How Dare You Expose a Child Abuser!?

This morning in therapy, I did an age regression for my fear of punishment. Without thought, I regressed to age 12, and once again, I found myself sitting next to my father’s death bed in the den of my childhood home.

In the regression, he had already slipped into a coma. I looked at his skeleton-like body and experienced mixed emotions.

Part of me loved my father, and part of me was happy he was dying. As a child, I felt extreme guilt for this, and even carried the feeling that my mother sort of blamed me for his death.

I also have a memory of feeling that my mother wished it was me who died, not my father. I may be right or wrong, but it is what I felt from her as a child.

But this morning, I changed this memory into one of empowerment.  This time (in my mind), I told my father it was NOT my fault he died a long and painful death, and that I had every right to talk about his rapes, death threats, and on-going sexual abuse –in spite of what anyone thinks.

Some people thinks it’s not okay to “speak badly” about a man who has died of cancer.  It is my right.

It is the right of every victim to speak about the crimes committed against them!

I am sad that Marilyn thinks she killed her father the day she decided to talk to him again about the incest. I hope she does not still blame herself.

Those who remember, remember how stunning this news was to a city, a state and the nation. It was 20 years ago this week when Van Derbur gave a speech for the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. A reporter from The Denver Post was in the audience.

“Van Derbur says her father started to come into her bedroom when she was 5 years old and didn’t stop until she left for college at 18. She is the youngest of four girls in a family considered one of the most prominent in the city during the 1950s and 60s.

From the beginning, there were those who didn’t believe her story, including a well-known and popular newspaper columnist. Like many others, he had known her father and had great respect for him. Despite his response, Van Derbur refused to back down, adding that the columnist challenged her and defined her mission to help others tell their stories and find help.”

“I did have friends say to me, ‘Why would you want to ruin your father’s reputation?’ And I had a child advocate, someone who works in the field, say, ‘Are you concerned about your mother?’ The victim is getting the blame,” she said.”

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9 Responses to How Dare You Expose a Child Abuser!?

  1. little nel says:

    Hi Cat,

    For me, “forgiveness” did not come without a price. I had so much guilt for being a victim and not being believed that I blamed myself for not having the right moment or timing for revealing the abuse. I also blamed myself for not having enough “credibility” to be believed or the right words to express my thoughts and feelings. I thought that my anger was a hindrance to my communication of the abuse to others. I would feel anger and it was as if my brain “shut down” and left me speechless and feeling paralyzed or numb.

    I had a hard time forgiving myself for my perceived “defects.” I thought that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough to be “credible” and/or “believed”. It did not occur to me that the adults that I trusted did not want to acknowledge the abuse.

    It also bothered me that I accepted the excuses and lies to survive.

  2. little nel says:

    When a victim speaks up about sexual abuse in childhood they become the target of accusations of making up falsehoods about the abuser and the abuse.

    Who would want to make up shitty stuff like that? We can’t heal if we don’t acknowledge the abuse and deal with the pain and trauma it caused us.

    When my cousin who was in her forties, told her older sister about recalling sexual abuse when she was 9, she was not believed by anyone but me, even though my father had access to her at that age. They will acknowledge that my father abused the neighbor girls but will not acknowledge a niece who lived next door to him?

    Because she has the symptoms of an adult who was sexually abused in childhood and I’m the only one who can see it, we are both believed to be fabricating events. “Shut up, shut up, shut up…etc.” the message is clear. I won’t obey that kind of command and fear of “punishment” won’t compel me to comply.

    My family does not have the right to force their will on me because they failed, as a family, by abusing me and neglecting me in childhood. They are the guilty ones, not me.

    They hate it that I have escaped the “family tradition” of abuse and misery in my personal life, yet I still have compassion for them.

    “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will gather me up.”

    • It is definitely secondary wounding with each attempt to expose the abuse when accused of lying about such a thing. It is unbelievable to me that anyone could decide to be ignorant and deny the truth of another person’s experience.
      It happened to me too that my own mother first called me a liar and then accused me of “trying to get her husband for years.” I was 15, abused since 3 beginning with the grooming process with nightly visits to my bed. I had no interest in sex and no interest in sex with my step father. He forced my sister and I to allow him to teach us all about sex as any father does, this was his story to get access to our bodies for his sexual deviance.
      His mother, his sister, his wife and my mother did not protect us girls but instead blamed us since by the time I was 15 I had the courage finally to put a real stop to this. This after a year of attempted suicides, running away, and even having to pick a family friend to take the virginity the man was trying to take from me! I did not ever want to be scarred for life by what he had done.
      Daily flashbacks and anxiety finally has ended after getting him out of my life after 47 years!
      He doesn’t ever want to let go of me and still bothers my sister and brother who he also abused. I am the only one to stand up to him and I thank God for that. He is 80 and still capable of abusing children and his victims. When the sex was done the abuse took on a psychological role of being a study for him like a guinea pig. I am so glad to have him out of my life but I was not rescued by his death. I was rescued by my anger when one of his church friends called me a liar as I’m sharing my faith was the only thing that saved me to overcome the childhood sexual slavery by this man she so admires!
      Thank God that anger drove me to get him out of my house and out of my life for good. I learned that by being “forgiving” I was protecting HIM, not me, not the public, not the children in my families…I took a stand and decided I will never protect any evil I am aware of in my life in any way ever again.

      • Alethea says:

        Cat, You are a strong person, and I am sorry you were called a liar. It is such an ugly word to a person who has been brutalized, traumatized, molested, betrayed, and deceived.

        I was called a “liar liar liar” by one of my grown adult sisters, so I titled one of the chapters of my manuscript, “Liar Liar Liar” in her honor, and for my strength and process of transformation.

        It was liberating for me to use her ugly and painful words as a chapter title. It put a smile on my face when I did it.

        • little nel says:

          “liar liar liar” Oh how that still causes twinges of guilt in my inner “justice system.” That old “I am not a credible witness” notion still jumps up with a pointed finger at me like a knee-jerk response sometimes and leaves me with the thought that I need to use reasoning and truth to dispel the fear.

          I have to remind myself that for them to acknowledge my statements about the abuse, they must first acknowledge their own guilt and fear. I am the one with real courage and they still have false bravado as their shield against the reality of our lives.

          I love your “nanner nanner nanner” response to your sister’s inner ugliness. I am grinning and laughing. I like your method of liberating yourself!

          • YES!
            It traumatizes me when I am not believed. I am such an honest person and those close to me agree. So when someone in the family accuses me of being a liar I am suddenly that little girl that no one cares to rescue.
            Why was no one on my side? So many questions…but I am finding that people’s interest in truth is only goes to what they themselves WANT to believe, it has nothing to do with the truth…

        • Alethea,
          Thanks so much, you understand so well. Being called a liar is a trauma in itself after holding back truth to prevent other people from getting hurt. You’d think if they cared so much about the truth they would be able to discern the truth. It turns out people think they have a part in what truth is, as if they should like it, and if they don’t like it, it must not be true! How dumb is that?
          Love how you used that as a chapter title in your book, so fitting!

          • little nel says:

            Hi Cat,

            The fact that people don’t want to acknowledge the truth of our abuse is evidence that it disturbs them a lot. Learning about the sexual abuse of a child is not something that ignites good feelings, in fact, it makes us cringe and recoil in disgust from the thought. I was a victim and I wanted to run away and never return to that trauma, let alone admit it.

            “Liar liar liar” is what I was until I revealed the abuse. I was a relief to speak about it and get it out. It was the start of my recovery, in spite of the denials by my family.

          • Alethea says:

            Hi Cat,

            The sister who called me that, has also refused to acknowledge my existence. She pretends she is the youngest child, when I am. She has literally refused to acknowledge that I am her sister. The very fact that she has NEVER, not once, asked to speak with me about my memories, and that she pretends I do not exist, is evidence that she herself has a serious problem inside.

            I thought you might like the letter I wrote her (I haven’t mailed it yet. I might one day).

            https://ordinaryevil.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/you-can-flush-my-letter-down-the-toilet-but-you-can%E2%80%99t-flush-the-truth/

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