, I reached a point in my life where I decided to reveal the abuse to my mother. With the assistance of my therapist, I told her everything. As hard as it was to tell her what had happened, perhaps harder still was the fact that she expressed disbelief, asking why I hadn't told anyone at the time the offenses had occurred.
Eventually, my mother believed what I was saying, but it did take her a while. My revelation would also give her the push she needed to finally leave my abusive stepfather.
Why is it though, that the ones we look up to, or the ones that we love the most, may not believe us when we tell our story, that we were abused?
Well, I can tell you that my stepfather and stepbrother were both very good at telling lies, and people would believe them over me, as I was a child. They were older, so people would assume the younger person was lying. It can make a child feel insignificant and ignored and can lead to silence and continued abuse.
Today, more resources are available to those who have been abused such as Stop It Now, an organization that supports children and parents to heal from trauma. Still, abusers are good liars, and often know how to "work the system" so that their misdeeds are not discovered.
As a survivor of abuse, I'd like to encourage those who are in a similar situation by reminding you that you deserve better, and that help is available. If you have been or are being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, don't wait. Get to safety if you can and get help immediately.
Whether the transgressor is family, a friend, or a stranger, it is important to report it, and if the people in your life do not believe you, don't give up. Call RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Talk to someone you trust. Call the police.
You matter, and your body is your temple. It belongs to you alone. No one else may decide to touch you without your consent. As a survivor who is a man, I wanted to let other men know that you are not alone. You can find support with organizations such as 1 in 6. Once you are free of the situation, healing can begin, and if you choose to, you can share your own story to help others still trapped in the cycle of abuse.
This post is one of several vignettes the survivor taskforce has been collecting and sharing at www.nfb.org/survivors to give different perspectives of what it is to be a survivor.