2. How can I go on coping with what happened when nobody I know wants to hear?
Initially, despite all of the activist efforts we've seen, you may only find validation through writers. You can also give yourself validation--that’s actually the most important kind.
Ideally, you need at least five people to whom you can turn. It’s important to know that this will not likely be the first five you talk to when you begin seeking support and understanding. Most survivors are initially shocked about this. It's not uncommon for a survivor of sexual abuse to think of self as the only one who has misjudged people. The truth is that, even after twenty years at this, I frequently am shocked at the ones who say ignorant things to me. Shocked, but no longer paralyzed. I simply expect to be a bit shocked, knowing that every time I open my mouth to talk about these issues there is a good chance my listener is not going to be receptive. In fact, many are downright resistant for personal reasons you and I may never know.
After all, you are “marketing” an idea that most people don’t want to “buy.” It just messes up their lives too much, especially if they are in the faith community and needing pat answers for every problem in life.
Those who cannot hear may include your family members and friends, as well. You are in the best position to decide who to take into your confidence. However, you need to be prepared for some surprises and disappointments. Finding the right people takes time. In almost every case, there are people to whom a survivor turns in trust who are seriously unprepared to hear or unwilling to listen. You may never understand exactly why this is the case. Yet it should not discourage you to the point of going back into isolation. Keep reaching out, looking in wider circles. As the song says: “There’s got to be a morning after if we keep searching for the Light.” Even if it takes years, and even if you have to lower your expectations considerably.
Dee Ann Miller is the
author of Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (2017) How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct (1993)
The Truth about Malarkey (2000)