Alert: Trigger Warning | A friend shared her experience of childhood abuse and this letter from Dylan Farrow. I commend her for speaking out loud (well, typing on Facebook, which is often louder) and blowing the wind of shame back on her perpetrator after many years of silence. I commend Dylan Farrow, as well.
As a woman with non-combat-related PTSD, I understand the complexities first-hand of “telling” and the mess that follows. My abusers were never prosecuted. In my experience, “to tell” stopped the abuse for me, but not for others. And, I hear as an adult, there are many others.
“To tell” and attempt to proceed to prosecute compounds the trauma. For the abuser to be treated as innocent until proven guilty creates the feeling of the victim being a liar until proven correct. “To tell” creates a tsunami that leaves a family struggling not to drown, even though life known is forever lost under the waves.
I’m not sure how adult survivors cope with this process. As a child, I could not. To continue would scrape the wound raw, strike it again, fester and never allow me to hide in the corner to soothe. I did my best to make it all go away, and I did, for many years, until I triggered working at a Children’s Hospital in 2010. (Oh, the stories of child abuse that run through there, horrendous. Hideous. Disgusting. Painful.) Again, a tsunami hit. My brain literally shut down to avoid the pain. My body expressed it in seizures, stutters, tics and tremors. For a period of time, I was unable to care for myself on almost all levels. It’s year 2014 and I’m still working through this. I have a mental illness disability, live on SSDI and I’m in a process of recovery every day. I’ve made incredible progress.
My abusers will never see the inside of a courtroom and face the law. I have no facts, tangible or circumstantial evidence to share with a lawyer and present to a judge. The years have expired legal recourse anyhow. This doesn’t make the abusers innocent in society, even if they are still innocent in the eyes of the law.
I would not go back in time and change my behaviors when being questioned by the police and told to point to doll parts. It was too much to share memories and then have them repeated and sussed. I’m 41 and just starting to be able to work through this. The system is a failure for children like me, even if there is a win in the courtroom.
Last weekend, I shared my story for the first time while training to be a speaker to help reduce mental health stigma in the community (http://www.eachmindmatters.org/). I’m still dealing with the ripples and seismic shifts of doing so. That’s not to say I regret it. Of all the experiences I’ve had related to the abuse, this has been the most healing. Yes, it hurts. It’s almost more than I can bear, but it’s worthy to speak up. It’s worthy to help others with my story. Most importantly, and incredibly difficult, it’s worthy to help myself by sharing. It helps the healing begin.
Many thanks to my friend for being so brave. Many thanks to Dylan Farrow for being brave. May they experience healing having done so.
More on this subject by other bloggers | How To Undermine A Rape Victim 101