Why did it take me so long to tell anyone after I was assaulted 10 years ago? I could say culture. I could say fear of judgment, shame, embarrassment. I could say I was worried no one would believe me, or that nothing would be done. None of that is true of why I said nothing for 3 days. They are some of the reasons why it took years to tell of my childhood abuse, but they were not the first emotion that occurred after I was let out of the garage.
I didn’t tell anyone because I was in shock. One word. Shock. If I had to compare it to something I would say imagine you hit your head in an accident, were bleeding from the head, and were so disoriented that you just started wandering aimlessly down the middle of the street. I was in a complete state of shock and I wandered aimlessly through daily tasks for 3 days and have no recollection of any of it.
There are many reasons why we don’t tell anyone of the abuse we have endured and I have a list of why pages long that detail those reasons when I was a little girl. I have a list pages long for how I felt 3 days after this. Every person is different. Every experience is different. We do have common emotions that we share in the aftermath. I rarely hear about shock though. Absolute shock that is so profound it has knocked you outside of yourself. I waited outside of myself for 3 days at which point shock took a step back and allowed real life to knock and say, ” Um Bethany, you do realize something awful happened and you need to SNAP OUT OF IT!” And THEN came all of the “no one will believe me” feelings. They came along with the rage, embarrassment, disgust, and despair. But first came shock, and I don’t want to skip over that part of what happened to me. I was in a state of shock and as bad as all of the other emotions were that came after, being in shock was one of the scariest because I was pretty sure I had officially left the building and was not coming back.
All of those people (I say with disdain) who question why women don’t tell have no idea how insensitive and downright ignorant that question even is. There should never be a why. I would say the why is irrelevant but that is not true. It is not relevant to the idiot asking the question. But the why is relevant to us. But the reason why we didn’t tell should not be the focus at the time of the assault, focusing on the why is just another form of revictmization. Because why really just equates to and places blame. Yeah, we can’t be blamed. We didn’t tell because we were violated, mortified, horrified, in shock, in fear, and searching for reasons to just live another day TO actually be able to tell. The why MUST be discussed to educate others who have no clue what being victimized feels like, but it only needs to be discussed in a forum such as this and NOT at the time a person has been assaulted. That is not the time for why. But for this moment, 10 years later, it’s an appropriate time for me to say WHY I didn’t speak, on my own terms and in my own time, and not because anyone asked, but because I want others to know I can relate to being in shock. That is my why. You aren’t alone in your why. And your why is valid. You did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong.
Next comes the WHEN. WHEN you are finally told about the abuse then encourage, listen, be present, be compassionate.
Incase no one has said this to you after you were abused, after the truth finally came to the surface…I am so sorry that happened to you. I am so so sorry that you had to endure that. I am so sorry that you were treated that way. You didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t your fault. You deserved to be protected. I am so sorry that such a horrible thing happened to you. I wish I could take it away. I offer you my heart felt empathy for the pain you endured and I pray that you know you are not alone in anything you are feeling. You are not alone.