Statistics tell us that many instances of abuse go unreported. We also know that the more people talk about abuse, the more power we give to victims and potential victims. To keep it hush-hush is to empower the abuser.
Why do victims keep abuse secret? The reasons are as wide and varied as the types of abuses. They also vary depending on the age of the victim.
“What will people think?”
“They are going to blame me; they will say it’s all my fault.”
“If I tell they will hate me.”
“If I tell, they won’t believe me.”
“He said if I told, he would hurt my family.”
“He said if I told, he would say that I made it up. They’ll believe him.”
“It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have been alone with him.”
“It’s all my fault. I trusted him.”
“If I tell, he’ll go to jail and I won’t have anyone to support me. I’ll be homeless.”
“If I tell, he’ll go to jail and the kids will miss him.”
“If I tell, they’ll send him away and everyone will blame me.”
Women who are beaten often say it was their fault, not the batterer’s. They make excuses. They weren’t hit. They fell down the stairs. They slipped in the bathtub. It was her fault; she picked a fight. It was her fault; she didn’t have dinner ready. It was her fault; she didn’t keep the kids quiet.
When their partner is jailed for domestic violence, women will often run around trying to come up with bail money; they borrow without telling what the money is for; they make excuses for their partner’s absence (they’re away on a business trip; they are away on family business). They are desperate to get their lives back to “normal” even though that normal will, most likely, mean a return to the violent behavior. They want to forget about it. They want things back the way they were. Maybe after the last incident it won’t happen again.
The reasons are varied. It takes a long, long time for victims to come forth. Some never do.
By keeping quiet about it, victims give their abusers power. By speaking up and telling what has happened to them, victims gain the power.
My 2016 A to Z Challenge posts: