I remember going into the kitchen where my mom was and trying to get the words out. When you are a child or young teen you can not process adult things in your child brain. I couldn’t find words to tell her what I desperately needed to tell her. I had been broken down for years through manipulation and coercion, through fear and repetition of abuse. I was just a child but I needed to somehow tell the words that a child isn’t supposed to know. I made a peep.barely a peep. A peep of words that indicated something sinister was going on. One sentence was all I was able to get out. I had so much shame back then. I had so much embarrassment. I had no idea that those were not my own, but put on me, and I was not to blame for what happened to me. No one told me.
When that first little peep is spoken, one of two things can happen. Either a parent can embrace you, fill you with safety and comfort, let you know it was not your fault, and in the simplest terms love you through all that comes next. OR they can question you. The myriad of emotions, the whirlwind of what happens next, is all up to the parent. No matter what happens, if the police are or are not called, if there is justice or is not justice, if the perpetrator is prosecuted, a parent has a very important role. Everything can go wrong, but if your child has told you, it is your role to give them what no one else can, a parent’s unconditional love and protection. You can interject any word where I put “parent”. It can be your aunt, friend, grandparent. Whoever you have trusted with this secret because the parent may have inflicted the abuse. But whoever a child chooses to tell that person has a huge responsibility. They can make or break that child. The courage it takes to speak is far greater than anyone can imagine unless they have experienced it. Just saying a few words should be enough to warrant compassion, protection, and being told, “I am so sorry that happened to you!” That day and the months and years that followed took away my voice, increased my shame, and swallowed me up with loneliness and worthlessness. Had one person wrapped their arms around me, fought like hell to make me feel safe, and told me everything would be alright, then it wouldn’t have taken 30 years to realize the shame was never mine in the first place.
The shame isn’t ours. The shame belongs on the perpetrators and always will.
My peep turned into a roar. Sometimes that will happen when your voice has stayed muted for 30 years. I won’t go back. I won’t become silent again. I won’t allow the people in my past to destroy my future. I will keep speaking my truth and spreading awareness of abuse and what needs to be done in the face of it. Those who have denied me, my family, have no bearing on my future anymore. If nothing else, I am free of that.
For all of the children out there, if I could just swoop them up and embrace them I would tell them,”it’s ok now. You are safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you again. I love you. I’m so sorry you were hurt. You are safe now though.” We all have that little child that still needs to hear it. Even as adults, that little child, who never heard those words, can hear them now.I hope your little child knows it wasn’t their fault, and they are safe now.