What Went Right?

Part of my requirements every year as a teacher are to update my state required trainings, such as sexual harassment, CPR/first aid and reporting child abuse.

As I was completing these online, I started thinking about the video that was part of the child abuse training and my own experience.

My abuse took place over the summer between my 8th and 9th grade year, so any immediate changes in my behavior would have only been noticed by my parents and/or family. Since I started the school year with new teachers, they had no idea if my behavior was any different than my norm. I have distinct memories of struggling in school during my 9th grade year. I remember sleeping in class, not feeling motivated, even spending a lot of time in the nurse's office. Definitely not how I would normally act. But no one could know that. I remember writing about what happened that summer in English class, I think more about having to go the police station and court rather than specifics of the abuse, hoping that at least she would notice how much pain I was in... but nothing ever happened. She never said anything to me, the counselor never called me in. It was like disclosing and not being heard. It made me feel even worse than I already did. And I never forgot that.

But as I was watching this video, I was shocked by some of the statistics. Only one in ten children who are abused ever disclose to anyone. One in ten. Part of me understands why this number is so low because a lot of children are abused by their parents and they have that internal struggle of hating the abuse and wishing it would stop and loving their parents. To think of myself as that one person in a group of ten abused children who told someone is kind of crazy. Why was I able to tell when so many others can't? What in me is different?

I struggle with focusing on the things that went wrong and the things I can't/couldn't control in regards to my abuse. It causes me so much anxiety and hurt. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever taken a step back and thought to myself "What went right?" until I sat down an watched this video. Even though I experienced this trauma, there were things that kept it from being even more horrendous than it was. I've never given that any acknowledgement or weight in my mind... until today.

  • I was educated by my parents to know that what happened to me wasn't normal/OK.
  • I knew I needed to tell an adult, regardless of what I was told by him.
  • I had a mother I trusted enough to tell what he did to me (not all of it, but enough to make it stop).
  • My dad kicked him out of the house and made our home safe again.
  • I had parents who never doubted what I said or made me think I was wrong for disclosing.
  • I had parents who knew I needed more help than what they knew how to give me, so they put me in counseling. Unfortunately I couldn't talk about it and they thought this cleared them of any support required at home, so I never benefitted from it, but they tried.
  • The justice system worked and punished him for his actions.
  • My parents never treated me any different after they found out what happened. I was still who I was before.
  • It never happened again.
To think that had I not said anything, I could have lived the rest of my life under the same roof as him, shuddering every time the door opened or every time the shower turned on, it's hard to swallow. I have never given myself any recognition or support for doing the thing that so many kids don't ever do...



Just Be Real said...
August 9, 2011 at 3:39 AM

And yes, I am proud of you that you did tell!! I never did. Until I was in therapy many many many years later.

I was in denial that the sexual abuse had anything to do as to why I could not carry on a relationship and the unbelievable fear that it would bring. I thought "it was just me."

My abuse happened when I was a lot younger. 5th and 6th grade.

Lily thank you for your encouragement and honesty.

Blessings and safe hugs.

misssrobin said...
August 9, 2011 at 4:06 AM

I speak because so many others can't yet. I am safe and it's still scary. I can't imagine how difficult it would be for someone without any support.

It's so wonderful that you are seeing things that went right. You are blessed and you are strong.

From Tracie said...
August 9, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Telling is a huge thing!! I never told, so the abuse continued until my abuser died.

The fact that your parents believed you and took steps to make you safe, and that he was convicted, are also rare things.

Paola said...
August 10, 2011 at 9:26 AM

You're so brave to have opened up the way you did, something that's so hard for many survivors due to various reasons..
It's nice to hear a positive, inspiring story and that you have such supportive parents.
I didn't realise or release what happened to me until years after the abuse, however, I'm glad I managed to confront my abuser before he died..
Thanks for posting, hugs if okay..

Sarah (Nikki) said...
August 12, 2011 at 6:43 AM

not telling is huge....fear...shame....whatever it is...it holds most of us back..I'm so glad you told and I'm so glad you work with kids....

Anonymous said...
August 12, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Hi Lily,

I heard that same statistic, too - just 1 in 10. I remember hearing someone say "No, no, that can't be right." All I could do was sit there and politely smile because I thought if I stopped, I might disclose too much.

I think it's great that you can make a list of what went right.


Just Be Real said...
August 13, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Came back by to give you a safe hug Lily.

Anonymous said...
August 14, 2011 at 10:44 PM

You are right. You talked. I hope that child can see some trust or hope or whatever it is in you to either talk to you or another adult in their lives. I work with kids, too, in my graduate program in education and that i my hope--if they don't talk to me, they learn to trust me and maybe that trust can go over to others.

PS I think you must make an amazing teacher!

Being Me said...
August 17, 2011 at 3:25 AM

Being fearless is hard, but by touching someone else with your story you help and inspire courage.

God grant you peace.