"People only see what they are prepared to see." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the worst things about being a victim of a sex crime is that you end up somehow shouldering some of the blame, and your experience is downplayed, minimalized.
It is in your perpatrator's best interest to not admit all that he's done, even to himself. Those who love the abuser or want to acccept him back into their lives, will also make less of the abuse, possibly even blaming you. This has been done to me, even by my own family. It is easy for them to live in this denial. You see, my family has no idea what abuse I endured. The simple reason is that they never asked. They have no idea how far he went or for how long it went on. They don't want to know because then they would have to deal with the truth, and my family doesn't deal well with reality.
One family member told me that in order for her to be around my abuser, as she often is at family gatherings, she must mentally pretend that it never happened. My years of abuse are pretended away for the sake of peace within the family.
I was sexually abused, by my brother-in-law, for 7 long years of my childhood and it started when I was 9. I was a little girl when it began and it only ended when I physically removed myself from the country to be an exchange student in England. (Sweet freedom!)
My sister stayed married to this sexual predator, even after he admitted what he had done, and my siblings (for the most part) and parents accepted him back into the family unit immediately. There was no outrage. Once my parents and sister accepted him, everyone else followed suit. No one seemed shocked or annoyed that they were expected to allow this man back into their lives with no boundaries.
And there truly are no boundaries. No boundaries with a man who they know has been sexually attracted to a child. They send their children to spend the night at his house. Seemingly, they are not concerned that they are risking their daughters, possibly sending them like sheep to the slaughter. They are playing roulette with their children's innocence.
One of my sisters-in-law (wife of a brother) once told me that when she sends her young daughter to his house overnight, she makes sure her daugher isn’t wearing reveling pajamas. She makes sure she is covered up, as to not tempt the animal urges buried within my brother-in-law. When she told me that, I stared, open-mouthed and shocked. Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Does she think that I was wearing a slutty nightgown as a 9 year old and I shook my assets in front of my brother-in-law and he just couldn’t resist? Subtly, she was saying that it must have been partly my responsibility. I was just too irrestistible and tempting, maybe even because of something I was wearing. Keep in mind that I was 9 years old, and I was no early bloomer. I was a little kid, with a little kid’s body, and any man that is attracted to that doesn’t need lingerie to cross the line.
I recently went to Utah after writing a blog post about my abuse. Most of my family does not read my blog, so I went not knowing if anyone had read it. If they had read it, I wanted to talk about it and be open about our feelings and thoughts. No one said a thing to me, but I felt things were a little off. I felt something was being unspoken and I was very uneasy and just wanted to go home. Halfway through my trip, I was finally told by a family member that everyone had read it, including some of the children of my abuser. This was the first they had heard of their father's crimes. One of his daughters, who I was once close to, didn’t come see me in Utah as planned because of this. I was also told that another one of his daughters was told the whole story by my sister, my abuser's wife. This concerned me because as I've said before, my family has no idea what actually happened. They don't know what he did to me, and as his wife, I'm sure my sister wants to believe that the abuse was minimal. Would my sister tell my niece that it was just a one time thing? Would she say it was a kiss when I was older? Would she say it was a consensual affair? Would she totally discredit me and call me a liar?
I am used to being called a liar by those close to my abuser. It was brought to my attention by a family member years ago that my abuser’s sister had told others in our town that she didn't like me because I was a liar. And the list of examples goes on and on of people protecting him, by tearing me down.
This is the payment of being a victim of a sexual crime. Forever and always it is questioned what you did, if you lied, or if it was consenual. If it was so horrible, why didn't you tell anyone? Those who love the abuser want to believe anything but the truth. The truth is my abuse was horrorific and extensive, and if they knew the stomach churning details I don't believe they could ever look him in the eye again. But instead of wanting the truth, they would rather pretend or blame me in some way.
I am the black sheep of the family, which is pure irony since I was the victim. However, I know my situation is not a rarity. We victims of family sexual abuse represent what everyone else wants to forget. We are an unpleasant reminder of the ugly family secret, particularly if we refuse to go along with the pretense of the perfect family.
People only see what they are prepared to see, and I don't want to be part of a family who aren't prepared to see and talk about the truth of my story.