**** Possible Trigger Warning: Mentions of childhood abuse, not in detail but in general.
Keeping childhood abuse history a secret is not your fault.
There are many reasons why childhood traumatic events have been suppressed and silenced, and there are reasons why you have kept it a secret all these years.
Telling the story can be beneficial for healing, but not until you decide to share.
WHY I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS SUBJECT
I’m going through The Complex PTSD Workbook by Schwartz, Arielle. This workbook is an extremely useful resource for dealing with PTSD symptoms and processing childhood trauma.
While I was writing a story about my childhood abuse for coherence (after I went through various tactics to keep myself grounded and to be able to tolerate and regulate emotions), I realized that I put a lot of the blame on myself. I have always thought “it wasn’t my fault, it was the perpetrator’s fault, of course.” But the blame I put on myself was not in terms of the event in itself. I thought that I hadn’t resisted enough at the time of the incidents. (Although I had.)
When I wrote this sentence, “Why haven’t I resisted more?” on the story, I felt that I was blaming myself for not resisting enough, not telling trusted adults, or friends until I was much older and became an adult. Maybe that was the reason why I suffer from so much PTSD. Maybe I let the incidents happen.
But then, I also realized that I was only 6 years old back then. I didn’t know what abuse meant, nor had anybody explained it to me. People around me were not very trustworthy and I didn’t have any “trusted” friends of adults I could talk to. I lacked the resources to be able to tell what the event meant or what it signified. I didn’t know the name or how to deal with the emotions that came up.
I needed to realize that all aspects of PTSD and the traumatic event, as well as my responses to the abuse, weren’t my fault. Even when I was recently looking for therapists and psychiatrists, more than half of them-about 3 To-4 asked me why I didn’t tell my family members about the event. (As if it was my fault I didn’t tell) I felt so guilty and tried to excuse my silence.
However, now I realize I didn’t have to feel so apologetic about keeping the silence a silence. I could only start to recognize the abuse itself when I became 24 years old. How could I have known back then? When I didn’t even have the resources to deal with intense emotions and PTSD? When nobody really listened to my stories and just laughed at them when I did? Well, there is a lot of pressure to tell the story as a part of the healing process. And once you realize the past history as well as recognize the impact it has had on your life, you can feel free to begin telling the story. And it is indeed a very empowering and transformative part of the healing process.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t blame ourselves or others when they haven’t been able to tell their stories. Everybody has their own timing and pace. You cannot force an egg to hatch right away and crack open the egg wishing for the chick to appear. You got to wait for the egg to hatch to get the chick. So that was my point for this post. It is not your fault that you have kept your childhood abuse history a secret. It could have been intentional or non-intentional, but maybe you needed to keep it in silence to save yourself at the moment. Maybe you were not ready to accept the impact of the abuse as a child. Maybe you didn’t have anybody supportive around you. Don’t blame yourself, blame the perpetrator, give the blame to who actually deserves it.
There are many reasons why one would keep a traumatic history a secret. This includes, but are not limited to:
No trustworthy adults around you.
Perpetrator was your primary care-giver.
You didn’t know what you went through was abuse.
You didn’t have the resources or words to explain what happened to you.
You were too young to know what was going on.
Your situation wasn’t safe.
You weren’t ready to deal with people’s responses.
The different cultural and political climate from one country to another.
So don’t ever judge yourself or others for being silent. Don’t put more blame and shame on yourself. Remember that you were young, it was not your fault, and you were worthy of happiness. Now that you’re reading this article and possibly going through your traumatic memories, you have begun the process of sharing. You’re doing well despite many people in society trying to silence trauma survivors. Please leave a comment here or on my Instagram @mentalhealthsquares about what your reasons were for keeping your survivor history a secret, and I’m sure others will appreciate it.