Lies, Silence, Threats, and Denial

“What pedophiles have going for them is silence.”~Robert Curle, father of ten year-old Jeffrey –killed by two pedophiles  1

When Oprah Winfrey was nine years-old, she was placed in the care of her nineteen year-old cousin, and even placed in the same bed with him by the adults in Oprah’s family. Her cousin subsequently raped her. Afterwards, he took her out for an ice cream cone and told her not to tell. She didn’t.

Oprah kept her secret hidden for twelve years.

Oprah feels, and I agree, that the act of sex is not so much what destroys the victim, but the secrets, lies, and as she says, “who you have to become in order to bury that inside yourself.” Oprah feels the shame of being a “bad girl” is more emotionally devastating to the child than the molestation and rapes.

Even in her early forties, Oprah believed she was at fault for the rape. An interviewer asked her if she knew what was happening during the assault. Oprah said, “You are never the same. You’re no longer a child even though you don’t know what this horrible thing was that happened.”

Oprah went on to describe the pain of enduring the dark secret, the nightmares, and the visions about the abuse, but having no one to talk to.

Oprah was repeatedly sexually abused by friends of the family for five years after the original rape, and during the entire time, she never let anyone know what was happening to her. 2

“Denial is the great drug of the United States”~ Actor David Keith –quoted outside the Michael Jackson child molestation trial

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation poses an absurd question, “Unexplained is why the child made no effort to avoid the alleged perpetrator or the circumstances in which the alleged abuse occurs.” 3

Of course, it’s so logical. A small vulnerable child, who is being victimized by a parent four times their size, should just avoid contact with the perpetrator. Problem solved!

Do members of the FMSF feel that a four year-old child should have just run away from home? Perhaps a three year-old should simply have fought off her 200 pound father? Certainly a seven year-old should be able to evade being raped.

The FMSF also questions the victim, and calls them liars, by asking why teachers, doctors, baby-sitters, or other relatives didn’t know about -or suspect- any abuse. 4

Siblings were often being abused themselves. Even the ones who weren’t being sexually abused, still conformed to the silence within the family.

The system of denial even affects extended family members. Even if outside relatives visited the home, they would have to be in the same room while the crime is being committed to become aware of any abuse. Even then, outside relatives often turn their heads.

In addition, people who are sexually abusing their children, certainly don’t take them to the doctor to be examined for sexual abuse. Even if the child is given a routine exam, they often don’t show physical signs of sexual abuse –even if they are being penetrated by the perpetrator.

And no one can expect any child to disclose the abuse to a family doctor, an authority figure, who is part of the parent’s world.

Even if relatives do observe anything suspicious, they don’t say anything because they dread uncomfortable conversations or don’t want to get involved in any kind of criminal or civil action against a family member.

I just saw a mother on the Anderson Cooper show, speak of finding blood in her one year-old daughter’s diaper. She got a confession from her husband. He swore he would never do it again. The mother allowed the girl’s father to stay with the family, and again caught him molesting her daughter a few years later. She confronted him again, got another confession, and continued to keep him in in the home becasue her minister told her to give her husband more sex and to keep the family secrets. The daughter was sexually abused by her father until she was fifteen.

If a child’s own mother isn’t going to stop child sexual abuse, then why the hell would anyone expect siblings, and other relatives, to do something?

My father got away with the incest because he had the cooperation of the collective consciousness of denial in my entire family, including me.

As an adult, I carried around the image of a good, loving father, in my mind. Because, somewhere inside myself, I knew what the consequences of truth would bring.

Remembering the monster-father, meant acknowledging that he was malignant and didn’t love me.

Remembering the truth, meant having to deal with a mother and sisters, who made it clear that truth was not welcome –even a threat– and that if I spoke it, I would not be one of them anymore.

The family dynamics in incest cases are:

  • “Don’t speak the truth around us, we will get uncomfortable and not talk to you anymore.”
  • “We have decided not to know”
  • “If you would have stayed quiet, we would not have to deal with this ugly thing.
  • “Why did you open your mouth?”

People, who have not been abused, always wonder why children remain silent. The answer is simple. Victims are denounced as traitors while child rapists are uplifted and protected by family members.

At age 37, when I took my symbolic shield of truth, and my metaphoric sword to slash the lies in my family, I was forced to see the power that silence has over a person, a family –even an entire country.

When I dared to break the family code of silence and speak about the incest, I was ridiculed, called names, threatened, made to feel guilty, and cut out of most of my family.

Former Miss America and incest survivor, Marilyn Van Derbur, received over 3,000 letters in ten months from sexual abuse survivors who described the trivializations, denial, and anger in their families, who were unwilling to let go of the superficial harmony that existed before the survivor broke their silence. 4

The victim of incest is first abused by the perpetrator, and when they speak the deadly secret, they are emotionally and mentally abused all over again. The family has an emotional power that can weaken a person.

But not me.

My family’s lies, denial, and threats made me a stronger person. I am happy that I broke the family code of silence, because the little girl inside of me is rejoicing to this day, and I would do it again in a minute.

I will not live a lie.


1. Pedophiles Thrive on Silence, Says Father of Jeffrey Curly, Massachusetts News, February 15, 2001.   His 10-year-old son Jeffrey was abducted and killed in Newton by two pedophiles in 1997.

2. Arts and Entertainment Channel Biography, Oprah Winfrey Nov. 29 2001

3. FMS Foundation Newsletter, Vol 7 No. 1, January/February 1998 ISSN #1069-0484 On-Line Version

4. FMS Foundation Newsletter, Vol 7 No. 1, January/February 1998 ISSN #1069-0484 On-Line Version

5. Via personal communication in a letter to me

This entry was posted in Child Abuse, child molestation, child sexual abuse, false memory syndrome and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Lies, Silence, Threats, and Denial

  1. RJ says:

    Thank you for your words and your strength. I am so sorry and so sad for you all, and for myself. Our truth only ever heals. Thank you.

  2. little nel says:

    “I will not live a lie.”

    I was was forced to keep silent after voicing my abuse and getting no support or validation.
    “Don’t ever talk about this again,” was my lot as far as my family was concerned.
    I talk much to my family’s dismay. I don’t have to keep secrets or be silent anymore. I can now let go of the guilt, forgive myself for my silence, forgive myself for my inaction, and let the chips fall where they may.

    • Alethea says:

      “..and let the chips fall where they may.”

      I love this saying. I implement it frequently in my life. I do what is healthy, righteous and truthful. Then, whatever will be, will be. Live with no regrets.

  3. Dawn Summers says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. My cousin was victimized in a very similar way by her father. I was abused by her father once when she was a baby, I think before he started abusing her. I told my parents. My parents protected me, I guess in the best way they knew how, by completely cutting off all contact with that family. Years later it came out that he abused her for her entire childhood. I often feel guilty that I didn’t do anything, but I know I was just a child and a victim myself, and didn’t even know how to contact her. But still feel the guilt from time to time. I know what you mean about the code of silence. Even though everyone in my family knew why we had no contact with the my uncle’s family, no one ever spoke about it. Even since my cousin went public with her abuse, I have spoken to some family members briefly about it, but my brother still refuses to even acknowledge it (he was a victim too, probably a lot worse off than me, but I will likely never know). The Code of silence is difficult to break. I am glad I have broken it and I hope your story helps others find some freedom as well.

    • Alethea says:

      Thank you Dawn. Many people, like your brother, find it easier to deny than to heal. They don’t understand that denying their own pain is going to make them suffer forever.

      Men have a MUCH harder time when they have been sexually abused by a male. It must be a deep and horrible wound for your brother.

  4. Catherine says:

    You are right. You and I practically have the same family and timeline only I kept silent even longer. I thought the man would die and then I could live but at 50 I was tired of being dead in my life.

    As I shared with family I was not supported. I was told that the man has a good reputation at church as a choir singer. I’m like yeah, I know, he had to have a good reputation how on earth could he abuse if didn’t! And, he has spent many years as a special ed teacher and I doubt he left the children alone after school. My mom used to hate him teaching and now I know why! He never came home at the same time any day…ugh!

    I thought until recently that he was Christian and a sinner that had somehow somewhere corrected himself after I blew the whistle and got him out of my bed. Only he had subjected me to sexual harassment ever since! I wondered why I had so much bad feelings after having him over at my house or having to go see him. I tried to let him be the father but he was never a father to me. He used his “father” position as my mother’s second husband but he was never my protector. They both used the kids for slavery and mind control, neglect and sexual abuse was the menu of tricks. I didn’t want to be bitter but the lack of support from the family or anywhere else for that matter is ridiculous. You are raped twice each time you tell. Once for reliving it and another for it being unbelievable!

    Why can’t people see that murderers go to church too? They eat out at restaurants, etc.

    Criminals should be judged by what they do that hurt other people not what they do when they are not hurting others. Criminals hide their activity, they lie about it and they have allies that will lie for them and back them up.

    When will society realize that sexual abuse is not done in front of others? What makes them think they have to see it to believe it? I have scars from it. My teeth were molded to the man’s penis. My jaw was messed up and both my sister and I are the only ones in the family that had to have extensive dental work to correct our teeth.

    • Alethea says:

      Thank you Catherine for opening up here.

      I sure can relate to your comments. My father was known as a “hard worker.” So of course that must mean he could not have sexually abused me!

      I remember seeing a woman whose perp had his attorney get all these people to testify at his trial about how hard and good of a worker he was. The victim was interviewed during the trial, and she said, “He’s not on trial for being a bad worker!”

      I am so sorry about your mouth and teeth. I still have issues with bananas and hot dogs, egg whites and oatmeal. –for obvious reasons.

      Thanks for posting.

      • Catherine says:

        I can’t eat egg whites or oatmeal either! With bananas I used to avoid and yet need the potassium so it’s a toss up on whether I will be able to eat them or let them rot. He used to make a “candle salad” we had to eat. It had the banana standing up with a cherry on top and two mounds of cottage cheese at the bottom on a bed of lettuce. I can’t stand that salad. It made me feel like he was getting such a kick out of making us eat it from the top down. I can’t stand that memory…you reminded me of food association.

        I have to tell you that because he most always violated me in my own bed in my room shared with my sister bedrooms are highly re-stimulative. I have flashbacks every time I go in there and only now is that starting to dissipate as I face this head on and quit being silent.

        I feel I am among “my people” and not alone anymore. Thanks.

        • Alethea says:

          LOL, I too have let many a banana rot. I buy them thinking I need the potassium and then let them sit there because I cannot bear to force myself. Food is a huge trigger for many many people.

          I was first raped in the bathroom of my childhood home. So for years, I used to get a sharp pain in my vagina whenever I went into a bathroom. I could be standing at the mirror, or getting dressed….it didn’t matter. Just being in a bathroom, any bathroom, would trigger the pain of the rape.

    • little nel says:

      Hi Catherine,

      I know other women who have had the same experience as you with “church going men.”

      I have known several women who had “ministers” for fathers who abused them sexually.

      When confronted they state, “God has forgiven me, why can’t you?”

      Like it’s no big deal!!!!!!!!! Minimizing the pain they caused and blaming the victim or something else.

      They never take responsibility for the harm they caused or consider making restitution.

      • Catherine says:

        Yes, exactly. It’s unbelievable that I am barraged with comments about being unforgiving when I had let him stay in my life all these years so he could do something about it. My forgiving didn’t lead him to any action so obviously he did not repent and ask God to be forgiven. He has no idea that what he did had any impact because I have never been allowed to talk about it. When I did he would say I will pay for that and then does nothing.

        All minimizing by him sets the tone for the whole family of “christians” to label me as unforgiving so I have had no support at all. Mom died without knowing and yet she harbored many of his offenses as she was physically abusive when he wasn’t around and neither knew what the other was doing but with neglect they got away with it all.

        Thanks for your support. I am so glad to finally not be the freak in the world but know others who understand the pain and frustration of this whole ordeal.

        • Alethea says:

          Catherine, you are NOT a freak and not alone. You are among millions of others with similar experiences.

          Marilyn Monroe watched her perpetrator go up to the front of the church and act like he was holy, while her mother made her apologize to him and to ask God for forgiveness for “Marilyn’s sins” with him.

          Her mother told Marilyn that he was a “good Christian” and they needed his rent money.

      • Alethea says:

        God has forgiven them, but there is a law of cause and effect –God’s law. It plays no favorites. It does not matter what one calls themselves (read: “Christian”). Every human being on earth has to pay for their own transgressions.

        I used to watch my mother go off to church every Sunday and pray the rosary. I lost God for 25 years because of her hypocriticism.

        • little nel says:

          The only God that I knew in childhood was a punishing God.

          I was told that I was an “old soul” with lots of “bad karma” who asked for her parents before birth to work through that past karma from a past life.

          That notion made me suicidal because it meant that I “deserved” all that childhood pain and abuse, and my parents were justified in their maltreatment of me because I had asked “for it” before birth.

          I became angry when I found out they used me and lied to me. The guilt was not mine and they tried to make me believe that it was.

          • Alethea says:

            Little Nel, it has taken me 16 years of therapy to excavate that punishing God from my mind.

            My parents, religion, and society sure did a number on my subconscious with regards to that “God of wrath.” I feel sorry for people who still have that idea in their mind, and who try to instill it into others.

      • manuela says:

        Regarding this phase “When confronted they state, “God has forgiven me, why can’t you?”…how about just replying that “You never did those cruel things to God. Never. So He may forgave you as much as you would like to believe…but I won’t…EVER.”

Comments are closed.