Families do it all wrong. It is not just the victim who needs to speak of the attacks in the nights, and who did them, but so does the aggressor. Families remain quiet and take every measure to silence the child. Whatever it takes, because of their own shame and fear of what others will say or think about the family if others found about sexual abuse within the family system.
If that means killing the life essence of the little girl to silence her, so be it. The damage this causes for a child is a death sentence for life. I still struggle with those voices that silence me, that make me hate myself. Because how can I learn love if I knew that love came only with my silence over the crimes and heinous acts committed on my young body?
I learned that I am hated, unloved, and unworthy, no matter how much lip service is given otherwise. The original crimes went unpunished and I ate them. Literally.
And does the offender get a chance at a life? Not really. If we make mistakes we want to correct them, apologize, learn better, and go on as a whole person living a full life and feeling accepted. With secrets and sorrows and debilitating shame over past crimes or horrible acts, how does one build a life?
Families keeping secrets out of their own shame, and fear of soiling their reputation, is not fair— first for the victim, the child, but also not fair for the attacker, the aggressor. All of it needs to come out. Out in the open. It’s done, it happened.
Love, support, attention and compassion is showered on the child, and the family rallies around her taking a stand against aggression. The aggressor must show true regret to be welcomed back into the pack. All are on watch to insure that the aggressor never be left alone with the child again and protecting her from further attacks becomes a permanent priority.
These are the things that must happen. This is what stops the death of the child. This allows her to lick her wounds and heal right then when the wounds are incurred. She can grow strong, solid, whole and know she is loved in every fiber of her being.
And the aggressor, whether Dad, Grandpa, brother, Uncle Ned or a family friend, has a chance to remain part of the family if he does the work to change and make amends. He must show true sorrow.
The aggressor has a chance at a real life too. One where he can work at being better, having made a mistake but been forgiven and accepted back into the fold with exceptions, but given a chance. And if he works hard enough at making amends, he too can have a full life and be a better person.
The way families deal with it, and have since the beginning of time, ruins not just one life, not two, but the entire family’s. These secrets pull everyone down into a blurry purgatory, no one rising to the surface where clear air revives and makes new. No one.