Trigger Warning! I do give some overview-examples of how each point can be seen in my abuse experience.
When I was a teen I had a strong desire to set the record straight and speak out. I wanted to speak out so bad I practiced my witness against my father over and over for months. I put so much effort into being prepared I felt that with my preparation, my goodness, and a little help from God, I would get a chance to speak, to witness against my perpetrator. But my moment of witnessing never came. My skilled pedophile/ perpetrator/ father was always one step ahead me, cutting off any places I would have turned for support. Once he finally broke me, after significant amounts of resistance from me, it took me twenty three years to break the silence and report my father to any authority figure. I believe most survivors go through a phase of wanting to speak out against their abuser. I have done my best to consider all the elements that could have helped me speak out, and listed them here. Maybe if we know what survivors need to speak out, maybe we can help more of them break free from abuse.
1. Victims need to know that abuse is not right. This might seem very fundamental to some people, but for survivors of abuse it is essential.
Consider my story here. Around the age of seven my father raped me multiple times. He gave me the impression that we were married. I viewed him as a religious leader, with authority to claim we were married. He was my father, I believed he knew right and wrong more than me. When he told me we were married, I wanted to challenge it, I did not think it was right. But then I considered his position of authority over me, and I felt it would be greatly disrespectful of me to challenge him in any way. I did not challenge him. Instead, I challenged myself. I assumed my father figure was right, and if he was right I must be wrong. Instantly I rewrote my view of the world to include the fact that my father could have a marriage like relationship with me. Because of my age, and the childlike nature of my immature brain, I could not resist, it was not an option. My role as a child was to obey and follow my parents. He said we were married, I believed him, the end. I have dissossiciative amnesia, I don’t remember the rape, I only remember before and the pain after the rape.
If someone came in and challenged this strange sexual relationship I had with my father, and told me it was not right, it may have helped me break through the all encompassing hold my father had on me. In fact, when I was 13 and trying to speak out, a lot of what gave me the strength to speak out, was a sure and utter knowledge that my father was in the wrong. I knew he was in the wrong because I had to endure one of those uncomfortable talks in church about sexual sin.
2. Victims need to know that they are not guilty. Sexual stimulation produces pleasure responses from the body, it is a biological fact. Pedophiles blame the sexual abuse on the child. Once the child responds to the sexual stimulation in a pleased way, at all, the predator uses it against the child to shame them and fill them with guilt.
In my story I fought against my fathers sexual advances for months as a 12-13 year old. But then one night my father decided he would not take my resistance any more. He attacked me sexually while I fought to get away. Once the attack was over I was left with a feeling of pleasure in my body. I hated the feeling of pleasure. I hated my body. I felt betrayed by my body, because it felt pleasure for something I did not want. I felt guilty and evil because my body responded to the sexual stimulation with pleasure. It ate me up inside for the rest of my life, from that point on. I was evil, and I knew it, and I hated my body for it.
Educate children and tell them that the body naturally responds to sexual stimulation with pleasure, that is what it is made to do. They are not wrong for feeling pleasure, in fact their bodies responded in the way they were made to respond.