When a child falls into a well then is saved, a dramatic news cast is aired. The family wraps their arms around the child devoting all energies to her survival and care. Not so for a child sexually abused. She stands alone. She is treated like a plague, looked at like one, and trained into silence.
Keeping unprocessed trauma inside her where it festers damages many bodily systems. When one system is damaged such as the nervous system, now on a steady red alert, it impairs the health of other body systems.
The family corners the child into silence no matter what method; shame, guilt, the threat of abandonment, whatever it takes. The child knows and feels these threats though they may never be spoken aloud. She is sacrificed, her life, sanity, and safety for the sake of the family and its ‘good’ name.
When a child grows up suffering the horrors of sexual abuse in silence, she becomes a shell of her real self. She cannot talk about her overwhelming traumas. Nor does she receive condolence, nurturing, support, love, kudos for her courage and bravery for surviving them, or acknowledgement for her other attributes that come from the will and determination to survive. These attributes go unnoticed and not congratulated or reinforced because no one knows or understands what she has endured.
She cannot soak up a community of kindness and compassion for all she has gone through. She would had it been any other trauma. It is not accepted to talk about childhood sexual abuse. A great part of who she is goes underground and stays there, sometimes for life.
She feels fake, unreal, and invisible. She attacks herself in her loneliness, betrayed by every person who will not listen. And the shame felt during the attacks adds to her silence. For a child takes things in as her fault. Keeping her quiet is easy.
If allowed to process the traumas at the time they occurred the damage to body and mind is greatly reduced and even healed. She can continue on as the little girl she was. But the family won’t talk. She is silenced, shattered and alone.