This is a post by Randy Ellison, author of the book — Boys Don’t Tell: Ending the Silence of Abuse. Randy is also Board President of Oregon Abuse Advocates & Survivors in Service (OAASIS)
Why does what happened to me matter? Why does telling my story matter? Why does your story matter? What difference does it really make?
Why does it matter forty years later that my minister sexually abused me? Well for starters it impacted everything I did or didn’t do. When we live in total denial of major trauma that happened to us in childhood, our entire reality is distorted.
Because I had never spoken of what happened to me, every decision I made in life was informed by the trauma I suffered as a child. Technically I was a survivor, but as long as I held on to the toxic stress of child abuse, I was giving victim reactions to a lot of the input that came my way. It was not a choice I made, it was programmed into my brain to respond to people and situations as though they might be a threat.
My quality of life suffered immeasurably, and over time I became just plain tired of trying to hold it all. I do not believe one can attempt to recover from child sex abuse to please or satisfy someone else. You have to want it or need it for yourself, more than the perceived safety of keeping the secret, with the pain locked inside.
So as I started my therapy I had to learn to put health ahead of secret keeping. It took effort and intensity to break through my mind’s defenses and the shame that guarded my secret. To be honest, in my case it probably took a year before I realized how much others really meant to me. After a life of keeping everyone at a distance, when I started showing up, I found a whole new world open to me. As I learned to be present with others I was finally able to give and receive love.
Reporting my abuser mattered. The places he had been a minister were notified so they could look for others that might have been victims and needed help. The faith community became aware of what had happened in their building and had the opportunity to discuss what they needed to do to protect children and work for prevention. In creating a safe environment for kids, everyone benefits.
Telling your story matters more than you could ever imagine. It gives people you have never met the strength to share their own story. And the more we share our stories, the more we heal, systems change and our communities heal. As survivors, telling our story first changes our lives, and then it gradually moves outward through our love ones in an ever widening circle.
Children’s Advocacy Center intervenes in this process for kids that have been abused and focuses on helping the child recover. What matters most is preventing abuse from happening at all. But until we are able to do that, we need CAC to help the healing begin as soon as possible. Help a child heal today.
Imagine a world without child abuse. Together we make it happen. It matters.
To find out more about Randy Ellison and his book, Boys Don’t Tell: Ending the Silence of Abuse, visit: http://www.boysdonttell.com/